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Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich

Socialism for corporations and financial oligarchy (new Nomeklatura)

Version 2.1, Jan 2, 2018

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Links Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Audacious Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Neoliberal rationality Animal Farm
Neoliberalism war on organized labor Neoliberal newspeak Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom' Doublespeak Propaganda Anti-globalization movement Neoliberalism and Christianity
Quite coup Destruction of the New Deal Glass-Steagall repeal Think Tanks as Enabler of Neoliberal Coup d'état  Identity politics as diversion of attention from social inequality Identity politics as divide and conquer The Iron Law of Oligarchy
Attack of Think Tanks Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite The Deep State Predator state Lewis Powell Memo The Essential Rules for Dominating Population
New American Militarism Neoconservatism Neo-fascism National Security State Neoconservatism as an attack dog of neoliberalism Inverted Totalitarism  Totalitarian Decisionism
The Great Betrayal: "Soft" neoliberals as Vichy Left Crowd manipulation Agenda-setting theory Manufacturing Consent Jingoism of the US neoliberal elite Media-Military-Industrial Complex War is Racket
Small government smoke screen "Starving the beast" bait and switch Bill Clinton Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Two Party System American Imperialism The Grand Chessboard
Ethno-linguistic and "Cultural" Nationalism American Exceptionalism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Machiavellism Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
  "Neoliberalism was a stunning utopia of  economic determinism, one even more ambitious than that of Marx."

-- Logos


Introduction

“What does Christianity mean today? National Socialism is a religion. All we lack is a religious genius capable of uprooting outmoded religious practices and putting new ones in their place. We lack traditions and ritual. One day soon National Socialism will be the religion of all Germans. My Party is my church, and I believe I serve the Lord best if I do his will, and liberate my oppressed people from the fetters of slavery. That is my gospel.”
Joseph Goebbels

There were two major favors of Bolshevism -- Trotskyism and Stalinism. Them main different is in the attitude to exporting revolution to other countries. Trotsky preached so called permanent revolution -- forceful regime changes in other countries, while Stalin adhered to more isolationist worldview ("Socialism in a single country").  In a way the whole Mont Pelerin Society can be renamed into "The Committee for the adaptation of Trotskyism for the needs of financial oligarchy"

Neoliberalism is essentially Trotskyism refashioned for the needs of the global financial elite.  That's probably why the first substantial support Mont Perelin Society got in England.

This "socialism for corporations, feudalism for everybody" adapted a large part of Trotskyism ideology and, especially, political instruments, carefully hiding the origins.   Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have the slogan "neoliberal elites of all countries unite". Like Communism is supposed to be the result of revolt of proletariat against its oppressions, Neoliberalism can be considered to be the revolt of the elite (and first of all financial elite) against excessive level of equality that characterized the world after WWII.  They key goal of neoliberalism is redistribution of wealth up at the expense of working class and lower middle class.  Like Trotskyism in the past, it is a militant and dogmatic faith that ostracizes heretics and utilizes the full power of propaganda to brainwash the population. Like Bolsheviks' Communist International this virtual "Union of Neoliberal States" have zero  tolerance for other social system or deviations from so called Washington consensus -- the dogmatic statement of main goal of neoliberalism in weaker countries. Like was the case with Bolshevism media dogs and intelligence  agencies are unleashed on dissenters.  Universities were refashioned into neoliberalism indoctrination camp by making neoclassical economics the obligatory discipline, without taking a course in neo-classical economy the student can't graduate.  Much like Marxism-Leninism philosophy course and Marxist political economy course were obligatory in the USSR universities.

Permanent revolution was refashioned into regime change efforts with "color revolution" as the major instrument of such a change. If color revolution mechanisms fail, the direct military invasion is always an option ("export of neoliberal democracy of the tips of bayonets", so to speak).  Subversive methods like color revolutions are polished to perfection. Recently they were used inside the USA as Clinton  wing of Democratic Party (aka "soft neoliberalism")  against Trump, who was elected on the platform of "anti-globalization", anti-outsourcing/offshoring", and ending foreign wars.  See NeoMcCartyism

The key idea here is that "free market" in neoliberalism replaces the notion of "dictatorship of proletariat".  The notion of the "world revolution" is preserved. Neoliberals  do not want to wait until "free market" wins in the society on its own merits. They do not believe in Laissez-faire. Like Leninists they want to use state to build the society in which "dictatorship of market" happens.  To enforce this society on people. This is not about libertarian dream of the state as "night watchman", on the contrary state in neoliberal doctrine state of "neoliberal dictatorship" which is active in enforcing "free market" mechanisms, despite possible resistance of the society.

Neoliberals like Trotskyites are globalists par excellence and dream about world neoliberal revolution. Like Bolsheviks with communism, they reject any other forms of social organization other then neoliberalism. And want to export neoliberalism to all countries of the world. If necessary using US bombers and tanks.

In other words while idea of the state under neoliberalism is identical to Bolsheviks view of state (and is very similar to the views of the Islamic state, if you wish ;-), the foreign policy under neoliberalism is the neoliberal empire expansion policy similar to idea of "World Revolution" which is the central postulate of Trotskyism.  In other words neoliberals strongly believe in "Export of revolution", it is just disguised for unwashed masses as export of democracy.  Kind of neoliberal jihad (The Totalitarian Nature of Islam)

"Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam." "Marx has taught that Communism is fatally predestined to come about; this produces a state of mind not unlike that of the early successors of Mahommet." Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world.
Russell [114]

Perhaps it was Charles Watson who first described Islam as totalitarian in 1937, and proceeded to show how: "By a million roots, penetrating every phase of life, all of them with religious significance, it is able to maintain its hold upon the life of Moslem peoples. "Bousquet, one of the foremost authorities on Islamic Law, distinguishes two aspects of Islam which he considers totalitarian: Islamic Law, and the Islamic notion of Jihad which has for its ultimate aim the conquest of the entire world, in order to submit it to one single authority. We shall consider jihad in the next chapter, here we shall confine ourselves to Islamic Law.

Mont Perelin society  which developed the neoliberal doctrine and served like Communist International for neoliberalism, was deliberately structured like a congress of pre-selected and pre-approved thinkers, allowing no dissent, and  working in secrecy. Much like the new incarnation of Bolsheviks party. They explicitly rework the key methods of social struggle invented by Bolsheviks and Trotskyites to the their own ends.  Many subversive method used by neoliberal state to enforce the rule of neoliberalism in other countries were first invented and tried by Communist International.  Marx is probably now spinning in his grave seeing how his teaching and methods adapted by social-democratic parties were subverted and bastardized to serve the rich.

According to neoliberal doctrine, free market like socialist social system just do not happen naturally: they should be built and enforced by the "Party" despite all the resistance. and the Party in this case was artificially constructed of bribed intellectuals and (what is even more important) of the network of  neoliberal think tanks. this idea to use "think tank" as the major weapon if the unleashing neoliberal revolution was also a direct (but creative)  borrowing from Bolsheviks practice.

And as we all know tanks is formidable weapon on a modern battlefields. The same is true with think tanks in social battlefields.  So like Trotskyites they are constructivists long before the term became popular (emergence of neoliberalism as a movement belong to early 30th). Nothing is left to the chance. 

In other words this like Trotskyism neoliberalism is practically undistinguished from a secular religion. That's why  some researchers call it  a market uber alles religion.  The key dogma is "There is no God other then the Market... " In other words, Market under neoliberal doctrine does not need any justification. It is the ultimate deity that judges the mere mortals, which needs to be imposed on the people by the power of the state,  and requires absolute compliance, achieved by spilling blood, if necessary.  Much like the idea of communism is a deity for Bolsheviks, which requires no justification and needs to be imposed on the people by whatever means necessary.

In both cases they are sold as kind of heaven on the earth. In this sense this is market fundamentalism which is a lot in common with Islamic Fundamentalism. Market is the heaven on earth for neoliberals and neoliberal priests (which are pretty well paid folk, look at Summers or Rubin ;-) have the same promise of twenty virgins to the followers. In they case virgins can be simply bought on money that the neoliberalism will bestow on the individual who will follow the teaching making him rich ;-).  The actual reality is somewhat different. It is impossible to make rich everybody; this is reserved to the top 1% or 0.01%, while "shmucks" standard  of living tend to deteriorate.  But this is a hidden "esoteric" truth the neoliberalism does not advertise. In any case you see the analogy. 

Like Trotskyites they were militant faction which wanted to seize the power but whatever means possible. And they want to forcefully destroy all alternatives including first of all socialism. Their attitude toward socialism is the exact morrow of Trotskyites view about capitalism -- they believe that socialism belong to the dustbin of history, and if it does not want to die "naturally" it is OK to help him to go to the grave. 1973 Chilean coup d'état against  President Salvador Allende,  is a perfect example of their ideology in action. color revolution are another. This is how Lenin would force the revolution. They just uses CIA instead of terrorist underground forces used by Bolsheviks (in case of Bolsheviks often cooperating with anarchist military faction -- so called 'boeviks").  There is even some uneasy alliance of islamist radicals Western intelligence agencies and neoliberal NGO  in which neoliberal try to use islamist to achieve their goals.  The same lack of principles and amorality was typical for Bolsheviks.  In is important to understand that  despite scholarly camouflage key neoliberal figures such as Milton Friedman were actually criminals. Minton Friedman hands were  up to the elbow in blood of innocent victims due to  killing many Chileans during Pinochet coup (objective view is our view of people which we do not like, so communists probably provided the most biting critique of neoliberalism and neoliberals ;-) :  

In 1975, the New York Times accurately labeled him “the guiding light of the junta’s economic policy” (21 September 1975). The CIA funded a 300-page Friedmanite blueprint given to the leaders of the junta in preparation for the coup. In March 1975 Friedman himself, accompanied by his U of C cohort Arnold Harberger, flew to Chile for high-level talks with the regime to outline the economic “shock treatment” that led to the mass starvation of those who had survived the initial phase of bloodletting.

So the world revolution in Trotskyite doctrine is simply replaced by "world neoliberal revolution by what ever means possible". Criminal actions are OK.  Like with Trotskyism "the goal justifies the means".

Another interesting question is why those people were help-bent of anti-communism, were so adamantly against socialism? One explanation is that most of them were from Austrian aristocracy circles. Another is that in their view (and first of all Hayek) market is a kind of natural "supercomputer" that can provide solutions to all world problems that no government can do. But, at the same time being closet  neo-Trotskyites they advocate military coups and killing of dissenters to achieve their goals.

Their "utilitarian view" of the legitimacy of government, also extents to science. Like for Trotskyites with their bogus concept of "proletarian science", the science in their worldview is useful only to the extent it help to built neoliberalism. So there is scientific theories and scientists which  needs to be financially supported and promoted and the scientific theories and scientists  that needs to be suppressed and ostracized.  Kind of new Lysenkoism.

That sound profoundly anti-democratic and that's completely true. Neoliberals do not care about democracy. They care only about "free market" -- their deity like communists cared only about Communism -- their deity. And both are ready to commit any crimes to achieve their goals.  In other words they are a new type of a dangerous totalitarian sect. and the brand of Totalitarism they promote was called by Wolin "Inverted Totalitarism". Their approach smells with Lysenkoism. And that' true -- neoliberal practice is very close to practice of Lysenkoism, especially in the field of economics: they occupied all commanding positions in economic departments of universities and forcefully suppress any dissent. The only difference is that they use the power of state just for ostracism and isolation. They do not send "non-conforming" scientists to GULAG like Bolsheviks did.  But they introduce a new interesting nuance: as the science became a "marketplace of ideas", under neoliberalism you can just buy the scientist you like on the market.  Education also needs to be restructured as market. Which already happened in the USA.

So we really are talking about neoliberal revolution in the USA, which destroyed the New Deal capitalism by mercilessly destroying all the relevant law. You are liming in new brave neoliberal world now.

We can think about neoliberalism employing typical Trotskyite methods of "gain power first" implement neoliberal policies later. In a way, neoliberalism is the second after Bolshevism social model that is totally artificially constructed and explicitly planned to be enforced on unsuspecting people via subversive actions of a totalitarian sect.   Like Bolshevism was dictatorship of the Communist Party nomenklatura, neoliberalism is dictatorship of financial oligarchy. Both neoliberalism and Bolshevism despise democracy and need a strong state which implements neoliberal policies "from above" -- reforming the society despite the wishes of population (exactly like bolshevism did it in the USSR space and later in Eastern Europe). 

This symbiosis of strong state (in a form of "national security state" and super powerful intelligence agencies -- often called "the deep state")  and corporation via the rule of financial oligarchy  makes neoliberalism a modern flavor of corporatism. Inverted totalitarism as Sheldon Wolin called it. Like bolshevism neoliberalism relies of power of propaganda (first of all via think tanks -- its ingenious invention) as well as classic methods used by Bolsheviks such as  indoctrination via economics courses at university economics departments and constant pro-neoliberal propaganda in major MSM owned and operated by large corporations.

Up to 2000 in the USA standard of living and employment level was maintained  (partially via computer revolution, partially  via "expropriation" of resources and capital at xUSSR space), although there are limits to that and at some point self-destruction process inevitably starts  and the neoliberal society gradually slips into secular stagnation, somewhat similar to Brezhnev's stagnation period in the USSR.  In the USA is characterized by the loss of jobs and manufacturing to outsourcing, as well as degeneration of neoliberal elite (matching if not exceeding the degeneration of neoliberal elite).   Which at the end created conditions for the rise to power of Trump and his team of "bastard neoliberals" (neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization, somewhat similar to Stalin's idea of 'socialism ins single country").

Like Trotskyism in the past (with their slogan of "World revolution" borrowed by neoliberalism) neoliberals in general and neocons in particular (as "neoliberals with the gun") are hell-bent of creating Global Neoliberal empire. Killing millions people in the process. And destroying the well-being of the majorly of people in their host country (the USA in case of neoliberals, the Russian empire -- USSR --  in case of Trotskyites  and later Bolsheviks ).

For them  ‘We Think the Price Is Worth It’"  as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it.  This Nietzschean-style complete disregard of common people is probably the most common feature between those two "man-eater" class ideologies. Those Nietzschean Ubermensch like classic psychopaths just do not have compassion for other people. They are objects, tools for them.   Actually you learn a lot about neoliberals by studying psychopath and sociopath behaviour, especially female sociopath.  The percent of sociopaths in the society is by various estimate is over 5% which considerably exceeds the number of people required for forming the elite or the top 1%  of neoliberal society.

Like Marxism before, neoliberalism provides its own ethics and its own rationality.   It enforces a new encompassing "economic rationalism" (aka economism) , which should displace old, "outdated" and more humane rationality of New Deal capitalism.

The ethics of neoliberalism, or "Neoliberal rationality",  is heavily tilted toward viewing people as "homo economicus".  Like Marxism (and, by extension, Trotskyism and Bolshevism/Stalinism ) it "articulates crucial elements of  the language, practice and subjectivity according to a specific image of the economics." Like Trotskyism before it directly assaults the idea of democratic governance and the rule of the law proving perverted rationality,  elements of which are erringly similar to the ideas of "vanguard",  "proletarian justice",  " journalists as solders of the Party"  and, especially, "Permanent Revolution". 

It rejects the idea of social solidarity (emphasizing it for Undermensch "individual responsibility" including "who does not work, should not eat")   replacing it, like Marxism before, with the idea of class solidarity (The members of transnational financial elite unite"). They also pervert the idea of the rule of the law, which animated so much of modernity, hollowing out democratic practices and institutions while at the same time catalyzing radical, brutal (as in neo-feudal) forms of the elite dominance, promoting Nietzsche separation of mankind into two caste: Undermensch ("despicables" in Hillary Clinton words) and Ubermensch  ("creative class").  In a way neoliberalism is socialism for rich and feudalism for poor.

Like Marxism before it, neoliberalism wear the mantle of inevitability. As Bruce Wilder noted in his post on Crooked Timber blog (11.16.16 at 10:07 pm 30): 

It was characteristic of neoliberalism that the policy, policy intention and policy consequences were hidden behind a rhetoric of markets and technological inevitability.

Matt Stoller has identified this as the statecraft of neoliberalism: the elimination of political agency and responsibility for economic performance and outcomes. Globalization and financialization were just "forces" that just happened, in a meteorological economics.

For example, instead of permanent revolution we have permanent democratization via color revolutions and military invasions for the expansion of neoliberal empire..  With the same fake idea of creating a global neoliberal empire which will make everybody happy and prosperous.

While this is never advertized (and actually the whole term "neoliberalism" is kind of  "hidden" from the population and its discussion is a taboo in neoliberal MSM), implicitly Neoliberalism adopted a considerable part of Trotskyism doctrine and even bigger part of its practice, especially foreign policy practice. Like KGB in the USSR, CIA became presidents praetorian guard (which occasionally revolts, see JFK assassination).  

Like Logos noted this is yet another stunning "economic-political" utopia with the level of economic determinism even more ambitious than that of Marx... But what is important to understand is that this doctrine incorporates significant parts of Trotskyism  in pretty innovating, unobvious way. Thus, Marx famous quote "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce" is fully applicable here: instead of revolt of proletariat which Marxists expected we got the revolt of financial oligarchy. And this revolt led to the formation of the powerful Transnational Elite International (with Congresses in Basel) instead of Communist International (with Congresses in Moscow). Both Trotsky and Marx are probably rolling in their graves seeing such a wicked mutation of their beloved political ideology.

Neoliberalism is also an example of emergence of ideologies, not from their persuasive power or inner logic, but from the private interests of the ruling elite.  Political pressure and money created the situation in which intellectually bankrupt ideas could prevail much like Catholicism prevailed during Dark Ages in Europe. In a way, this is return to Dark Ages on a new level. Hopefully this period will not last as long. But as there is no countervailing force on the horizon, only the major change in economic conditions, such as end of cheap oil can lead to demise of neoliberalism. 

 Neoliberalism consists of the same three components as in Marxism: philosophy, political economy and neoliberal ethics (aka neoliberal rationality).

 The ideas that neoliberalism borrowed from Trotskyism

Among the ideas that neoliberalism borrowed from Trotskyism via renegades Trotskyites turned neoconservatives (and for all practical purposes Neoconservatism is just neoliberalism with a gun) such as James Burnham we can mention the following:

  1. The mantle of inevitability (famous TINA statement of Margaret Thatcher is an apt demonstration of this) Globalization and financialization were just "forces" that just happened, as weather "happens" in meteorology.  As Bruce Wilder noted in his post on Crooked Timber blog (11.16.16 at 10:07 pm 30): 

    It was characteristic of neoliberalism that the policy, policy intention and policy consequences were hidden behind a rhetoric of markets and technological inevitability. Matt Stoller has identified this as the statecraft of neoliberalism: the elimination of political agency and responsibility for economic performance and outcomes. 

  2. The concept of the  "new class" which is destined to guide the humanity with the replacement of "proletariat" with the "creative class".  The latter is a rehash of the Nietzschean concept of Ubermensch. This creating/managerial/entrepreneur  class which is similar to Soviet nomenklatura.  Rejection of  Christianity and the idea of human solidarity. Like was the case in the USSR, it places the control of the society in comparatively few hands; in this sense Neoliberal nomenklatura is very similar to Soviet nomenklatura. In both cases their position in social hierarchy by-and-large is determined by the position the individual has in government, military, or private industry.  Loss of the position means substantial downgrade in neoliberal social hierarchy, much like in the USSR. In other words wealth is not enough for high social status.  This leads to the similar adverse effects (Ivy League universities as the membership card to the elite and corresponding  degradation of the level of education (Bush II managed to graduate as many other "not so talented" sons and daughters of the elite). Suppression of dissent created promotion of "yes-men" resulting in gradual degeneration of the elite, as happened with Soviet nomenklatura.  Huge discrepancy in the wealth of the top 1% and the rest of population might be neoliberalism's Achilles heel which we saw in action in 2016 elections and Brexit vote.
    1. Rejection of the normal interpretation of the rule of the law and the idea of "neoliberal justice" (tough justice for Untermensch only). See, for example a Crooked timber comment:
      Neoliberals destroy the notion of social justice and pervert the notion of the “rule of the law”. See, for example, The Neo-Liberal State by Raymond Plant

      …social justice is incompatible with the rule of law because its demands cannot be embodied in general and impartial rules; and rights have to be the rights to non-interference rather than understood in terms of claims to resources because rules against interference can be understood in general terms whereas rights to resources cannot. There is no such thing as a substantive common good for the state to pursue and for the law to embody and thus the political pursuit of something like social justice or a greater sense of solidarity and community lies outside the rule of law.

      … … …

      …But surely, it might be argued, a nomocratic state and its laws have to acknowledge some set of goals. It cannot be impartial or indifferent to all goals. Law cannot be pointless. It cannot be totally non-instrumental. It has to facilitate the achievement of some goals. If this is recognized, it might be argued, it will modify the sharpness of the distinction between a nomocratic and telocratic state, between a civil association and an enterprise association.

      The last paragraph essentially defines “neoliberal justice” which to me looks somewhat similar to the concept of “proletarian justice” (see Bukharin’s views https://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1920/abc/09.htm; compare with Vyshinskii views http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/socialist-legality/socialist-legality-texts/vyshinskii-on-proletarian-justice/).

      ... ... ...

      IMHO for neoliberals social justice and the rule of law is applicable only to Untermensch. For Ubermensch (aka “creative class”) it undermines their individual freedom and thus they need to be above the law.

      To ensure their freedom and cut “unnecessary and undesirable interference” of the society in their creative activities the role of the state should be limited to safeguarding the free market as the playground for their “creativity” (note “free” as in “free ride”, not “fair”).

  3. Neoliberalism like Stalinism is a "civil religion". The methods of enforcement of this region on the population  by neoliberalism are quite similar to Stalinism, with the only main difference --the rejection of violence against population as the main method of entrenching the ideology:
  4. Use of violence for the spread of the ideology. The idea of Permanent revolution to bring to power the new hegemonic class in all countries of the globe and create a new global neoliberal empire is direct borrowing from Trotskyism and was promoted by Jewish neocons, who were former Trotskyites.  In neoliberalism this takes that form of "export of democracy" as the method of achieving and maintaining world dominance of globalist elite (which in its role of hegemonic class replaces "proletariat" used in Trotskyism):
  5. Social Darwinism
  6. Finally, neoliberalism like Marxism in the past has become strongly associated with a specific culture (the US culture, or Anglo-Saxon culture in more general terms) and a specific language (English). Like Marxism, as an ideology, Neoliberalism  became tied to specific culture and language (both became  king of global standard de-facto). Theoretically any global language would suit, and it can be Esperanto.  But in reality the English language, Hollywood culture, neoliberal economic policies (aka  Washington consensus), and pro-American foreign policy is a "package deal" for fifth column supporters outside G7; this was especially true in Central and Eastern Europe. Kind of second class citizens of Neoliberal International (Skeptical Eastern Europeans, who still remember the days of USSR-led "Socialist Camp" now call it diktat of "Washington Obcom" ;-).  That does not exclude jingoism, chauvinism, flag-waving and foreigner-bashing in the USA (aka American exceptionalism) and other G7 countries. Tony Blair is probably the best example of this political mentality:

    Don't tell me that a country with our history and heritage, that today boasts six of the top ten businesses in the whole of Europe, with London the top business city in Europe, that is a world leader in technology and communication and the businesses of the future, that under us has overtaken France and Italy to become the fourth largest economy in the world, that has the language of the new economy, more brilliant artists, actors and directors than any comparable country in the world, some of the best scientists and inventors in the world, the best armed forces in the world, the best teachers and doctors and nurses, the best people any nation could wish for.

    Don't tell me with all that going for us that we do not have the spirit to meet all the challenges before us.

    Blair conference speech, 26 September 2000

The "capitalists counteroffensive" or "revolt of the elite"

This "capitalists counteroffensive" or "revolt of the elite" was pioneered in Britain, where Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Tory Party in 1975 and put into real shape by Ronald Reagan in 1981-1989 (Reaganomics). Margaret Thatcher victory was the first election of neoliberal ideologue (Pinochet came to power via supported by the USA military coupe de tat). Both Thatcher and Reagan mounted a full-scale counterattack against the (already weakened and fossilized) unions. In GB the miners were the most important target. In USA traffic controllers. In both cases they managed to broke the back of trade unions. Since 1985 union membership in the USA has halved.

Privatizing nationalized industries and public services fragments large bargaining units formed of well organized public-sector workers, creating conditions in which wages can be driven down in the competition for franchises and contracts. This most important side effect of privatization was dramatic redistribution of wealth to the top layer of financial and managerial elite (corporate rich).

Neoliberalism gradually gained strength since probably late 50th with free-market theorists like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman as influential ideologues. Ann Rand also made an important contribution with her "greed is good" philosophy of positivism. Still many economists and policy-makers favored a ‘mixed economy’ with high levels of state intervention and public spending. That changed in the 1970s when the state capitalism run into rocks. In a way rise of Neoliberalism was the elite response to the Long Recession of 1973-1992: they launched a class war of the global rich against the rest. Shrinking markets dictated the necessity of cutting costs by sacking workers and driving down wages. So the key program was to reverse the gains made by the US lower and middle class since 1945 and it needed an ideological justification. Neoliberalism neatly fitted the bill. With outsourcing, the global ‘race to the bottom’ became a permanent feature of a new economic order.

At 1980th it became clear that the age of national economies and ‘autarkic’ (self-contained) blocs like the USSR block ended as they will never be able to overcome the technological and standard of living gap with the major Western economies. This inability to match the level of standard of living of western countries doomed communist ideology, as it has in the center the thesis that as a superior economic system it should match and exceed the economic level achieved by capitalist countries. Collapse of the USSR in 1991 (in which KGB elite played the role of Trojan horse of the West) was a real triumph of neoliberalism and signified a beginning of a new age in which the global economy was dominated by international banks and multinational corporations operating with little or sometimes completely outside the control of nation-states.

The rise of neoliberalism can be measured by the rise of the financial and industrial mega-corporations. For example, US direct investment overseas rose from $11 billion in 1950 to $133 billion in 1976. The long-term borrowing of US corporations increased from 87% of their share value in 1955 to 181% in 1970. The foreign currency operations of West European banks, to take another example, increased from $25 billion in 1968 to $200 billion in 1974. The combined debt of the 74 less-developed countries jumped from $39 billion in 1965 to $119 billion in 1974. These quantitative changes during the "Great Boom" reached a tipping point in the 1970s. Global corporations by then had come to overshadow the nation-states. The effect was to impose a relentless pressure on national elites to increase the exploitation of ‘their own’ working class. High wages became a facto that deters new investment and labor arbitrage jumped in full swing. Taxes on business to pay for public services or welfare payments became undesirable. As well as laws designed to make workplaces safe, limit working hours, or guarantee maternity leave. While from purely theoretic perspective the ‘free-market’ theory espoused by neoliberal academics, journalists, politicians, bankers, and ‘entrepreneurs’ is compete pseudoscientific Lysenkoism-style doctrine, it became very popular, dominant ideology of the last decade of XX century. It provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed, poverty, as well as economic crisis endemic to the system. It also justified high level if inequality of the political and business elite an a normal state of human society. In this sense, neoliberalism became an official ideology of the modern ruling elite.

Undoing the demos: Neoliberalism’s stealth destruction of liberal democracy

Like Marxism before neoliberalism provides its own ethics and its own rationality.   It enforces a new encompassing "economic rationalism", which should displace old, "outdated" and more humane rationality of liberal capitalism.

"Neoliberal rationality" is heavily tilted toward viewing the people as "homo economicus".  This new neoliberal rationality  " articulates crucial elements of  the language, practice and subjectivity ‘according to a specific image of the economic" In so doing neo-liberalism like Marxism before it directly assaults the democratic imaginary that animated so much of modernity, hollowing out liberal democratic practices and institutions while at the same time catalyzing radical, brutal forces of the political spectrum.

In the book Undoing the Demos Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution   Professor Wendy Brown described this  "neoliberal rationality" phenomenon and actually shows how close it is to the rationality which governed   communism parties of the USSR and Eastern Block.

Here are some quotes from Wendy Brown interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism  to  Dissent Magazine (Nov 03, 2015):

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."
"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."
"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."
"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."
"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."
"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."
"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

Like Marxism in the USSR neoliberalism is state religion of the USA which displaced Christianity

Pope Francis aptly called neoliberalism as "idolatry of money".  In other words a cult. Here is a direct quote:

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. 

Like any religion it has its set of myth:


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[Mar 18, 2019] Journalists who are spies

Highly recommended!
Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services?
Notable quotes:
"... Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? ..."
"... "Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5." ..."
"... Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll. ..."
"... The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants. ..."
"... As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career". ..."
"... Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance. ..."
Mar 03, 2006 | www.nytimes.com

Can you trust the BBC news? How many journalists are working for the security services? The following extracts are from an article at the excellent Medialens

http://www.medialens.org/alerts/06/060303_hacks_and_spooks.php

HACKS AND SPOOKS

By Professor Richard Keeble

And so to Nottingham University (on Sunday 26 February) for a well-attended conference...

I focus in my talk on the links between journalists and the intelligence services: While it might be difficult to identify precisely the impact of the spooks (variously represented in the press as "intelligence", "security", "Whitehall" or "Home Office" sources) on mainstream politics and media, from the limited evidence it looks to be enormous.

As Roy Greenslade, media specialist at the Telegraph (formerly the Guardian), commented:

"Most tabloid newspapers - or even newspapers in general - are playthings of MI5."

Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of "one of Britain's most distinguished journals" as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll.

And in 1991, Richard Norton-Taylor revealed in the Guardian that 500 prominent Britons paid by the CIA and the now defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International, included 90 journalists.

In their analysis of the contemporary secret state, Dorril and Ramsay gave the media a crucial role. The heart of the secret state they identified as the security services, the cabinet office and upper echelons of the Home and Commonwealth Offices, the armed forces and Ministry of Defence, the nuclear power industry and its satellite ministries together a network of senior civil servants.

As "satellites" of the secret state, their list included "agents of influence in the media, ranging from actual agents of the security services, conduits of official leaks, to senior journalists merely lusting after official praise and, perhaps, a knighthood at the end of their career".

Phillip Knightley, author of a seminal history of the intelligence services, has even claimed that at least one intelligence agent is working on every Fleet Street newspaper.

A brief history

Going as far back as 1945, George Orwell no less became a war correspondent for the Observer - probably as a cover for intelligence work. Significantly most of the men he met in Paris on his assignment, Freddie Ayer, Malcolm Muggeridge, Ernest Hemingway were either working for the intelligence services or had close links to them.

Stephen Dorril, in his seminal history of MI6, reports that Orwell attended a meeting in Paris of resistance fighters on behalf of David Astor, his editor at the Observer and leader of the intelligence service's unit liasing with the French resistance.

The release of Public Record Office documents in 1995 about some of the operations of the MI6-financed propaganda unit, the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, threw light on this secret body - which even Orwell aided by sending them a list of "crypto-communists". Set up by the Labour government in 1948, it "ran" dozens of Fleet Street journalists and a vast array of news agencies across the globe until it was closed down by Foreign Secretary David Owen in 1977.

According to John Pilger in the anti-colonial struggles in Kenya, Malaya and Cyprus, IRD was so successful that the journalism served up as a record of those episodes was a cocktail of the distorted and false in which the real aims and often atrocious behaviour of the British intelligence agencies was hidden.

And spy novelist John le Carré, who worked for MI6 between 1960 and 1964, has made the amazing statement that the British secret service then controlled large parts of the press – just as they may do today.

In 1975, following Senate hearings on the CIA, the reports of the Senate's Church Committee and the House of Representatives' Pike Committee highlighted the extent of agency recruitment of both British and US journalists.

And sources revealed that half the foreign staff of a British daily were on the MI6 payroll.

David Leigh, in The Wilson Plot, his seminal study of the way in which the secret service smeared through the mainstream media and destabilised the Government of Harold Wilson before his sudden resignation in 1976, quotes an MI5 officer: "We have somebody in every office in Fleet Street"

Leaker King

And the most famous whistleblower of all, Peter (Spycatcher) Wright, revealed that MI5 had agents in newspapers and publishing companies whose main role was to warn them of any forthcoming "embarrassing publications".

Wright also disclosed that the Daily Mirror tycoon, Cecil King, "was a longstanding agent of ours" who "made it clear he would publish anything MI5 might care to leak in his direction".

Selective details about Wilson and his secretary, Marcia Falkender, were leaked by the intelligence services to sympathetic Fleet Street journalists. Wright comments: "No wonder Wilson was later to claim that he was the victim of a plot". King was also closely involved in a scheme in 1968 to oust Prime Minister Harold Wilson and replace him with a coalition headed by Lord Mountbatten.

Hugh Cudlipp, editorial director of the Mirror from 1952 to 1974, was also closely linked to intelligence, according to Chris Horrie, in his recently published history of the newspaper.

David Walker, the Mirror's foreign correspondent in the 1950s, was named as an MI6 agent following a security scandal while another Mirror journalist, Stanley Bonnet, admitted working for MI5 in the 1980s investigating the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Maxwell and Mossad

According to Stephen Dorril, intelligence gathering during the miners' strike of 1984-85 was helped by the fact that during the 1970s MI5's F Branch had made a special effort to recruit industrial correspondents – with great success.

In 1991, just before his mysterious death, Mirror proprietor Robert Maxwell was accused by the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of acting for Mossad, the Israeli secret service, though Dorril suggests his links with MI6 were equally as strong.

Following the resignation from the Guardian of Richard Gott, its literary editor in December 1994 in the wake of allegations that he was a paid agent of the KGB, the role of journalists as spies suddenly came under the media spotlight – and many of the leaks were fascinating.

For instance, according to The Times editorial of 16 December 1994: "Many British journalists benefited from CIA or MI6 largesse during the Cold War."

The intimate links between journalists and the secret services were highlighted in the autobiography of the eminent newscaster Sandy Gall. He reports without any qualms how, after returning from one of his reporting assignments to Afghanistan, he was asked to lunch by the head of MI6. "It was very informal, the cook was off so we had cold meat and salad with plenty of wine. He wanted to hear what I had to say about the war in Afghanistan. I was flattered, of course, and anxious to pass on what I could in terms of first-hand knowledge."

And in January 2001, the renegade MI6 officer, Richard Tomlinson, claimed Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph and son of the former Tory chancellor, Nigel Lawson, provided journalistic cover for an MI6 officer on a mission to the Baltic to handle and debrief a young Russian diplomat who was spying for Britain.

Lawson strongly denied the allegations.

Similarly in the reporting of Northern Ireland, there have been longstanding concerns over security service disinformation. Susan McKay, Northern editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, has criticised the reckless reporting of material from "dodgy security services". She told a conference in Belfast in January 2003 organised by the National Union of Journalists and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: "We need to be suspicious when people are so ready to provide information and that we are, in fact, not being used." (www.nuj.org.uk/inner.php?docid=635)

Growing power of secret state

Thus from this evidence alone it is clear there has been a long history of links between hacks and spooks in both the UK and US.

But as the secret state grows in power, through massive resourcing, through a whole raft of legislation – such as the Official Secrets Act, the anti-terrorism legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and so on – and as intelligence moves into the heart of Blair's ruling clique so these links are even more significant.

Since September 11 all of Fleet Street has been awash in warnings by anonymous intelligence sources of terrorist threats.

According to former Labour minister Michael Meacher, much of this disinformation was spread via sympathetic journalists by the Rockingham cell within the MoD.

A parallel exercise, through the office of Special Plans, was set up by Donald Rumsfeld in the US. Thus there have been constant attempts to scare people – and justify still greater powers for the national security apparatus.

Similarly the disinformation about Iraq's WMD was spread by dodgy intelligence sources via gullible journalists.

Thus, to take just one example, Michael Evans, The Times defence correspondent, reported on 29 November 2002: "Saddam Hussein has ordered hundred of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors." The source of these "revelations" was said to be "intelligence picked up from within Iraq". Early in 2004, as the battle for control of Iraq continued with mounting casualties on both sides, it was revealed that many of the lies about Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD had been fed to sympathetic journalists in the US, Britain and Australia by the exile group, the Iraqi National Congress.

Sexed up – and missed out

During the controversy that erupted following the end of the "war" and the death of the arms inspector Dr David Kelly (and the ensuing Hutton inquiry) the spotlight fell on BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan and the claim by one of his sources that the government (in collusion with the intelligence services) had "sexed up" a dossier justifying an attack on Iraq.

The Hutton inquiry, its every twist and turn massively covered in the mainstream media, was the archetypal media spectacle that drew attention from the real issue: why did the Bush and Blair governments invade Iraq in the face of massive global opposition? But those facts will be forever secret.

Significantly, too, the broader and more significant issue of mainstream journalists' links with the intelligence services was ignored by the inquiry.

Significantly, on 26 May 2004, the New York Times carried a 1,200-word editorial admitting it had been duped in its coverage of WMD in the lead-up to the invasion by dubious Iraqi defectors, informants and exiles (though it failed to lay any blame on the US President: see Greenslade 2004). Chief among The Times' dodgy informants was Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress and Pentagon favourite before his Baghdad house was raided by US forces on 20 May.

Then, in the Observer of 30 May 2004, David Rose admitted he had been the victim of a "calculated set-up" devised to foster the propaganda case for war. "In the 18 months before the invasion of March 2003, I dealt regularly with Chalabi and the INC and published stories based on interviews with men they said were defectors from Saddam's regime." And he concluded: "The information fog is thicker than in any previous war, as I know now from bitter personal experience. To any journalist being offered apparently sensational disclosures, especially from an anonymous intelligence source, I offer two words of advice: caveat emptor."

Let's not forget no British newspaper has followed the example of the NYT and apologised for being so easily duped by the intelligence services in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq.

~

Richard Keeble's publications include Secret State, Silent Press: New Militarism, the Gulf and the Modern Image of Warfare (John Libbey 1997) and The Newspapers Handbook (Routledge, fourth edition, 2005). He is also the editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics. Richard is also a member of the War and Media Network.

[Mar 18, 2019] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Mar 18, 2019] The Why are the media playing lapdog and not watchdog – again – on war in Iraq?

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children. ..."
"... Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War". ..."
"... The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war. ..."
"... the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces. ..."
"... The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening ..."
"... In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing. ..."
"... The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. ..."
"... Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet. ..."
"... But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day. ..."
Oct 10, 2014 | The Guardian
BradBenson, 10 October 2014 6:14pm
The American Public has gotten exactly what it deserved. They have been dumbed-down in our poor-by-intention school systems. The moronic nonsense that passes for news in this country gets more sensational with each passing day. Over on Fox, they are making the claim that ISIS fighters are bringing Ebola over the Mexican Border, which prompted a reply by the Mexican Embassy that won't be reported on Fox.

We continue to hear and it was even reported in this very fine article by Ms. Benjamin that the American People now support this new war. Really? I'm sorry, but I haven't seen that support anywhere but on the news and I just don't believe it any more.

There is also the little problem of infiltration into key media slots by paid CIA Assets (Scarborough and brainless Mika are two of these double dippers). Others are intermarried. Right-wing Neocon War Criminal Dan Senor is married to "respected" newsperson Campbell Brown who is now involved in privatizing our school system. Victoria Nuland, the slimey State Department Official who was overheard appointing the members of the future Ukrainian Government prior to the Maidan Coup is married to another Neo-Con--Larry Kagan. Even sweet little Andrea Mitchell is actually Mrs. Alan Greenspan.

General Electric, the world's largest military contractor, still controls the message over at the so-called "liberal" MSNBC. MSNBC's other owner is Comcast, the right wing media conglomerate that controls the radio waves in every major American Market. Over at CNN, Mossad Asset Wolf Blitzer, who rose from being an obscure little correspondent for an Israeli Newspaper to being CNN's Chief "Pentagon Correspondent" and then was elevated to supreme anchorman nearly as quickly, ensures that the pro-Israeli Message is always in the forefront, even as the Israeli's commit one murderous act after another upon helpless Palestinian Women and Children.

Every single "terrorism expert", General or former Government Official that is brought out to discuss the next great war is connected to a military contractor that stands to benefit from that war. Not surprisingly, the military option is the only option discussed and we are assured that, if only we do this or bomb that, then it will all be over and we can bring our kids home to a big victory parade. I'm 63 and it has never happened in my lifetime--with the exception of the phony parade that Bush Senior put on after his murderous little "First Gulf War".

Yesterday there was a coordinated action by all of the networks, which was clearly designed to support the idea that the generals want Obama to act and he just won't. The not-so-subtle message was that the generals were right and that the President's "inaction" was somehow out of line-since, after all, the generals have recommended more war. It was as if these people don't remember that the President, sleazy War Criminal that he is, is still the Commander in Chief.

The Generals in the Pentagon always want war. It is how they make rank. All of those young kids that just graduated from our various academies know that war experience is the only thing that will get them the advancement that they seek in the career that they have chosen. They are champing at the bit for more war.

Finally, this Sunday every NFL Game will begin with some Patriotic "Honor America" Display, which will include a missing man flyover, flags and fireworks, plenty of uniforms, wounded Vets and soon-to-be-wounded Vets. A giant American Flag will, once again, cover the fields and hundreds of stupid young kids will rush down to their "Military Career Center" right after the game. These are the ones that I pity most.

BaronVonAmericano , 10 October 2014 6:26pm
Let's be frank: powerful interests want war and subsequent puppet regimes in the half dozen nations that the neo-cons have been eyeing (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan). These interests surely include industries like banking, arms and oil-all of whom make a killing on any war, and would stand to do well with friendly governments who could finance more arms purchases and will never nationalize the oil.

So, the same PR campaign that started with Bush and Cheney continues-the exact same campaign. Obviously, they have to come back at the apple with variations, but any notion that the "media will get it someday" is willfully ignorant of the obvious fact that there is an agenda, and that agenda just won't stop until it's achieved-or revolution supplants the influence of these dark forces.

IanB52, 10 October 2014 6:57pm

The US media are indeed working overtime to get this war happening. When I'm down at the gym they always have CNN on (I can only imagine what FOX is like) which is a pretty much dyed in the wool yellow jingoist station at this point. With all the segments they dedicate to ISIS, a new war, the "imminent" terrorist threat, they seem to favor talking heads who support a full ground war and I have never, not once, heard anyone even speak about the mere possibility of peace. Not ever.

In media universe there is no alternative to endless war and an endless stream of hyped reasons for new killing.

I'd imagine that these media companies have a lot stock in and a cozy relationship with the defense contractors.

Damiano Iocovozzi, 10 October 2014 7:04pm

The media machine is a wholly owned subsidiary of the United States of Corporations. The media doesn't report on anything but relies on repeating manufactured crises, creating manufactured consent & discussing manufactured solutions. Follow the oil, the pipelines & the money. Both R's & D's are left & right cheeks of the same buttock. Thanks to Citizens United & even Hobby Lobby, a compliant Supreme Court, also owned by United States of Corporations, it's a done deal.

ID5868758 , 10 October 2014 10:20pm
Oh, the greatest propaganda arm the US government has right now, bar none, is the American media. It's disgraceful. we no longer have journalists speaking truth to power in my country, we have people practicing stenography, straight from the State Department to your favorite media outlet.

Let me give you one clear example. A year ago Barack Obama came very close to bombing Syria to kingdom come, the justification used was "Assad gassed his own people", referring to a sarin gas attack near Damascus. Well, it turns out that Assad did not initiate that attack, discovered by research from many sources including the prestigious MIT, it was a false flag attack planned by Turkey and carried out by some of Obama's own "moderate rebels".

But all that research from MIT, from the UN, and others, has been buried by the American media, and every single story on Syria and Assad that is written still refers to "Assad gassing his own people". It's true, it's despicable, and it's just one example of how our media lies and distorts and misrepresents the news every day.

[Mar 17, 2019] Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the entrepreneurial political hero/leader against the corrupt civil service

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". ..."
"... Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed ..."
"... Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here. ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

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

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

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

https://books.google.co.id/books?id=VBkkymt32CgC

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

RUKidding , April 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

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

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

witters , April 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

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

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

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

Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed.

Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here.

[Mar 07, 2019] Op-Ed Chaos in the West shows that democracy comes in more than one flavor - People's Daily Online by Curtis Stone, Chengliang Wu

Mar 01, 2019 | en.people.cn

A popular narrative in the West is that the world would be a much better place if all countries just look and act more like the Western world. Indeed, the West has enjoyed great wealth and growth over the years. But growing instability in the Western world has also raised doubts about the Western-style of democratic governance.

In fact, there is a tendency to put Western-style democracy on a pedestal; but by doing so, we overlook its faults and even potential dangers. From the never-ending gridlock in Washington, to chaos in the House of Commons of United Kingdom over the Brexit mess, to people rioting on the streets of Paris, more and more people are calling into question the effectiveness of Western-style democracy.

Brexit, for some at least, encapsulates the perils and pitfalls of this style of democracy. In June 2016, the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union and, for now at least, the UK will leave the EU by March 29 this year, with or without a plan in place. The irrational jump into the unknown and the chaos that followed has created a troubling situation for the country, as well as other parts of the world, raising serious questions about the effectiveness and legitimacy of UK-style democracy.

Whether to leave or stay in the EU is a complicated issue that requires careful study and rational decisions from knowledgeable, well-informed people. It is irresponsible to just drag people off the streets for a vote on a major policy issue like Brexit. For example, days after the UK voted to leave the EU, a commentary on TIME's website wrote that the referendum was not a triumph of democracy, but an ugly populist fiasco.

Thus, there is good reason why more and more people feel like Western-style democracy has become a big joke. In the UK, the people voted to "take back control" of their country -- but without a plan. In the United States, politics has become a soap opera and the system is pitting Americans against Americans, splitting the country further apart. In fact, the US government has become so divided and dysfunctional that it recently broke the record for the longest shutdown in US history, which forced many government employees to turn to food banks to feed their families.

Yet, a very different story is unfolding in Asia. During the more than month-long government shutdown in the United States, China made history, too -- by landing the Chang'e-4 spacecraft on the far side of the moon. As a US senator pointed out during the shutdown, China has quadrupled its GDP since 2001, but the United States cannot even keep the government up and running. He called the situation in the United States "ludicrous."

Clearly, Western-style democracy is not "the end of history," as some have predicted and hoped for. This is not to say that the Western system is a failure or that China's system is superior to Western-style democracy, but it is fair to say that China's own system is a good fit for the country and it achieves the best results for the Chinese people.

For example, China has built the largest, most advanced high-speed train network in the world. It is the envy for many in the world, even for many Americans, including former President Barack Obama, who, nearly a decade ago, unveiled a plan for a national network of high-speed passenger rail lines that was envisioned to transform travel in America. The plan, like many others, turned out to be an American Dream that never came true. Just recently in California, for example, the state's new governor killed the high-speed rail program that would link Los Angeles to San Francisco -- a project beloved by the just-retired four-term Governor Jerry Brown.

And then there is US President Donald Trump's ambitious plan to "Rebuild America," which he has been unable to deliver. Stuck in an endless battle with Democrats over funding for the border wall, Trump declared a national emergency to fulfill his pledge to construct a wall along the US-Mexico border. His decision reflects a difference between the two countries' models. Whereas the Chinese model is people-centered, the American model is vote-centered. With regard to the "security and humanitarian crisis" on the country's southern border, the people are asking, "where is the crisis?" And herein lies the dilemma: Decisions, like Trump's decision to declare a national emergency, are essentially political stunts for votes. The Western model reduces people to a source of votes, essentially turning democracy into a game of likes.

This kind of decision-making is in stark contrast to the decision-making process in China, which makes annual, five-year, and long-term plans to guide the country forward and conducts extensive consultations to reach a broad consensus on major issues. A clear advantage of the Chinese system is that it is constantly exploring ways to adapt to the changing times, including large-scale reform of Party and government institutions to adapt to internal and external changes.

Perhaps there was a time when one could argue that the Western model produced the best results, but that is no longer the case. What we are seeing now is that it is increasingly difficult for Western countries to reach a consensus on major issues and to form a strategic plan. Western-style of democracy has become too rigid and Western democratic institutions are in a state of degradation, making it next to impossible to carry out any substantial reform. This can be seen in the fact that democracy in the Western world has increasingly become a fight for money and a game of manipulating people for votes.

In China's socialist democracy, there is a strong and stable political force that represents the interests of the great majority of the Chinese people. The Chinese government takes a people-centered approach to politics and good governance ensures that results can be delivered. It should be no wonder, then, that the Western model is barreling toward a cliff, while China is making great progress in various aspects, including the nation's ambitious plan to eradicate poverty by 2020. In a world of turmoil, there is reason for China and the Chinese people to be confident in its path.


Javed Mir5 days ago ,

--it is fair to say that China's own system is a good fit for the country and it achieves the best results for the Chinese people--

Putting it broadly 'One Size does not fit All' - as such values of the society, history of the society and potential of the society are different everywhere - as such state management be different. Moroever governance methods be flexible enough so that the decisions be adopted according to the national and international requirements.

.

LarryD Javed Mir5 days ago ,

In some Western countries it's not the political system itself that is necessarily bad. In the case of the present "sole superpower", for example, refusal to change policies based on the extermination of over 95% of its indigenous population and centuries of inhuman slavery of black people have perpetuated the present war against oppressed minorities. Further, the continuation of aggressive wars overseas, a habit that prompted Martin Luther King Jr to call his country "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" has ensured the neglect of infrastructure, healthcare, and quality of disenfranchised minorities, especially the Afro-Americans. It's not surprising that in poll after poll, the US have garnered the most votes for being the most dangerous country in the world. The much-maligned North Korea was second.

LarryD LarryD5 days ago ,

Typo: "quality of disenfranchised minorities, especially the Afro-Americans."

Should be "quality of education for disenfranchised minorities, especially that of Afro-Americans"

Raymond Hughes LarryDa day ago ,

Millions of poor people of all colours. The Africans used slaves long before the Arabs/ Europeans went to Africa and bought them from Africans, who used them for centuries, rounded them up, for sale to anyone with trinkets. The A-rabs were real big slavers, real big. Russia used Swedish slaves as did all nations use their fellow humans as slaves, only the US Negros get all the publicity.

[Mar 04, 2019] Communitarianism or Populism: The Ethic of Compassion and the Ethic of Respect

This is overview of the course...
Notable quotes:
"... Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value. ..."
"... Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul. ..."
"... Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market. ..."
"... The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image. ..."
"... In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering. ..."
"... "The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction. ..."
"... The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control. ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.theworkingcentre.org

If terms like "populism" and "community" figure prominently in political discourse today, it is because the ideology of the Enlightenment, having come under attack from a variety of sources, has lost much of its appeal. The claims of universal reason are universally suspect. Hopes for a system of values that would transcend the particularism of class, nationality, religion, and race no longer carry much conviction. The Enlightenment's reason and morality are increasingly seen as a cover for power, and the prospect that the world can he governed by reason seems more remote than at any time since the eighteenth century. The citizen of the world-the prototype of mankind in the future, according to the Enlightenment philosophers-is not much in evidence. We have a universal market, but it does not carry with it the civilizing effects that were so confidently expected by Hume and Voltaire. Instead of generating a new appreciation of common interests and inclinations-if the essential sameness of human beings everywhere-the global market seems to intensify the awareness of ethnic and national differences. The unification of the market goes hand in hand with the fragmentation of culture.

The waning of the Enlightenment manifests itself politically in the waning of liberalism, in many ways the most attractive product of the Enlightenment and the carrier of its best hopes. Through all the permutations and transformations of liberal ideology, two of its central features have persisted over the years: its commitment to progress and its belief that a liberal state could dispense with civic virtue. The two ideas were linked in a chain of reasoning having as its premise that capitalism had made it reason able for everyone to aspire to a level of comfort formerly accessible only to the rich. Henceforth men would devote themselves to their private business, reducing the need for government, which could more or less take care of itself. It was the idea of progress that made it possible to believe that societies blessed with material abundance could dispense with the active participation of ordinary citizens in government.

After the American Revolution liberals began to argue-in opposition to the older view that "public virtue is the only foundation of republics," in the words of John Adams -- that proper constitutional checks and balances would make it advantageous even for bad men to act for the public good," as James Wilson put it. According to John Taylor, "an avaricious society can form a government able to defend itself against the avarice of its members" by enlisting the "interest of vice ...on the side of virtue." Virtue lay in the "principles of government," Taylor argued, not in the "evanescent qualities of individuals." The institutions and "principles of a society may be virtuous, though the individuals composing it are vicious."

