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Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich

Socialism for corporations

Version 2.0, Oct 28, 2017

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

One can view neoliberalism as Trotskyism refashioned for elite. Or "socialism for corporations" along with feudalism for everybody else. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have 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.  Like Trotskyism in the past, it is a militant and dogmatic faith that burns heretics and utilizes the full power of propaganda to brainwash the population.  The "Union of Corporate socialism republics"  have zero  tolerance for other social system or deviations from Washington consensus.  Media dogs and intelligence  agencies are unleashed on dissenters. If this does not help 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. See Fake News scare and US 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.

Similarly neoliberals like Trotskyites dream about world neoliberal revolution. 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 (or 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 beleve 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 this is an ersatz religion, "caricature Islam" --  "market uber alles" religion.  as in "There is no God other then market... " Market under neoliberal doctrine does not need any justification. It is the ultimate deity that judges the mere mortals and requires compliance, achieved by spilling blood, if necessary.  Much like the idea of communism is a deity for Bolsheviks, which requres no justification and needs to be imposed on the people by whatever means nessesary.

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 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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[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. ..."
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

None of which ( for the most part ) currently exists in this over polarized ' Collective Stupidity of America ' zeitgeist we're firmly entrenched in

Lecture over . Donuts , bagels and coffee in the virtual break room .

Cynthia McLean , , August 10, 2018 at 1:49 pm
English colonials brought to the American continent both English Law -- based on private property -- which has turned into Corporate Market Capitalism (Citizens United, eh?), and the Enlightenment idea of the centrality of Individual Freedom, which has turned into the rank Individualism of our current Me-Myself-and-I cultural ethos.

Democracy and a healthy culture, in my view, depend upon holding in balance the needs/desires/rights of both the Individual and the broader Common Good. There now seems to be little left of a Social Covenant that includes all Americans, which is central to a viable culture.

Great article, thank you.

BradD , , August 10, 2018 at 2:29 pm
I'll say this when it comes it integration: people in the past weren't forced to integrate in the least. A friend of mine has a grandmother that speaks Russian, only Russian, and no English. As long as she remained in her little enclave in the US, why need to speak English? In my native Cincinnati the "Over the Rhine" neighborhood had beer gardens, German schools, German newspapers, and German street signs. Only a fire and I am sure some Progressive 'encouragement' broke the neighborhood up.

White in America use to mean Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. To be Wet was to be Catholic and to be Catholic was to be an immigrant. Dry was honest, hard working, and true. Wet was disorderly, murderous, and poor. Irish weren't white, Poles weren't white, and the Italians most certainly weren't white.

My question is why are we poo pooing Latina values? Family centric, conservative, Catholic/Christian, and hard working (come on, either immigrants are stealing our jobs or they are welfare leeches, pick one!). Their food is delicious and the music is fun.

The latina vote should be the Republican vote if they would just get over themselves. Spanish is just as much a Romance language as French or Italian. Get with the program, declare them white, and let's enjoy a super majority with taco Tuesday.

KDM , , August 10, 2018 at 3:42 pm
@BradD
Nothing is necessarily wrong with "Latin" values per se . The problem is with massive amounts of Illigeal immigration coming all from one area. I'm sorry but integration and assimilation is extremely important, just look at Europe for an idea of what happens to countries that don't integrate immigrants well.

Also, if "Latin" values are great and desirable then why would such a massive amount of people be bum rushing our southern borders?

Can you please tell me one example of a country in Latin America that has been successful for an extended period of time? I cannot even think of one. When people come in small waves they can integrate and learn the value of our institutions, laws, freedom, liberty ect They basically become American w/ Latin heritage. When they come en mass, they keep their societies values a lot longer and stay in enclaves a lot longer as well. As an example not too long ago I was in the southern part of Houston Texas and the Galveston area and I cannot tell you the number of cars, houses and business that have the Mexican flag up instead of the USA flag! That is all kinds of wrong to me. If Mexico is so great, than they should just move on back and set up shop there.

LT , , August 10, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Ding, ding, ding
We have a winner here. America is promoted as merchant culture, bread or bombs. The peoole termed colonists were largely corporate sponsored. So when people continue to arrive, they figure starting their store or buying the "right" things is American culture. And for everything else, they just say, "We have our own, thank you."
Auguste Meyrat , , August 10, 2018 at 9:39 pm
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.

I would be happy to defend free enterprise in America and would even credit the business and marketing practices in America for inculcating customer service as a uniquely American trait. You can tell you're in America when people act politely and aim to serve you -- even illiterate young people know this. Go to any country in Europe, and you'll find a whole staff of people from the airport, to the stores, to the hotel frowning at you for having the nerve to have want of their services. And that's just a side benefit. The main thing business does is finance the creation of culture at all levels. Any civilization's golden age followed from societal prosperity, not from a more democratic and tasteful distribution of wealth.

If we're talking about the arts and influence, America is still the most dynamic in the world, being a great producer of movies, music, books, and all the rest. Even the existence of a site like TAC should cause one to reflect on just how nice it is to live in a country that permits open discourse and values quality writing and ideas -- and for no cost at all to the reader. We can despair all we like of the decline of the Oscars, or the stupidity of modern art, or the pointlessness of postmodernist ideology, but it says something that we can even have this conversation. I'm not sure other cultures, outside those in elite circles, even think about this stuff.

mike , , August 10, 2018 at 9:55 pm
Yes! Intentionally generalising: Big, remote, powerful things are ALWAYS evil. Small, local, law-governed communities are always good.
Thomas Hobbes , , August 11, 2018 at 12:44 am
Wow, something Fran Macadam and I agree on! Surely there is enough there for some bright politician to make a central platform plank out of?

A number of commenters point out that this isn't just imposed on us, we also embrace it (or just succumbed to the propaganda/advertising). Fixing the problem will require efforts to curb corporate power as well cultural change from the ground up to embrace real values beyond just capitalism.

JonF , , August 11, 2018 at 8:11 am
Re: We need to get over the theater of convenience shopping ( online ) and get back to supporting local businesses

Sure, if local businesses carry the stuff I'm looking for. All too often you have to go online to find anything that is not a mass appeal staple.

JonF , , August 11, 2018 at 8:17 am
Re: 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

The evidence, notably from language learning, shows that today's immigrants assimilate at about the same rate others did in the past. And yes, you could hear other languages in the US in the past also. There were places in Detroit I remember in childhood where all the signs were in Polish. Going farther back 19th century nativists were horrified that entire communities in the Midwest spoke German. Early on, our eighth president, Martin Van Buren, grew up speaking Dutch in the Hudson Valley.

As for the welfare state, well, there were lots of mutual aid societies which provided help -- we were not a social Darwinist nation. And don't forget the Civil War pensions to which a significant fraction of the population was entitled.

Kurt Gayle , , August 11, 2018 at 8:55 am
Mr. Mascriota tells us: "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."

And yet, Mr. Mascriotra, last Sept 9th (2017) at "Salon" you wrote an article entitled "The case for open borders: Stop defending DACA recipients while condemning the 'sins' of their parents":

"As an English instructor and tutor, I've met young men and women from Ethiopia, China and Nigeria, and I have taught students whose parents emigrated from Mexico to the United States 'illegally.' If I were an insecure coward afraid to compete in a multicultural society, and convinced my future children would become deadbeats without the full force of white privilege to catapult them into success, I would advocate for the deportation of immigrant families similar to those of my students, and I would repeat mindless bromides like 'America First' and 'Build that Wall.' One of the costs of racism, xenophobia, or any form of pathetic provincialism is that freezes the prejudicial person in a permanent state of mediocrity President Donald Trump's decision to end DACA, and his demand that Congress 'fix the' nonexistent 'immigration problem,' demonstrates a stunning streak of sadism, projecting yet another signal to his rabid and anti-American base of closed-minded losers If the 'real Americans' are afraid to compete with immigrants for jobs, prestige, or cultural authority, they only indict themselves as weak, self-entitled and easy to panic. In a word, 'snowflakes'. A bureaucratic permission slip is trivial compared to the imperative of human freedom -- freedom that should transcend what are largely artificial borders."

https://www.salon.com/2017/09/09/the-case-for-open-borders-stop-defending-daca-recipients-while-condemning-the-sins-of-their-parents/

Hibernian , , August 11, 2018 at 11:51 am
@Mr. Soprano: I think Baltimore was a special case as a Southern city (which it historically was up to maybe WW1, maybe WW2.) Don't know its demographics pre-WW2 but I'd bet dollars to donuts it was substantially more black pre-WW1 than Chicago, which was nearly all white up to about 1915 even though it was founded by a Francophone Black man Jean Baptiste Pont du Sable.
johnhenry , , August 11, 2018 at 1:14 pm
David Masciotra: Not sure what I think about the ironmongery in your left ear, but this piece is excellent. My only criticism -- mild at that -- concerns the analogy in your third paragraph:

" to focus [our worries] on immigration is the equivalent of a gunshot victim rushing to the barber for a haircut."

DOA. Sorry.

paradoctor , , August 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm
This article is timely, but only because its complaints are perennial. 'Twas ever thus.

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.

A similar cycle applies to demographics. Today's scary outsider becomes tomorrow's stodgy insider, after they buy their way in. I therefore second BradD's motion to declare Hispanics to be white; and Asians too.

All those disturbed by demographic transitions should contemplate this truism: that by the middle of next century every man, woman and child now alive shall be dead, and replaced by people not born yet.

This includes you, which makes it personal. What a way to run a world! But if you can put up with 100% population turnover by 2150, then language and skin tint seems (to me at least) a trivial detail.

***

Self-critique: The preceding analysis has a flaw, namely that this is not simply a 'commercial' culture; it is a 'capitalistic' culture, which is the least free form of commercial culture.

Siarlys Jenkins , , August 11, 2018 at 4:48 pm
Wow, something Fran Macadam and I agree on! Surely there is enough there for some bright politician to make a central platform plank out of?

Right! And I agree with Fran AND Thomas Hobbes!

Thrice A Viking , , August 11, 2018 at 5:46 pm
So, what should replace corporate capitalism -- socialism, distributism, non-corporate capitalism, what?
Tyro , , August 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm
Go to any country in Europe, and you'll find a whole staff of people from the airport, to the stores, to the hotel frowning at you for having the nerve to have want of their services.

Americans, in my experience, mistake lack of slavish over-friendliness as rudeness. I have realized this because I am a fairly reserved kind of person, and "reserved" gets coded as "aloof" or "snobbish."

European retail still follows the "sole proprietor" model of service -- it's assumed that by shopping there you're effectively entering someone else's home, and you must act accordingly. In the US, lacking a formal class system, the retail experience is one coded towards allowing the customer to feel as though he is a noble with servants to attend on him that he can order around. The store is selling that experience.

Related to this is why middle class and upper middle Americans are so upset by the DMV and the Post Office. It's the only place where money does not buy them any better service, and they cannot use the threat of talking to the manager to have the service personnel fired in order to get what they want.

America's customer service culture is probably one of our most culturally dysfunctional aspects, all rooted in middle class insecurity.

Renoaldo , , August 12, 2018 at 1:12 am
If this were actually, a Conservative website, that valued Western ideals? Do you really believe such excuses or something outside of myself like the "devil made me do it" will pass mustard with "God" or "St. Peter?"
Paul , , August 12, 2018 at 4:40 am
I strongly endorse Jon's (much earlier comment). It is not corporations that ruin culture but we who demand what they give. Corporations are just a convenient funding vehicle to produce goods. Yes they often mass market them. But it is we who like the marketing. If we were appalled, or turned away and it ignored it, they would change. In the end, when the spiritual life is subordinate to the material, our appetites and the corporations that serve them are a guaranteed outcome.
M. Orban , , August 12, 2018 at 12:31 pm
late to this thread but what is American identity? How is it different from let's say a Danish identity? I have a good number of coworkers from other countries: Asians, South Americans, some Germans or Swedes. When I visit them, do you think I find their homes, their families (or their priorities for that matter) different from that of born-here American? If so, I must have missed it
Ricardo , , August 12, 2018 at 4:40 pm
Auguste Mayrat hit the nail on the head. This article is garbage. It's sad that so many commentators agree with it. America is full of culture: pro and college sports, movies, TV shows, technology, books, music of all kinds all consumed throughout the world, as people from all countries love and admire American culture. Find a country that produces more culture than America. You can't. Churches and schools proliferate here. What's so bad about corporations? If you own an iPhone or a television or a car or shop at the mall, or ride a plane or go on a cruise, you're a hypocrite to be against corporations. Corporations provide goods and services that people want, not to mention jobs. The author of this piece is an intellectual lightweight, and those who agree with his views are the type of blind sheep that communists find useful. The author neither specified what's bad about corporations, nor provides any solutions. Can believe TAC publishes such drivel.

[Aug 03, 2018] Latin America: Reforms Which Deform

Aug 03, 2018 | www.unz.com

Extracted from: Appeasement as Global Policy, by James Petras - The Unz Review

In recent decades throughout Latin America, rulers have spoken and demanded 'reforms' as essential to stimulate and sustain growth and foster equity and sustainability. The 'reforms' involve implementing 'structural changes' which require large scale privatization to encourage entrepreneurship and end state corruption; deregulation of the economy to stimulate foreign and domestic investment; labor flexibility to 'free' labor markets and increase employment; and lower business taxes. According to the reformers all this will lead to free markets and promote democratic values.

Over the past thirty years, ruling elites in Latin America have carried out IMF and World Bank structural reforms in two cyclical periods: between 1989-1999 and more recently between 2015-2018. In both cases the reforms have led to a series of major economic, political and social deformations .

During the first cycle of 'reforms', privatization concentrated wealth by transferring public means of production to oligarchs, and increased private monopolies, which deepened inequalities and sharpened class divisions.

Deregulation led to financial speculation, tax evasion, capital flight and public- private corruption.

'Reforms' deformed the existing class structure provoking social upheavals, which precipitated the collapse of the elite led 'reforms' and the advent of a decade of nationalist populist governments.

The populists restored and expanded social reforms but did not change the political and economic 'deformations', embedded in the state.

A decade later (2015) the 'reformers' returned to power and restored the regressive free market policies of the previous neo-liberal ruling elite. By 2018 a new cycle of class conflicts flared throughout Brazil and Argentina, threatening to overturn the existing US center free market order.

[Jul 29, 2018] The Middle Precariat: The Downwardly Mobile Middle Class by Lynn Parramore

Notable quotes:
"... By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America ..."
"... You will not do as well as your parents ..."
"... Life is a struggle to keep up. Even if you achieve something, you will live in fear of losing it. America is not your land: it belongs to the ultra-rich. ..."
"... The Vanishing Middle Class ..."
"... Capital in the Twenty-First Century ..."
"... Global Wealth Report ..."
"... Professed as a right for individual freedom and empowerment, in reality it serves to suppress disobedience with shame. If you earn like shit -- it's gotta be because YOU are shit. Just try harder. Don't you see those OTHER kids that did well! ..."
"... I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualisation. ..."
"... die Plutonomisten und Bolshewisten! ..."
"... That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages. ..."
"... We have been commodified since before we were even born, to the point where opportunities for what Lave and Wenger would call "legitimate peripheral participation" in the kinds of work that yield real, humane, benefits to our communities are scant to nonexistent for most of us. Something has gone deeply awry in this core social function at the worst possible time in human history. ..."
"... That was a wonderful post, very moving, thank you. These kind of testimonies are very important because they show the real human cost of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is truly a death cult. Please find an alternative to alcohol. Music, art, nature, etc. ..."
"... At least you are self aware. Most people are not. As for the Ship of Status, let it sink. Find a lifeboat where you feel comfortable and batten down for the Roaring (20)40s yet to come. Once you find something to work for, the bad habits will lose much of their hold on you. As long as you don't slide into alcoholism, you have a chance. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, the economic policy that is private sector "free market" driven, giving the owners of capital free, unfettered reign. Created by libertarians like Fredrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, they sold it to the nation but failed to mention that little peccadillo about how privatization of government would usher in economic fascism. ..."
"... "An extreme form of laissez-faire individualism that developed in the writings of Hayek, Friedman and Nozick they are also referred to as libertarians. They draw on the natural rights tradition of John Locke and champion's full autonomy and freedom of the individual." ..."
"... What they meant was ECONOMIC freedom. They despise social freedom (democracy) because civil, labor, health, food safety, etc., rights and environmental protections put limits on their profits. ..."
"... The "maximizing shareholder value" myth turns people into psychopaths . The entire neoliberal economic policy of the past 40 years is based on the false assumption that self-interest is the driving evolution of humanity. We're not all psychopaths, turns out. We're social beings that have mainly used cooperation to get us through these thousands of years of existence. ..."
"... "If the IMF is to shake its image as an inward-looking, out-of-touch boys club, it needs to start taking the issue seriously. The effect of the male dominance in macroeconomics can be seen in the policy direction of the organisation: female economists are more likely to be in favour of Government-backed redistribution measures than their male counterparts. ..."
"... Of course, the parochial way in which economics is perceived by the IMF, as nothing more than the application of mathematical models, is nothing new. In fact, this is how mainstream economics frequently is taught in universities all over the world. Is it any wonder that the IMF has turned out as it is?" ..."
"... "Economics students are forced to spend so much time with this complex calculus so that they can go to work on Wall St. that there's no room in the course curriculum for the history of economic thought. ..."
"... So all they know about Adam Smith is what they hear on CNN news or other mass media that are a travesty of what these people really said and if you don't read the history of economic thought, you'd think there's only one way of looking at the world and that's the way the mass media promote things and it's a propagandistic, Orwellian way. ..."
"... The whole economic vocabulary is to cover up what's really happening and to make people think that the economy is getting richer while the reality is they're getting poorer and only the top is getting richer and they can only get rich as long as the middle class and the working class don't realize the scam that's being pulled off on them." ..."
"... "I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem." ..."
"... This is a stark and startling reality. This reality is outside the framework of understanding of economic struggle in America that is allowed by the corporate neoliberal culture/media. ..."
"... As the Precariat grows, having watched the .1% lie, cheat and steal – from them, they are more likely to also lie, cheat and steal in mortgage, employment and student loan applications and most importantly and sadly, in their dealings with each other. Everybody is turning into a hustler. ..."
"... Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy. ..."
"... "The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
"... Capitalism had two sides, the productive side where people earned their income and the parasitic side where the rentiers lived off unearned income. The Classical Economists had shown that most at the top of society were just parasites feeding off the productive activity of everyone else. ..."
"... The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income and they conflated "land" with "capital". They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists to hide the effects of rentier activity in the economy. ..."
"... The landowners, landlords and usurers were now just productive members of society again. It they left banks and debt out of economics no one would know the bankers created the money supply out of nothing. Otherwise, everyone would see how dangerous it was to let bankers do what they wanted if they knew the bankers created the money supply through their loans. ..."
"... The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs ..."
"... An unexpected consequence of globalization is that a lot of people see how thing are done, elsewhere. ..."
"... Part of me doesn't feel sorry at all for the plight of middle-class Americans. When times were good they were happy to throw poor and working-class people under the bus. I remember when the common answer to complaints about factory closings was "you should have gotten an education, dummy." Now that the white-collar middle class can see that they are next on the chopping block they are finding their populist soul. ..."
Jul 26, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

The children of America's white-collar middle class viewed life from their green lawns and tidy urban flats as a field of opportunity. Blessed with quality schools, seaside vacations and sleepover camp, they just knew that the American dream was theirs for the taking if they hit the books, picked a thoughtful and fulfilling career, and just, well, showed up.

Until it wasn't.

While they were playing Twister and imagining a bright future, someone apparently decided that they didn't really matter. Clouds began to gather -- a "dark shimmer of constantly shifting precariousness," as journalist Alissa Quart describes in her timely new book " Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America ."

The things these kids considered their birthright -- reputable colleges, secure careers, and attractive residences -- were no longer waiting for them in adulthood.

Today, with their incomes flat or falling, these Americans scramble to maintain a semblance of what their parents enjoyed. They are moving from being dominant to being dominated. From acting to acted upon. Trained to be educators, lawyers, librarians, and accountants, they do work they can't stand to support families they rarely see. Petrified of being pushed aside by robots, they rankle to see financial titans and tech gurus flaunting their obscene wealth at every turn.

Headlines gush of a humming economy, but it doesn't feel like a party to them -- and they've seen enough to know who will be holding the bag when the next bubble bursts.

The "Middle Precariats," as Quart terms them, are suffering death by a thousand degradations. Their new reality: You will not do as well as your parents . Life is a struggle to keep up. Even if you achieve something, you will live in fear of losing it. America is not your land: it belongs to the ultra-rich.

Much of Quart's book highlights the mirror image of the downwardly mobile middle class Trump voters from economically strained regions like the Midwest who helped throw a monkey wrench into politics-as-usual. In her tour of American frustration, she talks to urbanites who lean liberal and didn't expect to find themselves drowning in debt and disappointment. Like the falling-behind Trump voters, these people sense their status ripped away, their hopes dashed.

If climbing up the ladder of success is the great American story, slipping down it is the quintessential tragedy. It's hard not to take it personally: the ranks of the Middle Precariat are filled with shame.

They are somebodies turning into nobodies.

And there signs that they are starting to revolt. If they do, they could make their own mark on the country's political landscape.

The Broken Bourgeoisie

Quart's book takes a sobering look at the newly unstable bourgeoisie, illustrating what happens when America's off-the-rails inequality blasts over those who always believed they would end up winners.

There's the Virginia accountant who forks over nearly 90% of her take home pay on care for her three kids; the Chicago adjunct professor with the disabled child who makes less than $24,000 a year; and the California business reporter who once focused on the financial hardships of others and now faces unemployment herself.

There are Uber-driving teachers and law school grads reviewing documents for $20 an hour -- or less. Ivy Leaguers who live on food stamps.

Lacking unions, church communities and nearby close relatives to support them, the Middle Precariats are isolated and stranded. Their labor has sputtered into sporadic contingency: they make do with short-term contracts or shift work. (Despite the much-trumpeted low unemployment rate, the New York Times reports that jobs are often subpar, featuring little stability and security). Once upon a time, only the working poor took second jobs to stay afloat. Now the Middle Precariat has joined them.

Quart documents the desperate measures taken by people trying to keep up appearances, relying on 24/7 "extreme day care" to accommodate unpredictable schedules or cobbling together co-living arrangements to cut household costs. They strain to provide things like academic tutors and sports activities for their kids who must compete with the children of the wealthy. Deep down, they know that they probably can't pass down the cultural and social class they once took for granted.

Quart cites a litany of grim statistics that measure the quality of their lives, like the fact that a middle-class existence is now 30% more expensive than it was twenty years ago, a period in which the price of health care and the cost of a four-year degree at a public college nearly doubled.

Squeezed is especially detailed on the plight of the female Middle Precariat, like those who have the effrontery to procreate or grow older. With the extra burdens of care work, pregnancy discrimination, inadequate family leave, and wage disparities, (not to mention sexual harassment, a subject not covered), women get double squeezed. For women of color, often lacking intergenerational wealth to ease the pain, make that a triple squeeze.

The Middle Precariat in middle age is not a pretty sight: without union protection or a reliable safety net they endure lost jobs, dwindled savings, and shattered identities. In one of the saddest chapters, Quart describes how the pluckiest try reinvent themselves in their 40s or 50s, enrolling in professional courses and certification programs that promise another shot at security, only to find that they've been scammed by greedy college marketers and deceptive self-help mavens who leave them more desperate than before.

Quart notes that even those making decent salaries in the United States now see themselves barred from the club of power and wealth. They may have illiquid assets like houses and retirement accounts, but they still see themselves as financially struggling. Earning $100,000 sounds marvelous until you've forked over half to housing and 30% to childcare. Each day is one bit of bad luck away from disaster.

"The spectacular success of the 0.1 percent, a tiny portion of society, shows just how stranded, stagnant, and impotent the current social system has made the middle class -- even the 10 percent who are upper-middle class," Quart writes.

Quart knows that the problems of those who seem relatively privileged compared many may not garner immediate sympathy. But she rightly notes that their stresses are a barometer for the concentration of extreme wealth in some American cities and the widening chasm between the very wealthy and everybody else.

The Dual Economy

The donor-fed establishment of both political parties could or would not see this coming, but some prescient economists have been sounding the alarm.

In his 2016 book The Vanishing Middle Class , MIT economist Peter Temin detailed how the U.S. has been breaking up into a "dual economy" over the last several decades, moving toward a model that is structured economically and politically more like a developing nation -- a far cry from the post-war period when the American middle class thrived.

In dual economies, the rich and the rest part ways as the once-solid middle class begins to disappear. People are divided into separate worlds in the kinds of jobs they hold, the schools their kids attend, their health care, transportation, housing, and social networks -- you name it. The tickets out of the bottom sector, like a diploma from a first-rate university, grow scarce. The people of the two realms become strangers.

French economist Thomas Picketty provided a stark formula for what happens capitalism is left unregulated in his 2015 bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century . It goes like this: when the rate of return on the investments of the wealthy exceeds the rate of growth in the overall economy, the rich get exponentially richer while everyone becomes poorer. In more sensible times, like the decades following WWII, that rule was mitigated by an American government that forced the rich pay their share of taxes, curbed the worst predations of businesses, and saw to it that roads, bridges, public transit, and schools were built and maintained.

But that's all a fading memory. Under the influence of political money, politicians no longer seek a unified economy and society where the middle class can flourish. As Quart observes, the U.S. is the richest and also the most unequal country in the world, featuring the largest wealth inequality gap of the two hundred countries in the Global Wealth Report of 2015.

Who is to Blame?

Over and over, the people Quart interviews tend to blame themselves for their situation -- if only they'd chosen a different career, lived in another city, maybe things wouldn't have turned out this way. Sometimes they point the finger at robots and automation, though they arguably have much more to fear from the wealthy humans who own the robots.

But some are waking up to the fact it is the wealthy and their purchased politicians who have systematically and deliberately stripped them of power. Deprivations like paltry employee rights, inadequate childcare, ridiculously expensive health care, and non-existent retirement security didn't just happen . Abstract words like deregulation and globalization become concrete: somebody actually did this to you by promoting policies that leave you high and dry.

As Quart indicates, understanding this is the first step to a change of consciousness, and her book is part of this shift.

Out of this consciousness, many individuals and organizations are working furiously and sometimes ingeniously to alter the negative trajectory of the Middle Precariat. Quart outlines proposals and developments like small-scale debt consolidation, student debt forgiveness, adequately subsidized day care, and non-traditional unions that could help.

America also has a track record of broad, fundamental solutions that have already proven to work. Universal basic income may sound attractive, but we already have a program that could improve the lot of the middle class if expanded: Social Security.

Right now, a worker stops having to pay Social Security tax on any earnings beyond $128,400 -- a number that is unreasonably low because the rich wish to keep it so. Just by raising that cap, we could the lower the retirement age so that Americans in their 60s would not have greet customers at Walmart. More opportunities would open up to younger workers.

The Middle Precariat could be forgiven for suspecting that the overlords of Silicon Valley may have something other than altruism in mind when they tout universal basic income. Epic tax evaders, they stand to benefit from pushing the responsibility for their low-paid workers and the inadequate safety net and public services that they helped create onto ordinary taxpayers.

Beyond basic income lies a basic fact: the American wealthy do not pay their share in taxes. In fact, American workers pay twice as much in taxes as wealthy investors. That's why infrastructure crumbles, schools deteriorate, and sane health care and childcare are not available.

Most Americans realize that inequality has to be challenged through the tax code: a 2017 Gallup poll shows that the majority think that the wealthy and corporations don't pay enough. Politicians, of course, ignore this to please their donors.

And so the Middle Precariat, like the Trump voters, is getting fed up with them.

From Depressed to Energized

Quart astutely points out that income inequality is being written into the law of the land. Funded the efforts of billionaires like the Koch brothers, politicians have altered laws and constitutions across the country to cement the dual economy through everything from restricting voting rights to defunding public education.

Several Middle Precariats in Squeezed have turned to independent or renegade candidates like Bernie Sanders who offer broad, substantial programs like debt-free college and universal health care that address the fissures in their lives. They are listening to candidates who are not afraid to say that markets should work for human beings, not the other way around.

If Donald Trump's political rise "can be understood as an expression of the gulf between middle-class citizens and America's ruling classes," as Quart observes, then the recent surge of non-establishment Democratic candidates, especially democratic socialists, may be the next phase of a middle class revolt.

Recent surprise victories in Pennsylvania and New York in the Democratic primaries by female candidates openly embracing democratic socialism, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who bested Democratic stalwart Joe Crowley by running for Congress on a platform of free Medicare and public college tuition for all, may not be the blip that establishment Democrats hope. In New York, democratic socialist Julia Salazar is looking to unseat long-time state senator Martin Dilan. Actress Cynthia Nixon , running against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has just proclaimed herself a democratic socialist and promises to raise taxes on the rich and boost funding for public schools. Michelle Goldberg recently announced in the New York Times that " The Millenial Socialists are Coming ," indicating the intense dislike of traditional politics in urban centers. These young people do not think of things like debt-free college or paid family leave as radical: they see it done elsewhere in the world and don't accept that it can't be done in America.

Historically, the more affluent end of the middle class tends to identify with and support the wealthy. After all, they might join their ranks one day. But when this dream dies, the formerly secure may decide to throw their lot in with the rest of the Precariats. That's when you have the chance for a real mass movement for change.

Of course, people have to recognize their common circumstances and fates. The urban denizens of New York and San Francisco have to see what they have in common with middle class Trump voters from the Rust Belt, as well as working class Americans and everybody else who is not ultra-rich.

If the growing ranks of Precariats can work together, maybe it won't take a natural catastrophe or a war or violent social upheaval to change America's unsustainable course of gross inequality. Because eventually, something has to give.


Sergey P , July 26, 2018 at 3:42 am

I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualization.

Professed as a right for individual freedom and empowerment, in reality it serves to suppress disobedience with shame. If you earn like shit -- it's gotta be because YOU are shit. Just try harder. Don't you see those OTHER kids that did well!

Part of the blame is on New Age with it's quazi-buddhist narrative: basically, everything is perfect, and if you don't feel it that way, it's because you are tainted with envy or weakness.

Thus what is in fact a heavily one-sided battle -- is presented as a natural order of things.

I believe we need a new framework. A sort of mix of Marx and Freud: study of the subconscious of the social economy. The rich not just HAPPEN to be rich. They WANT to be rich. Which means that in some way they NEED others to be poor.

Of course, I'm generalizing. And some rich are just really good at what they do. These rich will indeed trickle down, they will increase the well-being of people. But there are others. People working in insurance and finance. And as their role in the economy grows -- as does their role in politics, their power. They want to have more, while others would have less.

But behind it all are not rational thoughts, not efficiency, but psychological trauma, pain of the soul. Without addressing these matters, we will not be able to change the world.

I'm sorry if my thoughts are somewhat fragmented. It's just something I've been thinking of a lot since I started reading NC, discovering MMT and heterodox approaches in general.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 6:06 am

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and completely agree with them all. :)

NotTimothyGeithner , July 26, 2018 at 7:53 am

The problem is the perception the Democratic Party is reliable as a partner. The culture wasn't a problem in 2008 when the Democratic candidate was perceived as wanting to raise taxes, pass universal health care, and end the wars.

Louis Fyne , July 26, 2018 at 8:53 am

====Part of the blame is on New Age with it's quazi-buddhist narrative: basically, everything is perfect, and if you don't feel it that way, it's because you are tainted with envy or weakness.

Adam Curtis touched about this (and the 50's/60's "self-actualization movement) in his TV documentary "Century of Self." if i recall correctly. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=century+of+self

That's where I first heard of this theoretical link. I think that it's flat out right and post-WWII psycho-babble has seeped into society in pernicious ways (along with everything else, breakdown of nuclear family, etc). Unfortunately, can't prove it like Euclid.

Urizenik , July 26, 2018 at 9:00 am

"A sort of mix of Marx and Freud"– the " Frankfurt School " is a start, with the realization of "the culture industry" as force majeure in the "heavily one-sided battle." And ditto recommendation of "The Century of the Self."

MC , July 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

There's also Zizek.

Left in Wisconsin , July 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Both good suggestions.

Responding to Sergey P:
I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualisation.

There are really only two alternatives to individualism. There is Durkheim-ian "society," in which we are all in this together – interdependent. I think this is still an appropriate lens for a lot of smaller cities and communities where people really do still know each other and everyone wants the community to thrive. And, of course, it is the only way to think about human society nested inside a finite Earth. But it can only work on a larger scale through mediating "institutions" or "associations." All the evidence shows, consistent with the piece, that precariousness by itself weakens social institutions – people have less time and money to contribute to making them work well.

And then there is Marx-ian "class." Which is to say, we are not all individuals but we are not all of one group. There are different groups with different interests and, not infrequently, the interests of different groups are opposed – what is good for one is bad for another – and if power is unequal between groups (either because some groups as groups have more power than others or because individuals with more power all have the same group affinity), then powerful groups will use that power to oppress others. In that case, the only remedy is to try to systematically empower the weak and/or disempower the strong. This also requires collective action – institutions, associations, government – and it is again noted that our collective institutions, most notably unions, have been seriously weakened in the last 40-60 years.

The real world doesn't always fit into neat categories. Trump's America First is an appeal to the "society" of USAmerica. Maybe there will be some improvements for working people. But the argument in the piece, perhaps not as clearly stated as I would like, is that the interests of the (former) middle class – as a class – have diverged from the interests of the upper class. Changing that equation requires collective action.

DolleyMadison , July 26, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Well said

Redlife2017 , July 26, 2018 at 5:08 am

Naturally one must quote the great Frank Herbert from his novel Dune:

"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them."

Or shorter: Follow the money.

Jim Haygood , July 26, 2018 at 5:49 am

'We already have a program that could improve the lot of the middle class if expanded: Social Security.'

Never mind expanding it -- even the existing Social Security program is less than 20% funded, headed for zero in 2034 according to its trustees. Scandalously, these trustees owe no fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. Old Frank wanted pensioners to be forever dependent on his D party. How did that work out for us?

Take a look at the transmittal letter for the 2018 trustees report, released last month. Two public trustee positions are "VACANT," just as they were in last year's transmittal letter:

https://ibb.co/mwsxuT

Just above these blank spaces is the signature of one Nancy Berryhill, "Acting Commissioner of Social Security." But wait --

On March 6, 2018, the Government Accountability Office stated that as of November 17, 2017, Berryhill's status violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which limits the time a position can be filled by an acting official; "[t]herefore Ms. Berryhill was not authorized to continue serving using the title of Acting Commissioner after November 16." Berryhill declared, "Moving forward, I will continue to lead the agency from my position of record, Deputy Commissioner of Operations."

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

By June 5th, Berryhill was still impersonating the Acting Commissioner, legally or not.

Summing up, even the trustees' one-page transmittal letter shows that Social Security is treated as a total and complete Third World joke by the US federal government.

YankeeFrank , July 26, 2018 at 8:34 am

Yeah, yeah. Gubmint can't do nuthin' rite. How about we take our government back from the plutocrats and set SS on solid footing again. There are no impediments other than the will of the people to use our power. Now that the Boomers are moving off all sorts of things, like 'thinking', and 'logic', will become prevalent again.

Kurtismayfield , July 26, 2018 at 8:44 am

Never mind expanding it -- even the existing Social Security program is less than 20% funded, headed for zero in 2034 according to its trustees. Scandalously, these trustees owe no fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. Old Frank wanted pensioners to be forever dependent on his D party. How did that work out for us?

Correct, then the system will eventually be totally reliant on taxes coming in. According to 2011 OASDI Trustees Report

Beginning in 2023, trust fund assets will diminish until they become exhausted in 2036. Non-interest income is projected to be sufficient to support expenditures at a level of 77 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2036, and then to decline to 74 percent of scheduled benefits in 2085

The benefits are never going to go completely away, the benefits will decrease if nothing is done. Things can be done to change this, such as an increasing the the cap on earnings, raising new revenues, etc. This is not exactly an "end of the world" scenario for SSI.

Also, no one complained when the excess SSI tax collected "Social security trust fund" was used to keep interest rates down by purchasing Government bonds.

Jamie , July 26, 2018 at 11:03 am

The whole tax angle is a complete red herring. Raising the cap is not the answer. FICA is "the most regressive tax" the country imposes. Eliminating FICA altogether, doing away with the "trust fund" and the pretense that SS is not the government taking care of it's elderly citizens but is workers taking care of themselves, is the answer. If the emphasis in Quart's book on the rise of a new democratic socialism means anything, it means reconciling with the notion that it is OK for the government to take measures to ensure the welfare of the people. Pay-as-you-go SS can become simply the re-assumption of our collective responsibility to take care of our own, as a society, not as individuals.

Kurtismayfield , July 26, 2018 at 11:29 am

I would be fine with that if I could trust the Federal government to do the right thing. The problem is that we have too many people invested in the system, and I don't trust the Federal government to not screw people over in a new system. You know what will happen, they will set up a two tiered system where people over a certain age will keep their benefits, and the new people will get a system that is completely crapified or means tested.

kgw , July 26, 2018 at 11:39 am

Well-put The only way to eliminate the constant refrain of "but SS is (insert blithering comment on entitlement spending), is to shift resources to people rather than armies for the SuperRich.

Anon , July 26, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Yeah, more Butter–Less Guns!

(Now how do we stop the media hysteria about those big,bad Enemies -- Russia?!)

JCC , July 26, 2018 at 9:52 am

So we should just ignore the fact that our own Govt has "borrowed" $2.8 Trillion, at least, from the SS Trust Fund so far and can't (won't) pay it back?

This "borrowing" should be illegal and I believe that "Old Frank" would be rolling in his grave if he knew that would happen.

And I sincerely doubt his intentions were to get SS on the books in order to keep us beholden to the Dem Party. And if that were true it is obvious that his party doesn't agree. If they did they wouldn't be assisting in gutting the program.

Grumpy Engineer , July 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

The whole concept of creating and maintaining a multi-trillion dollar "trust fund" was irrevocably flawed. When the surplus payroll taxes were "invested" in government bonds, they entered the government's general fund and were promptly spent. The money is gone. That's why it's on the books as a debt owed to the Social Security administration. There are no actual assets behind the fund. It's just one part of the government owing money to another part of the government.

However, what would the alternative have been? Investing in the crap shoot known as the US stock market? No thanks. Or setting the funds aside in a bank account, where they would cease circulating through the economy? That wouldn't have worked either, as all dollars in circulation would have eventually ended up there, causing massive deflation.

None of these are workable. We should have gone on a strictly pay-as-you-go basis. If payroll taxes generated more revenue than was necessary, we should have cut payroll taxes and/or raised benefits. And if they fall short, we should raise payroll taxes and/or cut benefits.

Today, we cover about 95% of benefits with payroll taxes. The remainder comes from "trust fund redemptions", where general fund monies are given to the SSA to cover the shortfall. Given that our government is already running a deficit, this means more borrowing (or money-printing, depending on how you look at things).

When the "trust fund" is depleted, but SSA will lack the legal authority to claim any more general fund monies, but it would be quite easy for Congress to change the rules to simply state that "any SSA shortfall will be covered by the general fund". And I predict they will do so in 2034, as it would take less than a month of constituents complaining about reduced benefits to force even the strictest of deficit hawks to cave.

Or maybe they'll get creative and instead raise rates on the interest that the trust fund earns. Right now it's a 3% rate, but if Congress were to double or triple it, the trust fund would last much longer. [As would the debt owed to the SSA.] Heck, if they multiplied the interest rate by a factor of 11, then they could theoretically dispense with payroll taxes entirely. Right?

Spring Texan , July 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Yes, SS has contributed NOT ONE PENNY to the deficit and the reason it accumulated a surplus was so people could collect later. Now, they want to say that old surplus shouldn't count. That's thievery.

Milton , July 26, 2018 at 10:37 pm

tired old tripe and how much is the US military funded? I can answer that for you. It's ZERO. 0% funded! Take your heterodox BS to a bunch of freshman impressionables – it is only tolerated here because you are a fine writer and interesting as hell and know almost all there is about economic liberalism.

ObjectiveFunction , July 26, 2018 at 6:44 am

Wow. So let's go full SSCodex for a bit and push this trend out to the limit.

While the unwashed masses remain a market for big Ag, big Pharma, big Auto, big (online) Retail, and a few others, it seems like the predatory 'fund' segment of the FIRE elite has moved on to devouring larger prey (capitalist autophagy?). The unbankable precariat are beneath their notice now, like pennies on the sidewalk.

So in that case, the 1% of the 0.1% has evolved beyond 'exploitation' in any Marxist sense. It is now indifferent to the very life or death of the precariat, at home or abroad, still less their security or advancement. It needs them neither for consuming nor producing, nor for building ziggurats.

(Just so long as the pitchforks aren't out – but that's what the credentialed minion 20% is for. And drones).

Here Disposables, have some more plastic and painkillers. Be assured the Alphas will be live tweeting the Pandemic, or Chicxulub 2.0, from Elon's luxury robot-serviced survival capsules (oh, you thought those were for use on Mars? Silly rabble!)

It's like that DKs mosh pit classic: "Uncounted millions whisked away / the rich will have more room to play"

[I exaggerate, of course, for illustration. Slightly.]

Musicismath , July 26, 2018 at 7:29 am

I think you can extend this analysis to the current U.K. Conservative Party. Commentators have started to notice that the Brexiteer wing of the party seems completely impervious to claims Brexit will harm the economy. Are the Tories no longer the natural party of British business, they ask?

Using your logic, we can say that a fund-interest-dominated Tory party simply has no interest in or need for the "ordinary" bits of the British business community anymore. What it wants are shorting and raiding opportunities, and from that vantage point a catastrophic Brexit is very attractive. Put these interests in coalition with a voter base largely living on guaranteed incomes and retirement funds of one sort or another and you have the surreal spectacle of an entire governing party and its supporters who are no longer anchored to the "real" economy at all. Yes, it's an exaggeration but it's an exaggeration that explains a few things, I think.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 7:47 am

You both need to read the 2005 leaked Citigroup "plutonomy memo", if you haven't yet. Very bright minds called it a decade ago, that the global economy isn't even an economy any longer in any traditional sense. This is part one: https://delong.typepad.com/plutonomy-1.pdf

ObjectiveFunction , July 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

"Plutonomy" sounds like some nasal epithet out of a Goebbels speech: " die Plutonomisten und Bolshewisten! "

sharonsj , July 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Great link. From page one, Citigroup thinks the global imbalance is a great opportunity. Nothing new here. For years I've been reading about stock and futures manipulations–and vulture capitalists–that cause people to die or kill themselves. The rich don't care; they see it as a way to make more money. And then you wonder why I've been talking revolution for years as well?

Louis Fyne , July 26, 2018 at 8:09 am

"Who is to Blame?"

Answer: Add the US wasting its blood and cash meddling in other countries' affairs. "honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none." bueller ?

Ironic as multilateralist/globalist/fan of US interventions George Soros supposedly provided some of the seed money for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 8:17 am

I don't think Soros is diabolical or sadistic. He's just, let's say, "neurologically eccentric" and unimaginably wealthy.

chris , July 26, 2018 at 8:40 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iipn6yM43sM

athena , July 26, 2018 at 9:25 am

I just want to not die earlier than necessary because I can't afford health care. I'd also like to stop worrying that I'll spend my golden years homeless and starving because of some disaster headed my way. I gave up on status a long time ago, and am one of those mentioned who has little pity for the top 10%.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:52 am

Ditto

John B , July 26, 2018 at 8:50 am

Sounds like a good book. I shall have to pick it up from my library, since buying new books is a stretch.

Nearly all income growth in the United States since the 1970s has gone into income obtained by the rich other than wages and salaries, like capital gains, stock options, dividends, partnership distributions, etc. To capture overall economic growth to which the entire society has contributed, Social Security benefits should be tied to economic growth, smoothed for the business cycle. If people believe benefit increases require tax increases, the tax should be applied to all earnings, not just salary/wages. Raising the $128,400 cap on income subject to SS taxes would thus increase taxes on the lower rungs of the upper middle class but not really address the problem.

Daniel F. , July 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

I apologise in advance for being blunt and oversimplifying the matter, but at the end of the day, (in my very humble and possibly uninformed opinion) nothing short of a mass beheading would work. The 0.1% doesn't really seem, uh, willing to let go of their often ill-gotten billions, and when they do (i.e. charities and such), they often end up being some kind of scam. I refuse to believe that the Zuckerberg-types operate their foundations out of genuine philanthropy. Acquisitions and mergers like Disney buying Fox or Bayer gobbling up Monsanto don't contribute anything to the well-being of the 99% either, and I think that's and understatement.