Meeting minimal conditions

The paradox of a virtuous society based on vicious individuals, however agree able in theory, was never adhered to very consistently. Liberals took for granted a good deal more in the way of private virtue than they were willing to acknowledge. Even to day liberals who adhere to this minimal view of citizenship smuggle a certain amount of citizenship between the cracks of their free- market ideology. Milton Friedman himself admits that a liberal society requires a "minimum degree of literacy and knowledge" along with a "widespread acceptance of some common set of values." It is not clear that our society can meet even these minimal conditions, as things stand today, but it has always been clear, in any case, that a liberal society needs more virtue than Friedman allows for.

A system that relies so heavily on the concept of rights presupposes individuals who respect the rights of others, if only because they expect others to respect their own rights in return. The market itself, the central institution of a liberal society, presupposes, at the very least, sharp-eyed, calculating, and clearheaded individuals-paragons of rational choice. It presupposes not just self interest but enlightened self-interest. It was for this reason that nineteenth-century liberals attached so much importance to the family. The obligation to support a wife and children, in their view, would discipline possessive individualism and transform the potential gambler, speculator, dandy, or confidence man into a conscientious provider. Having abandoned the old republican ideal of citizenship along with the republican indictment of luxury, liberals lacked any grounds on which to appeal to individuals to subordinate private interest to the public good.

But at least they could appeal to the higher selfishness of marriage and parenthood. They could ask, if not for the suspension of self-interest, for its elevation and refinement. The hope that rising expectations would lead men and women to invest their ambitions in their offspring was destined to be disappointed in the long run. The more closely capitalism came to be identified with immediate gratification and planned obsolescence, the more relentlessly it wore away the moral foundations of family life. The rising divorce rate, already a source of alarm in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, seemed to reflect a growing impatience with the constraints imposed by long responsibilities and commitments.

The passion to get ahead had begun to imply the right to make a fresh start whenever earlier commitments became unduly burden some. Material abundance weakened the economic as well as the moral foundations of the "well-'ordered family state" admired by nineteenth-century liberals. The family business gave way to the corporation, the family farm (more slowly and painfully) to a collectivized agriculture ultimately controlled by the same banking houses that had engineered the consolidation of industry. The agrarian uprising of the 1870s, 1880s, and l890s proved to be the first round in a long, losing struggle to save the family farm, enshrined in American mythology, even today, as the sine qua non of a good society but subjected into practice to a ruinous cycle of mechanization, indebtedness, and overproduction.

The family invaded

Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value.

In the long run women were forced into the workplace not only because their families needed extra income but because paid labour seemed to represent their only hope of gaining equality with men. In our time it is increasingly clear that children pay the price for this invasion of the family by the market. With both parents in the workplace and grandparents conspicuous by their absence, the family is no longer capable of sheltering children from the market. The television set becomes the principal baby-sitter by default. Its invasive presence deals the final blow to any lingering hope that the family can provide a sheltered space for children to grow up in.

Children are now exposed to the out side world from the time they are old enough to be left unattended in front of the tube. They are exposed to it, moreover, in a brutal yet seductive form that reduces the values of the marketplace to their simplest terms. Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul.

Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market.

The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image.

Weakening social trust

In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering.

The main thrust of social policy, ever since the first crusades against child labour, has been to transfer the care of children from informal settings to institutions designed specifically for pedagogical and custodial purposes. Today this trend continues in the movement for daycare, often justified on the undeniable grounds that working mothers need it but also on the grounds that daycare centers can take advantage of the latest innovations in pedagogy and child psychology. This policy of segregating children in age-graded institutions under professional supervision has been a massive failure, for reasons suggested some time ago by Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an attack on city planning that applies to social planning in general.

"The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction.

What the child learns is that adults unrelated to one another except by the accident of propinquity uphold certain standards and assume responsibility for the neighbourhood. With good reason, Jacobs calls this the "first fundamental of successful city life," one that "people hired to look after children cannot teach because the essence of this responsibility is that you do it without being hired."

Neighbourhoods encourage "casual public trust," according to Jacobs. In its absence the everyday maintenance of life has to be turned over to professional bureaucrats. The atrophy of informal controls leads irresistibly to the expansion of bureaucratic controls. This development threatens to extinguish the very privacy liberals have always set such store by. It also loads the organizational sector with burdens it cannot support. The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control.

The taxpayers' revolt, although itself informed by an ideology of privatism resistant to any kind of civic appeals, at the same time grows out of a well-founded suspicion that tax money merely sustains bureaucratic self-aggrandizement

The lost habit of self-help

As formal organizations break down, people will have to improvise ways of meeting their immediate needs: patrolling their own neighbourhoods, withdrawing their children from public schools in order to educate them at home. The default of the state will thus contribute in its own right to the restoration of informal mechanisms of self-help. But it is hard to see how the foundations of civic life can be restored unless this work becomes an overriding goal of public policy. We have heard a good deal of talk about the repair of our material infrastructure, but our cultural infrastructure needs attention too, and more than just the rhetorical attention of politicians who praise "family values" while pursuing economic policies that undermine them. It is either naive or cynical to lead the public to think that dismantling the welfare state is enough to ensure a revival of informal cooperation-"a thousand points of light." People who have lost the habit of self-help, who live in cities and suburbs where shopping malls have replaced neighbourhoods, and who prefer the company of close friends (or simply the company of television) to the informal sociability of the street, the coffee shop, and the tavern are not likely to reinvent communities just because the state has proved such an unsatisfactory substitute. Market mechanisms will not repair the fabric of public trust. On the contrary the market's effect on the cultural infrastructure is just as corrosive as that of the state.

A third way

We can now begin to appreciate the appeal of populism and communitarianism. They reject both the market and the welfare state in pursuit of a third way. This is why they are so difficult to classify on the conventional spectrum of political opinion. Their opposition to free-market ideologies seems to align them with the left, but 'their criticism of the welfare state (whenever this criticism becomes open and explicit) makes them sound right-wing. In fact, these positions belong to neither the left nor the right, and for that very reason they seem to many people to hold out the best hope of breaking the deadlock of current debate, which has been institutionalized in the two major parties and their divided control of the federal government. At a time when political debate consists of largely of ideological slogans endlessly repeated to audiences composed mainly of the party faithful, fresh thinking is desperately needed. It is not likely to emerge, however, from those with a vested interest in 'the old orthodoxies. We need a "third way of thinking about moral obligation," as Alan Wolfe puts it, one that locates moral obligation neither in the state nor in the market but "in common sense, ordinary emotions, and everyday life."

Wolfe's plea for a political program designed to strengthen civil society, which closely resembles the ideas advanced in The Good Society by Robert Bellah and his collaborators, should be welcomed by the growing numbers of people who find themselves dissatisfied with the alternatives defined by conventional debate. These authors illustrate the strengths of the communitarian position along with some of its characteristic weaknesses. They make it clear that both the market and the state presuppose the strength of "non-economic ties of trust and solidarity" as Wolfe puts it. Yet the expansion of these institutions weakens ties of trust and thus undermines the preconditions for their own success. The market and the "job culture," Bellah writes, are "invading our private lives," eroding our "moral infrastructure" of "social trust." Nor does the welfare state repair the damage. "The example of more successful welfare states ... suggests that money and bureaucratic assistance alone do not halt the decline of the family" or strengthen any of the other "sustaining institutions that make interdependence morally significant." None of this means that a politics that really mattered-a politics rooted in popular common sense instead of the ideologies that appeal to elites-would painlessly resolve all the conflicts that threaten to tear the country apart. Communitarians underestimate the difficulty of finding an approach to family issues, say, that is both profamily and profeminist.

That may be what the public wants in theory. In practice, however, it requires a restructuring of the workplace designed to make work schedules far more flexible, career patterns less rigid and predictable, and criteria for advancement less destructive to family and community obligations. Such reforms imply interference with the market and a redefinition of success, neither of which will be achieved without a great deal of controversy.

Back to Course Content

[Feb 27, 2019] UK's panicked neoliberal regime desperate to build a third loyal party to halt Corbyn's progressive counterattack

Feb 27, 2019 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

Right after the seven neoliberal Blairites left the Labour party towards the formation of a new "independent" party, three Tories decided to join them.

As the Guardian reported : "

Three Conservatives have quit their party to join the new Independent Group of MPs, declaring that hard Brexiters have taken over and that the modernising wing of the party has been 'destroyed'. Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen explained their decision to join the new group, founded this week by seven Labour MPs, who also left their party. "

It all happened too fast and someone would be rather naive to believe that these moves were not pre-agreed and fully coordinated.
All the picks appear to be carefully selected. The establishment takes back those who has raised carefully with the 'principles' of the neoliberal ideology in order to save them from the collapsing conservative party and the Corbynism-'contaminated' Labour. Next step, a third 'independent' party with the mission to save neoliberalism.

It's not hard to guess the source of funding of this new party. It is the part of the big capital, especially the financial sector and the pro-Israeli lobby in the UK, that benefits from the neoliberal globalization. Therefore, it is the part of the big capital that seeks to reverse Brexit at all costs and shares common ideas and interests with the lobbies that control the EU.

[Feb 26, 2019] It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of human rights promotion, as have some other communists

Notable quotes:
"... It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists. ..."
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

Digital Samizdat , says: February 26, 2019 at 1:03 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike Today's system is a hybrid of a late finance-stage global capitalism and cultural–not economic–Marxism. Instead of class struggle, we have identity politics. Instead of the ownership of the means of production, we have tranny bathrooms.

So the right-wingers (like Peter Hitchens) who say that 'Marxism won' are half right culturally, not economically. What causes all the confusion (among the libertarian types especially) is that capitalism in reality does not in any way resemble how it ought to work according to libertarian theories and never did. But when you point out to them that capitalism never worked in practice to begin with, they answer: 'But true capitalism has never even been tried!' And of course, they're right. 'True' capitalism (i.e., what libertarian theory calls capitalism) really never has been tried, and for exactly the same reason that perpetual motion machines have never been tried either: they're impossible.

None of which means I'm a 'pure' socialist. I'm open to mixed-economies and new experiments. I usually characterize myself more as a national socialist, mostly to differentiate myself from the 'world revolution' Trotskyite socialists who now predominate on the far-left.

That means I also take some inspiration from some fascists and national-syndicalists, although I don't regard any of them as holy writ, either.

In my opinion, the number one success factor for a civilization is not what theory it professes, but rather who controls it. Theories will always have to be modified to suit the circumstances; but the character of a people is much harder to change.

China's prospering because it's controlled by Chinese engineers; our civilization is suffocating because it's controlled by Jew-bankers and Masonic lawyers. Get rid of them first, and we can debate monetary theory till we're blue in the face.

Commentator Mike , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm GMT

@Digital Samizdat

I think that applying the old concepts of Marxism is no longer possible in the west since there is hardly a genuine proletariat as a proper class any more with the deindustrialisation and the transfer of major industries to China and other Asian and Latin American countries.

On the other hand the lumpenproletariat has grown and will grow further with greater automation in industry.

Many more people are now unemployed, underemployed, in service industries, part-time and temporary jobs, or ageing old age pensioners and retirees.

With the greater atomisation of the individual, break up of families, greater mobility, the concept of classes rooted long-term in their communities seems less applicable. You could say most of the global proletariat is now in China.

It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists.

Paul Edward Gottfried's "The Strange Death of Marxism" seems to offer some explanations but is not of much use in developing a new activism capable of taking on the system or providing a more viable alternative.

RobinG , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:29 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike

classical concepts of socialism and capitalism, and left and right politics

The left/right concept is no longer valid. For one thing, of what use is a $15. minimum wage (apparently a standard "left" plank) if there aren't any jobs? Take a look at Andrew Yang. At least he is posing the right questions.

Andrew Yang's Pitch to America – We Must Evolve to a New Form of Capitalism

[Feb 26, 2019] Neoliberalism by Julie Wilson

Highly recommended!
The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this close enough concept) that deified the market. It stress the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberalism.
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

skeptic on October 8, 2017

A solid book on neoliberal ideology and neoliberal rationality. Highly recommended

The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this is close enough concept) that deified the market. It stresses the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberal ideology much like was the case with Bolsheviks in the USSR:

Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top? The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me.

According to Gramsci, there was not one ruling class, but rather a historical bloc, "a moving equilibrium" of class interests and values. Hegemony names a cultural struggle for moral, social, economic, and political leadership; in this struggle, a field -- or assemblage -- of practices, discourses, values, and beliefs come to be dominant. While this field is powerful and firmly entrenched, it is also open to contestation. In other words, hegemonic power is always on the move; it has to keep winning our consent to survive, and sometimes it fails to do so.
Through the lens of hegemony, we can think about the rise of neoliberalism as an ongoing political project -- and class struggle -- to shift society's political equilibrium and create a new dominant field. Specifically, we are going to trace the shift from liberal to neoliberal hegemony. This shift is represented in the two images below.

Previous versions of liberal hegemony imagined society to be divided into distinct public and private spheres. The public sphere was the purview of the state, and its role was to ensure the formal rights and freedoms of citizens through the rule of law. The private sphere included the economy and the domestic sphere of home and family.

For the most part, liberal hegemony was animated by a commitment to limited government, as the goal was to allow for as much freedom in trade, associations, and civil society as possible, while preserving social order and individual rights. Politics took shape largely around the line between public and private; more precisely, it was a struggle over where and how to draw the line. In other words, within the field of liberal hegemony, politics was a question of how to define the uses and limits of the state and its public function in a capitalist society. Of course, political parties often disagreed passionately about where and how to draw that line. As we'll see below, many advocated for laissez-faire capitalism, while others argued for a greater public role in ensuring the health, happiness, and rights of citizens. What's crucial though is that everyone agreed that there was a line to be drawn, and that there was a public function for the state.

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets.

This view correlates well with the analysis of Professor Wendy Brown book "Undoing the Demos" and her paper "Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy" (pdf is freely available)

In this sense neoliberalism are just "Trotskyism for the rich" with the same utopian dream of global neoliberal revolution, but much more sinister motives. And is as ruthless in achieving its goals, if necessary bring neoliberal "regime change" on the tips of bayonets, or via 'cultural revolutions".

If we follow the line of thinking put forward by Professor Philip Mirowski's in his book "Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown," we can say that neoliberals essentially "reverse-engineered" Bolsheviks methods of acquiring and maintaining political power, replacing "dictatorship of proletariat" with the "dictatorship of financial oligarchy".

I would say more: The "professional revolutionary" cadre that were the core of Bolshevik's Party were replaced with well paid, talented intellectual prostitutes at specially created neoliberal think tanks. And later "infiltrated" in economic departments (kind of stealth coup d'état in academia financed by usual financial players).

Which eventually created a critical mass of ideas which were able to depose New Deal Capitalism ideology, putting forward the set of remedies that restore the power the financial oligarchy enjoyed in 1920th. Technological changes such as invention of computers and telecommunication revolution also helped greatly.

At the same time unlike Bolsheviks, neoliberals are carefully hiding their agenda. Funny, neoliberalism is the only known to me major ideology which the US MSM are prohibited to mention by name ;-)

The role of state under neoliberalism is very close to the role of state under Bolsheviks' "dictatorship of proletariats". It no way this still a liberal democracy -- this is what Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". Less brutal then Bolsheviks' regime, but still far from real democracy. Under neoliberalism the state is a powerful agent needed to enforce markets on unsuspecting population in all spheres of life, whether they want it or not (supported by 12" guns of neoliberal MSM battleships):

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets. Consequently, contemporary politics take shape around questions of how best to promote competition. For the most part, politics on both the left and right have been subsumed by neoliberal hegemony. For example, while neoliberalism made its debut in Western politics with the right-wing administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leaders associated with the left have worked to further neoliberal hegemony in stunning ways. As we will explore in more depth below and in die coming chapters, both U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have governed to create a privatized, market society. In other words, there is both a left and a right hegemonic horizon of neoliberalism. Thus, moving beyond neoliberalism will ultimately require a whole new field of politics.

One of the most interesting part of the book is the brief analysis of the recent elections (with very precise characterization of Hillary Clinton defeat as the defeat of the "neoliberal status quo"). The author claims that Trump supporters were mainly representatives of the strata of the US society which were sick-and-tied of neoliberalism (note the percentage of Spanish speaking electorate who voted for Trump), but they were taken for a ride, as instead of rejection of globalism and free movement of labor, Trump actually represented more right wing, more bastardized version of "hard neoliberalism".

In the period which followed the elections Trump_vs_deep_state emerged as a kind of "neoliberalism in one country" -- much like Stalin's "socialism in one country". It and did not care one bit about those who voted for him during election . As in classic "The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go."

So in a way Trump represents the mirror image of Obama who in the same way betrayed his votes (twice) acting from "soft neoliberalism" position, while Trump is acting from "hard neoliberalism" position.

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.
... ... ...

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."'

[Feb 26, 2019] 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.

[Feb 13, 2019] It is hard not to wonder just how neoliberal ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions.

From: Books That Challenge the Consensus on Capitalism
Notable quotes:
"... Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who recently posed the once-blasphemous question: "What comes after capitalism?" ..."
"... He rightly described a global impasse: "Given the political constraints on redistribution and the constraints from capital mobility, we may just not be able to alleviate inequality and insecurity enough to prevent populism and revolutions." ..."
"... Martin Wolf, respected columnist for the Financial Times, recently concluded, if "reluctantly," that "capitalism is substantially broken." This year, many books with titles such as "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" and "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" blamed an unjust economic system and its beneficiaries for the rise of demagogues. ..."
"... Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions. ..."
"... Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism. ..."
Dec 24, 2018 | news.yahoo.com

...A Western consensus quickly formed after the collapse of communist regimes in 1989. It was widely believed by newspaper editorialists as well as politicians and businessmen that there was no alternative to free markets, which alone could create prosperity. The government's traditional attempts to regulate corporations and banks and redistribute wealth through taxes were deemed a problem. As the economist Milton Friedman put it, "The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests." Neither individuals nor companies needed to worry much about inequality or social justice. In Friedman's influential view, "There is one and only one social responsibility of business -- to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits."

Political fiascos in the West, following its largest financial crisis -- events accompanied by the emergence of China, a Communist-run nation-state, as a major economic power, as well as an unfolding environmental calamity -- have utterly devastated these post-1989 assumptions about free markets and the role of governments.

Confessions to this effect come routinely from disenchanted believers. Take, for instance, Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who recently posed the once-blasphemous question: "What comes after capitalism?"

Blanchard was commenting on the recent demonstrations in France against President Emmanuel Macron. He rightly described a global impasse: "Given the political constraints on redistribution and the constraints from capital mobility, we may just not be able to alleviate inequality and insecurity enough to prevent populism and revolutions."

... ... ...

Thus, Martin Wolf, respected columnist for the Financial Times, recently concluded, if "reluctantly," that "capitalism is substantially broken." This year, many books with titles such as "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" and "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" blamed an unjust economic system and its beneficiaries for the rise of demagogues.

It is becoming clear that the perennial conflict between democracy, which promises equality, and capitalism, which generates inequality, has been aggravated by a systemic neglect of some fundamental issues.

... ... ...

Her targets range from pharmaceutical companies, which uphold a heartless version of market rationality, to internet companies with monopoly power such as Google and Facebook. Her most compelling example, however, is the workings of the financial sector, and its Friedman-style obsession with "shareholder value maximization," which has infected the corporate sector as a whole.

Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions.

In the conventional account of neoliberalism, Friedman looms large, along with his disciple Ronald Reagan, and Britain's Margaret Thatcher. Much has been written about how the IMF's structural adjustment programs in Asia and Africa, and "shock-therapy" for post-Communist states, entrenched orthodoxies about deregulation and privatization.

In these narratives, neoliberalism appears indistinguishable from laissez-faire. In "Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism," Quinn Slobodian briskly overturns this commonplace view. Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism.

... ... ...

Pankaj Mishra is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. His books include "Age of Anger: A History of the Present," "From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia," and "Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond." For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

[Feb 13, 2019] A glossary of exploitive economics: 'Lean in' and 8 other bad business buzzwords that should be phased out written by Yes! Magazine and TruthDig A radical pessimist's glossary of exploitative economics.

Jan 17, 2019 | www.alternet.org

The near future is more likely to be a neoliberal dystopia than the tech-enabled utopia conjured up by big business, writes Peter Fleming in The Worst Is Yet to Come: A Post-Capitalist Survival Guide . He argues that we need "radical pessimism" to aim for the future we actually want, and aids the effort with sardonic humor that skewers the mythologies of our exploitative economic system.

In 1949, the right-wing economist F. A. Hayek published an essay entitled "The Intellectuals and Socialism," which aimed to change the way capitalism thought about itself. Up until then, he argued, it was mainly the socialists who had claimed the intellectual space of utopianism.

Hayek sought to rectify this. Free-market conservatives ought to come up with their own utopias and sell them to the public as glorious futures to come. Capitalist individualism and a minimal state were prominent components, elevated like secular gods.

As with most utopian blueprints, however, when put into practice, the outcome was frequently appalling. Yet these failures didn't stop the power elite from trying again, no matter how many casualties fell along the way. That's why capitalism today consists of an uneasy confluence of brazen destructiveness and implacable self-confidence, convinced that we will soon be approaching a Panglossian Best of All Possible Worlds.

The problem is that the worst is yet to come. We therefore require a good understanding of the ideological terrain upon which that struggle will unfold. Most importantly, we won't necessarily see the clean death of neoliberalism but an exaggerated and unsustainable deepening of it. It will then buckle under its own weight, yielding a windswept post-capitalist dystopia if nothing is done to counteract it now.

Mainstream economic theory might first appear rational and objective, especially given its clinical quantification of human behavior. The mathematical models and algebraic theorems add to the veneer of scientificity. But beneath the numbers is an unyielding and often mysterious faith in the rectitude of monetary individualism. That conviction is conveyed in buzzwords and fads, many of which have entered daily life, and will only intensify in the next few years. We require a counter-lexicon. Towards that end, here is my take on some of the key features of the bad business utopias that are busy colonizing the future.

Glossary

Artificial Intelligence:

Machine learning and robotics that soon may be capable of reflective cognition, with much attention focusing on work and employment.

Automation of production has defined capitalism from the start. As has the fear (or hope) that machines will soon replace most of the workforce. The application of Artificial Intelligence in the "second machine age" will center on routine cognitive work (e.g., accountants and airline pilots) and nonroutine manual jobs (e.g., care providers, drivers, and hairdressers). However, this is where fantasy enters the picture. Namely, capitalism without laborers, a dream that is integral to neoliberal economics. In reality, AI will probably follow the same path as previous waves of automation: mechanizing certain parts of a job rather than replacing it entirely, especially the skilled part that affects wages. Moreover, the old Keynesian point still holds: Workers are also consumers. Thus, the disappearance of labor would also eliminate consumption, which is integral to capitalism. That might not be a bad thing, as advocates of "fully automated luxury communism" suggest. However, a bleaker scenario is possible. The retention of a highly polarized and class-based society (as we have today) but without labor or consumption, given the widespread application of AI. This would represent a kind of inverted rendition of capitalism. High-tech and primitive. This model of society has no name yet, but something like "Blade Runner Capitalism" might suffice.

Corporate Social Responsibility:

A concept designed to spread the fallacy that corporations can be driven by profit-maximization and have a positive ethical role in society; a disavowal of the key contradictions of capitalism; an idea closely associated with other disingenuous terms such as "conscious capitalism" and "green capitalism."

Milton Friedman famously argued against Corporate Social Responsibility. Focus on profits, he said, and let the state and churches deal with human welfare. However, CSR became popular nevertheless and is now big business. Almost every corporation has a CSR program of some kind. The concept is fundamental to neoliberal utopianism because it peddles the falsehood that capitalism can be both ruthlessly profiteering and kind to the planet. Have its cake and eat it too. As a corollary, governmental regulation is deemed unnecessary. CSR provides an excuse for corporations to regulate themselves, and we all know where that leads. It is no surprise that CSR is most visible in controversial industries like mining, oil and gas, arms manufacturing and tobacco (often involving glossy brochures and websites depicting happy African children playing in green rainforests). Moreover, the tax benefits enjoyed by billionaire philanthropists are another good reason they like CSR.

Game Theory:

The use of mathematics to model human reality; one of the more bizarre offshoots that followed the mathematization of economic thought in the 20th century.

Game theory focuses on strategies used by competing actors to make rational decisions. What should I do given my opponent may subsequently decide A, B, C, or D? It was pioneered by John von Neumann, John Nash, and Oskar Morgenstern. The assumption that social life is a game of logic between conniving actors is foundational to this view of economics. But do we really behave in such a "me versus you" manner?

Game Theory's rational individualism closely resonates with neoliberal capitalism because it reconceptualizes everyone as mini corporations who are totally selfish.

Individuals compete rather than share; seek to outsmart the next person rather than empathize. Proponents of the approach often use the "as if" defense. The model might not perfectly match reality, but we can approximate how someone behaves in the real world by assuming they act "as if" they're Nashian plotters.

It's the normative assumptions underlying this "as if" that are problematic that at bottom we're all greedy and impatient bankers. One could just as well argue that people act "as if" they're trusting and altruistic socialists, but Game Theory won't have any of that.

Human Resource Management:

An ultra-corporate manifestation of business management; a practice informally called "Inhuman Resource Management" by workers.

Even the very phrase Human Resource Management sounds weird, like something dreamed up by extraterrestrials who plan on harvesting mankind. The objectification is important to understanding HRM. In the old days, most large organizations had personnel departments. They dealt with payroll and hiring. In the 1980s and 1990s, this role slowly focused in on the nature of the employee. Testing potential recruits.

Developing employee engagement programs to revive flagging morale and so on. However, the covert agenda was to replace unions, who had previously fulfilled these functions. As neoliberalism spread through the economy like wild fire, HRM became a tool for pathologizing the recalcitrant employee. Rather than view the unhappy worker from a structural perspective (i.e., low wages, unfair treatment, boring job), it was their personality that was singled out as a problem. Following the financial crisis, HRM has become the punitive arm of organizational power. Their main role is to undermine unions, protect employers from discontented workers and enforce financial miserliness.

Leadership: The assumption that when humans organize they require top-down control and only special individuals are capable of doing this; the valorization of elitism.

When social actors are encouraged to behave as capsulelike monads -- as they are under neoliberal capitalism -- then some kind of extra-individual steering mechanism is soon required to avert chaos. In the workplace, this could include workers' councils. At the societal level, a democratically elected government. But capitalists naturally distain those options and evoke the mythology of leadership instead, sold to us as great men and women who've been blessed with amazing skills. To understand this bizarre veneration of elitism, we might recall Max Weber's argument about charismatic leaders. These individuals function as supplements to market rationality rather than replacements, which is why fascism was so attracted to the idea. The economic system can have bourgeois individualism and an overarching, CEO-like führer at the same time. The conflation serves to ward off social democratic solutions to economic coordination.

Lean In: Faux-feminism for the corporate age; an attempt to render feminism business-friendly; what feminism looks like after patriarchy wins .

Radical gender politics is dangerous to capitalism because it rallies against the patriarchal structures essential to it. In many ways, neoliberalism is a male-driven horror show. However, identity politics has severely diluted that radicalism and finally made feminism palatable to the establishment, including the multinational corporation. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead , by Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook's chief operating of officer) is the end product of that betrayal. Sandberg gives advice to her readers about how to be both a woman and ruthlessly ambitious in the corporate world. Capitalism and the multinational corporation are all taken for granted, and feminism becomes a matter of women landing a seat in the boardroom and getting rich.

Moral Hazard: The cynical belief that you will automatically behave irresponsibly if not held accountable for your actions, especially in terms of financial responsibility; a moral pretext for demolishing the public sphere; the belief that everyone is a feckless opportunist .

The concept of moral hazard originated in insurance economics. It argues that once people are protected by insurance (say home and contents) they'll automatically engage in riskier behavior than normal (leaving their homes unlocked, for example). The theory assumes that people are not only stupid but have no sense of civic responsibility. The rationale has been deployed by neocons to lay ruin to the welfare state. Unemployment insurance incentivizes work avoidance. Public health care encourages unhealthy lifestyle choices, etc. We could follow the rationale reductio ad absurdum : public fire brigades shouldn't be funded because they inadvertently encourage people to be careless in the kitchen, and might result in them burning down their homes.

Office Email: An electronic communication system that has become ubiquitous among the modern workforce; an instrument for spreading wage-theft and unpaid overtime; something 50 percent of the workforce now "check" outside of office hours.

What is colloquially called the "tyranny of email," started life as a cool invention by Ray Tomlinson in 1971. With the birth of the internet, email rapidly replaced memos and postage. In the workplace, it was meant to make life easier. However, smartphones turned this tool of convenience into a slave master, since the office is always there, in your pocket. Not so long ago, management consultants used to say they loved flying because only then could they turn off their phone. Now even that respite has disappeared, as Wi-Fi coverage is included in most methods of travel. Email fits so snugly into the neoliberal order because it exemplifies individual mobility. You're always switched on no matter what. Work and life merge. Self-exploitation becomes rife. But does email improve your productivity on the job? One study decided to find out. A large office was deprived of email access for a day and its productivity levels actually soared. Therefore, not only does the "tyranny of email" increase our workload and render us permanently exposed to the supervisor's gaze, it also hinders our ability to get things done, making life harder for no obvious reason.

Tax Avoidance: How corporations and rich plutocrats sidestep the taxes that you and I have to pay; a mechanism for increasing wealth inequality to levels unheard of in the modern era; a method for starving the public sphere of cash; what greed looks like in the end times.

Neoliberalism has always hated tax, especially corporate tax. Trickle-down economics assumes that low taxes incentivize employers to hire more workers, invest and grow. Instead, firms usually keep the extra equity and get richer. Building on that sentiment, corporations have devised an elaborate international system to facilitate tax avoidance, with the help of countries like Ireland (the "Double Irish") and Holland (the "Dutch Sandwich"). Corporations are taxed on profits rather than revenue. They can therefore artificially reduce these profits by setting up a parent company in Ireland, for example, and then a subsidiary in, say the UK, which is charged steep licensing and administrative fees. This is how Google can enjoy yearly sales in the UK of £1.03 billion yet post a pretax profit of £149 million, with a tax bill of £36.4 million. Some firms might even record a "loss" (despite healthy revenues), then use the "Double Irish" with a "Dutch Sandwich," and pay no tax whatsoever. Combined with shadow banking, transfer pricing, trade mis-invoicing and tax havens, here we see where neoliberal capitalism is heading in the end times. The ultrarich -- and their phalanx -- floating above the state as the public sphere shrinks and society descends into disorder. Moreover, it is precisely here that neo-feudal social structures make a comeback, linked to family oligarchies and their tremendous influence over governments, bypassing the democratic process.

This excerpt is from The Worst Is Yet to Come: A Post-Capitalist Survival Guide by Peter Fleming. ( Repeater Books 2019). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

tain those options and evoke the mythology of leadership instead, sold to us as great men and women who've been blessed with amazing skills. To understand this bizarre veneration of elitism, we might recall Max Weber's argument about charismatic leaders. These individuals function as supplements to market rationality rather than replacements, which is why fascism was so attracted to the idea. The economic system can have bourgeois individualism and an overarching, CEO-like führer at the same time. The conflation serves to ward off social democratic solutions to economic coordination.

Lean In: Faux-feminism for the corporate age; an attempt to render feminism business-friendly; what feminism looks like after patriarchy wins .

Radical gender politics is dangerous to capitalism because it rallies against the patriarchal structures essential to it. In many ways, neoliberalism is a male-driven horror show. However, identity politics has severely diluted that radicalism and finally made feminism palatable to the establishment, including the multinational corporation. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead , by Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook's chief operating of officer) is the end product of that betrayal. Sandberg gives advice to her readers about how to be both a woman and ruthlessly ambitious in the corporate world. Capitalism and the multinational corporation are all taken for granted, and feminism becomes a matter of women landing a seat in the boardroom and getting rich.

Moral Hazard: The cynical belief that you will automatically behave irresponsibly if not held accountable for your actions, especially in terms of financial responsibility; a moral pretext for demolishing the public sphere; the belief that everyone is a feckless opportunist .

The concept of moral hazard originated in insurance economics. It argues that once people are protected by insurance (say home and contents) they'll automatically engage in riskier behavior than normal (leaving their homes unlocked, for example). The theory assumes that people are not only stupid but have no sense of civic responsibility. The rationale has been deployed by neocons to lay ruin to the welfare state. Unemployment insurance incentivizes work avoidance. Public health care encourages unhealthy lifestyle choices, etc. We could follow the rationale reductio ad absurdum : public fire brigades shouldn't be funded because they inadvertently encourage people to be careless in the kitchen, and might result in them burning down their homes.

Tax Avoidance: How corporations and rich plutocrats sidestep the taxes that you and I have to pay; a mechanism for increasing wealth inequality to levels unheard of in the modern era; a method for starving the public sphere of cash; what greed looks like in the end times.

Neoliberalism has always hated tax, especially corporate tax. Trickle-down economics assumes that low taxes incentivize employers to hire more workers, invest and grow. Instead, firms usually keep the extra equity and get richer. Building on that sentiment, corporations have devised an elaborate international system to facilitate tax avoidance, with the help of countries like Ireland (the "Double Irish") and Holland (the "Dutch Sandwich"). Corporations are taxed on profits rather than revenue. They can therefore artificially reduce these profits by setting up a parent company in Ireland, for example, and then a subsidiary in, say the UK, which is charged steep licensing and administrative fees. This is how Google can enjoy yearly sales in the UK of £1.03 billion yet post a pretax profit of £149 million, with a tax bill of £36.4 million. Some firms might even record a "loss" (despite healthy revenues), then use the "Double Irish" with a "Dutch Sandwich," and pay no tax whatsoever. Combined with shadow banking, transfer pricing, trade mis-invoicing and tax havens, here we see where neoliberal capitalism is heading in the end times. The ultrarich -- and their phalanx -- floating above the state as the public sphere shrinks and society descends into disorder. Moreover, it is precisely here that neo-feudal social structures make a comeback, linked to family oligarchies and their tremendous influence over governments, bypassing the democratic process.

This excerpt is from The Worst Is Yet to Come: A Post-Capitalist Survival Guide by Peter Fleming. ( Repeater Books 2019). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

[Feb 12, 2019] How Neoliberalism Is Normalising Hostility

Notable quotes:
"... By Couze Venn, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Theory in the Media & Communications Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Associate Research Fellow at Johannesburg University. His recent book is After Capital, Sage, 2018. Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet – this zero sum game of winners and losers benefits only the far right. ..."
"... Image: Homeless man with commuters walking past, Waterloo Station, London. Credit: Jessica Mulley/Flickr, CC 2.0. ..."
"... As Ha Joon Chang has shown, by the 1990s, financial capitalism had become the dominant power, prioritising the interest of shareholders, and incentivising managers through share ownership and bonuses schemes. ..."
"... Meanwhile, neoliberal political economy gradually became the new orthodoxy, increasing its impact through right wing thinktanks and government advisors and spreading its influence in academia and economic thought. Its initial success in terms of growth and prosperity in the 1990s and turn of the century consolidated its hold over the economy until the crash of 2008. ..."
"... political economy ..."
"... Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and 'losers'. Apart from the alt-right in the USA, we find its exemplary advocates amongst leading Brexiteers in the UK, backed by dark money. It is not the social democratic compromise of capitalism with a human face that could support the welfare state. Seen in this context, there is an essential affinity between alt-right, neoliberal political economy and neo- fascisms, punctuated by aggressivity, intolerance, exclusion, expulsion and generalised hostility. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

How Neoliberalism Is Normalising Hostility Posted on February 12, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Even though this post paints with very bright colors, I imagine most readers will agree with the argument it makes about the destructive social impact of neoliberalism.

Some additional points to consider:

Neoliberalism puts markets above all else. In this paradigm, you are supposed to uproot yourself if work dries up where you live or if there are better opportunities elsewhere. The needs of your family or extended family are treated as secondary. And your community? Fuggedaboudit. And this attitude has also led to what is arguably the most corrosive practice, of companies treating employees like tissue paper, to be trashed after use.

Companies have increasingly adopted a transactional posture towards customers. This shift happened on Wall Street as a result of deregulation in the 1980s (Rule 415; if anyone cares, I'll elaborate in comments). The reduced orientation towards treating customers well as a sound business practice, and merely going through the form is particularly pronounced at the retail level. I can't tell you how many times I have had to go through ridiculous hoops merely to get a vendor to live up to its agreement, and even though I am plenty tenacious, I don't always prevail. It didn't used to be anywhere near this bad. And this is corrosive. Not only are customers effectively treated as if they can be abused, the people in the support ops wind up being on the receiving end of well deserved anger even though they aren't the proper target. The phone reps are almost certainly not told that they are perpetrating an abuse (which then leads to the question of who in the organization has set up the scripts and training with lies in them) but for certain types of repeat cases, they have to know their employer is up to no good. I am sure this is the case at Cigna, where at least twice a year, I have a problem with a claim, the service rep says it should have been paid and puts it in to be reprocessed and I typically have to rinse and repeat and get stroopy about it, meaning the later reps can see the pattern of deliberate non-payment of a valid claim and continue to act as if they can do something about it.

By Couze Venn, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Theory in the Media & Communications Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Associate Research Fellow at Johannesburg University. His recent book is After Capital, Sage, 2018. Originally published at openDemocracy

From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet – this zero sum game of winners and losers benefits only the far right.

Image: Homeless man with commuters walking past, Waterloo Station, London. Credit: Jessica Mulley/Flickr, CC 2.0.

The hostile environment is not just about the Windrush generation in the UK, or the harassment of migrants at the Mexican border in the USA, or the unwelcoming treatment of refugees trying to reach Europe. It has become ubiquitous and widespread. We encounter it in many aspects of daily life. In worsening conditions at work such as zero-hour 'contracts'. In obstacles to accessing social and health services due to cutbacks, making people's lives more precarious. Online threats and trolling are other signs of this normalisation of hostility.

The normalisation of hostile environments signals a worrying and global shift in values of tolerance, empathy, compassion, hospitality and responsibility for the vulnerable. It's a normalisation that was criticised recently in the UK by UN Poverty Rapporteur Philip Alston, who described how "punitive, mean-spirited, often callous" government welfare policies were contributing to an " increasingly hostile and unwelcoming society ".

There's a pattern to hostile environments that harks back to the 1930s and 40s. As we know, at the time, those targeted were considered as the enemy within, to be subject to expulsion, exclusion and indeed, genocide, as happened to Jews and other so-called 'inferior races'. In more recent time, the iterations of this discourse of the alien other who must be expelled or eliminated to save the 'pure' or 'good race' or ethnicity and reconstitute the broken community have found traction in Europe, the USA, Rwanda, India, parts of the Middle East. In its wake, refugees have become asylum seekers, migrants are labelled illegal or criminal, cultural differences become alien cultures, non-binary women and men are misgendered, and at the extreme, those targeted for violence become vermin. It marks a shift in political culture that inscribes elements of fascism.

Why has this atmosphere of hostility become the default position in politics? What have been the triggers and what are the stakes in this great moving rightwards shift? One may be tempted to identify the change in mood and attitudes with recent events like the election of Trump in the USA. But the far right has been on the rise in Europe, the UK and the US for some years, as seen in movements like the Tea Party, UKIP, or the National Front in France . They have been given a boost by the flood of refugees generated by wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, parts of Africa, as well as by the spread of fundamentalist religious creeds that have an affinity with forms of fascism.

Why? Two related sets of developments that from the 1970s have gradually altered the political terrain. Economically, globalisation emerged as an integral part of a transnational corporate strategy aimed at securing advantageous conditions for the consolidation of global capital at a time of risky structural changes in the global economy. And politically, neoliberalism took hold when the crises of the 1970s started to undermine the postwar consensus in the Keynesian mixed economy and the role of the welfare state.

Globalisation saw the systematic deployment of outsourcing production in countries offering cheap labour, minimised corporate tax burdens and other incentives for transnational corporations, and the invention of the trade in derivatives (financial mechanisms intended to leverage the value of assets and repackaged debts). They contributed to the 2008 crash. The general public were made to bail out the banks through increased taxation and the establishment of policies across social services that produce hostile environments for claimants seeking state support.

As Ha Joon Chang has shown, by the 1990s, financial capitalism had become the dominant power, prioritising the interest of shareholders, and incentivising managers through share ownership and bonuses schemes. The disruptions due to this recomposition of capital have been a global squeeze on income, the creation of a new precariat, and the debt society. People who feel insecure, abandoned to forces outside their control become easy prey to demagogues and prophets of deceit who promise the return of good times, provided enemies and outsiders who wreck things are expelled.

Meanwhile, neoliberal political economy gradually became the new orthodoxy, increasing its impact through right wing thinktanks and government advisors and spreading its influence in academia and economic thought. Its initial success in terms of growth and prosperity in the 1990s and turn of the century consolidated its hold over the economy until the crash of 2008.

What is important here is the radical shift in values and attitudes that recall utilitarian values in the 19th Century. In particular, it is reflected in the neoliberal hostility towards the poor, the weak, the destitute, the ' losers', expressed in its denial or abnegation of responsibility for their plight or welfare, and its project of dismantling the welfare or providential state.

This pervasive atmosphere of hostility is the real triumph of neoliberal political economy . Not the economy – privatisation, monetisation, deregulation, generalised competition, and structural adjustments are immanent tendencies in globalised capitalism anyway. But neoliberal political economy reanimates attitudes and values that legitimate the consolidation of power over others, evidenced for example in the creation of an indebted population who must play by the dominant rules of the game in order to survive. It promotes new servitudes, operating on a planetary scale. What is rejected are ideas of common interest and a common humanity that support the principle of collective responsibility for fellow humans, and that radical liberal philosophers like John Stuart Mill defended. They were the values, along with the principles of fundamental human rights, that informed major reforms, and inspired socialism. The establishment of the welfare or providential state, and programmes of redistribution, enshrined in Beveridge or New Deals, draw from these same principles and values.

Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and 'losers'. Apart from the alt-right in the USA, we find its exemplary advocates amongst leading Brexiteers in the UK, backed by dark money. It is not the social democratic compromise of capitalism with a human face that could support the welfare state. Seen in this context, there is an essential affinity between alt-right, neoliberal political economy and neo- fascisms, punctuated by aggressivity, intolerance, exclusion, expulsion and generalised hostility.

There are other important stakes at this point in the history of humanity and the planet. We tend to forget that support for fundamental human rights, like equality, liberty, freedom from oppressive power, has long been motivated by the same kind of concern to defend the vulnerable, the poor, the destitute, the oppressed from the injustices arising from unequal relations of power. We forget too that these rights have been hard won through generations of emancipatory struggles against many forms of oppressions.

Yet, it is sad to see many institutions and organisations tolerate intolerance out of confusion about the principles at stake and for fear of provoking hostile reactions from those who claim rights that in effect disadvantage some already vulnerable groups. Failure to defend the oppressed anywhere and assert our common humanity is the slippery slope towards a Hobbesian state and great suffering for the many.

[Feb 11, 2019] Many meaning of the word "free" are different from the "free from coercion" adopted by the Neoliberal Newspeak

Notable quotes:
"... The ruling class has successfully ruled out any concept of consent. Keep bringing consent up and their philosophies will be shown to be the same as gang rapists. ..."
"... They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. ..."
"... They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

sentido kumon , says: February 3, 2019 at 10:17 am GMT

'Liber' in Latin means:
1) free (man)
2) free from tribute
3) independent, outspoken/frank
4) unimpeded
5) void of

The author needs to recheck his definitions. Voluntary exchange, consent, free markets, free will, etc are just some of the concepts at the heart of the true libertarian thought. The ruling class has successfully ruled out any concept of consent. Keep bringing consent up and their philosophies will be shown to be the same as gang rapists.

"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!" – Ludwig Von Mises

[Feb 09, 2019] Neoliberalism's collapse is probably inevitable but what will come next is completely unclear

Notable quotes:
"... Unfettered individual creativity may have fostered some great – if fetishised – art, as well as rapid mechanical and technological developments. But it has also encouraged unbridled competition in every sphere of life, whether beneficial to humankind or not, and however wasteful of resources. ..."
"... At its worst, it has unleashed quite literally an arms race, one that – because of a mix of our unconstrained creativity, our godlessness and the economic logic of the military-industrial complex – culminated in the development of nuclear weapons. We have now devised the most complete and horrific ways imaginable to kill each other. We can commit genocide on a global scale ..."
"... Those among the elites who understand that neoliberalism has had its day are exploiting the old ideology of grab-it-for-yourself capitalism while deflecting attention from their greed and the maintenance of their privilege by sowing discord and insinuating dark threats. ..."
"... The criticisms of the neoliberal elite made by the ethnic nationalists sound persuasive because they are rooted in truths about neoliberalism's failure. But as critics, they are disingenuous. They have no solutions apart from their own personal advancement in the existing, failed, self-sabotaging system. ..."
"... This trend – what I have previously ascribed to a group I call the "dissenters" – understands that radical new thinking is required. But given that this group is being actively crushed by the old neoliberal elite and the new authoritarians, it has little public and political space to explore its ideas, to experiment, to collaborate, as it urgently needs to. ..."
Feb 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Ok neoliberalism is bad and is collapsing. We all understadn that. The different in opinions here is only in timeframe of the collapse and the main reason (end of cheap oil, WWIII, etc). But so far no plausible alternative exists. Canwe return to the New Deal, if top management betrayed the working class and allied with capital owners in a hope later to became such capital owners themselves (and many did).

The experience of the USSR tells as that each Nomenklatura (technocratic elite with the goal of "betterment" of people) degrade very quickly (two generations were enough for Bolshevik's elite for complete degradation) and often is ready switch sides for the place in neoliberal elite.

So while after 2008 neoliberalism exist in zombie states (which is more bloodthirsty then previous) they issue of successor to neoliberalism is widely open.

In one sense, their diagnosis is correct: Europe and the [neo]neoliberal tradition are coming apart at the seams. But not because, as they strongly imply, European politicians are pandering to the basest instincts of a mindless rabble – the ordinary people they have so little faith in.

Rather, it is because a long experiment in Neoliberalism has finally run its course. Neoliberalism has patently failed – and failed catastrophically.

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, like most ideologies, has an upside. Its respect for the individual and his freedoms, its interest in nurturing human creativity, and its promotion of "universal values" over tribal attachment have had some positive consequences.

But neoliberal ideology has been very effective at hiding its dark side – or more accurately, at persuading us that this dark side is the consequence of neoliberalism's abandonment rather than inherent to the neoliberal's political project.

The loss of traditional social bonds – tribal, sectarian, geographic – has left people today more lonely, more isolated than was true of any previous human society. We may pay lip service to universal values, but in our atomised communities, we feel adrift, abandoned and angry.

Humanitarian resource grabs

The neoliberal's professed concern for others' welfare and their rights has, in reality, provided cynical cover for a series of ever-more transparent resource grabs. The parading of neoliberalism's humanitarian credentials has entitled our elites to leave a trail of carnage and wreckage in their wake in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and soon, it seems, in Venezuela. We have killed with our kindness and then stolen our victims' inheritance.

Unfettered individual creativity may have fostered some great – if fetishised – art, as well as rapid mechanical and technological developments. But it has also encouraged unbridled competition in every sphere of life, whether beneficial to humankind or not, and however wasteful of resources.

At its worst, it has unleashed quite literally an arms race, one that – because of a mix of our unconstrained creativity, our godlessness and the economic logic of the military-industrial complex – culminated in the development of nuclear weapons. We have now devised the most complete and horrific ways imaginable to kill each other. We can commit genocide on a global scale .

Meanwhile, the absolute prioritising of the individual has sanctioned a pathological self-absorption, a selfishness that has provided fertile ground not only for capitalism, materialism and consumerism but for the fusing of all of them into a turbo-charged neoliberalism. That has entitled a tiny elite to amass and squirrel away most of the planet's wealth out of reach of the rest of humanity.

Worst of all, our rampant creativity, our self-regard and our competitiveness have blinded us to all things bigger and smaller than ourselves. We lack an emotional and spiritual connection to our planet, to other animals, to future generations, to the chaotic harmony of our universe. What we cannot understand or control, we ignore or mock.

And so the neoliberal impulse has driven us to the brink of extinguishing our species and possibly all life on our planet. Our drive to asset-strip, to hoard resources for personal gain, to plunder nature's riches without respect to the consequences is so overwhelming, so compulsive that the planet will have to find a way to rebalance itself. And if we carry on, that new balance – what we limply term "climate change" – will necessitate that we are stripped from the planet.

Nadir of a dangerous arrogance

One can plausibly argue that humans have been on this suicidal path for some time. Competition, creativity, selfishness predate neoliberalism, after all. But neoliberalism removed the last restraints, it crushed any opposing sentiment as irrational, as uncivilised, as primitive.

Neoliberalism isn't the cause of our predicament. It is the nadir of a dangerous arrogance we as a species have been indulging for too long, where the individual's good trumps any collective good, defined in the widest possible sense.

The neoliberal reveres his small, partial field of knowledge and expertise, eclipsing ancient and future wisdoms, those rooted in natural cycles, the seasons and a wonder at the ineffable and unknowable. The neoliberal's relentless and exclusive focus is on "progress", growth, accumulation.

What is needed to save us is radical change. Not tinkering, not reform, but an entirely new vision that removes the individual and his personal gratification from the centre of our social organisation.

This is impossible to contemplate for the elites who think more neoliberalism, not less, is the solution. Anyone departing from their prescriptions, anyone who aspires to be more than a technocrat correcting minor defects in the status quo, is presented as a menace. Despite the modesty of their proposals, Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US have been reviled by a media, political and intellectual elite heavily invested in blindly pursuing the path to self-destruction.

Status-quo cheerleaders

As a result, we now have three clear political trends.

The first is the status-quo cheerleaders like the European writers of neoliberalism's latest – last? – manifesto . With every utterance they prove how irrelevant they have become, how incapable they are of supplying answers to the question of where we must head next. They adamantly refuse both to look inwards to see where neoliberalism went wrong and to look outwards to consider how we might extricate ourselves.

Irresponsibly, these guardians of the status quo lump together the second and third trends in the futile hope of preserving their grip on power. Both trends are derided indiscriminately as "populism", as the politics of envy, the politics of the mob. These two fundamentally opposed, alternative trends are treated as indistinguishable.

This will not save neoliberalism, but it will assist in promoting the much worse of the two alternatives.

Those among the elites who understand that neoliberalism has had its day are exploiting the old ideology of grab-it-for-yourself capitalism while deflecting attention from their greed and the maintenance of their privilege by sowing discord and insinuating dark threats.

The criticisms of the neoliberal elite made by the ethnic nationalists sound persuasive because they are rooted in truths about neoliberalism's failure. But as critics, they are disingenuous. They have no solutions apart from their own personal advancement in the existing, failed, self-sabotaging system.

The new authoritarians are reverting to old, trusted models of xenophobic nationalism, scapegoating others to shore up their own power. They are ditching the ostentatious, conscience-salving sensitivities of the neoliberal so that they can continue plundering with heady abandon. If the ship is going down, then they will be gorging on the buffet till the waters reach the dining-hall ceiling.

Where hope can reside

The third trend is the only place where hope can reside. This trend – what I have previously ascribed to a group I call the "dissenters" – understands that radical new thinking is required. But given that this group is being actively crushed by the old neoliberal elite and the new authoritarians, it has little public and political space to explore its ideas, to experiment, to collaborate, as it urgently needs to.

Social media provides a potentially vital platform to begin critiquing the old, failed system, to raise awareness of what has gone wrong, to contemplate and share radical new ideas, and to mobilise. But the neoliberals and authoritarians understand this as a threat to their own privilege. Under a confected hysteria about "fake news", they are rapidly working to snuff out even this small space.

We have so little time, but still the old guard wants to block any possible path to salvation – even as seas filled with plastic start to rise, as insect populations disappear across the globe, and as the planet prepares to cough us out like a lump of infected mucus.

We must not be hoodwinked by these posturing, manifesto-spouting liberals: the philosophers, historians and writers – the public relations wing – of our suicidal status quo. They did not warn us of the beast lying cradled in our midst. They failed to see the danger looming, and their narcissism blinds them still.

We should have no use for the guardians of the old, those who held our hands, who shone a light along a path that has led to the brink of our own extinction. We need to discard them, to close our ears to their siren song.

There are small voices struggling to be heard above the roar of the dying neoliberal elites and the trumpeting of the new authoritarians. They need to be listened to, to be helped to share and collaborate, to offer us their visions of a different world. One where the individual is no longer king. Where we learn some modesty and humility – and how to love in our infinitely small corner of the universe.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net .


Rational , says: January 31, 2019 at 7:34 pm GMT

SAVAGES IN SUITS.

Democracy = populism = nationalism and patriotism are the pinnacles of a civilized society. We evolved towards these.

These people are just savages in suits, asking us to back into the gutter.

We refuse. They are refuse.

peter mcloughlin , says: February 1, 2019 at 4:02 pm GMT
'We can commit genocide on a global scale.'

With the growing movement towards nuclear war, we have indeed reached the nadir. It is important to see how humanity got here, for the signs are ominous.

The pattern of history is clear. Power (manifested as interest) has been present in every conflict of the past – no exception. It is the underlying motivation for war.

Other cultural factors might change, but not power. Interest cuts across all apparently unifying principles: family, kin, nation, religion, ideology, politics – everything. We unite with the enemies of our principles, because that is what serves our interest. It is power, not any of the above concepts, that is the cause of war.

https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

AWM , says: February 1, 2019 at 6:08 pm GMT
We are predators.
But Christ gave us an option.
Some people need to think about it.
MarkinLA , says: February 2, 2019 at 7:03 pm GMT
Maybe it is just me but I didn't see any actual solution or much of anything in his third group. You know, the one with all the "correct" answers. All I saw was that it was a glorious vision without all the failings of the other two while rejecting all the badthink.

Every major tragedy in human history starts out with people thinking they have a system better than all the previous that ever occurred. It too soon becomes a religion that needs to defend itself by executing all the blasphemers.

peterAUS , says: February 2, 2019 at 7:22 pm GMT

Maybe it is just me but I didn't see any actual solution or much of anything in his third group. You know, the one with all the "correct" answers. All I saw was that it was a glorious vision without all the failings of the other two while rejecting all the badthink.

Exactly.

I've been waiting for the author, or some from his "group", to post here at least a LINK to that solution, even a suggestion, of theirs. Hell, even the proper analysis of what's not right. A foundation of sort.

So far, as you said, nothing.

Anon[248], February 3, 2019 at 5:29 am GMT

Levy another Jewish "intellectual" shilling for globalization and open borders - for Western nations only, to hasten their demise. What else is new?

[Feb 04, 2019] Orwell, in his book, 1984 wrote that the government had two terms: Oldspeak and Newspeak. One was not permitted to use old speak

Feb 04, 2019 | www.unz.com

Sowhat , says: February 4, 2019 at 3:47 am GMT

Orwell, in his book, 1984 wrote that the government had two terms: Oldspeak and Newspeak. One was not permitted to use old speak.

" This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever.

To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as "This dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds."

It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless."

Were sliding down a slippery, ever-darkening slope. When I step back and try to examine the whole picture, it's very concerning. Take, for instance, [MORE]

I just read an article elsewhere discussing Roger Stone's arrest at his Florida home, before dawn
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51017-c.htm .

The article had a link to a WordPress article, penned by John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute about what has crept into America, via the Militarization of the Police Force.

I subscribed to his newsletter, years ago when Bush and, then, Obama gave Military Armament to Civilian Police forces. When the "FBI raids Stone's Home" story hit, complete with CNN presence, I realized that we do, in fact have policing by fear in the U.S., advertised by Cable News. I'm not an alarmist but, I am taking this all in and it doesn't look good for us. I've also read that millions of Americans are leaving this country, yes, in droves. I've thought about it, before but, don't know if I can convince Wifey this is what we need to do since were in our 70s.

Whiteheads sight has an ongoing ledger of Police incompetence, armed to the teeth just to deliver a warrant, often going to the wrong house, creating chaos, shooting people and their animals and then finding out that they raided the wrong house and killed the wrong person. A flash-band grenade was launched into the wrong residence, landed on a toddler in a crib and burned a hole in its stomach. The scales are tipped in the favor of cops and, if a homeowner attempts to defend himself, he's prosecuted to the full extent of the "law."

Our 4th amendment is gone. Our First and Second Amendment Rights are under heavy attack. There's a call for a Constitutional Convention with almost all of the States sign on for an Article Five Convention.

Were all in deep shit. It doesn't matter if you are guilty of a crime or not. If they'll go after an unarmed Roger Stone, guns pointed, in front of his family, terrorizing them for National TV, what do YOU think is their intent? With 10 Zillion Super-Cop shows on TV for the last forty years, where they always get their man, never make errors and show how violent they are, legally, what do you think is the intent?

Nothing happens on the government level by accident NOTHING

First, Myspace sucked in all of the youngsters and they learned how easy it was to communicate, online. Then, Twitter and Facebook arrived as beacons of free speech. Then, other commentary friendly web site pop up everywhere, allowing you to spew your agitated heart out and argue with each other and call each other names and then opposite ideologies manifested in separate sites on the net with "moderators" that throw registrants off (banning/banishing) them for defending their positions echo chambers for the "alt" Right or the politically correct Left Trump bashers. Sometime, I suggest you go to these and read the commenters' remarks. They're literally insane. I was even banned from a DISCUSS site for suggesting some civil discourse, identifying myself as a Trump Voter.

Do you really believe that all of these issues simply morphed to lock out Conservatives? No way. This was all planned, possibly to I.D. individuals who are "potential" adversaries of a different ideology or possible "problem people" that get put on a watch list. If the DNA Ancestry sights are GIVING your DNA results to the Government, what good can come of it?

[Feb 02, 2019] In Fiery Speeches, Francis Excoriates Global Capitalism

The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy.
Notable quotes:
"... His speeches can blend biblical fury with apocalyptic doom. Pope Francis does not just criticize the excesses of global capitalism. He compares them to the "dung of the devil." He does not simply argue that systemic "greed for money" is a bad thing. He calls it a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women." ..."
"... The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution. "This is not theology as usual; this is him shouting from the mountaintop," said Stephen F. Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic studies at Catholic University of America in Washington. ..."
"... Left-wing populism is surging in countries immersed in economic turmoil, such as Spain, and, most notably, Greece . But even in the United States, where the economy has rebounded, widespread concern about inequality and corporate power are propelling the rise of liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who, in turn, have pushed the Democratic Party presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the left. ..."
"... Even some free-market champions are now reassessing the shortcomings of unfettered capitalism. George Soros, who made billions in the markets, and then spent a good part of it promoting the spread of free markets in Eastern Europe, now argues that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. ..."
"... Many Catholic scholars would argue that Francis is merely continuing a line of Catholic social teaching that has existed for more than a century and was embraced even by his two conservative predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Leo XIII first called for economic justice on behalf of workers in 1891, with his encyclical "Rerum Novarum" - or, "On Condition of Labor." ..."
"... Francis has such a strong sense of urgency "because he has been on the front lines with real people, not just numbers and abstract ideas," Mr. Schneck said. "That real-life experience of working with the most marginalized in Argentina has been the source of his inspiration as pontiff." ..."
"... In Bolivia, Francis praised cooperatives and other localized organizations that he said provide productive economies for the poor. "How different this is than the situation that results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!" he said on Wednesday night. ..."
"... It is this Old Testament-like rhetoric that some finding jarring, perhaps especially so in the United States, where Francis will visit in September. His environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si'," released last month, drew loud criticism from some American conservatives and from others who found his language deeply pessimistic. His right-leaning critics also argued that he was overreaching and straying dangerously beyond religion - while condemning capitalism with too broad a brush. ..."
"... The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy. ..."
"... "Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy," he said on Wednesday. "It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment." ..."
"... "I'm a believer in capitalism but it comes in as many flavors as pie, and we have a choice about the kind of capitalist system that we have," said Mr. Hanauer, now an outspoken proponent of redistributive government ..."
"... "What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to my neighborhood with the hearts full of hopes and dreams but without any real solution for my problems?" he asked. "A lot! They can do a lot. ..."
Jul 11, 2015 | msn.com

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay - His speeches can blend biblical fury with apocalyptic doom. Pope Francis does not just criticize the excesses of global capitalism. He compares them to the "dung of the devil." He does not simply argue that systemic "greed for money" is a bad thing. He calls it a "subtle dictatorship" that "condemns and enslaves men and women."

Having returned to his native Latin America, Francis has renewed his left-leaning critiques on the inequalities of capitalism, describing it as an underlying cause of global injustice, and a prime cause of climate change. Francis escalated that line last week when he made a historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism - even as he called for a global movement against a "new colonialism" rooted in an inequitable economic order.

The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution. "This is not theology as usual; this is him shouting from the mountaintop," said Stephen F. Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic studies at Catholic University of America in Washington.

The last pope who so boldly placed himself at the center of the global moment was John Paul II, who during the 1980s pushed the church to confront what many saw as the challenge of that era, communism. John Paul II's anti-Communist messaging dovetailed with the agenda of political conservatives eager for a tougher line against the Soviets and, in turn, aligned part of the church hierarchy with the political right.

Francis has defined the economic challenge of this era as the failure of global capitalism to create fairness, equity and dignified livelihoods for the poor - a social and religious agenda that coincides with a resurgence of the leftist thinking marginalized in the days of John Paul II. Francis' increasingly sharp critique comes as much of humanity has never been so wealthy or well fed - yet rising inequality and repeated financial crises have unsettled voters, policy makers and economists.

Left-wing populism is surging in countries immersed in economic turmoil, such as Spain, and, most notably, Greece. But even in the United States, where the economy has rebounded, widespread concern about inequality and corporate power are propelling the rise of liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who, in turn, have pushed the Democratic Party presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the left.

Even some free-market champions are now reassessing the shortcomings of unfettered capitalism. George Soros, who made billions in the markets, and then spent a good part of it promoting the spread of free markets in Eastern Europe, now argues that the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

"I think the pope is singing to the music that's already in the air," said Robert A. Johnson, executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, which was financed with $50 million from Mr. Soros. "And that's a good thing. That's what artists do, and I think the pope is sensitive to the lack of legitimacy of the system."

Many Catholic scholars would argue that Francis is merely continuing a line of Catholic social teaching that has existed for more than a century and was embraced even by his two conservative predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Leo XIII first called for economic justice on behalf of workers in 1891, with his encyclical "Rerum Novarum" - or, "On Condition of Labor."

Mr. Schneck, of Catholic University, said it was as if Francis were saying, "We've been talking about these things for more than one hundred years, and nobody is listening."

Francis has such a strong sense of urgency "because he has been on the front lines with real people, not just numbers and abstract ideas," Mr. Schneck said. "That real-life experience of working with the most marginalized in Argentina has been the source of his inspiration as pontiff."

Francis made his speech on Wednesday night, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, before nearly 2,000 social advocates, farmers, trash workers and neighborhood activists. Even as he meets regularly with heads of state, Francis has often said that change must come from the grass roots, whether from poor people or the community organizers who work with them. To Francis, the poor have earned knowledge that is useful and redeeming, even as a "throwaway culture" tosses them aside. He sees them as being at the front edge of economic and environmental crises around the world.

In Bolivia, Francis praised cooperatives and other localized organizations that he said provide productive economies for the poor. "How different this is than the situation that results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!" he said on Wednesday night.

It is this Old Testament-like rhetoric that some finding jarring, perhaps especially so in the United States, where Francis will visit in September. His environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si'," released last month, drew loud criticism from some American conservatives and from others who found his language deeply pessimistic. His right-leaning critics also argued that he was overreaching and straying dangerously beyond religion - while condemning capitalism with too broad a brush.

"I wish Francis would focus on positives, on how a free-market economy guided by an ethical framework, and the rule of law, can be a part of the solution for the poor - rather than just jumping from the reality of people's misery to the analysis that a market economy is the problem," said the Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which advocates free-market economics.

Francis' sharpest critics have accused him of being a Marxist or a Latin American Communist, even as he opposed communism during his time in Argentina. His tour last week of Latin America began in Ecuador and Bolivia, two countries with far-left governments. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, who wore a Che Guevara patch on his jacket during Francis' speech, claimed the pope as a kindred spirit - even as Francis seemed startled and caught off guard when Mr. Morales gave him a wooden crucifix shaped like a hammer and sickle as a gift.

Francis' primary agenda last week was to begin renewing Catholicism in Latin America and reposition it as the church of the poor. His apology for the church's complicity in the colonialist era received an immediate roar from the crowd. In various parts of Latin America, the association between the church and economic power elites remains intact. In Chile, a socially conservative country, some members of the country's corporate elite are also members of Opus Dei, the traditionalist Catholic organization founded in Spain in 1928.

Inevitably, Francis' critique can be read as a broadside against Pax Americana, the period of capitalism regulated by global institutions created largely by the United States. But even pillars of that system are shifting. The World Bank, which long promoted economic growth as an end in itself, is now increasingly focused on the distribution of gains, after the Arab Spring revolts in some countries that the bank had held up as models. The latest generation of international trade agreements includes efforts to increase protections for workers and the environment.

The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," that rising wealth inequality was a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy.

Mr. Piketty roiled the debate among mainstream economists, yet Francis' critique is more unnerving to some because he is not reframing inequality and poverty around a new economic theory but instead defining it in moral terms. "Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy," he said on Wednesday. "It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment."

Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist, said that he saw Francis as making a nuanced point about capitalism, embodied by his coinage of a "social mortgage" on accumulated wealth - a debt to the society that made its accumulation possible. Mr. Hanauer said that economic elites should embrace the need for reforms both for moral and pragmatic reasons. "I'm a believer in capitalism but it comes in as many flavors as pie, and we have a choice about the kind of capitalist system that we have," said Mr. Hanauer, now an outspoken proponent of redistributive government policies like a higher minimum wage.

Yet what remains unclear is whether Francis has a clear vision for a systemic alternative to the status quo that he and others criticize. "All these critiques point toward the incoherence of the simple idea of free market economics, but they don't prescribe a remedy," said Mr. Johnson, of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Francis acknowledged as much, conceding on Wednesday that he had no new "recipe" to quickly change the world. Instead, he spoke about a "process of change" undertaken at the grass-roots level.

"What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to my neighborhood with the hearts full of hopes and dreams but without any real solution for my problems?" he asked. "A lot! They can do a lot. "You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands."

[Feb 02, 2019] Brazil, Fascism and the Left Wing of Neoliberalism

Huge external debt plus high unemployment represents two vital preconditions of rise far right nationalism and fascism in all its multiple incarnations. In this sence Ulrain, Argentina and Brasil are different links of the common chain of events.
In a way fascism is a way of reaction of nation deeply in crisis. In essence this is introduction of war time restrictions on political speech and freedoms of the population. The Catch 22 is that often this is done not so much to fight external threat, but top preserve the power of existing financial oligarchy. Which fascist after coming to power quickly include in government and and desire of which are disproportionally obeyed by fascist state.
What in new in XXI century is the huge growth of power on intelligence agencies which is way represent crippling fascism or neofascism. In a way, then intelligence agencies became political kingmakers (as was the case with the assassination of JFK, impeachment of Nixon, elections of Clinton, Bush II, and Obama, as well as establishing Mueller commission after Trump victory), we can speak about sliding the county of the county toward fascism.
Notable quotes:
"... In Italy in the 1920s, repayment of war debts from WWI led to austerity and recession that preceded the rise of fascist leader Benito Mussolini. In Germany, payment of war reparations and repayment of industrial loans limited the ability of the Weimar government to respond to the Great Depression. Liberal governments that facilitated the financialization of industrial economies in the 1920s were left to serve as debt collectors in the capitalist crisis that followed. ..."
"... The practical problem with doing this is the power of creditors. Debtors that repudiate their debts are closed out of capital markets. The power to create money that is accepted in payment is a privilege of the center countries that also happen to be creditors. Capitalist expansion creates interdependencies that produce immediate, deep shortages if debts aren't serviced. Debt is a weapon whose proceeds can be delivered to one group and the obligation to repay it to another. The U.S. position was expressed when the IMF knowingly made unpayable loans to Ukraine to support a U.S. sponsored coup there in 2015 ..."
"... Propaganda was developed and refined by Edward Bernays in the 1910s to help the Wilson administration sell WWI to a skeptical public. It has been used by the American government and in capitalist advertising since that time. The idea was to integrate psychology with words and images to get people to act according to the desires and wishes of those putting it forward. ..."
"... The operational frame of propaganda is instrumental: to use people to achieve ends they had no part in conceiving. The political perspective is dictatorial, benevolent or otherwise. Propaganda has been used by the American government ever since. Similar methods were used by the Italian and German fascists in their to rise to power. ..."
"... Following WWII, the U.S. brought 1,600 Nazi scientists and engineers (and their families) to the U.S. to work for the Department of Defense and American industry through a program called Operation Paperclip . Many were dedicated and enthusiastic Nazis. Some were reported to have been bona fide war criminals. In contrast to liberal / neoliberal assertions that Nazism was irrational politics, the Nazi scientists fit seamlessly into American military production. There was no apparent contradiction between being a Nazi and being a scientist. ..."
"... A dimensional tension of Nazism lay between romantic myths of an ancient and glorious past and the bourgeois task of moving industrialization and modernity forward. The focus of liberal and neoliberal analysis has been on this mythology as an irrational mode of reason. Missing is that Nazism wouldn't have moved past the German borders if it hadn't had bourgeois basis in the science and technology needed for industrial might. This keeps the broad project within the ontological and administrative premises of liberalism. ..."
"... The way to fight fascists is to end the threat of fascism. This means taking on Wall Street and the major institutions of Western capitalism ..."
Feb 02, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

Missing from explanations of the rise of Mr. Bolsonaro is that for the last decade Brazil has experienced the worst economic recession in the country's history (graph below). Fourteen million formerly employed, working age Brazilians are now unemployed. As was true in the U.S. and peripheral Europe from 2008 forward, the liberal response has been austerity as the Brazilian ruling class was made richer and more politically powerful.

Since 2014, Brazil's public debt/GDP ratio has climbed from 20% to 75% proclaims a worried IMF. That some fair portion of that climb came from falling GDP due to economic austerity mandated by the IMF and Wall Street is left unmentioned. A decade of austerity got liberal President Dilma Rousseff removed from office in 2016 in what can only be called a Wall Street putsch. Perhaps Bolsonaro will tell Wall Street where to stick its loans (not).

Back in the U.S., everyone knows that the liberalization of finance and trade in the 1990s was the result of political calculations. That this liberalization was/is bipartisan suggests that maybe the political calculations served certain economic interests. Never mind that these interests were given what they asked for and crashed the economy with it. If economic problems result from political calculations, the solution is political -- elect better leaders. If they are driven by economic interests, the solution is to change the way that economic relationships are organized.

Between 1928 and 1932 German industrial production fell by 58%. By 1933, six million formerly employed German workers were begging in the streets and digging through garbage looking for items to sell. The liberal (Socialist Party) response was half-measures and austerity. Within the liberal frame, the Depression was a political problem to be addressed in the realm of the political. Centrist accommodation defined the existing realm. Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the pit of the Great Depression.

In Brazil in the early-mid 2000s, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, implemented a Left program that pulled twenty million Brazilians out of poverty. The Brazilian economy briefly recovered after Wall Street crashed it in 2008 before Brazilian public debt was used to force the implementation of austerity. Dilma Rousseff capitulated and Brazil re-entered recession. Rousseff was removed from power in 2016. Hemmed in by Wall Street and IMF mandated austerity , any liberal government that might be elected would meet the same fate as Rousseff.

In Italy in the 1920s, repayment of war debts from WWI led to austerity and recession that preceded the rise of fascist leader Benito Mussolini. In Germany, payment of war reparations and repayment of industrial loans limited the ability of the Weimar government to respond to the Great Depression. Liberal governments that facilitated the financialization of industrial economies in the 1920s were left to serve as debt collectors in the capitalist crisis that followed.

Since 2008, the fiscal structure of the EU (European Union) combined with wildly unbalanced trade relationships led to a decade of austerity, recession and depression for the European periphery. In the U.S., by 2009 Wall Street was pushing austerity and cuts to Social Security and Medicare as necessary to fiscal stability. The consequences of four decades of financialized neoliberal trade policies were by no means equally shared. Internal and external class relations were made evident through narrowly distributed booms followed by widely distributed busts.

With the presumed shared goal of ending the threat of fascism:

The ideological premises behind the logic that claims fascists as the explanation of fascism emerge from liberalism. The term here is meant as description. Liberalism proceeds from specific ontological assumptions. Within this temporal frame, a bit of social logic: If fascists already existed, why didn't fascism? The question of whether to fight fascists or fascism depends on the answer. The essentialist view is that characteristics intrinsic to fascists make them fascists. This is the basis of scientific racism. And it underlies fascist race theory.

The theory of a strongman who exploits people who have a predisposition towards fascism is essentialist as well if receptivity is intrinsic, e.g. due to psychology, genetics, etc. Liberal-Left commentary in recent years has tended toward the essentialist view -- that fascists are born or otherwise predisposed toward fascism. Unconsidered is that non-fascists are equally determined in this frame. If 'deplorables' were born that way, four decades of neoliberalism is absolved.

The problem of analogy, the question of what fascism is and how European fascism of the twentieth century bears relation to the present, can't be answered in the liberal frame. The rise and fall of a global radical right have been episodic. It has tied in history to the development of global capitalism in a center-and-periphery model of asymmetrical economic power. Finance from the center facilitates economic expansion until financial crisis interrupts the process. Peripheral governments are left to manage debt repayment with collapsed economies.

Globally, debt has forced policy convergence between political parties of differing ideologies. European center-left parties have pushed austerity even when ideology would suggest the opposite. In 2015, self-identified Marxists in Greece's SYRIZA party capitulated to the austerity and privatization demands from EU creditors led by Germany. Even Lenin negotiated with Wall Street creditors (on behalf of Russia) in the months after the October Revolution. In a political frame, the solution from below is to elect leaders and parties who will act on their rhetoric.

The practical problem with doing this is the power of creditors. Debtors that repudiate their debts are closed out of capital markets. The power to create money that is accepted in payment is a privilege of the center countries that also happen to be creditors. Capitalist expansion creates interdependencies that produce immediate, deep shortages if debts aren't serviced. Debt is a weapon whose proceeds can be delivered to one group and the obligation to repay it to another. The U.S. position was expressed when the IMF knowingly made unpayable loans to Ukraine to support a U.S. sponsored coup there in 2015.

Fascist racialization has analog in existing capitalist class relations. Immigration status, race and gender define a social taxonomy of economic exploitation. Race was invented decades into the Anglo-American manifestation of slavery to naturalize exploitation of Blacks. Gender difference represents the evolution of unpaid to paid labor for women in the capitalist West. Claiming these as causing exploitation gets the temporal sequence wrong. These were / are exploitable classes before explanations of their special status were created.

This isn't to suggest that capitalist class relations form a complete explanation of fascist racialization. But the ontological premise that 'freezes,' and thereby reifies racialization, is fundamental to capitalism. This relates to the point argued below that the educated German bourgeois, in the form of the Nazi scientists and engineers brought to the U.S. following WWII, found Nazi racialization plausible through what has long been put forward as an antithetical mode of understanding. Put differently, it wasn't just the rabble that found grotesque racial caricatures plausible. The question is why?

Propaganda was developed and refined by Edward Bernays in the 1910s to help the Wilson administration sell WWI to a skeptical public. It has been used by the American government and in capitalist advertising since that time. The idea was to integrate psychology with words and images to get people to act according to the desires and wishes of those putting it forward.

The operational frame of propaganda is instrumental: to use people to achieve ends they had no part in conceiving. The political perspective is dictatorial, benevolent or otherwise. Propaganda has been used by the American government ever since. Similar methods were used by the Italian and German fascists in their to rise to power.

Since WWI, commercial propaganda has become ubiquitous in the U.S. Advertising firms hire psychologists to craft advertising campaigns with no regard for the concern that psychological coercion removes free choice from capitalism. The distinction between political and commercial propaganda is based on intent, not method. Its use by Woodrow Wilson (above) is instructive: a large and vocal anti-war movement had legitimate reasons for opposing the U.S. entry into WWI. The goal of Bernays and Wilson was to stifle political opposition.

Following WWII, the U.S. brought 1,600 Nazi scientists and engineers (and their families) to the U.S. to work for the Department of Defense and American industry through a program called Operation Paperclip . Many were dedicated and enthusiastic Nazis. Some were reported to have been bona fide war criminals. In contrast to liberal / neoliberal assertions that Nazism was irrational politics, the Nazi scientists fit seamlessly into American military production. There was no apparent contradiction between being a Nazi and being a scientist.

The problem isn't just that many committed Nazis were scientists. Science and technology created the Nazi war machine. Science and technology were fully integrated into the creation and running of the Nazi concentration camps. American race 'science,' eugenics, formed the basis of Nazi race theory. Science and technology formed the functional core of Nazism. And the Nazi scientists and engineers of Operation Paperclip were major contributors to American post-war military dominance.

A dimensional tension of Nazism lay between romantic myths of an ancient and glorious past and the bourgeois task of moving industrialization and modernity forward. The focus of liberal and neoliberal analysis has been on this mythology as an irrational mode of reason. Missing is that Nazism wouldn't have moved past the German borders if it hadn't had bourgeois basis in the science and technology needed for industrial might. This keeps the broad project within the ontological and administrative premises of liberalism.

This is no doubt disconcerting to theorists of great difference. If Bolsonaro can impose austerity while maintaining an unjust peace, Wall Street and the IMF will smile and ask for more. American business interests are already circling Brazil, knowing that captive consumers combined with enforceable property rights and a pliable workforce means profits. Where were liberals when the Wall Street that Barack Obama saved was squeezing the people of Brazil, Spain, Greece and Portugal to repay debts incurred by the oligarchs? Liberalism is the link between capitalism and fascism, not its antithesis.

Having long ago abandoned Marx, the American Left is lost in the temporal logic of liberalism. The way to fight fascists is to end the threat of fascism. This means taking on Wall Street and the major institutions of Western capitalism

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is published by CounterPunch Books.

[Jan 29, 2019] The Language of Neoliberal Education by Henry Giroux

Highly recommended!
Interview by MITJA SARDOČ
Notable quotes:
"... This interview with Henry Giroux was conducted by Mitja Sardoč, of the Educational Research Institute, in the Faculty of the Social Sciences, at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. ..."
"... Not only does it define itself as a political and economic system whose aim was to consolidate power in the hands of a corporate and financial elite, it also wages a war over ideas. In this instance, it has defined itself as a form of commonsense and functions as a mode of public pedagogy that produces a template for structuring not just markets but all of social life. ..."
"... In this sense, it has and continues to function not only through public and higher education to produce and distribute market-based values, identities, and modes of agency, but also in wider cultural apparatuses and platforms to privatize, deregulate, economize, and subject all of the commanding institutions and relations of everyday life to the dictates of privatization, efficiency, deregulation, and commodification. ..."
"... Since the 1970s as more and more of the commanding institutions of society come under the control of neoliberal ideology, its notions of common sense – an unchecked individualism, harsh competition, an aggressive attack on the welfare state, the evisceration of public goods, and its attack on all models of sociality at odds with market values – have become the reigning hegemony of capitalist societies. ..."
"... What many on the left have failed to realize is that neoliberalism is about more than economic structures, it is also is a powerful pedagogical force – especially in the era of social media – that engages in full-spectrum dominance at every level of civil society. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's promotion of effectiveness and efficiency gives credence to its ability to willingness and success in making education central to politics ..."
"... The Crisis of Democracy, ..."
"... At the core of the neoliberal investment in education is a desire to undermine the university's commitment to the truth, critical thinking, and its obligation to stand for justice ..."
"... Neoliberalism considers such a space to be dangerous and they have done everything possible to eliminate higher education as a space where students can realize themselves as critical citizens ..."
"... It is waging a war over not just the relationship between economic structures but over memory, words, meaning, and politics. Neoliberalism takes words like freedom and limits it to the freedom to consume, spew out hate, and celebrate notions of self-interest and a rabid individualism as the new common sense. ..."
"... Equality of opportunity means engaging in ruthless forms of competition, a war of all against all ethos, and a survival of the fittest mode of behavior. ..."
"... First, higher education needs to reassert its mission as a public good in order to reclaim its egalitarian and democratic impulses. Educators need to initiate and expand a national conversation in which higher education can be defended as a democratic public sphere and the classroom as a site of deliberative inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking, a site that makes a claim on the radical imagination and a sense of civic courage. ..."
"... The ascendancy of neoliberalism in American politics has made visible a plague of deep-seated civic illiteracy, a corrupt political system and a contempt for reason that has been decades in the making. ..."
"... It also points to the withering of civic attachments, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life and the erosion of any sense of shared citizenship. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. ..."
"... First, too little is said about how neoliberalism functions not simply as an economic model for finance capital but as a public pedagogy that operates through a diverse number of sites and platforms. ..."
"... I define neoliberal fascism as both a project and a movement, which functions as an enabling force that weakens, if not destroys, the commanding institutions of a democracy while undermining its most valuable principles ..."
"... As a movement, it produces and legitimates massive economic inequality and suffering, privatizes public goods, dismantles essential government agencies, and individualizes all social problems. In addition, it transforms the political state into the corporate state, and uses the tools of surveillance, militarization, and law and order to discredit the critical press and media, undermine civil liberties while ridiculing and censoring critics. ..."
Dec 25, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

This interview with Henry Giroux was conducted by Mitja Sardoč, of the Educational Research Institute, in the Faculty of the Social Sciences, at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Mitja Sardoč: For several decades now, neoliberalism has been at the forefront of discussions not only in the economy and finance but has infiltrated our vocabulary in a number of areas as diverse as governance studies, criminology, health care, jurisprudence, education etc. What has triggered the use and application ofthis'economistic'ideologyassociatedwith the promotion of effectiveness and efficiency?

Henry Giroux: Neoliberalism has become the dominant ideology of the times and has established itself as a central feature of politics. Not only does it define itself as a political and economic system whose aim was to consolidate power in the hands of a corporate and financial elite, it also wages a war over ideas. In this instance, it has defined itself as a form of commonsense and functions as a mode of public pedagogy that produces a template for structuring not just markets but all of social life.

In this sense, it has and continues to function not only through public and higher education to produce and distribute market-based values, identities, and modes of agency, but also in wider cultural apparatuses and platforms to privatize, deregulate, economize, and subject all of the commanding institutions and relations of everyday life to the dictates of privatization, efficiency, deregulation, and commodification.

Since the 1970s as more and more of the commanding institutions of society come under the control of neoliberal ideology, its notions of common sense – an unchecked individualism, harsh competition, an aggressive attack on the welfare state, the evisceration of public goods, and its attack on all models of sociality at odds with market values – have become the reigning hegemony of capitalist societies.

What many on the left have failed to realize is that neoliberalism is about more than economic structures, it is also is a powerful pedagogical force – especially in the era of social media – that engages in full-spectrum dominance at every level of civil society. Its reach extends not only into education but also among an array of digital platforms as well as in the broader sphere of popular culture. Under neoliberal modes of governance, regardless of the institution, every social relation is reduced to an act of commerce.

Neoliberalism's promotion of effectiveness and efficiency gives credence to its ability to willingness and success in making education central to politics. It also offers a warning to progressives, as Pierre Bourdieu has insisted that the left has underestimated the symbolic and pedagogical dimensions of struggle and have not always forged appropriate weapons to fight on this front."

Mitja Sardoč: According to the advocates of neoliberalism, education represents one of the main indicators of future economic growth and individual well-being.How – and why – education became one of the central elements of the 'neoliberal revolution'?

Henry Giroux: Advocates of neoliberalism have always recognized that education is a site of struggle over which there are very high stakes regarding how young people are educated, who is to be educated, and what vision of the present and future should be most valued and privileged. Higher education in the sixties went through a revolutionary period in the United States and many other countries as students sought to both redefine education as a democratic public sphere and to open it up to a variety of groups that up to that up to that point had been excluded. Conservatives were extremely frightened over this shift and did everything they could to counter it. Evidence of this is clear in the production of the Powell Memo published in 1971 and later in The Trilateral Commission's book-length report, namely, The Crisis of Democracy, published in 1975. From the 1960s on the, conservatives, especially the neoliberal right, has waged a war on education in order to rid it of its potential role as a democratic public sphere. At the same time, they sought aggressively to restructure its modes of governance, undercut the power of faculty, privilege knowledge that was instrumental to the market, define students mainly as clients and consumers, and reduce the function of higher education largely to training students for the global workforce.

At the core of the neoliberal investment in education is a desire to undermine the university's commitment to the truth, critical thinking, and its obligation to stand for justice and assume responsibility for safeguarding the interests of young as they enter a world marked massive inequalities, exclusion, and violence at home and abroad. Higher education may be one of the few institutions left in neoliberal societies that offers a protective space to question, challenge, and think against the grain.

Neoliberalism considers such a space to be dangerous and they have done everything possible to eliminate higher education as a space where students can realize themselves as critical citizens, faculty can participate in the governing structure, and education can be define itself as a right rather than as a privilege.

Mitja Sardoč: Almost by definition, reforms and other initiatives aimed to improve educational practice have been one of the pivotal mechanisms to infiltrate the neoliberal agenda of effectiveness and efficiency. What aspect of neoliberalism and its educational agenda you find most problematic? Why?

Henry Giroux: Increasingly aligned with market forces, higher education is mostly primed for teaching business principles and corporate values, while university administrators are prized as CEOs or bureaucrats in a neoliberal-based audit culture. Many colleges and universities have been McDonalds-ized as knowledge is increasingly viewed as a commodity resulting in curricula that resemble a fast-food menu. In addition, faculty are subjected increasingly to a Wal-Mart model of labor relations designed as Noam Chomsky points out "to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility". In the age of precarity and flexibility, the majority of faculty have been reduced to part-time positions, subjected to low wages, lost control over the conditions of their labor, suffered reduced benefits, and frightened about addressing social issues critically in their classrooms for fear of losing their jobs.

The latter may be the central issue curbing free speech and academic freedom in the academy. Moreover, many of these faculty are barely able to make ends meet because of their impoverished salaries, and some are on food stamps. If faculty are treated like service workers, students fare no better and are now relegated to the status of customers and clients.

Moreover, they are not only inundated with the competitive, privatized, and market-driven values of neoliberalism, they are also punished by those values in the form of exorbitant tuition rates, astronomical debts owed to banks and other financial institutions, and in too many cases a lack of meaningful employment. As a project and movement, neoliberalism undermines the ability of educators and others to create the conditions that give students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and the civic courage necessary to make desolation and cynicism unconvincing and hope practical.

As an ideology, neoliberalism is at odds with any viable notion of democracy which it sees as the enemy of the market. Yet, Democracy cannot work if citizens are not autonomous, self-judging, curious, reflective, and independent – qualities that are indispensable for students if they are going to make vital judgments and choices about participating in and shaping decisions that affect everyday life, institutional reform, and governmental policy.

Mitja Sardoč: Why large-scale assessments and quantitative data in general are a central part of the 'neo-liberal toolkit' in educational research?

Henry Giroux: These are the tools of accountants and have nothing to do with larger visions or questions about what matters as part of a university education. The overreliance on metrics and measurement has become a tool used to remove questions of responsibility, morality, and justice from the language and policies of education. I believe the neoliberal toolkit as you put it is part of the discourse of civic illiteracy that now runs rampant in higher educational research, a kind of mind-numbing investment in a metric-based culture that kills the imagination and wages an assault on what it means to be critical, thoughtful, daring, and willing to take risks. Metrics in the service of an audit culture has become the new face of a culture of positivism, a kind of empirical-based panopticon that turns ideas into numbers and the creative impulse into ashes. Large scale assessments and quantitative data are the driving mechanisms in which everything is absorbed into the culture of business.

The distinction between information and knowledge has become irrelevant in this model and anything that cannot be captured by numbers is treated with disdain. In this new audit panopticon, the only knowledge that matters is that which can be measured. What is missed here, of course, is that measurable utility is a curse as a universal principle because it ignores any form of knowledge based on the assumption that individuals need to know more than how things work or what their practical utility might be.

This is a language that cannot answer the question of what the responsibility of the university and educators might be in a time of tyranny, in the face of the unspeakable, and the current widespread attack on immigrants, Muslims, and others considered disposable. This is a language that is both afraid and unwilling to imagine what alternative worlds inspired by the search for equality and justice might be possible in an age beset by the increasing dark forces of authoritarianism.

Mitja Sardoč: While the analysis of the neoliberal agenda in education is well documented, the analysis of the language of neoliberal education is at the fringes of scholarly interest. In particular, the expansion of the neoliberal vocabulary with egalitarian ideas such as fairness, justice, equality of opportunity, well-being etc. has received [at best]only limited attention. What factors have contributed to this shift of emphasis?

Henry Giroux: Neoliberalism has upended how language is used in both education and the wider society. It works to appropriate discourses associated with liberal democracy that have become normalized in order to both limit their meanings and use them to mean the opposite of what they have meant traditionally, especially with respect to human rights, justice, informed judgment, critical agency, and democracy itself. It is waging a war over not just the relationship between economic structures but over memory, words, meaning, and politics. Neoliberalism takes words like freedom and limits it to the freedom to consume, spew out hate, and celebrate notions of self-interest and a rabid individualism as the new common sense.

Equality of opportunity means engaging in ruthless forms of competition, a war of all against all ethos, and a survival of the fittest mode of behavior.

The vocabulary of neoliberalism operates in the service of violence in that it reduces the capacity for human fulfillment in the collective sense, diminishes a broad understanding of freedom as fundamental to expanding the capacity for human agency, and diminishes the ethical imagination by reducing it to the interest of the market and the accumulation of capital. Words, memory, language and meaning are weaponized under neoliberalism.

Certainly, neither the media nor progressives have given enough attention to how neoliberalism colonizes language because neither group has given enough attention to viewing the crisis of neoliberalism as not only an economic crisis but also a crisis of ideas. Education is not viewed as a force central to politics and as such the intersection of language, power, and politics in the neoliberal paradigm has been largely ignored. Moreover, at a time when civic culture is being eradicated, public spheres are vanishing, and notions of shared citizenship appear obsolete, words that speak to the truth, reveal injustices and provide informed critical analysis also begin to disappear.

This makes it all the more difficult to engage critically the use of neoliberalism's colonization of language. In the United States, Trump prodigious tweets signify not only a time in which governments engage in the pathology of endless fabrications, but also how they function to reinforce a pedagogy of infantilism designed to animate his base in a glut of shock while reinforcing a culture of war, fear, divisiveness, and greed in ways that disempower his critics.

Mitja Sardoč: You have written extensively on neoliberalism's exclusively instrumental view of education, its reductionist understanding of effectiveness and its distorted image of fairness. In what way should radical pedagogy fight back neoliberalism and its educational agenda?

Henry Giroux: First, higher education needs to reassert its mission as a public good in order to reclaim its egalitarian and democratic impulses. Educators need to initiate and expand a national conversation in which higher education can be defended as a democratic public sphere and the classroom as a site of deliberative inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking, a site that makes a claim on the radical imagination and a sense of civic courage. At the same time, the discourse on defining higher education as a democratic public sphere can provide the platform for a more expressive commitment in developing a social movement in defense of public goods and against neoliberalism as a threat to democracy. This also means rethinking how education can be funded as a public good and what it might mean to fight for policies that both stop the defunding of education and fight to relocate funds from the death dealing military and incarceration budgets to those supporting education at all levels of society. The challenge here is for higher education not to abandon its commitment to democracy and to recognize that neoliberalism operates in the service of the forces of economic domination and ideological repression.

Second, educators need to acknowledge and make good on the claim that a critically literate citizen is indispensable to a democracy, especially at a time when higher education is being privatized and subject to neoliberal restructuring efforts. This suggests placing ethics, civic literacy, social responsibility, and compassion at the forefront of learning so as to combine knowledge, teaching, and research with the rudiments of what might be called the grammar of an ethical and social imagination. This would imply taking seriously those values, traditions, histories, and pedagogies that would promote a sense of dignity, self-reflection, and compassion at the heart of a real democracy. Third, higher education needs to be viewed as a right, as it is in many countries such as Germany, France, Norway, Finland, and Brazil, rather than a privilege for a limited few, as it is in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Fourth, in a world driven by data, metrics, and the replacement of knowledge by the overabundance of information, educators need to enable students to engage in multiple literacies extending from print and visual culture to digital culture. They need to become border crossers who can think dialectically, and learn not only how to consume culture but also to produce it. Fifth, faculty must reclaim their right to control over the nature of their labor, shape policies of governance, and be given tenure track lines with the guarantee of secure employment and protection for academic freedom and free speech.

Mitja Sardoč: Why is it important to analyze the relationship between neoliberalism and civic literacy particularly as an educational project?

Henry Giroux: The ascendancy of neoliberalism in American politics has made visible a plague of deep-seated civic illiteracy, a corrupt political system and a contempt for reason that has been decades in the making.

It also points to the withering of civic attachments, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life and the erosion of any sense of shared citizenship. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing.

As these institutions vanish – from public schools and alternative media to health care centers– there is also a serious erosion of the discourse of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. At the same time reason and truth are not simply contested, or the subject of informed arguments as they should be, but wrongly vilified – banished to Trump's poisonous world of fake news. For instance, under the Trump administration, language has been pillaged, truth and reason disparaged, and words and phrases emptied of any substance or turned into their opposite, all via the endless production of Trump's Twitter storms and the ongoing clown spectacle of Fox News. This grim reality points to a failure in the power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy. It is also part of a politics that strips the social of any democratic ideals and undermines any understanding of education as a public good. What we are witnessing under neoliberalism is not simply a political project to consolidate power in the hands of the corporate and financial elite but also a reworking of the very meaning of literacy and education as crucial to what it means to create an informed citizenry and democratic society. In an age when literacy and thinking become dangerous to the anti-democratic forces governing all the commanding economic and cultural institutions of the United States, truth is viewed as a liability, ignorance becomes a virtue, and informed judgments and critical thinking demeaned and turned into rubble and ashes. Under the reign of this normalized architecture of alleged common sense, literacy is regarded with disdain, words are reduced to data and science is confused with pseudo-science. Traces of critical thought appear more and more at the margins of the culture as ignorance becomes the primary organizing principle of American society.

Under the forty-year reign of neoliberalism, language has been militarized, handed over to advertisers, game show idiocy, and a political and culturally embarrassing anti-intellectualism sanctioned by the White House. Couple this with a celebrity culture that produces an ecosystem of babble, shock, and tawdry entertainment. Add on the cruel and clownish anti-public intellectuals such as Jordan Peterson who defend inequality, infantile forms of masculinity, and define ignorance and a warrior mentality as part of the natural order, all the while dethroning any viable sense of agency and the political.

The culture of manufactured illiteracy is also reproduced through a media apparatus that trades in illusions and the spectacle of violence. Under these circumstances, illiteracy becomes the norm and education becomes central to a version of neoliberal zombie politics that functions largely to remove democratic values, social relations, and compassion from the ideology, policies and commanding institutions that now control American society. In the age of manufactured illiteracy, there is more at work than simply an absence of learning, ideas or knowledge. Nor can the reign of manufactured illiteracy be solely attributed to the rise of the new social media, a culture of immediacy, and a society that thrives on instant gratification. On the contrary, manufactured illiteracy is political and educational project central to a right-wing corporatist ideology and set of policies that work aggressively to depoliticize people and make them complicitous with the neoliberal and racist political and economic forces that impose misery and suffering upon their lives. There is more at work here than what Ariel Dorfman calls a "felonious stupidity," there is also the workings of a deeply malicious form of 21 st century neoliberal fascism and a culture of cruelty in which language is forced into the service of violence while waging a relentless attack on the ethical imagination and the notion of the common good. In the current historical moment illiteracy and ignorance offer the pretense of a community in doing so has undermined the importance of civic literacy both in higher education and the larger society.

Mitja Sardoč: Is there any shortcoming in the analysis of such a complex (and controversial) social phenomenon as neoliberalism and its educational agenda? Put differently: is there any aspect of the neoliberal educational agenda that its critics have failed to address?

Henry Giroux: Any analysis of an ideology such as neoliberalism will always be incomplete. And the literature on neoliberalism in its different forms and diverse contexts is quite abundant. What is often underplayed in my mind are three things.

First, too little is said about how neoliberalism functions not simply as an economic model for finance capital but as a public pedagogy that operates through a diverse number of sites and platforms.

Second, not enough has been written about its war on a democratic notion of sociality and the concept of the social.

Third, at a time in which echoes of a past fascism are on the rise not enough is being said about the relationship between neoliberalism and fascism, or what I call neoliberal fascism, especially the relationship between the widespread suffering and misery caused by neoliberalism and the rise of white supremacy.

I define neoliberal fascism as both a project and a movement, which functions as an enabling force that weakens, if not destroys, the commanding institutions of a democracy while undermining its most valuable principles.

Consequently, it provides a fertile ground for the unleashing of the ideological architecture, poisonous values, and racist social relations sanctioned and produced under fascism. Neoliberalism and fascism conjoin and advance in a comfortable and mutually compatible project and movement that connects the worse excesses of capitalism with fascist ideals – the veneration of war, a hatred of reason and truth; a populist celebration of ultra-nationalism and racial purity; the suppression of freedom and dissent; a culture which promotes lies, spectacles, a demonization of the other, a discourse of decline, brutal violence, and ultimately state violence in heterogeneous forms. As a project, it destroys all the commanding institutions of democracy and consolidates power in the hands of a financial elite.

As a movement, it produces and legitimates massive economic inequality and suffering, privatizes public goods, dismantles essential government agencies, and individualizes all social problems. In addition, it transforms the political state into the corporate state, and uses the tools of surveillance, militarization, and law and order to discredit the critical press and media, undermine civil liberties while ridiculing and censoring critics.

What critics need to address is that neoliberalism is the face of a new fascism and as such it speaks to the need to repudiate the notion that capitalism and democracy are the same thing, renew faith in the promises of a democratic socialism, create new political formations around an alliance of diverse social movements, and take seriously the need to make education central to politics itself.

[Jan 24, 2019] Nancy Pelosi fits the classic Soviet politburo member with their private dachas on the Black Sea. Nancy believes she is now the opposition leader with the mandate from the Party of Davos to ensure the defeat of Trump

Notable quotes:
"... Nancy believes she is now the opposition leader with the mandate from the Party of Davos to ensure the defeat of Trump. ..."
Jan 24, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Jack , a day ago

Sir

Nancy Pelosi is worth several hundred million dollars. I don't think she's a Marxist in the classical sense. Although she would fit the classic Soviet politburo member with their private dachas on the Black Sea. I would argue she and her ilk across both parties have enabled massive market concentration across many many sectors just in the past 4 decades. They're elitists who back an oligarchy of their fellow elitists. They are the basis for the symbiotic relationship between Big Business and Big Government. As Steve Bannon calls them, they're the Party of Davos. IMO, the only difference between the two parties are their rhetoric. Both of course engage in identity politics with the Democrats focused on the SJW virtue signaling while the Republicans have for decades channeled the evangelicals.

Trump is an outsider. They consider him to be an uncouth nouveau riche. And are appalled that his media savvy upended their Borg candidates. Nancy believes she is now the opposition leader with the mandate from the Party of Davos to ensure the defeat of Trump. This brouhaha over SOTU is just the first skirmish. I wouldn't underestimate Trump in these media centered battles. While the corporate media who as Bannon calls the opposition party creates the perception of a Trump administration in chaos, the Deplorables are still backing him. His approval rating at this midway point in his presidency is no worse than Obama and even GOP megagod Reagan. It's the reaction of the people from the heartland when he served the Clemson team Big Macs and fries compared to the derisive commentary of the urban/suburban crowd.

McConnell is also a card carrying member of the Party of Davos or else he would have jumped to invite Trump to speak from the Senate. But Trump's shtick is the people's leader. So he should speak from a heartland location. Your suggestion is a good one. Another could be a cornfield in Iowa, the first primary state where all the Democrats presidential contenders will be camping out soon.

[Jan 24, 2019] Stockman about Vichy left

Jan 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

mauisurfer , Jan 23, 2019 11:02:14 AM | link

best ever from Stockman

Trump Derangement Syndrome and the NATO Fetish of the Progressive Left
by David Stockman Posted on January 23, 2019

https://original.antiwar.com/David_Stockman/2019/01/22/trump-derangement-syndrome-and-the-nato-fetish-of-the-progressive-left/

[Jan 21, 2019] Liberal Critics of neoliberalism by Gerald J. Russello

Notable quotes:
"... Identity politics are no help here either. Indeed, to Scialabba, they are part of the problem because they are too easily coopted by capital: "Identity politics are an essential component of neoliberalism, the extension of market relations across borders and into all spheres of life. When rewards are assigned efficiently in proportion to merit, then not only is total output maximized, but the winners feel no qualms about the plight of the losers." Corporate power sees no distinction between funding diversity efforts and pursuing profit, becoming "woke" through advertising. ..."
"... vigorous self-assertion of working classes and small proprietors, which I think as close to mass democracy as the world has come, was transformed, largely by the advent of mass production, into a mass society of passive, apathetic, ignorant, deskilled consumers ..."
Jan 21, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Right can learn from George Scialabba's critiques of individual autonomy and markets.

Slouching Towards Utopia: Essays & Reviews, George Scialabba, Pressed Wafer Press, August 2018, 224 pages

George Scialabba continues to work in a political-literary vein almost forgotten in our partisan times. Along with Todd Gitlin, Thomas Frank perhaps, Jedediah Purdy (who introduces this volume), and a few others, Scialabba is a liberal without being progressive, in solidarity with workers against the capitalists rather than "woke" activists aligned with corporate interests, and respectful of tradition while also criticizing the past's faults.

The last two years have seen a drastic realignment of conservatives, where the stranglehold free-market and interventionist conservatives had has been loosened. Arguments from traditionalists such as Russell Kirk are being heard once again, and new voices are rising against Conservatism, Inc.

But the debate among liberals is just as interesting, if not more so, because of [neo]liberalism's own dominance over the media, academia, and entertainment. They are fighting in public, whereas conservatives mostly argue in the corners of the internet. A new generation of activists and progressives disdain the liberalism espoused by their once-radical elders. A world where Angela Davis gets awards rescinded for being insufficiently progressive and prominent liberals are protested at commencements is very different indeed from the heady 1960s and 1970s.

This new progressivism is sincere, but largely performative. It is too often in service to an individualistic view of the self and lacks the solidarity Scialabba sees as one of the strongest points of the Left. Resistance is a workers' collective, not a world in which choice -- mediated by corporations and advertising -- is king.

Identity politics are no help here either. Indeed, to Scialabba, they are part of the problem because they are too easily coopted by capital: "Identity politics are an essential component of neoliberalism, the extension of market relations across borders and into all spheres of life. When rewards are assigned efficiently in proportion to merit, then not only is total output maximized, but the winners feel no qualms about the plight of the losers." Corporate power sees no distinction between funding diversity efforts and pursuing profit, becoming "woke" through advertising.

This collection covers what may broadly be called questions of political culture. Like the best philosophical critics, Scialabba wants to know how we can live our common life with dignity and justice. He considers writers like Ronald Dworkin, Christopher Lasch, Yuval Levin, Michael Sandel, and others to probe how best to achieve public goods. The goods Scialabba advocates, it should be obvious, are not aligned with mainstream conservative goals. And one can argue with Scialabba's romance with a non-market economy in which redistributive justice has pride of place. The "utopia" toward which we are slouching is remote indeed.

But perhaps not that remote. In an interview republished here, "America Pro and Con," Scialabba praises the " vigorous self-assertion of working classes and small proprietors, which I think as close to mass democracy as the world has come, was transformed, largely by the advent of mass production, into a mass society of passive, apathetic, ignorant, deskilled consumers ." That vision would attract not a few Benedict Optioners, and not only them.

Scialabba has harsh words for Republicans -- the free market Paul Ryan types and the later MAGA incarnations. These comments are less interesting, and not just because they are unsurprising. It is more because Scialabba realizes the problem is more nuanced than just bad Republicans. Most of the elite Left and Right is in thrall to capital, and he can be as harsh on liberal autonomy as any conservative. In an essay titled "Ecology of Attention," which discusses Simon Head's Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans and Matthew Crawford's The World Beyond Your Head , he writes: "Seeing past this liberal model of individual autonomy might also mean recognizing that consumerism can have civic consequences. Just as atmospheric fine particles can clog our lungs and impair our society's physical health, an unending stream of commercial messages can clog our minds, fragment our attention, and, in the long run, impair our society's mental and civic health."

The Critic as Radical The Radical Lasch

Drawing on a long left-wing tradition, he disputes the liberal capitalist view of people as those who simply seek to maximize their own individual gain (in wealth, pleasure, or status, for example). Rather, he says we are "situated beings" with our own pasts. In a perceptive, sympathetic piece on Leszek Kolakowski, the "Conservative-Liberal Socialist," Scialabba catalogs the failings of "existing socialism" that the Polish philosopher so ably described. However, Scialabba cannot find much in that critique today. Soviet socialism may have been rotten, but the liberal capitalism that has been triumphant since the 1980s in the West "has seen the rampant financialization of the economy, the pulverizing of organized labor, a drastic increase in economic inequality, the capture by business of the regulatory system, and the growth of the national security state." Scialabba instead reaches for the anti-capitalist and anti-Stalinist Left as a possible source of solutions for these ills. But the problem with this resort is the same as the neoconservatives' attachment to an abstract capitalism. The dominance or liberation of private life by the state is no longer the most pressing issue: media (especially social media) and the supremacy of the "self" against all forms of community are the new challenges.