If there's going to be some kind of revolution, it needs to happen before the logical conclusion of rampaging capitalism. the OCP-type megacorp with its own private army. And, if there indeed is a revolution, what's next?

nycTerrierist , July 26, 2018 at 9:47 am

nice gesture:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/25/betsy-devos-yacht-untied-causing-10000-damages/

Michael Fiorillo , July 26, 2018 at 10:14 am

Case in point: as a public school teacher who has been opposing so-called education reform for two decades, I can assure you that the "venture/vulture philanthropy" model that infests the education world has absolutely nothing to do with improving education, and everything to do with busting the teachers unions, privatizing the schools and turning them into drilling grounds for training young people to accept the subordination, surveillance, tedium and absurdity that awaits them in the workplace. For those lucky enough to have jobs.

As a result of this phenomena, I periodically suggest a new term on the education blogs I post on: "Malanthropy:" the process of of using tax exempt, publicly subsidized entities to directly and indirectly support your financial and political interests, but which are harmful to the public good"

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 9:36 am

Clear and compelling analysis, although still a little MMT challenged. About to turn 70, I vividly remember living through a sudden sea change in American capitalism. In the late 1970s/early 80s, whatever undercurrents of patriotism and humanitarianism that remained within the postwar economy (and had opened the space for the middle class) evaporated, and almost overnight we were living in a culture without any sense of balance or proportion, a virulent and violent mindset that maxed out everything and knew not the meaning of enough. Not only the business world but also the personal world was infected by this virus, as ordinary people no longer dreamed of achieving a healthy and stable family life but rather became hellbent to "succeed" and get rich. Empathy, compassion, and commitment to social justice was no longer cool, giving way to self-interest and self-promotion as the new "virtues." Men, of course, led the way in this devolution, but there was a time in the 90s when almost every other woman I knew was a real estate agent. I touched upon a small male-oriented piece of this social devolution in an essay I wrote several years ago: Would Paladin Have Shot Bin Laden? For those who might be intrigued, here's the link:

https://newtonfinn.com/2011/12/15/would-paladin-have-shot-bin-laden/

The Rev Kev , July 26, 2018 at 10:06 am

What was needed was a Wyatt Earp, not a Paladin ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s ). His standard procedure in the old West was to use his Colt revolver to pistol-whip an offender. Short, sharp and effective.
But then again there was no way that Bin Laden was ever going to be taken prisoner. That bit on his resume as being a contractor for the CIA was a bit embarrassing after all.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 10:49 am

I remember the 50's and even under the hue of bright eyes saw that people were just as hell bent to 'get ahead' in their careers as now and that competing with 'the Joneses' in every crude way imaginable was the rage.

Perhaps more precise to say that in the early '80s, Capitalism reached a tipping point where gravity overcame thrust and virtues with latent vice became vices with the optics of virtue. That and the fact that the right actors always seem available -as if out of thin air, but in reality very much part of cause and effect – for a given state of entropy.

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm

No doubt what was somewhat latent in postwar American capitalism became obscenely blatant in or around the Reagan era. It was all there before, of course, in former times like the Gilded Age. But in the midsize, now rustbelt city I grew up in and continue to live in, the upper middle class of my childhood and youth–the doctors, lawyers, corporate exec's, etc.–lived a few blocks away from my working class neighborhood, had nicer homes, drove caddys instead of chevys, and so forth, but their kids went to school with us working class kids, went to the same movies and dances, hung out in the same places, and all of us, generally, young and old, lived in essentially the same world. For example, my uncle, a lawyer, made maybe 3 times what my dad, a factory clerk, made. THAT was the split between the middle and upper middle class back then, at least in a fairly typical Midwestern city. THAT was what drastically and suddenly changed in the late 70s/early 80s and has only intensified thereafter.

BrianStegner , July 26, 2018 at 10:05 am

Terrific article, but with so many "missing" words (words left out)–too many to list, gratis–you make it a serious challenge to consider sharing with literate friends on social media. Seriously, doesn't anyone re-read their work before "posting?"

Expat2uruguay , July 26, 2018 at 10:28 am

Well, at least the missing words in this piece don't make sentences unintelligible. I've seen that happen before.

It's such a shame for authors to put so much work time and effort into their articles, but then allow the lack of an editor or final read-through to tarnish the entire work.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:40 am

If they're so literate, they can fill in the missing words as the NC commentariat has apparently done with no difficulty.

The substance is well worth sharing, and widely.

David Miller , July 26, 2018 at 10:11 am

One thing that strikes me – a generation ago the talking-point robots of the right could decry "socialized medicine" and all those people supposedly dying while waiting for an operation in foreign, "socialized medicine" places. And they could largely get away with it because relatively few people had personal acquaintances outside their own area.

But now, anyone active in social media probably can interact freely with people all over the world and appreciate how pathetic things really are in the US.

I read on a sports-related forum where an English guy had been watching Breaking Bad and commented offhand that he was amazed at the cost of medical treatment for Mr. White. This turned into a discussion between Brits and Yanks about the NHS. And person after person chimed in "yeah, NHS is not perfect but this kind of thing could never happen here." And you saw the Americans – "yeah, our health care system really is a disgrace."

I'm not a big fan of the social media Borg in general, but here at least seems to be a good effect. It might over time enable more people to wake up as to how jacked up certain things are here.

Eureka Springs , July 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

I'd like to declare us a completely divided, conquered people.

In the last few weeks I've visited with many old friends all of them suffering in silence. Each and every one falling further behind, on the brink of disaster, if not already there. No matter their credentials, many highly credentialed with multiple degrees and or highly experienced in several fields. All with ridiculously high work ethics. All feel maintaining personal integrity is costing them an ability to 'get ahead'.

Many of these friends have multiple jobs, no debt, no car payment, some have insurance which is killing them, medical bills which bury them if they ever have so much as basic health issues, and they are thrifty, from the clothes they wear to the amount of rent they commit themselves. And yet 'staying afloat', is but a dream trumped by guilt and isolationism.

I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem.

A couple months back I gave my camper to an old acquaintance who had no record, found himself homeless after being falsely accused of a crime and locked up for two months. And another friend with full time management position, just gave up her apartment to move into a tent in another friends back yard. Both of these people are bright, hard working, mid forties, white, family peeps with great children. The very kind this article addresses.

The noose tightens and people are committing desperate acts. There is no solidarity. No vision of a way out of this.

Watch a ten dollar parking ticket bring a grown man to terror in their eyes. And he brought in a thousand bucks last week, but has been texting his landlord about past due rent all afternoon.

I feel like I'm on the brink of a million episodes of " Falling Down ".

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:50 am

Indeed. But as consciousness is raised as to the real causes (not personal failure, not robots taking over), hopefully solidarity will grow.

Wonderful article, definitely want to read the book.

John , July 26, 2018 at 11:56 am

I don't think the 0.1% wanted to build a society like this, it is just the way the math works. Somewhere around 1980 the integrity of the US was lost and it became possible for the owning class to divorce themselves from their neighbors and arbitrage labor around the world. Computers and telecommunications made it possible to manage a global supply chain and Republicans changed the tax rules to make it easier to shut down businesses and move them overseas.

A different way to view this: as the wealthy earn profits they can use some of their cash to modify the rules to their benefit. Then they gain more cash which allows them to influence voters and politicians to modify the rules even more in their favor.

If people organized they could change the rules in their favor, but that rarely happens. We used to have unions (imperfect though they were) which lobbied for the working class.

sharonsj , July 26, 2018 at 5:09 pm

I think the 1980s was when I found out my wealthy cousins, who owned a clothing factory in Georgia, had moved it to–get ready for this–Borneo! And of course they are Republicans.

Louis , July 26, 2018 at 10:17 am

The collective decisions to pull up the drawbridge, and a lot middle-class people have supported these decisions are the major reason why there is a housing crisis and higher-education is so expensive.

A lot of people, especially middle-class people, come out with pitchforks every time a new housing development is proposed, screaming about how they don't want "those people" living near them and will vehemently oppose anything that isn't single-family homes which has resulted in the housing supply lagging behind demand, thus affordability issues.

These same people over the years have decided that tax-cuts are more important than adequately funding higher education, so higher education has become a lot more expensive as state support has dwindled.

As the saying goes you made you bed, now you get to sleep in it. Unfortunately so does the younger generation who may not have anything to do with the horrible decision making of the past.

John Wright , July 26, 2018 at 10:33 am

The article stated Americans are "Petrified of being pushed aside by robots".

Maybe I associate with the wrong people, but I don't know any who fear being pushed aside by robots.

But I do know of someone who was being laid off from a tech firm and was finding his job moved overseas.

The deal management presented was, "you can leave now, with your severance package, or get two more weeks pay by training your replacement who will be visiting from overseas."

He trained the new worker for the two weeks.

The American worker is being hit, not by robots, but by outsourcing to other countries and by in-sourcing of labor from other countries.

Robots are expensive and will be avoided if a human can do the job cheaply enough.

That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages.

In the USA, we are witnessing labor arbitrage encouraged by both parties and much of the media as they push USA wages toward world wide levels.

But not for the elite wage earners who gain from this system.

FluffytheObeseCat , July 26, 2018 at 10:58 am

Agreed. The kind of pink collar and barely white collar employees this piece was focused on are not presently threatened by "robots". They are threatened by outsourcing and wage arbitrage.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 11:11 am

That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages.

You may have a point there, and you are spot on that the vast bulk of job-loss is due to job migration and import of cheaper labor. But regardless of the writer's intent or simple laziness, don't be too fast to poo-poo the effect of Robots.

One problem is that we tend to measure job loss and gain without reference to the actual job loosers and the fact that re-training for them may well be impossible or completely ineffective or, at the very minimum, often extremely painful. So while automation may provide as many new jobs as it takes away old ones, that is cold comfort indeed to the worker who gets left behind.

Another, is that the fear of massive job loss to Robots is almost certainly warranted even if not yet fully materialized.

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

When the "Steel Wave" of robot workers comes ashore, I'll be near the head of the queue to join the "Robo Luddites." If the owners of the robot hordes won't pay a fair share of the costs of their mechanominions worker displacement activities, then they should be made to pay an equivalent share in heightened "Production Facility Security Costs." Ford Motors and the River Rouge plant strike comes to mind.
See: http://98937119.weebly.com/strike-at-the-river-rouge-plant-1941.html

Todde , July 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm

The robots are going to be shooting back

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 1:35 pm

It'd be great to be right there with you on that fateful day, Ambrit :-) (And I've even got my gun with the little white flag that pops out and has "Bang!" written on it, all oiled up and ready to go). I suspect however that it will be a silent D Day that probably took place some time ago.

Hard Briexit looks to be baked in the cake
Global Warming disaster looks to be baked in the cake
Water wars look to be baked in the cake.
Massive impoverishment in developed and so called third world nations alike and insane 'last gasp' looting looks to be baked in the cake
[ ]
Why would all manner of robots, the ones too tiny to see along with human looking ones and giant factories that are in reality themselves robots be the exception?

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 9:45 pm

We'd be facing robots, so that flag would have to go "Bang" in binary code. (Might even work. While they are trying to decipher the flag, we can switch their tubes of graphite lubricant with tubes of carborundum.)
When the technologically capable humans have all died off, will the robots perish likewise for lack of programmers?

G Roller , July 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm

"Robots" are software programs, do-it-yourself online appointments, voice recognition, "press 1 now." What's the point of retraining? All you're good for is to make sure the plug is in the wall.

Arizona Slim , July 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm

The act of training the overseas replacement could become an act of sabotage. Think of the ways that one could train the replacement to do the job incorrectly, more slowly than necessary, or not at all.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Sabotage by miss-training.

In a lot of cases that doesn't require much 'intentional' effort. But the lure of cheap labor seems to conquer all. I've seen software companies take loss after loss on off-shore development team screw ups until they finally get it right. I even saw one such company go out of business trying rather than just calling it quits and going back to what was left of their core developers.

funemployed , July 26, 2018 at 12:19 pm

As I approach 40, having only realized in recent years that the constant soul-ache I've lived with my whole life is not some inherent flaw in my being, but a symptom of a deeply ill society, I desperately wish I could share in the glimmer of hope at the end of this post.

But I cannot. What drives me to despair is not the fragile, corrupt, and unsustainable social/political/economic system we're inheriting; nor is it the poisoned and increasingly harsh planet, nor the often silent epidemic of mental and emotional anguish that prevents so many of us from becoming our best selves. I retain great faith in the resilience and potential of the human spirit. And contrary to the stereotypes, I think my generation and those who have come after are often more intellectually and emotionally mature than our parents and grandparents. At the very least, we have a powerful sense of irony and highly tuned BS detectors.

What drives me to despair is so pathetically prosaic that I want to laugh and cry all at once as I type this. To put it as simply as I know how, a core function of all functional human societies is apprenticeship, by which I mean the basic process whereby deep knowledge and skills are transferred from the old to the young, where tensions between tradition and change are contested and resolved, and where the fundamental human need to develop a sense of oneself as a unique and valuable part of a community can flourish.

We have been commodified since before we were even born, to the point where opportunities for what Lave and Wenger would call "legitimate peripheral participation" in the kinds of work that yield real, humane, benefits to our communities are scant to nonexistent for most of us. Something has gone deeply awry in this core social function at the worst possible time in human history.

... ,,, ,,,

ChristopherJ , July 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm

thank you funemployed, perceptive

lyman alpha blob , July 26, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Sympathies from a fellow traveler – your experience sounds similar to mine. I'm a little older and in my 20s I avoided getting a 'real' job for all the reasons you describe. When I hit my 30s and saw what some of the guys who had been hanging out in the bar too long looked like, and decided I ought to at least try it and see how it would go.

Turns out my 20 year old self had been right.

Gayle , July 26, 2018 at 5:11 pm

"Some quirk of my psychology means doing those things creates an irresistible urge in me to slowly poison myself with alcohol and tobacco."

I think those things and drugs are conscience oblivators. Try gardening. Touch the earth. Grow actual food. Not hemp. Back away from the education racket. Good luck. Quit the poison.

David May , July 26, 2018 at 5:16 pm

That was a wonderful post, very moving, thank you. These kind of testimonies are very important because they show the real human cost of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is truly a death cult. Please find an alternative to alcohol. Music, art, nature, etc.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 7:08 pm

Thank you for sharing your compelling story. As someone who could be your mother, it is painful to me not only that this is your experience, but that you are so acutely aware of it. No blinders. Hence, I guess, the need for alcohol.

You write beautifully. Hope is hard to come by sometimes.

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 9:58 pm

At least you are self aware. Most people are not. As for the Ship of Status, let it sink. Find a lifeboat where you feel comfortable and batten down for the Roaring (20)40s yet to come. Once you find something to work for, the bad habits will lose much of their hold on you. As long as you don't slide into alcoholism, you have a chance.

Unfettered Fire , July 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Life was kinder just 40 years ago, not perfect but way more mellow than it is today. Kids were listening to Peter Frampton and Stevie Wonder, not punk, grunge, rap and industrial music. What changed? Neoliberalism, the economic policy that is private sector "free market" driven, giving the owners of capital free, unfettered reign. Created by libertarians like Fredrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, they sold it to the nation but failed to mention that little peccadillo about how privatization of government would usher in economic fascism.

"An extreme form of laissez-faire individualism that developed in the writings of Hayek, Friedman and Nozick they are also referred to as libertarians. They draw on the natural rights tradition of John Locke and champion's full autonomy and freedom of the individual."

What they meant was ECONOMIC freedom. They despise social freedom (democracy) because civil, labor, health, food safety, etc., rights and environmental protections put limits on their profits.

The "maximizing shareholder value" myth turns people into psychopaths . The entire neoliberal economic policy of the past 40 years is based on the false assumption that self-interest is the driving evolution of humanity. We're not all psychopaths, turns out. We're social beings that have mainly used cooperation to get us through these thousands of years of existence.

There's nothing wrong with wanting government to protect the public sector from predatory capitalists. Otherwise, society's value system turns upside down sick people are more valued than healthy violent are more valued to fill up the prison factories war becomes a permanent business a filthy, toxic planet is good for the oil industry a corporate governance with no respect for rights or environmental protections is the best capitalism can offer?

Thanks, but no thanks.

The easily manipulated right are getting the full assault. "Run for your lives! The democratic socialists want to use the government bank for everyone, not just the 1%!! They understand how the economy really works and see through our lies!! Before you know it, everyone will be enjoying a better quality of life! AAAAGHHH!!"

Even the IMF is getting a scolding for being so out-of-touch with reality. Isn't economics supposed to factor in conscience?

"If the IMF is to shake its image as an inward-looking, out-of-touch boys club, it needs to start taking the issue seriously. The effect of the male dominance in macroeconomics can be seen in the policy direction of the organisation: female economists are more likely to be in favour of Government-backed redistribution measures than their male counterparts.

Of course, the parochial way in which economics is perceived by the IMF, as nothing more than the application of mathematical models, is nothing new. In fact, this is how mainstream economics frequently is taught in universities all over the world. Is it any wonder that the IMF has turned out as it is?"

Michael Hudson, as usual, was right:

"Economics students are forced to spend so much time with this complex calculus so that they can go to work on Wall St. that there's no room in the course curriculum for the history of economic thought.

So all they know about Adam Smith is what they hear on CNN news or other mass media that are a travesty of what these people really said and if you don't read the history of economic thought, you'd think there's only one way of looking at the world and that's the way the mass media promote things and it's a propagandistic, Orwellian way.

The whole economic vocabulary is to cover up what's really happening and to make people think that the economy is getting richer while the reality is they're getting poorer and only the top is getting richer and they can only get rich as long as the middle class and the working class don't realize the scam that's being pulled off on them."

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Unfettered Fire and funemployed: deeply appreciate your lengthy and heartfelt posts. It's a terribly small thing, but I have a suggestion to make that always helps me to feel a bit better about things or should I say to feel a bit better about the possibility of things. If you're game, and haven't already done so, search for the following free online book: "Equality" by Edward Bellamy. Then do no more than read the introduction and first chapter (and slightly into the second) to absorb by far the finest Socratic dialogue ever written about capitalism, socialism, and the only nonviolent way to move from the former to the latter–a way wide open to us, theoretically, right now. I know that's a hell of a qualifier.

Andrew Watts , July 26, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Why do modern intellectuals insist on inventing euphemisms for already known definitions? The middle precariat is merely another term for the petty bourgeoisie. While they may have possessed economic benefits like pensions and owned minuscule amounts of financial assets they were never the dominant ruling class. Their socioeconomic status was always closer in their livelihoods to the working class. After the working class was effectively being dismantled starting in the 1970s, it has become the petty bourgeoisie's turn to be systematically impoverished.

This is the primary economic development of our era of late capitalism. The question is, what does it mean to be American if this country is no longer a land of opportunity?

precariat , July 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Because the 'known definitions' do not apply anymore.

The middle has more in common with those below than those above. And here is the scary reason: everyone is to be preyed upon by the wealth extractors who dominate our politics/economy -- everyone. There is no social or educational allegieance, there is only a resource to be ruthlessly plundered, people and their ability to earn and secure.

Mel , July 26, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Right. It's hardly a euphemism. The Middle Precariat are the people in the 9.9% who will not be part of the 8.9%.

Andrew Watts , July 26, 2018 at 5:07 pm

The so-called precariat lacks any sense of class consciousness and as a consequence are incapable of any kind of solidarity. Nor do they perceive any predatory behavior in the economic system. If the article is to be believed they blame themselves for their plight. These traits which include the admiration and imitation of the rich are the hallmarks of the petty bourgeoisie.

This disagreement over semantics is an example of the shallowness and superficiality of new ideas. Marx already predicted that they'd be unceremoniously thrown into the underclass in later stages of economic development at any rate.

ProNewerDeal , July 26, 2018 at 1:16 pm

thanks for this article.

The BigMedia & BigPols ignore the Type 1 Overqualified Underemployed cohort. Perhaps hopefully someone like the new Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will discuss it, her recently being of this cohort as an economist by degree working as a bartender. Instead we have examples of BigMedia/BigPol crying about "STEM worker shortage" where there already are countless underemployed STEM workers working Uber-ish type McJobs.

Afaict the only occupations (mostly) immune to Type 1 Overqualified Underemployment risk here in Murica are medical pros: physicians/dentists/pharmacists & possibly nurses. Otherwise there are stories of PhD Uber drivers, MBA strippers, & lawyers working Apple store retail, especially in the first few years post 2008-GFC but still present now. In other words, the US labor market "new economy" is resembling "old economy" of Latin America or Russia (proverbial physicist selling trinkets on the Trans-Siberia railway).

precariat , July 26, 2018 at 1:24 pm

From Eureka Springs, this:

"I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem."

This is a stark and startling reality. This reality is outside the framework of understanding of economic struggle in America that is allowed by the corporate neoliberal culture/media.

Jean , July 26, 2018 at 1:34 pm

As the Precariat grows, having watched the .1% lie, cheat and steal – from them, they are more likely to also lie, cheat and steal in mortgage, employment and student loan applications and most importantly and sadly, in their dealings with each other. Everybody is turning into a hustler.

As to dealings with institutions, this comment is apt. I think this came from NC comments a couple of weeks ago. Apologies for not being able to attribute it to its author:

"Why should the worker be subservient to the employer? Citizens owe NO LOYALTY, moral or legal, to a someone else's money making enterprise. And that enterprise is strictly a product of signed commercial legal documents. Commercial enterprise has no natural existence. It is a man-made creation, and is a "privilege", not a "right"; just as a drivers license is a privilege and not an absolute right."

Sound of the Suburbs , July 26, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy. The Classical economist, Adam Smith, observed the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around him.

"The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers."

How does this tie in with the trickledown view we have today? Somehow everything has been turned upside down.

The workers that did the work to produce the surplus lived a bare subsistence existence. Those with land and money used it to live a life of luxury and leisure.

The bankers (usurers) created money out of nothing and charged interest on it. The bankers got rich, and everyone else got into debt and over time lost what they had through defaults on loans, and repossession of assets.

Capitalism had two sides, the productive side where people earned their income and the parasitic side where the rentiers lived off unearned income. The Classical Economists had shown that most at the top of society were just parasites feeding off the productive activity of everyone else.

Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy.

How can we protect those powerful vested interests at the top of society?

The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income and they conflated "land" with "capital". They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists to hide the effects of rentier activity in the economy.

The landowners, landlords and usurers were now just productive members of society again. It they left banks and debt out of economics no one would know the bankers created the money supply out of nothing. Otherwise, everyone would see how dangerous it was to let bankers do what they wanted if they knew the bankers created the money supply through their loans.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

The powerful vested interests held sway and economics was corrupted. Now we know what's wrong with neoclassical economics we can put the cost of living back in.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Employees want more disposable income (discretionary spending). Employers want to pay lower wages for higher profits

The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living

The neoliberals obsessed about reducing taxes, but let the cost of living soar. The economists also ignore the debt that is papering over the cracks and maintaining demand in the economy. This can never work in the longer term as you max. out on debt.

Lambert Strether , July 26, 2018 at 3:35 pm

> These young people do not think of things like debt-free college or paid family leave as radical: they see it done elsewhere in the world and don't accept that it can't be done in America.

An unexpected consequence of globalization is that a lot of people see how thing are done, elsewhere.

Livius Drusus , July 26, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Part of me doesn't feel sorry at all for the plight of middle-class Americans. When times were good they were happy to throw poor and working-class people under the bus. I remember when the common answer to complaints about factory closings was "you should have gotten an education, dummy." Now that the white-collar middle class can see that they are next on the chopping block they are finding their populist soul.

At the end of the day we need to have solidarity between workers but this is a good example of why you should never think that you are untouchable and why punching down is never a good political strategy. There will always be somebody more powerful than you and after they are done destroying the people at the bottom you will probably be next.

[Jul 24, 2018] Bernie Sanders embraces the anti-Russia campaign by Patrick Martin

Notable quotes:
"... Sanders's support for the anti-Russia and anti-Wikileaks campaign is all the more telling because he was himself the victim of efforts by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party leadership to block his 2016 campaign. In June and July 2016, Wikileaks published internal Democratic emails in which officials ridiculed the Sanders campaign, forcing the DNC to issue a public apology: "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email." ..."
"... In the aftermath of his election campaign, Sanders was elevated into a top-level position in the Democratic Party caucus in the US Senate. His first response to the inauguration of Trump was to declare his willingness to "work with" the president, closely tracking remarks of Obama that the election of Trump was part of an "intramural scrimmage" in which all sides were on the same team. As the campaign of the military-intelligence agencies intensifies, however, Sanders is toeing the line. ..."
"... The Sanders campaign did not push the Democrats to the left, but rather the state apparatus of the ruling class brought Sanders in to give a "left" veneer to a thoroughly right-wing party. ..."
"... There is no contradiction between the influx of military-intelligence candidates into the Democratic Party and the Democrats' making use of the services of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to give the party a "left" cover. Both the CIA Democrats and their pseudo-left "comrades" agree on the most important questions: the defense of the global interests of American imperialism and a more aggressive intervention in the Syrian civil war and other areas where Washington and Moscow are in conflict. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appeared on the CBS interview program "Face the Nation" Sunday and fully embraced the anti-Russia campaign of the US military-intelligence apparatus, backed by the Democratic Party and much of the media.

In response to a question from CBS host Margaret Brennan, Sanders unleashed a torrent of denunciations of Trump's meeting and press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A preliminary transcript reads:

SANDERS: "I will tell you that I was absolutely outraged by his behavior in Helsinki, where he really sold the American people out. And it makes me think that either Trump doesn't understand what Russia has done, not only to our elections, but through cyber attacks against all parts of our infrastructure, either he doesn't understand it, or perhaps he is being blackmailed by Russia, because they may have compromising information about him.

"Or perhaps also you have a president who really does have strong authoritarian tendencies. And maybe he admires the kind of government that Putin is running in Russia. And I think all of that is a disgrace and a disservice to the American people. And we have got to make sure that Russia does not interfere, not only in our elections, but in other aspects of our lives."

These comments, which echo remarks he gave at a rally in Kansas late last week, signal Sanders' full embrace of the right-wing campaign launched by the Democrats and backed by dominant sections of the military-intelligence apparatus. Their opposition to Trump is centered on issues of foreign policy, based on the concern that Trump, due to his own "America First" brand of imperialist strategy, has run afoul of geostrategic imperatives that are considered inviolable -- in particular, the conflict with Russia.

Sanders did not use his time on a national television program to condemn Trump's persecution of immigrants and the separation of children from their parents, or to denounce his naming of ultra-right jurist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, or to attack the White House declaration last week that the "war on poverty" had ended victoriously -- in order to justify the destruction of social programs for impoverished working people. Nor did he seek to advance his supposedly left-wing program on domestic issues like health care, jobs and education.

Sanders' embrace of the anti-Russia campaign is not surprising, but it is instructive. This is, after all, an individual who presented himself as "left-wing," even a "socialist." During the 2016 election campaign, he won the support of millions of people attracted to his call for a "political revolution" against the "billionaire class." For Sanders, who has a long history of opportunist and pro-imperialist politics in the orbit of the Democratic Party, the aim of the campaign was always to direct social discontent into establishment channels, culminating in his endorsement of the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Sanders's support for the anti-Russia and anti-Wikileaks campaign is all the more telling because he was himself the victim of efforts by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party leadership to block his 2016 campaign. In June and July 2016, Wikileaks published internal Democratic emails in which officials ridiculed the Sanders campaign, forcing the DNC to issue a public apology: "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email."

In the aftermath of his election campaign, Sanders was elevated into a top-level position in the Democratic Party caucus in the US Senate. His first response to the inauguration of Trump was to declare his willingness to "work with" the president, closely tracking remarks of Obama that the election of Trump was part of an "intramural scrimmage" in which all sides were on the same team. As the campaign of the military-intelligence agencies intensifies, however, Sanders is toeing the line.

The experience is instructive not only in relation to Sanders, but to an entire social milieu and the political perspective with which it is associated. This is what it means to work within the Democratic Party. The Sanders campaign did not push the Democrats to the left, but rather the state apparatus of the ruling class brought Sanders in to give a "left" veneer to a thoroughly right-wing party.

New political figures, many associated with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are being brought in for the same purpose. As Sanders gave his anti-Russia rant, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat next to him nodding her agreement. The 28-year-old member of the DSA last month won the Democratic nomination in New York's 14th Congressional District, unseating the Democratic incumbent, Joseph Crowley, the fourth-ranking member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives.

Since then, Ocasio-Cortez has been given massive and largely uncritical publicity by the corporate media, summed up in an editorial puff piece by the New York Times that described her as "a bright light in the Democratic Party who has brought desperately needed energy back to New York politics "

Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders were jointly interviewed from Kansas, where the two appeared Friday at a campaign rally for James Thompson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the US House of Representatives from the Fourth Congressional District, based in Wichita, in an August 7 primary election.

Thompson might appear to be an unusual ally for the "socialist" Sanders and the DSA member Ocasio-Cortez. His campaign celebrates his role as an Army veteran, and his website opens under the slogan "Join the Thompson Army," followed by pledges that the candidate will "Fight for America." In an interview with the Associated Press, Thompson indicated that despite his support for Sanders' call for "Medicare for all," and his own endorsement by the DSA, he was wary of any association with socialism. "I don't like the term socialist, because people do associate that with bad things in history," he said.

Such anticommunism fits right in with the anti-Russian campaign, which is the principal theme of the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections. As the World Socialist Web Site has pointed out for many months, the real thrust of the Democratic Party campaign is demonstrated by its recruitment as congressional candidates of dozens of former CIA and military intelligence agents, combat commanders from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and war planners from the Pentagon, State Department and White House.

There is no contradiction between the influx of military-intelligence candidates into the Democratic Party and the Democrats' making use of the services of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to give the party a "left" cover. Both the CIA Democrats and their pseudo-left "comrades" agree on the most important questions: the defense of the global interests of American imperialism and a more aggressive intervention in the Syrian civil war and other areas where Washington and Moscow are in conflict.

[Jul 22, 2018] Bureaucracies, Markets, and the Loss of Municipal Citizenship

Notable quotes:
"... The overuse of instrumental rationality has many sources, but in the United States its historical development begins with dramatic changes in the design of municipal governments. ..."
"... In the end, potentially more so than any other factor, these changes in the fundamental design of municipal governments not only reversed the victories of Socialists but encouraged an outlook on local politics that deemphasized the people as active citizens and conceptualized them as passive shareholders who entrusted the operations of local government with managers and bureaucrats. ..."
"... Capitalism and Freeman ..."
"... In pursuit of strengthening business interests over socialist politics, municipal governments became more bureaucratic. If anything, markets and bureaucracies have had a historical mutually reinforcing relationship; the survival of the free market system has been dependent on the bureaucratization of public life. ..."
"... Genealogies of Citizenship: Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights ..."
"... New Castles News ..."
"... New Castle News ..."
Jul 22, 2018 | new-compass.net

Bureaucracies, Markets, and the Loss of Municipal Citizenship 02.07.2018

"Liberty vanishes whenever the law, in certain cases, allows a man to cease to be a person and to become a thing"

-Cesare Beccaria

Throughout the modern era, there has been a lingering fear of the mechanization of everyday life through the overuse of instrumental rationality. Because the social sciences intimately weave both outcomes and ethics, this overuse of instrumental rationality carries with it a moral dimension. Despite having somewhat predictable behavior, people are not things . Rather, the very notion of humanity implies a degree of agency, and agency demands an acknowledgment for spontaneous behaviors and active choices. Nevertheless, the growth of both bureaucracies and markets -- two common features of the modern era -- appears to negate this truism and encourage an inverse to Kant's maximum to treat people as ends in themselves rather than means toward some bureaucratic or profit-driven goal.

The overuse of instrumental rationality has many sources, but in the United States its historical development begins with dramatic changes in the design of municipal governments. At the turn of the 20th Century, Socialists in the United States had considerable success in municipal elections. Empowered by a constituency of small-scale and heavily mortgaged farmers and newly created industrial laborers, for a brief period, the Socialist Party posed a significant electoral challenge to both Democrats and Republicans in America's Midwest. Nevertheless, these successes were short-lived. In response to the electoral victories of Socialist candidates, Progressives promoted "reform" governments that made municipalities more both bureaucratic and market orientated. Under their guidance, the full weight of Taylorism was brought to municipal governments. In the process, local governments became embedded with an ideology predicated on instrumentalist rationality that justified the marginalization participation in public life and redirected the priorities of municipal politics toward ensuring certain monetary ends. In the end, potentially more so than any other factor, these changes in the fundamental design of municipal governments not only reversed the victories of Socialists but encouraged an outlook on local politics that deemphasized the people as active citizens and conceptualized them as passive shareholders who entrusted the operations of local government with managers and bureaucrats.

This history upturns a problematic assumption among advocates of a free market economy. Chiding President Kennedy, Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freeman , proclaimed that "the free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government?" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom." (1) The idea that in a free market democracy people merely act "through" government rather than "by" government implies a purely instrumental account of public authority. For Freidman, the government is not supposed to reflect a common good, but is simply another option for achieving the specific ends of individuals. For this reason, Friedman argues, the ideal government for a thriving market is both limited and dispersed. However, the history of reform government shows the opposite. In pursuit of strengthening business interests over socialist politics, municipal governments became more bureaucratic. If anything, markets and bureaucracies have had a historical mutually reinforcing relationship; the survival of the free market system has been dependent on the bureaucratization of public life.

In many ways, this relationship was anticipated. Max Weber's remarks on the "iron cage" of the modern economic order implied a shared rationality between markets and bureaucracies. (2) In both cases, social life -- and by extension people -- is valued only to the extent that it can fulfill certain ends, rather than being seen as an end in and of itself. Murray Bookchin's criticism of bureaucracies -- in that they grow as a sense of citizenship declines, filling social vacuums with "monadic individuals and family units into a strictly administrative structure" (3) -- can just as easily apply to markets. Margaret Somers, in her work Genealogies of Citizenship: Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights demonstrates that market fundamentalism has resulted in the "contractualization of citizenship" in the United States. In doing so, Americans have reorganized "the relationship between the state and the citizenry, from noncontractual rights and obligations to the principles and practices of quid pro quo market exchange." (4) In decrying the loss of citizenship -- whether through bureaucratization or market fundamentalism -- both Bookchin and Somers draw on contemporary political realities. Yet, as will be shown, the roots of this problem run much deeper. In the United States, the phenomenon of bringing instrumentalist rationality to the public sphere started a century ago with the restructuring of municipal governments.

Reform vs Machine: A Problematic Dichotomy

Few issues in urban politics have been as enduring as the institutional design of governing bodies. The conventional view is that before the Progressive Era most municipalities were ruled by machine governments that served myopic interests, usually geographically or ethnically based. These machine governments were easily susceptible to corruption. Eventually, these governments became reform regimes that merged ideals on the public good with modern concepts of business management. Reform politics were thought to be "objective," in the sense that they isolated public officials from parochial interests, advocated for nonpartisan elections, and promoted efficiency in government services. (5) According to Paul Peterson, machine governments "favored ward elections, long ballots, decentralized governing arrangements, and the close connection between government, party, neighborhood, and ethnic association. Reformers preferred citywide elections, short ballots, centralized governing institutions, and the application of universalistic norms in the provision of government services." (6) In the overwhelming majority of cases, reform governments favored small city councils and managerial systems, where the administration of the city's activities was performed by a hired city manager, rather than the mayor. Both during the Progressive Era and after the Second World War, America saw an explosion of reform orientated managerial governments. (7) Judged in the terms of popularity alone, reform governments are often assumed to be the ideal means for handling local affairs, at least for small municipalities.

However, the degree to which reform governments objectively represent the interests of all residents in the city has been contested. Jessica Trounstine has argued that reform governments do not necessarily make local power more transparent. Instead, they substitute one form of institutional bias for another. (8) For example, advocates of reform governments promote citywide, non-partisan, winner-take-all elections in the hopes of severing the tie between public officials and party bosses. However, this often decreases voter awareness of candidates and results in costlier elections. Party bosses are weakened, but wealthy individuals running for office gain electoral advantages. For this reason, the debates between reform and machine governments have not necessarily been debates on transparency and corruption, but on which type of local elites should be in control of the governments. This is a critical point in understanding why certain municipalities changed to reform governments and why, in many cases, these changes were strongly resisted.

Rice has noted that commission governments -- which were part of the reform agenda and acted both as a theoretical and practical precursor to more managerial institutions -- were almost unequivocally supported by business elites and bitterly opposed by labor. Often business elites were only able to demobilize labor's opposition by making major concessions that made the reform process far more varied and complicated than the usual narrative of machine-to-reform proposes. (9) Nevertheless, when labor did prove itself to be a significant threat to the established order -- as in the case of Midwest cities in the form of the Socialist Party -- the move to managerial governments occurred swiftly, uncompromisingly, and involved players outside of the local political landscape.

The support among business elites for reform governments was not only because such changes ensured them electoral advantages. The structure of the reform governments often duplicated the organizational styles that were prevalent within the private sector. Replacing large city councils elected through wards with small commissions elected citywide made local governments more closely resemble the structure of corporate boardrooms. Furthermore, the position of city-managers was thought to mimic that of the chief executive officer (CEO) within a firm. There was no expectation that the city manager would be accountable to the people directly any more than a firm's CEO was thought to be directly accountable to its workers. Instead, the city-manager was accountable to the council who acted as a board, while the citizens themselves were thought to be shareholders of the city. As Stillman has observed, "commercial activities have been one of the vital forces in shaping American society, and the businessman and the corporation have often been instrumental in determining public values Probably no political or administrative philosophy reflects business and corporate ideals more clearly than the city management movement." (10) In this regard, the movement for reform governments not only wanted to reconfigure local power to better serve business elites but believed that the values and thinking of business elites -- which saw citizens in service of certain fiscal ends -- should be embedded into the structure of municipal politics.

Socialists Against Reform

In 1911, after two decades of organizing, the Socialist Party in Dayton, Ohio reported nearly 500 formal members and the support of approximately 13,000 trade unionists. With this popular support, they successfully elected two of their members to the city council and another three to the assessor's office. Their political strength was undoubtedly on the rise. During the 1912 presidential election, a greater portion of the Dayton electorate voted for the Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs than the Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt. (11)

In 1912, Ohio revised its constitution in order to grant home rule status to local municipalities. This prompted twenty-five cities in the state to consider charter changes. Dayton was one of them. With the design of local government now open, there was a strong push by Progressives to shrink the city council, make all elections citywide, and hire a city manager to perform administrative tasks. One notable champion of this cause was John H. Patterson. Patterson was a local industrialist known for his experiments in "welfare capitalism." Despite his reputation as an enlightened business owner, Patterson was notoriously anti-union, chiding labor organizations for promoting a "restive spirit" among employees. Under the progressive banner, Patterson promoted reform governments as a means of combining Taylorism with republicanism. According to Paterson, the virtues of managerial and market orientated governments were elevated to the status of a secular religion. In print and lectures, he proudly proclaimed that "A city is a great business enterprise whose stockholders are the people Our municipal affairs would be placed upon a strict business basis and directed, not by partisans , but by men who are skilled in business management and social science; who would treat our people's money as a trust fund, to be expended wisely and economically, without waste and for the benefit of all citizens." (12) The local Socialist Party was not persuaded by Paterson's calls for a technocratic utopia. They decried the proposed reform government as a regressive step away from democracy. (13)

In March, 1913, only two months before the city was to vote on its new charter, a massive flood from the Miami River hit Dayton, resulting in a state of emergency. While the local government scrambled to deal with the crisis, Patterson utilized the opportunity to exhibit the generosity of Dayton's business class. He opened his factory as a relief center and organized a fundraising campaign among the business community to pay for emergency services. These actions won him favor among the local population. When election for the new charter was held on May 20, 1913, the new reform government was approved by a 2-1 margin. Despite increasing their number of votes in proceeding election cycle, the changes prevented the Socialist Party from taking office again. By 1917, the Socialist Party managed to win 43% of the vote, but in citywide, winner-take-all elections, this resulted in no representation. (14)

A similar dispossession of Socialists happened in New Castle, Pennsylvania. In 1911, New Castle voters elected several Socialist Party members to their select board, including the mayor, Walter V. Tyler. Despite the recalcitrance of non-socialist on the select board, often refusing to attend meetings in order to deny a quorum, Tyler and his supporters were able to make meaningful changes to the city. They ended petty graft and managed to get the city's finances in order, raised wages and reduced hours for city workers, and instituted reforms to curb police brutality. (15)

Despite these successes, the Socialists in New Castle found their ability to maintain their tenure in public office severely limited with the passage of the Clark Act. Passed in 1913, the Clark Act changed all third-class cities in Pennsylvania, which included New Castle, to a commission-style government. This reduced the size of the city councils to five members, replaced wards with citywide elections, created nonpartisan positions, and increased the number of signatures needed to get an initiative on the ballot. Despite the appearance of nonpartisan elections, it was clear that the new commission-style government biased the electoral system toward Republicans. Previously, the electoral achievements of Socialists in New Castle were partially attributed to factionalism within the local Republican Party. The editors of the New Castles News were Republican partisans and condemned ex-Republicans who ran independently in elections for their lack of loyalty. Nevertheless, after the passage of the Clark Act, New Castle News editors had an overnight conversion to nonpartisan ideals, worked with the local Board of Trade to select "men of the highest standard" to run for public office, and were extremely successful in reinstituting Republican rule. (16) As with Dayton, the changes effectively excluded Socialists from office. No Socialists were reelected in 1913. Mayor Tyler's reform movement was halted, and -- due to charter changes -- Tyler himself was unable to run for reelection. (17)

The examples of Dayton and New Castle demonstrate that reform governments did not necessarily result in an attack on machines, but rather a turn toward more bureaucratic and market-orientated municipalities. As Bruce M. Stave has noted, "urban structural reforms that Socialists generally opposed, with good reason, include the often successful attempt to institute city manager or commission forms of government. Along with substituting nonpartisan city-wide elections for ward-based elections to city councils and school boards, such diluted areas of socialist strength and grass-roots neighborhood control over municipal politics. Conversely, it enhanced the power of urban elites, who had the resources and expertise to take advantage of the new rationalized structures." (18)

Reviving Municipal Citizenship

Municipal politics in the United States has had a problematic history. In the United States, the virtues of local sovereignty are praised to such an extent that critical examinations of municipal governments often get lost in the adulations. There is no argument that machine governments hindered greater democratic inclusion, but the assumption that their reform counterparts offered a meaningful an alternative is mistaken. The reality is that more often than not reform governments shifted power rather than dispersing it.

Advocates of reform governments claimed that they would make politics more efficient by preventing the waste and spoilage associated with machines. Since the private sector constantly strove for higher levels of efficiency to maximize profits, it was only reasonable to bring private sector organizational styles into the public realm. However, this analysis fundamentally misunderstands the nature of machine politics. Machines were not inefficient. They were actually highly efficient is distributing the resources at their disposal. The issue was that the rewards of that distribution were not based on competency but loyalty. Party loyalty acts as the machine's capital, where if party bosses were willing to invest favoritism toward certain underlings, then that boss would see a return on investments through loyalty. The movement away from machine to reform government did not seek a fundamental dismantling of this capitalistic relationship but instead transferred the terms so that party loyalty was substituted for business loyalty. In doing so, municipal governments became embedded with the values and rationality of the reigning business class. Municipal bureaucracies aided in the creation of localized market societies. This relationship between market and bureaucracy proved to be both self-reinforcing and enduring. The managerial concepts on local governments popularized during the Progressive Era remain a mainstay of America's political landscape, especially in suburban areas.

Problematically, the treatment of citizens in a polity as stockholders of a corporation fundamentally undermines the very notion of citizenship. In a free society, the people do not consume their government; they embody it through the exercise of their citizenship. Consumers in a market, unlike citizens in a polity, have no presumption of equality. If anything, consumers in a market are constantly seeking to undermine each other's equality in order to secure the best deals. Citizenship cannot engage in this anarchy of the market. Doing so undermines the basis of a cohesive community.