As Shadi Hamid has written recently , "It is difficult to think of a time less suited to Marxist economism than the current one."

But back to Kolakowski. Scialabba nevertheless praises him for his willingness to be a debunker of the debunkers, rejoicing in his affliction of "the comfortable unbeliever." Although Scialabba cannot ultimately follow Kolakowski either in his political or religious beliefs, nonetheless he praises Kolakowski for two things: the skepticism that allowed him to break free -- and break others free -- of the illusions of totalitarianism, and a recognition of the limits of that skepticism. Scialabba concludes that "as he continually reminded rationalists, the skeptical impulse can't be sustained indefinitely or directed toward everything simultaneously. We need traditions too."

It is premises like these that make Scialabba interesting to conservatives. Because beginning from those premises Scialabba goes in directions conservatives typically do not follow. Because he opposes [neo]liberal capitalism, he is fond of unions. Because he believes we cannot completely extract ourselves from our cultural, ethnic, and religious inheritances, ingrained injustices must be recognized and remedied. Because he believes we are situated beings with traditions, we must construct an economic system that serves our nature rather than invent abstractions that we then serve. A defender of America's middle-class (described here, in reviewing a book by Alan Wolfe, as on the whole "generous, trusting, and optimistic"), nevertheless he faults them for being too gullible in responding to the call of capital and the military-industrial complex. But he also faults the Left for failing to understand that their fellow Americans are, in fact, decent, and, for the most part, tolerant people.

Scialabba might be surprised that he has sympathetic readers on the Right, or even that a form of nationalism might work with his premises. This possible compatibility isn't to ignore that American nationalism can and has been racist and inhospitable to minorities. But the conclusion that there is an "America" that has meaning beyond being simply a machine to generate GDP (on the backs of workers, perhaps, here or elsewhere) could fit, even if not fully comfortably, within Scialabba's generous intellectual world.

While not quite a utopia, it would be a start.

Gerald J. Russello is editor of The University Bookman .

[Jan 19, 2019] Differences between the Chinese and the USA versions of neoliberalism

Jan 19, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

mulp -> anne... , January 1 6, 2019 at 02:27 PM

"Instead, the Chinese government has been piling on loans to businesses and state-owned enterprises, pushing the SOEs to spend more, and so on. Basically it has kept investment going despite low returns. Yet this process has to have some limits – and when it hits the (great) wall, it's hard to see how consumption can rise fast enough to take up the slack."

Proof Krugman has been corrupted by free lunch economics!

If interest on savings is very low, returns on capital investment should be very low.

The lower limit on returns to capital is the real interest rate on savings. In China, inflation makes interest on savings negative. So, returns on investment can be negative, just less negative than interest on savings.

The only way investment can be funded is by workers spending less on consumption than they earn working or from other sourcees. If workers are investing a lot, they have individually decided they should not consume more, because there is no shortage of goods andd services to buy in China.

This is a very different situation than in the US where 90% of the population has too little money to buy what they want or need, and thus they borrow money to pay for consumption. Wages are too low in the US to fund investment so a great deal of scarcity exists in the US of several consumption goods which result in rapid inflation in the prices of those goods, and thus very high returns to capotal even as interest on savings are kept artificially low in order to allow for high defaults on bad consumer debt, consumer debt needed to pay the high inflated price of selected scarce consumption goods due to under investment.

In China, workers earn so much more than they are accustomed to consume they have investing in housing so housing costs are very low, and housing exists in excess.

In the US, workers earn less than they need to consume, so hiusing is extremely scarce and consumption prices have inflated at high rates.

Now, while China uses Keynes and sees excess housing as a good thing, the US uses free lunch economics and sees scarce housing as a good thing because housing inflation "creates wealth".

China has embraced private capital in many ways much more than the US since the 80s, with returns to private capital falling to very low levels, while in the US, building capital is thwarted to generate capital scarcity and high rates of capital price inflation. To "create wealth" from capital scarcity.

anne -> mulp ... , January 1 6, 2019 at 02:27 PM
Really helpful and interesting argument, that I will consider point by point. I do appreciate the careful writing.
Chris Lowery -> mulp ... , January 18, 2019 at 06:48 AM
"[W]hile in the US, building capital is thwarted to generate capital scarcity and high rates of capital price inflation. To 'create wealth' from capital scarcity."

Alternatively, in the U.S. there is a combination of excess of capital and insufficient investment alternatives (due to growing income and wealth inequality and excessive market power, anti-competitive business practices and insufficient anti-trust enforcement) that causes investors to chase unproductive returns and unrealistically bid-up asset prices.

mulp -> Chris Lowery ... , January 18, 2019 at 03:07 PM
Name the excess capital from paying too much to workers to build capital assets.

The only thing that I can think of that might be true is too much paying of workers to create TV shows, movies, and computer games.

Except, in this media sector, big companies buying competitors along with buying back shares of their stocks with profits is spawning ever more competitors. As much as Comcast tries to eliminate competition, investors keep paying workers to build new streaming services with content only the new companies have by paying more workers to produce TV and movies.

But this is standard economic theory: technology cuts costs, which cuts prices which increases demand so the workers eliminated by technology get retasked producing more, but the more is so much more, more workers are needed. The equilibrium is reached when long term revenue just barely pays for all the workers long term.

You might object to everyone consuming more media content because you are like Miltion Friedman a classic Jew stereotype puritian who believes the mmasses must work more and suffer by consuming less, so you can be an elite preaching values you will not embrace for yourself.

Ie, you did not state: "I am paid too much which is a sign of too many workers being paid too much due to too much investment driving up wages".

Darrell in Phoenix said in reply to mulp ... , January 18, 2019 at 10:01 AM
"The only way investment can be funded is by workers spending less on consumption than they earn working or from other sourcees."

False. Investment can be funded by debt.

mulp -> Darrell in Phoenix... , January 18, 2019 at 03:16 PM
"False. Investment can be funded by debt. "

So, you consider debt to be a gift?

Please send me $1000 a month for the rest of my life as debt. Then collect your money, debt, after I'm dead. After all, your debt does not need to be repaid by my working for income and not consuming using all or more of my income!

Or you believe the Venezuela economic policy is fantastic and should be adopted in the US, because Trump and the GOP were not creating structural long term borrowing and spending fast enough 2017-2018?

Plp -> anne... , January 17, 2019 at 05:57 AM
PK can't escape his paradigm


Yes the management of the domestic market development might fail to take adequate measures
Indeed the macro managers may lose their way

But the techniques that got them this far
Are still solid
And with augmentation
Can continue high speed expansion of the production system and urbanization

Price regulation could and should be
CO ordinated with a mark up market

Land lots market value zeroed out
thru a 100 % George tax

And corporate debt placed in special investment vehicles and managed uniformly
Thru a universal default insurance system.
Run by a state default insurance agency

Plp -> Plp... , January 17, 2019 at 06:01 AM
The urban systems needs to expand
At break neck speed
There are still 400 million left behinds to urbanized

The social transfer payment system
can be expanded in tandem with output capacity raising the bottom households income at maximum speed

Boldness and audacity

Plp -> Plp... , January 18, 2019 at 01:14 PM
Btw
Why can't an economy sustain 40% GDP investment

When the capital ratio to population is so low
And so much has to be built

China is pulling a billion plus people into the 21st century

Plp -> Plp... , January 18, 2019 at 01:17 PM
Imagine north America pulling south America
Up to California standards

Think coastal v inland prc

mulp -> Plp... , January 18, 2019 at 04:14 PM
Imagine conservatives electing representatives to Congress who hiked the "gas tax" and then offered lots more money to States that had elected legislatures that hiked their gas tax to generate the matching funds to get Federal gas tax funds that were spent on transportation.

"Gas taxes" are not limited to fuel, but include fees on tires, which cost based on wear on roads, ie, a big rig uses big costly ties that last maybe 25,000 miles so the more use of the road the more tax paid. But increasingly cars have high cost performance tires. Then there are use taxes based on the size plus load of the vehicle. A very high tax rate on fossil fuels will eliminate their use requiring moving to a fee based on miles driven and capacity of the vehicle, maybe by open road tolling.

But as transportation is a living cost, living costs need to be increased in Trumpland to create the coastal economies Trump lives in and builds his resorts in. Economies with high living costs to pay the high wages of all the workers who moved from low living cost conservative places to high living cost liberal places.

mulp -> Plp... , January 18, 2019 at 03:59 PM
So, all capital assets must be consumed in an average of 3 years? A ten year old house would need to be burned down. Steeet torn up after five years returned to farm or forest land?

Average useful life of assets is probably 30 years, but at that point they still have a minimum of 10% of cost in residual value, and paying workers to invest in existing capital at 3-5% annually will maintaiin the asset value of over half of assets for centuries. Spending another 2% will replace all of the other half. So, spending 10% of GDP will increase capital assets by 3% easy every year, which 70/3 means doubling total assets every 25 years.

Your 40% would mean doubling assets every 70/35% or two years.

Assuming assets keep increasing GDP becyond the addition to GDP from building productive assets.

Note, cars are productive assets, ie, a car gets you to work. A house with utilities frees up probably 5 hours a day to be used working for others. Try being homeless or living in a tar paper shack with nothing but a pot belly stove and water from a pond half a mile away. The capital asset like a house includes roads, running water and sewage, and fuel to cook and heat with zero labor, which are paid for for with $100 in labor for a family unit up to 4, more or less. Paying $100 a week frees up at least 25 hours of unpaid household labor, collecting/cutting wood for energy, walking to the pond to fetch water, walking along a trail to work and shop.

anne -> Plp... , January 17, 2019 at 07:42 AM
PK can't escape his paradigm

Yes, the management of the domestic market development might fail to take adequate measures
Indeed the macro managers may lose their way

But, the techniques that got them this far
Are still solid
And with augmentation
Can continue high-speed expansion of the production system and urbanization

Price regulation could and should be
Coordinated with a markup market ...

[ Important criticism and agreed. Prominent Western economists have usually been unwilling to look to the structure of the Chinese economy and specific techniques that have been used to spur development. ]

anne -> Plp... , January 18, 2019 at 02:26 PM
Brad DeLong has been wrong about China since 1980, Jeffrey Sachs and Stanley Fischer since 1990, Paul Krugman since 2011... The problem is that they simply never look at the Chinese institutions that have driven 9.5% yearly growth in GDP and 8.5% yearly growth in per capita GDP these 42 years. Suddenly, then, Krugman decides that what has driven Chinese growth is of no consequence because China has (gasp) too few people.

Imagine a China of too few people, and I could care less about the age ratios, which I have and which are of no concern relative to productivity growth which is just what China is focusing on.

anne -> Plp... , January 18, 2019 at 02:26 PM
Land lots market value zeroed out
thru a 100 % George tax

[ This needs to be explained:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_George

I never ever have read of an application in China. What am I missing? ]

Mr. Bill -> anne... , January 18, 2019 at 02:26 PM
"On one side, China's problems are real. On the other, the Chinese government – hindered neither by rigid ideology nor by anything resembling a democratic political process – has repeatedly shown its ability and willingness to do whatever it takes to prop up its economy. It's really anyone's guess whether this time will be different, or whether Xi-who-must-be-obeyed can pull out another recovery."

By God, Jeeves, I think he's got it.

Tonight's music recommendation is the Jefferson Airplane.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsHF-8xUFPA&index=8&list=RDzYZ_p63JAiQ

In life, the script is usually wrong, eventually. Can you you imagine being Gracie Slick or Jim Morrison's father ? Comrade Xi ?

[Jan 17, 2019] Critical thinking is anathema to the neoliberal establishment. That't why they need to corrupt the language, to make the resitnace more dissifult and requiring higher level of IQ

Jan 17, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

BluebellWood -> Supermassive , 29 Nov 2018 12:41

Yep - education is the key.

I remember at school we read Orwell's essay Politics and the English Language in an English class and then we were set a writing task as a follow-up, reporting on the same story using the same facts, from completely opposing points of view, using euphemism and mind-numbing cliches. Teach children to do this themselves and they can see how language can be skewed and facts distorted and misrepresented without technically lying.

How many children in schools are taught such critical thinking these days, I wonder? It might be taught in Media Studies, I suppose - but gosh, don't the right really hate that particular subject! Critical thinking is anathema to them.

[Jan 17, 2019] Brasil neoliberal counterevolution by James Petras

Jan 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

Originally from: President Trump's Losing Strategy: Embracing Brazil and Confronting China James Petras January 8, 2019

Introduction

The US embraces a regime doomed to failure and threatens the world's most dynamic economy. President Trump has lauded Brazil's newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro and promises to promote close economic, political, social and cultural ties. In contrast the Trump regime is committed to dismantling China's growth model, imposing harsh and pervasive sanctions, and promoting the division and fragmentation of greater China.

Washington's choice of allies and enemies is based on a narrow conception of short-term advantage and strategic losses.

In this paper we will discuss the reasons why the US-Brazilian relation fits in with Washington's pursuit for global domination and why Washington fears the dynamic growth and challenge of an independent and competitive China.

Brazil in Search of a Patron

Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro from day one, has announced a program to reverse nearly a century of state directed economic growth. He has announced the privatization of the entire public sector, including the strategic finance, banking, minerals, infrastructure, transport, energy and manufacturing activities. Moreover, the sellout has prioritized the centrality of foreign multi-national corporations. Previous authoritarian civilian and military regimes protected nationalized firms as part of tripartite alliances which included foreign, state and domestic private enterprises.

In contrast to previous elected civilian regimes which strived – not always successfully – to increase pensions, wages and living standards and recognized labor legislation, President Bolsonaro has promised to fire thousands of public sector employees, reduce pensions and increase retirement age while lowering salaries and wages in order to increase profits and lower costs to capitalists.

President Bolsonaro promises to reverse land reform, expel, arrest and assault peasant households in order to re-instate landlords and encourage foreign investors in their place. The deforestation of the Amazon and its handover to cattle barons and land speculators will include the seizure of millions of acres of indigenous land.

In foreign policy, the new Brazilian regime pledges to follow US policy on every strategic issue: Brazil supports Trump's economic attacks on China, embraces Israel's land grabs in the Middle East, (including moving its capital to Jerusalem), back US plots to boycott and policies to overthrow the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. For the first time, Brazil has offered the Pentagon military bases, and military forces in any and all forthcoming invasions or wars.

The US celebration of President Bolsonaro's gratuitous handovers of resources and wealth and surrender of sovereignty is celebrated in the pages of the Financial Times, the Washington Post and the New York Times who predict a period of growth, investment and recovery – if the regime has the 'courage' to impose its sellout.

As has occurred in numerous recent experiences with right wing neo-liberal regime changes in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador, financial page journalists and experts have allowed their ideological dogma to blind them to the eventual pitfalls and crises.

The Bolsonaro regime's economic policies ignore the fact that they depend on agro-mineral exports to China and compete with US exports Brazilian ago-business elites will resent the switch of trading partners.. They will oppose, defeat and undermine Bolsonaro's anti-China campaign if he dares to persists.

Foreign investors will takeover public enterprises but are not likely to expand production given the sharp reduction of employment, salaries and wages, as the consumer market declines.

Banks may make loans but demand high interest rates for high 'risks' especially as the government will face increased social opposition from trade unions and social movements, and greater violence from the militarization of society.

Bolsonaro lacks a majority in Congress who depend on the electoral support of millions of public employees, wage and salaried workers ,pensioners,and gender and racial minorities. Congressional alliance will be difficult without corruption and compromises Bolsonaro's cabinet includes several key ministers who are under investigation for fraud and money laundering. His anti-corruption rhetoric will evaporate in the face of judicial investigations and exposés.

Brazil is unlikely to provide any meaningful military forces for regional or international US military adventures. The military agreements with the US will carry little weight in the face of deep domestic turmoil.

Bolsanaro's neo-liberal policies will deepen inequalities especially among the fifty million who have recently risen out of poverty. The US embrace of Brazil will enrich Wall Street who will take the money and run, leaving the US facing the ire and rejection of their failed ally.

The US Confronts China

Unlike Brazil, China is not prepared to submit to economic plunder and to surrender its sovereignty. China is following its own long-term strategy which focuses on developing the most advanced sectors of the economy – including cutting edge electronics and communication technology.

Chinese researchers already produce more patents and referred scientific articles than the US. They graduate more engineers, advanced researchers and innovative scientists than the US based on high levels of state funding . China with an investment rate of over 44% in 2017, far surpasses the US. China has advanced, from low to high value added exports including electrical cars at competitive prices. For example, Chinese i-phones are outcompeting Apple in both price and quality.

China has opened its economy to US multi-national corporations in exchange for access to advanced technology, what Washington dubs as 'forced' seizures.

China has promoted multi-lateral trade and investment agreement ,including over sixty countries, in large-scale long-term infrastructure agreements throughout Asia and Africa.

Instead of following China's economic example Washington whines of unfair trade, technological theft, market restrictions and state constraints on private investments.

China offers long-term opportunities for Washington to upgrade its economic and social performance – if Washington recognized that Chinese competition is a positive incentive. Instead of large-scale public investments in upgrading and promoting the export sector, Washington has turned to military threats, economic sanctions and tariffs which protect backward US industrial sectors. Instead of negotiating for markets with an independent China, Washington embraces vassal regimes like Brazil's under newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro who relies on US economic control and takeovers.

ORDER IT NOW

The US has an easy path to dominating Brazil for short-term gains – profits, markets and resources, but the Brazilian model is not viable or sustainable. In contrast the US needs to negotiate, bargain and agree to reciprocal competitive agreements with China ..The end result of cooperating with China would allow the US to learn and grow in a sustainable fashion.

[Jan 04, 2019] How neoliberalism is damaging your mental health

Jan 04, 2019 | theconversation.com

"Neoliberalised healthcare requires every patient (or rather, "client" of healthcare "services") to take responsibility for her own state or behaviour. Mental healthcare is therefore being reframed as a series of "outcomes" geared at measurable improvement which the "service user" must manage by themselves as far as possible.

Access to psychiatric diagnosis and support from public health services (and also within private or employer-run occupational healthcare schemes) sometimes depends on completion of a mood or symptom diary using smartphone or Fitbit self-tracking techniques .

And there may well be more punitive future consequences for failure to self-track, as employers and perhaps benefit agencies gain more power to command this sort of performance from workers." •

From 2018, still germane.

[Dec 27, 2018] The MSM are hardly going to publish this article, nor are they going to reference it, why should they? It goes against everything they have been fighting for and the tin ear of their readership are unwilling to change teir views. The only thing that they understand is money and they work for to further the concentration of wealth.

Notable quotes:
"... Friends of mine who make a living out of dealing both in stock and wealth creating schemes have no loyalty to this country, they are self motivated and libertarian in persuasion. "Government should get out of the way!" This is nothing short of scandalous. ..."
"... Unless we stand up for our rights and a civil society that provides adequate provision for fair and balanced policy making,xwe will continue until we will see an implosion. History is littered with examples of revolution based on the kind of inequality we are seeing happen in this country. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

PossumBilly , 3 Jun 2018 23:25

This message is clear and concise. It is however never going to be heard beyond the 'Guardian'.

The MSM are hardly going to publish this article, nor are they going to reference it, why should they? It goes against everything they have been fighting for and the tin ear of their readership are unwilling to change teir views.

The only thing that they understand is money and the concentration of wealth. This misonception as Dennis So far this has been handed to them on a plate, the taxation system has enabled them to manipulate an multiply their earnings. So much of money the has nothing to do with adding value to this countries economy but is speculative in nature based on financial and overseas instruments.

No is the time for our government to take the lead and start as the Victorian ALP have done and invest in people and jobs on the back of strategic investment. It is a fallacy that governments don't create jobs they, through their policies do just that.

Friends of mine who make a living out of dealing both in stock and wealth creating schemes have no loyalty to this country, they are self motivated and libertarian in persuasion. "Government should get out of the way!" This is nothing short of scandalous.

Unless we stand up for our rights and a civil society that provides adequate provision for fair and balanced policy making,xwe will continue until we will see an implosion. History is littered with examples of revolution based on the kind of inequality we are seeing happen in this country. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

[Dec 27, 2018] All talk about "small government" and "slashing red tape" it is NeeSpeak for small government and NO red tape for the rich

Dec 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

MajorMalaise , 3 Jun 2018 23:44

A couple of thoughts - in no particular order.

When governments like the LNP (driven as it is by its ideology of greed, the IPA manifesto and Gina Rinehart's idea of what Australia should look like [and how little she should pay to pillage "communally owned" assets to enrich herself beyond imagination - she has no greater claim over the Pilbara than any other Australian, but like all who live by the ethos of greed, she thinks she should get it all for nothing]).

When the LNP talk about "small government" and "slashing red tape" it is politician-speak for small government and NO red tape for the rich. What it also means is much more government and red tape for the poor and vulnerable - as we would expect, the rich and powerful, who really dictate economic and social policy in this country enlist willing governments to enact measures that suppress the lower classes. It is not quite calling out the military (as Hawke did during the pilot's strike at the insistence of the corpulent Ables - one act for which I will always despise Hawke), but it has the same result by more surreptitious, lasting and egregious means.

And one of the lasting legacies of the philosophies of neo-liberalism, from which the Hanson's of the world "suck their oxygen" is that the political and corporate dialogue of the last 30 or so years has pushed the notion of self-entitlement and vilification of the poor and vulnerable further down the economic ladder. So now, we have countless Australians on reasonable incomes who, like the rich, are convinced that all of our social and economic ills can be rectified if we stop giving handouts to the bludgers, the malingerers, the disabled and the indigenous - the neo-liberal rhetoric is now so widespread that it is easier than ever for the vulnerable to be attacked and for many, that is seen as absolutely necessary. It is the false US-sourced notion that if you are poor, it is because you deserve to be and if I am rich - it isn't luck or inheritance - it is because I deserve it. This world-view makes it so much easier to attack the vulnerable as receiving way to much to sit at home and bludge.

Want to forget the now disgraced CEO of Australia Post who bought a Sydney mansion for $22 million and now wants to sell it for $40 million - tax free I might add. He is entitled to that wealth enhancement. But someone on the dole smokes a spliff now and then and we think they should lose their entitlements to an income that doesn't even get them up to the poverty line (but they should be grateful for that pittance). Want to forget the CEO's who pretentiously do their "sleeping rough" for a night and proclaim their empathy for the homeless who would shriek at paying more tax to genuinely fund programmes to help the down and outs. No problem - just embrace the selfish and greedy neo-liberalism philosophy.

[Dec 23, 2018] Generation Wealth documentarian Lauren Greenfield on how the rich are destroying civilization by Keith A. Spencer

No one knows how the Midas myth ends, but he dies of starvation because everything turns to gold. The the culture equates wealth and self-worth, this is repetition of Midas myth on a new level. Like Russian oligarchs (Prokhorov is one example), or Getty in the USA enjoying a harem of "girlfriends"
For those that haven't seen the first few episodes of British TV series about Getty, you should. There are many parables that come to mind that include Getty Sr, his children, his kidnapped grandson, and him harem, or how I would call them Getty's female posse.
Notable quotes:
"... The esteemed filmmaker observed how the vapid trickle-down culture of the plutocracy could be the end of us all ..."
Dec 02, 2018 | www.salon.com

The esteemed filmmaker observed how the vapid trickle-down culture of the plutocracy could be the end of us all

This article was co-produced with Original Thinkers , an annual ideas festival in Telluride, Colorado that brings speakers, art and filmmakers together to create new paradigms.

It is ironic that, as the gulf between rich and poor reaches record levels, the language of the underclass has become infected with the culture and mores of the rich . Twenty years ago, English began to absorb and normalize verbal markers of wealth, consumption and status, evidenced by the mainstreaming of luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton and their appearance in pop culture and media. Reality TV went from nonexistent in the 1970s to one of the most popular television genres in the 2000s, much of it homed in on the lifestyles and lives of the rich -- culminating in a billionaire, reality-TV star president. Social media in the late 2000s and 2010s seems to have exacerbated a cultural normalization of narcissism , an obsession with self-image, and a propensity for conspicuous consumption. Few of us are rich, but we all aspire to appear that way on Instagram.

00:00 00:00

In the past twenty-five years, documentarian and photograph Lauren Greenfield has been documenting this profound shift in culture, as the vapid materialism of the plutocracy has trickled down to the rest of us. Greenfield, who was once named "America's foremost visual chronicler of the plutocracy" by the New York Times, is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker and photographer. Greenfield has experience documenting the lifestyles of the rich and (in)famous: her much-lauded 2012 documentary, " The Queen of Versailles ," followed the billionaire Siegel family during their quest to build the largest house in the United States. Her unflinchingly honest depiction of their bleak existence led to patriarch David Siegel filing a lawsuit against the filmmakers for defamation, which increased publicity to the film and which the Siegels lost handily.

Greenfield's latest opus, " Generation Wealth ," is an attempt to understand the intricacies of the trickle-down culture of the wealthy. Simultaneously an exhibition, monograph and film , Greenfield's camera follows not just the wealthy, but many folks who are middle- or working-class and yet who have absorbed the narrative and values of the elite in their quest to be thin, forever beautiful, and image- and luxury-obsessed. The film is unflinching in a way that is occasionally macabre: The on-screen depiction of plastic surgery is a grisly counterpoint to the pristine resorts, lifestyles and houses of the well-heeled. "This movie is neither trickle-down treat nor bacchanal guised as bromide, but rather an interrogation of an era defined by an obsession with wealth," wrote Eileen G'Sell in Salon's review .

I interviewed Lauren Greenfield at the Original Thinkers Festival in Telluride, Colorado. A video from this interview can be viewed here ; the print version has been condensed and edited.

Keith Spencer: " Generation Wealth " is such a fascinating [book and film] project, and it's so rich. For those who may not know about it, how would you describe the overall project? I know it took 25 years of work?

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Lauren Greenfield : I started looking back at my photography since the early nineties and seeing that, in a way, all of the stories that I had been doing -- about consumerism and body image and fame and celebrity and the economic crisis -- that in a way they were connected. And I decided to do an archeological dig in my own work and look at the pictures as evidence of how we had changed as a culture.

And what I came to was that they revealed a kind of fundamental shift in the American dream, that we had gone from a dream that prized hard work and frugality and discipline, to a culture that elevated bling and celebrity and narcissism.

Interesting. And like you said, it's a global phenomenon, right? I mean, the pictures and the shots in the film were taken are all over the planet, right?

Yeah, I started in L[os Angeles] in the nineties, but even when I was doing the work in L.A., I felt like [I] was more looking at L.A. as the extreme manifestation of how you see the influence of the popular culture. In a way you are closest to the flame there.

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But then I found that other people saw [that culture] as just L.A., so I kind of made it my mission to first go across the country and then go to different places in the world to show how we were exporting these values -- exporting this culture with global media, with the Internet, with social media, with branding and international branding. In "Generation Wealth," I really tried to show this global virus that is consumerism.

And that's something that I thought was so interesting about the film, was that the goods and the brands and the imagery look the same whether they were in Hong Kong or Moscow or Los Angeles or Orlando. It was like there's this culture that exists everywhere. It's so interesting how something like that is transmitted everywhere, the same idea, the same cultural values.

Yeah, I was really looking at how our culture, international culture in a way is being homogenized by these influences of corporations and globalism and media. In my work, I'm really looking for the similarities in values and influence and behavior in people who are really, really different.

And that really came together for me during the economic crisis. Because from L.A., from middle class to working class, to billionaires in Florida ... to the crash in Dubai , to Iceland to Ireland , I was seeing similar consequences from similar behavior.

And the interconnected financial system was one more kind of homogenizing factor. And so that's what I was really interested in looking at. [Cultural critic] Chris Hedges speaks throughout the movie and at the end he says this comment, which I really love, about how authentic culture is being destroyed by the values of corporate capitalism. And that it's authentic culture that actually teaches us who we are and where we came from.

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And so in a way we lose our identities when we lose that. And I think we see, especially with young people, how identity is so connected to brands and what you have and what you wear and what you buy.

Right. And that's one of the other interesting threads through the film, is just that in almost every subject's case -- because you followed a lot of them for a long time through their lives or pick up at different points in their life -- they all seem to sort of admit that either the money itself or the things that they bought with the money never made them happy. But yet at the same time, what I thought was so funny was some of them just seemed like they couldn't quit the lifestyle, like especially the German hedge fund manager.

Yeah. That's exactly right. For me, I realized it was really about addiction and it wasn't about the money -- in the [film], you see that wealth is not just money, but all the things that give you value. And so you see people searching for beauty and youth and fame and image. But it's like addiction in the sense that you think it's going to bring you something that it doesn't.

[In] a way, all of the subjects are kind of looking to fill a void or an emptiness that can't be filled by that thing . [You] just stay on that gold plated hamster wheel... in the metaphor of addiction, the only way to stop is when you hit rock bottom. And so we see a lot of crashes, both collective and individual in the film.

Speaking of addiction -- you ended up bringing in and talking about your own family too, both your mother and your children. Which I was not expecting, because before I saw "Generation Wealth" I'd seen "The Queen of Versailles," which you don't really bring yourself in that one much at all. Did you think while you were making it that you were going to end up turning the camera around on yourself and your family?

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No, it kind of evolved. I started thinking I would be in it in some way as a kind of narrator, thinking mostly my voice, not physically in it, which was really scary to me in the beginning. But I felt like I was kind of the connective tissue and my journey was the connective tissue between these subjects.

I've always tried to go in really non-judgmentally, and show phenomena and people in situations that I think speak to the larger culture and are part of mainstream culture and influence. So I want people to see themselves in the characters, like in "Queen of Versailles."

And so I felt like it was also important to make the point that we're all complicit and that I'm not outside of it. And [to] look at how I'm also affected by these influences.

And it kind of emerged organically. I was talking to Florian -- the German Hedge Fund banker -- who is a very flamboyant character in the film. Makes $800,000,000, loses it all and becomes a truth-teller for how [money] doesn't bring you what you think it will.

And he challenged me at a certain point, and said, "How can a hundred-hour work week not affect your relationship with anything that matters?" And he kind of looks at me. And it forced me to kind of think about -- you know, there I was in Germany on a three week trip on my way to Iceland, two kids at home that I'm trying to connect with on FaceTime. It made me think about my own addiction to my work.

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There's this great scene in the movie where your son Gabriel talks about how his older brother got a perfect score on the ACT and how he's just afraid that he'll never be able to live up to that and he'll never be able to go to Harvard like his parents and brother. And it was amazing because it was like, before the camera was focused on all these rich kids -- but they had similar anxieties to your son.

Yeah. And I think that this cycle of wanting more manifests in all different ways. I don't think that anybody can say they're outside of it. It's kind of like, I always think about modernism in a way, being kind of a justifiable luxury for [a] sophisticated or intellectual class.

And yeah... achievement was really important in my family. Gabriel also speaks to the weight and pressure of comparison, which is really a theme of the whole movie, that we're all kind of living in the state of collective FOMO where we can never be good enough because we're comparing ourselves to what we see not just on media but on social media. Not just real people but fictional, curated people.

I did a lot of work on gender, and so I made a short film called " Beauty Culture ." And even in my book, " Girl Culture ," looking at how girls are comparing themselves to pictures of models that are not just genetically specific, but also retouched and styled. And so it's literally impossible to measure up. And now I think we're all kind of in that state.

And so when Gabriel talked about comparing himself to his brother or not feeling like he could measure up, I wasn't initially planning to have my family be in there, but I did feel an obligation [to] be willing to ask of myself what I ask of the subjects -- a hard, intimate look into the hard issues of living.

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Last night at the Q&A after the film screening, you mentioned that this movie is a feminist film in the specific way that it looks at girls and women. Can you elaborate on that? I thought it was interesting how you noted that women are both a commodity, and also get power from commodifying themselves.

Yeah. I had done a lot of work on gender and I wasn't sure in the beginning how it would fit into "Generation Wealth." And then I realized that, in a way, girls were a really powerful and tragic case study for how human beings are commodified, and how in a way it's the ultimate cost and degradation of capitalism, the sale of the human being. And so for girls, I had been looking at both how girls were sold to -- because their body image insecurities make them very vulnerable and avid consumers; "buy this and you can fix whatever's wrong with your skin, your body," or whatever -- but also how they are physically sold.

And I think, for me, Kim Kardashian is a really powerful symbol of how that's changed. That the sex tape is a means to a lifestyle of money and affluence, and it's not the scarlet letter anymore. It's a badge of honor if that's what you bring.

And that manifests in different ways from an innocent game of dress-up, where there's also kind of precocious sexualization, to teenage girls putting sexy pictures of themselves on social media, to women who feel like they can't age and [get] plastic surgery -- because if their beauty and bodies are their value, you can't lose that.

Speaking of that, that was another thing about the film I thought was interesting. From watching the trailer I had the sense that [the film] would be focused mostly on the 1%, but actually it's about how the values and the culture that the wealthy, the hypermaterialism and such, trickles down to the working class. I'm thinking specifically of Cathy, the bus driver... there's the very gruesome scenes of her getting plastic surgery in Brazil, multiple times I believe if I remember right.

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Well, she gets multiple surgeries on one trip to Brazil, because if you go to Brazil you can get surgery much cheaper and the doctors will actually perform multiple operations on you in a way that they won't in the US. And yeah, I was really blown away by a statistic about plastic surgery that I heard, where 75% of women who get plastic surgery make $50,000 or less.

Like eating disorders -- these things were thought to be kind of practices of the rich, but they have really trickled down. And I think part of that is the way we're bombarded with images of luxury and affluence. And also the kind of, in a way, new mythmaking of the American Dream, where the body is the new frontier of the rags to riches -- where anybody with enough money, effort and willpower can transform themselves physically.

And so it's kind of like your fault if you don't have the drive and motivation to do that. And we see these shows, reality shows like "The Swan" and these transformation shows... I apologize for showing such hard images, but I felt like it was really important to not see the before and after that we get in the media, but to see the middle, and the violence and risk that's really part of that transformation.

Towards the end, cultural critic Chris Hedges describes us as a civilization on the verge of collapse. But then the movie ends on a more hopeful note. I was wondering if you share Chris Hedges' apocalyptic view of the future, or if you felt hope at the end?

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I do share his view, but I have, I guess, kind of a split or duality, in the sense that I feel like the reason I did this work and put it all together now, and went through a half a million pictures, is I do feel we're kind of barreling towards the apocalypse if we stay on this path. It's not a sustainable path. And from what I've seen over the last 25 years, it's blown-up exponentially.

Yet I think that there's a possibility of not staying on this path. A lot of the characters in the movie and in the book -- when they do hit rock bottom, whether it's the economic crisis or their own personal crashes -- they have insights that make them want to change.

And I feel like, in a way, this work is about kind of showing the Matrix that we live in, and having the option of the red pill. But I think that you kind of need a super-majority for that to happen on any significant scale.


Keith A. Spencer

Keith A. Spencer is the cover editor for Salon, and manages Salon's science, tech and health coverage. His book, " A People's History of Silicon Valley: How the Tech Industry Exploits Workers, Erodes Privacy and Undermines Democracy ," was released in 2018 from Eyewear Publishing. Follow him on Twitter at @keithspencer.

MORE FROM Keith A. Spencer • FOLLOW keithspencer

[Dec 22, 2018] The Vocabulary of Economic Deception by Michael Hudson and Bonnie Faulkner

Notable quotes:
"... The aim of classical economics was to tax unearned income, not wages and profits. The tax burden was to fall on the landlord class first and foremost, then on monopolists and bankers. The result was to be a circular flow in which taxes would be paid mainly out of rent and other unearned income. The government would spend this revenue on infrastructure, schools and other productive investment to help make the economy more competitive. Socialism was seen as a program to create a more efficient capitalist economy along these lines. ..."
"... Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire ..."
"... Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy ..."
"... J Is for Junk Economics – A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception ..."
"... J is for Junk Economics ..."
"... Guns and Butter ..."
"... J Is for Junk Economics ..."
"... The Fictitious Economy ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... J Is for Junk Economics – A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception ..."
"... Killing the Host ..."
"... J is for Junk – A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception ..."
"... Trade, Development and Foreign Debt ..."
Dec 22, 2018 | www.unz.com
Michael Hudson and Bonnie Faulkner October 8, 2018 8,300 Words Leave a Comment Email This Page to Someone
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The aim of classical economics was to tax unearned income, not wages and profits. The tax burden was to fall on the landlord class first and foremost, then on monopolists and bankers. The result was to be a circular flow in which taxes would be paid mainly out of rent and other unearned income. The government would spend this revenue on infrastructure, schools and other productive investment to help make the economy more competitive. Socialism was seen as a program to create a more efficient capitalist economy along these lines.

I'm Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter, Dr. Michael Hudson. Today's show: The Vocabulary of Economic Deception. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, a Wall Street financial analyst and distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire is a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank. His latest books are, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy and J Is for Junk Economics – A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception . Today we discuss J is for Junk Economics , an A to Z guide that describes how the world economy really works, and who the winners and losers really are. We cover contemporary terms that are misleading or poorly understood, as well as many important concepts that have been abandoned – many on purpose – from the long history of political economy.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Dr. Michael Hudson, welcome to Guns and Butter again.

MICHAEL HUDSON: It's good to be back, Bonnie.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You write that your recent book, J Is for Junk Economics , a dictionary and accompanying essays,was drafted more than a decade ago for a book to have been entitled The Fictitious Economy . You tried several times without success to find a publisher. Why wouldn't publishers at the time take on your book?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Most publishers like to commission books that are like the last one that sold well. Ten years ago, people wanted to read about how the economy was doing just fine. I was called Dr. Doom, which did very well for me in the 1970s when I was talking about the economy running into debt. But they wanted upbeat books. If I were to talk about how the economy is polarizing and getting poorer, they wanted me to explain how readers could make a million dollars off people getting more strapped as the economy polarizes. I didn't want to write a book about how to get rich by riding the neoliberal wave dismantling of the economy. I wanted to create an alternative.

If I wanted to ride the wave of getting rich by taking on more debt, I would have stayed on Wall Street. I wanted to explain how the way in which the economy seemed to be getting richer was actually impoverishing it. We are in a new Gilded Age masked by a vocabulary used by the media via television and papers like The New York Times that are euphemizing what was happening.

A euphemism is a rhetorical trick to make a bad phenomenon look good. If a landlord gets rich by gentrifying a neighborhood by exploiting tenants and forcing them out, that's called wealth creation if property values and rents rise. If you can distract people to celebrate wealth and splendor at the top of the economic pyramid, people will be less focused on how the economy is functioning for the bottom 99%.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Can you describe the format of J Is for Junk Economics – A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception as an A-to-Z dictionary with additional essays? It seems to me that this format makes a good reference book that can be picked up and read at any point.

MICHAEL HUDSON: That's what I intended. I wrote it as a companion volume to my outline of economic theory, Killing the Host , which was about how the financial sector has taken over the economy in a parasitic way. I saw the vocabulary problem and also how to solve it: If people have a clear set of economic concepts, basically those of classical economics – value, price and rent – the words almost automatically organize themselves into a worldview. A realistic vocabulary and understanding of what words mean will enable its users to put them together to form an inter-connected system.

I wanted to show how junk economics uses euphemisms and what Orwell called Doublethink to confuse people about how the economy works. I also wanted to show that what's called think tanks are really lobbying institutions to do the same thing that advertisers for toothpaste companies and consumer product companies do: They try to portray their product – in this case, neoliberal economics, dismantling protection of the environment, dismantling consumer protection and stopping of prosecution of financial fraud – as "wealth creation" instead of impoverishment and austerity for the economy at large. So basically, my book reviews the economic vocabulary and language people use to perceive reality.

When I was in college sixty years ago, they were still teaching the linguistic ideas of Benjamin Lee Whorf. His idea was that language affects how people perceive reality. Different cultures and linguistic groups have different modes of expression. I found that if I was going to a concert and speaking German, I would be saying something substantially different than if I were speaking English.

Viewing the economic vocabulary as propaganda, I saw that we can understand how the words you hear as largely propaganda words. They've changed the meaning to the opposite of what the classical economists meant. But if you untangle the reversal of meaning and juxtapose a more functional vocabulary you can better understand what's actually happening.

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BONNIE FAULKNER: You write that "the terms rentier and usury that played so central a role in past centuries now sound anachronistic and have been replaced with more positive Orwellian doublethink," which is what you've begun to explain. In fact, your book J is for Junk – A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception is all about the depredation of vocabulary to hide reality, particularly the state of the economy. Just as history is written by the victors, you point out that economic vocabulary is defined by today's victors, the rentier financial class. How is this deception accomplished?

MICHAEL HUDSON: It's been accomplished in a number of ways. The first and most brutal way was simply to stop teaching the history of economic thought. When I went to school 60 years ago, every graduate economics student had to study the history of economic thought. You'd get Adam Smith, Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, Marx and Veblen. Their analysis had a common denominator: a focus on unearned income, which they called rent. Classical economics distinguished between productive and unproductive activity, and hence between wealth and overhead. The traditional landlord class inherited its wealth from ancestors who conquered the land by military force. These hereditary landlords extract rent, but don't do anything to create a product. They don't produce output. The same is true of other recipients of rent. Accordingly, the word used through the 19 th century was rentier . It's a French word. In French, a rente was income from a government bond. A rentier was a coupon clipper, and the rent was interest. Today in German, a Rentner is a retiree receiving pension income. The common denominator is a regular payment stipulated in advance, as distinct from industrial profit.

The classical economists had in common a description of rent and interest as something that a truly free market would get rid of. From Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill down to Marx and the socialists, a free market was one that was free of a parasitic overclass that got income without doing work. They got money by purely exploitative means, by charging rent that doesn't really have to be paid; by charging interest; by charging monopoly rent for basic infrastructure services and public utilities that a well-organized government should provide freely to people instead of letting monopolists put up toll booths on roads and for technology and patent rights simply to extract wealth. The focus of economics until World War I was the contrast between production and extraction.

An economic fight ensued and the parasites won. The first thing rentiers – the financial class and monopolists, a.k.a. the 1% – did was to say, "We've got to stop teaching the history of economic thought so that people don't even have a memory that there is any such a thing as economic rent as unearned income or the various policies proposed to minimize it. We have to take the slogan of the socialist reformers – a free market – and redefine it as a free market is one free from government – that is, from "socialism" – not free from landlords, bankers and monopolists." They turned the vocabulary upside down to mean the opposite. But in order to promote this deceptive vocabulary they had to erase all memory of the fact that these words originally meant the opposite.

BONNIE FAULKNER: How has economic history been rewritten by redefining the meaning of words? What is an example of this? For instance, what does the word "reform" mean now as opposed to what reform used to mean?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Reform used to mean something social democratic. It meant getting rid of special privileges, getting rid of monopolies and protecting labor and consumers. It meant controlling the prices that monopolies could charge, and regulating the economy to prevent fraud or exploitation – and most of all, to prevent unearned income or tax it away.

In today's neoliberal vocabulary, "reform" means getting rid of socialism. Reform means stripping away protection or labor and even of industry. It means deregulating the economy, getting rid of any kind of price controls, consumer protection or environmental protection. It means creating a lawless economy where the 1% are in control, without public checks and balances. So reform today means getting rid of all of the reforms that were promoted in the 19 th and early-20 th century. The Nobel Economics Prize reflects this neoliberal (that is, faux-liberal) travesty of "free markets."

BONNIE FAULKNER: What were the real reforms of the progressive era?

MICHAEL HUDSON: To begin with, you had unions to protect labor. You had limitations on the workweek and the workday, how much work people had to do to earn a living wage. There were safety protections. There was protection of the quality of food, and of consumer safety to prevent dangerous products. There was anti-trust regulation to prevent price gouging by monopolies. The New Deal took basic monopolies of public service such as roads and communications systems out of the hands of monopolists and make them public. Instead of using a road or the phone system to exploit users by charging whatever the market would bear, basic needs were provided at the lowest possible costs, or even freely in the case of schools, so that the economy would have a low cost of living and hence a low business overhead.

The guiding idea of reform was to get rid of socially unnecessary income. If landlords were going to charge rent for properties that they did nothing to improve, but merely raise the rents whenever cities built more transportation or more parks or better schools, this rent would be taxed away.

The income tax was a basic reform back in 1913. Only 1% of America's population had to pay the tax. Most were tax-free, because the aim was to tax the rentiers who lived off their bond or stock holdings, real estate or monopolies. The solution was simply to tax the wealthiest 1% or 2% instead of labor or industry, that is, the companies that actually produced something. This tax philosophy helped make America the most productive, lowest-cost and competitive yet also the most equal economy in the world at that time.

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This focus on real industry has gradually been undermined. Today, if you're a real estate speculator, monopolist, bankster or financial fraudster, your idea of reform is to get rid of laws that protect consumers, tenants, homebuyers and the public at large. You campaign for "consumer choice," as if protection is "interference" with the choice to be poisoned, cheated or otherwise exploited. You deregulate laws designed to protect the atmosphere, free air and water. If you're a coal or oil company, your idea of reform is to get rid of the Clean Air Act, as the Trump administration has been doing.

The counterpart to junk science is junk economics. It is a lobbying effort to defend the idea of a world without any laws or regulations against the wealthy, only against the debtors and the poor, only against consumers for the "theft" of downloading music or stealing somebody's patented songs or drug monopoly privilege. This turns inside out the classical philosophy of fairness.

BONNIE FAULKNER: According to 19 th -century classical economists, what is fictitious capital, and why is this distinction no longer being made by economists?

MICHAEL HUDSON: That's a wonderful question. Today the term "fictitious capital" is usually associated with Marx, but it was used by many people in the 19 th century, even by right-wing libertarians such as Henry George.

Fictitious capital referred to purely extractive claims for income, as distinct from profits and wages earned from tangible means of production. Real capital referred to factories, machinery and tools, things that were used to produce output, as well as education, research and public infrastructure. But an ownership privilege like a title to land and other real estate, a patent or the monopoly privilege to charge whatever the market will bear for a restricted patent, without reference to actual production costs, does not add anything to production. It is purely extractive, yielding economic rent, not profits on real capital investment.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You say that by the late-19 th century, "reform movements were gaining the upper hand, that nearly everyone saw industrial capitalism evolving into what was widely called socialism." How would you describe the socialism that classical economists like Mill or Marx envisioned?

MICHAEL HUDSON: They all called themselves socialists. There were many kinds of socialism in the late 19 th century. Christians promoted Christian socialism, and anarchists promoted an individualistic socialism. Mill was called a Ricardian socialist. The common denominator among socialists was their recognition that the industrial capitalism of their day was a transitory stage burdened by the remnants of feudalism, headed by the landlord class whose hereditary rule was a legacy of the medieval military invasions of England, France, Germany and the rest of Europe. This was the class that controlled the upper house of government, e.g ., Britain's Lordships. For socialists, the guiding idea was to run factories and operate land and provide public services for the economy at large to grow instead of imposing austerity and letting the rentier classes exploit the rest of the economy and concentrate income, political control and tax policy in their own hands.

Until World War I, socialism was popular because most people saw industrial capitalism as evolving. Politics was in motion. The term "capitalism," by the way, was coined by Werner Sombart, not Marx. But classical political economy culminated in Marx. He looked at society's broad laws of motion to see where they were leading.

The socialist idea was not only that of Marx but also of American business school professors like Simon Patten of the WhartonSchool. He said that the kind of economy that would dominate the world's future was one that was the most efficient in preventing monopoly and preventing or taxing away absentee land rent so that almost all income would be paid as wages and profits, not rent or interest or monopoly rents.

The business classes in the United States, Germany and even in England were in favor of reform – that is, anti-rentier reform. They recognized that only a strong government would have the political power to tax away or regulate parasitic economic rent by the wealthiest classes at that time, in the late 19 th and early 20 th century. This economic and political cleanup of the rentiers stemmed very largely from the ideological battle that occurred in England after the Napoleonic Wars were over in 1815. Ricardo, representing the banking class, argued against Reverend Malthus, the population theorist who also was a spokesman for the landlord class. Malthus urged agricultural protectionism for landlords, so that they would get more and more rent from their land as grain prices were kept high. Ricardo argued that high food prices to support rents for the agricultural landlords would mean high labor costs for industrial employers. And if you have high labor costs then England cannot be the industrial workshop of the world. In order for England to become the industrial supreme power, it needed to overcome the power of its landlord class. Instead of protecting it, England decided to protect its industrial capital by repealing its protectionist Corn Laws in 1846. (I describe its strategy in my history of theories of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt .)

At that time England's banking class was still a carryover from Europe's Medieval period. Christianity had banned the charging of interest, so banks were able to make their money by combining their loans with a foreign exchange charge, called agio. Banks even Ricardo's day in the early 19 th century made most of their money by financing foreign trade and charging foreign exchange fees. If your listeners they have ever tried to change money at the airport, they will know what a big rake-off the change booths take.

Later in the 19 th century, bankers began to shift their lending away from international trade financing to real estate as home ownership became democratized. Home owners became their own landlords – but on mortgage credit.

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Today we're no longer in the situation that existed in England 200 years ago. Almost two-thirds of the American families own their homes. In Scandinavia and much of Europe, 80% are homeowners. They don't pay rent to landlords. Instead, they pay their income as interest to the mortgage lenders. That's because hardly anyone has enough money to buy a few-hundred-thousand-dollar home with the cash in their pocket. They have to borrow the money. The income that used to be paid as rent to a landlord is now paid as interest to the mortgage banker. So you have a similar kind of exploitation today that you had two centuries ago, with the major difference that the banking and financial class has replaced the landlord class.

Already by the late-19 th century, socialists were advocating that money and credit don't have to take the form of gold and silver. Governments can create their own money. That's what the United States did in the Civil War with its greenbacks. It simply printed the money – and gave it value by making it acceptable for payment of taxes. In addition to the doctrine that land and basic infrastructure should be owned by the public sector – that is, by governments – banking was seen as a public utility. Credit was to be created for productive purposes, not for rent-extracting activities or financial speculation. Land would be fully taxed so that instead of labor or even most industry paying an income tax, rentiers would pay tax on wealth that took the form of rent-extracting privileges.

The aim of classical economics was to tax unearned income, not wages and profits. The tax burden was to fall on the landlord class first and foremost, then on monopolists and bankers. The result was to bea circular flow in which taxes would be paid mainly out of rent and other unearned income, and the government would spend this revenue on infrastructure, schools and other productive investment to help make the economy more competitive. Socialism was seen as a program to create a more efficient capitalist economy along these lines, until the word was hijacked by the Russian Revolution after World War I. The Soviet Union became a travesty of Marxism and the word socialism.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You write that: "Today's anti-classical vocabulary redefines free markets as ones that are free for rent extractors and that rent and interest reflect their recipients' contribution to wealth, not their privileges to extract economic rent from the economy." How do you differentiate between productive and extractive sectors, and how is it that the extractive sectors, essentially Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE), actually burden the economy?

MICHAEL HUDSON: If you're a real estate owner, you want lower property taxes so that as the economy grows and people are able to pay more rent, or when a land site in a neighborhood becomes more valuable because the government builds a new subway – like New York City's Second Avenue line – real estate prices rise to reflect the property's higher income that is not taxed.

New York landlords all along the subway line raised rents. That meant that their real estate had a "capital" gain reflecting the higher rent roll. Individual owners fortunate enough to own a condo or a townhouse near the stations became more wealthy – while new renters or buyers had to pay much more than before. None of this price rise created more living space or other output (although today's post-classical GDP figures pretend that it did!). It simply meant that instead of recapturing the $10 billion the government spent on this subway extension by taxing the increased land valuations all along the subway route, New York's income and real estate taxes have been raised for everybody, to pay interest on the bonds issued to finance the subway's construction. So the city's cost of living and doing business rises – while the Upper East Side landlords have received a free lunch.

Creating that kind of real estate "fictitious wealth" is a capitalization of unearned income – unearned because the Upper East Side landlords didn't do anything themselves to increase the value of their property. The City raised rental values by making the sites more desirable when it built the subway extension.

The same logic applies to insurance. When President Obama passed the basically Republican Obamacare law advocated by the pharmaceutical and health management sectors, the cost of medical care went way up in the United States. It was organized so as to be a giveaway to the healthcare and pharmaceutical monopolies.

None of this increased payment for medical care increases its quality. In fact, the more that's paid for medical care, the more the service declines, because it is paid to health insurance companies that try to legally fight against consumers. The effect is predatory, not productive.

Finally, you have the financial part of the FIRE sector. Finance has accounted for almost all of the growth in U.S. GDP in the ten years since the Lehman Brothers crisis and the Obama bailout in 2008. The biggest banks at that time were insolvent as a result of bad loans and outright financial fraud. But the government created $4.3 trillion of reserves to bail out Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, with Goldman Sachs thrown in, despite the fact that their fraudulent junk mortgage loans were predatory, not productive credit that actually increased wealth in the form of productive power. There's a growing understanding that the financial sector has become so dysfunctional that it is a deadweight on the economy, burdening it with increasing debt charges –student loans are an example – instead of actually helping the economy grow.

BONNIE FAULKNER: So just to reiterate, what is the classical distinction between earned and unearned income?

MICHAEL HUDSON: This distinction is based on classical value and price theory. Price is what people have to pay. The margin of price over and above real cost value is called economic rent. A product's value is its actual, necessary costs of production: the cost of labor, raw materials and machinery, and other elements of what it costs to tangibly produce it. Rent and financial charges are the product of special privileges that have been privatized and now financialized.

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Classical value theory isolated this economic rent as unearned income. It was the aim of society either to prevent it from occurring in the first place, by anti-monopoly regulation or by public land ownership, or to tax it away in cases where you can't help it going up. For instance, it's natural for neighborhoods to become more valuable and high-priced over time as the economy gets richer. But it doesn't cost more to construct buildings there, and rents keep going up and up and up on buildings that were put up 100 years ago. This increased rent does not reflect any new cost of production. It's a free lunch.

Neoliberals, most notoriously the University of Chicago's Milton Friedman at, kept insisting that "There's no such thing as a free lunch." But that's exactly what most of the wealth and income of the richest 1% is. It's the result of running the economy primarily to siphon off a rentier free lunch. Of course, its recipients try to distract public attention from this face and tell national income and Gross Domestic Product statisticians to pretend that they actually earn their income wealth, not merely transfer income from the rest of the economy into their hands as creditors, monopolists and landlords. The leading Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs said so notoriously a few years ago that "Our partners are the most productive in the country because look at how much we're paid." But they don't really earn their wealth in the classical sense of earning by performing a productive economic service. The economy would get along much better without Goldman Sachs and indeed the banking and financial system or the health insurance system being run the way they are, and without real estate the being untaxed in the way that it is.

BONNIE FAULKNER: I noticed that you used the term "rent" for unearned income. Is rent the same as profit, or not?

MICHAEL HUDSON: It's not at all the same. Profit is earned by investing in a means of production to make useful goods and services. Classical economists viewed profit as an element of cost if you're going to have a privately owned economy – and most socialists have accepted private ownership, although in a system regulated so as to benefit society as a whole. If you make a profit by a productive act acting within this system, you've earned it by being productive.

Economic rent is different. It is not earned by actively building means of production, conducting research or development. It's passive income. When pharmaceutical companies earn rent, it's simply for charging much more for the drugs they sell than it actually costs to produce them. This is especially the case when the government has borne the research and development cost of the drugs and simply assigns the rent-yielding patent privilege to the pharmaceutical companies. So rent is something over and above the profit necessary to induce the activity that these companies actually perform. Profits are why investors produce more. Rent is not necessary. If you got rid of it, you wouldn't discourage production, because it's purely an overhead charge, whereas profits are a production charge in a capitalist economy.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Well, thank you for that distinction between rent and profit. That's a very important thing to understand.

MICHAEL HUDSON: I describe it more clearly in my book, which includes the appropriate classical quotations.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You point out that interest and rent are reported as "earnings," as if bankers and landlords produce gross domestic product (GDP) in the form of credit and ownership services. How do you think interest and rent should be reported?

MICHAEL HUDSON: They should be classified interest and rent. But the rentier classes have taken over the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) to depict their takings as actual production of a service, not as overhead or a transfer payment, that is, not as parasitic extraction of other peoples' earnings.

For instance, suppose you have a credit card and you miss a payment, or miss a payment on a student loan, electric bill or your rent. The credit card company will use this as an excuse to raise your interest charge from 11% to 29%. The national income account treat this rise to 29% as providing a "financial service." The so-called service is simply charging a penalty rate. The pretense is that everything that a bank charges – higher interest or penalties – is by definition providing a service, not simply extracting money from cardholders, transferring income from them to itself.

Classical economists would have subtracted this financial rake-off from output, counting it as overhead. After all, it simply adds to the cost of living and doing business. Instead, the most recent statisticians have added this financial income to the Gross National Product instead of subtracting it, as the classical economists would have done – or simply not counted it, as was the case a generation ago.

Most reporters and the financial press don't get into the nitty-gritty of these national accounts, so they don't realize how lobbyists have intervened in recent years to turn them into propaganda flattering bankers and property owners. Today's "reformed" GDP format pretends that the economy has been going up since 2008. A more realistic description would show that it is shrinking for 95 percent of the population, being eaten away by the wealthiest 5% extracting more rentier income and imposing austerity.

If you look at the national balance sheet of assets and liabilities, the economy is becoming more debt-ridden. As student debt and mortgage debt go up, and penalty fees, arrears and defaults are rising. The long rise in home ownership rates is being reversed, and rents are rising, while people also have to pay more for medical care and other basic needs. Academic economists depict this as "consumer choice" or "demand," as if it is all a voluntary choice of "the market." The GDP accounting format has been modified to make it appear that the economy is getting richer. This statistical sleight-of-hand is achieved by counting the takings of the rentier 1% as a product, not a cost borne by the economy at large. What really should be shown is a loss – land and monopoly rent, interest and penalties is in fact so large a "product" that the economy seems to be growing. But most of that growth is unreal.

BONNIE FAULKNER: How does government fiscal policy, taxation and expenditure influence the economy?

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MICHAEL HUDSON: That's what Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is all about. When governments run a budget deficit, they pump money into the economy. For Keynesians the money goes into the real economy in ways that employ labor. For neoliberals, quantitative easing is spent directly into the financial sector, and is used to finance the purchase of real estate, stocks and bonds, supporting the valuation of wealth owned mainly by the One Percent. The effect is to make housing more expensive, and also the price of buying a retirement income. Having to take on larger mortgage debt to buy a house and spend less each month in order to save for one's pension is not really "wealth creation," unless your perspective is that of the One Percent increasing its power over the 99%.

At least the United States is able to run deficits and avoid the kind of unemployment and austerity that Europe is imposing on itself and especially on Greece and Italy. I think in one of our talks on this show explained the problem that Europe is suffering. Under the constitution of the Eurozone, its member countries are not allowed to run a budget deficit of more than 3%. Most actually aim at extracting a surplus from the economy (as distinct from producing a surplus for the economy). That means that the government doesn't spend money into the economy. People and businesses are obliged to get their money from the banks. That requires them to pay more interest. All Europe is on the road to looking like Greece– debt-strapped economies that are kept artificially alive by the government creating reserves to give to the banks and bail out bond markets, not spending into economies to help them recover.

The ability to create debt by writing a bank loan that creates a deposit is a legal privilege. There's no reason why governments cannot do this themselves. Instead of borrowing from private creditors to finance their budget deficits, governments can create their own money – without burdening budgets with interest charges. Credit creation has little cost of production, and therefore does not require interest charges to cover this cost. The interest is a form of monopoly rent to privatized privilege.

Classical economists saw the proper role of government as being to create social infrastructure and upgrade living standards and productivity for their labor force. Governments should build roads to minimize the cost of transportation, not private companies creating toll roads to maximize the cost by building in financial charges, real estate and management charges to what users have to pay. Government should be in charge of providing public health insurance, not private companies that charge extortionate prices and whatever the market will bear for their drugs. It's the government that should run prisons, not private companies that use prisoners as cheap labor to make a profit and advocate that more people get arrested so to make more of a profit from their incarceration.

The great question is, what is the government going to spend money on, and how can it spend money into the economy in a way that helps growth? Imagine if this trillion dollars a year that's spent on arms and military – in California and the districts of the key congressmen on the budget committee – were spent on building roads, schools, transportation and subsidizing medical care. The country could become a utopia. Instead, the rentier classes have hijacked the government, taking over its money creation and taxing power to spend on themselves, not to help the economy at large produce more or raise living standards. Special interests have captured the regulatory agencies to make them serve rent extractors, not protect the economy from them.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Interest is tax-deductible, whereas profit is taxable. Does the tax deductibility of interest have a major impact on the economy?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes, because tax deductibility encourages companies to raise money by going into debt. This tax deductibility of interest catalyzed the corporate raiding movement of the 1980s. It was based on debt leveraging.

Suppose a company makes $100 million a year in profit and pays this out to its stockholders as dividends. In the 1980s this profit was taxed at about 50%, so you could only pay $50 million to the stockholders. Then as today, they were the wealthiest layer of the population. Drexel Burnham and other Wall Street firms sought out corporate raiders as clients and offered to lend them enough money to buy companies out, by buying out their stockholders. Stocks were replaced by bonds. That enabled companies to pay out twice as much income as interest than they had been paying as dividends. When they bought out target companies with debt, a company could pay all $100 million of its income as interest instead of only $50 million as dividends on stock.

So the wealthiest classes in the United States and other countries decided that they could get more from own bonds than stocks anymore. Government revenue declined by the added amount paid to financial investors as a result of this tax subsidy for debt.

The advantage of issuing stocks is that when business conditions turn down and profits fall, companies can cut back their dividend. But if they have committed to pay this $100 million to bondholders, when their earnings go down they may face insolvency.

The result was a wave of bankruptcy since the 1980s as companies became more debt-pyramided. Also companies heads went to the labor unions and threatened to declare bankruptcy and wipe out their pension funds, if their leaders did not agree to change these funds and replace the guaranteed retirement pension that were promised for a defined contribution plan. All they know is what they have to pay in every month. Retirees will only get whatever is left when they reach pension age. The equity economy shift into a debt economy has enriched the wealthy financial class at the top, while hurting employees.

Most statistical trends turned around in 1980 for almost every country as this shift occurred. Indebting companies has made them more fragile and also higher-cost, because now they have to factor in the price of interest payments to the bondholders and corporate raiders who've taken them over.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Do you think that changes should be made to the tax deductibility of interest?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Sure. If interest were to be taxed, that would leave less incentive for companies to keep on adding debt. It would deter corporate raiding. It is a precondition for companies being run to minimize their cost of production and to serve their labor force and their customers more. For homebuyers, removing the tax-deductibility of interest would leave less "free" rent to be pledged to banks for mortgages, and hence would reduce the size of bank loans that bid up housing prices.

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I think that interest and rents should be taxed, not wages and legitimate profits. The FICA wage withholding now absorbs almost 16% of most wage-earning income for Social Security and Medicare. But wealthy people don't have to pay any contribution on what they make over than about $ $116,000 a year. They don't have to pay any FICA contribution on their capital gains, which is how most fortunes are made. The rentiers' idea of a free market is to make labor pay for all of the Social Security and Medicare – and then to give so much to Wall Street that they can say, "Oh, there's no more money. The system's short, so we have to wipe out Social Security," just as so many companies have wiped out the pension commitments. As George W. Bush said, tere's not really any money in the Social Security accounts. Its tax on the lower income brackets was all used to cut taxes on the higher income and wealth brackets. The economy has been turned into a grab bag for the rich.

BONNIE FAULKNER: What about monetary policy, interest rates and the money supply? Who controls monetary policy, and how does it affect the economy?

MICHAEL HUDSON: The biggest banks put their lobbyists in charge of the Federal Reserve, which was created in 1913 to take monetary policy out of the hands of the Treasury in Washington and put it in the hands of Wall Street. That made the Fed a lobbyist for its members, the commercial banking system. It's run to control the money supply – in practice, the debt supply – in a way that steers money into the banks. That's why not a single banker was jailed for committing the junk mortgage scams and other frauds that caused the crash. The Fed has turned the banking system into a predatory monopoly instead of the public service that it was once supposed to be.

Monetary policy is really debt policy, because money is debt on the liabilities side of the balance sheet. The question is, what kind of debt is the economy going to have, and what happens when it exceeds the ability to be paid? How is the government going to provide the economy with money, and what will it do to keep debts line with the ability to be paid? Will money and credit be provided to build more factories and product more output, to rebuild American manufacturing and infrastructure? Or, are you going to leave credit and debt creation to the banks, to make larger loans for people to buy homes at rising prices reflecting the increasingly highly leveraged and outright reckless credit creation?

Monetary policy is debt policy, and on balance most debts are owed by the bottom 90% to the wealthiest 10%. So monetary policy becomes an exercise in how the 10% can extract more and more interest, rent and capital gains from the economy – all the while making money by impoverishing the economy, not helping most people prosper.

BONNIE FAULKNER: The economy is always being planned by someone or some force, be it Wall Street, the government or whatever. It's not the result of natural law, as you point out in your book. It seems like a lot of people think that the economy should somehow run itself without interference. Could you explain how this is an absurd idea?

MICHAEL HUDSON: It's an example of rhetoric overcoming people's common sense. Every economy since the Stone Age has been planned. Even in the stone age people had to plan when to plant the crops, when to harvest them, how much seed you had to keep over for the next year. You had to operate on credit during the crop year to get beer and rent draft animals. Somebody's in charge of every economy.

So when people talk about an unplanned economy, they mean no government planning. They mean that planning should be taken out of the hands of government and put in the hands of the 1%. That is what they mean by a "free market." They pretend that if the 1% control the economy it's not really a planned economy anymore, because it's not planned by government, officials serving the public interest. It's planned by Wall Street. So the question is, really, who's going to plan the American economy? Is it going to be the government of elected officials, or is it going to be Wall Street? Wall Street will euphemize its central planning by saying this is a free market – meaning it's free of government regulation, especially over the financial sector and the mining companies and other monopolies that are its major clients.

BONNIE FAULKNER: You emphasize the difference between the study of 19 th -century classical political economy and modern-day economics. How and when and why did political economy become "economics"?

MICHAEL HUDSON: If you look at the books that almost everybody wrote in the 19 th century, they called it political economy because economics is political. And conversely, economics is what politics has always been about. Who's getting what? Or as Lenin said, who-whom? It's about how society makes decisions about who's going to get rich and how they are going to do it. Are they going to get wealthy by acting productively, or parasitically? Eeverything economic turns out to be political.

The economy's new central planners on Wall Street pretend that what they're doing is not political. Cutting taxes on themselves is depicted as a law of nature. But they deny that this is politics, as if there's nothing anyone can do about it. Margaret Thatcher's refrain was "There is no alternative" (TINA). That is the numbing political sedative injected into today's economic discussion.

The aim is to make people think that there is no alternative because if they're getting poorer, if they're losing their home by defaulting on a junk mortgage of if they have to pay so much on the student loan so that they can't afford to buy a home, or if they find that the only kind of job they can get driving an Uber car, it's all their fault. It's as if that's just nature, not the way the economy has been malstructured.

The role of neoliberalism is to make people think that they are powerless in the face of "the market," as if markets are not socially and politically structured. The 1% have hired lobbyists and subsidized business schools so as to shape markets in their own interest. Their aim is to control the economy and call it "nature." Their patter talk is that poverty is natural for short-sighted "deplorables," not the result of the predatory neoliberal takeover since 1980 and their capture of the Justice Department so that none of the bank fraudsters go to jail.

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BONNIE FAULKNER: In your chapter on the letter M – of course, we have chapters from A to Z – in your chapter on M, you have an entry for Hyman Minsky, an economist who pioneered Modern Monetary Theory and explained the three stages of the financial cycle in terms of rising debt leveraging. What is debt leveraging, and how does it lead to a crisis?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Debt leveraging means buying an asset on credit. Lending for home ownership in the United States is the leading example. From the 1940s to the 1960s, if you took out a mortgage, the banker would look at your income and calculate that the mortgage on the house you buy shouldn't absorb more than 25% of your income. The idea was that this would leave enough income to pay the interest charge and amortize – that is, pay off – the mortgage 30 years later, near the end of your working life. Minsky called this first credit stage the hedge stage, meaning that banks had hedged their bets within limits that enabled the economy to carry and pay off its debts.

In the second credit stage, banks lent more and loosened their lending standards so that mortgages would absorb much more than 25% of the borrower's income. At a certain point, people could not afford to amortize, that is to pay off the mortgage. All they could do was to pay the interest charge. By the 1980s, the federal government was lending up to almost 40% of the borrower's income, writing mortgages without any amortization taking place. The mortgage payment simply carried the existing homeowner's debt. Banks in fact didn't want to ever be repaid. They wanted to go on collecting interest on as much debt as possible.

Finally, Minsky said, the Ponzi stage occurred when the homeowner didn't even have enough money to pay the interest charge, but had to borrow the interest. So this was how Third World countries had gotten through the 1970s and the early 1980s. The government of, let's say Mexico or Brazil or Argentina, would say, well, we don't have the dollars to pay the debt, and the banks would say, we'll just add the interest onto the debt. Same thing with a credit card or a mortgage. The mortgage homeowner would say, I don't have enough money to pay the mortgage, and the bank would say, well, just take out a larger mortgage; we'll just lend you the money to pay the interest.

That's the Ponzi stage and it was named after Carlo Ponzi and his Ponzi scheme – paying early buyers out of income paid into the scheme by new entrants. That's the stage that the economy entered around 2007-08. It became a search for the proverbial "greater fool" willing to borrow to buy overpriced real estate. That caused the crash, and we're still in the post-crash austerity interim (before yet a deeper debt writeoff or new bailout). The debts have been left in place, not written down. If you have a credit card and have to pay a monthly balance but lack enough to pay down your debt, your balance will keep going up every month, adding the interest charge onto the debt balance.

Any volume of debt tends to grow at compound interest. The result is an exponential growth that doubles the debt in little time. Any rate of interest is a doubling time. If debt keeps doubling and redoubling, it's carrying charges are going to crowd out the other expenses in your budget. You'll have to pay more money to the banks for student loans, credit card debts, auto loans and mortgage debt, leaving less to spend on goods and services. That's why the economy is shrinking right now. That's why people today aren't able to do what their parents were able to do 50 years ago – buy a home they can live in by paying a quarter of their income.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Dr. Michael Hudson, thank you so very much.

[Dec 17, 2018] msTOmsTO

Dec 17, 2018 | profile.theguardian.com

-> AsDusty 23 Aug 2016 00:43

Marx, Engels and Gramsci all died before the second world war began. I doubt they had much to say about what caused it.

Regarding the posited failure of "neoliberalism", if you want to know what real failure of a political and economic system looks like, have a look at the consequences of Marxism for every country where it held sway in the 20th century.

A recession followed by a few years of sluggish growth is hardly catastrophic

ShaunNewman -> Ohcolowisc , 23 Aug 2016 00:25
Democratic socialism must take the place of this capitalist system where 50% of the global economy is owned by just 1% of the population, patently unfair for billions of people. To have 1% having more than they could possibly spend in a lifetime is ludicrous while we have others starving and millions of "people" living below the poverty line.
ShaunNewman -> RobertKlahn , 23 Aug 2016 00:21
RobertKlahn The capitalist (USA) system diverts huge amounts of money via corporations 50% of the global economy to just 1% of the global population, which is patently unfair. The 1% ownership grows every day because these 1% people have a mental illness called insatiable greed, where enough is never enough. Yes 'fair trade' would help, but what must be broken is the compliance of conservative governments around the world who fail to tax these corporations a 'fair share' of taxation to help "the people" to raise their living standards. We must adopt democratic socialism with million of USA citizens voted for with Bernie Sanders, and as is practiced in the Nordic countries, who tax corporations fairly and obtain a good standard of living for "their people."
Matthew Kilburn , 23 Aug 2016 00:03
What comes next? Hopefully some kind of neo-nationalistic Westernism in which the societies that, up until the turmoil of the 60s and 70s shaped the course of global affairs, rediscover their roots and identifies.

If "neoliberalism" seems to be in retreat, perhaps the simplest explanation is that the cultures that gave rise to it - western, Christian, often English-speaking cultures - most certainly ARE in retreat.

How can we answer questions like "what is happening to us?" or "How should we react?" When we can't even identify the "us" or the "we"?

ShaunNewman -> martinusher , 22 Aug 2016 23:58
We need government that will restrain capitalism and use the system for the benefit of "the people" not the corporations. Which in practice means "don't vote conservative."
ShaunNewman -> martinusher , 22 Aug 2016 23:56
martinusher Yes, the point is that unrestrained capitalism does wreck lives, but continues to feed the 1% with mare more than they could ever spend. This is precisely why we need a system of democratic socialism as practiced on the Nordic countries, where "the people" come first and the corporations run a distant second. However if the UK continues to elect conservative governments the reverse will always be the case, with "the people" running a distant second.
ShaunNewman -> Roger Elliott , 22 Aug 2016 23:47
Globalization, capitalist society in the 70s quickly became ownership of 50% (and continuing to grow) of the global economy by just 1% of the population. We need to change to democratic socialism as practiced by the Nordic countries.
ShaunNewman -> CopBase , 22 Aug 2016 23:43
The biggest economic problem is "corporate welfare" find out how much subsidy the UK government 'gives' to profitable corporations, the ordinary taxpayers loss.
ShaunNewman -> tamborineman , 22 Aug 2016 23:31
How we got here was via the capitalist system whereby 50% of the global economy is now owned bt just 1% of the global population. A collection of individuals who are filthy rich but who also have the mental illness of insatiable greed, and who won't be satisfied until they own 60% and so on. They avoid paying tax, and conservative governments help them by providing loop holes in taxation legislation so their corporations can avoid paying tax or pay up to 5% of their huge incomes in a token gesture. In Australia out of 1,500 corporations surveyed 579 have not paid a cent since at least 2013. The Australian people should be marching in the streets for a 'fair go' but the apathy prevents that. They probably won't get angry until such time as they realize that the 1% own 70% of the global economy and they are being squeezed even harder into 14 hour days without a break, only then will they crack, if at all.
ciaofornow -> Citizen0 , 22 Aug 2016 22:58
Quantitative easing first upped the stock market and therefore the retirement portfolios of the US middle class as well as the portfolios of the wealthy, and now the US economy is finally producing middle class jobs (recent report, NY Times) and not just the upper middle class.
------------------
Rubbish!
QE is just the creation of trillions more in debt. Artificially raising asset prices is not a free market. A free market depends on people being able to pay the prices. But today in the UK, people require three loans to buy a house the price of which has been artificially raised by QE. That enriches the homeowner, the bank, and estate agent. but in equal measure, it impoverishes the house buyer.

the blowing up of asset prices will have to go on forever (still, not one penny of QE has been repaid), or the system will collapse. But that is impossible. It will destroy the value of money. See what happens to stock prices each time the US "threatens" to raise interest rates and stop QE programmes. And just check out personal debt levels in the UK and US. It is unsustainable.

The basic problem of neoliberalism is that it demands low pay as a competitive measure. But that means people have less money to spend in the consumer economy. So neoliberalism requires deregulated banking, pushing up asset prices, so people feel wealthy and take on more debt with which to compensate their low pay, and so they can shop. But that in turn leads to higher debts until the debts are not likely to be repaid. Banks collapse.

The bailouts and money printing has raised asset prices as you say. So now they are at record highs. And if the system demands they go higher while keeping down pay. Who the Fuck is going to pay?

The system is designed to collapse. It only exists today thanks to the creation of money that does not really exist. We may as well adopt grass as money as keep this system going.
The flipside of artificial growth in asset prices is the falling value of earnings.

in 1996, UK average pay equalled 30-35% of a typical house. Today, it is only 10% of a house, and in London, 7%. And for the system to function, that percentage must fall.

AsDusty -> msTOmsTO , 22 Aug 2016 22:41
No, quite a lot of people have been writing about it. Marx, Engels and Gramski all discussed the tendency of free market economics to lead to conflict. More recently you could look at the work of Galbraith, Sachs and Frank Stilwell, just off the top of my head.
ciaofornow -> MurrayGSmith , 22 Aug 2016 22:35
You failed to understand the article. It says the post war period (1945-70s) was the longest and most successful economic run, especially for working classes, in history.

It is "neoliberalism" since the late 70s that led to the trebling of personal debts on stagnant wages, and finally the collapse of the banks. And ever since the whole economic show has only been kept alive with life-saving drugs (QE which is basically pretending there is a cash flow rather than reality of a solvency crisis, govt set zero interest rates, bailouts). But we have merely got stagnation.

And your last point is a straw man. Hardly anyone wants to replace this failing system with Stalinism.

We have had two contrasting economic systems in the West since the War. The one had far more regulation, and stronger wage growth for workers, the latter since 1979 has been neoliberalism.

The first collapsed in the stagnation of the 70s. The latter died in 2008, and has been kept going through state support and printing trillions more in debt. But the bailouts are failing. They are failing because it was never a cash flow crisis. It was a solvency crisis. Now the debts are even greater.

tamborineman , 22 Aug 2016 22:34
Selective description posing as analysis and allowing the emotional triggers of a couple of key phrases to justify the selectiveness. It sounds magisterial but it ain't and, as others have pointed out, it gives us little on where do we go from here. This is precisely because he has really not told us what he thinks here is, how we got here, and why we got here.
Ohcolowisc -> RobertKlahn , 22 Aug 2016 22:25
The last thing a capitalist corporation wants is to compete (i.e. having actual competition). What they want is monopoly. That's why they "rig" the markets - among others by merging with and acquiring their competitors until they reach near monopoly in their industry (or industries).

That's the essence of the statement that "there never have been free markets, only rigged markets". And there never will be. "Free markets" are transient phenomena that exist only for relatively short time periods during which the leading players do the rigging. The only factor that could keep free markets "free" is government - and that's why it is hated so much by corporations and is rendered practically toothless in the US. It limits their ability to rig and to loot.

The only form the phrase "free markets" exist for prolonged periods of time is when it is used as a propaganda slogan by neoliberal ideologues (even though it is the exact opposite of what really happens).

ciaofornow , 22 Aug 2016 22:20
And why has it taken so long for such an article to be published? Many of the points in this article should have been apparent to intelligent commentators right after the 2008 crisis.

Why has it taken so long for political fallout?

The major reason is cited: Parties such as New Labour, supposedly of the Left that continued to support this failing system. Gordon Brown bailed out the banks, claimed to save the world, and then let it all go on as before. A Disgrace of a leader that history will condemn as a fool. And how many commentators of the time lauded him for it? Far too many. And many of them still in the jobs. Jesus Wept!

What the writer understands and too many are in denial about is this. New Labour is dead. It died in 2007-8 with the collapse of the banks.

Then the amazing coincidence that the third party (the Lib Dems) was taken over by the neoliberals just before the Financial Crisis brought the neoliberal age to an end, and which went onto support the True Neoliberal party (the Tories). In the US, a man who ran on a candidacy of Change only for the world to find out it was bluster and rhetoric! Obama will not go down as a Great President at all. He tried to bail out a failing system. He will be a footnote in history.

Then those bloody bailouts. They not only bailed out the bankers and the rich. They bailed out millions of largely older voters, artificially pumping up house prices. The old vote. And they voted to back this grand theft against Reason, and the younger generations. The result of the bailouts will be a far greater Financial Crisis than 2008. The disconnect between people's debts and wages is worse today than in 2006. That can mean only one thing. Collapse is coming. And now the debts are even bigger. Bailouts are wrong, have failed, and will not be politically acceptable again.

Conservative parties will be repositories for those afraid of change, and those happy to be bailed out until the crisis explodes again. On the change side, if we do not have Left Populism, we will get nationalism.

AsDusty -> candeesays , 22 Aug 2016 22:16
In terms of stronger border controls there is no doubt this is happening. The US, Europe and here in Australia the governments grip on border entries has only got tighter. As for international labour migration, Trump, Brexit and the European refugee crisis will see increasing pressure on lowering the numbers of migrant workers.
Increasing labour migration has been a ploy by government to try and make globalisation work, as globalisation requires the free flow of labour across international borders. The political pressure to reduce migrant numbers will be too much to resist, and greater controls will be put in place.
CivilityPlease -> MurrayGSmith , 22 Aug 2016 22:07
This is not a choice between A or B. Stop fighting yesterday's battles. Its over, just as the article declares. What is developing as we speak will steer tomorrow's civilization and it will be neither of the old paradigms. We have to come to a consensus about where we want to go. What principles do we have faith in to inform our assessments of what we keep or alter? What roles will we play? What will our purpose(s) be? That is the business we need to be about to arrive at an orderly, deliberate future, prepared for a long journey to a better world. Or we push and pull in all different directions and go round and round the same old ground making the same old mistakes until the world moves on and leaves us behind. We will need to work together or fail each alone. Are you ready?
candeesays -> MurrayGSmith , 22 Aug 2016 22:02
It is theory without politics or economics.

The period from GATT was predicated on strong welfare states and national industries trading. Not privatising societies and globalising capital.

[Dec 16, 2018] Polarizing Development Alternatives to Neoliberalism and the Crisis by Lucia Pradella, Thomas Marois

Dec 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Neoliberal economic policies, with their emphasis on market-led development and individual rationality, have been exposed as bankrupt not only by the global economic crisis but also by increasing social opposition and resistance. Social movements and critical scholars in Latin America, East Asia, Europe and the United States, alongside the Arab uprisings, have triggered renewed debate on possible different futures. While for some years any discussion of substantive alternatives has been marginalized, the global crisis since 2008 has opened up new spaces to debate, and indeed to radically rethink, the meaning of development. Debates on developmental change are no longer tethered to the pole of 'reform and reproduce': a new pole of 'critique and strategy beyond' neoliberal capitalism has emerged.

Despite being forcefully challenged, neoliberalism has proven remarkably resilient. In the first years since the crisis erupted, the bulk of the alternative literature pointed to continued growth in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and in other big emerging market countries to affirm the necessary role for the state in sustaining capitalist development. New developmental economists have consequently reasserted themselves. Their proposals converged into a broader demand for global Keynesianism (Patomaki, 2012) -- a demand that is proving to be less and less realistic in the face of a deepening global economic crisis.

Interpreting and Resisting Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is a historical phenomenon. In the early 1970s firms began to feel acutely the impact of falling profitability. Many managers and owners believed the mounting power of organized labor was responsible. Indeed, this emerging structural crisis of capitalism was amplified by increasing labor militancy and social opposition, and by the rising challenge of socialism and nationalism from the Global South - the greatest wave of decolonization in world history (Arrighi, 2007: 136). The power of the United States reached its nadir with its defeat in Vietnam (1975), with the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s, and with the spread of revolutionary struggles, notably in Latin America. It is against this backdrop that the rise of neoliberalism becomes understandable.

Neoliberalism's set of pro-market and anti-labor policies were first implemented by the brutal US-backed Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1973). The monetarist economic principles of the infamous 'Chicago Boys' guided the process. At this time, however, many other governments in the South resisted initial demands by the Northern-dominated international financial institutions (IFIs), notably the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), to implement rapid 'shock therapy' structural adjustment programmes.

The 1979 to 1982 Volcker Shock changed matters dramatically. Paul Volcker, then head of the US Federal Reserve, allowed US interest rates to skyrocket from around 5 per cent to over 20 per cent, ostensibly to halt persistent inflation and to shock the US economy out of stagnation. This move sparked a global rise in interest rates and a wave of profound economic crises in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Soviet bloc. Governments in these countries lost the ability to service their debts because of the dramatic falls in the prices received for and the quantity of their primary goods exported. This triggered the 1980s debt crisis, which opened an opportunity for governments North and South to press more systematically for neoliberal transformation.

Instead of mobilizing workers and peasants against this new form of economic imperialism, governments in the South began to reorient their economies toward intensified export production in order to earn the foreign currency needed to repay their loans. With the fall of the Soviet Union, neoliberal shock therapy was also extended to Russia and other Eastern European countries. In the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, Western governments mobilized their military power to facilitate the entrenchment of neoliberal policies at a terrible human cost.

Neoliberalism has entailed processes of contested socio-economic transformation. Amidst great popular resistance and economic instability, post-war state-led strategies of development gave way to market-oriented neoliberal ones, or the so-called 'Washington consensus'. The economist John Williamson identified ten policies characteristic of the consensus: fiscal discipline, reduction in public expenditure, tax reform, financial liberalization, market-determined exchange rates, trade liberalization, an open door to foreign direct investment, privatization of public service and state-owned enterprises, deregulation, and secure property rights. These policies have led to higher unemployment, worsening social inequalities, widespread impoverishment, peasant land dispossessions, unsustainable urbanization and increased worker exploitation.

Contributors to this book describe many of the specific developmental transformations in the Global South, and how neoliberal processes have led to an expansion of the global reserve army of workers and accelerated international migration. At the same time, financial and trade deregulation have enhanced the power of finance capital and multinational corporations, which they have used to pursue the outsourcing and offshoring of many industrial and service activities. This globalization of production has brought with it intensified processes of ecological destruction.

Women and the poor are the most negatively impacted by the neoliberal privatization of public services. As women increasingly enter into the workforce, the privatization of public services magnifies their 'double burden'. Such transformations have been global, having negative impacts on workers in the South and, increasingly, in the North.

The neoliberal policies shaping these transformative processes are derived from neoclassical economic theory. Neoclassical theory obscures and naturalizes the exploitative foundations of capitalism because it reduces labor to just another factor of production, not unlike other 'technical inputs' like land and capital. The social reproduction of workers is further assumed to be a private, genderless process restricted to the household, when it is in fact vital to overall capital accumulation processes. In not dissimilar ways, neoclassical economics tends to treat the environment as an externality. Further embedded in this kind of approach is a tendency towards methodological nationalism. Certain models presuppose that capital and labor do not move internationally and that international trade represents merely exchange of commodities between national units. It follows, in theory, that by promoting domestic specialization according to a given country's comparative advantage, free trade would spontaneously stabilize participating 'national' economies at an equilibrium level, maintaining employment and growth in all of them.

With its emphasis on liberal, market-based notions of individual equality and freedom, neoclassical economics conceals underlying social polarizations and exploitative relationships characteristic of capitalism. In reality, neoliberal transformation favors the interests of the strongest capitals internationally (see Shaikh, 2005). Despite the proclaimed spontaneity of the market, moreover, neoliberalism does not lead to a retreat of the state. Rather, neoliberalism is marked by the class-based restructuring of the state apparatus in ways that have responded to the evolving needs of capital accumulation (for example, around new financial imperatives). What is more, as today's capitalism is dominated by Northern powerhouses like the United States and Western European countries, the extension of capitalist relations globally embodies these imperialist powers' aspirations to retain supremacy in the hierarchy of states.

Neoliberalism, in fact, has always occurred through and within states, never in the absence of states. Actually existing neoliberal transformations are mediated by the hierarchical position of a given state within the world market and by specific social struggles. Consequently, neoliberal transition in the United States is not the same as neoliberalism transition in India or Iraq, and each entails specific national, class, racial and gendered dimensions. Yet contributors to this book recognize that neoliberalism is a class-based political and economic project, defined by the attack of capital and neoliberal state authorities on the collective capacity of organized labor, the peasantry and popular classes to resist the subordination of all social, political, economic and ecological processes to accumulation imperatives. The subsequent consolidation of neoliberalism globally has thus been to the benefit of global capital, and has come at the expense of workers, women and the poor. Relations of imperialist domination, environmental exploitation, racial and gender oppression are constitutive dimensions of this class struggle.

Neoliberal consolidations nonetheless generate new social resistances. Many contributors to this book identify continuing processes involving the decomposition of working classes and the formation of important social movements. With the 1999 demonstrations in Seattle, these struggles assumed an inter-American character. Various indigenous groups, trade unionists, faith-based and women's organizations marched alongside environmentalists and farmers in a collective bid to shut down the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks (Burbach, Fox and Fuentes, 2013: 2). In the new millennium, the 'alter-globalisation' movement has attained a truly global scale. Yet the movement has not been without problems. Notably, the activists and organizations have failed to produce precise sets of collective demands or a coherent international political programme. Pre-existing antagonisms among workers and peoples across lines of national and social oppression were not overcome. The movement, as a result, failed to articulate collective resistance across national, regional and international levels (Prashad, 2013: 235). After the huge demonstrations against the war on Iraq (2003), it gradually faded away.

Still, resistances to neoliberalism grew thereafter, especially in the Global South. In some cases these made significant advances. For example, while the United States and other Western states were bogged down with military aggressions in the Middle East, US control over Latin America eased. Social mobilizations there enjoyed new spaces for action, which helped give rise to a variety of progressive governments less subservient to imperialist interests and the competitive imperatives of neoliberal development. In this book, Abelardo Marifta-Flores suggests that progressive income redistribution and the reinforcement of regional integration processes are among the most significant achievements. Susan Spronk and Sarah Miraglia highlight the progressive, albeit imperfect, gendered dimensions of the Bolivarian transformative movement in Venezuela. Neoliberal transformations also create new socio-economic conditions that may undermine US and Western hegemony. As several authors attest, for example, the relocation of industrial production towards East Asia has generated new centers of accumulation. Consequently, Western imperial powers now face a major challenge with the rise of China and India. So too have other big emerging capitalisms, like Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Indonesia and the Gulf States, become ever more important centers of accumulation. This has lent support to arguments suggesting global hegemony has started to shift from the West to the East.

To be sure, these emerging capitalisms, China in particular, offer alternative sources of foreign direct investment, international aid, developmental loans and technological know-how to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Leaders of the BRICS have, for example, called for a 'multipolar' reform of the financial system and of the IFIs, which includes the establishment of a new multilateral Development Bank, the 'BRICS Bank'. Yet the extent to which these changes offer an alternative at all has everything to do with the extent to which South -- South relations and flows of know-how do not serve to extend and reproduce exploitative class relations of domination, even be they under novel forms of sub/ Southern imperialism. This remains to be seen, and indeed the global crisis is affecting the terms of this debate.

The Global Crisis and the Resilience of Neoliberalism

The global crisis that emerged in the United States in 2007 was rooted in the preceding decades of neoliberal restructuring. Its immediate trigger, however, was the subprime mortgage lending debacle. The US subprime crisis then took a global turn in late September 2008 with the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers. As investors scrambled to preserve their wealth and dump any toxic assets they had bought into, otherwise liquid US credit markets seized up, bringing the global financial system to the edge of ruin. Only massive and sustained state intervention prevented the system's implosion. Many Western governments rolled out financial Keynesianism. This entailed nationalizing failed private banks and industries and adding trillions of dollars to the public debt. The governments thus staved off global economic collapse but only by incurring massive increases in new public debts. This gave rise to the sovereign debt crises in the 'peripheral' EU countries. A number of developing countries also incurred new public debts as governments rolled out economic stimulus packages to help sustain domestic investment, maintain employment and buttress internal demand.

On the one hand, the privileges and powers gained by global capital under neoliberal transformation remain largely intact. Indeed, imperialist governments have done everything in their power to reinforce the current system. Such is the aim of the quantitative easing and zero interest rate policies being pursued by the US Federal Reserve, the Banks of England and Japan, and increasingly the European Central Bank. These actions are intended to prop up the financial markets, support the prices of financial assets and make these countries' exports more competitive. Throughout it all neoliberal technocrats remain unwavering in their ideological commitments to market-oriented development. For example, the World Bank's Global Financial Development Report 2013 attempts to reframe the global crisis not as a fundamental problem of 'market failure' and capitalism, but instead as essentially about 'state failure' and flawed human nature. The solution? More of the same neoliberal policies implemented since the 1980s, but now guided and sustained by a more robust state apparatus that ensures better market discipline...

[Dec 14, 2018] Hidden neoliberal inner party : US chamber of commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Business Roundtable

Notable quotes:
"... The American Chamber of Commerce subsequently expanded its base from around 60,000 firms in 1972 to over a quarter of a million ten years later. Jointly with the National Association of Manufacturers (which moved to Washington in 1972) it amassed an immense campaign chest to lobby Congress and engage in research. The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs 'committed to the aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation', was founded in 1972 and thereafter became the centrepiece of collective pro-business action. ..."
"... Nearly half the financing for the highly respected NBER came from the leading companies in the Fortune 500 list. Closely integrated with the academic community, the NBER was to have a very significant impact on thinking in the economics departments and business schools of the major research universities. ..."
"... In order to realize this goal, businesses needed a political class instrument and a popular base. They therefore actively sought to capture the Republican Party as their own instrument. The formation of powerful political action committees to procure, as the old adage had it, 'the best government that money could buy' was an important step. ..."
"... The Republican Party needed, however, a solid electoral base if it was to colonize power effectively. It was around this time that Republicans sought an alliance with the Christian right. The latter had not been politically active in the past, but the foundation of Jerry Falwell's 'moral majority' as a political movement in 1978 changed all of that. The Republican Party now had its Christian base. ..."
"... It also appealed to the cultural nationalism of the white working classes and their besieged sense of moral righteousness. This political base could be mobilized through the positives of religion and cultural nationalism and negatively through coded, if not blatant, racism, homophobia, and anti feminism. ..."
"... The alliance between big business and conservative Christians backed by the neoconservatives consolidated, not for the first time has a social group been persuaded to vote against its material, economic, and class interests ..."
"... Any political movement that holds individual freedoms to be sacrosanct is vulnerable to incorporation into the neoliberal fold. ..."
"... Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. ..."
"... By capturing ideals of individual freedom and turning them against the interventionist and regulatory practices of the state, capitalist class interests could hope to protect and even restore their position. Neoliberalism was well suited to this ideological task. ..."
"... Neoliberalization required both politically and economically the construction of a neoliberal market-based populist culture of differentiated consumerism and individual libertarianism. As such it proved more than a little compatible with that cultural impulse called 'postmodernism' which had long been lurking in the wings but could now emerge full-blown as both a cultural and an intellectual dominant. This was the challenge that corporations and class elites set out to finesse in the 1980s. ..."
"... Powell argued that individual action was insufficient. 'Strength', he wrote, 'lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations'. The National Chamber of Commerce, he argued, should lead an assault upon the major institutions––universities, schools, the media, publishing, the courts––in order to change how individuals think 'about the corporation, the law, culture, and the individual'. US businesses did not lack resources for such an effort, particularly when they pooled their resources together. ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Themiddlegound -> Themiddlegound , 11 Jun 2013 05:42

The American Chamber of Commerce subsequently expanded its base from around 60,000 firms in 1972 to over a quarter of a million ten years later. Jointly with the National Association of Manufacturers (which moved to Washington in 1972) it amassed an immense campaign chest to lobby Congress and engage in research. The Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs 'committed to the aggressive pursuit of political power for the corporation', was founded in 1972 and thereafter became the centrepiece of collective pro-business action.

The corporations involved accounted for 'about one half of the GNP of the United States' during the 1970s, and they spent close to $900 million annually (a huge amount at that time) on political matters. Think-tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, the Center for the Study of American Business, and the American Enterprise Institute, were formed with corporate backing both to polemicize and, when necessary, as in the case of the National Bureau of Economic Research, to construct serious technical and empirical studies and political-philosophical arguments broadly in support of neoliberal policies.

Nearly half the financing for the highly respected NBER came from the leading companies in the Fortune 500 list. Closely integrated with the academic community, the NBER was to have a very significant impact on thinking in the economics departments and business schools of the major research universities. With abundant finance furnished by wealthy individuals (such as the brewer Joseph Coors, who later became a member of Reagan's 'kitchen cabinet') and their foundations (for example Olin, Scaife, Smith Richardson, Pew Charitable Trust), a flood of tracts and books, with Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia perhaps the most widely read and appreciated, emerged espousing neoliberal values. A TV version of Milton Friedman's Free to Choose was funded with a grant from Scaife in 1977. 'Business was', Blyth concludes, 'learning to spend as a class.

In singling out the universities for particular attention, Powell pointed up an opportunity as well as an issue, for these were indeed centers of anti-corporate and anti-state sentiment (the students at Santa Barbara had burned down the Bank of America building there and ceremonially buried a car in the sands). But many students were (and still are) affluent and privileged, or at least middle class, and in the US the values of individual freedom have long been celebrated (in music and popular culture) as primary. Neoliberal themes could here find fertile ground for propagation. Powell did not argue for extending state power. But business should 'assiduously cultivate' the state and when necessary use it 'aggressively and with determination'

In order to realize this goal, businesses needed a political class instrument and a popular base. They therefore actively sought to capture the Republican Party as their own instrument. The formation of powerful political action committees to procure, as the old adage had it, 'the best government that money could buy' was an important step. The supposedly 'progressive' campaign finance laws of 1971 in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics.

A crucial set of Supreme Court decisions began in 1976 when it was first established that the right of a corporation to make unlimited money contributions to political parties and political action committees was protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the rights of individuals (in this instance corporations) to freedom of speech.15 Political action committees could thereafter ensure the financial domination of both political parties by corporate, moneyed, and professional association interests. Corporate PACs, which numbered eighty-nine in 1974, had burgeoned to 1,467 by 1982.

The Republican Party needed, however, a solid electoral base if it was to colonize power effectively. It was around this time that Republicans sought an alliance with the Christian right. The latter had not been politically active in the past, but the foundation of Jerry Falwell's 'moral majority' as a political movement in 1978 changed all of that. The Republican Party now had its Christian base.

It also appealed to the cultural nationalism of the white working classes and their besieged sense of moral righteousness. This political base could be mobilized through the positives of religion and cultural nationalism and negatively through coded, if not blatant, racism, homophobia, and anti feminism.

The alliance between big business and conservative Christians backed by the neoconservatives consolidated, not for the first time has a social group been persuaded to vote against its material, economic, and class interests the evangelical Christians eagerly embraced the alliance with big business and the Republican Party as a means to further promote their evangelical and moral agenda.

Themiddlegound -> Themiddlegound , 11 Jun 2013 05:23

Any political movement that holds individual freedoms to be sacrosanct is vulnerable to incorporation into the neoliberal fold.

The worldwide political upheavals of 1968, for example, were strongly inflected with the desire for greater personal freedoms. This was certainly true for students, such as those animated by the Berkeley 'free speech' movement of the 1960s or who took to the streets in Paris, Berlin, and Bangkok and were so mercilessly shot down in Mexico City shortly before the 1968 Olympic Games. They demanded freedom from parental, educational, corporate, bureaucratic, and state constraints. But the '68 movement also had social justice as a primary political objective.

Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. It has long proved extremely difficult within the US left, for example, to forge the collective discipline required for political action to achieve social justice without offending the the Construction of Consent desire of political actors for individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities. Neoliberalism did not create these distinctions, but it could easily exploit, if not foment, them.

In the early 1970s those seeking individual freedoms and social justice could make common cause in the face of what many saw as a common enemy. Powerful corporations in alliance with an interventionist state were seen to be running the world in individually oppressive and socially unjust ways. The Vietnam War was the most obvious catalyst for discontent, but the destructive activities of corporations and the state in relation to the environment, the push towards mindless consumerism, the failure to address social issues and respond adequately to diversity, as well as intense restrictions on individual possibilities and personal behaviors by state-mandated and 'traditional' controls were also widely resented. Civil rights were an issue, and questions of sexuality and of reproductive rights were very much in play.

For almost everyone involved in the movement of '68, the intrusive state was the enemy and it had to be reformed. And on that, the neoliberals could easily agree. But capitalist corporations, business, and the market system were also seen as primary enemies requiring redress if not revolutionary transformation: hence the threat to capitalist class power.

By capturing ideals of individual freedom and turning them against the interventionist and regulatory practices of the state, capitalist class interests could hope to protect and even restore their position. Neoliberalism was well suited to this ideological task. But it had to be backed up by a practical strategy that emphasized the liberty of consumer choice, not only with respect to particular products but also with respect to lifestyles, modes of expression, and a wide range of cultural practices. Neoliberalization required both politically and economically the construction of a neoliberal market-based populist culture of differentiated consumerism and individual libertarianism. As such it proved more than a little compatible with that cultural impulse called 'postmodernism' which had long been lurking in the wings but could now emerge full-blown as both a cultural and an intellectual dominant. This was the challenge that corporations and class elites set out to finesse in the 1980s.

In the US case a confidential memo sent by Lewis Powell to the US Chamber of Commerce in August 1971. Powell, about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon, argued that criticism of and opposition to the US free enterprise system had gone too far and that 'the time had come––indeed it is long overdue––for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshaled against those who would destroy it'.

Powell argued that individual action was insufficient. 'Strength', he wrote, 'lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations'. The National Chamber of Commerce, he argued, should lead an assault upon the major institutions––universities, schools, the media, publishing, the courts––in order to change how individuals think 'about the corporation, the law, culture, and the individual'. US businesses did not lack resources for such an effort, particularly when they pooled their resources together.

[Dec 14, 2018] Why It's So Hard for Most Countries to be Economically Independent from the West by Justin Podur

Notable quotes:
"... Merchants of Grain ..."
"... The structures of the global economy present challenges to any country or political party that wants to try to break out of U.S. hegemony. Even for countries as big and with as much potential as Brazil or Egypt, countries that have experienced waves of relative independence, the inertia of these economic structures helps send them back into old patterns of extraction and debt. In this moment of right-wing resurgence it is hard to imagine political movements arising with plans to push off the weight of the economic past. But that weight cannot be ignored. ..."
"... I'm guessing the short answer is credit. The amazing genius of the US reserve currency policies have given them such massive leverage over the world, it is nearly impossible to recreate elsewhere. This is why China is trying to get loans flowing from their belt/road relationships. ..."
"... Without the ability to simply declare into existence wealth, the US would have to compete fairly for their global relationships. What is amazing about this system, is that the right to owe money to the US is something countries will beg for, because there is no alternate trust system that could be used to stimulate economic activity. ..."
"... The global economy is truly in an unusual situation and the completely financialized creation of credit is less than 50 years old as a human experiment. (before it was linked to precious metals, and I think returning to that would squash liquidity). ..."
"... The same forces that are being applied to Brazil and Venezuela have been, and will continue to be applied to American workers. America is not busy spreading democracy, it's busy extending the reach of Wall $treet's steely fingers. ..."
"... The author does mention the problems with an extraction state. I think that that is at the root of the problem. It also is a result of the general trade pattern set up by the Western Europeans, with others brought in over time. Industrialization-Colonialism I think can fairly be described as root causes. It is also a lot more plausible than claiming the relatively recent introduction of the US $ as a reserve currency as a root versus aggravating cause. ..."
Dec 13, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Why is it so difficult even for huge countries with large, diversified economies to maintain independence from the West?

If anyone could have done it, it was Brazil. In the 19th century it was imagined that Brazil could be a Colossus of the South to match the U.S., the Colossus of the North. It never panned out that way.

And 100 years later, it still hasn't happened. With a $2 trillion GDP (a respectable $9,800 per capita), nearly 200 million people, and a strong manufacturing base (the second largest in the Americas and 28.5 percent of its GDP), Brazil is far from a tiny, weak island or peninsula dependent on a patron state to keep it afloat.

When Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva won a historic election to become president of Brazil in 2003, it seemed like an irreversible change in the country's politics. Even though Lula's Workers' Party was accused of being communists who wanted to redistribute all of the country's concentrated wealth, the party's redistributive politics were in fact modest -- a program to eradicate hunger in Brazil called Zero Hunger, a family-based welfare program called the Family Allowance, and an infrastructure spending program to try to create jobs. But its politics of national sovereignty were ambitious.

It was under Workers' Party rule (under Lula and his successor, president Dilma Rousseff, who won the 2010 election to become president at the beginning of 2011) that the idea surged of a powerful BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) alliance that could challenge the ambitions of the U.S.-led West. Brazil took steps to strengthen its manufacturing, and held its ground on preventing pharmaceutical patent monopolies. Lula's Brazil accused Western countries of hypocrisy for insisting both on "free trade" with poor countries and farm subsidies for themselves. Brazil even moved in the direction of building an independent arms industry.

Contradictions remained: The Workers' Party government sent Brazilian troops to command the UN force that enacted the U.S.-impelled occupation of Haiti -- treating the world to the spectacle of the biggest, wealthiest country in the region helping the U.S. destroy the sovereignty of the poorest as part of its foreign policy. But in those years Brazil refused to renounce its alliance with Venezuela's even more independent-minded government under Hugo Chavez; it defended ideas of South-South cooperation, especially within Latin America, and it made space for movements like the Landless Peasants' Movement (MST).

But after more than a decade of Workers' Party rule, what happened? President Rousseff was overthrown in a coup in 2016. When polls showed that Lula would have won the post-coup election, he was imprisoned to prevent him from running. And so with the Workers' Party neutralized, Brazil elected Jair Bolsonaro, a man who famously saluted the American flag and chanted "USA" while on campaign (imagine an American leader saluting the Brazilian flag during a presidential campaign). No doubt the coup and the imprisonment of Lula were the key to Bolsonaro's rise, and failings like supporting the coup in Haiti played a role in weakening the pro-independence coalition.

But what about the economy? Or Brazil's leaders now dragging the economy into the U.S. fold? Or did the Brazilian economy drag the country back into the fold?