The displacement of Socialists from municipal governments could not have happened without a grander agenda to limit democratic participation and a reimagining of citizens as means toward ensuring business interest rather than ends. Nevertheless, this suggests a corrective to the tendency toward market bureaucratization in local government. The expansion of democracy, above and beyond the local realm, is essential to working against the "iron cage" of the modern economic order. Such an expansion can only come about by embracing a deeper sense of citizenship that challenges not only the inviolability of private property but the very rationality that reduces citizens to nomadic cogs in a bureaucratic engine intended to maximize profits.

(1) Friedman, Milton, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982) 10.

(2) Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. ed. Richard Swedberg (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)

(3) Bookchin, Murray, Urbanization Without Cities: The Rise and Decline of Citizenship (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1992), 172.

(4) Somers, Margret R., Genealogies of Citizenship: Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 2.

(5) Rice, Bradley, Progressive Cities: The Commission Government Movement in America, 1901-1920 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977).

(6) Peterson, Paul E, City Limits (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981), 7.

(7) Stillman II, Richard J, The Rise of the City Manager: A Public Professional in Local Government (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974).

(8) Trounstine, Jessica, Political Monopolies in American Cities: The Rise and Fall of Bosses and Reformers (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2008).

(9) Rice, Bradley, Progressive Cities: The Commission Government Movement in America, 1901-1920.

(10) Stillman II, Richard J, The Rise of the City Manager: A Public Professional in Local Government, 7-8.

(11) Judd, Richard W, Socialist Cities: Municipal Politics and the Grass Roots of American Socialism (Albany: State of University of New Press, 1989).

(12) Quoted from ibid, 8.

(13) Judd, Richard W, Socialist Cities: Municipal Politics and the Grass Roots of American Socialism.

(14) ibid.

(15) ibid.

(16) Quoted from ibid, 156.

(17) ibid.

[Jun 21, 2018] Mexican Business Elite, US Government, Brace for Likely Win by Leftist Obrador as Mexico's President by Yves Smith

After dramatic neoliberal counterrevolutions in Brazil and Mexico, neoliberals might face a defeat in Mexico
Notable quotes:
"... Business Insider ..."
"... Wall Street Journal, ..."
"... clase política. ..."
"... Dan La Botz' article in Jacobin succeeds masterfully in resolving relatively bland phrases like "coercive influence of the United States" that are part of left discourse into "a rational fear of murder by US-backed interests." ..."
"... Martin Luther King is said to have felt himself to be a "dead man walking" in the last months of his life; Amlo must feel much the same way. ..."
"... Mexico's predicament cannot be understood without the context of the war on drugs. I recommend a fun graphic novel: "Narcotráfico para inocentes: El narco en México y quien lo U.S.A." Mexico is in a similar situation as China during the Opium war or the US during prohibition. The book does an excellent job explaining how and why US interests created and foster the "war". ..."
"... The so-called 'pink tide' has been mostly, but certainly NOT completely, rolled back in the last few years. If AMLO's win is isolated, he probably won't change much. But, if this is the start of a new 'pink tide', then he might have more breathing space to get things done. ..."
"... I think Brazil is still the linchpin of the region. Prospects look quite dim there, but things can turn rather quickly. ..."
"... Neoliberalism somehow thought it could balance the budget and it would balance capitalism. So where do those ideologues go from here. It's a dead end. The only way to save the usefulness of capitalism at this point is to turn back to social spending. ..."
"... It avoids destructive over-banking and mirage profits by financialization because the money goes where it should go. But Obrador doesn't sound like he would dare suggest anything but austerity to rebalance spending priorities in Mexico. His priorities are fine, except he doesn't have a road map to get there. But interesting the political tide is turning. ..."
Jun 21, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The US press has largely ignored a potential sea change in our neighbor to the South. A self-styled radical, former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, looks set to win Mexico's presidential election on July 1. That possibility is giving heartburn to corporate interests in Mexico and the US, as well the US officialdom.

His opponents depict him as a wild-eyed radical, but while Obrador, widely referred to as Amlo, has called for agricultural self-sufficiency, infrastructure development, higher minimum wages, improved public education. But he's also promised no new taxes, and as mayor of Mexico, entered into a public-private partnership with billionaire Carlos Slim to redevelop the downtown area.

Indeed, the website In Defense of Marxism had to make quite a case for its readers to vote for Amlo. They depict him as a type of Third Way figure:

AMLO does not propose a fundamental change of the system – replacing capitalism with socialism – what he proposes is a return to a more humane form of capitalism . He does not propose a programme of expropriations, nor the development of a large-scale nationalized industry, as there was before neoliberalism. To the capitalists, he offers a country of opportunity, without special privileges and without corruption.

For the poorest, he also offers a good list of proposals, particularly for the youth: he is committed to providing education for all at all levels, universal healthcare – not the so-called "seguro popular" ("people's insurance"), but healthcare systems like the IMSS and the ISSSTE (the Mexican social security and the public employees' healthcare programmes) that will be made available for everyone. He also speaks of scholarships for young people and programmes where the state will employ millions of youths a year. He says he will raise pensions for seniors and for single mothers and so on. All of this is a good start and we support it.

He proposes that the funding for these reforms and a large-scale national infrastructure plan will be drawn from eliminating corruption and cutting the high salaries of the bureaucracy, as well as reducing the number of state workers, reducing unnecessary state expenditure and so on. That is to say, he proposes that the interests of the big companies and the banks are not to be touched, and that no more foreign loans are requested. We have real doubts about the possibility that the money he saves with his proposed measures will cover all his planned reforms.

The Financial Times reported on Almo reassuring Mexico's top bankers :

"I will support banks. We won't confiscate assets. No expropriations, no nationalisations. We'll have a country more focused on its main problem: the cancer of corruption. That's my proposal, to end corruption," he said .

But he stuck to his guns on his main policy pledges, including austerity, an end to fat-cat salaries, a president setting a moral example to fight graft, greater co-ordination of security forces which Mr López Obrador said he would personally supervise with a daily 6am security cabinet meeting .

He promised no rollback on structural reforms passed by the current government; a "very few" reforms of his own around the middle of his term, including removing the ban on a president being able to be tried for corruption. However he said there would be "no need to increase taxes, no new taxes, no VAT on medicine and food . . . no petrol price shocks". He also pledged to respect the autonomy of the Bank of Mexico and to establish an "authentic rule of law".

So why are so many people in and outside Mexico in a tizzy about a probable Almo win? Jacobin argues that if Amlo hasn't been convincing enough in his move to the right, he's likely to assassinated. That's not a far-out idea, given Mexico's long-standing history of dirty election, including past assassinations, which Jacobin recounts in gory detail.

From a profile of Amlo in the current issue of the New Yorker:

I told him that many Mexicans wondered whether he had moderated his early radical beliefs. "No," he said. "I've always thought the same way. But I act according to the circumstances. We have proposed an orderly change, and our strategy seems to have worked. There is less fear now. More middle-class people have come on board, not only the poor, and there are businesspeople, too."

Even though Amlo has a strong left-wing economic agenda which makes him extremely popular in the poor south, the election has come to be more and more about fighting corruption. Again from the New Yorker:

With every major party implicated in corruption, López Obrador's supporters seem to care less about the practicality of his ideas than about his promises to fix a broken government. Emiliano Monge, a prominent novelist and essayist, said, "This election really began to cease being political a few months ago and became emotional. It is more than anything a referendum against corruption, in which, as much by right as by cleverness, amlo has presented himself as the only alternative. And in reality he is."

"Implicated" is an understatement. "Knee deep" would be more accurate.

Even in his measured way, Amlo intends to turn Mexico away from neoliberalism, which is enough to make heads explode. The US press either ignores or considerably downplays how poorly Mexico has fared under its tender ministrations. Again from In Defense of Marxism :

Mexico has been immersed in neoliberalism for 32 years and the results are overwhelming: "Under Porfirio Diaz, 95 percent of the population was poor. In 1981 it had fallen to just over 40 percent. Now it is actually 85 percent", said Dr. José Luis Calva Téllez, a member of the Institute of Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), in an interview with Contralínea. (Contralínea 2015)

In addition, the purchasing power of wages dropped by 71.5 percent. It is practically impossible to live on the minimum wage

The driving priority was "macroeconomic management above everything else. More than 1,000 state-owned companies were privatized to stop state intervention in the economy. Foreign trade was liberalized by drastically reducing all taxes or tariffs on foreign products; the Mexican financial system was privatized." .

In the three neoliberal decades, GDP per capita has grown at a rate of 0.6 percent per year; that is, an aggregate growth of 21 percent. That is not to mention the millions of Mexicans who emigrated in search of jobs they do not find in our country. "Counting the emigrants, the growth of GDP per inhabitant is scarcely 0.3 percent per year, or an aggregate growth of 10 percent in 32 years." (José Luis Calva, Mexico Beyond Neoliberalism: Options Within The Global Change)

Jacobin highlights another manifestation of the failure of neoliberalism: the rise of crime and rule by drug lord :

Mexican immigration to the United States -- historically seen as a safety valve in a country where about half the population lives in poverty -- has declined to the lowest level in years. The unemployed and the underemployed are forced to stay home and can't live on Mexican wages. With a population of 127 million, some 55 million live in poverty.

Violence remains a way of life and has not improved under the current administration. There are over 200,000 dead in the drug wars since 2006 and another 32,000 disappeared. Business Insider wrote on April 23 :

The 104,583 homicide cases registered since [President Enrique Peña Nieto] took office in December 2012 are more than the 102,859 officially recorded under his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, who deployed military personnel around the country to confront organized-crime and drug-related violence.

The US is clearly not happy at the idea of an Amlo presidency. His instincts are nationalistic but both the New Yorker and Michael Ard, a former deputy national intelligence officer, see Amlo as willing to deal with America, just not on as one-sided terms as before. As the New Yorker notes :

In campaign events, López Obrador speaks often of mexicanismo -- a way of saying "Mexico first." Observers of the region say that, when the two countries' interests compete, he is likely to look inward. Mexico's armed forces and law enforcement have often had to be persuaded to coöperate with the United States, and he will probably be less willing to pressure them.

And Ard elaborates :

Much of the progress the United States has made with Mexico on security cooperation will probably be jeopardized. It's hard to believe that AMLO will endorse the close relations that the DEA, the Pentagon, and the intelligence community have forged with their Mexican counterparts in the war on drugs. The extradition of the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin el Chapo Guzman to the U.S. in 2017 will probably be the high watermark in the relationship. It is doubtful that AMLO will permit more high-profile extraditions. President Trump's disdain for a close relationship that has taken us decades to build may come back to haunt us.

But a poor relationship between Washington and Mexico City doesn't have to be inevitable. Despite the rhetoric, the flamboyant American billionaire has much in common with the austere Mexican populist. Both countries have too many common interests to go down separate paths. The question is: does AMLO have to build the bomb to get Trump to care about Mexico?

But the US is already hostile. As Jacobin put it:

The business press is exceedingly gloomy about the future under a president who promises to improve the lives of Mexico's working class. The New York Times wrote on April 26 that:

In addition to threatening refinery profits in the United States, his proposals could slow oil production in Texas and impede deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by international oil giants like Exxon Mobil and Chevron. They would also jeopardize the United States' energy trade surplus with Mexico, which reached roughly $15 billion last year.

Mary Anastasia O'Grady, a columnist in the Wall Street Journal, writing on López Obrador's "reinvention as a moderate," suggests that her readers shouldn't believe it:

Morena's " declaration of principles ," posted on its website, asserts that the liberalization of the economy is part of a 'regime of oppression, corruption and privileges.' And that it is the work of "a true Mafioso state built by a minority of concentrated political and economic power in Mexico." If that's what Mr. López Obrador believes, fixing it would seem to require more of a socialist revolution than he proposes.

She writes that, "Over the years he has earned a reputation as a populist demagogue who uses the streets when democratic institutions block his path to power." And she warns her readers against his "socialist party," Morena .

The Council on Foreign Relations, the foreign relations think tank of the American ruling class, writes:

Champions of civil society, transparency, and strong independent public institutions can derive little comfort from some of [AMLO's] recent pronouncements . On the stump, he offers a return to a time of business subsidies, state ownership, and agricultural self-sufficiency. He repeatedly questions energy and infrastructure contracts -- including those undergirding Mexico City's new $13 billion airport -- and promises to roll back the educational shifts underway.

The reports in the business press and the warning from the Council on Foreign Relations are intended to convince the American business class and the State Department that something must be done to stop López Obrador.

The article concludes on a downbeat note:

I would be delighted if my speculations proved wrong and if AMLO could defend a social-democratic program and avoid being pulled into the arms of the US State Department and the Mexican clase política. But as they have for over a hundred years, the prospects for democracy in Mexico look dim.

Mexico desperately needs and wants change and Amlo has long sought to be a catalyst. Let's hope he can fulfill his ambitions.


TiPs , June 21, 2018 at 7:19 am

Hopefully the third time is the charm for Obrador. He's contested the last two outcomes, and I'm sure he had a case in at least one of them if not both.

armchair , June 21, 2018 at 11:40 am

An interesting historical 'what if', is what if AMLO had won in 2006 over Calderón? Calderón unleashed the drug war that we know and see today, and was a faithful steward of neoliberalism. México might be in a very different place today.

hemeantwell , June 21, 2018 at 7:35 am

Dan La Botz' article in Jacobin succeeds masterfully in resolving relatively bland phrases like "coercive influence of the United States" that are part of left discourse into "a rational fear of murder by US-backed interests."

Martin Luther King is said to have felt himself to be a "dead man walking" in the last months of his life; Amlo must feel much the same way.

Pym of Nantucket , June 21, 2018 at 9:11 am

Mexico's predicament cannot be understood without the context of the war on drugs. I recommend a fun graphic novel: "Narcotráfico para inocentes: El narco en México y quien lo U.S.A." Mexico is in a similar situation as China during the Opium war or the US during prohibition. The book does an excellent job explaining how and why US interests created and foster the "war".

johnnygl , June 21, 2018 at 9:18 am

I suspect the outcome is going to be influenced, perhaps significantly, by how the political context in the region unfolds in the next few years. The so-called 'pink tide' has been mostly, but certainly NOT completely, rolled back in the last few years. If AMLO's win is isolated, he probably won't change much. But, if this is the start of a new 'pink tide', then he might have more breathing space to get things done.

I think Brazil is still the linchpin of the region. Prospects look quite dim there, but things can turn rather quickly.

PhilK , June 21, 2018 at 9:23 am

I wouldn't think that the Mexican PTB would be too worried. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas almost surely got the most votes in his election, too.

Lord Koos , June 21, 2018 at 12:39 pm

I've never understood why business interests fight so hard against the welfare of the poor. If more poor people can get into the middle class, they then have more money to buy the crap they sell. Would love to read the graphic novel that is mentioned, but there seems to be no English edition of it.

Susan the other , June 21, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Interesting politics in Mexico. But dangerous. Failed capitalism, or even failed neoliberal freemarketism, is an existential threat to marxism. Neoliberalism somehow thought it could balance the budget and it would balance capitalism. So where do those ideologues go from here. It's a dead end. The only way to save the usefulness of capitalism at this point is to turn back to social spending.

Varoufakis, yesterday, was logically fudging neoliberalism – by going around the banking of surpluses and putting them directly into EU-wide stimulation/projects. It is very MMT but he doesn't say so. It avoids destructive over-banking and mirage profits by financialization because the money goes where it should go. But Obrador doesn't sound like he would dare suggest anything but austerity to rebalance spending priorities in Mexico. His priorities are fine, except he doesn't have a road map to get there. But interesting the political tide is turning.

Tim Williams , June 21, 2018 at 12:57 pm

We destroy their indigenous agriculture by dumping cheap corn, then complain bitterly about all the 'illegals' who seem perfectly willing to harvest our dinners since we won't do the work. Then we try to make 'Agricultural Self-Sufficiency' sound like a bad thing. Godd luck Senor Obrador, you're just what we need.

[Jun 09, 2018] What Goes Around: "Trampling on the Helpless Abroad" Comes Home

Notable quotes:
"... our government's support for Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not exceptions to the rule at all. They are the rule ..."
"... The problem here isn't just liberal hypocrisy and double standards. The deeper issue is that, as the great American iconoclast Mark Twain knew, you cannot maintain democracy at home while conducting an authoritarian empire abroad. ..."
"... "It was impossible," Twain wrote, "to save the Great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home." ..."
"... "Just a decade after Twain wrote those prophetic words," the historian Alfred W. McCoy has observed , "colonial police methods came home to serve as a template for the creation of an American internal security apparatus in wartime." The nation's first Red Scare, which crushed left and labor movements during and after World War One, drew heavily on the lessons and practices of colonial suppression in the Philippines and Cuba. As McCoy shows in his latest book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power , ..."
"... "The fetters imposed on liberty at home," James Madison wrote in 1799 , "have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers abroad." Those are wise words well worth revisiting amidst the current endless Russiagate madness, calculated among other things to tell us that the FBI, the CIA, and the rest of the nation's vast and ever more ubiquitous intelligence and surveillance state are on our side. ..."
Jun 09, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

A final matter concerns the problem of imperial chickens coming home to roost. Liberals don't like to hear it, but the ugly, richly documented historical fact of the matter is that their party of binary and tribal choice has long joined Republicans in backing and indeed crafting a U.S. foreign policy that has imposed authoritarian regimes (and profoundly undemocratic interventions including invasions and occupations) the world over . The roster of authoritarian and often-mass murderous governments the U.S. military and CIA and allied transnational business interests have backed, sometimes even helped create, with richly bipartisan support, is long indeed.

Last fall, Illinois Green Party leader Mike Whitney ran some fascinating numbers on the 49 nation-states that the right-wing "human rights" organization Freedom House identified as "dictatorships" in 2016. Leaving aside Freedom House's problematic inclusion of Russia, Cuba, and Iran on its list, the most remarkable thing about Whitney's research was his finding that the U.S. offered military assistance to 76 percent of these governments. (The only exceptions were Belarus, China, Central African Republic, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.). "Most politically aware people," Whitney wrote:

"know of some of the more highly publicized instances examples of [U.S. support for foreign dictatorships], such as the tens of billions of dollars' worth of US military assistance provided to the beheading capital of the world, the misogynistic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and the repressive military dictatorship now in power in Egypt apologists for our nation's imperialistic foreign policy try to rationalize such support, arguing that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are exceptions to the rule. But my survey demonstrates that our government's support for Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not exceptions to the rule at all. They are the rule ."

The Pentagon and State Department data Whitney used came from Fiscal Year 2015. It dated from the next-to-last year of the Obama administration, for which so many liberals recall with misplaced nostalgia. Freedom House's list should have included Honduras, ruled by a vicious right-wing government that Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped install in a June 2009 military coup .

The problem here isn't just liberal hypocrisy and double standards. The deeper issue is that, as the great American iconoclast Mark Twain knew, you cannot maintain democracy at home while conducting an authoritarian empire abroad. During the United States' blood-soaked invasion and occupation of the Philippines, Twain penned an imaginary history of the twentieth-century United States. "It was impossible," Twain wrote, "to save the Great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home."

"Just a decade after Twain wrote those prophetic words," the historian Alfred W. McCoy has observed , "colonial police methods came home to serve as a template for the creation of an American internal security apparatus in wartime." The nation's first Red Scare, which crushed left and labor movements during and after World War One, drew heavily on the lessons and practices of colonial suppression in the Philippines and Cuba. As McCoy shows in his latest book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power , the same basic process -- internal U.S. repression informed and shaped by authoritarian and imperial practices abroad and justified by alleged external threats to the "homeland" -- has recurred ever since. Today, the rise of an unprecedented global surveillance state overseen by the National Security Agency has cost the US the trust of many of its top global allies (under Bush43 and Obama44, not just under Trump45) while undermining civil liberties and democracy within as beyond the U.S.

"The fetters imposed on liberty at home," James Madison wrote in 1799 , "have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers abroad." Those are wise words well worth revisiting amidst the current endless Russiagate madness, calculated among other things to tell us that the FBI, the CIA, and the rest of the nation's vast and ever more ubiquitous intelligence and surveillance state are on our side.

Help Street keep writing at https://www.paulstreet.org/subscribe/

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends

Highly recommended!
Neoliberals are a flavor of Trotskyites and they will reach any depths to hang on to power.
Notable quotes:
"... Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests – systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends. ..."
"... Nothing short of a grass roots campaign (such as that waged by GetUp!) will get rid for us of these modern let-them-eat-cake parasites who consider their divine duty to lord over us. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
meticulousdoc , 3 Jun 2018 16:16

Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests – systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends.

And when the conservative "Christians" form a neoliberal government, the results are toxic for all, except themselves and their coterie.

Nothing short of a grass roots campaign (such as that waged by GetUp!) will get rid for us of these modern let-them-eat-cake parasites who consider their divine duty to lord over us.

An excellent article, we need more of them.

[Jun 05, 2018] Tim Winton on class and neoliberalism 'We're not citizens but economic players' Books The Guardian

Notable quotes:
"... • The Boy Behind the Curtain is published by Penguin Books and is available now ..."
Jun 05, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

he first page of Tim Winton's new essay collection, The Boy Behind the Curtain , sets a disturbing scene. A 13-year-old boy stands at the window of a suburban street, behind a terylene curtain, training a rifle on passersby.

"He was a fraught little thing," says Winton of that boy – the boy he used to be. "I feel related to him but I'm no longer completely him, thank god."

The passage opens a surprisingly intimate essay about the role of guns in Australian life, setting the tone for a collection being billed as Winton's most personal yet.

In spite of his inclination for solitude, Winton has spent much of his life in the spotlight. His first novel, An Open Swimmer, catapulted him into the public eye when it won the Vogel literary award in 1981, but it was his 1991 novel, Cloudstreet, that cemented his place in Australian letters. Winton has won the Miles Franklin award four times and been shortlisted twice for the Booker. His books have been adapted for film, TV and even opera .

ss="rich-link"> Island Home by Tim Winton review – a love song to Australia and a cry to save it Read more

The contradictions of having such a high-profile career while working in a quintessentially solitary artform are not lost on him. "I spend all day in a room with people who don't exist, and I'm not thinking about any public – but once the thing's done it goes out there and it has a public life over which I have no, or very little, control," he says.

On one reading, the boy with the rifle lurking out of sight, watching the world go by, could be a metaphor for the life of a reclusive writer. But Winton is quick to distinguish himself from such a reading. "I wouldn't like to see myself as somebody who was just cruelly observing the world behind the terylene curtain of art."

For Winton, the perceived lives of other writers always seemed completely unrelated to his own experience. "I grew up with a kind of modernist romantic idea of the writer as some kind of high priest, someone who saw themselves as separate and better, which I now find a bit repellent," he says. "I think that was something that was sold to us at school and certainly at university that writers were somehow aloof from the ordinary business of life; they didn't have to abide by the same rules as other people. The worse their behaviour off the page, the more we were supposed to cheer them on. Once I woke up to that idea as a teenager, I think I consciously resisted it."

Winton's own background was characterised by a working class sensibility and evangelical religion. His parents converted to the Church of Christ when he was a small boy, the circumstances and his experiences of which form the basis of a number of the previously unpublished essays in The Boy Behind the Curtain. As a result, when he finally did start writing, it was with a particularly industrious work ethic.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tim Winton: 'There wasn't a lot of romance in my view of what writing was about.' Photograph: Hank Kordas

"I approached it like I was a tradesperson," he says. "It didn't necessarily involve FM radio played very loudly on a worksite; it didn't always require plumbers' crack or a hard hat and there was certainly no catcalling, but for the rest of it I went a different route. There wasn't a lot of romance in my view of what writing was about."

ss="rich-link"> A fish called Tim Winton: scientists name new species after novelist Read more

Yet it was finding words, what Winton calls "the enormous luxury of language", that took him from being a 13-year-old boy who watched strangers through the eye of a rifle – a boy who was "obviously insecure and feeling threatened and probably not quite one with the world" – to a well-adjusted adult.

The "emotional infancy of men" has a lot to answer for, he says, suggesting that it's something society would do well to pay more attention to in its early stages. "The lumpiness and surly silence of boys is not something we're sufficiently interested in. They're not sufficiently attractive to us until they become victims or dangerous brutes and bullies."

ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">

I think it's a mistake to think someone who doesn't say much doesn't have strong feelings

Tim Winton

Conflicted masculinity is recurring theme throughout Winton's fiction, and his characters often suffer as a result of their inability to articulate their feelings. "I think it's a mistake to think someone who doesn't say much doesn't have strong feelings," he says. "I think we stifle people's expression or we ignore people's signals of wanting to express things at our peril."

The distinct tenor of Winton's prose, a lyricism which manages to turn even the Australian vernacular into a kind of rough poetry, lends itself to the intimacy of the personal essay. The Boy Behind the Curtain contains a number of vignettes that reflect the imagery and landscape that characterises his fiction: hot bitumen roads through the desert; the churning ocean.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/287428716&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false

But there is also a clear political streak to Winton's nonfiction, and the inclusion of a number of more direct essays in this collection mean it's difficult to collapse the work under the category of memoir. Stones for Bread, for example, calls for a return to empathy and humanity in Australia's approach to asylum seekers. The Battle for Ningaloo Reef is a clear-eyed account of the activism that prevented a major commercial development from destroying a stretch of the Western Australian coastline. And Using the C-Word concerns that other dirty word that Winton believes we are avoiding: class.

"I think there are people talking about class but they're having to do that against the flow," Winton says. "We're living in a dispensation that is endlessly reinforcing the idea that we are not citizens but economic players. And under that dispensation it's in nobody's interest, especially those in power, to encourage or foster the idea that there's any class difference."

The market doesn't care about people, Winton argues, and neither is there any genius in it. "There's no invisible hand," he says. "And if there is one, it's scratching its arse."

It's clear to Winton that neoliberalism is failing, but not without casualties, two of which are very close to his heart: the arts and the environment.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Cover image for The Boy Behind The Curtain by Tim Winton. Photograph: Penguin

"People in the arts are basically paying the price for this new regime where we pay no tax and where we get less public service and more privatised service," he says. "The arts are last on, first off in people's minds and I think that's not just sad, it's corrosive. They're just seen as fluff, as fripperies, as indulgence, as add-ons and luxury. And I don't think the arts are luxury; I think they're fundamental to civilisation. It's just that under our current dispensation, civilisation is not the point; civilisation is something that commerce has to negotiate and traduce if necessary."

Winton is one of a number of high-profile critics of the Productivity Commission's proposals to allow the parallel importation of books , and a signatory to petitions opposing funding cuts to the Australia Council . But he has also been a grassroots activist in the area of marine conservation for over 15 years.

"I don't know if I'm an activist writer or just a writer who has an activist life on the side," he says.

ass="inline-garnett-quote inline-icon ">

I don't know if I'm an activist writer or just a writer who has an activist life on the side

Tim Winton

Years of lobbying by conservation groups and the general public contributed to the Labor government announcement in 2012 of 42 marine reserves in Australian waters , including over the entire Coral Sea. The Abbott government, however, implemented a review which, in September this year, recommended significantly scaling back those reservations . It was, says Winton, an act of cowardice.

"The Abbott review was basically all about applying inertia to imminent progress," Winton says. "We've gone from world leaders [in conservation] to being too frightened to lead."

When asked what role writing fiction plays in his activist work, Winton says it comes back to the idea of "keeping people's imaginations awake".

"Imagination is the fundamental virtue of civilisation. If people can't imagine then they can't live an ethical life."

The Boy Behind the Curtain is published by Penguin Books and is available now

[Jun 03, 2018] "Teen Culture" is the New Imperialism, and it is Destroying the World

Jun 02, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
By Joe Jarvis Via The Daily Bell

You know how missionaries used to run around the globe forcing everyone to be a Christian? And in the process, they destroyed native cultures and traditions?

Well, the same thing is happening today with Western "teen culture." It is being exported around the world with disastrous effects.

Manufacturing Adolescence

Preindustrial societies mostly exhibit a continuum from childhood to adulthood. There is generally no random cut off age where suddenly teens are given rights and expected to become adults. Children seamlessly and gradually integrate into adulthood, with puberty rites being the only major benchmark.

These societies were "free-range parenting" before it was cool. Even toddlers have a large degree of autonomy. The child is allowed to explore, and the mother provides the nurturing, feeding, and love at the child's initiation. Young children participate in the work of their parents and elders and interact and learn from people of all ages.

Children are raised from infancy alongside adults, instead of being segregated into peer groups of the same age. They slowly learn from adults and take on more responsibilities by emulating what they see.

What do kids see in the USA? A bunch of other kids with whom they have been grouped by government and industry working in tandem . Instead of emulating adults, they act like their peers. They want to dress the same, impress others with their technology, and keep up with the same tv shows.

This creates an artificial sub-culture based on age. And it creates a new market.

As of 2011, teens spend over $200 billion per year . Disney and all its many subsidiaries bring in about $45 billion a year. It is not surprising that these industries now spend several billion dollars each year advertising to teenagers. And the most effective form of advertising is to create a sub-culture through which to sell products.

You can trace the roots of this phenomenon way back to the industrial revolution when social structures got a big shakeup. Kids worked less alongside adults in family work and apprenticeships. Instead, they were shipped off to compulsory public schools. They were grouped by age and sex, and "educated" to be factory workers.

By contrasting Western adolescence with people of the same age in societies that are just recently modernizing, we see that "teen turmoil" is not a natural phenomenon or an issue of hormones. It has been created by Western culture and is now infecting industrializing societies.

Imperializing Teen Culture

According to Robert Epstein in his book Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence , exporting this Western teen culture is undermining the social structures of developing nations.

A similar story has played out for Kenyans, Moroccans, Australian aborigines, Canadian Inuits, and many other preindustrial societies recently integrated into Western culture. Their ways of life led to few social problems like unwed pregnancy, the breakdown of the family, drug use, depression, violence, and general teenage angst and rebellious destructive behavior. But that changed upon the introduction of Western television, schooling, and teen culture.

What is it that preindustrial teens are seeing on those television programs? Answer: teens being treated like, and behaving like, irresponsible children.

When teens in preindustrial society are forced to attend Western-style schools, how are they affected? Answer: they're cut off from adults and from the centrality of adult culture; they're prevented from working, or at least making work the center of their lives; they become controlled by adults instead of part of adult life; teens, rather than adults, become their role models.

When Western mechanisms delay marriage, what is the outcome? Answer: because marriage is the hallmark of adulthood in virtually all cultures, the delay of marriage also means the delay of adulthood. It's no coincidence that Tom Smith's recent survey showed that Americans now think adulthood begins at age twenty-six; the median age for first marriages in the United States is now 26.8.

Pros and Cons of Western Culture

This is not a pro-tribalism post. I am absolutely not saying that society was better off in a pre-industrial age. This is not a black or white issue. It is not like we have to choose between being ignorantly blissful hunter-gatherers or isolated bitter consumer-robots.

Many cultures have benefited from industrialization in that the standard of living has increased. But industrialization does not have to be imported 20th-century style. Modernization can be introduced without causing the collapse of the old ways of life, which kept social problems to a minimum.

We have the ability to see both extremes, isolate the biggest detrimental factors, and mitigate them.

While the issues are all integrated, the main three problems are:

  1. Mandatory Western Styled Public Schooling
  2. The Industry of "Teen Culture"
  3. The Breakdown of the Family

Public schooling is the most glaring catalyst to the perils of Western teenage culture . It is where the groupings by age begin, and the arena in which teens compare themselves, compete and copy each other. They are also a major contributing factor to the oppression many teens feel .

Exporting Hollywood around the globe is another major problem. Teens are indoctrinated with the creepy Hollywood executives' ideas of what it means to be a teen. They are sold sex, drugs, and irresponsibility as fun, on the silver screen. And of course, there are plenty of real-world products that they can buy to fast-track their emulation of the TV stars.

And finally, like it or not, families are a historically effective regulator of social behaviors.

When it comes to teens around the world, just what kinds of practices and problems are we exporting? The answer, it seems, is crime, ennui, anger, premarital sex, pregnancy, abortion, drug and alcohol abuse, and family conflict. Consider just one of our more subtle exports: according to a recent book on teens by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Barbara Schneider, American teens are almost completely isolated from adults . Teens typically spend more than thirty-five hours per week surrounded by their peers in school and an additional thirty-five hours per week with peers outside of school. That's two-thirds of their waking hours. This is, according to the researchers, twelve more hours per week than teens in other industrialized nations such as Italy and South Korea spend together, and it is probably sixty hours a week more than teens spend together in many preindustrial societies.

Many American teens–perhaps half or more–also grow up with little access to their father, and "for those lucky enough to have a father, the average teenager now spends less than half an hour a week alone with his or her father." Half of this time is spent watching television, "a situation that does not readily lend itself to quality parent-child interactions." Father-teen interactions in the United States are certainly "not enough to transmit the knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills that adult males should pass on to their children." The child-adult continuum about which Jean Liedloff wrote is almost completely absent in the united states, and we're sending our broken model of family life to each and every village on earth.

Through our films, television programs, laws, religious beliefs, and schooling and marriage practices, we're exporting a wide range of mechanisms that extend childhood well past puberty and that isolate teens from adults. We're creating prolonged, turbulent, Western-style adolescence, with all its inherent problems. We're creating generation gaps and family conflicts where none existed before. And because we ourselves have no idea how to deal with those problems, we're offering no solutions to the cultures we're corrupting.

Sure, pre-industrial cultures have their weak points, but so does the new way of life. You can't objectively say one is better without specifically defining what makes it better.

Is increased teen depression and suicide worth having access to cell phones and internet? Is increased violence and alcohol abuse worth an overall extended lifespan because of modern medicine?

Luckily, we don't have to choose.

You can modernize without Westernizing. The three main contributors to the torment of adolescence, and all the social problems which accompany them, are not necessary factors of modernization.

I mentioned "free range parenting" earlier. It is catching on in America. In a global world with more information at our fingertips than ever before, we can cherry pick the best parts of each culture, and apply those lessons to the modern world.

We don't have to live in a tribal-commune with no access to modern technology in order to give young children autonomy to roam and explore the world.

We don't have to hunt in loin clothes in order to impart fatherly wisdom to our sons and daughters.

But we may have to reorganize our lives and get our priorities straight.

Taking Action

If you've read my articles before, you know that I am not a big fan of "top-down" solutions. That is, the best way to deal with something is on a grassroots, individual level. Trying to change a whole society is difficult and not at all guaranteed to succeed. If it does, you have to guard the progress against undoing.

Better to make the changes at the individual level, where you don't have to ask permission or get a majority to agree.

Clearly, some broad reforms would help the situation. It is not about the government "doing something" about the problem, it is about the government undoing some of the harm they have caused.

For instance, abolishing public schools, or at very least compulsory schooling would be a good start. Since that probably won't happen anytime soon, parents can homeschool, send their kids to alternative schools, or team up with friends and neighbors to form a co-op arrangement for education.

Removing age-based restrictions on rights, or at least moving to a competency-based model of gaining rights and privileges would also help. Again, petitioning the governing is mostly a waste of time. Better to work with the freedoms you can give your kids. So they still can't drive until 16, but at least they can cut their hair how they want, and maybe even have a glass of wine with dinner.

But as with most problems, the largest barriers to improvement are in our heads.

Why not give your kids freedom from an early age? Why not let them participate in household work from an early age? Hell, why not let them participate in your career if they are into it?

The cool thing is that the modern economy seems to be reorganizing to accommodate this way of life, without sacrificing modern comforts and efficiencies.

It is easier than ever to work from home. Imagine a setting where mom and dad do their work while the kids independently learn, or work on easier tasks. Older kids–neighbors or family members or even a tutor–teach the younger kids. Certain work tasks and household chores can be done together as a family, as many hands make light work.

The whole point of this method of parenting is that you offer a continuum from childhood to adulthood.

And without even noticing it, life lessons, love, and kinship will be passed on. You don't have to sit a kid down at a desk to teach them how to become an adult. If you interact with them daily, they will learn from you. You just have to allow them to participate and encourage them to pursue whatever they get excited about.

If you can't teach it to them, the internet can.

For some parents, this might sound like a disaster attempting to work from home while teaching kids. But it is the transition that is difficult. Once children understand the new structure of freedom, they will occupy themselves. They will learn more and be more independent. And when they do come to you with a question or problem, it will be a rewarding experience for everyone to work through it.

Of course for kids and teens unaccustomed to freedom, an immediate withdrawal of authority could have disastrous consequences. Think about the 18-year-olds with strict parents who go off to college and go crazy with parties and alcohol. But you can gradually give your child more freedom whatever their age. Just be honest and upfront about what you are doing and why.

The issue of extended childhood, manufactured adolescence, and the harms of teen culture are missing from most public debates.

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[May 28, 2018] Whenever I read anything purporting to identify international bad guys and good guys, I always like to ask: Who has this purported bad guy invaded recently? How many bombs has this bad guy dropped on other people s countries?

Memoria day is an anti-war holiday designed to remeber horrible number of Civil war dead. But now it is converted into something like glorification of militarism day.
Neocons are renegade Trotskyites 'aligned' with US imperialism and how fighting for "world neoliberal revolution". Pay for their revolutionary fervor is much better though.
Notable quotes:
"... Trotsky helped create the Red Army as well as the intellectual underpinnings of the (worldwide) communist revolution. This movement destroyed/ended/ruined the lives of many millions of innocent people. Shouldn't a movement that caused this much damage ruin the reputation of its architects? ..."
"... Frunze was the real architect of the Red Army, while Trotsky's main contribution to the Red Army was getting Czarist commanders to join. Trotsky likely had Frunze assassinated, rather than Stalin. ..."
"... Considering America (and Japan's) Siberian adventure, and the mass killings involved, e.g. by Japanese and Americans, well, pots and kettles and all that. ..."
"... that today's Trotskyites come down on the side of Isramerican-backed Sunni terrorists in Syria should surprise no one. Because yesterday's Trotskyites are now called (((neo-cons))) originally via the "anti-Stalinist" Partisan Review, then Commentary, then Nat Review. ..."
"... It was quite striking how, when Gaddafi was brutally murdered, you got similar reactions from Hillary Clinton and British Socialist Workers Party honcho Alex Callinicos – malicious gloating. ..."
"... It was a bit like a flash of lightning on a dark night – a brief illumination of surroundings and what these people really stand for, as opposed to the ideological posturing. ..."
"... Whenever I read anything purporting to identify international bad guys and good guys, I always like to ask: "Who has this purported bad guy invaded recently? How many bombs has this bad guy dropped on other people's countries?" I feel it clarifies matters. ..."
"... Maybe Bronstein himself was a delusional revolutionary true believer, we'll probably never know for sure, but I doubt very much his neocon disciples are motivated by some internationalist idealism. ..."
"... A well known saying in left wing activist circles in the UK was "Never trust a Trot." ..."
"... Trotskyites, much more than Stalinists, love war, worship war, live to make war for everybody and everything they see as not theirs. Trotskyites have as large an appetite for carnage leading to their greater empire than any people that ever lived with the exception of Mongols. ..."
May 09, 2018 | www.unz.com

mark green , May 6, 2018 at 6:06 am GMT

Trotsky helped create the Red Army as well as the intellectual underpinnings of the (worldwide) communist revolution. This movement destroyed/ended/ruined the lives of many millions of innocent people. Shouldn't a movement that caused this much damage ruin the reputation of its architects?

Not in the case of Trotsky. He was such a brilliant Jew!

Johan Meyer , May 6, 2018 at 2:36 pm GMT
@mark green

Trotsky was not that competent militarily, and even tried to arrange a transfer of e.g. Czech troops to Vladivostok to allow them to fight on the western front, and allowed American inspections of German prisoners of war in a hope of forestalling the coming Allied invasion (through Siberia and the North). Frunze was the real architect of the Red Army, while Trotsky's main contribution to the Red Army was getting Czarist commanders to join. Trotsky likely had Frunze assassinated, rather than Stalin.

Considering America (and Japan's) Siberian adventure, and the mass killings involved, e.g. by Japanese and Americans, well, pots and kettles and all that.

If we are to compare death tolls, we could look at the US and UK armies' intervention (and Canada's!), directly (1994, from Burundi, mainly to prevent Hutu civilians from fleeing), and, more importantly, via proxy (1990 to the present, using the Ugandan army, armed by the former armies, with constant supply flights until at least 1994) in Rwanda and later Congo-Kinshasa. Two million Hutu (Rwanda, 1994, from former Kagame Henchman, Eric Hakizimana) and five to ten million eastern Congolese (mainly in the Kivus), from that intervention alone. The intervention also included the assassination of Rwandan president Habyarimana, and of former Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira (Burundi's first democratically elected president, deposed in a baTutsi (feudal aristocrat) coup likely sponsored by same western armies), mere days after the death threat by former US secretary of state for African affairs, Herman Cohen.

Haxo Angmark , Website May 7, 2018 at 1:30 am GMT
that today's Trotskyites come down on the side of Isramerican-backed Sunni terrorists in Syria should surprise no one. Because yesterday's Trotskyites are now called (((neo-cons))) originally via the "anti-Stalinist" Partisan Review, then Commentary, then Nat Review.
Uebersetzer , May 7, 2018 at 6:05 am GMT
It was quite striking how, when Gaddafi was brutally murdered, you got similar reactions from Hillary Clinton and British Socialist Workers Party honcho Alex Callinicos – malicious gloating.

It was a bit like a flash of lightning on a dark night – a brief illumination of surroundings and what these people really stand for, as opposed to the ideological posturing.

Dave from Oz , May 7, 2018 at 6:18 pm GMT
Whenever I read anything purporting to identify international bad guys and good guys, I always like to ask: "Who has this purported bad guy invaded recently? How many bombs has this bad guy dropped on other people's countries?" I feel it clarifies matters.
PiltdownMan , May 8, 2018 at 4:18 am GMT

Obsessed with Stalin, the disciples of Leon Bronstein see betrayed revolutions everywhere

Lev Bronstein = Leon Trotsky.

Seraphim , May 8, 2018 at 5:37 am GMT
@The practical result of this verbal agitation is simply to align this brand of Trotskyism with U.S imperialism.

Wasn't 'Trotskyism' 'aligned' with US imperialism from the very moment when he transported the Warburg-Schiff money to Russia to carry on the 'permanent revolution'?
And when Stalin cut Trotsky's crap who jumped to his defense? The Dewey "Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials". And who are the imperialist 'neo-cons' other than 'old Trotskyists'?

jilles dykstra , May 8, 2018 at 6:39 am GMT
I did not read about the suspicion that Bron(f)stein in reality was a German agent. What one reads in these two books does not make the suspicion go away

John W Wheeler-Bennett, 'Brest-Litovsk, The forgotten peace, March 1918', 1938, 1963, London
Erich Ludendorff, 'Meine Kriegserinnerungen 1914 = 1918′, Berlin, 1918

Vojkan , May 8, 2018 at 7:27 am GMT
If they weren't so nefarious, the trotsies wouldn't be worth reading, let alone mentioning. Maybe Bronstein himself was a delusional revolutionary true believer, we'll probably never know for sure, but I doubt very much his neocon disciples are motivated by some internationalist idealism.

Neocons are jewish supremacists aided by corrupt to the core goyim, plain and simple. They do have in common with their guru one conviction, that the end justifies the means. That is the recipe of evil.

It's a pity that so many youth are misled still today in believing in the hoax that Trotskyism is somehow something moral. Trotsky was himself a murderer. Killing is immoral. It sometimes is necessary and cannot be avoided as with regards to the psychotic butchers who came from abroad to Syria and are known as ISIS but it is still immoral.

Normal people sense killing as immoral therefore psychopaths have to come up with stories such as Germans slaughtering Belgian babies with bayonets, Iraqis throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, Serbs genociding Bosniaks or Albanians, Qadhafi readying for genocide in Benghazi, Assad pulling children's fingernails or gassing them, Iran being responsible for 9/11 etc, all in order to dehumanise the enemy of the moment and compel people to accept that killing "sub-humans" half way around the world is a moral act. It isn't. Period.

Unlike all those fake atrocities, Western and Saudi trained, armed and financed foreign terrorists in Syria did film themselves doing horrors. They videotaped themselves burning people alive, throwing people off building tops. They videotaped themselves beheading children. Assad didn't make those videos, ISIS did, to brag. Only mentally ill people can support those "rebels" against Assad. Yet, as a Christian, I don't consider killing them as moral, I consider it as necessary and unavoidable, but it is an act that mandates penitence.