Brazil's economic history and geography have made independence a challenge. Colonial-era elites were interested in using slave labor to produce sugar and export as much of it as possible: The infrastructure of the country was built for commodity extraction. Internal connections, including roads between Brazil's major cities, have been built only slowly and recently. The various schemes of the left-wing governments of the last decade for South-South economic integration were attempting to turn this huge ship around (not for the first time -- there have been previous attempts and previous U.S.-backed coups in Brazil), and to develop the internal market and nurture domestic industries (and those of Brazil's Latin neighbors).

Yesterday's dependent economy was based on sugar export -- today's is based on mining extraction. When Bolsonaro was elected, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation quickly posted a story speculating on how the new government would be good for Canadian mining companies. The new Brazilian president plans to cut down huge swaths of the Amazon rainforest. Brazil is to return to its traditional role of providing natural resources to the U.S. and to the other rich countries.

A smaller country with a stronger pro-independence leadership, Venezuela faced similar structural economic problems that have imperiled and nearly derailed the independent-minded late president Hugo Chavez's dream that Venezuelans would learn to eat arepas instead of hamburgers and play with Simon Bolivar dolls instead of Superman ones. There, too, the pro-independence project had a long-term goal of overcoming the country's dependence on a single finite commodity (oil), diversifying its agricultural base and internal markets. And there, too, the challenge of doing so proved too great for the moment, especially in the face of an elite at least as ruthless as Brazil's and nearly two decades of vindictive, pro regime-change U.S. policy. Today Venezuela's "Bolivarian project" is in crisis, along with its economy and political system.

There are other sleeping giants that remain asleep, perhaps for economic reasons. In the face of relentless insults by Trump, the Mexican electorate chose a left-wing government (Mexicans have elected left-wing governments many times in the past few decades, but elections have been stolen). But locked into NAFTA, dependent on the U.S. market, Mexico also would seem to have little option but to swallow Trump's malevolence.

Egypt is the Brazil of the Middle East. With 100 million people and a GDP of $1.4 trillion, the country that was for a few thousand years the center of civilization attempted in the 20th century to claim what is arguably its rightful place at the center of the Arab world. But today, this giant and former leader of the nonaligned movement is helping Israel and the U.S. starve and besiege the Palestinians in Gaza and helping Saudi Arabia and the U.S. starve and blockade the people of Yemen.

Egypt stopped challenging the U.S. in the 1970s after a peace deal brought it into the fold for good. Exhaustion from two wars with Israel were cited as the main cause -- though a proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen and several domestic factors also played a role. But here, too, is there a hidden economic story?

Egypt has oil, but its production is small -- on the order of 650,000 barrels a day compared to Saudi Arabia's 10 million barrels, or the UAE's 2.9 million. It has a big tourist industry that brings in important foreign exchange. But for those who might dream of an independent Egypt, the country's biggest problem is its agricultural sector: It produces millions of tons of wheat and corn, but less than half of what it needs. As told in the classic book Merchants of Grain , the politics of U.S. grain companies have quietly helped feed its power politics all over the world. Most of Egypt's imported grain comes from the U.S. As climate change and desertification wreak havoc on the dry agricultural ecosystems of the planet, Egypt's grain dependence is likely to get worse.

The structures of the global economy present challenges to any country or political party that wants to try to break out of U.S. hegemony. Even for countries as big and with as much potential as Brazil or Egypt, countries that have experienced waves of relative independence, the inertia of these economic structures helps send them back into old patterns of extraction and debt. In this moment of right-wing resurgence it is hard to imagine political movements arising with plans to push off the weight of the economic past. But that weight cannot be ignored.

Justin Podur, a Toronto-based writer who teaches at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. His site is podur.org . Follow him on Twitter: @justinpodur . Produced by by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute.


TG , December 13, 2018 at 10:03 am

So Egypt has a massive and rapidly growing population, but relatively little arable land, and so is dependent on food imports.

Duh. Perhaps the problem is not Western grain merchants. Perhaps the problem is when a country that could comfortably feed 20 million people boosts its population to 100 million and beyond, that more people do NOT automatically create more wealth. I mean, that is an established fact: more Egyptians are certainly creating more demand for food, but they are not automatically and without delay creating more fresh water, or new industries, etc.

Wukchumni , December 13, 2018 at 10:05 am

I'd always wondered why in the aftermath of WW2, when most of the developed world was in tatters, why South America didn't arise to become more than the continual basket case of a place that it is? Every country there has had hyperinflation (Brazil had a decade long+ stretch of it) episodes-post WW2, but surprisingly none before the war

PlutoniumKun , December 13, 2018 at 10:43 am

I think the answer for South America is structural to its politics and society. Both were settled by Europeans from feudal societies and incorporated all the worst aspects of a decaying Spain and Portugal into their systems. They are not just dependent on resource extraction, they are dominated by elites who's sole source of power is that resource extraction. In Classical economics terms, they are dominated by rentiers, not industrial capitalists. In modern development economics, you would say their structural issues prevent them escaping the middle income trap. When you look at reactionary movements in Brazil or Argentina, its usually big ranchers and mining interests who are behind them. The urban middle classes are usually not strong enough to form a buffer – as historically has happened in Europe and the US and most other countries that have achieved high development status.

Some might argue that a major contributor to the problem is simple geography. South American has a largely impenetrable interior, encouraging an urban and infrastructural system based on connecting agricultural and mining areas to big coastal cities, who's wealth is then dependent on trading those goods across the ocean. When you compare North American or Europe or even China to South America, you can see the former countries have dense internal networks of rail/road and many similar sized cities. South American has a few mega cities and very undeveloped internal networks. Of course, there is a chicken and egg argument here – did geography lead to a rentier dominated society, or did a rentier society result in an undeveloped urban structure and infrastructure?

Pym of Nantucket , December 13, 2018 at 10:12 am

Good start but article doesn't really give explicit answer to its rhetorical question. I'm guessing the short answer is credit. The amazing genius of the US reserve currency policies have given them such massive leverage over the world, it is nearly impossible to recreate elsewhere. This is why China is trying to get loans flowing from their belt/road relationships.

Without the ability to simply declare into existence wealth, the US would have to compete fairly for their global relationships. What is amazing about this system, is that the right to owe money to the US is something countries will beg for, because there is no alternate trust system that could be used to stimulate economic activity.

The global economy is truly in an unusual situation and the completely financialized creation of credit is less than 50 years old as a human experiment. (before it was linked to precious metals, and I think returning to that would squash liquidity).

I think in the future a different currency will be needed that is anchored to energy in a more direct way than the petrodollar. I think we should trade in kWh.

PlutoniumKun , December 13, 2018 at 10:53 am

It might be also worth focusing on those countries which have succeeded in keeping some independence, whether small or large. Bhutan is an example of a very small country which has to some extent succeeded in keeping western and other foreign interests at arms length. Of course, its protected from western domination by being landlocked by two regional superpowers. But it has resisted the temptation to play off one against the other. The price has been relative poverty, although its proud of having a very happy (by their own measure) populace. It has though accepted its military dependence on India, in effect ceding its military independence to that country (as was proven in the recent Chinese incursion, the Bhutanese depended on the Indian military to chase the Chinese off).

Plenty of countries have tried some level of autarky. Ireland tried it after independence – both military neutrality and economic independence. The latter was a disaster, it proved completely impractical and left the country entirely impoverished by the 1950's. Larger states including of course Russia, India and China have had their experiments.

Russia at the moment seems the most successful, something nobody I think would have predicted 10 years ago.

India has been largely proud to be apart for decades, but seems determined under Modi to abandon that. In South America, Uruguay is arguably the most successful example of a country that has kept to some degree its own independence. Costa Rica has been successful too, although you can't really say its kept US influence at bay.

In Africa, Botswana is a country which has had some degree of success. In Asia, Laos has tried to keep all influences out, but its pretty much being swallowed up by the Chinese now. This, of course leads us to the other conclusion – if you are small, and you resist Western influence, you may just end up getting swallowed up by another imperial power, be it the Saudi's (Yemen) or Laos/Tibet/Myanmar (China), etc.

Watt4Bob , December 13, 2018 at 10:57 am

The New World Order (GHW Bush) has only a couple of rules, and one is you will do 'business' only with the western finance Borg.

And what they mostly mean by 'business' , is everything you do should be financed by the Borg, the Borg gets a cut of everything you do, or you don't get to do it.

It's not only bad for other countries, it's bad for the American people because those same finance institutions that screw over other countries, screw Americans over by leading/prompting the rush to off-shore American jobs.

The same forces that are being applied to Brazil and Venezuela have been, and will continue to be applied to American workers. America is not busy spreading democracy, it's busy extending the reach of Wall $treet's steely fingers.

russell1200 , December 13, 2018 at 11:12 am

It is taken for granted here that there was a coup. But the charges of corruption against Lulu stemming from the Operation Car Wash investigations seem pretty real and plausible. The Clintons have their foundation, and Trump has his "all-sorts-of-stuff" . They are still walking free. Is it a coup because somebody in a high office actually got convicted of something?

The author does mention the problems with an extraction state. I think that that is at the root of the problem. It also is a result of the general trade pattern set up by the Western Europeans, with others brought in over time. Industrialization-Colonialism I think can fairly be described as root causes. It is also a lot more plausible than claiming the relatively recent introduction of the US $ as a reserve currency as a root versus aggravating cause.

Since a huge number of countries seem to have had this problem (half of the issue is referred to as the Dutch disease after all), it would be more interesting to compare experience to countries that escaped the problem. My guess is that a close look at the history, and current trends, would show that the problem is actually much deeper rooted and far more problematic than just some hand-wringing over the United States replacing nice guy/gal governments and the US$ reserve currency.

[Dec 05, 2018] Travesty of neoliberalism by Frank Wilhoit

Please replace conservatism with neoliberalism in this post...
Notable quotes:
"... There must be in-groups whom the law protectes but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect. ..."
"... As the core proposition of conservatism is indefensible if stated baldly, it has always been surrounded by an elaborate backwash of pseudophilosophy, amounting over time to millions of pages. All such is axiomatically dishonest and undeserving of serious scrutiny. Today, the accelerating de-education of humanity has reached a point where the market for pseudophilosophy is vanishing; it is, as The Kids Say These Days, tl;dr . All that is left is the core proposition itself -- backed up, no longer by misdirection and sophistry, but by violence. ..."
"... FDR used "liberal" for its connotation of generosity just as he repurposed "freedom" as, say, freedom from fear or want. A practical politician overseeing one of the great realignments in American partisan political history, FDR, by virtue of his own family name, could appropriate much of the reputational capital of progressive reform, but he also needed the Republican Progressive faction in his New Deal coalition, as support for agenda items like the Tennessee Valley Authority (public ownership of the means of producing electricity! What will we tell the grandkids?) ..."
"... US partisan politics now is undergoing its own crisis of legitimacy and realignment, as is, not incidentally, European party politics. There are splits in both Parties, though Wilentz is concerned with the split in the Democratic Par ..."
Dec 05, 2018 | www.bradford-delong.com

Frank Wilhoit 03.22.18 at 12:09 am

There is no such thing as liberalism -- or progressivism, etc.

There is only conservatism. No other political philosophy actually exists; by the political analogue of Gresham's Law, conservatism has driven every other idea out of circulation.

There might be, and should be, anti-conservatism; but it does not yet exist. What would it be? In order to answer that question, it is necessary and sufficient to characterize conservatism. Fortunately, this can be done very concisely.

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:

There must be in-groups whom the law protectes but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

There is nothing more or else to it, and there never has been, in any place or time.

For millenia, conservatism had no name, because no other model of polity had ever been proposed. "The king can do no wrong." In practice, this immunity was always extended to the king's friends, however fungible a group they might have been. Today, we still have the king's friends even where there is no king (dictator, etc.). Another way to look at this is that the king is a faction, rather than an individual.

As the core proposition of conservatism is indefensible if stated baldly, it has always been surrounded by an elaborate backwash of pseudophilosophy, amounting over time to millions of pages. All such is axiomatically dishonest and undeserving of serious scrutiny. Today, the accelerating de-education of humanity has reached a point where the market for pseudophilosophy is vanishing; it is, as The Kids Say These Days, tl;dr . All that is left is the core proposition itself -- backed up, no longer by misdirection and sophistry, but by violence.

So this tells us what anti-conservatism must be: the proposition that the law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone, and cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.

Then the appearance arises that the task is to map "liberalism", or "progressivism", or "socialism", or whateverthefuckkindofstupidnoise-ism, onto the core proposition of anti-conservatism.

No, it a'n't. The task is to throw all those things on the exact same burn pile as the collected works of all the apologists for conservatism, and start fresh. The core proposition of anti-conservatism requires no supplementation and no exegesis. It is as sufficient as it is necessary. What you see is what you get:

The law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone; and it cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.

bruce wilder, 03.23.18 at 1:40 pm

I read the Sean Wilentz article and it seems to be an exercise in virtue signalling by a political centrist and Democratic partisan. Like most left-neoliberals, he doesn't want to be called a neoliberal or acknowledge the political dynamics that have cast his own political tendency as villains, and he cannot understand why betrayal rebranded as "practical" isn't selling better.

Wilentz did not write the straightforward piece J-D wishes for because to do so would reveal too much of the reprehensible nature of the Democratic Party politics he has decided to praise.

It is strange that an historian would write a piece whose rhetoric seems premised on such labels having reliable definitions constant thru time when he clearly knows that such labels are repeatedly re-purposed by succeeding generations.

FDR used "liberal" for its connotation of generosity just as he repurposed "freedom" as, say, freedom from fear or want. A practical politician overseeing one of the great realignments in American partisan political history, FDR, by virtue of his own family name, could appropriate much of the reputational capital of progressive reform, but he also needed the Republican Progressive faction in his New Deal coalition, as support for agenda items like the Tennessee Valley Authority (public ownership of the means of producing electricity! What will we tell the grandkids?)

But, the New Deal was then, and now is something else.

US partisan politics now is undergoing its own crisis of legitimacy and realignment, as is, not incidentally, European party politics. There are splits in both Parties, though Wilentz is concerned with the split in the Democratic Party, which has people who actually care at odds with those, like Wilentz, who want to be seen to care while maintaining plausible deniability.

Z 03.23.18 at 4:35 pm ( 54 )
bruce wilder

It is strange that an historian would write a piece whose rhetoric seems premised on such labels having reliable definitions constant thru time when he clearly knows that such labels are repeatedly re-purposed by succeeding generations.

Yes, I was amused to think of François Hollande presidency, the successful candidate of the Socialist party, each time he wrote the word socialism to relate today and the 1920s.

>

[Nov 27, 2018] Why social security became welfare under neoliberalism

Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

thesingingdetective -> ABasu , 11 Jun 2013 05:38

@ABasu - My comment was not in direct agreement with the article, it was a critique of the first comment above.

I won't even begin with the welfare debate in which you somehow think that 'welfare' and its relatively recent introduction is somehow anti neo-liberal because that is nothing other than newspeak...

The point I was making (with perhaps a less than perfect example) is that language is political and therefore it matters greatly what we call things.

[Nov 27, 2018] terms that carry with them implicit moral connotations. Investment implies an action, even a sacrifice, undertaken for a better future. It evokes a future positive outcome. Another words that reinforces neoliberal rationality is "growth", Modernization and

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... And that bloody word...'modernisation' (Moderni- z -ation - for the management speak geeks). Why is it every time I come across that word in meetings, it means some worker is either losing money or losing their job? ..."
"... the monetisation of everything and the use of language to make the neo-liberal nightmare through which we are living seem, not only the norm, but the only way. ..."
"... Social security becomes welfare and suddenly masses of society (the majority of benefit claimants being in work) are not drawing on an insurance policy but are in receipt of 'welfare' subject to the largesse and judgements of an ever more cruel and avaricious 'elite'. ..."
"... I'm a big fan of Steven Poole's Unspeak , which looks at the way in which terms and terminology have been engineered precisely to hollow out meaning and present an argument instead. A kind of Neoliberal Emperor's New Clothes, the problem is that, obviously, if your vocabulary and your meanings become circumscribed, it limits what can be said, and even how people think about what's being said. ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

restructuring


Sidfishes , 11 Jun 2013 04:26

And that bloody word...'modernisation' (Moderni- z -ation - for the management speak geeks). Why is it every time I come across that word in meetings, it means some worker is either losing money or losing their job? Or some manager is about to award themselves a bonus?
thesingingdetective -> gyges1 , 11 Jun 2013 04:22
@gyges1 - No, she is surely railing against the monetisation of everything and the use of language to make the neo-liberal nightmare through which we are living seem, not only the norm, but the only way.

Social security becomes welfare and suddenly masses of society (the majority of benefit claimants being in work) are not drawing on an insurance policy but are in receipt of 'welfare' subject to the largesse and judgements of an ever more cruel and avaricious 'elite'.

Language matters and its distortion is a political act.

michaelsylvain , 11 Jun 2013 04:17
But without these Exciting New Word Uprating Initiatives, we can never win The Global Race... or something.

I'm a big fan of Steven Poole's Unspeak , which looks at the way in which terms and terminology have been engineered precisely to hollow out meaning and present an argument instead. A kind of Neoliberal Emperor's New Clothes, the problem is that, obviously, if your vocabulary and your meanings become circumscribed, it limits what can be said, and even how people think about what's being said.

(By the way, the link's to Amazon, but, obviously, you may find you have a better "Customer Experience" if you get from somewhere less tax-dodgy.)

[Nov 27, 2018] Language is the first victim of any hegemonic project. This is true for communism, fascism and neoliberalism

Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

maxfisher , 11 Jun 2013 05:42

Quite. Language is the first victim of any hegemonic project. Examples abound in communism, fascism and neoliberalism. There's nothing to argue with in this article yet, unsurprisingly, the usual swivel-eyed brigade seem to have popped up. Perhaps your discussion of work strays a little too close to philosophy for the unthinking. I don't know why I'm disheartened by some of the responses, as the same voices appear btl in almost ever CIF article, but I am somehow. Perhaps because the point of the article - the hijacking of language - is so obviously true as to be uncontroversial to any but the ideologically purblind, yet still....
ABasu -> thesingingdetective , 11 Jun 2013 05:28
@thesingingdetective - what is an insurance policy other than a financial product where in return for payments over a period of time a claim can be made in certain circumstances?

If anything, particularly given that the link between contributions and claims is now nugatory, describing welfare as welfare is much more honest and much less "neoliberal". It is a set of payments and entitlements society has agreed upon to ensure a level of welfare for all rather than an insurance policy which each individual may claim against if they've kept up their payments.

If an anti-neo-liberal, supportive of the article can get this so back to front, perhaps the "debate" being posited is an empty one about language.

OberynMartell , 11 Jun 2013 05:22
If you changed a few words from the Communist Manifesto, it could easily be about neo-liberalism and leftist attitudes towards it.

"A spectre is haunting Europe; the spectre of neo-liberalism. All the leftists of old Europe have entered into a Holy Alliance to exorcise this spectre; Toynbee and Loach; Redgrave and Harris.

Where is the party in power that has not been decried as neo-liberalistic by its leftist opponents on the sidelines?"

Sidfishes , 11 Jun 2013 05:19
Take FE as a case study on how the coin counters have taken over the world.

Back in the dark ages of the 1980s, the maths department had 7 lecturers (2 part time) and two people to look after the admin - there was also the Department Head (who was a lecturer) and a Head of School. They had targets, loosely defined, but it was a rare year when there wasn't a smattering of A grades at A level...

Then along came the coin counters, the target setters, with their management degrees and swivel eyed certainty that 'greed is good... competition! competition! competition!' and with them came the new professionals into the department... the 'Quality Manager'... the 'Curriculum Manager' the 'Exams Manager' the 'Deputy Exams Manager'... and the paperwork increased to feed the beast that counts everything but knows nothing... and targets were set.... 'Targets! Targets! Targets!... and we were all sent in search of excellence... 'teach to the exam' 'We must meet our targets'... 'we won't use exam board 'A' because they're tough' and the exam boards reacted to their own target culture by all simplifying. The universities began to notice the standard of 'A' grade students (who increased) was equivelant to a C grade of 5 years ago. However, targets were being met (on paper) quality was maintained (on paper) we were improving year on year (on paper). However, what was going on in the real world is that our students were being sold a pup - their level of competence and of knowledge was very much inferior to their same grade fore bearers of just 5 years previous

Eventually, the department became 1 full time lecturer and 4 on 'zero hour contracts' and the Head of School became 'Chief Executive' the 'Head of Department' became 'Department Manager' and a gap developed between those who taught and those who 'managed'... not just a culture gap... a bloody big pay gap...

Who benefited from all this marketisation?

Not the lecturers... not the students... not the universities... not industry...not the economy...

Who benefited? Work it out for yourselves (as I used to tell my students)

Damntheral -> roachclip , 11 Jun 2013 05:18
@roachclip - I am familiar with the numerous wiki sites including Wikipedia, thank you very much. If you read the article yourself you would see it supports my point of view here.
retro77 , 11 Jun 2013 05:17

There are loads of other examples of rarely scrutinised terms in our economic vocabulary, for instance that bundle of terms clustered around investment and expenditure – terms that carry with them implicit moral connotations. Investment implies an action, even a sacrifice, undertaken for a better future. It evokes a future positive outcome. Expenditure, on the other hand, seems merely an outgoing, a cost, a burden.

This is absolute nonsense...the terms "investment" and "expenditure" carry no moral connotations that I can determine. Does the author accept that we need to have terms to express each of these concepts? Perhaps she would like to come up with some alternative suggestions for the notions of "contributing money" and "spending money"?

Mark Taylor , 11 Jun 2013 05:11
Seconded, its uses and abuses of the English Language second only that of the Church. A fitting comparison in my book because they both have much in common. Both are well aware that it is through language and the control of which that true cultural change is achieved.
Both know that this new language must be propagated as far and as wide as possible, with saturation coverage. Control of information is a a must, people must see and they must know only things of your choosing.
For example, back in the 4th Century AD (which is incidentally an abbreviation of the Latin 'Anno Domini', which means 'in the year of our Lord'), the church became centralised and established under the patronage of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Part of this centralising mission was the creation of a uniform belief system. Those that 'chose' to believe something else were branded 'heretics'. The word 'heresy' coming from the Greek 'αἵρεσις' for 'choice'. Thus to choose to have your own opinions was therefore deemed to be a bad thing.
As a quick aside, 'Pagan' comes from the Latin 'paganus' which means 'rural dweller'. I.e. those beyond the remit of the urban Christian elites. 'Heathen' on the other hand is Old English (hæðen). It simply means 'not Christian or Jewish.
When you have complete control over the flow of information, as the Church did by the 5th Century, then you can write practically anything. This doesn't mean just writing good things about yourself and bad things about your enemies. Rather it means that you can frame the debate anyway you wish.
In modern times, I would argue that you can see similar things happen here. As the author suggests, terms like 'Wealth Creator', 'Scrounger', 'Sponger', 'living on welfare', 'Growth', 'progress' and my personal favourite, 'reform', take on a whole new meaning.
Their definition of the word 'reform' and what we would see it to mean are two totally different things, Yet since it is they that has access to the wider world and not us, then it is their definition that gets heard. The same could be said for all the other words and their latter day connotations.
Thus when you hear the news and you hear what passes for debate, you hear things on their terms. Using their language with their meanings. A very sad state of affairs indeed.
Themiddlegound , 11 Jun 2013 05:11
Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.

You'll notice I've highlighted the word freedoms. Freedom is a word they hijacked right from the start of the process and how they hijacked the Republican party in the USA.

For any way of thought to become dominant, a conceptual apparatus has to be advanced that appeals to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities inherent in the social world we inhabit. If successful, this conceptual apparatus becomes so embedded in common sense as to be taken for granted and not open to question. The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of human dignity and individual freedom as fundamental.

Concepts of dignity and individual freedom are powerful and appealing in their own right. Such ideals empowered the dissident movements in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union before the end of the Cold War as well as the students in Tiananmen Square. The student movements that swept the world in 1968––from Paris and Chicago to Bangkok and Mexico City––were in part animated by the quest for greater freedoms of speech and of personal choice.
More generally, these ideals appeal to anyone who values the ability to make decisions for themselves.

The idea of freedom, long embedded in the US tradition, has played a conspicuous role in the US in recent years. '9/11' was immediately interpreted by many as an attack on it. 'A peaceful world of growing freedom', wrote President Bush on the first anniversary of that awful day, 'serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites America's allies.' 'Humanity', he concluded, 'holds in its hands the opportunity to
offer freedom's triumph over all its age-old foes', and 'the United States welcomes its responsibilities to lead in this great mission'. This language was incorporated into the US National Defense Strategy document issued shortly thereafter. 'Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world', he later said, adding that 'as the greatest power on earth we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom'.

When all of the other reasons for engaging in a pre-emptive war against Iraq were proven wanting, the president appealed to the idea that the freedom conferred on Iraq was in and of itself an adequate justification for the war. The Iraqis were free, and that was all that really mattered. But what sort of 'freedom' is envisaged here, since, as the cultural critic Matthew Arnold long ago thoughtfully observed, 'freedom is a very good horse to ride, but to
ride somewhere'.To what destination, then, are the Iraqi people expected to ride the horse of freedom donated to them by force of arms?

As Hayek quoted....

Planning and control are being attacked as a denial of freedom. Free
enterprise and private ownership are declared to be essentials of freedom.
No society built on other foundations is said to deserve to be called free.
The freedom that regulation creates is denounced as unfreedom; the justice, liberty and welfare it offers are decried as a camouflage of slavery.

The Neoliberal idea of freedom 'thus degenerates into a mere advocacy of free
enterprise. It helps explain why neoliberalism has turned so authoritarian, forceful, and anti-democratic at the very moment when 'humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to offer freedom's triumph over all its age-old foes'. It makes us focus on how so many corporations have profiteered from withholding the benefits of their technologies, famine, and environmental disaster. It raises the worry as to whether or not many of these calamities or
near calamities (arms races and the need to confront both real and
imagined enemies) have been secretly engineered for corporate advantage.

Political slogans can be invoked that mask specific strategies beneath vague rhetorical devices. The word 'freedom' resonates so widely within the common-sense understanding of Americans that it becomes 'a button that elites can press to open the door to the masses' to justify almost anything.

Appeals to traditions and cultural values bulked large in all of this. An open project around the restoration of economic power to a small elite would probably not gain much popular support. But a programmatic attempt to advance the cause of individual freedoms could appeal to a mass base and so disguise the drive to restore class power.

Wastoid , 11 Jun 2013 05:05
Fascinating article, thanks for publishing. It goes some way to explaining, not only the tenacity of neo-liberalism, but also its ability to consolidate its power, even at the moment when it seemed weakest. Its ability to rearticulate language and to present as natural law what is socially constructed, shows the depth of its hold on society, economics, politics, culture and even science.

There is a neat cross-over here between neo-liberal discourses and the use of language by the military. Not only does this extend to the general diffusion of certain key phrases, but I think it also runs deeper. Just as the elision of meaning in the language of war facilitates the perpetuation of abuses and war crimes, so the neo-lib discourse permits the perpetuation of questionable economic activity, even as this presents itself in the unquestionable guise of "common sense".

[Nov 27, 2018] Why the fact the neoliberal MSM avoiv the work "neoliberalism" is important: the unwillingness to even call a spade a spade has political consequences

Notable quotes:
"... This unwillingness to even call a spade a spade has political consequences ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

KingOfNothing -> gyges1 , 11 Jun 2013 07:22

@gyges1 - The idea of language is very important in the production of a way of thinking which closes down other alternatives and futures. One which leaves neoliberal globalisation as 'the only game in town'.

I worry that the very term 'neoliberalism' is one not used by the political classes and much of the media, I don't think I've ever heard the world 'neoliberalism' used on the BBC.

This unwillingness to even call a spade a spade has political consequences . For example, I had an online discussion with someone over Thatchers death a little while ago. He called me 'comrade' and then questioned the very existence of the term Neo-liberalism. At the time I thought this was a bit of a cheap shot, but if you can quite cheerfully label someone a 'socialist' and then refuse to accept that neo-liberalism exists, you are well on your way to making people believe that the current set of social relations are indeed completely normal and that there are few, if any, alternative ways of rewiring the world which can create a better world.

[Nov 27, 2018] The Argentinian military coup, like those in Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Nicaragua, was sponsored by the US to protect and further its interests during the Cold War. By the 1970s neoliberalism was very much part of the menu; paramilitary governments were actively encouraged to practice neoliberal politics; neoliberalism was at this stage, what communism was to the Soviet Union

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I was, of course, referring to the families of the disappeared in Chile. They are, of course, relevant and should not be excluded from any arguments about neoliberalism and its effects. Nor should the families of the disappeared in Argentina, though it is less well known, the junta was entrusted with the introduction of neoliberal policies in Argentina. ..."
"... The Argentinian military coup, like those in Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Nicaragua, was sponsored by the US to protect and further its interests during the Cold War. By the 1970s neoliberalism was very much part of the menu; paramilitary governments were actively encouraged to practice neoliberal politics; neoliberalism was at this stage, what communism was to the Soviet Union; the ideological wing of the Cold War. You may be familiar with Operation Condor? ..."
"... It has been pretty firmly established that the Allende regime was victim of US sponsored military coup and that said coup was sponsored to protect US interests. The Chicago boys then flew into Chile to use the nation as a laboratory for the more outlandish (at the time) neoliberal policies they were unable to practice at home. ..."
"... The political class, with the aid of their subservient corporate media quislings, have taken our language apart and used it against us. We have been backed into a corner, we are told, by both Labour and Tories, that there is no choice, either rabid profiteering or penury and we have, to our everlasting shame, lapped up every word of it. ..."
"... We have become so embedded in the language of individuals, choice, contracts and competition that we cannot see any alternative. Even Adam Smith understood the difference between "economy" and "society" when he argued that labor is directly connected to public interest while business is connected to self-interest. If business took over the public sphere, Smith argued, this would be quite destructive. ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
maxfisher -> finnkn , 11 Jun 2013 07:45
@finnkn - Apologies. I was, of course, referring to the families of the disappeared in Chile. They are, of course, relevant and should not be excluded from any arguments about neoliberalism and its effects. Nor should the families of the disappeared in Argentina, though it is less well known, the junta was entrusted with the introduction of neoliberal policies in Argentina.

The Argentinian military coup, like those in Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Nicaragua, was sponsored by the US to protect and further its interests during the Cold War. By the 1970s neoliberalism was very much part of the menu; paramilitary governments were actively encouraged to practice neoliberal politics; neoliberalism was at this stage, what communism was to the Soviet Union; the ideological wing of the Cold War. You may be familiar with Operation Condor?

To be clear: I am arguing that the direct effects of 'actually existing neoliberalism' are very far from benign. I do not argue that the militarisation of Central and South America are the direct consequence neoliberal theory.

maxfisher -> finnkn , 11 Jun 2013 07:04
@finnkn - Well I think many would. It has been pretty firmly established that the Allende regime was victim of US sponsored military coup and that said coup was sponsored to protect US interests. The Chicago boys then flew into Chile to use the nation as a laboratory for the more outlandish (at the time) neoliberal policies they were unable to practice at home.

Neoliberalism was first practiced in authoritarian states; the states in which neoliberalism is most deeply embedded are (surprise, surprise) increasingly authoritarian, and neoliberalism solutions are regularly imposed on client/vulnerable states by suprastructures such as the IMF, the EU, and the World Bank. Friedrich Hayek and Adam Smith were very clear that the potential for degeneracy existed. We have now reached that potential; increasingly centralised authority, states within states, the denuding of democratic institutions and crony capitalism. Neoliberalism in practice is very different to neoliberalism in practice. Rather like 'really existing socialism' and Marxism.

works best in authoritarian states because (in practice, if not in theory

finnkn -> BaronessHawHaw , 11 Jun 2013 07:41

@BaronessHawHaw - Simply untrue.

http://www.pewglobal.org/2009/11/02/end-of-communism-cheered-but-now-with-more-reservations/

As the statistics on that link show, there are certain countries (notably Russia and the Ukraine) where the +65 age group disapprove of the change to democracy and capitalism. In the majority, however, people of all ages remain in favour.

retro77 -> anonid , 11 Jun 2013 07:10
@anonid -

For 'job' read 'bribe' (keep your mouth shut or lose it), for 'management' read 'take most of the interest out of the job for everybody else and put them on a lower scale', etc. I guess you get my drift.

It's sad that you have such a negative, self-hating attitude towards your work.

BobJanova , 11 Jun 2013 07:09

Work is usually – and certainly should be – a central source of meaning and fulfilment in human lives. And it has – or could have – moral and creative (or aesthetic) values at its core

Spoken like a true champagne socialist in a creative industry. How do you find meaning and fulfillment, or creative values, in emptying bins, cleaning offices, sweeping the streets and a whole load of other work which needs doing but which is repetitive, menial and not particularly pleasant?

There are two ways to get people to do work that needs doing but wouldn't be done voluntarily: coercion or payment. I think the second is a more healthy way to run a society.

retarius , 11 Jun 2013 07:07
I've thought pretty much the same myself. Democracies can be good or bad (as the Greeks knew well)...but in our politic-speak it is used to denounce and make good; as in "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East"...it is intended to make us feel something good about Israel, as it humiliates the Palestinians and steals their land.

In ancient Greece....'tyrant' simply meant 'usurper' without any neccessary negative association....simply someone who had usurped political power...they recognized that tyrannies could be good, bad or indifferent.

In Rome, dictator simply meant the cahp that took over fpr periods of six months at a time, during times of crisis.

I used to vacation in Yugoslavia in Marshall Tito's time....it was a wonderful place, beautiful, inexpensive and safe...very very safe. What came into the power vacuum after he died in 1980...what happened to the country? I'd argue that his was a good dictatorship or tyranny....

I'm also not too sure what the 90% of people unaffected by and uninterested in power politics in any given country feel about the 'liberation' of Libya and Iraq from their prior dictatorships...I'm sure that plenty of people whose previously steady lives have been wrecked, are all that thrilled.

Antiquarian , 11 Jun 2013 07:06
I have recently been exercised by the right's adoption of "Social Justice". In the past it was the left and churches who talked of social justice as a phenomenon to empower the poor and dispossessed, whether in this country or the developing world. Social Justice was a touchstone of Faith in the City, for example, but it seems now to be the smoke screen behind which benefits are stipped from the "undeserving poor".
BaronessHawHaw , 11 Jun 2013 06:59
Most of this crap comes from America. Crappy middle-management bureaucrats spouting "free-market" bollocks.
The efficiency of the private sector - some nob with a name badge timing how long you've been on the toilet.
Freedommm!!!!
BlankReg -> joseph1832 , 11 Jun 2013 06:56
@ joseph1832 11 June 2013 9:24am . Get cifFix for Firefox .

It is not just neoliberalism. Everyone is at it - sucking the meaning out of words. Corporate bullshit, public sector bullshit. Being customers of your own government is a crime that everyone is guilty of. This is what Orwell railed against decades ago, and it has got worse.

Case in point; just look at the way in which the Cameron set about co-opting words and phrases justifiably applied to his own regime and repurposed them against his detractors.

For example, people who took a stand against the stealth privatisation of the NHS were branded as "vested interests", quite unlike the wholesome MPs who voted for the NHS bill who, despite the huge sums of money they received from the private healthcare lobby, we are encouraged to believe were acting in our best interests by selling our health service to their corporate paymasters. Or the farcical attempt to rebrand female Tory MPs as "feminists" despite their anti-social mobility, anti-equality, anti-human rights and anti-abortion views.

The political class, with the aid of their subservient corporate media quislings, have taken our language apart and used it against us. We have been backed into a corner, we are told, by both Labour and Tories, that there is no choice, either rabid profiteering or penury and we have, to our everlasting shame, lapped up every word of it.

Arabica Robusta -> Obelisk1 , 11 Jun 2013 06:55
@Obelisk1 - You have single-handedly proven Massey's argument. We have become so embedded in the language of individuals, choice, contracts and competition that we cannot see any alternative. Even Adam Smith understood the difference between "economy" and "society" when he argued that labor is directly connected to public interest while business is connected to self-interest. If business took over the public sphere, Smith argued, this would be quite destructive.
Snapshackle , 11 Jun 2013 06:50

Our whole conversation seemed somehow reduced, my experience of it belittled into one of commercial transaction. My relation to the gallery and to this engaging person had become one of instrumental market exchange.

But in the eyes of the economic right, that is precisely the case. Adjectives like altruistic, caring, selfless, empathy and sympathy are simply not in their vocabulary. They are only ever any of those things provided they can see some sort of beneficial payback at the end.

maxfisher -> Venebles 11 Jun 2013 06:20

@Venebles - I was simply joining many commentators in the mire. Those that dispute the neoliberal worldview are routinely dismissed as marxists. I thought I'd save you all the energy, duck.

I'm not sure that the families of the disappeared of Chile and Argentina would concur with you benign view of neoliberalism and its effects.

Liquidity Jones, 11 Jun 2013 06:04
Might as well define it.

Neoliberalism framework vs Full employment framework

Full employment. The 3 pillars

Redistributive pillar

Collective pillar

Neo-liberalism. The 3 pillars

Economic pillar

Redistributive pillar

Individuality pillar

[Nov 27, 2018] There is a neat cross-over here between neo-liberal discourses and the use of language by the military. Not only does this extend to the general diffusion of certain key phrases, but I think it also runs deeper. Just as the elision of meaning in the language of war facilitates the perpetuation of abuses and war crimes, so the neo-lib discourse permits the perpetuation of questionable economic activity, even as this presents itself in the unquestionable guise of "common sense"

Nov 27, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Wastoid , 11 Jun 2013 05:05

Fascinating article, thanks for publishing. It goes some way to explaining, not only the tenacity of neo-liberalism, but also its ability to consolidate its power, even at the moment when it seemed weakest. Its ability to rearticulate language and to present as natural law what is socially constructed, shows the depth of its hold on society, economics, politics, culture and even science.

There is a neat cross-over here between neo-liberal discourses and the use of language by the military. Not only does this extend to the general diffusion of certain key phrases, but I think it also runs deeper. Just as the elision of meaning in the language of war facilitates the perpetuation of abuses and war crimes, so the neo-lib discourse permits the perpetuation of questionable economic activity, even as this presents itself in the unquestionable guise of "common sense".

[Nov 26, 2018] Language is a mental battlefield

The denial of the economic ideology of Neo-liberalism is nothing more than a cheap debating point. If you pretend something doesn't exist then you make it difficult to attack.
Notable quotes:
"... Strange then, that you can buy a book called: "Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics. By Daniel Stedman Jones. Princeton University Press". ..."
"... What were Friedrich Heyek and Milton Friedman: lollypop salesmen? ..."
"... All one needs to know is that English language is being manipulated just as it always has been by those that have the power to do it. Today the main manipulators are, Madison Avenue, agencies and departments the United States government, Wall Street, US television media. Most people don't realize that the language is being manipulated, when they hear or see in print words being used in unusual ways they just go along with it. ..."
"... Advertising frequently refers to things being "better" with no explanation of what it is better than. ..."
"... "Underpriviliged" to describe people living in poverty but no explanation of the privileges that people have who are not poor. ..."
"... I could go on and on, but I am sure that you scribblers who do not indulge in "confuse speak" know exactly what I am trying to explain. Best example I can give is "The free world" which by latest check includes Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and sundry other brutal regimes and one time actually included outright fascist countries. ..."
"... Yes - the person who said language was mankind's first technology were absolutely correct. I expect language was invented by those who invent all technology to be just out of reach of the general public until the inventers decide they can do business for themselves out of it. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is the final stage of liberal democracy which has been around for 60-70 years, the most destructive form of government the world has ever seen, based on deregulation for the wealthy oligarchs and debt and debauchery for the poor .............. which is rapidly taking us back to feudal times. ..."
"... I prescribe a course of Orwell, Start, perhaps, with short stories...... Politics and the English Language, Why I Write, Notes on Nationalism, for example. And then a full dose of Nineteen Eighty-Four. That should do the trick! ..."
"... Nothing has been learnt from the crash of 2008 beyond "get rich even quicker", or as its more commonly known, economic and ecological suicide. ..."
Nov 26, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

MartynInEurope , 11 Jun 2013 13:13

Term abuse didn't arrive with neoliberalism; it's been around since forever. Also, the fact that most of our daily transactions might be commercial is a reflection of our own habits as much as the changing use of language.

If a person is employed by a commercial gallery, they are effectively working in a shop, and the people who visit these galleries are potentially customers. No surprise there. Just like a person who uses transport can be a customer. Of course, there are public services where commercial terms such as customer make little sense.

Nostradamus333 , 11 Jun 2013 13:08
Marxism has hijacked our vocabulary for a 150 years. Nice to have a change for awhile.
MartynInEurope -> bongoid , 11 Jun 2013 13:06
@bongoid -

Sure, it isn't that important who is making the point, even if the point is made by reference to questionable and contentious examples.

I also think that any even bigger influence on meaning / lack of meaning / interchangeable meaning etc.has been postmodernity far more than neoliberalism.

dourscot , 11 Jun 2013 13:00
All true but the left is just as bad as coining its Orwellisms. Witness the way nobody has to use an approved vocabulary to talk about every and any group on fear of moral ridicule or worse. Language is a mental battlefield.
LondonPhil -> RClayton , 11 Jun 2013 12:57
@RClayton - Can I suggest resurrecting William Morris's distinction between "work" (ie labour that is moral, creative, aesthetic or, at least, hygienic - ie intrinsically worth doing) and "toil" which is work done only because of the necessity to earn money to buy the means of existence?

Having words that distinguish between these two ideas is useful. The 'work' you talk about is 'toil' and most of it is done simply to service the money/capitalist system.

As an example, I have in front of me a rubber 'stress reliever' in the shape of PacMan. It was given to me as a gift.

Presumably, somewhere in the world there is a factory full of people turning out this rubbish. It adds nothing to the world's beauty, nor its ability to support the people living on it. Its only uses are in providing paid 'toil' to support the factory workers and to enable someone to give me something I don't need as a token of their friendship, probably paid for from the fruits of their own toil.

Changing the words we use will not change this, but it does give us a framework in which to think about how it might be changed.

KingOfNothing -> Yorkied24 , 11 Jun 2013 12:45
@Yorkied24 -

Strange then, that you can buy a book called: "Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics. By Daniel Stedman Jones. Princeton University Press".

What were Friedrich Heyek and Milton Friedman: lollypop salesmen?

If I can repeat what I said at the top of this thread - The denial of the economic ideology of Neo-liberalism is nothing more than a cheap debating point. If you pretend something doesn't exist then you make it difficult to attack.

Sorry, but it just won't wash with me.

bill4me -> darylrevok , 11 Jun 2013 12:10
@darylrevok - Well, perhaps you might describe the sweet smell of success as 'funny', but I don't.
MartynInEurope , 11 Jun 2013 12:08
The biggest problem isn't so much that people use the language of commercial business and are free and easy with their abuse of terms (there's a new one), but that people treat government and politics as a service, and see their relationship with governance as akin to a client/customer relationship, to that end we elect politicians who tell us what we want to hear, even if what we hear can be, all to often, somewhat meaningless or trite.
makingtime -> TheRealCmdrGravy , 11 Jun 2013 11:55
@TheRealCmdrGravy - There's nothing vague about it, It represents the whole of UK and US government economic policy for the last thirty years with the happy outcomes that we enjoy today.

But now you know what a neoliberal is, perhaps you can reread the excellent article above with added relish and understanding. Glad to be of assistance. If you want anything else looking up I suggest using a search engine before posting here that a particular word is too difficult for you.

darylrevok -> bill4me , 11 Jun 2013 11:49
@bill4me - And Capitalism is not dead, it just smells funny.
MartynInEurope , 11 Jun 2013 11:40
According to Bradford DeLong, a Berkeley economic historian, neoliberalism has two main tenets:

"The first is that close economic contact between the industrial core and the developing periphery is the best way to accelerate the transfer of technology which is the sine qua non for making poor economies rich (hence all barriers to international trade should be eliminated as fast as possible).

The second is that governments in general lack the capacity to run large industrial and commercial enterprises. Hence, [except] for core missions of income distribution, public-good infrastructure, administration of justice, and a few others, governments should shrink and privatize)."

Justthefactsman , 11 Jun 2013 11:36
Such a long article.

All one needs to know is that English language is being manipulated just as it always has been by those that have the power to do it. Today the main manipulators are, Madison Avenue, agencies and departments the United States government, Wall Street, US television media. Most people don't realize that the language is being manipulated, when they hear or see in print words being used in unusual ways they just go along with it.

Example:

A couple of years back a motormouth U.S TV show host used the word "impact" in place of the word "affect". He did so simply because "impact" seemed more dramatic. Now it is almost impossible to hear or see the word "affect" used anywhere.

Now there are some of you that will say that language and usage of words change over time, and I would agree with you, but when you see a word used in a context that is completely inappropriate and that use is adopted in general you have to ask yourself questions like who benefits from this.
Remember when Bush wanted to increase troop levels, he refered to the increase as a "surge". "Surge" until then had a distinct meaning it was not associated with any meaning of permanence, and that is why it was used.

Advertising frequently refers to things being "better" with no explanation of what it is better than.

"Underpriviliged" to describe people living in poverty but no explanation of the privileges that people have who are not poor.

I could go on and on, but I am sure that you scribblers who do not indulge in "confuse speak" know exactly what I am trying to explain.
Best example I can give is "The free world" which by latest check includes Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and sundry other brutal regimes and one time actually included outright fascist countries.

Enough said.

ascania , 11 Jun 2013 11:34
Now all London Underground passengers are 'customers', which implies you are buying the travel experience rather than paying for transportation. When misused it suggests to me lack of strength and self-belief from the organization concerned.
bill4me -> callaspodeaspode , 11 Jun 2013 11:31
@callaspodeaspode - Gosh - an excellent example of how to get things completely wrong. Just because a firm has the government for a customer does not mean it is a public sector business.

Note the word 'customer'. In the case of the FE college, who is the customer - the government or the students? Are the students just incidental fodder?

Your contract with the government will be for a certain job done in a certain for a certain sum of money. In FE, the government has a sum of money which gets paid out irrespective of the outcome. Indeed, how do you measure the 'outcome' of an FE college? In your case, it's easy - either the software works or it doesn't.

Your company no doubt is either owned by an individual, or has shareholders. Those people live on the profits of the company, or lose their money if it goes bust. What is the profit made by an FE college? Who are the shareholders? Who goes broke if the college folds? Still think an FE college is the same as private company?

makingtime -> TheRealCmdrGravy , 11 Jun 2013 11:15
@TheRealCmdrGravy - No definition is a distinct improvement on your deliberate distortion. I was assuming you had the sense to find a definition on the internet for yourself, since you managed to find your way here.

I do not consider alternative viewpoints brainless, i consider a refusal to even engage in debate brainless, pretending that a word is undefined when there's reams of literature as well as concise definitions freely available from any number of sources. That might reasonably be construed as brainless.

Here, fill your boots, then if you have an actual argument instead of a crude attempt to derail the debate it can be considered.

Neoliberalism is a political philosophy whose advocates support economic liberalization, free trade and open markets, privatization, deregulation, and decreasing the size of the public sector while increasing the role of the private sector in modern society. (From wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism)

I'm convinced you had the brains to look it up yourself, that's why I suspect your agenda. Now please stop wasting everyone's time unless you have something to contribute. I even looked it up for you.

callaspodeaspode -> bill4me , 11 Jun 2013 11:13
@bill4me - That's an excellent point.

And I can give a further example. I used to work in a Private Equity-owned firm, which happened to have some contracts to provide software support to the government. Thus, in your conceptual framework, it was a public sector business. Indeed, by your reasoning, Lockheed Martin is a state-owned company as well.

seanmatthews , 11 Jun 2013 11:06
I agree that 'Neoliberalism' has hijacked our vocabulary, but that is about the limit of our agreement. People fling the word 'neoliberalism' around these days as a synonym for 'anything I and my friends have decided is politically-economically objectionable' ('have decided', not 'think'). In the old days, 'fascist' served the same purpose in all those late-night student flat discussions. I assume, until proven otherwise, that people who talk about 'neoliberalism', fall into the same category as those people who had so much difficulty distinguishing between 'liberal democracy' and 'fascism'.

I can actually think of liberal left-leaning intellectuals who I can recall having self-described as neoliberal. They, however, are distinctive for the sort of nuanced understanding of political economy you are unlikely to find represented around the candles in the kitchen on a Friday night when the world's problems are being discussed and solved.

HarryTheHorse -> TheRealCmdrGravy , 11 Jun 2013 11:03
@TheRealCmdrGravy -

First of all I am impressed by the psychic ability which enables you to deduce my "closed political agenda", very impressive

Not really. It is transparently obvious when you declare that neo-liberalism is "vague stuff which I don't like" when there are cogent definitions of it, to which you have been referred in the past.

pagey23 , 11 Jun 2013 10:57
this is not the kind of liberalism we needed it needed to be socially liberal but not economically liberal. How dare people become entrepenurial or take the thatcherite tax cuts, or buy goods made from slave labour. Some seriously sick yuppies out there.
PointOfYou , 11 Jun 2013 10:54
Yes - the person who said language was mankind's first technology were absolutely correct. I expect language was invented by those who invent all technology to be just out of reach of the general public until the inventers decide they can do business for themselves out of it.
Claire75 -> gyges1 , 11 Jun 2013 10:22
@gyges1 - doesn't say that though, does it?

She says that we need to look at the language as it says a lot about how we think. Sounds about right to me. It's hardly arguing white means black, just that the words we choose say something about what we mean.

Then she says that what we talk about isn't the stuff we need to concentrate on. That's a matter of debate and opinion.

Snapshackle -> Yorkied24 , 11 Jun 2013 10:12
@ Yorkied24 11 June 2013 12:57pm . Get cifFix for Firefox .

Except that preference theory does not take into account causality. In any event we have the evidence, there are those who are perfectly happy to cast others to the wall just so long as they do OK and even benefit from it.

TheRealCmdrGravy -> makingtime , 11 Jun 2013 09:58
@makingtime - Really ? Some very interesting points you've made there ...

your closed political agenda may make it impossible for you to understand without a brain transplant.

First of all I am impressed by the psychic ability which enables you to deduce my "closed political agenda", very impressive. Secondly though it's interesting that you think a "closed political agenda", which I am taking to mean a concrete political viewpoint, can only be remedied with a "brain transplant" rather than through discussion. It's almos as though you're saying "those with political views different to mine are brainless" which is quite a bigoted point of view.

No definition from you regarding the word neo-liberal though so all in all not a very helpful or insightful post. Disappointing.

makingtime -> TheRealCmdrGravy , 11 Jun 2013 09:45
@TheRealCmdrGravy -

..the word "neo-liberal" which, so far as I can see, simply means "vague stuff which I don't like".

Is it possible that you can't see very far because you're deliberately not looking? There are perfectly adequate and precise definitions. I quite liked 'A Brief History of Neoliberalism' by Prof D.Harvey as a long form definition, but since it's rather critical of 'vague stuff which I don't like', your closed political agenda may make it impossible for you to understand without a brain transplant.

It is exasperating when political discussion is reduced to which foghorn can generate the loudest interference. I suppose it's a mistake to waste time on correcting this rubbish

tiojo , 11 Jun 2013 09:41
Doreen Massey is an academic. It shows in the way she writes. It's good that she raises fundamental questions about society and the way it is managed. It has traditionally been the role of academics to play that role.

The disappointing feature of the debate however is the absence of input from our politicians. All our leading politicians have essentially the same view of our society and economy. One in which, as Ms Massey indicates, choice exercised through market based mechanisms is the key principal. There is no view of progress towards a good society. There is no view of co-operation rather than competition. The only option is for us to measure ourselves by what we consume.

Our political system and its parties have failed us. In particular it is the left that has failed. It has accepted the social and economic arguments of the right and contented itself with suggesting minor variations on the same theme. Activists on the left need to re-gather their strength and more forcefully put forward a better alternative.

Damntheral -> roachclip , 11 Jun 2013 09:40
@roachclip - The fact that you refer to "neoliberalism" as "they" in a comment below speaks volumes about the mental fog behind that term.
Eddiel899 -> retarius , 11 Jun 2013 09:34
@retarius - Any government is only as good as the human rights it upholds.

Neoliberalism is the final stage of liberal democracy which has been around for 60-70 years, the most destructive form of government the world has ever seen, based on deregulation for the wealthy oligarchs and debt and debauchery for the poor .............. which is rapidly taking us back to feudal times.