Trotsies ignore those qualms and, whether real or alleged followers, are sick people. End of story.

animalogic , May 8, 2018 at 7:41 am GMT
@Dave from Oz

You're standing on solid ground, there Dave. I like to respond to holocaust discussion with the question: "the Jews and who else ?"

Thirdeye , May 8, 2018 at 7:58 am GMT
From Trotsky's doctrine of Permanent Revolution onward, the hallmark of Trotskyism has been a quest for intellectual purity in revolution – no contradictions allowed. No mixed economies under socialism. No pragmatic alliances. No consideration of national security. Stake everything on a worldwide wave of revolution. Every real-world tactical issue since 1939 has led to fracturing of the Trotskyist movement, generally into a "pure" faction and a "get something done" faction. International Socialists represented the "pure" faction after the 1939 split (after it spun off the forebears of the neoconservative movement). Its sole contribution of significance was as an intellectual incubator for Christopher Hitchens. More "pure" factions spun off in the early 1960s, which sooner or later degenerated into cults. Lyndon LaRouche made his mark leading one of the "pure" factions. The "get something done" faction made its mark as highly effective organizers of protests against the war in Vietnam but started chasing silly fads of the student New Left, trying unsuccessfully to connect them to a revolutionary strategy. Their "revolutionary" rationale for those movements blew up when they went in a decidedly bourgeois-aligned bureaucratic direction and became adjuncts to the Democratic Party. WSWS represents the revival of purist Trotskyism, which offers cogent critiques of the glorified left-liberal postmodernist "Trotskyism" of Louis Proyect and Socialist Alternative, but seems to choke on the question of what they themselves actually intend to accomplish.
jimmyriddle , May 8, 2018 at 9:29 am GMT
A well known saying in left wing activist circles in the UK was "Never trust a Trot."
Thirdeye , May 8, 2018 at 9:45 am GMT
@Seraphim

The Russian revolution served German interests more than it did American ones. Germany sponsored Lenin's return from Zurich to lead the revolution that would get Russia out of the war. It makes no sense to contend that the Russian revolution served American interests or that Warburg-Schiff were acting on their behalf. They were acting against the US interest in keeping Russia in the war against Germany. They had been financing anti-Tsarist activity in Russia for years.

Thirdeye , May 8, 2018 at 10:00 am GMT
@jilles dykstra

If one wants to make the case that Trotsky was a German agent, they would have to explain his agitation for spreading the revolution into Germany. You could make a stronger case that George Washington was a French agent against Britain. Revolutions have tended to occur in the cracks and contradictions opened in the struggles between the great powers, including the revolutions in China and Vietnam.

James Brown , May 8, 2018 at 10:24 am GMT
The problem is not that an ignorant, Tony McKenna, will still in 2018 be a Trotskyst , that is a defender of a mass murderer.

The problem is that the writer of this piece seems to believe that it is worth spending time writing an article about such an ignorant and irrelevant man. Maybe because he "writes well", which, she admires.

That one can "write well" and "speak well, as intellectuals do, but be a jerk, doesn't occur to Ms Johnson.

The problem is also because the writer herself, ignores how profoundly ignorant is Tony McKenna.

"Revolution is very rare. It is more a myth than a reality "

No, Revolutions are criminal enterprises. They always were and they always will be.
Robespierre, Lenine, Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, Mao were criminals.

The first European revolution – The French Revolution – was the first big lie and the first to put into practice the industrial killing of a people – People of Vendée – . The first EUropean Genocide was committed by the French revolutionaries.

It is not by chance that all major criminals (Lenine etc ) studied the French Revolution and would apply later in their countries the model that the French terrorists (Revolutionaries) applied to France.

Those who are interested in knowing the truth about the Franch Revolution (and all revolutions and why so called Trotskysts are a bunch of fools) should read Reynald Secher – A French Genocide: The Vendee.

"In our era, the most successful revolutions have been in Third World countries"

Well, if one can write such nonsense, then when can admire Tony McKenna and waste time writing a silly article.

Parbes , May 8, 2018 at 11:46 am GMT
Great article! Thanks to Diana Johnstone for writing such a fine article which blows right out of the water so much of the BS being bandied about in relation to the Syrian War, Stalin, etc. Ms. Johnstone is a REAL intellectual. Wish there were more like her in the Anglosphere nowadays.
OpenYourEyes , May 8, 2018 at 12:02 pm GMT
President Asad is a doctor by profession. He is a family man and has raised a beautiful family. Prior to this Saudi Terrorist Revolution he rode his own car, at times taking his family shopping .hardly signs of a baby killer or a 'chemical animal'.
Jake , May 8, 2018 at 12:18 pm GMT
Trotskyites, much more than Stalinists, love war, worship war, live to make war for everybody and everything they see as not theirs. Trotskyites have as large an appetite for carnage leading to their greater empire than any people that ever lived with the exception of Mongols.

Trotskyites and WASPs – who created the largest empire in world history – in bed together, with the evil House of Saud, could destroy civilization.

Joe Magarac , May 8, 2018 at 12:37 pm GMT
No more Stalin. No more USSR even. Yet the Trots are still objectively counterrevolutionary left deviationists after all these years.
Pindos , Website May 8, 2018 at 12:46 pm GMT
@Thirdeye

It served Jew interests – destroy Russians

nickels , May 8, 2018 at 1:35 pm GMT
Interesting.

I just finished Kotkin's Stalin book chapter on the purges, which made no sense (the book is good but has no narrative). The purges would have made more sense as a full on battle with the Trotskyite elements. My other theory is that they were a paychological projection of guilt from the collectivization murders, realized as more murders.

seeing-thru , May 8, 2018 at 1:38 pm GMT
Fools and idiots come in various shapes and sizes, as do socialists and wildlife. The zebra stands out from afar, its stripes give it away. Likewise, the Trotskyites stand out markedly in the fairly jumbled-up socialist landscape, given away by their towering stupidity and luminous obstinacy. Whenever some wretched poor, weak country is being bombed by the West, these useful idiots of empire jump up and down in merriment. Whenever a union anywhere is trying to extort more money for less work, these fools give their support. The burning down of churches and the spreading of atheism at gunpoint is another trait of theirs. Christian Socialists they hate with a special vengeance, taking their cue from Marx the great "visionary", whose vision was fairly deficient in many ways.

Stalin had Trot's head badgered-in, if I recall. Well, with a head as stupid as Trotsky's, half the world would be itching to bash it in. One of those good things that Stalin did, IMHO.

Moi , May 8, 2018 at 3:41 pm GMT
@OpenYourEyes

and although his country is poor, his wife shops in Paris.

Thirdeye , May 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm GMT
@Moi

Oh, the horror!

Shakesvshav , May 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm GMT
Trotsky was a liar conspiring with the Nazis and Japan. Grover Furr has published the evidence.
Thirdeye , May 8, 2018 at 4:41 pm GMT
@Pindos

It served Jew interests – destroy Russians

Then they could just as well have kept their money. Nicholas II was doing a fine job at that.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , May 8, 2018 at 4:45 pm GMT
@Moi

There are plenty of medium and low priced stores in Paris.

Seamus Padraig , May 8, 2018 at 6:06 pm GMT
@OpenYourEyes

Prior to this Saudi Terrorist Revolution he rode his own car

Sometimes he still does. The following video of Pres. Assad driving his Honda was shot in E. Ghouta (Damascus) just this past March:

Seamus Padraig , May 8, 2018 at 6:18 pm GMT
@nickels

The purges would have made more sense as a full on battle with the Trotskyite elements.

That's exactly how I interpret Stalin's purges, too. I think he was trying to wrest control of the Communist Party generally–and the NKVD specifically–from the (((Trotskyite))) mafia which then dominated them.

I just finished Kotkin's Stalin book chapter on the purges, which made no sense (the book is good but has no narrative).

Is Kotkin Jewish? Maybe the reason his recounting of the purges doesn't make sense is because he doesn't really want to talk about what prompted them. Like anything else in life, if you want to understand Stalin's purges, you first have to understand the context in which they took place.

ploni almoni , May 8, 2018 at 6:25 pm GMT
Syrians have told me that Bashar al-Assad was a decent chap. But taking his family shopping could not be different from John McCain walking through Baghdad with one hundred soldiers around him and helicopters overhead to show how safe it was. If Bashar al-Assad "went shopping" in Damascus (instead of London or Paris) then two thousand plain clothes were also shopping with him. And for what would he "go shopping" in Damascus? Shopping for an illusion, that's what.
Joe Magarac , May 8, 2018 at 6:39 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

Anyone seriously thinking Trotsky was conspiring with Nazis or Japan is seriously imbalanced.

That was the official Stalinist line during WWII.

Seamus Padraig , May 8, 2018 at 6:52 pm GMT
Bravo! Another ringer from Diana Johnstone.

"In the context of a global neoliberalism, where governments across the board were enacting the most pronounced forms of deregulation and overseeing the carving up of state industries by private capital, the Assad government responded to the heightening contradictions in the Syrian economy by following suit -- by showing the ability to march to the tempo of foreign investment while evincing a willingness to cut subsidies for workers and farmers." [ -Tony McKenna ]

This is like cursing the pizza store owner who gives 'protection' money to the mafia, without cursing the mafia which extorts him! As Johnstone later points out, back then Assad had little choice but to try and make his peace with Uncle Scam as best he could, since the USSR was no longer around to protect Syria.

McKenna concludes by quoting Louis Proyect: "If we line up on the wrong side of the barricades in a struggle between the rural poor and oligarchs in Syria, how can we possibly begin to provide a class-struggle leadership in the USA, Britain, or any other advanced capitalist country?"

Ah yes: Louis Proyect. The one and only! It was he who recently defended the 'rebels' as proletarian Bolsheviks struggling for a new, socialist Syria:

"The Syrian rebels are generally drawn from the poor, rural and unrepresented majority of the population, the Arab version of John Steinbeck's Joad family. Despite the tendency of some on the left to see them as sectarians who rose up against a generous Baathist welfare state because it supported a different interpretation of who was the true successor to Muhammad, the revolutionary struggle in Syria was fueled by class hatred."

The Joads were jihadis? Who knew!

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/13/chemical-attacks-false-flags-and-the-fate-of-syria/

The trouble with Trotskyists is that they are always "supporting" other people's more or less imaginary revolutions. They are always telling others what to do. They know it all. The practical result of this verbal agitation is simply to align this brand of Trotskyism with U.S imperialism.

Which is why, once they reach a certain age and a certain level of burn-out, rather than simply give up on politics entirely, they usually tend to become neoconservatives , as did Chris Hitchens. For them, the Rockefeller/Rothschild 'new world order' is the next best thing to Trotsky's 'world revolution'.

AnonFromTN , May 8, 2018 at 7:10 pm GMT
The thing that escaped the author is that Trotskyism is a dead horse. The number of Trotskyists in any country is as close to zero as makes no difference. These deluded weirdos are outnumbered even by flat-Earthers.
Anon [198] Disclaimer , May 8, 2018 at 7:26 pm GMT
@Quartermaster

Wasn't the small point of disagreement which should be top dog?

nickels , May 8, 2018 at 7:49 pm GMT
@Seamus Padraig

I don't know if Kotkin is a member of the tribe, but he definitely is on the Putin/Russia bashing wagon and is deeply steeped in all the classic WASP institutions.

https://www.hoover.org/profiles/stephen-kotkin

Most of the Hoover people seem to have the anti-Russian disease.
The give away in his chapter on the purges was that he blamed it on the defective personality of Stalin, i.e. Stalin was just crazy.
Certainly Stalin was a brutal murderer, but any time the sole reason for a historical event is someone's personality you can bet you're reading propaganda.

If you have an sources that make for a better reading on the purges, please do post.

Backwoods Bob , May 8, 2018 at 8:18 pm GMT
@Uebersetzer

Absolutely. Ghadafi was sodomized by bayonet and Clinton cackled over it with malicious glee.

The posing of Assad as some kind of monster is just lynch-mob rationalization. McKenna doesn't believe what he is saying any more than Stalin believed show trial confessions obtained under torture.

It's all the more pleasurable to these psychopaths that they cloak their crimes with phony virtue. Hence, putting Assad out there as this cartoon villian.

As if ISIS, who we fostered and nurtured, was any better? Or communist Kurds? My God how we forget each disaster from Afghanistan to Iraq, to Libya, to Syria now the scorched-earth war and subsequent disease, etc.? These people thrive on death and mayhem.

Shakesvshav , May 8, 2018 at 9:07 pm GMT
@nickels

I see you go for the comic book villain invented by Cold War propagandists like Robert Conquest.

unpc downunder , May 8, 2018 at 10:20 pm GMT
@Thirdeye

Excellent point. The global revolution socialists are hard core ideologies who put ideological purity over practical considerations. Hence their failure to achieve any kind of real world success. Wherever socialists have had some sustainable success it has been achieved by combining socialism with elements of nationalism and capitalism. The communist military successes in Russia, China and Vietnam were achieved by appealing to nationalism. The Chinese economic miracle has been achieved through state capitalism. The Scandinavian welfare state has depended on government support for big companies like Volvo and Nokia.

There are lessons here for English-speaking countries with their dogmatic attachment to liberal values like free trade, open borders and anti-nationalism.

Revoluteous , May 8, 2018 at 11:00 pm GMT
@James Brown

Eh No. The first *modern* European revolution was the American revolution, and it's not a joke. Fully European, of European people and European powers. All European powers indeed, UK, France, Spain, many German states, and so on. And French revolution was broadly more than Robespierre, it was UK, Spain, the German states, the Pope, the Austrian Empire, the many factions of the French people (if such concept had any sense then, in a territory only less than 25% spoke French), all of them were criminals, or only was Robespierre? Was criminal the previous kingdom, in a permanent basis of bloody wars and social injustice?

Maybe revolutions are simply a security valve, steaming a bit and that's all. By the way, the word itself goes back to Coppernicus, a revolution is a full orbit of a planet around the Sun. It ends where started.

The entire Human History is criminal, against Humankind itself and our own planet. We must understand, not look for criminals.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , May 8, 2018 at 11:09 pm GMT
@MarkinLA

Mrs Kennedy bought all her clothes in Paris although she laundered then through an American manufacturer

Mrs Trump buys a lot of her clothes in Italy.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , May 8, 2018 at 11:10 pm GMT
@Moi

She has to, all the stores in Syria have been bombed.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , May 8, 2018 at 11:13 pm GMT
@Seamus Padraig

So many of the books about the revolution and USSR have been written by commie Jews. It's good to be sceptical about everything they write.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , May 8, 2018 at 11:20 pm GMT
@AnonFromTN

You are right. I was surprised to see the article as I thought they were all in old age homes.

They really really are gone in America, even in the universities. May be because in America because our "struggle" is multi millionaire Jews and upper middle class blacks Asians Hispanics and Indians against poor Whites.

In America a $200,000 a year black women school administrator is an opressed victim. The poorest disabled White man is a privileged aristocrat who must be sent to the guillotine.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , May 8, 2018 at 11:35 pm GMT
@James Brown

I'm very interested in the Vendeens. I have the memoirs of Renee Bourderau.
It's not a book. I got it from the library of Congress copying service and put the pages in a binder.

Loyola uni Los Angeles has a copy in their rare books section. UCLA and USC libraries have lots of books about it, many in English. The Lucius Green library at Stanford has many Vendean resistance books too

Quite a different story from the conventional Masonic enlightenment narrative. Our American Whiskey rebels were lucky they surrendered so quickly or they might have met the fate of the Vendeans. There used to be a website devoted to Renee Bourdereau maintained by some college history department.

jacques sheete , May 8, 2018 at 11:38 pm GMT

The trouble with Trotskyists is that they are always "supporting" other people's more or less imaginary revolutions. They are always telling others what to do. They know it all. The practical result of this verbal agitation is simply to align this brand of Trotskyism with U.S imperialism. The obsession with permanent revolution ends up providing an ideological alibi for permanent war.

For the sake of world peace and progress, both the United States and its inadvertent Trotskyist apologists should go home and mind their own business.

You nailed it.

nickels , May 9, 2018 at 12:02 am GMT
@Shakesvshav

I ordered:

Myths truth about 1937 Stalin s counter revolution Mify i pravda o 1937 gode Kontrrevolyutsiya Stalina (Russian)
by A. M. Burovski

Found this:

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2011/09/20/stalin's-1937-counter-revolution-against-trotskyism/

utu , May 9, 2018 at 12:03 am GMT
@nickels

projection of guilt

Come on, psychoanalyzing Stalin? Psychoanalysis can explain everything (X and not-X) that's why it has no explanatory power.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/understanding-stalin/380786/
In the contemporary West, we often assume that perpetrators of mass violence must be insane or irrational, but as Kotkin tells the story, Stalin was neither.

After reading few reviews of Koktin books I am ready to invest my time and effort to give him a chance.

Jesse James , May 9, 2018 at 12:41 am GMT
@Quartermaster

Trotsky was a danger to the survival USSR, because he was an internationalist as is the Israeli-allied globalist cabal that runs the USA. His differences with Stalin and the nationalists inside the Kremlin was not a small disagreement, as you assert. You must not have ever even picked up a book on the subject.

Seraphim , May 9, 2018 at 1:59 am GMT
@Quartermaster

Would you be surprised to learn that Lenin too was conspiring with the Japanese in 1904-5?
'Revolutionary defeatism' was a central tenet of his worldview and of Trotsky's too.

Mulegino1 , May 9, 2018 at 2:52 am GMT
As brutal as Stalin was, his rule was providential, in the sense that he saved Russian nationalism, culture, and spirituality from absolute destruction at the hands of the usual suspects' willing instrument, Lev Davidovich Bronstein.

Bronstein was an agent of the Jewish banking cabal headquartered in New York. He was financed primarily by Jacob Schiff of Kuehn and Loeb.

Trotsky and his acolytes desired the total destruction of Russian culture and Russian Orthodoxy in particular.

Stalin was sagacious enough to realize that the Russians would never fight against the Germans and their allies for the cause of world revolution, but knew they would fight for their Russian motherland and its spiritual traditions and folkways. Stalin restored the patriarchate, opened up many churches, and commissioned the composition of the "Hymn of the Soviet Union" (now the Russian National Anthem with different lyrics) in the Orthodox chorale tradition; it would ultimately replace "The Internationale."

In the meantime, the almost entirely kosher Trotskyites became viciously anti-Soviet (actually anti-Russian) and pledged their temporary allegiance to their great American golem.

The origins of the Cold War (and today's Russia xenophobia) was- in my humble opinion- the great schism and struggle between the international rootless tool of Wall St. and his acolytes and the ruthless- but providential -Georgian autocrat.

Paw , May 9, 2018 at 3:10 am GMT
@Uebersetzer

This Permanent revolutions is very good. But what you going to do with the Old revolutioners..
It does not bode well. If they are in the way of more and other revolutions

Paw , May 9, 2018 at 3:11 am GMT
@Thirdeye

This Permanent revolutions is very good. But what you going to do with the Old revolutioners..
It does not bode well. If they are in the way of more and other revolutions

RobinG , May 9, 2018 at 3:13 am GMT
@Anon

The Trotskyists didn't leave America, they just morphed into Neocons (or so I've been told).

Paw , May 9, 2018 at 3:14 am GMT
@Thirdeye

Not only to German , but the German general Staff. And Lenin lived from robberies with murders .

Israel Shamir , May 9, 2018 at 7:59 am GMT
Louis Proyect – this is a vile scribe, who blackens the pages of the Counterpunch. A part of the Trotskyite gang that took over this once venerable magazine!
Hervé Fuyet , Website May 9, 2018 at 9:19 am GMT
Hervé Fuyet
Hello Diana,

I remember with emotion the old days, where in Minnesota, the Communist Party with me among others, and the Trotskyist of the WS with you, among others, if my memories are good, we were fighting inside the movement against the war from VietNam.

The Trotskyists said then that once peace is won, it would be necessary to work for the overthrow of the regime of "pro-Soviet revisionist HoChiMinh".

Even today, most of the troskysts (and CPF Eurocommunists for that matter) still deny the socialist character of China, Viet Nam, Cuba, North Korea, and so on.

And this is even more true since these countries are inscribing their economy in the continuity of Lenin's NEP!

We come to this fable of the end of History with "globalized capitalism", as we enter a multipolar world where the socialist countries (China, VietNam, North Korea, Cuba, Kerala ) in alliance with the BRICS non-imperialist, take over.

Have you evolved from Minnesota, or are you still a fellow traveler on the WS Trotskyite?

James Brown , May 9, 2018 at 11:27 am GMT
@Revoluteous

Maybe you're right. The first European Revolution was the American Revolution Except that it wasn't really a Revolution. If we want to be precise, we should call it war for "Independence"/For Power.

What is sure is that future criminals (Europeans/Asians/Africans) will have the French revolution has their model and not the American Revolution.
Revolution or not, the fact of matter is that Americans have nothing to learn from Europeans in terms of barbarism. Indian Genocide is an example how "revolutionary" (criminal), the American Elite were/are.

"The entire Human History is criminal" – It's false.

"We must understand, not look for criminals." Obvious. But if you understand the nature of revolution you know that revolutions are made by criminals Not just Robespierre, of course.

Beefcake the Mighty , May 9, 2018 at 11:58 am GMT
@nickels

Excellent article.

James Brown , May 9, 2018 at 12:01 pm GMT
@Anon

Renée Bourdereau is what Howard Zinn calls "Unsung Heroine".
In France, today they prefer to celebrate criminals like Robespierre, Turreau, Westermann etc..(executioners of Vendéen Genocide)

Normal, Revolution won and French politicians and Elites are very proud of their "République".

If you're interested in Vendée, you have to read Reynald Secher. He's one of the greatest French Historian. Of course he's almost unknown because he doesn't write the official history, which is most about propaganda and not trying to find the truth.

Revoluteous , May 9, 2018 at 4:26 pm GMT
@James Brown

Yes, it was. All Revolutions are about power. Obviously the Americans could not overthrown the British Crown, an Ocean in the Middle. But they would have do if they could. Dettaching part of the Empire was (is) a way to make easier the way for others. And, actually, American Revolution was and is a model. It was a successful model for most of Latin American independences, many bloodbaths and not at all exempts of tyrants and psycopaths. Nor the American Revolution was an angelical promenade.

Of course, choose a model depends on the user. In fact the point here is your meeting point, actual or pretended. The ayatollahs cannot choose the French Revolution at all as a model, not to say the Soviet one (the American neither, obviously).

What I am trying to say it's maybe Revolutions are more an accident than a deliberate political move. Maybe if the French Revolution had not existed, France neither nowadays. And without her, the French bourgeoise. A forgotten Revolution is the Polish one, earlier than French too. If none speaks about it's because it was a complete failure (by the way, no violence at all), and Poland was dismembered and ceased to exist for 125 years.

If you have such "accidents" you seriously cannot expect normal people at command. The more brutal the affair, the more brutal the "criminals". Makes no difference being an arson or an accident. You have a fire and minimizing the disaster is over any other considerations. Call them criminals if you want, but I guess they did not many chances to behave other way. It is a common place to say Lenin was the saint, Trotsky the martyr, and Stalin the beast. Trostky was a toff, and Stalin was a redneck who did the dirty job. The Central Committee under Stalin was killed more than 500 out of 600 members in 30 years, all commies and most of them personally selected by Stalin himself, I mean, it's hard to believe any real treason beyond a paranoia of pure power. But, Russia do exist today if things had ran other way? Can anyone say the number of dead people would be lesser? Hitler came to power with no Revolution at all, on the contrary, the 1919 German Revolution was another failure, ending with Hitler.

nickels , May 9, 2018 at 4:28 pm GMT
@utu

Kotkin's writing is readable and the details are interesting. But he appears to be a full on propagandist on the important details, like the Tsar, the Czech and Austrian conflicts, as well as the Stalin purges.

You tell me, a man who purges millions for no apparent reason (Kotkin gives none other than paranoia) isn't an implied psychopath?

Thirdeye , May 9, 2018 at 8:33 pm GMT
@Anon

Frankfurt School ideology replaced Marxism as the driving ideology of the American Left during the 1960s. Nominal Marxists tried to fudge that ideology into Marxism because they thought it would help to sell Marxism, but boy were they wrong! Marxist theory instead became a talisman for selling the various identitarian ideologies used to divide and weaken the working class – the exact opposite of what the opportunist-identitarian Marxists had anticipated. Their claims that identitarian movements were somehow akin to the anti-colonial nationalist movements of the postwar era were diametrically wrong. They became tools of the ruling class in their 40+ year neoliberal campaign to impose hyper-exploitive colonial conditions on the former imperial homelands. We are all Third World now.

Seamus Padraig , May 9, 2018 at 10:02 pm GMT
@nickels

The idea that Stalin was fighting a Jew-mafia takeover of the USSR has been put forth by several prominent Third Positionists, such as Francis Parker Yockey:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Parker_Yockey#Later_life_and_works

[May 20, 2018] Yes, Neoliberalism Is a Thing. Don't Let Economists Tell You Otherwise naked capitalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... By Christine Berry. Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... The really fascinating battles in intellectual history tend to occur when some group or movement goes on the offensive and asserts that Something Big really doesn't actually exist." ..."
"... "a new ideology must give high priority to real and efficient limitation of the state's ability to, in detail, intervene in the activities of the individual. At the same time, it is absolutely clear that there are positive functions allotted to the state. The doctrine that, one and off, has been called neoliberalism and that has developed, more or less simultaneously in many parts of the world is precisely such a doctrine But instead of the 19 th century understanding that laissez-faire is the means to achieve this goal, neoliberalism proposes that competition will lead the way". ..."
"... Wealth of Nations ..."
"... Neoliberalism is like a Caddis Fly larvae, that sticks random objects outside its cocoon to blend in. ..."
"... Neoliberalism did not just adopt neoclassical economics, nor did it simply infest political parties of the right. Neoliberalism re-invented neoclassical economics in ways that defined not just the "right" of academic economics, but also defined the "left". Keynesian economics was absorbed and transmogrified by first one neoclassical synthesis and then a second, leaving a New Keynesian macroeconomics to occupy the position of a nominal left within mainstream economics. If you are waiting for a Krugman or even a Stiglitz to oppose neoliberalism, you will be waiting a very long time, because they are effectively locked into the neoliberal dialectic. ..."
"... If neoliberalism can be broken down to "Because markets" perhaps it could also be referred to as "Market Darwinism". ..."
"... A fundamental difference between neoliberalism and classic economists like Ricardo & Smith is the latter's adamant opposition to rent seeking and insistence on fighting it by taxation. Neoliberalism on the other hand not only accepts rent-seeking, but actively encourages it. Thus we see not only the ascendancy of of the FIRE sector, but the effective destruction of markets as mechanisms of price discovery. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is just another damn thing that externalizes and socializes costs. It is a very costly thing. ..."
"... Much as I regard your past comments, I must disagree with your assertion "Neoliberalism is just another damn thing that externalizes and socializes costs". Neoliberalism does indeed externalize and socialize costs but it is more than just another damn thing. Just the scale and scope of the think tank network assembled and well funded to promote the concepts of the Neoliberal thought collective should be adequate to convince you that it is much more than "just another damn thing". ..."
"... Consider just the visible portion of the think tanks which are part of the Neoliberal thought collective. "Today, Atlas Network connects more than 450 think tanks in nearly 100 countries. Each is writing its own story of how principled work to affect public opinion, on behalf of the ideas of a free society, can better individuals' lives." ..."
"... Next consider the state of the economics profession. Neoliberalism has taken over many major schools of economics and a large number of the economics journals. In a publish or perish world there are few alternatives to an adherence to some flavor of Neoliberal ideology. This is not "just another damn thing." Consider how many national politicians are spouting things like there is 'no such thing as society'. This is not "just another damn thing" -- it is something much much more scary. ..."
"... "I am not well qualified to criticize those theories, because as a market participant, I considered them so unrealistic that I never bothered to study them" ..."
"... "Those, like Ed Conway, who persist in claiming neoliberalism doesn't even exist, may soon find themselves left behind by history." ..."
"... "One of the great achievements of neoliberalism has been to induce such a level of collective amnesia that it's now once again possible to claim that these tenets are simply "fundamental economic rules" handed down directly from Adam Smith on tablets of stone, unchallenged and unchallengeable in the history of economic thought." ..."
"... "The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
"... "The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens." ..."
"... "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." ..."
"... "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind." ..."
"... "But the rate of profit does not, like rent and wages, rise with the prosperity and fall with the declension of the society. On the contrary, it is naturally low in rich and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin." ..."
"... A reading of Smith's 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments' written before, but revised after, WoN is also worthwhile. As is, as ever, Karl Polyani's opening salvo against Smith's take on 'human market nature' (my term). Everyone should read 'The Great Transformation' at least once. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is the refinement of this basic human tendency for domination. It is a camouflaged form of oppression that is revealed through its ultimate effect, not what it does at the moment. A neoliberal is a disguised raider or conquerer. ..."
"... Neoliberals prefer a strong state that promotes their ends, not one that opposes them, or has the ability to oppose the means and methods of private capital . That leaves the playing field with a single team. ..."
"... Homo economicus ..."
"... Neoliberals argue that since members of H. economicus ..."
"... "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." ..."
"... "Doing the same thing again and again and expecting to get a different result" ..."
"... "[ ] Well, this one at least is half-true. Like literally every concept that has ever mattered, the concept of 'neoliberalism' is messy, it's deeply contested [ ]" ..."
"... Although it serves the purposes of the rich-and-powerful rather well, I think "neoliberalism" as a rhetorical engine and set of ideas is the ideology of the 9.9%, the chattering classes of professionals and bureaucrats who need a cover story for their own participation in running the world for the benefit of the 0.1% These are the people who need to rationalize what they do and cooperate and coordinate among themselves and that's a challenge because of their sheer numbers. ..."
"... Neoliberalism says it aims at freedom and social welfare and innovation and other good things. If neoliberalism said it aimed to make the richest 0.1% richer at the expense of everyone else, it would provoke political opposition from the 99% for obvious reasons. Including opposition from the 9.9% whom they need to run things, to run the state, run the corporations. ..."
"... The genius of neoliberalism is such that it is able to achieve a high degree of coordination in detail across large numbers of people, institutions, even countries while still professing [fake] aims and values to which few object. A high degree of coordination on implementing a political policy agenda that is variously parasitical or predatory on the 90%. ..."
"... You can say this is just hypocrisy of a type the rich have always engaged in, and that would be true. The predatory rich have always had to disguise their predatory or parasitical activity, and have often done so by embracing, for example, shows of piety or philanthropy. So, neoliberalism falls into a familiar albeit broad category. ..."
"... What distinguishes neoliberalism is how good it is at coordinating the activities of the 9.9% in delivering the goods for the 0.1%. For a post-industrial economy, neoliberalism is better for the mega-rich than Catholicism was for the feudalism of the High Middle Ages. I do not think most practicing neoliberals among the 9.9% even think of themselves as hypocrites. ..."
"... "Free markets" has been the key move, the fulcrum where anodyne aims and values to which no one can object meet the actual detailed policy implementation by the state. Creating a "market" removes power and authority from the state and transfers it to private actors able to apply financial wealth to managing things, and then, because an actual market cannot really do the job that's been assigned, a state bureaucracy has to be created to manage the administrative details and financial flows -- work for the 9.9% ..."
"... As a special bonus, the insistence on treating a political economy organized in fact by large public and private bureaucracies as if it is organized by and around "markets" introduces a high degree of economic agnatology into the conventional political rhetoric. ..."
"... Pierre Bourdieu, the great French sociologist, would say neoliberalism, like the devil, is one of those things that makes a priority of pretending it does not exist. (Bourdieu cited many others.) It makes it much harder for those whose interests it does not serve to fight it, like forcing someone to eat Jello with a single chopstick. ..."
May 20, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Christine Berry. Originally published at openDemocracy

The really fascinating battles in intellectual history tend to occur when some group or movement goes on the offensive and asserts that Something Big really doesn't actually exist."

So says Philip Morowski in his book 'Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown' . As Mirowski argues, neoliberalism is a particularly fascinating case in point. Just as Thatcher asserted there was 'no such thing as society', it's common to find economics commentators asserting that there is 'no such thing as neoliberalism' – that it's simply a meaningless insult bandied about by the left, devoid of analytical content.

But on the list of 'ten tell-tale signs you're a neoliberal', insisting that Neoliberalism Is Not A Thing must surely be number one. The latest commentator to add his voice to the chorus is Sky Economics Editor Ed Conway . On the Sky blog, he gives four reasons why Neoliberalism Is Not A Thing. Let's look at each of them in turn:

1. It's only used by its detractors, not by its supporters

This one is pretty easy to deal with, because it's flat-out not true. As Mirowski documents, "the people associated with the doctrine did call themselves 'neo-liberals' for a brief period lasting from the 1930s to the early 1950s, but then they abruptly stopped the practice" – deciding it would serve their political project better if they claimed to be the heirs of Adam Smith than if they consciously distanced themselves from classical liberalism. Here's just one example, from Milton Friedman in 1951:

"a new ideology must give high priority to real and efficient limitation of the state's ability to, in detail, intervene in the activities of the individual. At the same time, it is absolutely clear that there are positive functions allotted to the state. The doctrine that, one and off, has been called neoliberalism and that has developed, more or less simultaneously in many parts of the world is precisely such a doctrine But instead of the 19 th century understanding that laissez-faire is the means to achieve this goal, neoliberalism proposes that competition will lead the way".

You might notice that as well as the word 'neoliberalism', this also includes the word 'ideology'. Remember that one for later.

It's true that the word 'neoliberalism' did go underground for a long time, with its proponents preferring to position their politics simply as sound economics than to admit it was a radical ideological programme. But that didn't stop them from knowing what they stood for, or from acting collectively – through a well-funded network of think tanks and research institutes – to spread those ideas.

It's worth noting that one of those think tanks, the Adam Smith Institute, has in the last couple of years consciously reclaimed the mantle . Affiliated intellectuals like Madsen Pirie and Sam Bowman have explicitly sought to define and defend neoliberalism. It's no accident that this happened around the time that neoliberalism began to be seriously challenged in the UK, with the rise of Corbyn and the shock of the Brexit vote, after a post-crisis period where the status quo seemed untouchable.

2. Nobody can agree on what it means

Well, this one at least is half-true. Like literally every concept that has ever mattered, the concept of 'neoliberalism' is messy, it's deeply contested, it has evolved over time and it differs in theory and practice. From the start, there has been debate within the neoliberal movement itself about how it should define itself and what its programme should be. And, yes, it's often used lazily on the left as a generic term for anything vaguely establishment. None of this means that it is Not A Thing. This is something sociologists and historians instinctively understand, but which many economists seem to have trouble with.

Having said this, it is possible to define some generally accepted core features of neoliberalism. Essentially, it privileges markets as the best way to organise the economy and society, but unlike classical liberalism, it sees a strong role for the state in creating and maintaining these markets. Outside of this role, the state should do as little as possible, and above all it must not interfere with the 'natural' operation of the market. But it has always been part of the neoliberal project to take over the state and transform it for its own ends, rather than to dismantle or disable it.

Of course, there's clearly a tension between neoliberals' professed ideals of freedom and their need for a strong state to push through policies that often don't have democratic consent. We see this in the actions of the Bretton Woods institutions in the era of 'structural adjustment', or the Troika's behaviour towards Greece during the Eurozone crisis. We see it most starkly in Pinochet's Chile, the original neoliberal experiment. This perhaps helps to explain the fact that neoliberalism is sometimes equated with libertarianism and the 'small state', while others reject this characterisation. I'll say it again: none of this means that neoliberalism doesn't exist.

3. Neoliberalism is just good economics

Neoliberalism may not exist, says Conway, but what do exist are "conventional economic models – the ones established by Adam Smith all those centuries ago", and the principles they entail. That they may have been "overzealously implemented and sometimes misapplied" since the end of the Cold War is "unfortunate", but "hardly equals an ideology". I'm sure he'll hate me for saying this, but Ed – this is the oldest neoliberal trick in the book.

The way Conway defines these principles (fiscal conservatism, property rights and leaving businesses to make their own decisions) is hardly a model of analytical rigour, but we'll let that slide. Instead, let's note that the entire reason neoliberal ideology developed was that the older classical "economic models" manifestly failed during the Great Depression of the 1930s, leading them to be replaced by Keynesian demand-management models as the dominant framework for understanding the economy.

Neoliberals had to update these models in order to restore their credibility: this is why they poured so much effort into the development of neoclassical economics and the capture of academic economics by the Chicago School. One of the great achievements of neoliberalism has been to induce such a level of collective amnesia that it's now once again possible to claim that these tenets are simply "fundamental economic rules" handed down directly from Adam Smith on tablets of stone, unchallenged and unchallengeable in the history of economic thought.

In any case, even some people that ascribe to neoclassical economics – like Joseph Stiglitz – are well enough able to distinguish this intellectual framework from the political application of it by neoliberals. It is perfectly possible to agree with the former but not the latter.

4. Yes, 'neoliberal' policies have been implemented in recent decades, but this has been largely a matter of accident rather than design

Privatisation, bank deregulation, the dismantling of capital and currency controls: according to Conway, these are all developments that came about by happenstance. "Anyone who has studied economic history" will tell you they are "hardly the result of a guiding ideology." This will no doubt be news to the large number of eminent economic historians who have documented the shift from Keynesianism to neoliberalism, from Mirowski and Daniel Stedman-Jones to Robert Skidelsky and Robert Van Horn (for a good reading list, see this bibliographic review by Will Davies .)

It would also be news to Margaret Thatcher, the woman who reportedly slammed down Hayek's 'Constitution of Liberty' on the table at one of her first cabinet meetings and declared "Gentlemen, this is our programme"; and who famously said "Economics is the method; the object is to change the soul". And it would be news to those around her who strategized for a Conservative government with carefully laid-out battleplans for dismantling the key institutions of the post-war settlement, such as the Ridley Report on privatising state-run entities.

What Conway appears to be denying here is the whole idea that policymaking takes place within a shared set of assumptions (or paradigm), that dominant paradigms tend to shift over time, and that these shifts are usually accompanied by political crises and resulting transfers of political power – making them at least partly a matter of ideology rather than simply facts.

Whether it's even meaningful to claim that ideology-free facts exist on matters so inherently political as how to run the economy is a whole debate in the sociology of knowledge which we don't have time to go into here, and which Ed Conway doesn't seem to have much awareness of.

But he shows his hand when he says that utilities were privatised because "governments realised they were mostly a bit rubbish at running them". This is a strong – and highly contentious – political claim disguised as a statement of fact – again, a classic neoliberal gambit. It's a particularly bizarre one for an economist to make at a time when 70% of UK rail routes are owned by foreign states who won the franchises through competitive tender. Just this week, we learned that the East Coast main line is to be temporarily renationalised because Virgin and Stagecoach turned out to be, erm, a bit rubbish at running it.

* * *

It may be a terrible cliché, but the old adage "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" seems appropriate here. Neoliberalism successfully hid in plain sight for decades, with highly ideological agendas being implemented amidst claims we lived in a post-ideological world. Now that it is coming under ideological challenge, it is all of a sudden stood naked in the middle of the room, having to explain why it's there (to borrow a phrase from a very brilliant colleague).

There are a number of strategies neoliberals can adopt in response to this. The Adam Smith Institute response is to go on the offensive and defend it. The Theresa May response is to pay lip service to the need for systemic change whilst quietly continuing with the same old policies. Those, like Ed Conway, who persist in claiming neoliberalism doesn't even exist, may soon find themselves left behind by history. 95 comments


diptherio , May 17, 2018 at 10:23 am

Neoliberalism may not exist, says Conway, but what do exist are "conventional economic models – the ones established by Adam Smith all those centuries ago",

Um please name one "conventional economic model" established by Adam Smith. I mean, really, who would actually write such nonsense?

bruce wilder , May 17, 2018 at 1:20 pm

In fairness, I expect Conway is referring to the "invisible hand" of market competition, wherein the competitive market qua an institution supposedly transforms the private pursuit of self-interest into a public benefit. From the OP, Milton Friedman saying, "instead of . . . laissez-faire . . . neoliberalism proposes . . . competition".

A pedant can rightly claim that the actual Adam Smith had a more nuanced and realistic view, but that does not help to understand, let alone defeat, the intellectual smoke and mirrors of neoliberalism. And, in spirit, the neoliberals are more right than wrong in claiming Adam Smith: on the economics, he was a champion of market competition against the then degenerate corporate state and an advocate of a modified laissez faire against mercantilism, not to mention feudalism.

My personal view is that you have lost the argument if you agree to the key element of neoclassical economics: that the economy is organized around and by (metaphoric) markets and policy is justified (sic!) by remedying market failure. If you concede "the market economy" even as a mere convention of political speech, you are lost, because you have entered into the Alice-in-Wonderland neoliberal model, and you can no longer base your arguments on socially-constructed references to the real, institutional world.

Adam Smith was systematically interpreting his observed world, he kept himself honest by being descriptively accurate. It was Ricardo who re-invented classical economics as an abstract theory deductible from first principles and still later thinkers, who re-invented that abstract, deductive theory as a neoclassical economics in open defiance of observed reality. And, still later thinkers, many of them critics (Hayek being a prime example) of neoclassical economics as it existed circa 1930, who founded neoliberalism as we know it. We really should not blame Adam Smith.

Jeremy Grimm , May 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

You comment is confusing to me -- not quite sure what you are arguing. You close asserting "We really should not blame Adam Smith." Was he blamed in this post?

JBird , May 17, 2018 at 8:05 pm

I think it's the very selective reading, and quoting, of Adam Smith's writings to give neoliberal economics more legitimacy; the parts where he mentions the supremacy of the common good and the need to prevent too much accumulation of money in too few hands is ignored. Restated, the free market with its invisible hand is best so long as the whole community benefits. However, wealth and the power it brings tends to become monopolized into a very few hands. That needs to be prevented and if needed by government.

I think I need to go back over the Wealth of Nations to be sure I am not being too selective myself. That said, what the neoliberals are doing is like some people's very selective reading of the New Testament to support their interests. (Like the vile Prosperity Gospel)

Liberal AND Proud , May 18, 2018 at 9:40 am

Exactly. Bravo.

There is so much claptrap in this article, on all sides of what is supposedly being debated. Yet, the one underlying historical fact that is being completely overlooked is pure Keynesian demand driven economics.

An economics that not only has a basis in fact, but also has an actual history of success.

Keynesian economics did not fail. It was undermined by a movement back toward neo-liberal Adam Smith "invisible hand of the free market" nonsense that has done nothing throughout history except proven itself to be greed disguised as an economic theory to give the powerful an opportunity to fleece the poor and the government treasury.

Yves Smith Post author , May 18, 2018 at 2:51 am

"Free markets" is incoherent, yet it is a very well accepted and unquestioned notion, to the degree it is regularly depicted as virtuous and achieving it, a worthy policy goal.

DanB , May 17, 2018 at 10:29 am

I have written about how the East Germans were absorbed by Germany as neoliberalism was ascendant in 1990, with such shibboleths as TINA and The End of History taken as cosmological verities by the West German government. Now I'm doing research on Detroit, where neoliberalism remains powerful and the source of a meretricious "renaissance" taking place there even as it is increasingly found to be a generator of and rationalization for all manner of class-based exploitation. Mirowski's checklist of the attributes of neoliberalism is on display in state and local government there as they serve corporations, such as the city "selling" the Little Ceasar's empire 39 acres of downtown land for $1 upon which was built the new hockey arena. Detroit is a bellwether city, and despite the depredations of corporations and government there is much organized opposition to neoliberal rule in the city.

Eustache De Saint Pierre , May 17, 2018 at 11:48 am

I believe there was an article here recently by Mirowski – The something or other that dare not speak it's name ? I have spent quite a few hours in the past listening to his podcasts & videos, which tend to repeat themselves, although something new slips in from time to time, especially from Q & A's.

His assertion that economics is merely one part of a whole in the Neoliberal assault woke me up, & indeed then appeared very obvious.

I believe I have seen an example of the Detroit devastation used as film sets in two films: " Only Lovers Left alive " & " Don't Breathe ", which suit the darkness of them very well.

Good to know that there is resistance & I wish you the very best outcome for your & or their endeavours.