Pagey -> TobyLatimer , 11 Jun 2013 09:33
@TobyLatimer - See also: "hardworking famiies/taxpayers"
OneCommentator , 11 Jun 2013 09:15

This is a view that misunderstands where pleasure and fulfilment in human lives are found. Work is usually – and certainly should be – a central source of meaning and fulfilment in human lives.

Wishful and naive thinking. Most work is very unfulfilling and even in cases where it is meaningful the day to day grind and intensity required by a job is making it a chore. There are very few people who have a job that is really a pleasure. There are many people though who have empty lives and were brainwashed into believing that their job is the most important part of their existence.
Barry1858 -> gyges1 , 11 Jun 2013 09:05
@gyges1 - " This is playground level debating. You are just saying the meaning you give to words is to be preferred to that of your opponents."

Ah, I see the problem - a narrow mind with a broad-brush tendency.

I prescribe a course of Orwell, Start, perhaps, with short stories...... Politics and the English Language, Why I Write, Notes on Nationalism, for example. And then a full dose of Nineteen Eighty-Four. That should do the trick!

natedogg -> RClayton , 11 Jun 2013 09:01
@RClayton - But if we start to think about work differently - which then gets its expression with the words we use - maybe it can change. Your Bangladeshi example is interesting because it assumes they need to work in that way to exist. Should we not try and change the system so a Bangladeshi can harness his or her creativity to connect their creative ideas to a global market and earn money in this way, rather than selling their physical labour to connect someone else's t-shirt to a global market?
MartynInEurope , 11 Jun 2013 08:48
Good grief, how many more times will Adorno be plagiarised?
bongoid , 11 Jun 2013 08:38
It's not just vocabulary, its demeanor, etiquette and peoples entire self perception that has been usurped by the skewed modern logic of markets and the service industry.

People are preempting the technological singularity by rendering themselves robotic in a quite tragic struggle to perpetually remain relevant and employable in the form that the whims of the dictatorship of the market see fit to determine.

Some nationalities even have an intrinsic advantage, their national character tending rather to the robotic from the outset. What remains of human expression, of impulsivity, of spontaneity, of charisma, of originality is up for question, but the paucity of modern life, of human expression and interaction, will increase in direct relation to the increases in efficiency and productivity that will be demanded of citizens. And this despite the fact that we are suffering under the weight of massive over production, and the excessive demand on resources that this entails.

Nothing has been learnt from the crash of 2008 beyond "get rich even quicker", or as its more commonly known, economic and ecological suicide.

BobJanova -> BaronessHawHaw , 11 Jun 2013 08:37
@BaronessHawHaw - Working class pride in their jobs came from being highly skilled – for example riveting in shipyards was difficult and you really were adding value there, so was assembling a car and so on. Also, didn't most of their 'meaning and fulfilment' come from the community, not really the work they were doing, except in so far as most of the people in the community would be doing the same work so it gave them something to talk about?

I've never heard a modern person saying how much any of the jobs I listed give them meaning or fulfilment. The kind of jobs that gave working class people a meaningful identity have pretty much all gone.

Giggidy -> BaronessHawHaw , 11 Jun 2013 08:30
@BaronessHawHaw - most? You are kidding right?

Just looking at the Governments of Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary as an example seems to indicate centrist and centre-right parties in power.

Venebles -> BaronessHawHaw , 11 Jun 2013 08:25
@ BaronessHawHaw

Most want socialism back. Socialism with the freedom to travel and the ability to buy a nice pair of jeans to look cool in.

May I suggest that you look up the meaning of the word "patronising"?

Giggidy -> Sidfishes , 11 Jun 2013 08:24
@Sidfishes - does your FE College pay tax, then?

As I'm reading the annual report of my old sixth form college - which also operate adult learning courses - and they're an exempt charity and therefore not liable for corporation tax. They have an operating surplus (read: profit) on which no tax is paid, quite unlike a private sector company.

[Nov 26, 2018] Neoliberalism has hijacked our vocabulary by Doreen Massey

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is bankrupt, it isn't even a philiosophy its simple social nihilism. The proof is in the get rich quick, or short term profit mentality of those at the top. Get rich quick is tantamount to jumping the ship, its the economic equivalent of deserting a sinking vessel. Until people recognise the destructive cynical nature of the current economic philosophy and cast out those that are steering the ship, we are all doomed. ..."
"... Strange then, that you can buy a book called: "Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics. By Daniel Stedman Jones. Princeton University Press". ..."
"... What were Friedrich Heyek and Milton Friedman: lollypop salesmen? ..."
"... Well it could be argued that postmodernism is the necessary condition for neoliberalism. ..."
Jun 11, 2013 | www.theguardian.com

'Customer'; 'growth'; 'investment'. We should scrutinise the everyday language that shapes how we think about the economy

'We need to question that familiar categorisation of the economy as a space into which people enter in order to reluctantly undertake unwelcome and unpleasing "work''.'

A t a recent art exhibition I engaged in an interesting conversation with one of the young people employed by the gallery. As she turned to walk off I saw she had on the back of her T-shirt "customer liaison". I felt flat. Our whole conversation seemed somehow reduced, my experience of it belittled into one of commercial transaction. My relation to the gallery and to this engaging person had become one of instrumental market exchange.

The message underlying this use of the term customer for so many different kinds of human activity is that in all almost all our daily activities we are operating as consumers in a market – and this truth has been brought in not by chance but through managerial instruction and the thoroughgoing renaming of institutional practices. The mandatory exercise of "free choice" – of a GP, of a hospital, of schools for one's children – then becomes also a lesson in social identity, affirming on each occasion our consumer identity.

This is a crucial part of the way that neoliberalism has become part of our commonsense understanding of life. The vocabulary we use to talk about the economy is in fact a political construction, as Stuart Hall, Michael Rustin and I have argued in our Soundings manifesto .

Another word that reinforces neoliberal common sense is "growth", currently deemed to be the entire aim of our economy. To produce growth and then (maybe) to redistribute some of it, has been a goal shared by both neoliberalism and social democracy. In its crudest formulation this entails providing the conditions for the market sector to produce growth, and accepting that this will result in inequality, and then relying on the redistribution of some portion of this growth to help repair the inequality that has resulted from its production.

This of course does nothing to question the inequality-producing mechanisms of market exchange itself, and it has also meant that the main lines of struggle have too often been focused solely on distributional issues. What's more, today we are living with a backlash to even the limited redistributional gains made by labour under social democracy. In spite of all this, growth is still seen as providing the solution to our problems.

The second reason our current notion of wealth creation, and our commitment to its growth, must be questioned is to do with our relationship with the planet. The environmental damage brought about by the pursuit of growth threatens to cause a catastrophe of which we are already witnessing intimations. And a third – and perhaps most important – defect of this approach is that increased wealth, especially as measured in the standard monetary terms of today, has few actual consequences for people's feelings of wellbeing once there is a sufficiency to meet basic needs, as there is in Britain. In pursuing "growth" in these terms, as a means to realise people's life goals and desires, economies are pursuing a chimera.

Instead of an unrelenting quest for growth, might we not ask the question, in the end: "What is an economy for?", "What do we want it to provide?"

Our current imaginings endow the market and its associated forms with a special status. We think of "the economy" in terms of natural forces, into which we occasionally intervene, rather than in terms of a whole variety of social relations that need some kind of co-ordination.

Thus "work", for example, is understood in a very narrow and instrumental way. Where only transactions for money are recognised as belonging to "the economy", the vast amount of unpaid labour – as conducted for instance in families and local areas – goes uncounted and unvalued. We need to question that familiar categorisation of the economy as a space into which people enter in order to reluctantly undertake unwelcome and unpleasing "work", in return for material rewards which they can use for consuming.

This is a view that misunderstands where pleasure and fulfilment in human lives are found. Work is usually – and certainly should be – a central source of meaning and fulfilment in human lives. And it has – or could have – moral and creative (or aesthetic) values at its core. A rethinking of work could lead us to address more creatively both the social relations of work and the division of labour within society (including a better sharing of the tedious work, and of the skills).

There are loads of other examples of rarely scrutinised terms in our economic vocabulary, for instance that bundle of terms clustered around investment and expenditure – terms that carry with them implicit moral connotations. Investment implies an action, even a sacrifice, undertaken for a better future. It evokes a future positive outcome. Expenditure, on the other hand, seems merely an outgoing, a cost, a burden.

Above all, we need to bring economic vocabulary back into political contention, and to question the very way we think about the economy in the first place. For something new to be imagined, let alone to be born, our current economic "common sense" needs to be challenged root and branch.

• Doreen Massey will be discussing Vocabularies of the Economy at a Soundings seminar on 13 June, 6.30-8.30pm, at the Marx Memorial Library, London. More information sally@lwbooks.co.uk


KingOfNothing -> Yorkied24 , 12 Jun 2013 13:06

@Yorkied24 - Well, I just don't accept that. I agree that monetarism is a major part of Friedman's legacy (as incorporated into neo-liberal doctrine). But, neo-liberalism is what is says on the tin. It is a 'new' version of the liberalist free trade agenda of the past, modified to take into account the welfare state.

I guess what I'm most interested in is how you can disentangle and separate politics from economics, since they are two sides of the same coin (where does 'science' fit in, by the way).

Eddiel899 , 12 Jun 2013 12:12
it seems that the political side of Neo-liberalism (or liberal democracy) has come up with a new definition of the word "Catholic".

The Irish Prime-minster stated with a straight face in the Irish parliament today ........ that he is a "Catholic" outside parliament but when he enters parliament he is not a "Catholic"........ in relation to a bill allowing for abortion to be legalized in Ireland.

Ronpert -> NeverMindTheBollocks , 12 Jun 2013 07:22
@NeverMindTheBollocks - when you criticise the author of "nonsensical thinking", this suggests to me that you are uncomfortable with ideas that question "common sense". Rather than engaging with the arguments, you are simply dismissing them as somebody's arbitrary opinion. You seem to be suggesting that Massey is forcing her opinion on you - but surely, like any good academic, she is really asking critical questions, rather than providing answers and solutions. That's what academia is for. Why does that seem to make you so angry?
MagicRusski , 11 Jun 2013 19:44
Add "development" to that list.
bongoid -> Pumplechook , 11 Jun 2013 19:24
@Pumplechook - Enterprise culture is a fine emboldening phrase to describe the sinking of society casting citizens adrift with nothing but what nature gave them to keep them afloat. Some might suggest we need to concentrate on mono platform non deliverables going backwards. Or on a fleet of very cheap rubber dinghies.
Pumplechook , 11 Jun 2013 18:48
Ms Massey clearly fails to see importance of remaining customer/client-focused in our modern enterprise culture. It is crucial in terms of achieving outcomes-based win-win solutions, as well as assisting in the interation of leading-edge opportunities and leveraging cross-platform deliverables going forward.
Yorkied24 -> KingOfNothing , 11 Jun 2013 17:44
@KingOfNothing - No, what I said was that neoliberalism is not an economic theory. For a start, Milton Friedman's work has its own name in economics, which is monetarism. Neoliberalism is a made up political word only used by those who are more interested in politics and rhetoric than economics and science.
bongoid , 11 Jun 2013 17:08
Neoliberalism is bankrupt, it isn't even a philiosophy its simple social nihilism. The proof is in the get rich quick, or short term profit mentality of those at the top. Get rich quick is tantamount to jumping the ship, its the economic equivalent of deserting a sinking vessel. Until people recognise the destructive cynical nature of the current economic philosophy and cast out those that are steering the ship, we are all doomed.
darylrevok -> bill4me , 11 Jun 2013 17:02
@bill4me - 'Sweet smell of success'?
No, it's just that your shit-detector is so absent or degraded that you can no longer smell the stink of 'filthy lucre'.
bongoid -> Yorkied24 , 11 Jun 2013 16:59
@Yorkied24 - I disagree. There is only one writer that deserves volleys of ad hominem attacks and cheap insults and thats Julie Burchill. I know she's about as relevant as a horse drawn carriage but nevertheless I think we need to keep criticism of journalists in proportion.
maxfisher -> bill4me , 11 Jun 2013 16:07
@bill4me - The US under the aegis of freedom and capitalism sponsored paramilitary regimes in Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Chile and Argentina. Not to mention Greece and Iran. It continues to sponsor repressive regimes in the middle east and is about to make peace with the Taliban.

You mistake capitalism as it exists in theory, or in your head with 'actually existing capitalism' which is often red in tooth and claw. The bloody history of the 20th century (particularly world war one, without which no world war two) was in many ways a consequence of imperialism which was a consequence of capitalism.

Theories are all very well, but they run into problems called people. This applies equally to Marx, Smith and Hayek.

MartynInEurope -> maxfisher , 11 Jun 2013 16:05
@maxfisher -

True.

ascania -> bongoid , 11 Jun 2013 16:01
@bongoid - I'd like to see the second sentence of your comment engraved above a University Sociology Department office. Quite brilliant!
maxfisher -> Yorkied24 , 11 Jun 2013 15:57
@Yorkied24 - But they don't do they? They don't engage in cowardly and anonymous ad hominem attacks. They are professional journalists. The Guardian pays them to write articles. They then put their name to said articles. It's a transparent process. They are infinitely better than people who anonymously insult them without engaging in debate.
maxfisher -> bill4me , 11 Jun 2013 15:40
@bill4me - No, but it rather skews the data doesn't it? The Soviet Union lifted more people out of extreme poverty than perhaps any society before or since. But I wouldn't advocate Stalinism. I'm sure Pinochet's supporters could point to a growth in prosperity during his reign, but I shouldn't imagine many Chileans would favour a return to authoritarian rule.

Headline date is often meaningless, for example George Osborne may be able to argue that more people are employed than ever before, whilst the opposition may be able to argue that more people are unemployed than ever before. Bo

Both statements my be true, but what do they tell us in isolation?

Does it not occur to you that appalling governance may be a consequence of the form capitalism takes right now?

Yorkied24 -> maxfisher , 11 Jun 2013 15:40
@maxfisher - Most of them aren't ad homs. They're just insults.

And the pair of them deserve it. They're embarrassing enough for all of us.

Yorkied24 -> KingOfNothing , 11 Jun 2013 15:25
@KingOfNothing - Oh, and no, it's not difficult to attack at all - you just attack something that exists. Like capitalism.

Keynes has already done the work for you. You're crying about nothing.

Yorkied24 -> KingOfNothing , 11 Jun 2013 15:24
@KingOfNothing -

Strange then, that you can buy a book called: "Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics. By Daniel Stedman Jones. Princeton University Press".

What were Friedrich Heyek and Milton Friedman: lollypop salesmen?

So, someone writes a book calling two economists 'neoliberals', so that makes it so? By that argument, it also calls them Masters of the Universe, so they're fucking He-Man too.

Is this how logic works in your world?

maxfisher -> bill4me , 11 Jun 2013 15:09
@bill4me -

If you think capitalism is all winners and no losers you're either tremendously naive or a bit thick.

I wouldn't rely on headline figures on Wikipedia to support your argument. Drill down a little, find the data, look at individual countries, see what type of regimes operate in said countries. And imagine, for a second, that the stats are meaningful, then imagine what responsible capitalism could achieve.

maxfisher -> Justthefactsman , 11 Jun 2013 14:40
@Justthefactsman - Slightly off topic, but I hanker for obliged rather than obligated. Also, most of the time I just feel ok, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Fair to middlin' you might say. I seldom feel awesome.
maxfisher -> natedogg , 11 Jun 2013 14:34
@natedogg - Of course. Francis Fukuyama told us so in the 80s. Oh....
maxfisher -> MartynInEurope , 11 Jun 2013 14:33
@MartynInEurope - Well it could be argued that postmodernism is the necessary condition for neoliberalism.
maxfisher -> Damntheral , 11 Jun 2013 14:29
@Damntheral - No, it means this:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/rsw/research_centres/theory/conf/rg/harvey_a_brief_history_of_neoliberalism.pdf

Go on, read it. Then come back to me.

JTStone -> TheRealCmdrGravy , 11 Jun 2013 14:27
@TheRealCmdrGravy -

No definition from you regarding the word neo-liberal though so all in all not a very helpful or insightful post. Disappointing.

It's sometimes worth having a debate about what particular words mean, but all debate rests on certain presumptions, a foundation on which the argument is built, and in this case, Massey counts on her audience sharing her understanding of the term 'neoliberal', which many of us do. Anyone who doesn't can very easily look it up online and quickly find a definition which sits well with Massey's points.

Your and others' approach to rejecting her argument is ungracious cavilling. It's easy to do this in response to any argument, and make no mistake - anyone with intelligence and an open mind can recognise it very clearly.

darylrevok -> Ken Terry , 11 Jun 2013 14:01
@Ken Terry - Chomsky is right, ("The Manufacturing of Consent") 'At the head of it is the Military\Industrial Complex, coining the euphemisms of war to make the unthinkable palatable.

On a localised scale, consider the Coalition who have done a similar job on the word, "Reform". If you look at history's most accurate and honorific incidences of political and parliamentary Reform look at the two Reform Acts which extended the franchise to adult male suffrage, 1832 and 1867, under Peel and Disraeli, Tories FFS, opposed to the Liberal's merciless free market obsessions.

What is "reforming" about stripping poor, ill and vulnerable people of their material support?

Pure Deformation.

I'm not a Tory, (Lifelong Socialist) but I think it's important to reconnect the Conservative Party with some of its avowed traditional self-definitions. "Maintaining continuity with past institutions, and a 'gradualism', if change is necessary." (Henry Cecil, I think).

Where has been the 'gradualism' in this Govt's' sudden and relentless pace of forcing change on the mass of its people by Bill after Bill restricting our aspirations and well-being?

We are governed by political liars who see this state of affairs as a triumph for their expertise. Any criticism is dismissed as not being able to accept the world 'as it is.'

maxfisher -> Giggidy , 11 Jun 2013 14:00
@Giggidy - You've got it. Except that you haven't. 'Trickle up' would be more accurate though a little illogical: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/10/truth-richard-branson-virgin-rail-profits
r0ssa -> Giggidy , 11 Jun 2013 13:55
@Giggidy -

The irony, of course, is that neoliberalism has *always* been coupled by high state spending. I know they say different, but that doesn't make it a reality. Stop showing your ignorance of the subject and go and delve in to some of the vast literature on the subject.

r0ssa -> joseph1832 , 11 Jun 2013 13:50
@joseph1832 - I think this misses the point though. You're trying to claim there can be words that are neutral, a language without a political dimension. This is besides the point, it's certainly not feasible in a society constructed as it is now.

The real point is that language is itself a field of struggle. It's a terrain on which neoliberalism must be fought. In doing so we need not pretend to be doing anything less than entering a political fight. In combating neoliberalism no claim to be 'neutral' is necessary, that would be precisely to do what it does from the opposite direction - claim universality, eternalisation etc. The left does need to assert interrogate the language of neoliberalism and assert its own. Not becuase this is less political (I think "manipulation" is too strong a word here, the matter is somewhat more complex than that) but becuase it can offer a better future.

maxfisher -> DemocracyNever , 11 Jun 2013 13:45
@DemocracyNever - I should think the first two responses illustrate how and why debate is increasingly meaningless. Neither of you engage with the argument or posit an alternative; hence no debate.

That debate should be meaningful is given, that it should be an art form is, frankly, silly.

Ken Terry , 11 Jun 2013 13:34
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."
Noam Chomsky

[Nov 25, 2018] The Neoliberal World is a Vicious Place by Sandwichman

Notable quotes:
"... The world is a vicious place -- that is utterly dependent on oil and other fossil fuels, and will be until civilization finally collapses. ..."
Nov 23, 2018 | angrybearblog.com
The world according to Trump -- notice a trend here?

Reporter: "Who should be held accountable?" [for Jamal Khashoggi's murder]

Trump: "Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place. " -- November 22, 2018.

2007:

2018:

Karl Kolchak , November 23, 2018 8:54 pm

The world is a vicious place -- that is utterly dependent on oil and other fossil fuels, and will be until civilization finally collapses.

ilsm , November 24, 2018 7:19 am

Newly posted DNC democrat Bill Kristol thinks regime change in China a worthwhile endeavor.

The "world is a vicious place" designed, set up, held together, secured by the capitalist "post WW II world order" paid for by the US taxpayer and bonds bought by arms dealers and their financiers.

The tail wagging the attack dog being a Jerusalem-Medina axis straddling Hormuz and Malacca .

An inept princely heir apparent assassin is far better than Rouhani in a "vicious place".

While Xi moves ahead.

[Nov 22, 2018] Neoliberalism claw back Brazil

Nov 22, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Warren November 14, 2018 at 10:09 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/abRukx0Y1GY

TheRealNews
Published on 14 Nov 2018
The latest revelation about Brazil's slow motion coup, designed to ensure that the center-left remains out of power and the far-right takes control, involves a general who admitted that he threatened the Supreme Court so it would imprison presidential front-runner Lula da Silva. We discuss the development with Brian Mier

[Nov 08, 2018] Imperialism and the State: Why McDonald s Needs McDonnell Douglas by Paul D'Amato

Notable quotes:
"... But the state as a bureaucratic institution had another, more fundamental function. Lenin, citing Engels, defined the essence of the state as "bodies of armed men, prisons, etc.," in short, an instrument for the maintenance of the rule of the exploiting minority over the exploited majority. ..."
"... As capitalism burst the bounds of the nation-state, the coercive military function of the state took on a new dimension -- that of protecting (and projecting) the interests of the capitalists of one country over those of another. As capitalism developed, the role of the state increased, the size of the state bureaucracy increased, and the size of its coercive apparatus increased. ..."
"... The forces of production which capitalism has evolved have outgrown the limits of nation and state. The national state, the present political form, is too narrow for the exploitation of these productive forces. The natural tendency of our economic system, therefore, is to seek to break through the state boundaries ..."
"... But the way the governments propose to solve this problem of imperialism is not through the intelligent, organized cooperation of all of humanity's producers, but through the exploitation of the world's economic system by the capitalist class of the victorious country ..."
Nov 08, 2018 | www.isreview.org

http://www.isreview.org/issues/17/state_and_imperialism.shtml

Excerpt:

The modern nation-state was necessary as a means of creating a single, unified market that could facilitate commerce. But the state was also crucial in providing necessary infrastructure, and sometimes the pooling of capital resources, necessary for national capitalists to operate and compete effectively.

But the state as a bureaucratic institution had another, more fundamental function. Lenin, citing Engels, defined the essence of the state as "bodies of armed men, prisons, etc.," in short, an instrument for the maintenance of the rule of the exploiting minority over the exploited majority.

As capitalism burst the bounds of the nation-state, the coercive military function of the state took on a new dimension -- that of protecting (and projecting) the interests of the capitalists of one country over those of another. As capitalism developed, the role of the state increased, the size of the state bureaucracy increased, and the size of its coercive apparatus increased.

Lenin was soon to refine this conception in light of the world's descent into the mass slaughter of the First World War. He argued that capitalism had reached a new stage--imperialism--the struggle between the world's "great powers" for world dominance. The central feature of imperialism was the rivarly between the great powers--whose economic competition gave way to military conflict.

Another Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, put it this way:

The forces of production which capitalism has evolved have outgrown the limits of nation and state. The national state, the present political form, is too narrow for the exploitation of these productive forces. The natural tendency of our economic system, therefore, is to seek to break through the state boundaries . The whole globe, the land and the sea, the surface as well as the interior, has become one economic workshop, the different parts of which are inseparably connected with each other. This work was accomplished by capitalism. But in accomplishing it the capitalist states were led to struggle for the subjection of the world-embracing economic system to the profit interests of the bourgeoisie of each country...

But the way the governments propose to solve this problem of imperialism is not through the intelligent, organized cooperation of all of humanity's producers, but through the exploitation of the world's economic system by the capitalist class of the victorious country; which country is by this War to be transformed from a great power into a world power.5

[Oct 25, 2018] Has America Become A Dictatorship Disguised As A Democracy

Dictatorship disguised as democracy is the essence of Trotskyism
Oct 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

"The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human rights are nonexistent. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests with the annihilation of consciousness. We have been lulled into a trance. They have made us indifferent to ourselves, to others. We are focused only on our own gain." -- They Live , John Carpenter

We're living in two worlds, you and I.

There's the world we see (or are made to see) and then there's the one we sense (and occasionally catch a glimpse of), the latter of which is a far cry from the propaganda-driven reality manufactured by the government and its corporate sponsors, including the media.

Indeed, what most Americans perceive as life in America - privileged, progressive and free - is a far cry from reality, where economic inequality is growing, real agendas and real power are buried beneath layers of Orwellian doublespeak and corporate obfuscation, and "freedom," such that it is, is meted out in small, legalistic doses by militarized police armed to the teeth.

All is not as it seems.

"You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they're people just like you. You're wrong. Dead wrong."

This is the premise of John Carpenter's film They Live , which was released 30 years ago in November 1988 and remains unnervingly, chillingly appropriate for our modern age.

Best known for his horror film Halloween , which assumes that there is a form of evil so dark that it can't be killed, Carpenter's larger body of work is infused with a strong anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, laconic bent that speaks to the filmmaker's concerns about the unraveling of our society, particularly our government.

Time and again, Carpenter portrays the government working against its own citizens, a populace out of touch with reality , technology run amok, and a future more horrific than any horror film.

In Escape from New York , Carpenter presents fascism as the future of America.

In The Thing , a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic of the same name, Carpenter presupposes that increasingly we are all becoming dehumanized.

In Christine , the film adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a demon-possessed car, technology exhibits a will and consciousness of its own and goes on a murderous rampage.

In In the Mouth of Madness , Carpenter notes that evil grows when people lose "the ability to know the difference between reality and fantasy."

And then there is Carpenter's They Live , in which two migrant workers discover that the world is not as it seems. In fact, the population is actually being controlled and exploited by aliens working in partnership with an oligarchic elite. All the while, the populace -- blissfully unaware of the real agenda at work in their lives -- has been lulled into complacency, indoctrinated into compliance, bombarded with media distractions, and hypnotized by subliminal messages beamed out of television and various electronic devices, billboards and the like.

It is only when homeless drifter John Nada (played to the hilt by the late Roddy Piper ) discovers a pair of doctored sunglasses -- Hoffman lenses -- that Nada sees what lies beneath the elite's fabricated reality: control and bondage.

When viewed through the lens of truth, the elite, who appear human until stripped of their disguises, are shown to be monsters who have enslaved the citizenry in order to prey on them.

Likewise, billboards blare out hidden, authoritative messages : a bikini-clad woman in one ad is actually ordering viewers to "MARRY AND REPRODUCE." Magazine racks scream "CONSUME" and "OBEY." A wad of dollar bills in a vendor's hand proclaims, "THIS IS YOUR GOD."

When viewed through Nada's Hoffman lenses, some of the other hidden messages being drummed into the people's subconscious include: NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT, CONFORM, SUBMIT, STAY ASLEEP, BUY, WATCH TV, NO IMAGINATION, and DO NOT QUESTION AUTHORITY.

This indoctrination campaign engineered by the elite in They Live is painfully familiar to anyone who has studied the decline of American culture.

A citizenry that does not think for themselves, obeys without question, is submissive, does not challenge authority, does not think outside the box, and is content to sit back and be entertained is a citizenry that can be easily controlled.

In this way, the subtle message of They Live provides an apt analogy of our own distorted vision of life in the American police state, what philosopher Slavoj Žižek refers to as dictatorship in democracy , "the invisible order which sustains your apparent freedom."

We're being fed a series of carefully contrived fictions that bear no resemblance to reality.

The powers-that-be want us to feel threatened by forces beyond our control (terrorists, shooters , bombers ).

They want us afraid and dependent on the government and its militarized armies for our safety and well-being.

They want us distrustful of each other, divided by our prejudices, and at each other's throats.

Most of all, they want us to continue to march in lockstep with their dictates.

Tune out the government's attempts to distract, divert and befuddle us and tune into what's really going on in this country, and you'll run headlong into an unmistakable, unpalatable truth: the moneyed elite who rule us view us as expendable resources to be used, abused and discarded.

In fact, a study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern University concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens . Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called "economic elite." Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by this governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups.

In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism -- a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere subjects to be controlled.

Not only do you have to be rich -- or beholden to the rich -- to get elected these days, but getting elected is also a surefire way to get rich . As CBS News reports, "Once in office, members of Congress enjoy access to connections and information they can use to increase their wealth, in ways that are unparalleled in the private sector. And once politicians leave office, their connections allow them to profit even further."

In denouncing this blatant corruption of America's political system, former president Jimmy Carter blasted the process of getting elected -- to the White House, governor's mansion, Congress or state legislatures -- as " unlimited political bribery a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over."

Rest assured that when and if fascism finally takes hold in America, the basic forms of government will remain: Fascism will appear to be friendly. The legislators will be in session. There will be elections, and the news media will continue to cover the entertainment and political trivia. Consent of the governed, however, will no longer apply. Actual control will have finally passed to the oligarchic elite controlling the government behind the scenes.

Sound familiar?

Clearly, we are now ruled by an oligarchic elite of governmental and corporate interests.

We have moved into "corporatism" ( favored by Benito Mussolini ), which is a halfway point on the road to full-blown fascism.

Corporatism is where the few moneyed interests -- not elected by the citizenry -- rule over the many. In this way, it is not a democracy or a republican form of government, which is what the American government was established to be. It is a top-down form of government and one which has a terrifying history typified by the developments that occurred in totalitarian regimes of the past: police states where everyone is watched and spied on, rounded up for minor infractions by government agents, placed under police control, and placed in detention (a.k.a. concentration) camps.

For the final hammer of fascism to fall, it will require the most crucial ingredient: the majority of the people will have to agree that it's not only expedient but necessary.

But why would a people agree to such an oppressive regime?

The answer is the same in every age: fear.

Fear makes people stupid .

Fear is the method most often used by politicians to increase the power of government. And, as most social commentators recognize, an atmosphere of fear permeates modern America: fear of terrorism, fear of the police, fear of our neighbors and so on.

The propaganda of fear has been used quite effectively by those who want to gain control, and it is working on the American populace.

Despite the fact that we are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack; 11,000 times more likely to die from an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane; 1,048 times more likely to die from a car accident than a terrorist attack, and 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist , we have handed over control of our lives to government officials who treat us as a means to an end -- the source of money and power.

As the Bearded Man in They Live warns , "They are dismantling the sleeping middle class. More and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred for slavery."

In this regard, we're not so different from the oppressed citizens in They Live .

From the moment we are born until we die, we are indoctrinated into believing that those who rule us do it for our own good. The truth is far different.

Despite the truth staring us in the face, we have allowed ourselves to become fearful, controlled, pacified zombies.

We live in a perpetual state of denial, insulated from the painful reality of the American police state by wall-to-wall entertainment news and screen devices.

Most everyone keeps their heads down these days while staring zombie-like into an electronic screen, even when they're crossing the street. Families sit in restaurants with their heads down, separated by their screen devices and unaware of what's going on around them. Young people especially seem dominated by the devices they hold in their hands, oblivious to the fact that they can simply push a button, turn the thing off and walk away.

Indeed, there is no larger group activity than that connected with those who watch screens -- that is, television, lap tops, personal computers, cell phones and so on. In fact, a Nielsen study reports that American screen viewing is at an all-time high. For example, the average American watches approximately 151 hours of television per month .

The question, of course, is what effect does such screen consumption have on one's mind?

Psychologically it is similar to drug addiction . Researchers found that "almost immediately after turning on the TV, subjects reported feeling more relaxed , and because this occurs so quickly and the tension returns so rapidly after the TV is turned off, people are conditioned to associate TV viewing with a lack of tension." Research also shows that regardless of the programming, viewers' brain waves slow down, thus transforming them into a more passive, nonresistant state.

Historically, television has been used by those in authority to quiet discontent and pacify disruptive people. "Faced with severe overcrowding and limited budgets for rehabilitation and counseling, more and more prison officials are using TV to keep inmates quiet ," according to Newsweek .

Given that the majority of what Americans watch on television is provided through channels controlled by six mega corporations , what we watch is now controlled by a corporate elite and, if that elite needs to foster a particular viewpoint or pacify its viewers, it can do so on a large scale.

If we're watching, we're not doing.

The powers-that-be understand this. As television journalist Edward R. Murrow warned in a 1958 speech:

We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent . We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

This brings me back to They Live , in which the real zombies are not the aliens calling the shots but the populace who are content to remain controlled.

When all is said and done, the world of They Live is not so different from our own.

We, too, are focused only on our own pleasures, prejudices and gains. Our poor and underclasses are also growing. Racial injustice is growing. Human rights is nearly nonexistent. We too have been lulled into a trance, indifferent to others.

Oblivious to what lies ahead, we've been manipulated into believing that if we continue to consume, obey, and have faith, things will work out. But that's never been true of emerging regimes. And by the time we feel the hammer coming down upon us, it will be too late.

So where does that leave us?

The characters who populate Carpenter's films provide some insight.

Underneath their machismo, they still believe in the ideals of liberty and equal opportunity. Their beliefs place them in constant opposition with the law and the establishment, but they are nonetheless freedom fighters.

When, for example, John Nada destroys the alien hyno-transmitter in They Live , he restores hope by delivering America a wake-up call for freedom.

That's the key right there: we need to wake up.

Stop allowing yourselves to be easily distracted by pointless political spectacles and pay attention to what's really going on in the country.

The real battle for control of this nation is not being waged between Republicans and Democrats in the ballot box.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , the real battle for control of this nation is taking place on roadsides, in police cars, on witness stands, over phone lines, in government offices, in corporate offices, in public school hallways and classrooms, in parks and city council meetings, and in towns and cities across this country.

The real battle between freedom and tyranny is taking place right in front of our eyes, if we would only open them.

All the trappings of the American police state are now in plain sight.

Wake up, America.

If they live (the tyrants, the oppressors, the invaders, the overlords), it is only because "we the people" sleep.


ExpatNL , 38 minutes ago link

All politics is local

Probably the closet to real democracy is your city or village council and that also is full of corruption

Utopia Planitia , 49 minutes ago link

"Has America Become A Dictatorship Disguised As A Democracy?"

Thanks to alternative media the answer is NO. It is important to note, however, that The left, the Drive-By Media (MSM), and some corporations think we are now a dictatorship - and they are the dictators. On a daily basis you see them spewing and sputtering and spinning in circles claiming that we are a dictatorship and THEY are in charge! Sorry fuckwads - ain't gonna happen.

Golden Showers , 56 minutes ago link

Eight O'Clock in the Morning by Ray Faraday Nelson: https://metadave.wordpress.com/2007/07/15/eight-oclock-in-the-morning/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Nelson

This story from 1963 has something we instantly recognize in the bullshittery of David Icke of this decade.

George is a name that means "farmer" So George Nada is farmer of nothing. Radell Faraday Nelson knew an interesting lot of folks, many of whom including Burroughs were... what? From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S._Burroughs

" Burroughs was born in 1914, the younger of two sons born to Mortimer Perry Burroughs (June 16, 1885 – January 5, 1965) and Laura Hammon Lee (August 5, 1888 – October 20, 1970). His was a prominent family of English ancestry in St. Louis, Missouri . His grandfather, William Seward Burroughs I , founded the Burroughs Adding Machine company, which evolved into the Burroughs Corporation . Burroughs' mother was the daughter of a minister whose family claimed to be closely related to Robert E. Lee . His maternal uncle, Ivy Lee , was an advertising pioneer later employed as a publicist for the Rockefellers. His father ran an antique and gift shop, Cobblestone Gardens in St. Louis; and later in Palm Beach, Florida when they relocated."

...Beat poets (right). Starving artists.

Anyway, Carpenter has done some great work. I remember "They Live" from the theater in '88 at 13. That and Die Hard. If you do a close read of this stuff you'll have fun for days. File away Ray dosing LSD with PKD. That must have been awesome! So have at it.

Let me ask you, can one take a half step to waking up? Can one be half pregnant?

platyops , 58 minutes ago link

One of the all time best films I have watched. "They Live" is a really good movie. I have seen it twice in my lifetime and am going to watch it again in a day or two. If you have never seen it then you are in for a real treat. It is truly a film worth watching.

Keep Stacking!

He–Mene Mox Mox , 1 hour ago link

Sheep and people who can't think for themselves love dictators. They have a need for someone they can look up to for "leadership" and to be "herded".

And, bye the way, let's set this article straight. America was never a "Democracy". America, since the beginning, has been controlled by the elites, or the "Oligarchy". John Adams once said, "if the majority were given real power, they would redistribute wealth and dissolve the subordination so necessary for politics". The founding fathers were very much like the vast majority of European Enlightenment thinkers and against Democracy.. From their lofty perspective, they understood it to be a dangerous and chaotic form of uneducated mob rule. The Founding Fathers felt the masses were not only incapable of ruling, but they were considered a threat to the hierarchical social structures necessary for good governance.

So, the U.S. was formed as a "Republic", by devising a written constitution, which defined to the masses, how the oligarchy would herd them, and toss them a few bread crumbs called the "Bill of Rights", so the masses would feel assured of some respect and dignity and would comply. (Yet, they allowed slavery and indentured-servitude to exist). America is still ruled by an Oligarchy today, yet most Americans don't seem to know any better.(Perhaps the elites were right about the masses being uneducated)? Even George Mason, a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 described America as "a despotic aristocracy." Not much has changed in the way Americans are governed in past 231 years. After all, who leads our country today, but a dictatorial aristocratic billionaire. Again, Sheep like to be herded because they don't know any better..

Scipio Africanuz , 1 hour ago link

It's much worse than that Mr. Whitehead, much worse! We're at the begining stages of a cathartic transformation that'll either wither the USA for good, or provide the impetus for deep-seated change. For decades, we struggled to slow down the march of tyranny, and while we may say we succeeded to an extent, it wasn't enough.

There was too much general ignorance, too much complacency, apathy, and freeloading to make the efforts bear significant fruits, and just now, the last shoe has dropped thus, the fundamental right that pillars all fundamental rights, the right to speech according to an individual's preference, has just been stealthily abrogated, in the guise of preventing election meddling, whatever that means.

Now, Americans are free to allow the US government to do with them as it wishes, the rest of the world however, are not bound by that choice therefore, if we may advise the ROW (Rest of World), it's time to inoculate, and quarantine yourselves against the virus that's infected the USA.

It is glaring now, nothing anyone can do to halt the arrival of the accountant, absolutely nothing. The best we can do, is advise the patriots to quarantine themselves, the Republic cannot be restored just yet, and we don't know what it'll take, or when it'll happen but this much we know, the time has come for the calibration of the USA.

Folks will scoff as usual, and that's not our concern, we are no longer allowed to be involved actively, we'll pray for folks though, and hope they find the strength to persevere, other than that, nothing else we can do, cause now, it really doesn't matter anymore, who rules, or governs the US, it doesn't..

So now, we'll observe, and assist the faithful to grow in strength, prestige, and wealth, they at least, understand what it's all about.

So to you my friends, vote or don't vote, it's irrelevant, advocate or not, it doesn't matter, the Republicans might win, the Democrats might win, it doesn't matter, and it's not worth caring about anymore. As the spoilt generation engage in their final acts of depravity before they exit, we'll advise you to get out of their way, and observe keenly from a safe distance.

The way to health as usual, goes through the rough valley of deprivation. Now, it's time to concentrate on the healthy, and let the sick heal themselves, and the dead bury the dead, while yet the living live fully.

We thought it was possible to reform the depraved, it wasn't...even we must admit the limits of our efforts, it wasn't enough, oh what a crying shame...

ChaoKrungThep , 1 hour ago link

Not a "slave"? Tell your ******* boss you quit, walk out, burn up your savings, crawl back a beggar. What do you call it?

One of the (very successful) tactics of corporatism (fascism) is to destroy individual inventiveness and entrepreneurship outside the big office. You become a wage slave, afraid to lose a crappy job, in debt because of inadequate wages, bombarded by corporate propaganda. Your kids are turned against you, because the ads say you're mean. You succumb, watch distractions on corporate media that show you that the "others out there" are worse off and trying to steal your stuff (which isn't paid for and is worthless). I dropped out a long time ago. I'm an escaped slave, hiding out, picking up what I can, living in the tropics. When I occasionally go back "home" and see friends who took the bait - hook, line and sinker - I pity them.

One consolation - the corporate captains of industry are also slaves, but their cells are a bit better than yours.

Always been comfortable with Carpenter. His dystopian world view is pretty close to the awful reality of Western life. I live elsewhere.

mabuhay1 , 2 hours ago link

I have been bothered by the changes in society for many years. I lived in many dictatorships and Theocracies, and many of the trappings of those countries have now been installed here in America. It is not just that, but also basic changes in the way people think and act has brought this entire civilization to the brink. The US is not a dictatorship, but it is way more controlled and less free than it was when I was young. Thing is, change is always happening, nothing stands still. Societies age and become weak, eventually falling into dictatorship after the people stop believing in self discipline and self reliance, and start to live off of the gifts of the state. It is the death of a nation, and a society as a whole.

But the entire advanced civilization we currently have is failing, due to the changes in our belief systems. When we began to believe females are just males with different plumbing, we started on the long decline to eventual destruction as a race. Families depend upon real females to exist and thrive, and societies and the entire race depends upon families for survival as a species. We have lost that.

Cheap Chinese Crap , 2 hours ago link

Every society on earth is, or would like to become, a dictatorship disguised as a democracy. No surprise there.

But, alas, foiled again. Damn those visionaries from 1776. If only we could convince the
Americans to be more like the Euro-geldings, we'd be there already.

And now their poisonous ability to say no is starting to spread into the veins of the already cowed and conquered.

Excuse me, I need to go visit my Rage Room.

admin user , 3 hours ago link

latest example: politicos and media decrying the mysterious mailing of bombs by " trump supporters " to the liberal elite as " unamerican " and " not our values " etc

I guess Boeing, Northrup Grumman and the rest of the MIC really hate bombs too, unless they are purchased and deployed under cost plus plus contracts for the pentagon.

USA is droning 'enemy combatants' and 'collateral damage' without regard for the terror that this sows, or should i say, with explicit intent to sow fear.

what a total load of bullshittery this all is...

cheoll , 3 hours ago link

Democracy. NOT. Oligarchy. YES.

Justin Case , 2 hours ago link

Democracy is not simply about elections'.

The worthy Guardians of Democracy have taught us that democracy is about being able to bring down duly elected Governments by conducting espionage, promoting dissent, killing a few popular leaders, funding colour revolutions and various Springs, installing henchmen and boot lickers of their liking so that the Guardian Angels can walk in, turn the countries into piles of rubble, plunder whatever wealth they have so that the Guardians themselves can live a comfortable life – now this is real democracy.

FBaggins , 1 hour ago link

It is not a dictatorship. It is a dicktatorship and run by crooks and murderers. The dicktators are the people who own and control the media, the financial system and the major political parties. Their power comes from their concentration money and information in their exclusive control.

[Oct 22, 2018] Neoliberal US has no concept of solidarity.

Oct 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

somebody , Oct 21, 2018 3:53:21 PM | link

49
Number of people with preexisting conditions

About half of nonelderly Americans have one or more pre-existing health conditions, according to a recent brief by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, that examined the prevalence of conditions that would have resulted in higher rates, condition exclusions, or coverage denials before the ACA. Approximately 130 million nonelderly people have pre-existing conditions nationwide, and, as shown in the table available below, there is an average of more than 300,000 per congressional district. Nationally, the most common pre-existing conditions were high blood pressure (44 million people), behavioral health disorders (45 million people), high cholesterol (44 million people), asthma and chronic lung disease (34 million people), and osteoarthritis and other joint disorders (34 million people).

While people with Medicaid or employer-based plans would remain covered regardless of medical history, the repeal of pre-ex protections means that the millions with pre-existing conditions would face higher rates if they ever needed individual market coverage. The return of pre-ex discrimination would hurt older Americans the most. As noted earlier, while about 51 percent of the nonelderly population had at least one pre-existing condition in 2014, according to the HHS brief, the rate was 75 percent of those ages 45 to 54 and 84 percent among those ages 55 to 64. But even millions of younger people, including 1 in 4 children, would be affected by eliminating this protection.

US has no concept of solidarity.

[Sep 27, 2018] Trump very clearly represents the folks behind the curtain of the Western private finance led "culture"

Notable quotes:
"... Luckily there are still groups of our species that don't live totally controlled by the Western way and the cancer it represents to humanity. They on the outside and "us" on the inside are trying our hardest to shine lights on all the moving parts in hopes that humanity can throw off the shackles of ignorance about private/public finance. ..."
Sep 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Russ , Sep 27, 2018 2:32:41 AM | link

Which is the cohort of voters who allegedly are leaning toward voting Republican in the mid-terms but who allegedly would refrain if Trump accepted Rosenstein's resignation? And which is the cohort not already motivated to turn out to vote Democrat but who allegedly would be motivated by a Rosenstein resignation? Is there real data on these?

I think if I had been a 2016 Trump voter I'd be feeling pretty disappointed about how he's unable to enforce the most basic discipline and loyalty even among his closest administration members, and this Rosenstein episode would be yet another egregious example.

If the Republicans do lose either/both houses, the main reason will be that for once they've taken on the normal Democrat role of being confused and feckless about what they want to do (they can't bring themselves to whole-heartedly get behind Trump; but a major Republican strength has been how they normally do pull together an present a united front). And Trump himself, in his inability to control his own immediate administration, also gives an example of this fecklessness.

AG17 , Sep 27, 2018 2:44:29 AM | link

What other October surprises might be planned by either side?

This gave me chills.

psychohistorian , Sep 27, 2018 2:58:27 AM | link
@ Circe who is writing that any who like any of what Trump is doing must be Zionists.

Get a grip. I didn't vote for Trump but favored him over Clinton II, the war criminal.

Trump represents more clearly the face of the ugly beast of debauched patriarchy, lying, misogyny, bullying and monotheistic "everybody else is goyim" values. Trump very clearly represents the folks behind the curtain of the Western private finance led "culture". He and they are both poor representations of our species who are in power because of heredity and controlled ignorance over the private finance jackboot on the lifeblood of the species.

Luckily there are still groups of our species that don't live totally controlled by the Western way and the cancer it represents to humanity. They on the outside and "us" on the inside are trying our hardest to shine lights on all the moving parts in hopes that humanity can throw off the shackles of ignorance about private/public finance.

I am taking a beginning astronomy class and just learned that it took the monotheistic religions 600 years to accept the science of Galileo Galilei. We could stand to evolve a bit faster as we are about to have our proverbial asses handed to us in the form of extinction, IMO.

[Sep 27, 2018] Hiding in Plain Sight Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... But strangely most of us are much readier to concede the corrupting influence of the relatively small power of individuals than we are the rottenness of vastly more powerful institutions and structures. We blame the school teacher or the politician for abusing his or her power, while showing a reluctance to do the same about either the education or political systems in which they have to operate. ..."
"... It is relatively easy to understand that your line manager is abusing his power, because he has so little of it. His power is visible to you because it relates only to you and the small group of people around you ..."
"... It is a little harder, but not too difficult, to identify the abusive policies of your firm – the low pay, cuts in overtime, attacks on union representation ..."
"... It is more difficult to see the corrupt power of large institutions, aside occasionally from the corruption of senior figures within those institutions, such as a Robert Maxwell or a Richard Nixon ..."
"... But it is all but impossible to appreciate the corrupt nature of the entire system. And the reason is right there in those aphorisms: absolute power depends on absolute control over knowledge, which in turn necessitates absolute corruption. If that were not the case, we wouldn't be dealing with serious power – as should be obvious, if we pause to think about it ..."
"... The current neoliberal elite who effectively rule the planet have reached as close to absolute power as any elite in human history. And because they have near-absolute power, they have a near-absolute control of the official narratives about our societies and our "enemies", those who stand in their way to global domination ..."
"... What is clear, however, is that the British intelligence services have been feeding the British corporate media a self-serving, drip-drip narrative from the outset – and that the media have shown precisely no interest at any point in testing any part of this narrative or even questioning it. They have been entirely passive, which means that we their readers have been entirely passive too ..."
"... Journalists typically have a passive relationship to power, in stark contrast to their image as tenacious watchdog. But more fundamental than control over narrative is the ideology that guides these narratives. Ideology ensures the power-system is invisible not only to us, those who are abused and exploited by it, but also to those who benefit from it. ..."
"... It is precisely because power resides in structures and ideology, rather than individuals, that it is so hard to see. And the power-structures themselves are made yet more difficult to identify because the narratives created about our societies are designed to conceal those structures and ideology – where real power resides – by focusing instead on individuals ..."
"... Before neoliberalism there were other systems of rule. There was, for example, feudalism that appropriated a communal resource – land – exclusively for an aristocracy. It exploited the masses by forcing them to toil on the land for a pittance to generate the wealth that supported castles, a clergy, manor houses, art collections and armies. For several centuries the power of this tiny elite went largely unquestioned ..."
"... Neoliberalism, late-stage capitalism, plutocratic rule by corporations – whatever you wish to call it – has allowed a tiny elite to stash away more wealth and accrue more power than any feudal monarch could ever have dreamt of. And because of the global reach of this elite, its corruption is more endemic, more complete, more destructive than any ever known to mankind ..."
"... A foreign policy elite can destroy the world several times over with nuclear weapons. A globalised corporate elite is filling the oceans with the debris from our consumption, and chopping down the forest-lungs of our planet for palm-oil plantations so we can satisfy our craving for biscuits and cake. And our media and intelligence services are jointly crafting a narrative of bogeymen and James Bond villains – both in Hollywood movies, and in our news programmes – to make us fearful and pliable ..."
"... The system – whether feudalism, capitalism, neoliberalism – emerges out of the real-world circumstances of those seeking power most ruthlessly. In a time when the key resource was land, a class emerged justifying why it should have exclusive rights to control that land and the labour needed to make it productive. When industrial processes developed, a class emerged demanding that it had proprietary rights to those processes and to the labour needed to make them productive. ..."
"... In these situations, we need to draw on something like Darwin's evolutionary "survival of the fittest" principle. Those few who are most hungry for power, those with least empathy, will rise to the top of the pyramid, finding themselves best-placed to exploit the people below. They will rationalise this exploitation as a divine right, or as evidence of their inherently superior skills, or as proof of the efficiency of the market. ..."
"... And below them, like the layers of ball bearings, will be those who can help them maintain and expand their power: those who have the skills, education and socialisation to increase profits and sell brands. ..."
"... None of this should surprise us either. Because power – not just the people in the system, but the system itself – will use whatever tools it has to protect itself. It is easier to deride critics as unhinged, especially when you control the media, the politicians and the education system, than it is to provide a counter-argument. ..."
"... so neoliberalism is driven not by ethics but the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of the planet. ..."
"... The only truth we can know is that the western power-elite is determined to finish the task of making its power fully global, expanding it from near-absolute to absolute. It cares nothing for you or your grand-children. It is a cold-calculating system, not a friend or neighbour. It lives for the instant gratification of wealth accumulation, not concern about the planet's fate tomorrow. ..."
Sep 27, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

I rarely tell readers what to believe. Rather I try to indicate why it might be wise to distrust, at least without very good evidence, what those in power tell us we should believe.

We have well-known sayings about power: "Knowledge is power", and "Power tends to corrupt, while absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely." These aphorisms resonate because they say something true about how we experience the world. People who have power – even very limited power they hold on licence from someone else – tend to abuse it, sometimes subtly and unconsciously, and sometimes overtly and wilfully.

If we are reasonably self-aware, we can sense the tendency in ourselves to exploit to our advantage whatever power we enjoy, whether it is in our dealings with a spouse, our children, a friend, an employee, or just by the general use of our status to get ahead.

This isn't usually done maliciously or even consciously. By definition, the hardest thing to recognise are our own psychological, emotional and mental blind spots – and the biggest, at least for those born with class, gender or race privileges, is realising that these too are forms of power.

Nonetheless, they are all minor forms of power compared to the power wielded collectively by the structures that dominate our societies: the financial sector, the corporations, the media, the political class, and the security services.

But strangely most of us are much readier to concede the corrupting influence of the relatively small power of individuals than we are the rottenness of vastly more powerful institutions and structures. We blame the school teacher or the politician for abusing his or her power, while showing a reluctance to do the same about either the education or political systems in which they have to operate.

Similarly, we are happier identifying the excessive personal power of a Rupert Murdoch than we are the immense power of the corporate empire behind him and on which his personal wealth and success depend.

And beyond this, we struggle most of all to detect the structural and ideological framework underpinning or cohering all these discrete examples of power.

Narrative control

It is relatively easy to understand that your line manager is abusing his power, because he has so little of it. His power is visible to you because it relates only to you and the small group of people around you.

It is a little harder, but not too difficult, to identify the abusive policies of your firm – the low pay, cuts in overtime, attacks on union representation.