Jeremy Grimm , May 17, 2018 at 3:02 pm

I too have watched many hours of Phillip Mirowski's videos, several of them more than once. I have a little trouble with your assertion they "tend to repeat themselves, although something new slips in from time to time". He does repeatedly emphasize points which are hard to believe on first hearing but grow evident upon further reflection. For example his emphasis on the concept of the Market as the Neoliberal epistemology -- an ultimate tool for discovering Truth. A little recall of some recent and surprisingly commonplace constructs like a "market of ideas", or various ways of suggesting we are each a commodity we need to package, promote, and sell as exemplified by Facebook "likes" and "networking" as a way to get ahead. Looking at the whole of the videos, and excluding obvious repetitions like multiple versions of book promotion interviews at different venues I think the range of ideas Mirowski explores is remarkable -- from the Neoliberal thought collective to climate change to the Market applied to direct the truth science can discover.

[Where do you find podcasts of Mirowski? I recall collecting a few but most of what I find are videos. He has numerous of his papers posted at academia.edu which can be downloaded for free by signing up for the website.]

Kevin Carhart , May 18, 2018 at 3:06 am

There are just a few. You may already have heard some of these: Search for Symptomatic Redness, and search for This Is Hell. Search for [PPE Polanyi Hayek]. He talked to Doug Henwood. He talked to Will Davies and that is audio only I believe. There's the Science Mart talk that he gave in Australia. If you look in archive.org and soundcloud as well as youtube and vimeo, you will find most of them. I think all four of those sites have a few recordings that are exclusive from the others. Archive.org has a couple of his appearances on community radio. A few are also linked from the media page for a given book on the publishers' sites, like go to the links on the book page for Science Mart, for an appearance on I think Boston radio.

I'm a nerd. Heh. But if you've come this far and listened to the videos (the one with Homer's brain and markomata, the Boundary2 conference talk, the Leukana one, Prof Nik-Khah at the Whitlam center, Sam Seder, the one on climate, talking about Cowles in Brazil), you will enjoy the others. Hope these notes help you find a few.

Jeremy Grimm , May 18, 2018 at 11:24 am

Thanks! You mentioned several videos I haven't watched yet. [I've watched the one on climate several times.]

Dune Navigator , May 19, 2018 at 1:33 am

I have found this book to be a masterpiece – A brief history of neoliberalism by David Harvey -- > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkWWMOzNNrQ

I have gifted copies of it to my mother- and father-in-law (who survived Operation Condor – the Argentine Dirty Wars) and my parents, among others.

Ray Phenicie , May 17, 2018 at 4:37 pm

I wrote a web page back in April of 2016 about the neoliberal forces in Detroit. Let me know at my twitter page what you think. Feel free to use whatever you find helpful
I found then that the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan had been hornswaggled by private enterprises nesting their own feathers.

Robert G. Valiant , May 17, 2018 at 10:29 am

Utilitarianism, expressed as the greatest aggregate well-being to humanity (economic production and growth) and preference for economic efficiency (monopolies, duopolies, cartels, etc.) over market competition, are two additional hallmarks of neoliberalism.

Recognizing these two important values helps explain the growing economic and social inequality we're witnessing around the western world.

This is the best scholarly book I've read on neoliberalism: The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition

HotFlash , May 17, 2018 at 11:53 am

Thank you, Mr. Valiant,

I will checkout your recommendation and I hope that it will discuss, for instance, the assumption that *economic* production and growth and preference for economic efficiency is and should be the proper goal of human life.

Robert G. Valiant , May 17, 2018 at 12:40 pm

The book is descriptive and critical, but not particularly prescriptive. But yes, one of the real strengths of Davies' work is his documentation of the many economic, social, and political assumptions that provide the foundations of neoliberal thought. I was impressed by the many logical inconsistencies that advocates of neoliberalism are comfortable in accepting. I don't believe that the bulk of neoliberal ideas could exist for long outside the philosophical context of postmodernism as the cognitive dissonance they (should) generate would find them quickly abandoned.

The intersection of postmodernism, neoliberalism , and neoconservatism defines our current Western civilization, and I wish somebody would come up with a name for it. Whatever we have now is the successor to Modernism, in its broadest sense.

PKMKII , May 17, 2018 at 3:12 pm

I saw one of those political compass memes recently that had at the "center", "Everything is rent seeking, except for literal rent seeking, which is okay."

vlade , May 17, 2018 at 10:33 am

Well, there is at least some labeling issue, as one of the first people to use term "neoliberalism" (for his proposed policy) was Germany's Alexander Rustow, who hardlty anyone knows about these days, so they don't know either that Rustow would likely sign off most of Corbyn's proposed policies

https://www.cis.org.au/app/uploads/2015/07/op114.pdf

Grebo , May 17, 2018 at 10:22 pm

IIRC Rustow was one of the more 'moderate' founder members of the Mont Pelerin Society. His views did not prevail, though they initially adopted his term for their project. I wonder if, when he saw which way the wind was blowing, he demanded it back.

The term was sometimes applied to the New Deal but didn't really catch on.

It was also used in the early '80s for a movement trying to resurrect the New Deal in the face of Reagan but that didn't catch on either.

vlade , May 18, 2018 at 3:09 am

I didn't know about the New Deal connection, thanks!

Goes to show that he who controls the language controls the communications. .

The Rev Kev , May 17, 2018 at 10:39 am

Hey, I just remembered something. When I was a kid growing up everybody knew all about the mafia but all those in the know denied that there was any such thing when questioned in a court of law. It got to be a running joke how these gang bosses and members were always denying that the mafia was an actual thing. Could it be that the neoliberals took a page out of their book and adopted the same tactic of denying the existence of neoliberalism while actively pushing it at every opportunity?

johnnygl , May 17, 2018 at 11:20 am

And like the line from 'fight club', the first rule of neoliberalism is that you don't talk about it.

To extend your analogy, much like the mafia, there's a handful of shadowy law breakers who benefit from neoliberalism and a whole lot of people that suffer violence so that those benefits can flow up to that few.

Amfortas the Hippie , May 17, 2018 at 3:35 pm

this is why I keep Mario Puzo next to Adam and Karl on the econ shelf in my library.
It's not so much Omerta, as gobbdeygook and wafer thin platitudes.
Like the concurrent and related "Conservative revolution"(1973-), they stole the Cell Structure from the Comintern, and bought out the competition.
I am inclined to believe that the Libertarian Party was a vehicle for this counterrevolution, too.
and finally, with the DLC, they were able to buy the "opposition party" outright and here we are.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , May 17, 2018 at 11:30 am

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! He's only here to direct you to a very robust curtain marketplace to suit all your needs, including our newest offering for consumers without a desire to invest in (or a steady home for) full curtain infrastructure: Curtains-as-a-Service! Ultimate mobility! Low(ish) monthly payments forever!"

TG , May 17, 2018 at 11:38 am

Well said!

"Neoliberalism" is indeed a thing, but it is not in any way an economic model. "Neoliberalism" is simply the ethos of Sit Back and Let the Big Dog Eat, and it wraps itself in whatever words or models is most effective at distracting and camouflaging its rotten core. Neoliberalism is like a Caddis Fly larvae, that sticks random objects outside its cocoon to blend in.

So the Neoliberals talk about free markets when it suits them – and when their wealthy patrons want to be bailed out with public funds, they talk about government responsibility. They harp about freedom – but demand that large corporations get to use de-jure slave labor to peel shrimp. They talk about how wonderful free trade is – and demand that private citizens not be able to import legal pharmaceuticals because this would destroy the freedom of big pharma to maximize profits by restricting trade and without this new drug development would stop and anyone who believes in free trade wants a free lunch. I could go on. It's pointless to try and refute them, because there is nothing to refute, and they have no shame. Only brute power, but this they have in abundance.

So of course they reject the label, because co-opting and corrupting and hiding behind legitimate philosophies is part of their modus operandi. Using the terminology of the enemy is always a mistake. Long may the vile practitioners of 'neoliberalism' be forced to be referred to by an accurate label!

HotFlash , May 17, 2018 at 11:58 am

Neoliberalism is like a Caddis Fly larvae, that sticks random objects outside its cocoon to blend in.

Lovely metaphor, TG, thank you, and I am stealing it forthwith.

Carey , May 17, 2018 at 10:25 pm

That middle paragraph is simply outstanding. Thank you.

Hunter , May 18, 2018 at 4:09 am

It is. I wish he had gone on. Might we build on it? I think such examples clarify brilliantly exactly of whom we speak:

"Neoliberals want minimal government regulation because such regulation makes the market inefficient. Except when making dubious student loans; then they want the government to guarantee those loans and serve as their muscle in collecting."

animalogic , May 18, 2018 at 12:56 am

Excellent comment. "It's pointless to try and refute them, because there is nothing to refute, and they have no shame. Only brute power, but this they have in abundance."

Absolutely.

Neoliberalism: an old fashioned expression of the seemingly eternal "all for me, none for thee". A million tonnes of economic speciousness, the thickness of a piece of plastic wrap, covering the bloated & putrifying zombie body of a small "elite".

Summer , May 17, 2018 at 11:45 am

"Now that it is coming under ideological challenge, it is all of a sudden stood naked in the middle of the room, having to explain why it's there (to borrow a phrase from a very brilliant colleague)."

Perfect description and funny too!

bruce wilder , May 17, 2018 at 11:46 am

One gambit in denying neoliberalism is to pretend it must be a specific doctrine and then dispute about which that doctrine that is. Or that neoliberalism must be a specific programme and dispute whether that programme has been consistent thru time. But, the intellectual cum ideological history cum policy history here is that neoliberalism has been a dialectic. There's Thatcher and then there's Blair.

It is the back-and-forth of that dialectic that has locked in "the shared set of assumptions" and paradigm of policy inventiveness that has given neoliberalism its remarkable ability to survive its own manifest policy-induced crises.

Neoliberalism did not just adopt neoclassical economics, nor did it simply infest political parties of the right. Neoliberalism re-invented neoclassical economics in ways that defined not just the "right" of academic economics, but also defined the "left". Keynesian economics was absorbed and transmogrified by first one neoclassical synthesis and then a second, leaving a New Keynesian macroeconomics to occupy the position of a nominal left within mainstream economics. If you are waiting for a Krugman or even a Stiglitz to oppose neoliberalism, you will be waiting a very long time, because they are effectively locked into the neoliberal dialectic.

Something almost analogous happened with the political parties of the centre-left, as in the iconic cases of Blair vs Thatcher or Clinton vs Reagan (and then, of course, Obama vs Reagan/Bush II). In western Europe, grand coalitions figured in the process of eliminating the ability of centre-left parties to think outside the neoliberal policy frames or to represent their electoral bases rather than their donor bases.

HotFlash , May 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Sitting here nodding my head. All the same criticisms could be made of, oh, say, Christianity. Wars have been fought, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been persecuted by other Christians, over the definition, but that certainly does not make it Not A Thing.

Jeremy Grimm , May 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Neoliberal thought is very deliberately projected as a many-headed Hydra. The Neoliberal thought collective presents manifold statements and refinements of its principles. The value of agnotology is a belief of held in sufficient regard to be deemed a principle of belief. Just try dealing with an opponent that shifts and evaporates but never loses substance in working toward its goals.

shinola , May 17, 2018 at 12:06 pm

If neoliberalism can be broken down to "Because markets" perhaps it could also be referred to as "Market Darwinism".

John Steinbach , May 17, 2018 at 12:44 pm

A fundamental difference between neoliberalism and classic economists like Ricardo & Smith is the latter's adamant opposition to rent seeking and insistence on fighting it by taxation. Neoliberalism on the other hand not only accepts rent-seeking, but actively encourages it. Thus we see not only the ascendancy of of the FIRE sector, but the effective destruction of markets as mechanisms of price discovery.

animalogic , May 18, 2018 at 1:42 am

This is a key point. Michael Hudson has demonstrated this in the greatest depth & contrast.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , May 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Also, Yves, thanks a million for these enlightening neoliberalism articles. I've had quite a bit of trouble in the past putting my political beliefs in the appropriate context; a general feeling of malaise and overall mistrust of free-trade agreements and big corporations without anything to really back it up is usually a one-way ticket to losing an argument and being labelled an old crank. Being able to put a name on something you know doesn't smell right, and finding a framework that allows others to spot it, is a hell of a leg up.

It always reminds me of the index (or aside, or supplementary reading, whatever it was) that accompanied my copy of 1984. It basically said that controlling the common language and not allowing for terminology to define certain things (in this case, pulling the 'first two rules of Fight Club' thing – thanks, johnnygl!) was key to keeping those things essentially invisible, and those afflicted by the maladies off-balance and unable to organize against them. That bit of Orwell made sense then, but it has really been hitting home after reading some of these articles.

For anyone who missed it, this one was also particularly great.

Susan the other , May 17, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Neoliberalism is just another damn thing that externalizes and socializes costs. It is a very costly thing. But I'm more inclined to think that no isms exist anywhere in the real world in any constructive way – they are all just mental reflexes useful for rationalizing irresponsibility and procrastination. And self interest. We might as well just say economicism.

Interesting comment by the author about the sociology of knowledge. No doubt there is a sensible mantra somewhere chanting: Do what works. Because if evolution had been evolutionism we'd all be extinct. The only thing sticking in my dottering old head these days is Ann Pettifor's last question: Please, please can you just tell us how the economy actually works?

Jeremy Grimm , May 17, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Much as I regard your past comments, I must disagree with your assertion "Neoliberalism is just another damn thing that externalizes and socializes costs". Neoliberalism does indeed externalize and socialize costs but it is more than just another damn thing. Just the scale and scope of the think tank network assembled and well funded to promote the concepts of the Neoliberal thought collective should be adequate to convince you that it is much more than "just another damn thing".

Consider just the visible portion of the think tanks which are part of the Neoliberal thought collective. "Today, Atlas Network connects more than 450 think tanks in nearly 100 countries. Each is writing its own story of how principled work to affect public opinion, on behalf of the ideas of a free society, can better individuals' lives."

Members of the network include: AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE, AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL (ALEC), AYN RAND INSTITUTE, CATO INSTITUTE, GOLDWATER INSTITUTE, HEARTLAND INSTITUTE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION selected members from the 177 think tanks in the U.S. which are a part of the 475 partners in 92 countries around the globe. [https://www.atlasnetwork.org/partners/global-directory]. This is not "just another damn thing."

Next consider the state of the economics profession. Neoliberalism has taken over many major schools of economics and a large number of the economics journals. In a publish or perish world there are few alternatives to an adherence to some flavor of Neoliberal ideology. This is not "just another damn thing." Consider how many national politicians are spouting things like there is 'no such thing as society'. This is not "just another damn thing" -- it is something much much more scary.

Carey , May 17, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Thank you for this post. It is the methodical destruction of any possible alternatives to this totalizing and dehumanizing system that is most frightening to me.

Altandmain , May 17, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Basically the rich dismantled the New Deal and desperately are trying to hide it. The issue is that the decline in living standards for the middle class are so big that they can no longer hide what they are. This was linked in NC a while ago:

https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/02/neoliberalism-movement-dare-not-speak-name/

They are essentially trying to keep the looting of society under wraps, but it is beck ming impossible so they deny it exists.

Sound of the Suburbs , May 17, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Neoliberalism is quite fuzzy and difficult to attack. Neoliberalism intellectual framework comes from the underlying neoclassical economics that can easily be attacked. Here's George Soros. George Soros realised the economics was wrong due to his experience with the markets. What the neoclassical economists said about markets and his experience just didn't compare, and he knew it was so wrong he never even bothered to look into what the economics said.

George Soros "I am not well qualified to criticize those theories, because as a market participant, I considered them so unrealistic that I never bothered to study them"

Here is George Soros on the bad economics we have used for globalisation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etP0t7WlK_4

He had been complaining for years and at last in 2008 the bankruptcy of the economics proved itself. With more widespread support, he set up INET (The Institute for New Economic Thinking) to try and put things right. Globalisation's technocrats, trained in bad economics, never stood a chance.

John D. , May 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm

"Those, like Ed Conway, who persist in claiming neoliberalism doesn't even exist, may soon find themselves left behind by history."

During the last election, when leftist types were criticizing Hillary Clinton for her neoliberal tendencies, the Ed Conway approach was favored by the online Dem Party shills as the go-to response at mainstream liberal websites. In the comments sections of these places, I read quite a lot of out-and-out bullsh*t about neoliberalism not being real, and how charges of it had as much substance as similarly empty schoolyard taunts. If you said someone was a neoliberal, it had no more meaning than if you'd called them "poopy pants" or 'booger breath." And all this delivered with the usual blistering abuse thrown at anyone not willing to get down on all fours & kiss St. Hillary's blessed pants suit. It got to the point where I finally had to stop visiting places like Lawyers, Guns and Money altogether. They had become unbelievably nasty and unpleasant to progressives.

Sound of the Suburbs , May 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm

"One of the great achievements of neoliberalism has been to induce such a level of collective amnesia that it's now once again possible to claim that these tenets are simply "fundamental economic rules" handed down directly from Adam Smith on tablets of stone, unchallenged and unchallengeable in the history of economic thought."

To prove this wrong read Adam Smith. Adam Smith observed the reality of small state, unregulated capitalism in the world around him. Adam Smith on rent seeking:

"The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers."

So, landlords, usurers and taxes all raise the cost of living and minimum wage. They suck purchasing power out of the real economy. Western housing booms have raised the cost of living and priced Western labour out of international markets leading to the rise of the populists. Trickledown, no it trickles up.

Adam Smith on price gouging:

"The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens."

So this is why hedge funds look for monopoly suppliers of drugs. Big is not beautiful in capitalism, it needs competition and lots of it. The interests of business and the public are not aligned.

Adam Smith on lobbyists:

"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

Not surprising TTIP and TPP didn't go down well with the public.

The interests of business and the public are not aligned.

Adam Smith on the 1%:

"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."

2017 – Richest 8 people as wealthy as half of world's population
They haven't changed a bit.

Adam Smith on Profit:

"But the rate of profit does not, like rent and wages, rise with the prosperity and fall with the declension of the society. On the contrary, it is naturally low in rich and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin."

Exactly the opposite of today's thinking, what does he mean?

When rates of profit are high, capitalism is cannibalising itself by:
1) Not engaging in long term investment for the future
2) Paying insufficient wages to maintain demand for its products and services

Today's problems with growth and demand.

Amazon didn't suck its profits out as dividends and look how big it's grown (not so good on the wages).

ChrisPacific , May 17, 2018 at 6:52 pm

The problem with Adam Smith is the same as for Keynes: people quote what they imagine he said, or what they want him to have said, rather than what he actually did say.

Adam Smith at least wrote more clearly than Keynes did, which makes claims like that easier to refute.

skippy , May 18, 2018 at 5:27 am

Yet the problem with Smith is contextualizing the time and space he wrote of vs. that of Keynes. Keynes was not addressing a burgeoning industrialist – agrarian economy that had yet to employ oil to its potential with huge amounts of untapped natural resources still waiting in the wings and nary any counter prevailing force to this periods philosophical views.

Even if the whole anglophone experience had a touch of the Council of Nicea tinge to it e.g. making nice between troublesome tribes within the fold.

Keynes at least looked at the data and attempted to reflect what he discern "at the time" against the prevailing winds of doctrinaires contrary to all the sycophants.

This is was the lesson he attempted to forward, howls from the sycophants is a tell.

Paul O , May 18, 2018 at 5:34 am

A reading of Smith's 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments' written before, but revised after, WoN is also worthwhile. As is, as ever, Karl Polyani's opening salvo against Smith's take on 'human market nature' (my term). Everyone should read 'The Great Transformation' at least once.

The 18th century was an interesting time. My take, only partially thought out, is that Smith's later work was part of that move away from grand theorizing towards practical improvement of the human condition seen in so many thinkers of the mid-century period. (With the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 acting as something of a catalyst)

WheresOurTeddy , May 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm

It is impossible to get someone to understand something when his paycheck depends on his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

Ignacio , May 17, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Mr. Conway must be a fan of Mr. Fukuyama and his exercises for brain stunting. IMO, Fukuyama's success depended very much on neoliberalism becoming dominant.

Norb , May 18, 2018 at 9:33 am

In a way, this comment sums up the modern condition very well. Life is always about the struggle between the have and the have nots. "Civilization" is the human attempt to curb, or put a respectable face on the raw power struggle between the weak and the powerful. It is something worth fighting for if justice, equality under the law, and relief from human suffering is the goal. If greed and self-interest is the only goal, one can be considered a barbarian and resisted. In such a case, might makes right and the world is full of darkness and destruction.

Short form- The elite are failing in their duty to humanity- and the rest of life on this planet. As a scapegoat, they call out anyone not with their agenda deplorables and double down on their barbarous ways. Greed, exploitation, and subjugation.

Neoliberalism is the refinement of this basic human tendency for domination. It is a camouflaged form of oppression that is revealed through its ultimate effect, not what it does at the moment. A neoliberal is a disguised raider or conquerer.

PKMKII , May 17, 2018 at 3:01 pm

This is an amateur take, but as I see it classical liberalism was pretty much wrecked by the combination of WWI, great depression, and WWII. The "everything laissez faire" ideology had simply taken too much damage from the reality of political economy. So it evolved, as it were, into three new ideologies: libertarianism, which faulted classical liberalism for not going far enough in reducing the state, which goes a long ways towards explaining why it's not very popular; the liberal-left/FDR liberalism/SocDem position, which faulted classical liberalism for ignoring the social element, where there's a heavy welfare state, enterprises are highly regulated, labor protections, but still private ownership and a capitalist class; and neoliberalism, which faulted classical liberalism for being ideologically unwilling to engage in the technocratic tinkering to right the ship, but still sees TIHOTFM as the center of the economy. The first is the religious orthodoxy response, the second is to put the market in the sandbox, and the third puts the state in the sandbox.

Grebo , May 17, 2018 at 10:51 pm

My take, influenced by Polanyi, is that classical Liberalism collapsed with WWI. In Europe it was replaced with Socialism (of a sort), Social Democracy or Fascism. Sometimes switching around and taking a while to settle. In the US classical Liberalism had a glorious swansong in the 1920s but it finally died in 1929, giving way to Social Democracy in the New Deal. The Neoliberal project did not properly start until after WWII and did not take over until around 1980.

EoH , May 17, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Nicely written and argued.

Neoliberals prefer a strong state that promotes their ends, not one that opposes them, or has the ability to oppose the means and methods of private capital . That leaves the playing field with a single team.

Neoliberals would have the state oppose the goals of others in society. To nurture that environment, neoliberals seek to redefine society and citizenship as consumerism. Woman's only role is as one of the species Homo economicus . Neoliberals argue that since members of H. economicus exist in isolation, they have no need for the extensive mutual aid and support networks that neoliberals rely on to survive and prosper. Again, that leaves a single team on the playing field.

Code Name D , May 17, 2018 at 3:41 pm

I would add tha neoliberalism is inherently about classism. That the wealthy, because of their education, know more than poor people because of the lack of education. So when voters complain about the lack of jobs or the poor state of healthcare, the Clintionites wave it away because, well what do those poor people know anyway?

One of the topics that pops up regulary, is the question "why can't poor people tell how great the economy is doing?" -face palm- A question that took on fresh important when Clintion lost the election.

Ironically, the conversation is now, why can't poor people tell how shitty the economy is with Trump in charge. -dabble face palm-.

JBird , May 18, 2018 at 2:37 am

You only have to walk around San Francisco or Los Angeles to see that something is wrong with the current economic environment. This in the wealthy parts of California. There can be plenty of disagreement over the what, the why, and the solutions, but to demand that I ignore my lying eyes and believe their words' truthiness is either insulting or insanity and maybe both.

Jill , May 18, 2018 at 12:14 am

Mirowski addressed this very issue in this paper –

"The Political Movement that Dared not Speak its own Name: The Neoliberal Thought Collective Under Erasure" – In this paper I examine the disinclination to treat the Neoliberal political project as a serious intellectual project motivating a series of successes in the public sphere. Economists seem especially remiss in this regard.

https://www.ineteconomics.org/research/research-papers/the-political-movement-that-dared-not-speak-its-own-name-the-neoliberal-thought-collective-under-erasure

everydayjoe , May 18, 2018 at 4:44 am

I disagree that neoliberalism is a thing. There are still only the conservative and liberal view points. My interpretation of them is as follows:

-Conservative ideology stems from maintaining status quo, tradition, hierarchy and individual growth ( even at the cost of society). Religion dovetails this ideology as it is something passed on through generations.

-Liberal ideology stems from growing the society( even at the cost of individual), challenging the status quo and breaking away from tradition.

Neoliberalism to me is just a part of conservatism Here is the dictionary definition of conservatism; " the holding of political views that favour free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas." A crude example would be to say that Libertarians are closet Republicans.

Expat , May 18, 2018 at 6:10 am

If I understand neoliberalism correctly it boils down to this: Whoever has money and power gets to make the rules within certain limits which are defined by:

Success of the model is defined as success of the richest, most powerful actors. Anyone who does not succeed is labeled as having been inadequate, lazy, or socialist/communist/etc. Have I missed anything?

eg , May 18, 2018 at 7:56 am

The claim that neoliberalism does not exist reminds me of Baudelaire's "la plus belle des ruses du Diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas!" ("the cleverest ruse of the Devil is to persuade you he does not exist!")

We frogs have been in the pot for so long now we've forgotten that there ever was a pond

Sound of the Suburbs , May 18, 2018 at 8:26 am

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Irving Fisher 1929.

The markets have a way of destroying everyone's faith in the markets. I think they've forgotten now, let's have another go.

Einstein's definition of madness "Doing the same thing again and again and expecting to get a different result"

brumel , May 18, 2018 at 10:16 am

Neoliberalism is basically just liberalism in its contemporary form. The denial of its existence only confirms that.

beachcomber , May 18, 2018 at 12:08 pm

A priori, what motivated Hayek's, Mises' and their associates' programme from its conception in the '30's was that it was a *reaction* against the threat to freedom (as they defined it) which they considered to be posed by the onward march of what they termed "collectivism", embodied not only by avowedly socialist governments (as in Austria) but also in that ostensible bulwark of capitalism the USA (whence Mises had emigrated), in the shape of the New Deal.

Given that genesis, it baffles me that any historian can seriously question what was the true nature of the project which (led by Hayek) was conceived in response, which later became known as neoliberalism. It was conceived as a counter-offensive to what they identified as an insidious mortal threat to all the values they subscribed to – as in Hayek's phrase "the road to serfdom". How could any such counter-offensive be implemented other than through devising and putting into effect a plan of action? How could it ever *not* have been "a thing" (ie not possess objective reality) yet still achieve its specified objective – namely to defeat the chosen enemy? To assert that it was not is to fly in the face of logic and common sense.

Doesn't any serious historian need to deploy both of those faculties in good measure?

EoH , May 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I agree that Hayek and others were engaged in a political movement that promoted intense opposition to social democratic experiments sweeping the West after WWII.

Their chosen enemy seems to have been collective responses generally – governmental and social – except those that they approved of. Coincidentally, those seem to be approved of by their wealthy patrons. I don't recall their vocal opposition to the trade associations, for example, that cooperated to promote the interests of the companies their patrons controlled.

Hayek and others seem to have overreacted in their opposition to collective action, even while making exceptions for the social networking and persistent patron funding that promoted their own endeavours.

The Prescription Was Clear , May 18, 2018 at 12:29 pm

From the article:

"[ ] Well, this one at least is half-true. Like literally every concept that has ever mattered, the concept of 'neoliberalism' is messy, it's deeply contested [ ]"

Way I see it, it happens to be extremely simple:

Neo-liberalism is extremely old and the only exceptions to this "new" development were the so called "totalitarian" states (feared, by neo-libs, most of all things), which mainly disciplined the elites, with great success, I might add.

Galatea55 , May 18, 2018 at 1:43 pm

David Harvey's "A Brief History of Neoliberalism," anyone?

EoH , May 18, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Or Mirowski and Bourdieu.

bruce wilder , May 18, 2018 at 4:45 pm

In reply to several commenters, who have questioned why "neoliberalism" is not simply another name for the political expression/ambitions of the greed of the rich-and-powerful, aka conservatism.

Although it serves the purposes of the rich-and-powerful rather well, I think "neoliberalism" as a rhetorical engine and set of ideas is the ideology of the 9.9%, the chattering classes of professionals and bureaucrats who need a cover story for their own participation in running the world for the benefit of the 0.1% These are the people who need to rationalize what they do and cooperate and coordinate among themselves and that's a challenge because of their sheer numbers.

If you try to examine neoliberalism as a set of aims or values or interests, I think you miss the great accomplishment of neoliberalism as a mechanism of social cooperation. Neoliberalism says it aims at freedom and social welfare and innovation and other good things. If neoliberalism said it aimed to make the richest 0.1% richer at the expense of everyone else, it would provoke political opposition from the 99% for obvious reasons. Including opposition from the 9.9% whom they need to run things, to run the state, run the corporations.

Not being clear on what your true objectives are tends to be an obstacle to organizing large groups to accomplish those objectives. Being clear on the mission objective is a prerequisite for organizational effectiveness in most circumstances. The genius of neoliberalism is such that it is able to achieve a high degree of coordination in detail across large numbers of people, institutions, even countries while still professing [fake] aims and values to which few object. A high degree of coordination on implementing a political policy agenda that is variously parasitical or predatory on the 90%.

You can say this is just hypocrisy of a type the rich have always engaged in, and that would be true. The predatory rich have always had to disguise their predatory or parasitical activity, and have often done so by embracing, for example, shows of piety or philanthropy. So, neoliberalism falls into a familiar albeit broad category.

What distinguishes neoliberalism is how good it is at coordinating the activities of the 9.9% in delivering the goods for the 0.1%. For a post-industrial economy, neoliberalism is better for the mega-rich than Catholicism was for the feudalism of the High Middle Ages. I do not think most practicing neoliberals among the 9.9% even think of themselves as hypocrites.

"Free markets" has been the key move, the fulcrum where anodyne aims and values to which no one can object meet the actual detailed policy implementation by the state. Creating a "market" removes power and authority from the state and transfers it to private actors able to apply financial wealth to managing things, and then, because an actual market cannot really do the job that's been assigned, a state bureaucracy has to be created to manage the administrative details and financial flows -- work for the 9.9%

As a special bonus, the insistence on treating a political economy organized in fact by large public and private bureaucracies as if it is organized by and around "markets" introduces a high degree of economic agnatology into the conventional political rhetoric.

[This comment sounded much clearer when I conceived of it in the shower this morning. I am sorry if the actual comment is too abstract or tone deaf. I will probably have to try again at a later date.]

Carey , May 19, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Your last three paragraphs in particular were helpful to my understanding. Thank you.

EoH , May 18, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Pierre Bourdieu, the great French sociologist, would say neoliberalism, like the devil, is one of those things that makes a priority of pretending it does not exist. (Bourdieu cited many others.) It makes it much harder for those whose interests it does not serve to fight it, like forcing someone to eat Jello with a single chopstick.

[May 14, 2018] In an ongoing operation, the US imperialist hawks seek to wipe out the last Leftist govements in LA

May 14, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

In an ongoing operation, the US imperialist hawks seek to wipe out the last Leftist governments in Latin America Ten years ago, most of Latin America was governed by Center-Left progressive or even Leftist governments. For example, Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, and Lula da Silva in Brazil, just as an example. And Hugo Chavez, of course, in Venezuela. Since then, the so-called 'pink tide' has receded quite dramatically. Of these 10 governments that were Left of Center, only four remain. Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Vazquez in Uruguay, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. What happened? Some would argue that the US played an important role in at least some of these changes.

globinfo freexchange

Speaking to Greg Wilpert and the RealNews , Mark Weisbrot explains the impact of the Leftist or Center-Left governments on Latin America, as well as the US efforts to overthrow these governments and replace them by Rright-Wing puppet regimes. This is a struggle that has become common in a region that heavily suffers for decades by the US dirty interventions as it is considered the backyard of the US empire and the primary colonial field for the big US corporations:

If you look at the region as a whole, the poverty rate dropped from 44 to 28 percent. That was from around 2003-2013. And that was after the two decades prior where poverty had actually increased, there was no progress at all. So that was a huge change, and it was accomplished in different countries, in different ways.

There were large increases in public investment in Bolivia and Ecuador. In Brazil you had also some increase in public investment, big increases in the minimum wage. Every country did different things to help bring healthcare, and increase, in some countries, access to education. And there were a whole lot of reforms, changes in macroeconomic policy, getting rid of the IMF.

So there were a lot of different things that these governments did that prior governments were either unable, or unwilling to do to improve people's living standards during a period of higher economic growth, which they also contributed to.

When Right-Wing governments took over most of the continent you have different things that have changed.

One is, of course, they're implementing, as you would expect, Right-Wing reforms. Trying to cut pension system, the pension in Brazil. Passing a constitutional amendment which, even most economists in the world wouldn't support in Brazil, which prohibits the government from increasing spending beyond the rate of inflation. You have huge increases in utility prices in Argentina, laying off thousands of public sector workers. So, everywhere where the Right has come back, you do have some regressive changes.

The US has been involved in most of these countries in various ways. Obviously in Venezuela they've been involved since the coup in 2002, and they tried to overthrow the government and tried to help people topple the government on several occasions there.

In Brazil, they supported the coup against Dilma, the parliamentary coup. So, they didn't do that strongly, but they sent enough signals, for example, as the House was voting to impeach Dilma without actually presenting a crime that she committed. The head of the Foreign Relations Committee from the Senate came and met with the No3 official from the US State Department, Tom Shannon. And then, in August of that year, the Secretary of State, John Kerry, went down there and had a press conference with the Acting Foreign Minister, Jose Serra. And they talked about how great relations with the US were going to be before Dilma was actually removed from office. So these were ways of endorsing the coup.

The FBI, the Department of Justice contributed to the investigation that was instrumental in imprisoning Lula. What they did in that investigation we don't know exactly, but we do know enough about it to know that it wasn't a neutral investigation. That is, the investigation did end up decapitating the Workers' Party for now. First helping get rid of Dilma, but more importantly, or more substantially, in terms of its contribution, they helped put Lula in prison and prevent him from running for office.

In Paraguay, the US helped in the consolidation of that parliamentary coup by organizing within the Organization of American States.

In Haiti, in 2004, they took the president and put him on a rendition plane, and flew him out of the country. That was in broad daylight.

In Honduras, is probably the biggest role that the US has played, both in consolidating the military coup in 2009. Hillary Clinton acknowledged her role in making sure that President Zelaya, the democratically elected president, would not return to office, and then more recently, in November, they helped consolidate the results of an election which pretty much all observers regarded as stolen.

In Argentina, other branches of government were involved as well as the executive, but the executive cut off lending from multilateral development banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank, and tried to block loans at the World Bank, as well. And they restored everything as soon as the Right-Wing government was elected. And then, there was Judge Griesa in New York, who took over 90 percent of Argentina's creditors hostage in order to squeeze them so that the government would pay off the vulture funds. And this was very political, because he also lifted the injunction as soon as you had the Right-Wing government.

This is very important, because obviously it's not necessarily a conspiracy of all these branches of government. The legislative branch was involved in this as well, in the United States. But they all have the same mindset, and they're all trying to get rid of these Left governments, and they had a massive contribution. In Argentina, that did contribute to the downfall of Cristina Kirchner. It contributed to balance of payments problems that they had there. So this was important, and it's totally ignored in the United States.

You have intervention in Mexico, for example. US officials have already said how worried they are that AMLO, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is the frontrunner in the upcoming election in July. And he's probably going to win, but they're already trying to undermine him, lobbying accusations of Russia involvement, which is the new trend. Of course, completely unsubstantiated.

In Venezuela they're doing something probably never done in the last 50 years, openly calling for a military coup, and actually a financial embargo they've put in place, and threatening even a worse embargo if they don't get rid of the current government. So that's a more aggressive form of intervention than you had even under the prior administrations.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/nhNNi-kXE_4


As has been mentioned previously:

A wave of neoliberal onslaught shakes currently Latin America. While in Argentina, Mauricio Macri allegedly took the power normally, the constitutional coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, as well as, the usual actions of the Right opposition in Venezuela against Nicolás Maduro with the help of the US finger, are far more obvious.

The special weight of these three countries in Latin America is extremely important for the US imperialism to regain ground in the global geopolitical arena. Especially the last ten to fifteen years, each of them developed increasingly autonomous policies away from the US close custody, under Leftist governments, and this was something that alarmed the US imperialism components.

Brazil appears to be the most important among the three, not only due to its size, but also as a member of the BRICS, the team of fast growing economies who threaten the US and generally the Western global dominance. The constitutional coup against Rousseff was rather a sloppy action and reveals the anxiety of the US establishment to regain control through puppet regimes. This is a well-known situation from the past through which the establishment attempts to secure absolute dominance in the US backyard.

The importance of Venezuela due to its oil reserves is also significant. When Maduro tried to approach Russia in order to strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries, he must had set the alarm for the neocons in the US. Venezuela could find an alternative in Russia and BRICS, in order to breathe from the multiple economic war that was set off by the US. It is characteristic that the economic war against Russia by the US and the Saudis, by keeping the oil prices in historically low levels, had significant impact on the Venezuelan economy too. It is also known that the US organizations are funding the opposition since Chávez era, in order to proceed in provocative operations that could overthrow the Leftist governments.
The case of Venezuela is really interesting. The US imperialists were fiercely trying to overthrow the Leftist governments since Chávez administration. They found now a weaker president, Nicolás Maduro - who certainly does not have the strength and personality of Hugo Chávez - to achieve their goal.

The Western media mouthpieces are doing their job, which is propaganda as usual. The recipe is known. You present the half truth, with a big overdose of exaggeration. The establishment parrots are demonizing Socialism , but they won't ever tell you about the money that the US is spending, feeding the Right-Wing groups and opposition to proceed in provocative operations, in order to create instability. They won't tell you about the financial war conducted through the oil prices, manipulated by the Saudis, the close US ally.

Regarding Argentina, former president, Cristina Kirchner, had also made some important moves towards the stronger cooperation with Russia, which was something unacceptable for Washington's hawks. Not only for geopolitical reasons, but also because Argentina could escape from the vulture funds that sucking its blood since its default. This would give the country an alternative to the neoliberal monopoly of destruction. The US big banks and corporations would never accept such a perspective because the debt-enslaved Argentina is a golden opportunity for a new round of huge profits. It's happening right now in debt colony, Greece.

[May 13, 2018] Neoliberal Defenestration and the Overton Window by Stephen Martin

Notable quotes:
"... 'It is difficult to get Artificial Intelligence to understand something, when the Research and Development funding it depends upon its not understanding it' ..."
"... dēfenestrātiō, ..."
"... 'If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists of treating another human being as a thing ..."
"... 'The Shockwave Rider ..."
"... This small article a polemic against neoliberal hegemony; in particular the emerging issue of 'surplus population' as related to technological displacement in context of a free market, an issue purposive to such hegemony which as an 'elephant growing in the panopticon' i.e. not to be mentioned? ..."
"... – 'One dimensionality in, one dimensionality out' ..."
"... 'Farewell to the Working Class' ..."
"... It is a relatively small step from ' the death of thought' to 'the death of Life' ..."
"... Under neoliberal orthodoxy the political utility of the 'Proles' and in particular the 'Lumpenproletariat', alas, is as to but fear as a 'stick'; a basis of control and manipulation same sense as Upton Sinclair explicated 'carrot' contingent by way of synonym seen: to wit; accept control and manipulation as 'rewarded' or be 'expelled' ..."
May 11, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

'It is difficult to get Artificial Intelligence to understand something, when the Research and Development funding it depends upon its not understanding it'

Paraphrase of Upton Sinclair .

defenestration (diːˌfɛnɪˈstreɪʃən)

n

the act of throwing a person or thing out of a window

[C17: from New Latin dēfenestrātiō, from Latin de- + fenestra window

The freedictionary.com

'If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists of treating another human being as a thing '

John Brunner 'The Shockwave Rider '

This small article a polemic against neoliberal hegemony; in particular the emerging issue of 'surplus population' as related to technological displacement in context of a free market, an issue purposive to such hegemony which as an 'elephant growing in the panopticon' i.e. not to be mentioned?

The central premise is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) + Robotics comprise a nefarious as formulaic temptation to the elite of the 'Technetronic era' as Zbigniew Brzezinski put it: this consistent with a determinism as stems ontologically from 'Empiricism' form of a 'One Dimensionality' as Marcuse phrased it over five Decades ago; and which thru being but mere simulacra, AI and Robotics represent an ontological imperative potentially expropriated under pathology to denial of Kant's concept of 'categorical imperative'? (That Kant did not subscribe to determinism is acknowledged). The neoliberal concepts of 'Corporatism' and 'free market' are powerful examples of this 'one dimensionality' which is clearly pathological, a topic notably explored by Joel Bakan concerning the pursuit of profit within a Corporatist framework.

– 'One dimensionality in, one dimensionality out' – so it goes ontologically as to some paraphrase of GIGO as trending alas way of 'technological determinism' towards an 'Epitaph for Biodiversity' as would be – way of 'Garbage' or 'Junk' un apperceived as much as 'retrospection' non occurrent indeed -and where 'Farewell to the Working Class' as André Gorz conceived to assume an entirely new meaning: -this to some denouement of 'Dystopian Nightmare' as opposed to 'Utopian Dream', alas; such the 'Age of Leisure' as 'beckoning' to be not for the majority or ' Demos', but rather for the 'technetronic elite' and their 'AI' and Robotics – such 'leisure' being as to a 'freedom' pathological and facilitated by the absence of conscience as much as morality; such the 'farewell'; such the defenestration of 'surplus' , such the 'Age' we 'live' within as to 'expropriation' and 'arrogation' to amount to 'Death by Panopticon' such the 'apotheosis'?

It is being so cheerful which keeps these small quarters going.

But digression.

It is a relatively small step from ' the death of thought' to 'the death of Life' under Neoliberal Orthodoxy as proving to be the most toxic ideology ever known – such the hegemony as a deliberative, shift of the ' Overton Window' currently occurring as to trend deterministic; such the mere necrotrophy as a 'defenestration' – and the 'one percent' but a deadly collective of parasitic orifice? For what is 'Empiricism' when implemented thru AI and Robotic Technology in a Corporatist economy as but a 'selective investment' as to Research and Development by elite 'private interests', which to a determinism so evidently entailing a whole raft of 'consequence' ; such the means, such the production, such the 'phenomenology' as 'owned' indeed? Under pathology, selectivity is impaired to point of 'militarization'?

But foremost amongst said 'raft' of consequence – the concept of 'classification' as incorporates methodological reduction of the particular to a composite of generalities so typical of 'Science' as expropriated; the fruition thereof replicated not least thru 'Consumerism' – and 'Lifestyle' – as much as 'Life' reduced as much as abrogated to but correlation way of 'possession' of 'things': this as said replication expressed as much 'thru' Linnaeus as Marx concerning 'class'- and as results in concepts' Incorporated' such as the 'Overton Window' – as will be explored by way of 'extrapolation' below? The debasing of identity as a correlate of possessions as a necessary 'abrogation' by way of engineered 'bio hack' is only furthered, such the loss of dimensionality as a potential, by such as social media ? An excellent multimedia illustration of such loss is found here.

It to be noted that for Empiricism the concept of 'good' and 'evil' entails an extra dimensionality as 'metaphysical' – and that 'Politics' so deconstructed despite abuse under orthodoxy as to 'mitigation' remains as 'Moral Economics' – this despite the mitigative contention of neoliberal orthodoxy that there no morality in the 'synonymy'; to a pragmatic as 'Utilitarian' point of a 'Killing the Host' prevailing at paradigmatic as much as Geopolitical level as but explicative of a 'necrotrophy'; as much as the 'defenestration' as euphemism herein proposed this small article would explicate?

Kudos to Michael Hudson for exposing, and continuing to expose, the 'death of thought' which Neoliberalism as an orthodoxy as but a mere 'racket' of 'transfer of resources' represents.

... ... ...

Under neoliberal orthodoxy the political utility of the 'Proles' and in particular the 'Lumpenproletariat', alas, is as to but fear as a 'stick'; a basis of control and manipulation same sense as Upton Sinclair explicated 'carrot' contingent by way of synonym seen: to wit; accept control and manipulation as 'rewarded' or be 'expelled' ; be but as a 'Prole' subsisting and awaiting death, such the economic incarceration as 'CAFO' epitomises the cheapening of life under a hegemony as has corollary of alienation, marginalization and impoverishment wielded under Dystopian imperative; this to a 'transfer of resources' from ' Eros ' to ' Thanatos ' reinforced thru contingency of profit such the 'ponerology' of 'Biodiversity' reduced by way of paradigm Geopolitical?

... ... ...

More articles by: Stephen Martin

Stephen Martin can be reached at: stephenmarti@yahoo.com

[May 13, 2018] Fighting unending wars across thousands of miles of the planet for almost 17 years without end, while making the president into a global assassin, is the necessary course of action under neoliberalism as the goal is to preserve and expande global, led by the USA neoliberal empire using power of bayonets

This is actually Neo-Trotskyism in action: permanent neoliberal revolution with neoliberalism brought to some countries on the tips of US bayonets.
Notable quotes:
"... 'who are the terrorists, those who, at 17 km height push buttons in B-52′s, or those who give their lives on the ground ?' ..."
May 13, 2018 | www.unz.com

redmudhooch , May 9, 2018 at 1:57 pm GMT
All of these events are CIA/Mossad/MI6. All of them. From 9/11 to mass shootings, al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, white supremecists and even Antifa, all funded, trained by the state, with our tax dollars.

Conspiracy FACT. Prove me wrong.

Precious , May 9, 2018 at 10:57 pm GMT
Fighting wars: The United States has been fighting wars nonstop since its military invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. That's almost 17 years of invasions, occupations, air campaigns, drone strikes, special operations raids, naval air and missile attacks, and so much else, from the Philippines to Pakistan, Afghanistan to Syria, Libya to Niger isn't fighting unending wars across thousands of miles of the planet for almost 17 years without end, while making the president into a global assassin, just a tad extreme?

Of course it is. But despite the title of the article, I can't help but notice that most of it concentrates on the 16 of those 17 years that happen to have occurred before the Trump "caliphate". But why should Tom Englehardt be expected to get such trivial details correct? After all, Tom turned out to be wrong when he ominously warned us about the dangers of Trump getting us into another Korean war.

Tom's own words from July 9th, 2017 haven't aged well

If hostilities broke out and spiraled out of control, as they might, countless people could die, nuclear weapons could indeed be used for the first time since 1945, and parts of Asia could be ravaged (including possibly areas of Japan). What a second Korean War might mean, in other words, is almost beyond imagining.

Saxon , May 10, 2018 at 1:14 am GMT

the officials he appointed went to work to transform the very refugees we had such a hand in creating into terrifying bogeymen, potentially the most dangerous and extreme people on the planet, and then turned to the task of ensuring that none of them would ever arrive in this country. Doesn't that seem like an extreme set of acts and responses?

No, Tom. It seems like normal behavior from people who aren't ethnomasochists. I'm not some kind of -phobic with an irrational fear if I want my descendants to not live in a wartorn country they may eventually end up suffering a total genocide at the hands of these "widows and orphans" (read: military-aged males who think European lands are up for grabs and will be theirs in the future).

You see, the normal person who voted for Trump wanted what his surface-level politics during the campaign trail were about. Not the stuff he's actually been doing which no one voted for (yes, democracy is a bad system with no accountability,) but the stuff he talked about. The end to this neoliberal insanity which you support most of. If you really cared so much about the environment, you wouldn't be for mass migration. If you really cared about minimizing conflict, you wouldn't be for mass migration since migration is the same as war in its effects and eventual outcome.

It is not some arbitrary preference that I want a territory maintained for my kind and not invaded by unending migration of alien peoples whom we are poked, prodded, pressured, coerced and forced to miscegenate ourselves out of existence with by social engineers bent on a European genocide, which they are beginning to get louder and louder with their intent on with each passing year and the constant gloating that they think "in the future, there won't BE any white people! and that's a good thing!"

The reason we care more about these terrorist attacks on our soil is that we expect them to do as they do in their own countries, but the glaring fact is the people doing this in our countries aren't us, and never will be us. They are interlopers we didn't invite in; they were invited in from the top down with no consent.

Speaking of which, people own weapons in the US because they can and because they don't trust their government. Given what that government has done for the last 50+ years, why should they? People in other countries would do the same were they not such totalitarian nightmare states crushing down on their native population, like in Britain. Speaking of bogeymen by the way, you want to pin this all on Trump when the material conditions for much of what you wring your hands about existed well before he even announced his run. Criticize the fact that he isn't doing what he was elected to do. Don't try to concoct some lame duck grand narrative that he caused all of these problems, because he didn't.

The reason America is becoming "extreme" is because it's no longer a real, solvent country. No longer a nation–a coherent people with real, concrete commonalities. It is many people vying for power and handouts and patronage, many of whom share nothing in common at all. I share no peoplehood with Africans, Arabs, Mestizos and a host of others who've been flooded in over the last several decades and have transformed the country into something it manifestly as per the census data was not just decades back.

Biff , May 12, 2018 at 4:42 am GMT
@Saxon

I share no peoplehood with Africans, Arabs, Mestizos and a host of others who've been flooded in over the last several decades and have transformed the country into something it manifestly as per the census data was not just decades back.

I'm willing to bet you share a lot more personhood with those people you listed than the people who "own" your country. BTW, the people who "own" your country most likely hate your guts, and consider you expendable if you ever get in their way.

jilles dykstra , May 12, 2018 at 5:48 am GMT
" This subject came to my mind recently thanks to a story I noticed about another extreme wedding slaughter "

Better late than never. How long it is ago that a Malaysian president spoke to mainly western diplomats, and asked the question 'who are the terrorists, those who, at 17 km height push buttons in B-52′s, or those who give their lives on the ground ?', I do not remember. The diplomats left during the speech.

UN expert on human rights De Zaya's wanted, suppose he does not live any more, Great Britain and the USA persecuted for bombing German cities in WWII, just killing women, children and old men. Dresden is the best known example, alas it is not known that even small towns as Anklam were bombed. And then, when began all this ?

Churchill saw the genocide in what is N Afghanistan as a necessary act. And of course the Muslim religion was to blame.

The last book also describes this genocide, but one of the most bloody massacres described is against the Sikh army.

jilles dykstra , May 12, 2018 at 5:51 am GMT
@Saxon

" Fighting wars: The United States has been fighting wars nonstop since its military invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. "

Should be
Fighting wars: The United States has been fighting wars nonstop since Roosevelt began escorting convoys in the Atlantic in mid 1940.

Robert Dunn , Website May 12, 2018 at 7:09 am GMT
I'd like to thank Unz for this brief comic relief on their site. Sometimes the affairs in the world seem too much and a good laugh every now and then is necessary. For example Bashir Al-Assad killing his own people on a regular basis was hysterical!! Imagine him getting Sarin gas from ISIS depots paid for by Israel and the United States just so he could get the same United States to bomb him! That's like saying Obama was a weak president for NOT attacking Syria when he was merely informed as to who was REALLY not killing Syrian civilians because, as Putin proved, Assad didn't have those weapons. What was really funny was that America does not have extremists in charge so when we kill civilians it must be an accident!
Tom Welsh , May 12, 2018 at 7:33 am GMT
"Its national security budget is larger than those of the next eight countries combined "

My favourite statistic is to compare the increase in the formal US "defence" budget ($80 billion) for this year with the total Russian defence budget ($46 billion).

Dante , May 12, 2018 at 7:34 am GMT
@Saxon

I couldn't agree more, Your comment sums up how a lot of people are feeling. No wonder Nationalist or Nationalist inspired parties and leaders are emerging all over the European world, We are waking up and beginning to take our own side

Tom Welsh , May 12, 2018 at 7:34 am GMT
@Authenticjazzman

"First of all the question of who would hold a wedding event in the middle of the desert is completely legitimate".

Only to those who do not know that many people live in deserts.

Tom Welsh , May 12, 2018 at 7:37 am GMT
@Precious

I just cannot believe that you Americans descend to squabbling about who is more virtuous – Nero or Caligula.

Mr Putin showed that he understands the system perfectly. First he said that he sees no point in talking to European leaders, since they all take their orders from Washington. Then he further explained that presidents come and presidents go, but the policies remain exactly the same.

It's a shame that so few Americans understand their own political system as well as Mr Putin does.

Tom Welsh , May 12, 2018 at 7:56 am GMT
"However, one thing is, almost by definition, obvious. We are not a nation of extreme acts or extreme killers. Quite the opposite".

The USA is admirably positioned for security: it controls most of a large isolated continent, with only Canada and Mexico as immediate neighbours and vast oceans to the sides. As Jules Jusserand, French Ambassador to the US, remarked in 1910:

"The United States was blessed among nations. On the north, she had a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east, fish; and on the west, fish".

Long before that, Abraham Lincoln said more or less the same thing:

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide".

- Abraham Lincoln; The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, "Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum,of Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838), p. 109.

So it is surprising to find out that the USA has been at war for 93% of its existence. That means Americans have experienced peace during only 21 years out of 239.

https://www.infowars.com/america-has-been-at-war-93-of-the-time-222-out-of-239-years-since-1776/

That's rather odd, isn't it, for a country with impregnable natural borders whom no one has even tried to attack?

"Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, we sometimes kill. Yes, we sometimes even kill the innocent, however mistakenly".

A very rough estimate suggests that, since 1950, the US government through its armed forces has killed at the very least 10 million Asians alone. Three million in Korea, the same in Vietnam and its neighbours, and the same in Iraq. That's without even considering the dozens of other nations the USA has attacked (and with which, legally, it is still at war since no peace treaties were ever concluded).

Some "mistakes"!

Realist , May 12, 2018 at 8:01 am GMT
@redmudhooch

Conspiracy FACT. Prove me wrong.

That's not how it works .you have to prove yourself correct.

quasi_verbatim , May 12, 2018 at 8:37 am GMT
US garrisons in Europe are preparing for roll out You never know where these pesky rebels will pop up next.
IanHyde , May 12, 2018 at 8:56 am GMT
I recently discovered UNZ.COM and was delighted to have found a site with good intelligently written articles, then I read this utter crap and now I'm wondering
Greg Bacon , Website May 12, 2018 at 9:43 am GMT
I stopped reading when I saw this worn-out lies

We here in the United States are, of course, eternally shocked by their extremism, their willingness to kill the innocent without compunction, particularly in the case of Islamist groups, from the 9/11 attacks to ISIS's more recent slaughters.

Tom appears to be another lackey for Zionism, ready to keep telling lies about those evil Moozies that supposedly attacked the USA on 9/11, when anyone who still has brain cells left knows that 9/11 was an Israeli masterminded False Flag with help from traitors in the WH, the Pentagon, CIA, FBI and NSA. With generous assistance from the Lying MSM.

https://wikispooks.com/wiki/9-11/Israel_did_it

Take your CIA pres releases elsewhere Mr. Tom, we no longer wish to hear your lies in support of endless wars for the glory of Apartheid Israel realizing its YINON plan to stretch Israel from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates and from Turkey to Arabia.

Oded Yinon's "A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties"

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/The%20Zionist%20Plan%20for%20the%20Middle%20East.pdf

Alfred , May 12, 2018 at 10:12 am GMT
@redmudhooch

Absolutely correct.

The nonsense that Assad's army deliberately poisons its own people with chemical weapons is a well-known false-flag. How could he control his Syrian army if that went on? It is absolutely ridiculous.

As for 9/11, it was an inside job – with many Israeli "students" laying the explosives in the THREE buildings at night over a period of months. The fact that no one lived in them and that a Bush company was responsible for security is all you need to know. Naturally, there were no Israeli victims – a statistical impossibility if they were not forewarned.

https://wikispooks.com/wiki/9-11/Israel_did_it

jacques sheete , May 12, 2018 at 10:31 am GMT

The Caliphate of Trump

Bravo! The author is the winner of the Sheete Prize for Inane and Asinine Titles. This has to be the dumbest title for anything I've ever seen.

Even calling it the Rabbinate of Trump would be somewhat more accurate.

What kind of ass is the author to insult caliphs by associating Trump with their positions?

jacques sheete , May 12, 2018 at 10:35 am GMT

However, one thing is, almost by definition, obvious. We are not a nation of extreme acts or extreme killers.

This has to be satire. I'll never know though because it made me too nauseated to continue.

Another scribbler to ignore.

PS: You are horrible at writing satire, if that's what it's supposed to be. If not, then you are unhinged to a shocking degree.

Jake , May 12, 2018 at 11:33 am GMT
The most thoroughly amoral, vicious ruling group in the region is the House of Saud. And the US and the Israelis are both deep into bed with the Saudis.
Authenticjazzman , May 12, 2018 at 12:58 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh

"Only to those who do not know that many people live in deserts"

People do not "live in deserts" rather they live in settlements which are located in the desert.

They do not just go out into the blazing sand and throw down blankets and buckets, and then start "Living in the desert".

And they do not hold bonafide "wedding parties" out in the desert, under the relentless burning sun, rather they hold their wedding parties in settlements which are located in thte desert with a modicum of human comforts.

Look friend myself being world traveler, I have been to north africa on more than one occasion, and I know wtf I am talking about.

AJM "Mensa" qualified since 1973, airborne trained US army vet, and pro jazz artisit.

[May 09, 2018] Trotskyist Delusions, by Diana Johnstone

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There could be no eye witnesses to such sadism, and the very extremism sounds very much like war propaganda – Germans carving up Belgian babies. ..."
"... The notion that Assad himself infected the rebellion with Islamic fanaticism is at best a hypothesis concerning not facts but intentions, which are invisible. But it is presented as unchallengeable evidence of Assad's perverse wickedness. ..."
"... a beleaguered state very much at the mercy of a rapacious Western imperialism that was seeking to carve the country up according to the appetites of the US government and the International Monetary Fund ..."
"... In reality, a much more pertinent "framing" of Western intervention, taboo in the mainstream and even in Moscow, is that Western support for armed rebels in Syria was being carried out to help Israel destroy its regional enemies. ..."
"... The Middle East nations attacked by the West – Iraq, Libya and Syria – all just happen to be, or to have been, the last strongholds of secular Arab nationalism and support for Palestinian rights. ..."
"... There are a few alternative hypotheses as to Western motives – oil pipelines, imperialist atavism, desire to arouse Islamic extremism in order to weaken Russia (the Brzezinski gambit) – but none are as coherent as the organic alliance between Israel and the United States, and its NATO sidekicks. ..."
"... No other mention of Israel, which occupies Syrian territory (the Golan Heights) and bombs Syria whenever it wants to. ..."
"... The Trotskyists keep yearning for a new revolution, just like the Bolshevik revolution. Yes, but the Bolshevik revolution ended in Stalinism. Doesn't that tell them something? Isn't it quite possible that their much-desired "revolution" might turn out just as badly in Syria, if not much worse? ..."
"... In our era, the most successful revolutions have been in Third World countries, where national liberation from Western powers was a powerful emotional engine. Successful revolutions have a program that unifies people and leaders who personify the aspirations of broad sectors of the population. Socialism or communism was above all a rallying cry meaning independence and "modernization" – which is indeed what the Bolshevik revolution turned out to be. ..."
"... "In the context of a global neoliberalism, where governments across the board were enacting the most pronounced forms of deregulation and overseeing the carving up of state industries by private capital, the Assad government responded to the heightening contradictions in the Syrian economy by following suit -- by showing the ability to march to the tempo of foreign investment while evincing a willingness to cut subsidies for workers and farmers." The neoliberal turn impoverished people in the countryside, therefore creating a situation that justified "revolution". ..."
"... This is rather amazing, if one thinks about it. Without the alternative Soviet bloc, virtually the whole world has been obliged to conform to anti-social neoliberal policies. Syria included. Does this make Bashar al Assad so much more a villain than every other leader conforming to U.S.-led globalization? ..."
"... One could turn that around. Shouldn't such a Marxist revolutionary be saying: "if we can't defeat the oligarchs in the West, who are responsible for the neoliberal policies imposed on the rest of the world, how can we possibly begin to provide class-struggle leadership in Syria?" ..."
"... The trouble with Trotskyists is that they are always "supporting" other people's more or less imaginary revolutions. They are always telling others what to do. They know it all. The practical result of this verbal agitation is simply to align this brand of Trotskyism with U.S imperialism. The obsession with permanent revolution ends up providing an ideological alibi for permanent war. ..."
May 05, 2018 | www.unz.com

I first encountered Trotskyists in Minnesota half a century ago during the movement against the Vietnam War. I appreciated their skill in organizing anti-war demonstrations and their courage in daring to call themselves "communists" in the United States of America – a profession of faith that did not groom them for the successful careers enjoyed by their intellectual counterparts in France. So I started my political activism with sympathy toward the movement. In those days it was in clear opposition to U.S. imperialism, but that has changed.

The first thing one learns about Trotskyism is that it is split into rival tendencies. Some remain consistent critics of imperialist war, notably those who write for the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS).

Others, however, have translated the Trotskyist slogan of "permanent revolution" into the hope that every minority uprising in the world must be a sign of the long awaited world revolution – especially those that catch the approving eye of mainstream media. More often than deploring U.S. intervention, they join in reproaching Washington for not intervening sooner on behalf of the alleged revolution.

A recent article in the International Socialist Review (issue #108, March 1, 2018) entitled "Revolution and counterrevolution in Syria" indicates so thoroughly how Trotskyism goes wrong that it is worthy of a critique. Since the author, Tony McKenna, writes well and with evident conviction, this is a strong not a weak example of the Trotskyist mindset.

McKenna starts out with a passionate denunciation of the regime of Bashar al Assad, which, he says, responded to a group of children who simply wrote some graffiti on a wall by "beating them, burning them, pulling their fingernails out". The source of this grisly information is not given. There could be no eye witnesses to such sadism, and the very extremism sounds very much like war propaganda – Germans carving up Belgian babies.

But this raises the issue of sources. It is certain that there are many sources of accusations against the Assad regime, on which McKenna liberally draws, indicating that he is writing not from personal observation, any more than I am. Clearly, he is strongly disposed to believe the worst, and even to embroider it somewhat. He accepts and develops without the shadow of a doubt the theory that Assad himself is responsible for spoiling the good revolution by releasing Islamic prisoners who went on to poison it with their extremism. The notion that Assad himself infected the rebellion with Islamic fanaticism is at best a hypothesis concerning not facts but intentions, which are invisible. But it is presented as unchallengeable evidence of Assad's perverse wickedness.

This interpretation of events happens to dovetail neatly with the current Western doctrine on Syria, so that it is impossible to tell them apart. In both versions, the West is no more than a passive onlooker, whereas Assad enjoys the backing of Iran and Russia.

"Much has been made of Western imperial support for the rebels in the early years of the revolution. This has, in fact, been an ideological lynchpin of first the Iranian and then the Russian military interventions as they took the side of the Assad government. Such interventions were framed in the spirit of anticolonial rhetoric in which Iran and Russia purported to come to the aid of a beleaguered state very much at the mercy of a rapacious Western imperialism that was seeking to carve the country up according to the appetites of the US government and the International Monetary Fund ", according to McKenna.

Whose "ideological lynchpin"? Not that of Russia, certainly, whose line in the early stages of its intervention was not to denounce Western imperialism but to appeal to the West and especially to the United States to join in the fight against Islamic extremism.

Neither Russia nor Iran "framed their interventions in the spirit of anticolonial rhetoric" but in terms of the fight against Islamic extremism with Wahhabi roots.

In reality, a much more pertinent "framing" of Western intervention, taboo in the mainstream and even in Moscow, is that Western support for armed rebels in Syria was being carried out to help Israel destroy its regional enemies.

The Middle East nations attacked by the West – Iraq, Libya and Syria – all just happen to be, or to have been, the last strongholds of secular Arab nationalism and support for Palestinian rights.

There are a few alternative hypotheses as to Western motives – oil pipelines, imperialist atavism, desire to arouse Islamic extremism in order to weaken Russia (the Brzezinski gambit) – but none are as coherent as the organic alliance between Israel and the United States, and its NATO sidekicks.

It is remarkable that McKenna's long article (some 12 thousand words) about the war in Syria mentions Israel only once (aside from a footnote citing Israeli national news as a source). And this mention actually equates Israelis and Palestinians as co-victims of Assad propaganda: the Syrian government "used the mass media to slander the protestors, to present the revolution as the chaos orchestrated by subversive international interests (the Israelis and the Palestinians were both implicated in the role of foreign infiltrators)."

No other mention of Israel, which occupies Syrian territory (the Golan Heights) and bombs Syria whenever it wants to.

Only one, innocuous mention of Israel! But this article by a Trotskyist mentions Stalin, Stalinists, Stalinism no less than twenty-two times !

And what about Saudi Arabia, Israel's de facto ally in the effort to destroy Syria in order to weaken Iran? Two mentions, both implicitly denying that notorious fact. The only negative mention is blaming the Saudi family enterprise for investing billions in the Syrian economy in its neoliberal phase. But far from blaming Saudi Arabia for supporting Islamic groups, McKenna portrays the House of Saud as a victim of ISIS hostility.

Clearly, the Trotskyist delusion is to see the Russian Revolution everywhere, forever being repressed by a new Stalin. Assad is likened to Stalin several times.

This article is more about the Trotskyist case against Stalin than it is about Syria.

This repetitive obsession does not lead to a clear grasp of events which are not the Russian revolution. And even on this pet subject, something is wrong.

The Trotskyists keep yearning for a new revolution, just like the Bolshevik revolution. Yes, but the Bolshevik revolution ended in Stalinism. Doesn't that tell them something? Isn't it quite possible that their much-desired "revolution" might turn out just as badly in Syria, if not much worse?

Throughout history, revolts, uprisings, rebellions happen all the time, and usually end in repression. Revolution is very rare. It is more a myth than a reality, especially as Trotskyists tend to imagine it: the people all rising up in one great general strike, chasing their oppressors from power and instituting people's democracy. Has this ever happened?

For the Trotskyists, this seem to be the natural way things should happen and is stopped only by bad guys who spoil it out of meanness.

In our era, the most successful revolutions have been in Third World countries, where national liberation from Western powers was a powerful emotional engine. Successful revolutions have a program that unifies people and leaders who personify the aspirations of broad sectors of the population. Socialism or communism was above all a rallying cry meaning independence and "modernization" – which is indeed what the Bolshevik revolution turned out to be. If the Bolshevik revolution turned Stalinist, maybe it was in part because a strong repressive leader was the only way to save "the revolution" from its internal and external enemies. There is no evidence that, had he defeated Stalin, Trotsky would have been more tender-hearted.

Countries that are deeply divided ideologically and ethnically, such as Syria, are not likely to be "modernized" without a strong rule.

McKenna acknowledges that the beginning of the Assad regime somewhat redeemed its repressive nature by modernization and social reforms. This modernization benefited from Russian aid and trade, which was lost when the Soviet Union collapsed. Yes, there was a Soviet bloc which despite its failure to carry out world revolution as Trotsky advocated, did support the progressive development of newly independent countries.

If Bashar's father Hafez al Assad had some revolutionary legitimacy in McKenna's eyes, there is no excuse for Bashar.

"In the context of a global neoliberalism, where governments across the board were enacting the most pronounced forms of deregulation and overseeing the carving up of state industries by private capital, the Assad government responded to the heightening contradictions in the Syrian economy by following suit -- by showing the ability to march to the tempo of foreign investment while evincing a willingness to cut subsidies for workers and farmers." The neoliberal turn impoverished people in the countryside, therefore creating a situation that justified "revolution".

This is rather amazing, if one thinks about it. Without the alternative Soviet bloc, virtually the whole world has been obliged to conform to anti-social neoliberal policies. Syria included. Does this make Bashar al Assad so much more a villain than every other leader conforming to U.S.-led globalization?

McKenna concludes by quoting Louis Proyect: "If we line up on the wrong side of the barricades in a struggle between the rural poor and oligarchs in Syria, how can we possibly begin to provide a class-struggle leadership in the USA, Britain, or any other advanced capitalist country?"

One could turn that around. Shouldn't such a Marxist revolutionary be saying: "if we can't defeat the oligarchs in the West, who are responsible for the neoliberal policies imposed on the rest of the world, how can we possibly begin to provide class-struggle leadership in Syria?"

The trouble with Trotskyists is that they are always "supporting" other people's more or less imaginary revolutions. They are always telling others what to do. They know it all. The practical result of this verbal agitation is simply to align this brand of Trotskyism with U.S imperialism. The obsession with permanent revolution ends up providing an ideological alibi for permanent war.

For the sake of world peace and progress, both the United States and its inadvertent Trotskyist apologists should go home and mind their own business.

[Apr 27, 2018] Chomsky joined Vichy left on Syria

Apr 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Tobin Paz | Apr 26, 2018 5:37:44 PM | 40

Wow, Syria is going to wipeout the majority of the "Left":

Chomsky Among "Progressives" Calling for US Military Involvement in Syria

Since most progressive figures would never publicly call for extending a U.S.-led military occupation, this petition shows that the war propaganda in Syria – particularly as it relates to the Kurds – has been highly effective in subverting the progressive anti-war left as it relates to the Syrian conflict.

How he's going to explain supporting kidnappers, murders, drug dealers:

Ethnic cleaners:

Thieves:

Child soldier recruiters:

Allen , Apr 26, 2018 8:56:52 PM | 64

Don't miss this piece:

Another Beautiful Soul: Counterpunching the Global Assault on Dissent

I was recently alerted to Sonali Kolhatkar's Truth Dig article, "Why Are Some on the Left Falling for Fake News on Syria?", which Counterpunch found important enough to republish under the title, "The Left, Syria and Fake News." Kolhatkar's article was introduced to me as the work of a "beautiful soul."

...

The beautiful soul is consumed with "philanthropic fantasies and sentimental phrases about fraternity", Engels once remarked. They advocate "edifying humanism" and "generic, vague, moral appeals" not "concrete political action" to challenge "a specific social system".* It's not clear what Counterpunch is counterpunching, but in the case of Draitser and Kolhatkar, it's certainly not US imperialism.

Beautiful souls appear not to recognize that the war in Syria is a concrete political struggle connected to a specific social system related to empire; it is the struggle of the United States to extend its dictatorship over all of the Arab world and of Arab nationalists in Damascus and their allies to counter US imperial designs. All the beautiful soul recognizes is that people are being killed, families are being uprooted, small children are being terrorized, and they wish it would all just end. They're not for justice, or an end to oppression and the dictatorship of the United States, or for equality; they're for the absence of conflict. And they don't seem to particularly care how it's brought about.

...

In any event, whatever left Kolhatkar is part of, is not a left that has much to do with challenging and overcoming a real world system of domination, oppression and exploitation. It's a left whose goal is the absence of conflict, not the presence of justice; it's for pious expressions of benevolence, not engagement with a real world struggle against dictatorship on an international level.

https://gowans.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/another-beautiful-soul-counterpunching-the-global-assault-on-dissent/

paul , Apr 26, 2018 9:31:37 PM | 68
what Chomsky is doing now re. Syria should raise big questions about what his role has been for the left in the past.

[Apr 23, 2018] Neoliberals are statists, much like Trotskyites are

Highly recommended!
Apr 23, 2018 | americanaffairsjournal.org

From Neoliberalism The Movement That Dare Not Speak Its Name - American Affairs Journal

While it is undeniable that neoliberals routinely disparage the state, both back then and now, it does not follow that they are politically libertarian or, as David Harvey would have it, that they are implacably opposed to state interventions in the economy and society. Harvey's error is distressing, since even Antonio Gramsci understood this: "Moreover, laissez-faire liberalism, too, must be introduced by law, through the intervention of political power: it is an act of will, not the spontaneous, automatic expression of economic facts." 6 From the 1940s onward, the distinguishing characteristic of neoliberal doctrines and practice is that they embrace this prospect of repurposing the strong state to impose their vision of a society properly open to the dominance of the market as they conceive it. Neoliberals from Friedrich Hayek to James Buchanan to Richard Posner to Alexander Rüstow (who invented the term Vitalpolitik , which became Foucault's "biopolitics") to Jacques Rueff, not to mention a plethora of figures after 1970, all explicitly proposed policies to strengthen the state. 7

Friedman's own trademark proposals, like putting the money supply on autopilot, or replacing public schools with vouchers, required an extremely strong state to enforce them. While neoliberal think tanks rile up the base with debt clocks and boogeyman statistics of ratios of government expenditure to GDP, neoliberal politicians organize a host of new state activities to fortify their markets. They extravagantly increase incarceration and policing of those whom they deem unfit for the marketplace. They expand both state and corporate power to exercise surveillance and manipulation of subject populations while dismantling judicial recourse to resist such encroachments. Neoliberals introduce new property rights (like intellectual property) to cement into place their extensions of market valuations to situations where they were absent. They strengthen international sanctions such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and investor-state dispute settlement schemes to circumvent and neutralize national social legislation they dislike. They bail out and subsidize private banking systems at the cost of many multiples of existing national income. And they define corporations as legal persons in order to facilitate the buying of elections.

The blue-sky writings of neoliberals with regard to the state are, if anything, even more daunting. In the imaginary constitution proposed in Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty , he suggests that politicians be rendered more powerful : in the imagined upper legislative house, Hayek stipulates, only men of substantial property over age forty-five would be eligible to vote or be elected; no political parties would be allowed; and each member would stand for a hefty fifteen-year term. 8 This illustrates the larger neoliberal predisposition to be very leery of democracy, and thus to stymie public participation through the concentration of political power in fewer hands. James Buchanan proposed something very similar. 9 This is just about as far from libertarianism as one could get, short of brute dictatorship.

So here is the answer to my first question: people think the label "neoliberalism" is an awful neologism because the neoliberals have been so good at covering their tracks, obscuring what they stand for, and denying the level of coherence which they have achieved in their long march to legitimacy. Back when some of these proposals were just a gleam in Hayek's eye, they did explicitly use the term "neoliberalism" to describe the project that, back then, did not yet exist -- even Milton Friedman used it in print! 10 But once their program looked like it would start to jell, and subsequently start reshaping both the state and the market more to their liking, they abruptly abjured any reference to that label, and sometime in the later 1950s, following the lead of Hayek, they began to call themselves "classical liberals." This attempt at rebranding was an utter travesty because, as they moved from reconceptualization of one area of human experience to another, the resulting doctrines contradicted classical liberalism point by point, and term by term. It might be worthwhile for us who come after to insist upon the relevance of things that put the neo- in neoliberalism.

What's New about Neoliberalism?

In a nutshell, classical liberalism imagined a night watchman state that would set the boundaries for the natural growth of the market, like a shepherd tending his flock. Markets were born, not made. The principles of good governance and liberty would be dictated by natural rights of individual humans, or perhaps by the prudent accretion of tradition. People needed to be nurtured first to find themselves, in order to act as legitimate citizens in liberal society. Society would be protected from the disruptive character of the market by something like John Stuart Mill's "harm principle": colloquially, the freedom of my fist stops at the freedom of your face. The neoliberals were having none of that, and explicitly said so.

Far from trying to preserve society against the unintended consequences of the operations of markets, as democratic liberalism sought to do, neoliberal doctrine instead set out actively to dismantle those aspects of society which might resist the purportedly inexorable logic of "catallactics," and to reshape it in the market's image. For neoliberals, freedom and the market would be treated as identical. Their rallying cry was to remove the foundation of liberty from natural rights or tradition, and reposition it upon an entirely novel theory concerning what a market was, or should be. They could not acknowledge individual natural rights, because they sought to tutor the masses to become the agent the market would be most likely to deem successful. The market no longer gave you what you wanted; you had to capitulate to what the market wanted. All areas of life could be better configured to behave as if they were more market-like. Gary Becker, for example, a member of the Mont Pèlerin Society, proposed a market-based approach to allow for a socially optimal level of crime, and advocated a revolutionary extension of marginal calculus to include the "shadow costs" and benefits associated with "children, prestige or esteem, health, altruism, envy, and pleasure of the senses." Becker even proposed an economic model of the "dating market," one consequence of which was the proposition that polygamy for successful, wealthy men could be politically rationalized. And voilà! The Sunday New York Times produced an article saying just that, as if it were real news. Classical liberals like Mill or Michael Oakeshott would be spinning in their graves. 11

The intellectual content of neoliberalism is something that warrants sustained discussion, but this can only happen once critical historians can admit they are no longer basing their evaluations on the isolated writings of a single author. There is no convenient crib sheet describing what the modern neoliberal thought collective (for brevity, NTC) actually believes. Nevertheless, neoliberalism does have certain themes that are regularly sounded in emanations from the NTC:

No wonder outsiders are dazed and confused. The neoliberal revolutionaries, contemptuous of tradition, conjured a fake tradition to mask their true intentions. They did this while explicitly abjuring the label of "conservative." But there is one more reason that outsiders tend to think it a mistake to posit an effective intellectual formation called "neoliberalism." Nowadays we doubt that ideas, and particularly political ideas, are the product of the concerted efforts of some thought collective stretching over generations, engaging in critique and reconstruction, fine-tuning and elaborating doctrine, while keeping focused upon problems of implementation and feasibility. Indeed, that doubt is evidence of neoliberal preconceptions having seeped into all of our thought processes. Yet that is an exact description of how neoliberalism developed, in the manner (as I insist on calling it) of a thought collective: sanctioned members are encouraged to innovate and embellish in small ways, but an excess of doctrinal heresy gets one expelled from participation. Central dogmas are not codified or dictated by any single prophet; no one delivers the Tablets down from the "Mont"; and you cannot adequately understand neoliberalism solely by reading Hayek or Milton Friedman, for that matter. While we can locate its origins in 1947, it has undergone much revision since then, and is still a hydra-headed Gorgon to this very day.

[Apr 23, 2018] Neoliberalism is not just an economic policy, it is a project of "full spectrum dominance" of the human psyche. It is an indoctrination that tells people to be more efficient, to schedule and micromanage their lives as to increase productivity

In a way neoliberalism is Fordism applied to humans.
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is not just an economic policy, it is a project of "full spectrum dominance" of the human psyche. It is an indoctrination that tells people to be more efficient, to schedule and micromanage their lives as to increase productivity. One must become a widget whose sole function is to make money and whose value as a person is determined by their economic status ..."
"... Neoliberalism "refers to the policies and processes whereby a relative handful of private interests are permitted to control as much as possible of social life in order to maximize their personal profit." The major beneficiaries of neoliberalism are large trans-national corporations and wealthy investors. The implementation of neoliberal policies came into full force during the eighties under Thatcher and Reagan. Today, the principles of neoliberalism are widely held with near-religious fervor by most major political parties in the US and Britain and are gaining acceptance by those holding power elsewhere. ..."
Apr 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Almand | Apr 22, 2018 11:21:50 PM | 67

@ Don Bacon

Neoliberalism is not just an economic policy, it is a project of "full spectrum dominance" of the human psyche. It is an indoctrination that tells people to be more efficient, to schedule and micromanage their lives as to increase productivity. One must become a widget whose sole function is to make money and whose value as a person is determined by their economic status .

Even a lot of so called liberal Democrats share these capitalist extremist beliefs because they are actively trying to integrate the "talented tenth" of minority communities into the ruling class.

Don Bacon , Apr 22, 2018 11:04:16 PM | 65
@ 62
The IMF and The World Bank (always headed by an American) -- bastions of neoliberalism.

Robert McChesney:

Neoliberalism "refers to the policies and processes whereby a relative handful of private interests are permitted to control as much as possible of social life in order to maximize their personal profit." The major beneficiaries of neoliberalism are large trans-national corporations and wealthy investors. The implementation of neoliberal policies came into full force during the eighties under Thatcher and Reagan. Today, the principles of neoliberalism are widely held with near-religious fervor by most major political parties in the US and Britain and are gaining acceptance by those holding power elsewhere.
psychohistorian , Apr 22, 2018 10:44:38 PM | 63
Here is a link to a posting at Telesur

To 'Protect' Workers, World Bank Calls for Eliminating Minimum Wage, Giving Employers More Power

The article does provide more context but even then competition from robots is not defensible. The article does end by asking for a discussion about inequality which would sure be a start......and likely a quick ending....grin

[Apr 23, 2018] Cutting Capitalism Out of Our Relationships by William C. Anderson

This "Number one ism" that neoloiberalism promotes is really too unhealthy. There are people who coisouly sacrifies family and other value for the sake of achivement high status. But infection of this value of large part of the society is destructive.
Viewing people as commodity is defining feature of sociopaths. In a way we can say that neoliberalism promotes socipathy.
Notable quotes:
"... "People get so involved with playing the game of being important that they exhaust themselves and their time, and they don't do the work of actually organizing people." ..."
"... Too many people and too many entities get too comfortable fashioning themselves as leaders and viewing people as commodities... ..."
Apr 23, 2018 | www.truth-out.org

"People get so involved with playing the game of being important that they exhaust themselves and their time, and they don't do the work of actually organizing people." -- Ella Baker

[Neoliberalism] also infiltrates our interpersonal relationships...

The ongoing questions about how major tech corporations -- especially social media giants -- are reaching into our personal and private lives for the purpose of extraction raises questions about where else these sorts of intrusions take place. Too many people and too many entities get too comfortable fashioning themselves as leaders and viewing people as commodities...

... ... ...

Fame and fortune dictate far too much in our society. This happens so much that those who are famous regularly instigate public backlash for making uninformed comments about all sorts of issues. Media outlets invite popular celebrities to comment on a wide array of serious social issues not because they'll provide any sort of expertise, but because they are famous...

... .. ...

Fame and money do not automatically make a person insincere. The insincerity of this capitalist system, however, is certainly upheld in part by the extravagance of fame and money. We don't have to be broke and unpopular to be genuine, but if the logic we use to define our success resembles capitalism, we're going in a terrible circle. What separates us from the system that oppresses us?

[Apr 23, 2018] How Neoliberalism Worms Its Way Into Your Brain by Nathan J. Robinson

Highly recommended!
Neoliberal rationality is about redefining everything in economic terms. This is pretty devious trick. As soon as you allow it you are hooked.
Notable quotes:
"... Republicans argue that their tax cut will increase GDP, reduce the deficit, and reduce taxes for the middle class. Democrats reply that the tax cut will not increase GDP, will not reduce the deficit, and will not reduce the middle-class's tax burden. Both parties are arguing around a shared premise: the goal is to cut taxes for the middle class, reduce the deficit, and grow GDP. ..."
"... What if teaching students history turns out to make them worse workers, because they begin to see a resemblance between their bosses and the robber barons? What if the study of philosophy makes laborers less compliant and docile? If we argue that music is actually economically useful, then we'll have no defense of music if it turns out not to be useful. Instead, we need to argue that whether music is economically useful has nothing to do with whether students deserve to be exposed to it. ..."
"... Here's a clear illustration. Donald Trump heavily pushes the idea that school should be job training, to the point of saying that "community colleges" should be redefined as vocational schools because he doesn't know what "community" is. (You can blame Trump's ignorance, but this is partially because the right has spent decades insisting that "society" and "community" are meaningless terms and the world consists solely of individuals, and the left has not had good explanations in response.) ..."
"... I gave a similar example recently of the difference between the way a neoliberal framework looks at things versus the way a leftist does. Goldman Sachs produced a report suggesting to biotech companies that curing diseases might not actually be profitable, because people stop being customers once they are cured and no more money can be extracted from them. The liberal response to this would be an empirical argument: "Here's why it is actually profitable to cure diseases." The leftist response would be: "We need to have a value system that goes beyond profit maximization." ..."
"... Economic values become the water we swim in, and we don't even notice them worming their way into our brains. ..."
"... The fact that everyone seems to agree that the purpose of education is "job skills," rather than say, "the flourishing of the human mind," shows the triumph of a certain new kind of liberalism, for which I can only think of one word. ..."
Apr 23, 2018 | www.currentaffairs.org
...For example: Republicans argue that their tax cut will increase GDP, reduce the deficit, and reduce taxes for the middle class. Democrats reply that the tax cut will not increase GDP, will not reduce the deficit, and will not reduce the middle-class's tax burden. Both parties are arguing around a shared premise: the goal is to cut taxes for the middle class, reduce the deficit, and grow GDP.

But traditional liberalism, before the "neo" variety emerged, would have made its case on the basis of some quite different premises. Instead of arguing that Democrats are actually the party that will reduce the middle class' taxes, it would make the case that taxes are important, because it's only through taxes that we can improve schools, infrastructure, healthcare, and poverty relief. Instead of participating in the race to cut taxes and the deficit, Old Liberalism is based on a set of moral ideas about what we owe to one another.

Now, one reason I dislike the "neoliberalism" framework is that I'm not sure how much this nostalgic conception of the Great Liberalism Of Times Past should be romanticized. But it's obvious that there's a great deal of difference between New Deal/Great Society rhetoric and "Actually We're The Real Job Creators/Tax-Cutters/GDP Growers." And it's also true that over the last decades, certain pro-market ideological premises have wormed their way into the mind of ordinary liberals to the point that debates occur within a very narrow economic framework.

Let me give you a very clear example. Libertarian economist Bryan Caplan has a new book out called The Case Against Education . It argues that the public school system is a waste of time and money and should be destroyed. Caplan says that students are right to wonder "when they will ever use" the things they are being taught. They won't, he says, because they're not being taught any skills they will actually need in the job market. Instead, education functions mostly as "signaling": a degree shows an employer that you are the type of person who works hard and is responsible, not that you have actually learned particular things that you need. Credentials, Caplan says, are mostly meaningless. He argues that we should drastically cut public school funding, make education more like job training, get rid of history, music, and the arts, and "deregulate and destigmatize child labor." Essentially, Caplan believes that education should be little more than skills training for jobs, and it's failing at that.

Now here's where "neoliberalism" comes in. Caplan's argument is obviously based on right-wing economic premises: markets should sort everything out, the highest good is to create value for your employers, etc. But let's look at a "liberal" response. In The Washington Monthly , Kevin Carey has a biting critique of Caplan's book, which he says is based on a "childish" philosophy. Carey says that education is , in fact useful for more than signaling:

Caplan is not wrong about the existence of signaling and its kissing cousin, credentialism, which describes the tendency of job categories to accrue more degree requirements, sometimes unnecessarily, over time. But these are banal and unchallenged ideas in the economics profession. In his 2001 Nobel lecture, [Michael] Spence warned that people who use job markets to illustrate signaling run the risk of concluding, wrongly, that education doesn't contribute to productivity. This wrongheaded argument is the essence of The Case Against Education Eric Hanushek, a conservative economist and well-known skeptic of public school funding, has documented a strong relationship between average scores on international tests and the growth rates of national economies. Put simply, well-educated nations become prosperous nations, and no country has become well educated without large, sustained investments in public education.

Carey mounts a strong defense of public education against Caplan's attack. But look at how he does it. Caplan has argued that education doesn't actually make students more productive or give them skills useful for thriving in the economy. Carey replies that while this is partly true, education does actually increase productivity, as we can see when we look across nations. Everyone in the discussion, however, is operating on the implicit premise that the measure of whether education is successful is "productivity." And because of that, no matter how strong the liberal argument is, no matter how stingingly critical it may be of libertarianism or privatization, it has already ceded the main point. We all agree that education is about maximizing students' value to the economy, we just disagree about the degree to which public education successfully does that, and whether the solution is to fix the system or get rid of it. The debate becomes one of empirics rather than values.

Carey doesn't make a case for an alternative "liberal" notion of education, and doesn't question the values underlying the "banal and unchallenged ideas in the economics profession." But unless liberalism is to be something more than "a difference of opinion over the correct way to maximize productivity," it's important to defend a wholly different set of principles . Otherwise, what if it turns out that providing art and music classes is a drag on productivity? What if teaching students history turns out to make them worse workers, because they begin to see a resemblance between their bosses and the robber barons? What if the study of philosophy makes laborers less compliant and docile? If we argue that music is actually economically useful, then we'll have no defense of music if it turns out not to be useful. Instead, we need to argue that whether music is economically useful has nothing to do with whether students deserve to be exposed to it.