It is more difficult to see the corrupt power of large institutions, aside occasionally from the corruption of senior figures within those institutions, such as a Robert Maxwell or a Richard Nixon.

But it is all but impossible to appreciate the corrupt nature of the entire system. And the reason is right there in those aphorisms: absolute power depends on absolute control over knowledge, which in turn necessitates absolute corruption. If that were not the case, we wouldn't be dealing with serious power – as should be obvious, if we pause to think about it.

Real power in our societies derives from that which is necessarily hard to see – structures, ideology and narratives – not individuals. Any Murdoch or Trump can be felled, though being loyal acolytes of the power-system they rarely are, should they threaten the necessary maintenance of power by these interconnected institutions, these structures.

The current neoliberal elite who effectively rule the planet have reached as close to absolute power as any elite in human history. And because they have near-absolute power, they have a near-absolute control of the official narratives about our societies and our "enemies", those who stand in their way to global domination.

No questions about Skripals

One needs only to look at the narrative about the two men, caught on CCTV cameras, who have recently been accused by our political and media class of using a chemical agent to try to murder Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia back in March.

I don't claim to know whether Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov work for the Russian security services, or whether they were dispatched by Vladimir Putin on a mission to Salisbury to kill the Skripals.

What is clear, however, is that the British intelligence services have been feeding the British corporate media a self-serving, drip-drip narrative from the outset – and that the media have shown precisely no interest at any point in testing any part of this narrative or even questioning it. They have been entirely passive, which means that we their readers have been entirely passive too.

That there are questions about the narrative to be raised is obvious if you turn away from the compliant corporate media and seek out the views of an independent-minded, one-time insider such as Craig Murray.

A former British ambassador, Murray is asking questions that may prove to be pertinent or not. At this stage, when all we have to rely on is what the intelligence services are selectively providing, these kinds of doubts should be driving the inquiries of any serious journalist covering the story. But as is so often the case, not only are these questions not being raised or investigated, but anyone like Murray who thinks critically – who assumes that the powerful will seek to promote their interests and avoid accountability – is instantly dismissed as a conspiracy theorist or in Putin's pocket.

That is no meaningful kind of critique. Many of the questions that have been raised – like why there are so many gaps in the CCTV record of the movements of both the Skripals and the two assumed assassins – could be answered if there was an interest in doing so. The evasion and the smears simply suggest that power intends to remain unaccountable, that it is keeping itself concealed, that the narrative is more important than the truth.

And that is reason enough to move from questioning the narrative to distrusting it.

Ripples on a lake

Journalists typically have a passive relationship to power, in stark contrast to their image as tenacious watchdog. But more fundamental than control over narrative is the ideology that guides these narratives. Ideology ensures the power-system is invisible not only to us, those who are abused and exploited by it, but also to those who benefit from it.

It is precisely because power resides in structures and ideology, rather than individuals, that it is so hard to see. And the power-structures themselves are made yet more difficult to identify because the narratives created about our societies are designed to conceal those structures and ideology – where real power resides – by focusing instead on individuals.

That is why our newspapers and TV shows are full of stories about personalities – celebrities, royalty, criminals, politicians. They are made visible so we fail to notice the ideological structures we live inside, which are supposed to remain invisible.

News and entertainment are the ripples on a lake, not the lake itself. But the ripples could not exist without the lake that forms and shapes them.

Up against the screen

If this sounds like hyperbole, let's stand back from our particular ideological system – neoliberalism – and consider earlier ideological systems in the hope that they offer some perspective. At the moment, we are like someone standing right up against an IMAX screen, so close that we cannot see that there is a screen or even guess that there is a complete picture. All we see are moving colours and pixels. Maybe we can briefly infer a mouth, the wheel of a vehicle, a gun.

Before neoliberalism there were other systems of rule. There was, for example, feudalism that appropriated a communal resource – land – exclusively for an aristocracy. It exploited the masses by forcing them to toil on the land for a pittance to generate the wealth that supported castles, a clergy, manor houses, art collections and armies. For several centuries the power of this tiny elite went largely unquestioned.

But then a class of entrepreneurs emerged, challenging the landed artistocracy with a new means of industrialised production. They built factories and took advantage of scales of economy that slightly widened the circle of privilege, creating a middle class. That elite, and the middle-class that enjoyed crumbs from their master's table, lived off the exploitation of children in work houses and the labour of a new urban poor in slum housing.

These eras were systematically corrupt, enabling the elites of those times to extend and entrench their power. Each elite produced justifications to placate the masses who were being exploited, to brainwash them into believing the system existed as part of a natural order or even for their benefit. The aristocracy relied on a divine right of kings, the capitalist class on the guiding hand of the free market and bogus claims of equality of opportunity.

In another hundred years, if we still exist as a species, our system will look no less corrupt – probably more so – than its predecessors.

Neoliberalism, late-stage capitalism, plutocratic rule by corporations – whatever you wish to call it – has allowed a tiny elite to stash away more wealth and accrue more power than any feudal monarch could ever have dreamt of. And because of the global reach of this elite, its corruption is more endemic, more complete, more destructive than any ever known to mankind.

A foreign policy elite can destroy the world several times over with nuclear weapons. A globalised corporate elite is filling the oceans with the debris from our consumption, and chopping down the forest-lungs of our planet for palm-oil plantations so we can satisfy our craving for biscuits and cake. And our media and intelligence services are jointly crafting a narrative of bogeymen and James Bond villains – both in Hollywood movies, and in our news programmes – to make us fearful and pliable.

Assumptions of inevitability

Most of us abuse our own small-power thoughtlessly, even self-righteously. We tell ourselves that we gave the kids a "good spanking" because they were naughty, rather than because we established with them early on a power relationship that confusingly taught them that the use of force and coercion came with a parental stamp of approval.

Those in greater power, from minions in the media to executives of major corporations, are no different. They are as incapable of questioning the ideology and the narrative – how inevitable and "right" our neoliberal system is – as the rest of us. But they play a vital part in maintaining and entrenching that system nonetheless.

David Cromwell and David Edwards of Media Lens have provided two analogies – in the context of the media – that help explain how it is possible for individuals and groups to assist and enforce systems of power without having any conscious intention to do so, and without being aware that they are contributing to something harmful. Without, in short, being aware that they are conspiring in the system.

The first :

When a shoal of fish instantly changes direction, it looks for all the world as though the movement was synchronised by some guiding hand. Journalists – all trained and selected for obedience by media all seeking to maximise profits within state-capitalist society – tend to respond to events in the same way.

The second :

Place a square wooden framework on a flat surface and pour into it a stream of ball bearings, marbles, or other round objects. Some of the balls may bounce out, but many will form a layer within the wooden framework; others will then find a place atop this first layer. In this way, the flow of ball bearings steadily builds new layers that inevitably produce a pyramid-style shape. This experiment is used to demonstrate how near-perfect crystalline structures such as snowflakes arise in nature without conscious design.

The system – whether feudalism, capitalism, neoliberalism – emerges out of the real-world circumstances of those seeking power most ruthlessly. In a time when the key resource was land, a class emerged justifying why it should have exclusive rights to control that land and the labour needed to make it productive. When industrial processes developed, a class emerged demanding that it had proprietary rights to those processes and to the labour needed to make them productive.

Our place in the pyramid

In these situations, we need to draw on something like Darwin's evolutionary "survival of the fittest" principle. Those few who are most hungry for power, those with least empathy, will rise to the top of the pyramid, finding themselves best-placed to exploit the people below. They will rationalise this exploitation as a divine right, or as evidence of their inherently superior skills, or as proof of the efficiency of the market.

And below them, like the layers of ball bearings, will be those who can help them maintain and expand their power: those who have the skills, education and socialisation to increase profits and sell brands.

All of this should be obvious, even non-controversial. It fits what we experience of our small-power lives. Does bigger power operate differently? After all, if those at the top of the power-pyramid were not hungry for power, even psychopathic in its pursuit, if they were caring and humane, worried primarily about the wellbeing of their workforce and the planet, they would be social workers and environmental activists, not CEOs of media empires and arms manufacturers.

And yet, base your political thinking on what should be truisms, articulate a worldview that distrusts those with the most power because they are the most capable of – and committed to – misusing it, and you will be derided. You will be called a conspiracy theorist, dismissed as deluded. You will be accused of wearing a tinfoil hat, of sour grapes, of being anti-American, a social warrior, paranoid, an Israel-hater or anti-semitic, pro-Putin, pro-Assad, a Marxist.

None of this should surprise us either. Because power – not just the people in the system, but the system itself – will use whatever tools it has to protect itself. It is easier to deride critics as unhinged, especially when you control the media, the politicians and the education system, than it is to provide a counter-argument.

In fact, it is vital to prevent any argument or real debate from taking place. Because the moment we think about the arguments, weigh them, use our critical faculties, there is a real danger that the scales will fall from our eyes. There is a real threat that we will move back from the screen, and see the whole picture.

Can we see the complete picture of the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury; or the US election that led to Trump being declared president; or the revolution in Ukraine; or the causes and trajectory of fighting in Syria, and before it Libya and Iraq; or the campaign to discredit Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party; or the true implications of the banking crisis a decade ago?

Profit, not ethics

Just as a feudal elite was driven not by ethics but by the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of land; just as early capitalists were driven not by ethics but by the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of mechanisation; so neoliberalism is driven not by ethics but the pursuit of power and wealth through the control of the planet.

The only truth we can know is that the western power-elite is determined to finish the task of making its power fully global, expanding it from near-absolute to absolute. It cares nothing for you or your grand-children. It is a cold-calculating system, not a friend or neighbour. It lives for the instant gratification of wealth accumulation, not concern about the planet's fate tomorrow.

And because of that it is structurally bound to undermine or discredit anyone, any group, any state that stands in the way of achieving its absolute dominion.

If that is not the thought we hold uppermost in our minds as we listen to a politician, read a newspaper, watch a film or TV show, absorb an ad, or engage on social media, then we are sleepwalking into a future the most powerful, the most ruthless, the least caring have designed for us.

Step back, and take a look at the whole screen. And decide whether this is really the future you wish for your grand-children.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are " Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and " Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair " (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jonathan-cook.net/

[Sep 07, 2018] Neoliberal Totalitarianism And The Social Contract Countercurrents

Notable quotes:
"... The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto ..."
"... "Uneven Development: Understanding the Roots of Inequality" ..."
"... "A generation ago, the country's social contract was premised on higher wages and reliable benefits, provided chiefly by employers. In recent decades, we've moved to a system where low wages are supposed to be made bearable by low consumer prices and a hodgepodge of government assistance programs. But as dissatisfaction with this arrangement has grown, it is time to look back at how we got here and imagine what the next stage of the social contract might be." ..."
"... New America Foundation's ..."
Sep 07, 2018 | countercurrents.org

The creation of large enterprises gave rise not only to an organized labor movement, but to a larger bureaucratic regulatory state with agencies intended to help stabilize and grow capitalism while keeping the working class loyal to the social contract. Crisis in public confidence resulted not only from economic recessions and depressions built into the economy, but the contradictions capitalism was fostering in society as the benefits in advances in industry, science and technology accrued to the wealthy while the social structure remained hierarchical.

Ever since 1947 when the ideological father of neoliberalism Friedrich von Hayek called a conference in Mont Pelerin to address how the new ideology would replace Keynesianism, neoliberals have been promising to address these contradictions, insisting that eliminating the social welfare state and allowing complete market dominationthat would result in society's modernization and would filter down to all social classes and nations both developed and developing. Such thinking is rooted in the modernization theory that emerged after WWII when the US took advantage of its preeminent global power to impose a transformation model on much of the non-Communist world. Cold War liberal economist Walt Rostow articulated the modernization model of development in his work entitled The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto , 1960. By the 1970s, neoliberals adapted Rostow's modernization theory as their bible and the core of the social contract. (Evans Rubara, "Uneven Development: Understanding the Roots of Inequality"

https://www.pambazuka.org/governance/uneven-development-understanding-roots-inequality

The challenge for the political class has always been and remains to mobilize a popular base that would afford legitimacy to the social contract. The issue for mainstream political parties is not whether there is a systemic problem with the social contract intended to serve the capitalist class, but the degree to which the masses can be co-opted through various methods to support the status quo. "A generation ago, the country's social contract was premised on higher wages and reliable benefits, provided chiefly by employers. In recent decades, we've moved to a system where low wages are supposed to be made bearable by low consumer prices and a hodgepodge of government assistance programs. But as dissatisfaction with this arrangement has grown, it is time to look back at how we got here and imagine what the next stage of the social contract might be."

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/12/the-past-and-future-of-americas-social-contract/282511/

Considering that Keynesianism and neoliberalism operate under the same social structure and differ only on how best to achieve capital formation while retaining sociopolitical conformity, the article above published in The Atlantic illustrates how analysts/commentators easily misinterpret nuances within a social contract for the covenant's macro goals. A similar view as that expressed in The Atlantic is also reflected in the New America Foundation's publications, identifying specific aspects of Arthur Schlesinger's Cold War militarist policies enmeshed with social welfare Keynesianism as parts of the evolving social contract.

https://www.newamerica.org/economic-growth/policy-papers/the-american-public-and-the-next-social-contract/

Identifying the social contract with a specific set of policies under different administrations evolving to reflect the nuances of political class and economic elites,some analysts contend that there is a European Union-wide social contract to which nationally-based social contracts must subordinate their sovereignty. This model has evolved to accommodate neoliberal globalism through regional trade blocs on the basis of a 'patron-client'integration relationship between core and periphery countries.

[Sep 07, 2018] Neomodernism - Wikipedia

Highly recommended!
Sep 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

Ágnes Heller

Ágnes Heller's work is associated with Moral Anthropology and "probing modernity's destiny for a non-predatory humanism that combines the existential wisdom of ancient theory with modern values." [1]

Neomodernism accepts some aspects of postmodernism's critique of modernism, notably that modernism elevated the world view of dominant groups to the status of objective fact, thereby failing to express the viewpoint of " subaltern groups," such as women and ethnic minorities. However, in her view, neomodernism rejects postmodernism as:

Victor Grauer

In 1982, Victor Grauer attacked "the cult of the new," and proposed that there had arisen a "neo-modern" movement in the arts which was based on deep formal rigor, rather than on "the explosion of pluralism." [2] His argument was that post-modernism was exclusively a negative attack on modernism, and had no future separate from modernism proper, a point of view which is held by many scholars of modernism. [2]

Carlos Escudé

In "Natural Law at War", a review essay published on 31 May 2002 in The Times Literary Supplement (London, TLS No. 5174), Carlos Escudé wrote: "Postmodern humanity faces a major challenge. It must solve a dilemma it does not want to face. If all cultures are morally equivalent, then all human individuals are not endowed with the same human rights, because some cultures award some men more rights than are allotted to other men and women. If, on the other hand, all men and women are endowed with the same human rights, then all cultures are not morally equivalent, because cultures that acknowledge that 'all men are created equal' are to be regarded as 'superior,' or 'more advanced' in terms of their civil ethics than those that do not." Escudé's brand of neomodernism contends with "politically-correct intellectuals who prefer to opt for the easy way out, asserting both that we all have the same human rights and that all cultures are equal."

Andre Durand and Armando Alemdar

Published their own Neomodernist Manifesto in 2001. The Neomodern Manifesto posits criteria for a revitalised approach to works of art founded on history, traditional artistic disciplines, theology and philosophy. Durand's and Alemdar's Neomodernism views art as an act of expression of the sublime; in Neomodern painting as a representation of the visual appearance of things with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty, truth, and good. Neomodern works of art via mimesis interpret and present the universe and man's existence, in line with the belief that the reality we live is but a mirror of another universe that can only be accessed through inspiration and imagination.

Gabriel Omowaye

Gabriel Lolu Omowaye, in his speech 'A new challenging time' to a group of college students in Nigeria, in 2005, took a different approach to neomodernism. He viewed neomodernism as a political philosophy that became more prominent in the early 21st century. To him, it involves common goal and joint global effort - universalism - to address arising global challenges such as population growth, natural resources, climate change and environmental factors, natural causes and effects, and health issues. Omowaye posited that political will is the major driver of economic necessities. As a result, he added that neomodernism involves limited government-regulated liberalism along with high drive innovation and entrepreneurship, high literacy rate, progressive taxation for social equity, philanthropism, technological advancement, economic development and individual growth. He perceived the quest for equal representation of men and women in the neomodern era as a strong signal for advent of postmodernism. So also, the quest for youths engagement in resourceful and rewarding ways especially in governance, peace building and self-productivity has not taken a formidable shape than it is at this time. As far as he was concerned, he believed most of these challenges were not adequately tackled in preceding eras and the arising challenges thus stated were not prepared for and that cause for change in mentality and thinking which the neomodern era is providing for solutions to the era's challenges, with a prospective view to global stability and social inclusion. His philosophical thought premised on a fact that new times require new approaches from new reasonings, even if some applicable ideas or methologies could be borrowed from the past, an acute form of paradigm-shift.

Omowaye believed in idealism as guiding realism and in turn, realism as defining idealism. Moral concepts cannot be wished away from social norms, but evolving social trends dissipate morality in form of religion and logical standards and adheres to current norms in form of 'what should be'. Consequently, the manner at which 'what should be' is driven at in the modern and postmodern eras, being widely accepted became 'what is'. The manner at which the damage of the new 'what is' is hampering development process in the form of higher mortality rate and decadence of cultural good, calls to question the ideology behind the norms that are less beneficial to a wider society in form of globalization. The world as a whole through technological advancement became a global community particularly, in the 21st century. Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan then stated that the "suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere". Champions of neomodern age such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson in the field of philanthropy expounded their vision to encompass the global community in social good such as alleviating poverty, eradicating diseases, enhancing literacy rates and addressing climate changes.

Technological advancement of the neomodern era however has its downturns in that it added to the decadence in cultural good such that people everywhere, especially high number of youths follow the trends in the new 'what is', which include social celebrities in the form of dressing, sexual activities, extravagancies, and less interest in learning and even, working but more interest in making money. Money became a value-determinant than utility. This brought about frauds in various sectors. This latter aspect is not limited to youths but even company executives, and politicians of many societies. Technological advancement has made privacy less safer for intrusion and people more safer for protection. The supposedly good of technological advancement in the neomodern era has included whistle blow such as Wikileaks' Julian Assange. The more good has been in the level of innovations and innovators it has sprung up such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and easier business models and broader social connectivity. This latter part has lessened more amity in immediate environment and many people tend to live more in the virtual world neomodern technological advancements have created.

Neomodernism checks more into the current relative way of living of people and the society to correct necessary abnormalities and to encourage virtues and values within the global community in the 21st century.

In furtherance, Gabriel Omowaye's view of neomodernism was that knowledge comes from learning and experience, and wisdom primarily from intuition. Knowledge is a variable of set occurrences of that which happens to a man and that which a man seeks to know. Knowledge is vital and good for discretion but a minor part of discernment wherein what is known might not be applicable. Intuition is a function of the mind and the mind, not seen, and yet unknown to the carrier, is a function of what put the thoughts, ideas and discretion in it. Wisdom without knowledge is vague, and knowledge without wisdom, unworthy. Wisdom perfects knowledge, and in the absence of either, the sole is delusory.

[Aug 28, 2018] A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Here is an except from "A Colony in a Nation" by Chris Hayes that she recently discussed (Chris Hayes is also the author of Twilight of the Elites ) ..."
"... ...we have built a colony in a nation, not in the classic Marxist sense but in the deep sense we can appreciate as a former colony ourselves: A territory that isn't actually free. A place controlled from outside rather than within. A place where the mechanisms of representation don't work enough to give citizens a sense of ownership over their own government. A place where the law is a tool of control rather than a foundation for prosperity. ..."
"... A Colony in a Nation is not primarily a history lesson, though it does provide a serious, empathetic look at the problems facing the Colony, as well as at the police officers tasked with making rapid decisions in a gun-rich environment. ..."
"... Elsewhere, Hayes examines his own experiences with the law, such as an incident when he was almost caught accidentally smuggling "about thirty dollars' worth of marijuana stuffed into my eyeglass case" into the 2000 Republican National Convention. Hayes got away without so much as a slap on the wrist, protected by luck, circumstances and privilege. ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
"Listening to this show by MSNB is so disguising that I lost any respect for it. "

I actually jumped the gun. That's does not mean that it should not be viewed. There are some positive aspects of MSNBC http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show

Here is an except from "A Colony in a Nation" by Chris Hayes that she recently discussed (Chris Hayes is also the author of Twilight of the Elites )

...we have built a colony in a nation, not in the classic Marxist sense but in the deep sense we can appreciate as a former colony ourselves: A territory that isn't actually free. A place controlled from outside rather than within. A place where the mechanisms of representation don't work enough to give citizens a sense of ownership over their own government. A place where the law is a tool of control rather than a foundation for prosperity.

... ... ...

A Colony in a Nation is not primarily a history lesson, though it does provide a serious, empathetic look at the problems facing the Colony, as well as at the police officers tasked with making rapid decisions in a gun-rich environment.

Hayes takes us through his less-than-successful experience putting himself in the latter's shoes by trying out an unusual training tool, a virtually reality simulator: "We're only one scene in, and already the self-righteous liberal pundit has drawn his weapon on an unarmed man holding a cinder block."

Elsewhere, Hayes examines his own experiences with the law, such as an incident when he was almost caught accidentally smuggling "about thirty dollars' worth of marijuana stuffed into my eyeglass case" into the 2000 Republican National Convention. Hayes got away without so much as a slap on the wrist, protected by luck, circumstances and privilege.

For black men living in the Colony, encounters with the police are much more fraught. Racial profiling and minor infractions can lead to "being swept into the vortex of a penal system that captures more than half the black men his age in his neighborhood... an adulthood marked by prison, probation, and dismal job prospects...."

[Aug 17, 2018] Neocons and [neo]Liberals Join Forces to Fight Populism by Paul Gottfried

US neocons and neolibs behave like a wounded animal, or cornered rats.
Notable quotes:
"... Ironically, the new neocon-shaped think tank alliance is no more interested in what it claims to want, namely democracy, than its former Soviet rulers were. AEI has attacked Britain's decision to leave the European Union as symptomatic of "populist attacks on traditional structures of international affairs such as the EU and international trade regimes." It is in this context, we are told, that NATO has "appeared to be a second-rate concern" and that the globalization that "ushered in unprecedented worldwide growth" has been placed in peril. ..."
"... Moreover, who are these "authoritarian" bad guys that CAP now has in its crosshairs and plans to rid the world of with its new neocon pals? Presumably it's the right-of-center governments in Eastern and Central Europe, as personified by favorite leftist whipping boy Viktor Orban ..."
"... All AEI and CAP have done is to take a multitude of grievances -- e.g., America's failing to oppose adequately China's cyberthreats, putting up with Russia's aggression, "security threats" in general, and nuclear proliferation -- and mixed them together with standard leftist boilerplate about Orban's "illiberalism" and "sharing our values." This, of course, is indicative of the neocon tactic of linking whatever its advocates see fit to address to a supposed common purpose, which is saving democracy from whatever is defined as "antidemocratic." ..."
"... What's new about the AEI/CAP "partnership of peril," however, is the degree of collaboration taking place and the unmistakable whiff of "never Trump" among their scholars and writers. ..."
"... This recalls all too vividly the Soviet practice of purging "undemocratic" -- that is, uncongenial -- governments while taking over Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War. Today it's an establishment think tank world where governments elected fairly by their people are declared not democratic enough. ..."
"... Curiously, they don't find mass surveillance by the NSA, militarization of the police, permanent war, or the kind of government-imposed humiliations we experience in airports these days to be the least bit "authoritarian", all of them byproducts of incompetent or treacherous neocon and neoliberal control-freaks. ..."
"... They're still pretending they don't get it. Populists aren't the problem. Populists reacted to the problem. The problem is the staggering damage that neocons and neoliberals have done to the West. The problem is how to rid ourselves of them. ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Two big Washington think tanks have teamed up to defend democracy against an 'assault on the transatlantic community.' For several months, an alliance has been forming between the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the neoliberal Center for American Progress (CAP). It's the sort of kumbaya not witnessed since wartime Washington a decade ago.

A press release from CAP on May 10 blares: "CAP and AEI Team up to Defend Democracy and Transatlantic Partnership." The same joyous tidings accompanied a public statement issued by AEI on July 31, which stressed that the alliance was meant to resist "the populist assault on the transatlantic community" for the purpose of "defending democracy."

Although, according to Vikram Singh, a senior fellow at CAP, the two partners "often disagree on important policy questions," they have been driven together "at a time when the character of our societies is at stake." This burgeoning cooperation underscores that "our commitment to democracy and core democratic principles is stronger than ever." Since both documents fling around the terms "democracy" and "liberal democracy" to justify a meddlesome foreign policy, we may safely assume that the neocons are behind this project. Neocons for some time now have prefixed their intended aggressions with "democracy" and "liberal democracy" the way the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs during the 16th and 17th centuries stuck the word "holy" into the names of their wartime alliances. Closer to our time, communist governments favored the use of "people's democracy" to indicate that they were the good guys. Presumably the neocons have now picked up this habit of nomenclature.

Ironically, the new neocon-shaped think tank alliance is no more interested in what it claims to want, namely democracy, than its former Soviet rulers were. AEI has attacked Britain's decision to leave the European Union as symptomatic of "populist attacks on traditional structures of international affairs such as the EU and international trade regimes." It is in this context, we are told, that NATO has "appeared to be a second-rate concern" and that the globalization that "ushered in unprecedented worldwide growth" has been placed in peril. Leaving aside other critical analyses of globalism that call into question AEI's enthusiasm for neoliberal economics, the more relevant question is: why is it "undemocratic" for a nation to vote in favor of leaving the EU? And for that matter, why is it "undemocratic" for countries to reconsider their membership in NATO?

Moreover, who are these "authoritarian" bad guys that CAP now has in its crosshairs and plans to rid the world of with its new neocon pals? Presumably it's the right-of-center governments in Eastern and Central Europe, as personified by favorite leftist whipping boy Viktor Orban . Although CAP doesn't want to be especially "confrontational" in dealing with its villains, or so it claims, it also proclaims that "authoritarian regimes pursue different objectives than societies with governments that are accountable to the people and respect the rule of law." It might be useful for CAP to tell us how exactly Hungary, Poland, and other right-of-center European governments have not been democratically elected and have disrespected their countries' legal traditions.

Fortunately our think tank alliance is in still in no position (heaven be thanked!) to impose its will. The most these hysterical complainers can do is air their grievances and misrepresent them as somehow "preserving democracy." All AEI and CAP have done is to take a multitude of grievances -- e.g., America's failing to oppose adequately China's cyberthreats, putting up with Russia's aggression, "security threats" in general, and nuclear proliferation -- and mixed them together with standard leftist boilerplate about Orban's "illiberalism" and "sharing our values." This, of course, is indicative of the neocon tactic of linking whatever its advocates see fit to address to a supposed common purpose, which is saving democracy from whatever is defined as "antidemocratic."

For those who wonder what AEI, as a supposedly right-of-center foundation, is doing hanging out with CAP, such hobnobbing between Republican policy foundations and left-of-center tanks has been going on for a while. In December 2015, AEI and Brookings both proudly announced their cooperation in drafting a poverty program that emphatically diverged from the one proposed by then-candidate Trump. Both foundations called for, among other reforms, raising the minimum wage and greater government guidance for poor families.

What's new about the AEI/CAP "partnership of peril," however, is the degree of collaboration taking place and the unmistakable whiff of "never Trump" among their scholars and writers. It would also appear that as the price of collaboration, AEI has been required to join its more leftist partner in going after democratically elected right-of-center political leaders in Europe. This recalls all too vividly the Soviet practice of purging "undemocratic" -- that is, uncongenial -- governments while taking over Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War. Today it's an establishment think tank world where governments elected fairly by their people are declared not democratic enough.

Remaking the World in the Neoconservative Image A Neoconservative of Conviction

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents . 20 Responses to Neocons and Liberals Join Forces to Fight Populism



E. J. Worthing August 12, 2018 at 11:20 pm

It is anti-democratic to try to shut down a university because of a disagreement with the founder's political views.
Dundalk , , August 13, 2018 at 5:01 am
"Moreover, who are these "authoritarian" bad guys that CAP now has in its crosshairs and plans to rid the world of with its new neocon pals?"

Curiously, they don't find mass surveillance by the NSA, militarization of the police, permanent war, or the kind of government-imposed humiliations we experience in airports these days to be the least bit "authoritarian", all of them byproducts of incompetent or treacherous neocon and neoliberal control-freaks.

Which is why the normal mind guffaws at the though of neocons and neoliberals banding together to fight "authoritarianism".

They're still pretending they don't get it. Populists aren't the problem. Populists reacted to the problem. The problem is the staggering damage that neocons and neoliberals have done to the West. The problem is how to rid ourselves of them.

Furor , , August 13, 2018 at 5:53 am
I am not really surprised. What goes on in Eastern Europe is controversial and it will catch attention of all sides. Hungary and Poland are peripheries of a bigger political-economic area, so they will have to take this into account
Frank D , , August 13, 2018 at 7:35 am
The author seems to be complaining about something that will not have any effect on the thing he is complaining about.
Oleg Gark , , August 13, 2018 at 8:09 am
The Little People use the internet to conspire against us, the Important People.

That's not Democracy, that's Insolence!

Michael Kenny , , August 13, 2018 at 9:45 am
What's at stake for both think tanks is the continuance of US global hegemony, whether for its own sake or as an essential tool to prop up Israel. Ironically, the same US ideological "family" promoted the very populism they are now condemning for the purpose of breaking up the very same EU whose possible demise they now regard as a disaster! Equally, Professor Gottfried and his VDare friends themselves peddle the anti-EU/pro-Putin line and are therefore in no position to criticize the two think tanks for promoting "a meddlesome foreign policy". Indeed, the way in which Professor Gottfried takes a position in the article for or against this or that European government is a perfect example of his belief in a "meddlesome foreign policy". He just doesn't like the particular form of meddling that the think tanks are proposing.
Ken Zaretzke , , August 13, 2018 at 11:35 am
Foreign affairs and domestic policy are intertwined in the hostility to populism. AEI supports quasi-open borders, so no surprise that they view populism as a scourge.

A pro-populist strategy, specifically on the immigration front, suggests itself if we distinguish between Deep State-compatible immigration *restrictionism* and Deep State-incompatible immigration *patriotism*. The latter is a form of populist nationalism. (That phrase isn't redundant because there can surely be non-populist forms of nationalism.) For the former, note that the Deep State can, if anything, operate better in a society without continual ethnic minority- pleading.

Jeff Sessions is an immigration restrictionist; Stephen Miller is an immigration patriot.

The think tank anti-populism is part of the Deep State's effort to ensure that the Mueller investigation go forward as the best way of hindering Trump's populist instincts and the policies that it fears will flow from them.

Ron Pavellas , , August 13, 2018 at 11:42 am
My initial reaction to the headline and first few sentences was: "They are frightened. Good!" Since the first order of any organization is to survive, no matter what, each is now abandoning its original (stated) purpose to align with the other. "The Populists are coming! The Populists are coming!"
Kent , , August 13, 2018 at 11:52 am
I think it's funny using terms like "liberal", "neo-liberal", "neo-conservative". They are all ideologies whose fundamental motive is to maximize corporate profits at the expense of the working American. There's no reason to distinguish between them.
John S , , August 13, 2018 at 2:15 pm
This is an unfair critique.

" why is it "undemocratic" for a nation to vote in favor of leaving the EU? And for that matter, why is it 'undemocratic' for countries to reconsider their membership in NATO?"

The documents don't say these things are undemocratic. The documents claim that authoritarian populists attack international cooperation.

"It might be useful for CAP to tell us how exactly Hungary, Poland, and other right-of-center European governments have disrespected their countries' legal traditions."

They have. If you put "Viktor Orban" and "Poland" in the search box on their website you'll find it.

Patricus , , August 13, 2018 at 2:59 pm
There has been no significant difference between Democrats and Republicans in my six decades. Trump was a breath of fresh air although he hasn't moved far enough to repudiate the establishment.
EliteCommInc. , , August 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm
Laughing. Sure, until they want to adovcate for another regime change campaign, then it will about people, for people all day long to get them on board.

Until then they won't be happy until the US reflects asian caste systems of social polity.

Jeeves , , August 13, 2018 at 4:30 pm
Viktor Orban is the "left's favorite whipping boy"? Oh, I think he's a little more than that, Mr. Gottfried.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-orbans-hungary-a-glimpse-of-europes-demise-1533829885?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

In addition to putting Mr. Orban's "illiberalism" in mocking quotes, this melange of conspiracy mongering finds yet more sinister neocon plotting in the AEI/Hudson connection -- which, if you follow Gottfried's link, turns out to surprisingly free of Soviet-era purges, even though it departs from anything proposed by The Stable Genius in Chief.

cka2nd , , August 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm
If the author doesn't think left-wing critics of globalism (Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Latin American "pink" revolutionaries -- well, reformists -- and the anti-WTO/IMF/World Bank anti-globalists, among others), he's fooling himself. It was the farther left, after all, and the unions who often led the fights to vote against joining first the Eurozone and then the EU, and who have opposed the American elite's various free trade deals, forcing previous deals between neo-liberals and free market conservatives (e.g., NAFTA, Clinton and the GOP).
Black , , August 13, 2018 at 5:16 pm
Soooo You think White Identitarian populism is good for the WEST see History. Ha! Whats coming down the PIKE is more wars, conflicts, tribalism, and DEATH. And this is just the Western Nations (Whites). Populism is not Racial Idealism. Poor whites CONNED again, like always. Good Fences make better neighbors, and NIMBY!
Q , , August 13, 2018 at 6:17 pm
Neocons and liberals have always had a lot in common. They both want:
-- Globalism
-- open borders
-- anti-Russia, Iran
-- American hegemony which means endless wars
-- support for gay marriage
-- anti-Nationalism hence anti-Trump
The only thing that separated them were gun control and abortion, but even those issues aren't as clearcut anymore.
Learned Foot , , August 13, 2018 at 9:42 pm
Two sides of the same bad penny. Question is, how do we get rid of it?
Wow. Just Wow. , , August 14, 2018 at 1:06 am
So the people who gave us an America of 'Your Papers, Please!!' and 'Shut Up and Bend Over' are getting worried about the threat of authoritarianism.

Poor babies.

They want their "democracy" back, don't you know, with its black sites, endless wars, its torture and fiat assassination regime, its hate speech laws, its warrantless surveillance programs, and the highest incarceration rates in the world.

Ken Zaretzke , , August 14, 2018 at 11:21 am
@Black,

I suspect you're an academic with tenure already in the bag notwithstanding your way of talking. So tell me, how is the anti-White identitarianism going in South Africa, for the average non-white South African? And why is the anti-White government failing so miserably?

Legacy of colonialism, eh?

Tom Cullem , , August 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm
@Dundalk -- Second all that, perfectly put.

They aren't worried about democracy: they're worried about global corporatist power, which is what "transatlantic partnerships" really translates to.

"Populism" is another name for the Great Unwashed trying to regain some control of their environment. Bloody cheek, eh?

[Aug 13, 2018] Corporate Capitalists Killed American Identity by David Masciotra

Notable quotes:
"... In 2004, the historian Walter McDougall concluded that as early as the Civil War, America was a "nation of hustlers." During Reconstruction, Walt Whitman wrote that "genuine belief" seemed to have left America. "The underlying principles of the States," Whitman said, "are not honestly believed in, nor is humanity itself believed in." ..."
"... Accumulation of capital is the dominant, even definitional, American idea, which is why Calvin Coolidge famously remarked, "The chief business of the American people is business." ..."
"... Christopher Lasch had a slightly more prosaic way of measuring the pain of progress. "The triumph of corporate capitalism," he wrote, "has created a society characterized by a high degree of uniformity, which nevertheless lacks the cohesiveness and sense of shared experience that distinguish a truly integrated community from an atomistic society." ..."
"... Rather than a "marketplace of ideas," the United States is a mere marketplace, and just like at any store in the shopping mall, whatever fails to sell is removed from the shelves. Today's trend is tomorrow's garbage. ..."
"... We focus on immigration because it is a clear threat to the American tradition with clear and obvious solutions. ..."
"... While I appreciate that the writer is trying to link immigration with big business and culture, the argument as a whole doesn't come together. He needs to define what he means by "corporate capitalism," "identity," and "culture"; otherwise, this is nothing more than a incoherent rant. Is he talking about popular entertainment, the arts, academic institutions, civil society, religion? How exactly is the existence of a Walmart or the popularity of smartphones to blame? Quoting Walt Whitman and Calvin Coolidge doesn't really get us anywhere. ..."
"... Yes of course a commercial culture is prosperous, dynamic, cosmopolitan, rootless, greedy, materialistic, cynical, plebian and vulgar. And yes, of course in a market-dominated culture, all other systems of indoctrination (i.e. church and state) are constantly on the defensive. ..."
"... That is not 'no' culture; it is a highly distinctive culture. It tends to neglect the high arts and excel at the low arts; it favors novelty over tradition, spectacle over reflection, passion over balance. Again, 'twas ever thus; as is the inevitable cooling of these innovations to new formalisms for the next generation to rebel against, and enrich. ..."
"... So, what should replace corporate capitalism -- socialism, distributism, non-corporate capitalism, what? ..."
Aug 10, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Donald Trump, during a recent stop on his "Anarchy in the UK" tour, argued that the mass influx of immigrants into Europe is causing Great Britain and other nations to "lose their culture." The fear of cultural dilution and transformation as a consequence of shifting demographics is widespread, and it resonates in the United States, too, especially among those who support the current president.

Stephen Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and other popular right-wing figures have warned of threats to national identity in an American context, contending that Mexicans will not assimilate and that Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy and secular governance. Liberals and libertarians often respond by recalling the long tradition of assimilation in American history, along with the outrage that often accompanies new arrivals. Nearly every ethnic group, from the Italians to the Chinese, has been the target of political and social hostility. It is an old story, but one worth telling, and it is an old debate, but one worth having. Border sovereignty, even to someone like me who probably favors more liberal immigration laws than most TAC readers, is a legitimate issue and not to be easily dismissed.

The current conversation about traditionalism, national identity, and cultural preservation, however, is so narrow to render it counterproductive and oblivious. For those truly worried about the conservation of traditional culture, to focus solely, or even primarily, on immigration is the equivalent of a gunshot victim rushing to the barber for a haircut.

Rather than asking whether American culture is at risk of ruination, it is more salient to inquire, after decades of commercialization, Madison Avenue advertising onslaughts, the erasure of regional differences, and the "Bowling Alone" collapse of community, whether America even has a culture.

Some Conservatives Have Been Against Capitalism for Centuries Blame Regulation, Not Capitalism

In 2004, the historian Walter McDougall concluded that as early as the Civil War, America was a "nation of hustlers." During Reconstruction, Walt Whitman wrote that "genuine belief" seemed to have left America. "The underlying principles of the States," Whitman said, "are not honestly believed in, nor is humanity itself believed in."

Prophesizing with his pen that democratic structures and procedures would prove insufficient to cultivate a truly democratic culture, Whitman likened the American obsession with commercial conquest and pecuniary gain to a "magician's serpent that ate up all the other serpents." Americans, Whitman warned, were dedicating themselves to creating a "thoroughly-appointed body with no soul."

When Whitman wrote the essay in question -- "Democratic Vistas" -- the United States had open borders and immigrants freely entered the "new world" for reasons of freedom and financial ambition. Even if they attended churches in their native languages and lived in ethnic enclaves, they often found that they could matriculate into the mainstream of Americana through pursuit of the "American dream," that is, hope for monetary triumph. Accumulation of capital is the dominant, even definitional, American idea, which is why Calvin Coolidge famously remarked, "The chief business of the American people is business."

Capitalism is a formidable engine, enabling society to advance and allowing for high standards of living. But to construct an entire culture around what Coolidge identified as "buying, selling, investing, and prospering," especially when capitalism becomes corporate and cronyist, is to steadily empty a culture of its meaning and purpose.

Few were as celebratory over the potential for meaning and purpose in American culture as Whitman, who drew profound inspiration from America's natural beauty and regional diversity. So what force was most responsible for the widespread desecration of America's own Garden of Eden? All arguments about immigration aside, changing demographics did not transform the country into the planetary capital of asphalt and replace its rich terrain with the endless suburban sprawl of office complexes, strip malls, and parking lots. The reduction of the American character to a giant Walmart and the mutation of the American landscape, outside of metropolitan areas, to the same cloned big box stores and corporate chains is not a consequence of immigration.

The degradation of the American arts and the assault on history and civics in public school and even higher education curricula is not the result of immigrants flooding American streets. Amy Chua has argued quite the opposite when it comes to America's increasingly imbecilic and obscene pop culture. Many immigrant families try to keep their children away from the influence of reality television, the anti-intellectual reverence for celebrities, and the vigilant commercialization of every aspect of life.

The same cultural killer is responsible for all the assaults on American identity visible as daily routine, from environmental destruction to the endangerment of independent retailers and "mom and pop" shops. That culprit is corporate capitalism. It is a large entity that, like any killer, justifies its death toll with dogmatic claims of ideology. "Progress," everyone from the owner of the local diner to the out-of-work art teacher is told, has no room for you.

In his song "The West End," John Mellencamp gives an angry account of the disappearance of a small town:

For my whole life
I've lived down in the West End
But it sure has changed here
Since I was a kid
It's worse now
Look what progress did
Someone lined their pockets
I don't know who that is

Progress, as Mellencamp succinctly captures in song, often comes at someone else's expense, and translates to enrichment for the few who benefit.

Christopher Lasch had a slightly more prosaic way of measuring the pain of progress. "The triumph of corporate capitalism," he wrote, "has created a society characterized by a high degree of uniformity, which nevertheless lacks the cohesiveness and sense of shared experience that distinguish a truly integrated community from an atomistic society."

The irony Lasch describes is tragic. A culture of corporate capitalism demands conformity, and most people cooperate. But because its center is hollow, few people feel any sense of connection to each other, even as they parrot the same values. It is no wonder that most forms of rebellion in the United States are exhibitions of stylized individualism -- inspiring theater and often enlivening to observe, but politically fruitless.

Rather than a "marketplace of ideas," the United States is a mere marketplace, and just like at any store in the shopping mall, whatever fails to sell is removed from the shelves. Today's trend is tomorrow's garbage.

Those concerned about tradition and cultural longevity can lament immigration and condemn "open borders." But if they are serious about American identity, they should begin and end with the villainous corporate enterprise that has waged war on it since the late 19th century.

David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man ( Eyewear Publishing).


Nelson August 9, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Whatever culture remains in this country can often be found in the places where people still maintain at least a symbolic link with their immigrant roots.
Whine Merchant , , August 9, 2018 at 11:55 pm
Many of the immigrants came to the dream of America believing the myth. That they could be anything hard work would bring them, regardless of rank or class of birth, title, family name, or religious prejudice. For the most part, this was sufficiently true that they prospered. They became "us". This [perhaps naive] belief in the dream made most of them, and their children, our most loyal and law-abiding citizens.

It was indeed the robber barons of the 19th century that pushed us down the path of self-destruction.

Fran Macadam , , August 10, 2018 at 12:33 am
I feel vindicated. Some years ago, Rod Dreher pilloried me for being obsessed with how destructive corporate capitalism had become to American culture, values and social cohesion. I think his epiphany came, when supposedly "conservative" big business turned out to be on the other side in the culture wars.
Ray Woodcock , , August 10, 2018 at 6:02 am
I hear you, Mr. Masciotra. I'm not especially fond of large for-profit corporations. But they wouldn't occupy monopolistic positions and enjoy rapacious profits and latitude for enormous misdeeds if the public were firmly opposed to that sort of thing. Americans generally love a winner, even if the "winning" is fraudulent or coerced, as long as they personally aren't coerced or defrauded. It's all about the money, or at least the belief that the money might come.
Crème fraiche , , August 10, 2018 at 8:09 am
Thank you for this refreshing piece which points the finger to a place where those on the left and right can actually make a difference. Of course, making any changes will require dismantling some the mythology of the American prosperity gospel, but it starts with great articles like these.

The system didn't become corrupt in the 80s, it's been that way for much longer. And there have been hustlers and " well meaning " Corporate yes men making dishonest money off of their compatriots for centuries (everywhere, I might add).

So the question is, do we want to continue to encourage this behavior or do we dare to dream of another reality ?

GaryH , , August 10, 2018 at 8:39 am
Oh so true. America's super rich are the enemy, a much worse one than a naive socialist like Bernie Sanders.
connecticut farmer , , August 10, 2018 at 9:05 am
Well crafted and thoughtful. Years ago, Walker Percy observed that America was unique among nations in that it was simultaneously the most religious country and the most materialistic country in the world. Fast forward to 2018 and while religion appears to be in decline "getting and spending" continues apace.
Youknowho , , August 10, 2018 at 9:17 am
SOCIALISM DOES NOT WORK!

WHAT ARE YOU, SOME KIND OF COMMUNIST?

THE FREE MARKET WILL SOLVE IT!

There, I put in the Libertarain response so there is no need to read all the posts they all will say the same thing.

How dare you attack the sacred cow of Capitalism, sir?

joshua , , August 10, 2018 at 9:25 am
Agreed but lets be honest with ourselves. We have to go where the kindling is dry and abundant to start a proverbial fire. America does have a culture. To see that all one need do is visit Nashville, the Ozarks or farm country in nebraska. Where there are still people the culture survives. That is a stoical dispensation. The culture does go back to Hellenism but Americana does have it's own ways. Go visit Europe for any amount of time or dare I say it Asia and American culture becomes obvious.

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday that, in my opinion, best represents American culture and how it is different from all else.

collin , , August 10, 2018 at 9:47 am
Corporate Capitalism has always been American culture and life. Basic Taylorism on the assembly line was over 100 years in which men spent 50 -- 60 hours a week performing a single task very quickly.

What is American art? Would we consider Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley great American art and music? I do but the original reaction of older Americans was 1950s R&R was complete degradation of music. (Some of the racial language was very colorful by good citizens.) Or what Star Wars or Godfather. Or maybe the modern Marvel 'universe' has a degree of great pop art.

Jon , , August 10, 2018 at 10:02 am
Certainly well argued but for one important element that has been omitted; one ingredient which bundles everything together into one integrated picture. That necessary item can be summed with these two words, "buy in." Corporate capitalism would never hold sway except for the acquiescence of the populace which wanting the quantity of commodities had gathered in the shopping malls but now remain isolated in the front of their computer screens or cell phones.

Rather than there being the tyranny of the marketplace bringing forth this dominance of goods over people and the legerdemain of monetized value displacing our organic relationship to the land, it is this anonymous accommodation to the denigration of the high arts and the erosion to our culture which is the ultimate culprit.

In a word, it is the tyranny of the masses which pulls apart any endeavor at creating and sustaining a hierarchy of value rewarding all enterprise which appeases public taste by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Fore it is through this tyranny that capitalism has built its avaricious edifice.

Suffice it to say that the target "corporate capitalism" remains the straw man, that ethereal and empty concept devoid of blood and sinews. Where then does one find the source to this dilemma but in that which is of both flesh and blood namely humanity. The problem lies with the populace.

What is called for here is an awakening but not through a reckoning as that would only cause humanity to roll over and return to its slumber. And if crisis and collapse serves not the catalyst for such an awakening what then will provide such an arousal? Until such a time, we remain asleep and the institutions of our dream life will rule us.

Corporate capitalism is not the source. It is not even at the source. We are the source until such a time as we awaken.

Joe the Plutocrat , , August 10, 2018 at 10:06 am
excellent points. oh, and ironically (or not), from the Middle Ages (Europe) through the 19th century (American West), it was not uncommon for a barber to also perform ad hoc surgery/medical procedures, or to share space with the town's 'doctor', so in some instances it was prudent to go to the barbershop if shot
Winston , , August 10, 2018 at 10:22 am
"Liberals and libertarians often respond by recalling the long tradition of assimilation in American history, along with the outrage that often accompanies new arrivals."

Apples and oranges. The welfare state didn't exist then, so it was assimilate or fail. 1/3 of all culturally similar to existing US culture Europeans returned to Europe.

Today, "Press 2 for Spanish", the welfare state (give birth on US soil to a US citizen for family access to benefits [or steal an ID], then chain migrate the rest of your family), the Internet, and identity politics discourage assimilation and allow extremely large cultural enclaves which are politically divisive as pointed out MANY years ago by the not exactly "right wing" former WH press secretary for LBJ, Bill Moyers, in one of his many excellent documentaries.

William Taylor , , August 10, 2018 at 11:02 am
interesting to see how this challenging article agrees with Chris Hedges in the radical left "Truthdig."
Tony Soprano , , August 10, 2018 at 11:17 am
We focus on immigration because it is a clear threat to the American tradition with clear and obvious solutions. The author paints this focus of the Trumpian and dissident right as exclusionary, but it is not; at the same time arguing for his own exclusionary anti-capitalist platform. Quite frankly, I don't know what it's doing on TAC, but I will take the time to respond.

The criticism of anti-immigration on the right is a straw man argument. The dissident right is not merely anti-immigration, it is more broadly anti-multiracialist. Many understand and agree with the author on the problems of capitalism, but also see racial and cultural integration as an additional threat to the American tradition. His point about how the immigration (into America) didn't cause the hellspace of suburbia is true, since only up until 1965 did we make sure immigrants were white and could integrate well into society. However, he ignores the history of black empancipation and subsequent desegregation that led to massive internal migration from the South into cities like Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore. There weren't always majority black, my friend. The very real problems that this internal migration presented to ethnically homogenous, culturally rich, urban white neighborhoods in the 20th century were the driving force behind the suburban sprawl. We colloquially refer to this phenomenon as "white flight," and many on the left and the right see it as unjustified "racism."

The curious reader would do well to investigate this claim to see if maybe white flight might have actually been very justified, maybe a gross historical injustice was done to those now ethnically cleansed communities, and maybe racial desegregation is partly to blame for the author's perceived lack of (white) culture in America.
Thank you for reading.

Tyro , , August 10, 2018 at 11:35 am
"Capitalism" is cronyist by nature. "Capitalism" itself requires an extensive set of laws that benefit some economic arrangements over others. Now the reason for this is because nations need development, and that means they need capital, and that means they need to create laws that ensure that the people who have capital feel willing and confident enough to invest it in that country.

But once you've opened the pandora's box of bankruptcy laws, limit liability, and other "terms and conditions" of investment and capital, you're going to have a system that lends itself to cronyism when you have no other counter-balancing power from labor.

Ken Zaretzke , , August 10, 2018 at 11:45 am
My brilliant iPad just deleted my response. So, quickly, capitalism is partly curable by antitrust and protectionism, but proto-amnesty mass immigration is not curable, and it more quickly distorts national identity than does capitalism, which takes a very long time to alter society's frame. Mass immigration does that relatively quickly. Also, immigration has as many rackets as capitalism does -- for the one, capital gains tax cuts, and for the other, H1-B visas.
Tyro , , August 10, 2018 at 12:40 pm
only up until 1965 did we make sure immigrants were white and could integrate well into society

The immigration act of 1924 which choked off most immigration was about reducing white immigration. It didn't actually affect Mexican immigration. The largest beneficiaries the post-1965 immigration laws have been Asian immigrants who everyone argues integrate perfectly well.

ethnically homogenous, culturally rich, urban white neighborhoods

Any of the residents of those neighborhoods in Chicago would have been quick to deny they were "ethnically homogeneous" because they would have pointed out how they were mixed neighborhoods of Greeks, Poles, Slovenes, etc.

TJ Martin , , August 10, 2018 at 1:06 pm
Its about time someone on this site placed at least 50% of the blame when it comes to demise of the American Middle Class as well as ' culture ' -- ( such as it is seeing we have no well defined codified ' culture ' because we are and have been since the beginning so diverse ) -- on the American Corpocracy .

But the fact is the other 50% of the blame must fall firmly upon the shoulders of the greedy speculators and investors convinced every year should be a profitable year and they should of received next year's profits yesterday

Along with the American Consumer addicted to cheap goods 60% of which they have no need for nor ever use .

So what is the answer ? First we need to move towards a Responsible Capitalism rather than the Ayn Rand addled narcissist Hyper- Capitalism rapidly approaching Anarcho -- Capitalism we're currently immersed in from the Oval Office on down

Second the American Consumer needs to accept paying what something is worth .. be it service , goods or food .. rather than thinking the entire world is a discounted oyster at their beck and call

And Third .. with the onus once again falling firmly upon the shoulders of the discount addled American consumer . We need to get over the theater of convenience shopping ( online ) and get back to supporting local businesses who pay taxes to our local community and are in fact our neighbors

Problem is all of the above solutions require both compromise , authentic thought as well as discernment

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