Here's a clear illustration. Donald Trump heavily pushes the idea that school should be job training, to the point of saying that "community colleges" should be redefined as vocational schools because he doesn't know what "community" is. (You can blame Trump's ignorance, but this is partially because the right has spent decades insisting that "society" and "community" are meaningless terms and the world consists solely of individuals, and the left has not had good explanations in response.) A UCLA education professor, Mike Rose, critiques Trump and Betsy DeVos for defining vocational education "in functional and economistic terms -- as preparation for the world of work[,] reduced to narrow job training." Sounds right! But then here's what Rose says about why vocational education must be more than training:

Intellectual suppleness will have to be as key an element of a future Career and Technical Education as the content knowledge of a field. The best CTE already helps students develop an inquiring, problem-solving cast of mind. But to make developing such a cast of mind standard practice will require, I think, a continual refining of CTE and an excavation of the beliefs about work and intelligence that led to the separation of the academic and the vocational course of study in the first place. [In addition to basic skills], students will need to learn the conceptual base of those tools and techniques and how to reason with them, for future work is predicted to be increasingly fluid and mutable. A standard production process or routine of service could change dramatically. Would employees be able to understand the principles involved in the process or routine and adapt past skills to the new workplace? To borrow a phrase from labor journalist William Serrin, we need "to give workers back their heads" and assume and encourage the intellectual engagement of students in the world of work. That engagement would include education in history and sociology, economics and political science. What are the forces shaping the economy? How did we get to this place, and are there lessons to be learned from exploring that history? Are there any pressure points for individual or collective action? What resources are out there, what options do I have, how do I determine their benefits and liabilities?

Rose argues that workers should be given an education in history and sociology. Why? Because it will make them better workers. The future economy will require more adaptable minds with better critical reasoning skills, and wider courses of study will help prepare students for that future economy. Yet the argument is still: Education shouldn't just be job training, it should also incorporate the liberal arts, because the liberal arts are also helpful on the job. Our defense of a liberal education remains instrumental. Of course, often when liberals make these arguments, they defend them by saying that instrumental arguments are more successful than moral ones. You're not going to get anywhere arguing that workers deserve history courses, you have to say that they need them. But I've always been skeptical of that defense for a few reasons. First, if it turns out that learning history won't actually produce better tech workers, your whole argument collapses. Second, it's dishonest, and people can usually detect dishonesty. Third, it takes us yet another step further toward the universal acceptance of the conclusion that economic values are the only values there are. (Also, let's be real: no business is going to be fooled into thinking it's a good idea to teach their workers how to use "collective action" to exert pressure.)

I gave a similar example recently of the difference between the way a neoliberal framework looks at things versus the way a leftist does. Goldman Sachs produced a report suggesting to biotech companies that curing diseases might not actually be profitable, because people stop being customers once they are cured and no more money can be extracted from them. The liberal response to this would be an empirical argument: "Here's why it is actually profitable to cure diseases." The leftist response would be: "We need to have a value system that goes beyond profit maximization."

Neoliberalism, then, is the best existing term we have to capture the almost universal convergence around a particular set of values. We don't have debates over whether the point of teaching is to enrich the student's mind or prepare the student for employment, we have debates over how to prepare students for employment. Economic values become the water we swim in, and we don't even notice them worming their way into our brains.

he word is valuable insofar as it draws our attention to the ideological frameworks within which debates occur, and where the outer boundaries of those debates lie. The fact that everyone seems to agree that the purpose of education is "job skills," rather than say, "the flourishing of the human mind," shows the triumph of a certain new kind of liberalism, for which I can only think of one word.

We will have a more thorough examination of The Case Against Education, along with an explanation of an alternate left conception of the purpose of schooling, in our May-June edition. Subscribe now to make sure you receive it when it comes out!

Nathan J. Robinson is the editor of Current Affairs.

[Apr 13, 2018] Embodying the Sexual Limits of Neoliberalism by Sealing Cheng

Notable quotes:
"... While market competitiveness is idealized as the engine to advancement for all, labor competition is circumscribed for particular groups (e.g., through a household registration system that prevent migrants from accessing certain jobs, rights, and benefits in China) and in specific ways (e.g., only certain sectors of the labor market are considered legitimate -- not sex work or surrogacy, for example). The discourse of national competitiveness and collective welfare pushes forward a conservative moral agenda in the face of these changes. ..."
"... Political Theory ..."
"... Theory and Society ..."
Apr 13, 2018 | sfonline.barnard.edu

S&F Online

The Scholar & Feminist Online is a webjournal published three times a year by the Barnard Center for Research on Women I begin this article by reflecting on one of the biggest professional mistakes I have ever made. I became a part of corporate humanitarianism in 2006, when IOM Korea invited me to be part of a research project on trafficking of Korean women overseas, sponsored by the Bom-bit Foundation, an NGO set up by the wife of the CEO of the biggest insurance company in South Korea. She had been concerned about the barrage of news reports that were circulating both in and out of Korea about the trafficking of Korean women into forced prostitution overseas. She wanted a global research project, "Korean women victims of sex trafficking in five global sites": South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the East and West Coasts of the United States. The ultimate goal was to find solutions to end such outflow and to save these women. The principal researcher, a male Korean academic, drafted a survey questionnaire laden with assumptions about coercion, violence, and sexual abuse. Even though the final reports from different sites came back with little evidence of trafficking, they did not prevent the principal investigator from producing a final report about the "serious problem of sex trafficking of Korean women into the global sex trade."

The first woman who I interviewed for this project was working in a massage parlor in Queens, New York. She came to the United States after the Korean police cracked down on her in her home, after they had obtained her address from her employer in Seoul in an antiprostitution raid. She explained her work in the United States:

Jin: Some people only come in for table showers, massage, and chats.
Interviewer: Are they the good clients?
Jin: No, they are not.
Interviewer: So who are the good clients?
Jin: Those people who finish quickly, they are the good ones. Those who have shower and then have sex and go. They are the best.

This response exploded the entire premise of the research and its assumptions about the inherently victimizing nature of sexual labor for women. Those who demand sex rather than conversations are the good clients -- if they finish quickly, get themselves cleaned before having sex, and leave immediately after sex. Jin situated sex squarely within a repertoire of labor performance, along with other physical and emotional work, and identified sex as more efficient ("quick") in providing return to her labor. She made between $11,000 and $22,000 per month. On that note, let me move on to some important points in the discussion about gender and neoliberalism within the context of South Korea.

Neoliberalism is useful as a term only to the extent of understanding macro-historical shifts and setting a framework for investigation. But its history, manifestation, and effects can be so diverse in each location that it cannot be a useful analytical category without empirical analysis. For example, contrary to the trend of de-democratization [ 1 ] observed in the United States, in South Korea, neoliberal reforms coincided with the democratization of civil society and the state in late 1990s, following four decades of military and authoritarian rule. In 1997, just when the first civilian democratic leader Kim Dae-jung became president, South Korea went through a major financial crisis and received the largest IMF bailout. The president supported a new wave of civic/human-rights organizations, set up the first National Human Rights Commission, and founded the Ministry of Gender Equality. During the same period, structural readjustment also ensured the flexibilization of labor and the weakening of trade unions, rendering many lives of more precarious as they became underemployed or unemployed.

In my work, I am grappling with how individuals like Jin live and make sense of their lives within a number of paradoxes/contradictions in neoliberalism:

1) The apparent amorality of neoliberalism and its facilitation of conservative moral agenda. The deployment of market principles to reconfigure the relationship between sovereignty and citizenship not only remakes economic, political, and cultural life, but also remakes citizen-subjects as entrepreneurs and consumers. While market competitiveness is idealized as the engine to advancement for all, labor competition is circumscribed for particular groups (e.g., through a household registration system that prevent migrants from accessing certain jobs, rights, and benefits in China) and in specific ways (e.g., only certain sectors of the labor market are considered legitimate -- not sex work or surrogacy, for example). The discourse of national competitiveness and collective welfare pushes forward a conservative moral agenda in the face of these changes.

2) The depoliticization of social risks and the hyperpoliticization of national security. The emergence of an ethics of self-management and risk-taking justifies some form of retrenchment of the state in the social sphere. Yet this by no means suggests a weakening of the state. What we witness in neoliberal transformations is the assertion of the state through more hard-lined enforcement of criminal justice and border control. The consequence is an uneven emphasis on and legitimation of the self-enterprising individual, invoking national crisis, social danger, and self-harm to justify state intervention or exclusion. These measures have significant gendered repercussions -- reshaping discourses on domesticity, sexuality, and mobility.

3) The concomitant and continuous ravaging of vulnerable populations and celebration of humanitarianism/human rights responses from state and civil society. Neoliberal developments create vulnerable populations by polarizing resources and wealth, and concomitantly generate a set of humanitarian/human rights responses from the state and civil society. Rather than being a set of problems that are being held back or eliminated by a set of solutions, they seem to grow symbiotically together. In effect, many humanitarian/human-rights interventions turn out to reiterate dominant interests, reproducing conservative gender, racial, class, and national hierarchies and divides.

How are these contradictions lived? Maybe Jin has some answers for us -- not just from her personal trajectory, but also in what she said:

I am working hard and making money for myself. I am saving money to start my own business back home/to further study. I am not dependent on the government or my family. I am not harming anyone, even though this is not a job to boast about. I don't understand these women's human rights. These activists don't understand us. They are people from good background. I am not saying the antiprostitution laws are wrong. But do they have to go so far?

My research since 1997 on sex work and migrant women in South Korea and the United States is located right at the intersection of these paradoxes. As women who strategize their immigration and labor strategies for self-advancement as sex workers, they embody the sexual limits of neoliberalism. While they may personify the values of self-reliance, self-governance, and free markets in a manner akin to homo economicus, they violate the neoliberal ideals of relational sexuality and middle-class femininity. [ 2 ] As many critics have attested to, even though the antitrafficking movement hails women's human rights, gender justice, and state protection, its operation predominantly through the crime frame reinforces gender, class, and racial inequalities. As such, antitrafficking initiatives, as they have taken shape in the twenty-first century, are part of neoliberal governance, and underlying the claims of equality and liberty are racial, gender, and sex panics with nationalist overtones that justify the repression of those who step outside these limits.

I think antitrafficking initiatives need to be situated within a broader set of political and social transformations in order to analyze the undercurrents of gender and sexuality across different sites. In South Korea, there was a strong gender and sexual ideology pervading the expansion of social policies in the post-1997 era. While the government could claim credit for addressing the needs of certain vulnerable populations (the unemployed, the homeless, migrant wives, women leaving prostitution, etc.), public anxieties about the breakdown of the family (runaway teenagers, old-age divorce, the fight for women's equality) that started during the 1997 crisis have continued into the new millennium (same-sex families, "multicultural families," single women). As national boundaries seem to have weakened with the incorporation of "multicultural families," the heteronormative nuclear family became more reified, and the domestic sphere as the proper place for women was reinscribed in a range of social policies. These include protection for "prostituted women," since 2004, and support provided to migrant wives -- both policies designed to harness these women's reproductive powers for the future of the Korean nation, and to reproduce their class location.

It is also important to be wary of claims to promote "women's human rights" and how these claims are circumscribed within certain spheres -- only in sex work, and not in the gendered layoffs during an economic crisis, or in relation to the homeless women who have been excluded as legitimate recipients of government support. "Women's human rights" have been hurled around to legitimize activism and policies that turned out to make lives more difficult for some women, rendering them either as targets or instruments of criminal law.

We also need to ask why the law is resorted to so consistently for women activists to make claims on the state. And why does the general public have so much faith in the law to enforce morality?

I would like to see cultural struggles become a more important site to extend into, building on a solid economic and political critique. As we witnessed i the Occupy movement, as well as with the sex worker festivals in different global locations, creativity, humor, and conviviality have a lot of power to draw attention, if not to incite solidarity. The new sex workers' organization in South Korea calls itself the Giant Girls ("GG" also means "support" in Korean), and organizes its own seminars, holds a sex work festival celebration, and produces its own podcasts, in which everyday conversation and serious discussion take place in a light-hearted manner, often with bursts of laughter. The fists-in-air protests are no longer the main part of the movement, marking a significant departure from the victimhood discourse. I am hopeful that this will appeal at least to a younger generation of potential coalition partners in the LGBT community, labor movements (for women and migrants), and cultural movements. This could be a refreshing -- and possibly transformational -- shift in feminist politics and critique in South Korea, and in other sites in Asia.

Footnotes
  1. Brown, Wendy (2006). "American Nightmare: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and De-Democratization." Political Theory 34(6): 690-714. [ Return to text ]
  2. Bernstein, Elizabeth (2012). "Carceral Politics as Gender Justice? The 'Traffic in Women' and Neoliberal Circuits of Crime, Sex, and Rights." Theory and Society 41(3):233–59. [ Return to text ]
Tags class law neoliberalism policy sex work sexuality

[Apr 10, 2018] The brand of [neoliberal] "rationality" when the market interest is the only rational motive that too many people in the West subscribe to is a brand of smug pseudoreligious fanaticism that is itself "irrational."

Notable quotes:
"... So, in a different way, were old American political operators, at least when it came to domestic politics, as they had to manage multitudes of groups who had diverse worldviews who didn't take kindly to moral lecturing by politicians. ..."
"... Nowadays, though, this seems a worldview that many in "western" societies are running low on. Too many people start their argument by asserting their beliefs, why they believe them, and, implicitly, even if not made explicit, why they are right and others should be "persuaded" to believe them (since the "others" are "obviously" irrational.) ..."
"... Condemning the other, who are "obviously wrong," I suppose, makes people feel better, all the more so if one's own worldview can be justified by the Scripture or "science." ..."
"... An important point, however, is that for action to be 'rational' in this sense, it has, in some manner, to be appropriately calculated to the purposes envisaged. A difficulty lies precisely in the ambiguity about purposes which is implicit in this whole tradition. ..."
Apr 10, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

kao_hsien_chih , 4 years ago

Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

I agree entirely with your view. In order to make sense of the "purpose" behind actions taken by various political actors, it is necessary to take seriously their worldview and value system. It is not necessary that one should "respect" them or believe them for oneself, but recognize that these do actuate the choices that they do make.

I suppose this might sound like a sort of backhanded compliment, but this is something that the old British were really good at -- and lay behind successful management of the empire.

So, in a different way, were old American political operators, at least when it came to domestic politics, as they had to manage multitudes of groups who had diverse worldviews who didn't take kindly to moral lecturing by politicians.

Nowadays, though, this seems a worldview that many in "western" societies are running low on. Too many people start their argument by asserting their beliefs, why they believe them, and, implicitly, even if not made explicit, why they are right and others should be "persuaded" to believe them (since the "others" are "obviously" irrational.)

Condemning the other, who are "obviously wrong," I suppose, makes people feel better, all the more so if one's own worldview can be justified by the Scripture or "science." (not the science based on logical deduction and empiricism, but something that is vaguely "right" because it "just is.") But that certainly rules out actually dealing with the other side responsibly to accomplish something.

I still feel that the brand of "rationality" that too many people in the West subscribe to is a brand of smug pseudoreligious fanaticism that is itself "irrational." It may be itself "rational," given the context, as much as beliefs in witchcraft might be, but it is not what its believers think it is. When such beliefs clash with other, comparable beliefs, nothing good can come out of such encounters.

David Habakkuk , 4 years ago
kao_hsien_chih,

'One great irony is that, at least among "serious" academics in economics and other social sciences, the only definition of "rational" that is accepted is that there is some purpose behind it.'

This takes me into areas where I get out of my depth.

But the link of 'rationality' to purposive action is certainly very much in keeping with the tradition which goes, through Collingwood, into areas of British anthropology (exmples chosen from limited knowledge, Evans-Pritchard, Wendy James, Paul Dresch.)

An important point, however, is that for action to be 'rational' in this sense, it has, in some manner, to be appropriately calculated to the purposes envisaged. A difficulty lies precisely in the ambiguity about purposes which is implicit in this whole tradition.

So if one of one's basic conception of human purposes is to keep a kind of social order 'on the road', then beliefs which may be 'irrational', in the sense of indefensible in terms of canons of Western science which are, patently 'rational', may have a 'rationality' of their own.

An example is the analysis by Evans-Pritchard of the witchcraft beliefs of the Azande.

Implicit in this is a nightmare possibility which is lurking in a manner which is often hysterical, but not necessarily 'irrational' manner, in a tradition of conservative thought: that what is 'rational' in terms of scientific enquiry may be subversive of what is 'rational' in terms of the need to maintain functioning societies.

kao_hsien_chih , 4 years ago
One great irony is that, at least among "serious" academics in economics and other social sciences, the only definition of "rational" that is accepted is that there is some [market-related] purpose behind it.

Most people who rant about what "social science" says about the universe and how it should be are sophomoric thinkers who don't know what the "science" part of social science is. The tragedy is that they are what the rest of society expects social science to be about, to rant about morality of this or that mode of politics, and not engage in hard headed analysis based on logic and evidence.

[Apr 09, 2018] Former President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa shut down the US base at Manta. His successor, Lenin Moreno, has proven to be some kind of neoliberal mole

Apr 09, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

PrairieBear , Apr 8, 2018 5:04:50 PM | 17

@11 Yes, Maracutu, shivers are pretty much a daily thing for me in these times. An "accidental" bombing of Latakia was the spark that finally set off WWIII in the old, but still popular, nuclear apocalypse novel Alas Babylon .

@ all Meanwhile, as all the Mad Magazine "Spy vs Spy" nonsense spins out in the UK, the Empire is keeping busy on the other side of the pond. In late March, a couple of nice folks from the US Southern Command paid a courtesy "friendship" visit to Ecuador:

https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/266769-ecuador-funcionarios-comando-sur-eeuu

Also, we apparently have US troops in Ecuador once again:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2nClTjCs3I

During his term as President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa had (not very) politely and very firmly invited US military personnel to go home (or at least elsewhere than Ecuador) and he shut down the US base at Manta. His successor, Lenin Moreno, has proven to be some kind of neoliberal mole who wormed himself into the Alianza Pais and has completely betrayed the Citizens' Revolution. In less than a year in office, he has wrecked most of the progress slowly and steadily made under 10 years of Correa's leadership. In the past month or so, there have been three "terrorist" attacks on the Colombian border. These are supposedly connected with FARC. There had been NO troubles with FARC under Correa.

So far, I have not found any English-Language media talking about any of this. I have not found mention of how many US troops are involved. I have seen that there are now 500 additional ones in Peru to help with security for some summit Trump is going to. Of course, the ones in Ecuador are only there to be "helpful" to the country.

Also: RIP Nash Van Drake and his guinea pig siblings (has anyone heard what their names were, if any?). The murder of these pets may just be a weird side story to this madness, or it may have been to cover up and destroy evidence. The explanations for their deaths seem very suspicious to me. Some years ago, I had a male cat whom I let outside sometimes. He got himself shut in the neighbor's garage one afternoon. I looked everywhere, placed want ads, etc. No luck. Having basically given up, I discovered by accident he was in there after a week. I called the neighbor, who came out late at night and opened the garage up and I coaxed him out. Cat was very happy to be home and glad to see his food and water dish, but he was hardly malnourished. He essentially was no worse for wear, physically.

It takes quite a long time without food for a healthy, well-fed house cat to become "severely malnourished," unless perhaps there are some other special health problems already or special needs. I don't know the timeline of when they went in and found him. Two weeks? Three? Even then, look at all the videos out there of sick, malnourished cats rescued and nursed back to health.

I know a lot less about guinea pigs, but similar with them. If they had a bottle waterer mounted on the side of their cage, it was probably kept refilled pretty often. Even if already down by half, it should have lasted a while. How much water would they drink in normal house temperatures in the UK in late winter?

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves – and look who s buying by Grif Peterson and Yarden Katz

Notable quotes:
"... Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace". ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves and look who's buying

Apr 04, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Mar 01, 2018] The idea of success at any cost, trampling on other people, has always been popular in the United States

Mar 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

p

anon Disclaimer , February 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm GMT

@Anatoly Karlin

The idea of ​​success at any cost, trampling on other people, has always been popular in the United States. Little or nothing ethical types like Milken and Jordan Belfort have had many admirers in the United States.

[Feb 15, 2018] The oligarchy's desire to turn the clock back to 'the good old days' knows no bounds -- they want it all and they want it know; they're absolute ideal state for all us ordinary types would be a return to feudalism, so I guess bringing back slavery, all be it with a shiny new coat of point, is pretty much to be expected...

Feb 15, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Rich | Feb 14, 2018 9:33:46 AM | 9

The oligarchy's desire to turn the clock back to 'the good old days' knows no bounds  --  they want it all and they want it know; they're absolute ideal state for all us ordinary types would be a return to feudalism, so I guess bringing back slavery, all be it with a shiny new coat of point, is pretty much to be expected...

Once upon a time many, many years ago in the land of Anywhere, in a world long since forgotten, there was, at one time, a kind of Golden Age. It was not, it has to be said, an age that was Perfect but it was agreed by almost all that it was an age that was much, much better than That Which Had Gone Before. That time is best described by quoting from a well-known article historical document contemporaneous to the period

' after Generations Of Struggle against Social Injustice and two Catastrophic And Immensely Bloody Wars with the nearby land of Anotherplace, in which the Ordinary Folk had died and suffered to a catastrophic degree, it was decided by all except the Rapaciously Rich that Things Had To Change.

From that point on, Ordinary Folk were given access to Free Education, Free Healthcare, Pensions, Benefits to help those who fell upon Hard Times and all the advantages of what you would know in your world as a Welfare System. New taxes were introduced to redistribute some of the vast sums of money accumulated (mostly from Stealing, Cheating and Aggressive Tax Avoidance) by the Wealthy and the Aristocracy (known in the land of Anywhere as The Greedy One Percent) over the years and Political Reforms introduced to break their stranglehold over the Political And Economic Life of the country. Additionally, the Right to Vote was given to all.

And the land of Anywhere blossomed, for it was found that a populace Free From Hunger And Illness, that was properly Educated and Cared For, produced huge numbers of Talented men and women who previously had Languished due to Poverty And Lack of Opportunity. These Talented men and women drove the land of Anywhere to new heights of success, founding businesses, employing people, making a mark in the worlds of politics, science, medicine and culture. Slowly but surely, the Dead Grip of The Greedy One Percent, who had dominated and controlled the land of Anywhere for as long as anyone could remember, was broken.'

And the psychopathic Greedy One Percent, the Devil's Children, hated this new world, this New Bargain and Better Society, and all it stood for. They vowed to destroy it

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078L8K9H3

[Feb 10, 2018] More on neoliberal newspeak of US propaganda machine

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The "Newspeak" we experience is straight out of Orwell's 1984. From Wikipedia: Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state Oceania as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party's construct is classified as "thoughtcrime". ..."
"... It is truly scary how Orwellian our current situation has become reminding me that there are always two two takeaways from any story or historical record. Those that view it as a cautionary tale and those who use it as an instruction manual. ..."
"... We are also controlled through Doublespeak another Orwellian concept. From Wikipedia: Doublespeak is a language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Some common examples are the branding of liberals by pundits in the media as Fascists in order to eliminate the historical understanding of exactly what that word refers to. Another example is the appearance of the term Alt Right which is used to confuse and obscure the true nature of these groups. A great example of the doublespeak the media exercises in service to the state is the instantaneous adoption of the term Alt Right and nary ever a mention of its former names such as White Supremacist, Neo Nazi, Racist, Hate Group etc. They just rename these movements and hide all the other terms from sight. Another example is scapegoating the same group of people but under a different term. Today the term is Liberal but in the past, the Nazi movement called them Jews, Communists, Intellectuals etc. Whatever the term, the target of these attacks are always the ones that threaten the Power Structure. ..."
"... Joseph Goebbels was in charge of the war propaganda for the Nazis during WWII. He said: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." ..."
Feb 10, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

CitizenOne , February 10, 2018 at 11:58 am

The reason we are in the pickle barrel is exactly the reasons stated in the article and by Annie. We are exposed to exactly what they want to show us and are blinded by other narratives which do not support the group think. It is as if the politicians, the intelligence community and the media are all involved in a conspiracy. Remember that word means a plan by two or more people. No tin foil hat required. But anyone suggesting conspiracy is instantly branded a nut hence the universal use of the term conspiracy nut as a derogatory term to label anyone with a different message that somehow captures the attention of a wider audience. It is not so much that all Holly Wood stars are liberal socialists. They are a diverse group. However they all have one thing in common which is they have the public's ear. They are also not on point with the approved messaging and so must be continuously branded as conspiracy nuts and socialist subversives. We all have seen the 24/7 bashing of these folks. Control is the reason.

The "Newspeak" we experience is straight out of Orwell's 1984. From Wikipedia: Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state Oceania as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party's construct is classified as "thoughtcrime".

It is truly scary how Orwellian our current situation has become reminding me that there are always two two takeaways from any story or historical record. Those that view it as a cautionary tale and those who use it as an instruction manual.

I am appalled by how the media at first put Trump in the game in the first place for economic gain (see Les Moonvies article) and then created another fictional fantasy which serves the goal of permawar and control of the citizenry through fear, confusion and ignorance. We are all exposed to the Daily Two Minutes of Hate another Orwellian concept. From Wikipedia: The Two Minutes Hate, from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, is a daily period in which Party members of the society of Oceania must watch a film depicting the Party's enemies (notably Emmanuel Goldstein and his followers) and express their hatred for them for exactly two minutes. The difference is we can find it 24/7 on our technological wonder machines.

Another Orwellian concept is The Ministry of Truth: The Ministry of Truth (in Newspeak, Minitrue) is the ministry of propaganda. As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. From Wikipedia: As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, "truth" is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures "truth" in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes the doctoring of historical records to show a government-approved version of events.

We are also controlled through Doublespeak another Orwellian concept. From Wikipedia: Doublespeak is a language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Some common examples are the branding of liberals by pundits in the media as Fascists in order to eliminate the historical understanding of exactly what that word refers to. Another example is the appearance of the term Alt Right which is used to confuse and obscure the true nature of these groups. A great example of the doublespeak the media exercises in service to the state is the instantaneous adoption of the term Alt Right and nary ever a mention of its former names such as White Supremacist, Neo Nazi, Racist, Hate Group etc. They just rename these movements and hide all the other terms from sight. Another example is scapegoating the same group of people but under a different term. Today the term is Liberal but in the past, the Nazi movement called them Jews, Communists, Intellectuals etc. Whatever the term, the target of these attacks are always the ones that threaten the Power Structure.

Joseph Goebbels was in charge of the war propaganda for the Nazis during WWII. He said: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

If these things seem eerily similar to what is going on today then we probably have a power structure which is a grave threat for peace. Okay, we do have a power structure that is a grave threat to peace but oddly not democracy. Noam Chomsky wrote about propaganda stating, "it's the essence of democracy" This notion is contrary to the popular belief that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy. The point is that in a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter what people think because you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda. Manufacture of consent. Creation of necessary illusions.

The folks who contribute here on this website are few indeed and what lies beyond the haven of the oasis is a vast barren dessert filled with scorpions, snakes and a whole bunch of lies.

Well said for Annie and the authors.

Democracy may be the ultimate tool of control of the masses.

More wisdom from Goebbels:

I like that last one a lot but unfortunately it will not come to pass until things get bad.

CitizenOne , February 10, 2018 at 11:59 am

Link to article: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-trump-moonves-snap-htmlstory.html

Elaine Sandchaz , February 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Citizen One – You have beautifully & precicely nailed the means ( "how" ) the USA has gotten in such a mess : Newspeak, Daily Two Minutes of Hate, The Ministry of Truth, DoubleSpeak and the way and why of how Propaganda actually works. George Orwell was a seer.

AND now it would be helpful to understand "why" the USA has gotten in such a mess. The polarity of American politics tells a very long story but in short, polarity means there are only two ways and when the going gets tough, each way is in the extreme – the right way or the wrong way, it flips depending on each individual's political persuasion. When the going gets tough the extremes become the tail that wags the dog.

So my question is : WHY after the seemingly happy years under Obama did the going get so tough so fast?
My pet theory is that Trump threatened to "drain the swamp" which was understood – seemingly now quite rightly – that he was going to expose some very significant wrong doing in very high places. I believe that he was on "NYC/DC" friendly terms with the Clintons and both parties knew each other for the true devil they were. Thus the big red flag he waved in her face brought about what is turning in to a multi billion dollar ongoing attempt to discredit him in the eyes of the people, in the eyes of the World and in the eyes of the highest courts " America be damned".

And politically this is quite necessary because she is not only an icon of all that is American,"apple pie and motherhood"; she is to the under 45 age group the great white mother of democracy via Democrat rule. And the bad part of that iconography is that if she goes down so does the party. It was also critical for her to win because of all the swamp people who had chosen to compromise their life's work, thus had to continue in that compromise in the hope that they would come out clean since they believed that both Trump and the ordinary American were so naive, thus would be easily played for fools.

So all this crap to destroy Trump is about saving her hide to save the party. Things are so desperate now because there is nothing yet in place to replace her in the mind's eye of the Democratic half the voting public. All who might have been in 2nd place were kept diminished to raise her higher. It now is quite obvious that she has been told to shut up and lie low, to come out only when she is in safe company – as at the Golden Globes. So the big picture today as is being painted and hyped to intensify mass hysteria is that Mueller needs to be protected from Trump where really what is needed are the names and numbers to be called on for more $$$, more social media propaganda pages and to vote in November 2018.

Why only that? Because Trump is not going to fire Mueller; remember Mueller was a Bush man and so was Comey. They have a long history of going both ways. Survival is tricky business – especially in DC. The scapegoats are already cornered; possibly the new "lie" is already in draft form. Remember – "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

It is going to be an interesting next few months!! But we can hope that, from this one of many previous American political exercises in democracy, the ordinary defenders of those democratic values (the voters) will learn some significant truths about governance, transparency and the rule of law. The guys at the top are not gods and are not above the law; they must not only do right but be seen to do right.

CitizenOne , February 10, 2018 at 7:57 pm

The only thing I can tell you is that the conspirators who concocted Russia Gate have figured out all the pieces to the puzzle of how to control events via the means I mentioned and many other means. We are as manipulated as a light switch. One way we are all fired up about some BS and flip the switch and we are all calm and mellow. Hopefully if you follow the threads here you will find out a lot of alternative information much of it thoroughly researched by highly respected and qualified individuals who are in a position to know the truth.

Mariam , February 10, 2018 at 7:11 pm

I agree with you wholeheartedly. They call themselves "liberals" in fact they are "new liberals."
Alas, these false ("new) liberals" are very well represented by the Obamas, the Clintons, the Trudeaus, the Macrons and so on.
If you truly believe in the "left" and call yourself "progressive" you couldn't stand for useless and pointless wars, period.

[Jan 06, 2018] Selling Out Argentina's Future -- Again naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By lan Cibils and Mariano Arana, Political Economy Department, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Originally published at Triple Crisis ..."
"... desendeudamiento ..."
"... desendedudamiento ..."
"... Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina. ..."
"... World Economic Outlook ..."
"... The grand history of Latin America: borrow billions of $$$ from U.S. banks, hand the money to the wealthy who immediately deposit it right back in American banks, and let the poor pay back the principal and interest. Hmmm . seems more and more the way this country is going. ..."
"... Brazil's recent neoliberal turn was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but being a big, diverse economy, they've got more sovereignty than their neighbors. However, the business and political elites in Brazil decided to hammer through austerity (spending cuts and interest rate hikes) because they WANTED to, not because external forces made them do it. ..."
Jan 06, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Selling Out Argentina's Future -- Again Posted on January 5, 2018 by Yves Smith Yves here. While you were busy watching Trump and the Middle East, and maybe Brexit and China once in a while, some supposed neoliberal success stories are likely to be anything but that.

By lan Cibils and Mariano Arana, Political Economy Department, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Originally published at Triple Crisis

In Argentina's 2015 presidential run-off election, the neoliberal right-wing coalition "Cambiemos" (literally, "lets change"), headed by Mauricio Macri, defeated the populist Kirchnerista candidate by just two percentage points. Macri's triumph heralded a return to the neoliberal policies of the 1990s and ended twelve years of heterodox economic policies that prioritized income redistribution and the internal market. The ruling coalition also performed well in the October 2017 mid-term elections and has since begun implementing a draconian set of fiscal, labor, and social security reforms.

One of the hallmarks of the Cambiemos government so far has been a fast and furious return to international credit markets and a very substantial increase in new public debt. Indeed, since Macri came to power in 2015, Argentina has issued debt worth more than $100 billion. This marks a clear contrast to the Kirchner administrations, during which the emphasis was debt reduction.

The Kirchner Years: Debt Reduction?

Both Néstor and Cristina Kirchner pointed to desendeudamiento -- debt reduction -- as one of the great successes of their administrations. To what extent was debt reduced during the twelve years of Kirchnerismo?

Figure 1 shows the evolution of Argentina's public debt stock and the debt/GDP ratio between 2004-2017. One can see that there was a substantial reduction in the debt to GDP ratio between 2004-2011 -- the first two Kirchner terms -- due primarily to: a) the 2005 and 2010 debt restructuring offers, b) a deliberate policy of desendedudamiento (debt cancellation), and c) high growth rates. Indeed, debt/GDP dropped from 118.1% in 2004 to 38.9% in 2011. One can also see that the actual stock of public debt fell after the 2005 debt restructuring process, and then remained relatively stable until 2010. In 2011, it began a slow upward trend, due to the re-appearance of the foreign exchange constraint once the commodity bubble burst and capital flight increased.

Figure 1: Public Debt Stock (millions of dollars) and Debt/GDP ratio

Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina.

An additional, fundamental change occurred during the first two Kirchner administrations: the change in currency composition of Argentina's public debt. Indeed, as Figure 2 shows, peso-denominated public debt reached 41% of total debt after the 2005 debt-restructuring process. Between 2005 and 2012 it remained relatively stable, and then, after 2012, dollar-denominated public debt began to grow again although never reaching pre-2005 debt-restructuring levels. The currency composition change is key, since it reduces considerably the pressure on the external accounts.

Figure 2: Currency Composition of Argentina's Public Debt (as a % GDP)

Source: Ministry of Finance, Argentina.

Fast and Furious

Since Macri became president in December 2015, there has been a dramatic change in official public debt strategy, radically reversing the process of debt reduction of the previous decade. As shown in Figure 1, there was a substantial jump in the stock of public debt in 2016, and it has continued to grow in 2017.The result to date has been a substantial increase in the stock of Argentina's dollar-denominated public debt, as well as an increase of the debt service to GDP ratio. New debt has been used to cover the trade deficit, pay off the vulture funds, finance capital flight, and meet debt service payments. All of this has resulted in growing concerns about Argentina's future economic sustainability, not to mention any possibility of promoting economic development objectives.

Upon taking office, the Macri Administration rapidly implemented a series of policies to liberalize financial flows and imports, and a 40% devaluation of the Argentine peso. [1] In this context, it also went on a debt rampage, increasing dollar denominated debt considerably. Between December 2015 and September 2017, Argentina's new debt amounts to the equivalent of $103.59 billion. [2] This includes new debt issued by the Treasury (80%), provincial governments (11%), and the private sector (9%). While Argentina's debt had been increasing slowly since 2011, the jump experienced in 2016 was unlike any other in Argentina's history.

If the increase in debt is alarming, the destination of those funds is also cause of concern. Data from Argentina's Central Bank (Banco Central de la República Argentina or BCRA) show that during the first eight months of 2017, net foreign asset accumulation of the private non-banking sector totaled $13.32 million, 33% more than all of 2016, which itself was 17% more than all of 2015. This means that since December 2015, Argentina has dollarized assets by approximately $25.29 billion.

According to the BCRA, during the same period there was a net outflow of capital due to debt interest payments, profits and dividends of $8.231 billion. Additionally, the net outflow due to tourism and travel is calculated at roughly $13.43 billion between December 2015 and August 2017.

In sum, the dramatic increase in dollar-denominated debt during the two first Macri years served to finance capital flight, tourism, profit remittances, and debt service, all to the tune of roughly $50 billion.

Where is This Headed?

Argentina's experience since the 1976 military coup until the crash of 2001 has shown how damaging is the combination of unfavorable external conditions and the destruction of the local productive structure. The post-crisis policies of the successive Kirchner administrations reversed the debt-dependent and deindustrializing policies of the preceding decades. However, since Macri took office in December 2015, Argentina has once again turned to debt-dependent framework of the 1990s. Not only has public debt grown in absolute terms, but the weight of dollar-denominated debt in total debt has also increased. Despite significant doubts regarding the sustainability of the current situation, the government has expressed intentions of continuing to issue new debt until 2020.

What are the main factors that call debt-sustainability into question? First, capital flight, which, as we have said above, is increasing, is compensated with new dollar-denominated public debt. Second, Argentina's trade balance turned negative in 2015 and has remained so since, with a total accumulated trade deficit between 2015 and the second quarter of 2017 of $6.53 billion. Import dynamics proved impervious to the 2016 recession, therefore it is expected that the deficit will either persist as is or increase if there are no drastic changes. Furthermore, in the 2018 national budget bill sent to Congress, Treasury Secretary Nicolás Dujovne projects that the growth rate of imports will exceed that of exports until at least 2021, increasing the current trade deficit by 68%.

Finally, according to the IMF's World Economic Outlook (October 2017), growth rate projections for industrialized countries increase prospects of a US Federal Reserve interest rate increase. This would make Argentina's new debt issues more expensive, increasing the burden of future debt service and increasing capital flight from Argentina (in what is generally referred to as the "flight to safety").

The factors outlined above generate credible and troublesome doubts about the sustainability of the economic policies implemented by the Macri administration. While there are no signs of a major crisis in the short term (that is, before the 2019 presidential elections), there are good reasons to doubt that the current level of debt accumulation can be sustained to the end of a potential second Macri term (2023). In other words, there are good reasons to believe that Argentines will once again have to exercise their well-developed ability to navigate through yet another profound debt crisis. This is not solely the authors' opinion. In early November 2017 Standard & Poor's placed Argentina in a list of the five most fragile economies. [3] It looks like, once again, storm clouds are on the horizon.

_______
[1] For details, see " Macri's First Year in Office: Welcome to 21 st Century Neoliberalism ."

[2] Observatorio de la Deuda Externa, Universidad Metropolitana para la Educación y el Trabajo (UMET).

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/06/these-are-now-the-5-most-fragile-countries-exposed-to-higher-interest-rates-according-to-sp.html

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Jim Haygood , January 5, 2018 at 11:02 am

'What are the main factors that call debt sustainability into question? First, capital flight.'

Capital flees Argentina whenever the opportunity arises because successive governments -- whether leftist or conservative -- refuse to control inflation and maintain a stable currency.

Since 2001, the Argentine peso has slid from one-to-one with the US dollar to about 19 to the dollar today. With Argentine inflation running in the low to mid twenties (according to INDEC and Price Stats), the peso can be expected to carry on weakening against the dollar indefinitely.

A hundred years during which the peso has lopped off thirteen (13) zeros owing to chronic inflation shows that Argentina is politically and culturally incapable of responsibly managing its own currency.

Argentines know this. Unfortunately, only the richer ones have assets they can move to safety outside the country. The hand-to-mouth poor will continue being ravaged by inflation, not to mention the large quantities of counterfeit pesos in circulation.

Letting Argentines play with fiat currency is like handing out loaded pistols to rowdy 5-year-olds. In both these sad cases, adult supervision is urgently needed.

Jon S , January 5, 2018 at 11:21 am

The grand history of Latin America: borrow billions of $$$ from U.S. banks, hand the money to the wealthy who immediately deposit it right back in American banks, and let the poor pay back the principal and interest. Hmmm . seems more and more the way this country is going.

Tim Smyth , January 5, 2018 at 11:53 am

The fixed exchange rate under Kirchner was totally unsustainable. One difference between Macri's neoliberalism and his predecessors is Macri is allowing much more of a floating currency than in the pre 2001 time period (We can debate how much it is actually is floating and clearly a lot of this debt issuance is for currency stablization that I personally don't approve of).

Anonimo2 , January 5, 2018 at 1:05 pm

And who are the adults? Let me guess, bankers and bondholders?

Joel , January 5, 2018 at 2:12 pm

I'm not an expert in this at all, but in Peru, you could hold bank accounts in either national currency or dollars. The national currency accounts spared you currency exchange fees and also had higher interest rates. Most people who could hedged their bets by putting money in both accounts.

It seems like a happy medium between abandoning national currencies and letting savers get ravaged? No?

Wukchumni , January 5, 2018 at 11:14 am

While not as spectacular of a return as Bitcoin, but impressive nonetheless, the escape route for an Argentinean @ the turn of the century was the golden rule, an ounce of all that glitters was 300 pesos then and now around 25,000 pesos, a most excellent 'troy' horse.

MisterMr , January 5, 2018 at 11:31 am

So, is austerity good or is austerity bad? And in what conditions?

I'm for expansionary government expense (and direct government ownership of some industries, such as with an NHS) balanced by taxes on high incomes.

So in my view the problem happens when the government lowers taxes on the rich, as seems likely in this case.
On the other hand taxes on the rich are likely to cause capital flight.

a different chris , January 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm

So why did Macri get elected to do this? Yeah he didn't win by much, but he won.

>The hand-to-mouth poor will continue being ravaged by inflation

Which is freaking weird. Argentina has cropland. They have energy sources (and I won't bore everybody ok, I will with the observation that the Industrial Age is generously a 300/8000 year ratio part of human history).

And doesn't the below need some unpacking?:

>only the richer ones have assets they can move to safety outside the country

What are these assets? Why are said assets mobile? How did they come to "own" them? What percentage of the population is encompassed by "the richer ones" phrasing?

nonsense factory , January 5, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Question: why doesn't MMT thinking work for countries like Argentina?

As wikipedia notes:

"The key insight of MMT is that "monetarily sovereign government is the monopoly supplier of its currency and can issue currency of any denomination in physical or non-physical forms. As such the government has an unlimited capacity to pay for the things it wishes to purchase and to fulfill promised future payments, and has an unlimited ability to provide funds to the other sectors. Thus, insolvency and bankruptcy of this government is not possible. It can always pay."

Is this a general flaw in MMT? Does MMT only apply to dominant nation-states like the U.S., who can use foreign military and financial pressures to protect the currency, aka the petrodollar? Is the petrodollar a true 'fiat currency' or is it somehow based on control of commodities (especially oil)? Is there something peculiar about Argentina and other countries facing currency devaluation that MMT doesn't handle well? Any ideas on this?

JohnnyGL , January 5, 2018 at 6:21 pm

That wikipedia write up isn't wrong, but it could be better. Probably need to hammer home the point that the sovereign can always pay IN THE CURRENCY THAT IT ISSUES.

Most of the MMT related conversations on this site, and the posts that are written up on the subject are mostly about explaining how there are constraints that many people THINK exist in the USA, but don't actually exist, at least in economic terms (political constraints notwithstanding). A country cannot be forced to default on a currency it issues. If the USA had significant debts in EUR or JPY, then it'd be a very different conversation.

External constraints are a big deal for most countries, especially developing countries that depend on exports of primary commodities. Chile, for instance, is constrained by balance of payments problems when the price of copper declines. Also, developed countries that are relatively smaller have much more limited sovereignty. The Swiss Central Bank has to follow what the ECB does, to a large degree.

On the other hand, there's episodes where some countries have found room for maneuver when they give up their sovereign currency. I didn't expect that Ecuador's economy would perform quite as well as it has in recent years. But, they've shown that you can find ways to get creative to compensate for loss of monetary sovereignty. Of course, the fiscal constraints are real since Ecuador can't print USD.

Brazil's recent neoliberal turn was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but being a big, diverse economy, they've got more sovereignty than their neighbors. However, the business and political elites in Brazil decided to hammer through austerity (spending cuts and interest rate hikes) because they WANTED to, not because external forces made them do it.

No doubt an MMT prescription for Argentina would advice them to lay off the $ denominated debt and stick to pesos as much as possible. I'd imagine Stephanie Kelton or any of the UMKC crew would advise curtailing imports or doing some import substitution in order to take pressure off balance of payments issues. They'd also take a look at what was driving inflation domestically and try to find ways to relieve it with a targeted approach, instead of risking recession and unemployment. Neoliberal/Washington Consensus type economists would say hike interest rates, cut government spending in order to curtail demand. They'd argue that the private sector will make the best decisions about where to reign in spending to reduce inflation.

[Dec 22, 2017] Latin America The Pendulum Swings to the Right, by James Petras

Argentina is essentially the case of neoliberalism renaissance after 2008 debacle. So this is about strange non-death of neoliberalism after 2008. This is not traditional right wing regime (which usually isolationalist for smaller countries and suspicious of the USA and international financial capital)
Notable quotes:
"... populism for the plutocrats' ..."
Dec 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

Clearly the pendulum has swung to the right in the past few years. Numerous questions arise. What kind of right? How far right? How did they gain power? What is their appeal? How sustainable are the right wing regimes? Who are their international allies and adversaries? Having taken power, how have the rightist regimes performed and by what criteria is success or failure measured?

While the left has been in retreat, they still retain power in some states. Numerous questions arise. What is the nature of the left today? Why have some regimes continued while others have declined or been vanquished? Can the left recover its influence and under what conditions and with what programmatic appeal.

We will proceed by discussing the character and policies of the right and left and their direction. We will conclude by analyzing the dynamics of right and left policies, alignments and future perspectives.

Right-Radicalism: The Face of Power

The right wing regimes are driven by intent to implement structural changes: they look to reordering the nature of the state, economic and social relations and international political and economic alignments.

Radical right regimes rule in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Chile.

In several countries extreme right regimes have made abrupt changes, while in others they build on incremental changes constituted over time.

The changes in Argentina and Brazil represent examples of extreme regressive transformations directed at reversing income distribution, property relations, international alignments and military strategies. The goal is to redistribute income upwardly, to re-concentrate wealth, property-ownership upward and externally and to subscribe to imperial doctrine. These pluto-populist regimes are run by rulers, who openly speak to and for very powerful domestic and overseas investors and are generous in their distribution of subsidies and state resources – a kind of ' populism for the plutocrats' .

The rise and consolidation of extremist right regimes in Argentina and Brazil are based on several decisive interventions, combining elections and violence, purges and co-optation, mass media propaganda and deep corruption.

Mauricio Macri was backed by the major media, led by the Clarin conglomerate, as well as by the international financial press (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). Wall Street speculators and Washington's overseas political apparatus subsidized his electoral campaign.

Macri, his family, cronies and financial accomplices, transferred public resources to private accounts. Provincial political bosses and their patronage operations joined forces with the wealthy financial sectors of Buenos Aires to secure votes in the Capital.

Upon his election, the Mauricio Macri regime transferred five billion dollars to the notorious Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer, signed off on multi-billion dollar, high interest loans, increased utility fees six fold, privatized oil, gas and public lands and fired tens of thousands of public sector employees.

Macri organized a political purge and arrest of opposition political leaders, including former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner. Several provincial activists were jailed or even assassinated.

Macri is a success story from the perspective of Wall Street, Washington and the Porteño business elite. Wages and salaries have declined for Argentine workers. Utility companies secured their highest profits ever. Bankers doubled interest rate returns. Importers became millionaires. Agro-business incomes skyrocketed as their taxes were reduced.

From the perspective of Argentina's small and medium business enterprises President Macri's regime has been a disaster: Many thousands have gone bankrupt because of high utility costs and harsh competition from cheap Chinese imports. In addition to the drop in wages and salaries, unemployment and under employment doubled and the rate of extreme poverty tripled

The economy, as a whole, floundered. Debt financing failed to promote growth, productivity, innovation and exports. Foreign investment experienced easy entry, big profits and fast departure. The promise of prosperity was narrowly based around a quarter of the population. To weaken the expected public discontent – the regime shut down independent media voices, unleashed thugs against critics and co-opted pliable gangster trade union bosses to break strikes.

Public protests and strikes multiplied but were ignored and repressed. Popular leaders and activists are stigmatized by the Macri-financed media hacks.

Barring a major social upheaval or economic collapse, Macri will exploit the fragmentation of the opposition to secure re-election as a model gangster for Wall Street. Macri is prepared to sign off on US military bases, EU free trade agreements, and greater police liaison with Israel's sinister secret police, Mossad.

Brazil has followed Macri's far right policies.

Seizing power through a phony impeachment operation, the mega-swindler Michel Temer immediately proceeded to dismantle the entire public sector, freeze salaries for twenty years, and extend retirement age for pensioners by five to ten years. Temer led over a thousand bribe-taking elected officials in the multi-billion dollar pillage of the state oil company and every major public infrastructure project.

Coup, corruption and contempt were hidden by a system granting Congressional impunity until independent prosecutors investigated, charged and jailed several dozen politicians, but not Temer. Despite 95% public disapproval, President Temer remains in power with the total backing of Wall Street, the Pentagon and Sao Paolo bankers.

Mexico, the long-standing narco-assassin state, continues elect one thieving PRI-PAN political regime after another. Billions in illicit profits flows to the overseas tax havens of money laundering bankers, US and Canadian mine owners. Mexican and international manufacturers extracted double digit profits sent, to overseas accounts and tax havens. Mexico broke its own miserable record in elite tax avoidance, while extending low wage-tax 'free trade zones'. Millions of Mexicans have fled across the border to escape predatory gangster capitalism. The flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of profits by US and Canadian multi-nationals were a result of the 'unequal exchange' between US capital and Mexican labor, held in place by Mexico's fraudulent electoral system.

In at least two well-known presidential elections in 1988 and 2006, left of center candidates, Cuahtemoc Cardenas and Manuel Lopez Obrador, won with healthy margins of victory, only to have their victories stolen by fraudulent vote counts.

Peru's rightist mining regimes, alternated between the overtly bloody Fujimori dictatorship and corrupt electoral regimes. What is consistent in Peruvian politics is the handover of mineral resources to foreign capital, pervasive corruption and the brutal exploitation of natural resources by US and Canadian mining and drilling corporations in regions inhabited by Indian communities.

The extreme right ousted elected left-of-center governments, including President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2008-2012) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2006-2009), with the active support and approval of the US State Department. Narco-presidents now wield power by means of repression, including violence against popular movements and the killing of scores of peasant and urban activists. This year, a grossly rigged election in Honduras ensured the continuity of narco-regimes and US military bases.

The spread of the extreme right from Central America and Mexico to the Southern Cone provides the groundwork for the re-assertion of US centered military alliances and regional trade pacts.

The rise of the extreme right ensures the most lucrative privatizations and the highest rates of return on overseas bank loans. The far right is quick to crack down on popular dissent and electoral challenges with violence. At most the far right allows a few rotating elites with nationalist pretensions to provide a façade of electoral democracy.

The Shift from the Center-Left to the Center-Right

The political swings to the far right have had profound ripple effects – as nominal center-left regimes have swung to the center-right.

Two regimes have moved decisively from the center-left to the center-right: Uruguay under Tabare Vazquez of the 'Broad Front' and Ecuador with the recent election of Lenin Moreno of PAIS Alliance. In both cases the groundwork was established via accommodations with oligarchs of the traditional right parties. The previous center-left regimes of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica succeeded in pushing for public investments and social reforms. They combined their leftist rhetoric while capitalizing on the global high prices and high demand for agro-mineral exports to finance their reforms. With the decline in world prices and the public exposure of corruption, the newly elected center-left parties nominated and elected center –right candidates who turned anti-corruption campaigns into vehicles for embracing neoliberal economic policies. The center-right presidents rejected economic nationalism, encouraged large scale foreign investment and implemented fiscal austerity programs appealing to the upper middle class and ruling class.

The center-right regimes marginalized the leftist sectors of their parties. In the case of Ecuador, they split the party, with the newly elected president realigning international policies away from the left (Bolivia, Venezuela) and toward the US and the far right– while shedding the legacy of their predecessor in terms of popular social programs.

With the decline in export prices the center-right regimes offered generous subsidies to foreign investors in agriculture and forestry in Uruguay, and mine owners and exporters in Ecuador.

The newly converted center-right regimes joined with their established counterparts in Chile and joined the Trans Pacific Partnership with Asian nations, the EU and the US.

The center-right sought to manipulate the social rhetoric of the previous center-left regimes in order to retain popular voters while securing support from the business elite.

The Left Moves to the Center Left

Bolivia, under Evo Morales, has demonstrated an exceptional capacity for sustaining growth, securing re-election and neutralizing the opposition by combining a radical left foreign policy with a moderate, mixed public-private export economy. While Bolivia condemns US imperialism, major oil, gas, metals and lithium multi-nationals have invested heavily in Bolivia. Evo Morales has moderated his ideological posture shifting from revolutionary socialism to a local version of liberal democratic cultural politics.

Evo Morales' embrace of a mixed economy has neutralized any overt hostility from the US and the new far-right regimes in the region

Though remaining politically independent, Bolivia has integrated its exports with the far right neoliberal regimes in the region. President Evo Morales's moderate economic policies, diversity of mineral exports, fiscal responsibility, incremental social reforms, and support from well-organized social movements has led to political stability and social continuity despite the volatility of commodity prices.

Venezuela's left regimes under President Hugo Chavez and Maduro have followed a divergent course with harsh consequences. Totally dependent on extraordinary global oil prices, Venezuela proceeded to finance generous welfare programs at home and abroad. Under President Chavez leadership, Venezuela adopted a consequential anti-imperialist policy successfully opposing a US centered free trade agreement (LAFTA) and launching an anti-imperialist alternative, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

Advancing social welfare and financing overseas allies without diversifying the economy and markets and increasing production was predicated on continuous high returns on a single volatile export – oil.

Unlike Bolivia under President Evo Morales, who built his power with the support of an organized, class conscious and disciplined mass base, Venezuela counted on an amorphous electoral alliance, which included slum dwellers, defectors from the corrupt traditional parties (across the spectrum) and opportunists intent on grabbing office and perks. Political education was reduced to mouthing slogans, cheering the President and distributing consumer goods.

Venezuelan technocrats and political loyalists occupied highly lucrative positions, especially in the petroleum sector and were not held to account by workers' councils or competent state auditors. Corruption was rampant and billions of dollars of oil wealth was stolen. This pillage was tolerated because of the huge influx of petro-dollars due to historic high prices and high demand. This led to a bizarre situation where the regime spoke of socialism and funded massive social programs, while the major banks, food distributers, importers and transportation operators were controlled by hostile private oligarchs who pocketed enormous profits while manufacturing shortages and promoting inflation. Despite the problems, the Venezuelan voters gave the regime a series of electoral victories over the US proxies and oligarch politicians. This tended to create overconfidence in the regime that the Bolivarian socialist model was irrevocable.

The precipitous drop of oil prices, global demand, and export earnings led to the decline of imports and consumption. Unlike Bolivia, foreign reserves declined, the rampant theft of billions was belatedly uncovered and the US-backed rightwing opposition returned to violent 'direct action' and sabotage while hoarding essential food, consumer goods and medicine. Shortages led to widespread black marketeering. Public sector corruption and hostile opposition control of the private banking, retail and industrial sectors, backed by the US, paralyzed the economy. The economy has been in a free-fall and electoral support has eroded. Despite the regime's severe problems, the majority of low income voters correctly understood that their chances of surviving under the US-backed oligarchic opposition would be worse and the embattled left continued to win gubernatorial and municipal elections up through 2017.

Venezuela's economic vulnerability and negative growth rate led to increased indebtedness. The opposition of the extreme right regimes in Latin America and Washington's economic sanctions has intensified food shortages and increased unemployment.

In contrast, Bolivia effectively defeated US-elite coup plots between 2008-10. The Santa Cruz-based oligarchs faced the clear choice of either sharing profits and social stability by signing off on social pacts (workers/peasants, capital and state) with the Morales government or facing an alliance of the government and the militant labor movement prepared to expropriate their holdings. The elites chose economic collaboration while pursuing low intensity electoral opposition.

Conclusion

Left opposition is in retreat from state power. Opposition to the extreme right is likely to grow, given the harsh, uncompromising assault on income, pensions, the rise in the cost of living, severe reductions in social programs and attacks on private and public sector employment. The extreme right has several options, none of which offer any concessions to the left. They have chosen to heighten police state measures (the Macri solution); they attempt to fragment the opposition by negotiating with the opportunist trade union and political party bosses; and they reshuffle degraded rulers with new faces to continue policies (the Brazilian solution).

The formerly revolutionary left parties, movements and leaders have evolved toward electoral politics, protests and job action. So far they do not represent an effective political option at the national level

The center-left, especially in Brazil and Ecuador, is in a strong position with dynamic political leaders (Lula DaSilva and Correa) but face trumped up charges by right-wing prosecutors who intend to exclude them from running for office. Unless the center-left reformers engage in prolonged large-scale mass activity, the far right will effectively undermine their political recovery.

The US imperial state has temporarily regained proxy regimes, military allies and economic resources and markets. China and the European Union profit from optimal economic conditions offered by the far right regimes. The US military program has effectively neutralized the radical opposition in Colombia, and the Trump regime has intensified and imposed new sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba.

The Trump regimes 'triumphalist' celebration is premature – no decisive strategic victory has taken place, despite important short term advances in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. However large outflows of profits, major transfers of ownership to foreign investors, favorable tax rates, low tariff and trade policies have yet to generate new productive facilities, sustainable growth and to ensure economic fundamentals. Maximizing profits and ignoring investments in productivity and innovation to promote domestic markets and demand has bankrupted tens of thousands of medium and small local commercial and manufacturing firms. This has led to rising chronic unemployment and underemployment. Marginalization and social polarization without political leadership is growing. Such conditions led to 'spontaneous' uprisings in Argentina 2001, Ecuador 2000 and Bolivia 2005.

The far right in power may not evoke a rebellion of the far left but its policies can certainly undermine the stability and continuity of the current regimes. At a minimum, it can lead to some version of the center left and restoration of the welfare and employment regimes now in tatters.

In the meantime the far right will press ahead with their perverse agenda combining deep reversals of social welfare, the degradation of national sovereignty and economic stagnation with a formidable profit maximizing performance.

Jason Liu , December 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm GMT

I think this author is on the wrong site. None of those countries have "radical right" governments. Right wing radicals believe in social hierarchy regardless of wealth distribution.
Miro23 , December 20, 2017 at 3:11 am GMT

In contrast, Bolivia effectively defeated US-elite coup plots between 2008-10. The Santa Cruz-based oligarchs faced the clear choice of either sharing profits and social stability by signing off on social pacts (workers/peasants, capital and state) with the Morales government or facing an alliance of the government and the militant labor movement prepared to expropriate their holdings. The elites chose economic collaboration while pursuing low intensity electoral opposition.

This is an intelligent form of Bolivia First, looking for good relations with International Capital, but putting the wellbeing of all Bolivians first.

And interestingly it works.

According to a report by the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, "Bolivia has grown much faster over the last eight years than in any period over the past three and a half decades." The benefits of such growth have been felt by the Bolivian people: under Morales, poverty has declined by 25% and extreme poverty has declined by 43%; social spending has increased by more than 45%; the real minimum wage has increased by 87.7%; and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean has praised Bolivia for being "one of the few countries that has reduced inequality". In this respect, the re-election of Morales is really very simple: people like to be economically secure – so if you reduce poverty, they'll probably vote for you.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/14/evo-morales-reelected-socialism-doesnt-damage-economies-bolivia

Turns out the difference between Bolivia and Venezuela has nothing to do with abstract ideological labels, and everything to do with fiscal prudence.
I know, I know, fiscal prudence sounds deadly dull, but it makes an enormous difference in real people's lives. While Venezuela's reckless socialists were impoverishing the country's once thriving middle class, Bolivia's socialists were creating an entirely new indigenous middle class, even spawning a whole new style of architecture along with it. Why? Because newly affluent Bolivians can afford it: Per capita GDP more than tripled from just $1,000 a year to over $3,200 over a decade. At the same time, new government social programs designed to help older people, mothers and other at-risk groups saw to major improvements in social indicators. To take just one, consider this: Thirty-two percent of Bolivians were chronically malnourished in 2003. By 2012, just 18 percent were.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/01/05/as-socialist-venezuela-collapses-socialist-bolivia-thrives-heres-why/?utm_term=.9f988144dca4

The "CONSERVATIVE SOCIALISM" of Bolivia's Evo Morales

https://panampost.com/editor/2017/05/10/conservative-bolivia-evo-morales/

Lemurmaniac , December 20, 2017 at 10:03 am GMT
Oligarchic regimes pursuing the factional, plutocratic, trans-national good are merely an older form of the liberal left.

They're a cargo cult of the true hierarchical expressions of a right wing order in the realm of gross materialism.

The post-liberal right is interested in securing the COMMON GOOD.

[Dec 16, 2017] Brexit, Trump, and the Dangers of Global 'Jihad' HuffPost by Ben Railton

For 1995 the book Jihad vs. McWorld was really groundbreaking.
Also the concept of "Neoliberal jihad is valid, but it is better to call it Neoliberal World revolution as it was borrowed from Trotskyism
Notable quotes:
"... Jihad vs. McWorld ..."
"... In the two decades since Barber's book, this conflict has seemed to play out along overtly cultural lines: with Islamic extremism representing jihad, in opposition to Western neoliberalism representing McWorld. ..."
"... Linking Brexit and Trump to global right-wing tribal nationalisms doesn't mean conflating them all, of course. ..."
"... Yet at the same time, we can't understand our 21st century world without a recognition of this widespread phenomenon of global, tribal nationalism. ..."
Dec 11, 2017 | www.huffingtonpost.com

In his ground-breaking 1995 book Jihad vs. McWorld , political scientist Benjamin Barber posits that the global conflicts of the early 21st century would be driven by two opposing but equally undemocratic forces: neoliberal corporate globalization (which he dubbed "McWorld") and reactionary tribal nationalisms (which he dubbed "Jihad"). Although distinct in many ways, both of these forces, Barber persuasively argues, succeed by denying the possibilities for democratic consensus and action, and so both must be opposed by civic engagement and activism on a broad scale.

In the two decades since Barber's book, this conflict has seemed to play out along overtly cultural lines: with Islamic extremism representing jihad, in opposition to Western neoliberalism representing McWorld. Case in pitch-perfect point: the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Yet despite his use of the Arabic word Jihad, Barber is clear that reactionary tribalism is a worldwide phenomenon -- and in 2016 we're seeing particularly striking examples of that tribalism in Western nations such as Great Britain and the United States.

Britain's vote this week in favor of leaving the European Union was driven entirely by such reactionary tribal nationalism. The far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and its leader Nigel Farage led the charge in favor of Leave , as exemplified by a recent UKIP poster featuring a photo of Syrian refugees with the caption " Breaking point: the EU has failed us ." Farage and his allies like to point to demographic statistics about how much the UK has changed in the last few decades , and more exactly how the nation's white majority has been somewhat shifted over that time by the arrival of sizeable African and Asian immigrant communities.

It's impossible not to link the UKIP's emphases on such issues of immigration and demography to the presidential campaign of the one prominent U.S. politician who is cheering for the Brexit vote : presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. From his campaign-launching speech about Mexican immigrant "criminals and rapists" to his proposal to ban Muslim immigration and his "Make American Great Again" slogan, Trump has relied on reactionary tribal nationalism at every stage of his campaign, and has received the enthusiastic endorsement of white supremacist and far-right organizations as a result. For such American tribal nationalists, the 1965 Immigration Act is the chief bogeyman, the origin point of continuing demographic shifts that have placed white America in a precarious position.

The only problem with that narrative is that it's entirely inaccurate. What the 1965 Act did was reverse a recent, exclusionary trend in American immigration law and policy, returning the nation to the more inclusive and welcoming stance it had taken throughout the rest of its history. Moreover, while the numbers of Americans from Latin American, Asian, and Muslim cultures have increased in recent decades, all of those communities have been part of o ur national community from its origin points . Which is to say, this right-wing tribal nationalism isn't just opposed to fundamental realities of 21st century American identity -- it also depends on historical and national narratives that are as mythic as they are exclusionary.

Linking Brexit and Trump to global right-wing tribal nationalisms doesn't mean conflating them all, of course. Although Trump rallies have featured troubling instances of violence, and although the murderer of British politican Jo Cox was an avowed white supremacist and Leave supporter, the right-wing Islamic extremism of groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram rely far more consistently and centrally on violence and terrorism in support of their worldview and goals. Such specific contexts and nuances are important and shouldn't be elided.

Yet at the same time, we can't understand our 21st century world without a recognition of this widespread phenomenon of global, tribal nationalism. From ISIS to UKIP, Trump to France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, such reactionary forces have become and remain dominant players across the world, influencing local and international politics, economics, and culture. Benjamin Barber called this trend two decades ago, and we would do well to read and remember his analyses -- as well as his call for civic engagement and activism to resist these forces and fight for democracy.

Ben Railton Professor & public scholar of American Studies, Follow Ben Railton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmericanStudier

[Dec 12, 2017] The neoliberal revolution by Sean Michael Butler

Notable quotes:
"... Copyright Sean Butler 2006 ..."
"... Written for an Intro to Political Economy class at Carleton University in 2006 ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | seanmichaelbutler.wordpress.com

For 25 years following the end of the Second World War, the global economy experienced an unprecedented period of sustained growth. In the industrialized world, millions of people joined the ranks of the middle class, and wealth inequality sunk to historic lows. After decades of strife, labour and capital reached a relative ceasefire, and a mixed economy of governmental macroeconomic guidance combined with private microeconomic initiative emerged. Capital was able to make healthy profits, while much of the rising productivity of labour was passed on in the form of higher wages. Governments made full employment a priority, and increasingly accepted the responsibility of providing for the poor and disadvantaged. By the late 1960s, governments were seriously considering implementing a basic income (also known as a guaranteed annual income) and many policymakers thought that our biggest problem in another 20 years would be what to do with all our free time once the work week had been significantly reduced.

This exuberant economic attitude was arguably reflected in the radical social experimentation and revolution that emanated from universities now accessible to the majority, and in the various movements for liberty and social justice erupting worldwide. For many, all this social and economic optimism had one man to thank: the British political economist John Maynard Keynes, who had emerged from the academic wilderness in the 1930s to play a leading role in the design of the post-war economy at Bretton Woods, and whose focus on the counter-cyclical stimulus of aggregate demand became the lynchpin of governmental economic policy in subsequent decades. "There was a broad body of optimism that the 1950s and 1960s were the product of Keynesian economic engineering. Indeed, there was no reason why the prosperity of the international economy should not continue as long as appropriate Keynesian policies were pursued " In 1971, even the conservative US president Richard Nixon would famously proclaim, "We are all Keynesians now." The triumph of Keynesianism seemed complete.

Yet shortly after Nixon uttered these words, it all fell apart. That same year, Nixon ended the era of dollar to gold convertibility, a move that many see as the beginning of the end for the great post-war compromise between capital and labour.

Three years later, in the face of the first oil embargo and other pressures, the economy nose-dived into the worst recession since the Great Depression, never to rebound to earlier levels. Worse still, the theoretical underpinnings of Keynesianism were called into question by the simultaneous appearance of high inflation and high unemployment – a new phenomenon dubbed "stagflation". While Keynesianism floundered for an explanation, new theories stepped into the breach; monetarism and supply-side economics were the two most popular. While these new theories had distinctive approaches, both shared the belief that big government – namely Keynesianism – was the problem, and that the solution to stagflation was to restrict government intervention in the economy to a strict inflation-fighting monetary policy (in the case of monetarism) or to cut taxes to stimulate private investment (in the case of the supply-siders). This move away from government intervention and the welfare state, and towards more emphasis on an unfettered market, can been summed up by the term "neoliberalism". As the 1970s ran their course, neoliberalism gradually took over from Keynesianism as the reigning economic orthodoxy, to be consummated in the Anglo-Saxon world by the elections of Margaret Thatcher in the UK in 1979, Ronald Reagan in the US in 1980, and Brian Mulroney in Canada in 1984.

The story told by the victors of this ideological battle – the neoliberals – is that Keynesianism, despite its apparent success for 25 years, was in the end responsible for the constellation of economic crises that descended on the industrialized countries during the 1970s, and that neoliberalism was the remedy. The shift from Keynesianism to neoliberalism was, according to this story, the only rational option in the face of stagflation; as Thatcher crisply remarked at the time, "There is no alternative."

I will call into question this story, by first examining the causes of the 1970s economic malaise, and then looking at what interests were behind the promotion of neoliberalism as a solution, how it gained political power, and how it was disseminated around the world. I will fashion an alternate narrative, one in which Keynesianism was not to blame for stagflation, in which the economic crises of the 1970s put the compromise between capital and labour under severe strain and ultimately broke it, in which the capitalist class went on the offensive partly because it feared for its very survival, and in which this class achieved its ends by forming an alliance with social conservatives equally fearful in the face of the 1960s counter-cultural revolution. The protagonist of this story will be the United States; as the capitalist world's superpower, it was largely responsible for the crisis of the 1970s, it suffered the worst from it, and it led the way down the new path of neoliberalism.

THE FALL OF KEYNESIANISM

As one of the principle fathers of neoliberalism, the economist Milton Friedman's indictment of Keynesianism is of special relevance, for it is emblematic of the neoliberal attempt to – quite successfully – pin the blame for chronic recession squarely on Keynesian shoulders. Briefly, Friedman theorized that there was a so-called "natural" rate of unemployment, which persisted in the long-term despite governmental attempts to stimulate demand through spending. Running a budget deficit to pump money into the economy might bring down the unemployment rate in the short term, he thought, but in the long run it would only create inflation, while unemployment would inevitably return to its natural rate – now higher because of the inflation. He essentially argued that fiscal policy was useless – even damaging – and that if governments wanted to bring down the natural rate of unemployment, they should focus on keeping inflation low through monetary policy, while loosening restrictions on markets so that, for instance, wage levels could find their equilibrium point. This explanation for the stagflation encountered in the 1970s proved quite convincing to many searching for answers to the predicament, as well as enormously appealing to those who had always wished for a return to unfettered markets, and played a key role in justifying the switch from Keynesianism to neoliberalism, in its guise of monetarism.

How realistic is this account? Certainly, deficit financing played an important role in the soaring inflation of the 1970s, but was this solely the result of spending on social programs, such as under president Lyndon Johnson's Great Society initiative, or were there other causes for deficit spending? The Vietnam War, combined with Johnson's unwillingness to raise taxes in the face of rising war expenditures, caused the US Federal Reserve to print large amounts of new dollars. Military spending is often seen as the most inflationary form of government spending, because it puts new money into the economy without a corresponding increase in output. The US had some leeway to get away with this rapid increase in the money supply, since the dollar was the international reserve currency, but there was a limit to this, and the explosive inflation of the 1970s was the result.

It must be noted that the US proved a dismal failure in its short-lived role as manager of the world's monetary system. At Bretton Woods, it had been entrusted with the task of maintaining a sound monetary system, through the gold exchange standard, just as Britain had previously. Britain, being a trading nation, had had a strong interest in maintaining a sound international monetary system, and had been effective (some would say too effective) at maintaining it. The United States, on the other hand, traded much less, and consequentially took its responsibilities much less seriously. It is easy to speculate about the justification made by US officials as they printed irresponsible amounts money to pay for their war in Vietnam: they surely saw themselves as defending the free world against the tyranny of communism, a cause for which a little monetary instability, shouldered by the "free world" in general, was a small price to pay.

The first cracks in the system started to show during the series of currency crises that struck in the late 1960s. By the end of the decade, the dollars held outside the US were worth eight times as much as the US had in gold reserves. In 1971, rather than saving the system by devaluing the dollar, and fearing a run on US gold, Nixon ended the gold exchange standard. The US had abused its power of seigniorage (as monarchs before had), but wouldn't escape without paying a price.

The result was more inflation, as the dollar, now cut loose from the Bretton Woods standard of $35 per ounce of gold, shed its inflated value. The lower dollar also raised the cost of imports to the US consumer, further fueling domestic inflation. (The end of dollar convertibility also brought with it more far-reaching consequences. The fixed exchange rates of the 1950s and 60s were incompatible with free flows of capital. Yet taking the dollar off gold led directly to floating exchange rates, which in turn paved the way for freer flows of capital between countries. This development would later aid greatly in the furtherance of the neoliberal agenda.)

As if these developments were not inflationary enough, the Yom Kippur War of October 1973 led OPEC to restrict oil exports to Israel's allies, quadrupling oil prices virtually overnight. Yet this was inflation of a different nature than the kind that had been building up in the 1960s; rather than being linked to excess demand and an overheated economy, it was driven by increases in costs on the supply side and brought with it recessionary pressures. An increase in the price of oil, being fundamental to so much of the economy, is "similar to the imposition of a substantial sales tax. The price of the product goes up and consumers have less income available to spend on other goods and services. The result is a bout of inflation, at least temporarily, and sluggish economic expansion if not recession." This goes a long way towards explaining the supposedly impossible coincidence of high inflation with high unemployment.

Yet there were other factors that also contributed to the so-called "misery index" (inflation rate plus unemployment rate). The most basic of these was that governments tried repeatedly to beat inflation by attacking perceived excess demand through restrictive monetary and fiscal policies; when Nixon tried this strategy in 1970, it resulted in recession. His successor, Gerald Ford, tried the same approach in 1974 – despite the fact that inflation at that point was not being driven by excess demand, but by high costs on the supple side (namely oil). Thus, poor governmental reaction to inflation caused recession and rising unemployment, while failing to master inflation.

Another factor contributing to the slow-down of growth in the US economy was the end of the privileged position it enjoyed as the only power to emerge from the Second World War relatively unscathed. As Germany and Japan laboured to reconstruct their war-ravaged economies, the US faced little competition. Yet by the end of the 1960s, the old Axis powers, now recast as capitalist democracies but still economic powerhouses, were flexing their economic muscles again. This, combined with increasing competition from newly industrialized countries in East Asia and from other developing countries, cut into the robust economic growth the US had enjoyed for two decades previously.

To sum up, inflation caused by first the Vietnam War and later the oil embargo (itself the result of war in the Mideast), coupled with increasing competition to US business internationally, along with the shock of the collapse of the Bretton Woods framework, were the major factors that combined to create the "perfect storm" known as stagflation:

the stage was set for the deepest recession since the 1930s. The long period of post-war expansion had at last come to an end; America and world capitalism entered a new phase of turbulence which, amongst other things, threw economic policy and economics as a theory into a state of flux.

AND THE RISE OF NEOLIBERALISM

In the previous section, I outlined the confluence of factors that led to the crisis of stagflation in the 1970s. In the following section, I will describe the reaction to this crisis – the how and why of neoliberalism's triumph as the new economic orthodoxy.

Different authors ascribe to different points in time when the balance decisively shifted from Keynesianism to neoliberalism – some place the tipping point as early as the latter half of the 1960s, others as late as the ascendancy of Thatcher and Reagan – but the midway year 1974 seems as good as any. It was in this year that Gerald Ford came to the White House with the slogan, "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN), declaring that inflation was public enemy number one and that reduction in government spending was the chief means to that end. It was also in this year that inflation peaked (at 11% – although it would later be surpassed by a second peak of 13.5% in 1980), and that the "perfect storm" that had been building for years, catalyzed by the energy crisis, finally unleashed its full fury on the economy. In declaring war on inflation, Ford broke with the Keynesian bias of giving precedence to full employment; whereas before inflation had been a tool to control unemployment, now unemployment was to be used as a tool to control inflation:

The choice seemed to be stark: accept some inflation as the price of expansion and adapt business and accounting practices accordingly, or pursue a firm deflationary policy even if that meant accepting a higher level of unemployment than had been customary since the Second World War.

In choosing the latter, Ford shattered the fragile compromise between labour and capital and, favouring capital, took America on its first real steps towards neoliberalism.

Yet, as the crisis had gathered steam in the early 1970s, it was by no means clear which way the winds would blow. It was well remembered that the last major economic crisis, in the 1930s, had resulted in the socialist policies of the New Deal, and indeed in the 1970s labour again called for more governmental intervention as the solution to the crisis. Capital, meanwhile, as it suffered from reduced profits due to increased competition abroad and recession at home, also saw the crisis as both an opportunity to advance its interests and as a threat to its interests from an increasingly militant labour. "The upper classes had to move decisively if they were to protect themselves from political and economic annihilation." The ceasefire between labour and capital had held when times were good, but as soon as conditions started to sour, both sides went on the offensive. It was to be one or the other.

Sensing both the opportunity and the threat presented by the crisis, the capitalist class put aside its differences and united against the common enemy of labour. The 1970s marked the beginning of the right-wing think tank, with corporate dollars founding such now well-known beacons of neoliberal thought as the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute. Lobbying efforts, though such umbrella organizations as the American Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable (a group of CEOs founded in 1972), were massively ramped up; business schools at Stanford and Harvard, established through corporation benefaction, " became centres of neoliberal orthodoxy from the very moment they opened" ; and "the supposedly 'progressive' campaign finance laws of 1971 [that] in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics," were followed by a series of Supreme Court decisions that established the right of corporations to make unlimited donations to political parties. "During the 1970s, the political wing of the nation's corporate sector staged one of the most remarkable campaigns in the pursuit of power in recent history."

The ideology adopted by capital during this remarkable drive to win the minds of the political leadership " had long been lurking in the wings of public policy." It emanated largely from the writings of the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, around whom a collection of admirers (including Milton Friedman) called the Mont Pelerin Society had formed in 1947. This group's ideas became known as neoliberalism because of its adherence to such neoclassical economists of the latter half of the 19th Century as Alfred Marshall, William Stanley Jevons, and Leon Walras. Hayek had argued presciently that it might take a generation before they could win the battle of ideas; by the time he won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1974, followed by Friedman two years later, victory was indeed close at hand.

Why did capital " [pluck] from the shadows of relative obscurity [this] particular doctrine that went under the name of 'neoliberalism' "? Was it to save the world from the ravages of Keynesian stagnation and to free people from the heavy hand of bloated government? This was certainly part of the rhetoric used to sell neoliberalism to the public, but one need only look at who benefited from neoliberalism to get a strong sense of whose interests it really served. It was eventually quite successful in lowering inflation rates, and moderately successful in lowering unemployment, but failed to revive economic growth to pre-1970s levels; meanwhile, it resulted in levels of wealth inequality not seen since the 1920s in the US, stagnating real wages, and a decreased quality of life for those reliant on government services. Alan Budd, Thatcher's economic advisor, was candid about the real motives behind the neoliberal rhetoric when he said, "The 1980s policies of attacking inflation by squeezing the economy and public spending were a cover to bash the workers." Neoliberalism was capital's way of disciplining labour through unemployment, creating what Marx called an "industrial reserve army" that would break unions and drag wages down. Reagan facing down the air traffic controller's union, PATCO, during a bitter strike in 1981, paralleled across the Atlantic by Thatcher's similarly tough stance with the National Union of Mineworkers' year-long strike in 1984-85, was emblematic of the new hostile approach to labour reintroduced to state policy by neoliberalism. In short, neoliberalism was driven by class interests; it was the vehicle best suited " to restor[ing] the power of economic elites." The true point of neoliberalism is revealed by the fact that whenever the dictates of neoliberal theory conflicted with the interests of the capitalist class, such as when it came to running massive budgetary deficits to pay for military spending during peacetime, neoliberalism was discarded in favour of the interests of capital.

Before neoliberalism came to roost in the White House, however, there were several experiments conducted in the periphery. It is revealing to note that the first nationwide imposition of neoliberalism occurred under conditions of tyranny: Augusto Pinochet's Chile; it is likewise fitting that neoliberalism drove from Chile its antithesis, the communism of Salvador Allende, and that it was imposed through a US-backed coup. After the coup in 1973, Chile became a field school for graduates from the economics department of the University of Chicago, where disciples of Milton Friedman, who taught there, had formed their own monetarist/neoliberal school of thought. These economists attempted to remake the Chilean economy into the ideal neoliberal state (in the same way that US neoliberals are currently attempting in Iraq), a transformation that likely would not have been possible without the Chilean military ensuring a compliant labour. Despite lackluster economic results (particularly after the 1982 debt crisis in Latin America), Chile served as a model to neoliberals who wanted the rich countries to follow the same path.

There was another coup, of sorts – less known and less violent – that occurred in New York City in 1975. In that year, the city went bankrupt, and the subsequent bailout came with strict conditions attached, including budgetary rules and other institutional restructuring. "This amounted to a coup by the financial institutions against the democratically elected government of New York City, and it was every bit as effective as the military coup that had occurred in Chile." It was "an early, perhaps decisive battle in a new war," the purpose of which was "to show others that what is happening to New York could and in some cases would happen to them." "The management of the New York fiscal crisis pioneered the way for neoliberal practices both domestically under Reagan and internationally through the IMF in the 1980s."

While coups, either military or financial, were possible against developing countries and municipalities, neoliberalism would have to gain dominance in the US federal government through slightly more democratic means. As noted earlier, the intense drive to power through lobbying, think tanks, and academia convinced many in the elite of the virtues of neoliberalism, but ultimately this ideology would have to sway masses of people to actually vote in favour of it. In order to secure the broad base of support necessary to win elections, neoliberals formed an alliance in the 1970s with the religious right (a move that has forever since confused the terms "liberal" and "conservative"). While this significant segment of the American population had previously been largely apolitical, the counter-cultural revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s provoked many of these "neoconservatives" to enter the political arena to oppose the perceived moral corruption of American society – a movement that came to fruition with preacher Jerry Fallwell's so-called "moral majority" in 1978. While neoliberals and neoconservatives may seem like strange bedfellows, the coalition was likely facilitated by religious fundamentalists' relative indifference towards the material, economic world; according to their extremist Christian worldview, their material interests in this world would be well worth sacrificing to secure the spiritual interests of their nation in the next world. Furthermore, both religious and economic fundamentalists must have found a comforting familiarity in each other's simplistic extremism (the "invisible hand" of the neoliberals' free market is eerily similar to the Christians' God in its omnipotence, omnipresence, and inscrutability).

The Republican Party gathered under its banner these religious reactionaries, as well as those non-religious (largely white, heterosexual, male, and working-class) who simply feared the growing liberation of blacks, gays, and women, and who felt threatened by affirmative action, the emerging welfare state, and the Soviet Union. "Not for the first time, nor, it is to be feared, for the last time in history had a social group been persuaded to vote against its material, economic, and class interests for cultural, nationalist, and religious reasons." It was this alliance of social fear and economic opportunism that swept arch-neoliberal Ronald Reagan to the White House in 1980 – " a turning point in post-war American economic and social history." After a decade-long campaign, the neoliberals had come to Washington.

Of course, the crusade to reshape society along neoliberal ideals was far from won; Reagan faced a Democratic Congress, and was often forced to govern more pragmatically than ideologically when his supply-side policies failed. As Margaret Thatcher said, "Economics are the method, but the object is to change the soul," and it takes time to change people's souls.

There was also still a whole world to convert to the gospel of market liberalization. The crisis of stagflation that had opened the door to neoliberal ideas in the US had also created financial incentives for the dissemination of neoliberalism to other countries. With the impact of the first oil crisis flooding New York investment banks with petrodollars, and a depressed economy at home offering fewer places to spend them, the banks poured the money into developing countries. This created pressure on the US government to pry open new markets for investment, as well as to protect the growing investments overseas – helping to bring US-bred neoliberalism to foreign shores.

Yet these pressures were only a taste of what was to come; after the Iranian revolution in 1979 caused oil prices to suddenly double, inflation in the US returned with a vengeance. This in turn led the US Federal Reserve, under its new neoliberal-minded chairman Paul Volcker, to drastically raise interest rates. This "Volcker shock", resulting in nominal interest rates close to 20% by 1981, coming on the heels of the profligate lending of petrodollars during the 1970s, played a major part in the debt crisis that descended on the developing world during the 1980s. As countries defaulted on their debts, they were driven into the arms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which, after what economist Joseph Stiglitz described as a "purge" of Keynesians in 1982, became a center " for the propagation and enforcement of 'free market fundamentalism' and neoliberal orthodoxy." Mexico, after its debt default of 1982-84, became one of the first countries to submit to neoliberal reforms in exchange for debt rescheduling, thus " beginning the long era of structural adjustment."

Many of the IMF economists who designed these Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), as well as those who staffed the World Bank and the finance departments of many developing countries, were trained at the top US research universities, which by 1990 were dominated by neoliberal ideas – providing yet another avenue by which neoliberalism spread from the US to other parts of the world. By the mid-1990s, the process of neoliberal market liberalization (under the supervision of the World Trade Organization (WTO)) came to be known as the "Washington Consensus", in recognition of the origins of this ideological revolution.

THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES

Some authors have called neoliberalism the antithesis to Keynesianism , yet its real opposite is communism; Keynesianism represented a compromise between the two – a middle way. Yet this fragile balance did not survive the economic crucible of the 1970s. Neoliberalism's strategic political alliance with neoconservatism can be seen as a natural reaction to the rapid changes that had unfolded during the 1950s and 60s in both the US economy (with the growth of the welfare state) and society (with the rise of the counter-cultural revolution); at the same time, it can also be seen as an opportunist power grab by the capitalist class during a period of uncertainty about the foundations of the old order. The fear of communism – captured succinctly in the title of Hayek's famous work, The Road to Serfdom – drove neoliberals to the opposite extreme: the belief in the superiority of the unfettered marketplace as the guiding principle to human civilization. Neoliberalism, therefore, represents an extremist ideology that, if carried through to its end, will likely end up being as destructive to the societies it touches as extremist socialism was to the former Soviet bloc.

Although the neoliberal revolution is still winning many political battles, such as the growing attack on Medicare in Canada or on Social Security in the United States, evidence of an emerging counter-movement (such as the poorly named "anti-globalization movement" – anti-neoliberalization would be more apt) is growing. As Karl Polanyi described in his classic, The Great Transformation, the industrialization and economic liberalization of the 19th Century resulted in a reaction from society for more governmental intervention to protect people and communities from the destructive effects of unfettered markets. It is highly likely that we are now witnessing the first stages of a similar reaction to the latest round of rapid technological change and market liberalization. Hopefully, this reaction will lead to a society that better balances capitalism's creative destruction with the needs of humans and their communities for continuity and security.

Copyright Sean Butler 2006

Written for an Intro to Political Economy class at Carleton University in 2006

[Dec 10, 2017] Neoliberlaism is barbarism

Dec 10, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.press

"It's barbarism. I see it coming masqueraded under lawless alliances and predetermined enslavements. It may not be about Hitler's furnaces, but about the methodical and quasi-scientific subjugation of Man. His absolute humiliation. His disgrace"

Odysseas Elytis, Greek poet, in a press conference on the occasion of receiving the Nobel Prize (1979)

[Nov 30, 2017] The Dog that Didn't Bark, by Israel Shamir - The Unz Review

Notable quotes:
"... Not only the media is supportive of the extortion scheme. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC: "I think that the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] is doing a great job at transforming the country." President Trump blessed MBS along similar lines. Not a word of condemnation came out of President Putin, either. Even Al Jazeera, though reporting the extortion in a matter-of-fact way, didn't make too much out of it. ..."
"... But the blanket of silence covering the Extortion Racket beats all. Usually, the global media mainstream system propagates and amplifies the news in a game of rebounding agencies that indirectly end up also to maximize headline sales, wrote the Italian journalist Claudio Resta. But in this case, the important and spectacular news made no headlines. In our Society of the Spectacle , failing to exploit the "spectacular" is a waste of the most valuable resource for the media. ..."
"... The Dog that Didn't Bark ..."
Nov 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Hundreds of other princes and gentlemen were tortured, too, until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten assets, 70% of all they have. As I write, and as you read these lines, the torture goes on, and so far MBS has already milked his victims of hundreds of billions $$ worth of cash and assets.

"An Extortion racket", you'll exclaim. Perhaps MBS watched The Godfather in his impressionable youth and was impressed by efficiency of their methods. However, he has solved, or rather is in the process of solving, the problem of solvency.

Perhaps this is the method to be advised to Trump and Putin, as well as to other leaders? If the neoliberal dogma forbids taxing, if the offshore are sacred, what remains for a diligent leader but a plush five-star hotel and a band of experienced torturers?

But surely, the torturer will be condemned and ostracised by human rights' defenders! Not at all. Not a single voice, neither from liberal left nor from authoritarian right objected to this amazing deed of mass torture and extortion. While the co-owner of Twitter has been subjected to daily beatings, the prime voice of liberal conscience, Tom Friedman of the New York Times, eulogised MBS as the bearer of progress. In an article as panegyric as they come, titled Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring, at Last and subtitled "The crown prince has big plans for his society".

Tom Friedman does not use the word "extortion", saying that [MBS's] "government arrested scores of Saudi princes and businessmen on charges of corruption and threw them into a makeshift gilded jail -- the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton -- until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten gains." No condemnation at all! Can you imagine what he would say if Putin were to arrest his oligarchs "until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten gains"?

I believe one line in Friedman's eulogy, saying that the Saudis are content with the extortion act: "the mood among Saudis I spoke with was: "Just turn them all upside down, shake the money out of their pockets and don't stop shaking them until it's all out!" Moreover, I am sure the Americans would applaud if their billionaires were to get the MBS treatment. The Russians were mighty pleased when Putin locked up the oligarch Khodorkovsky, and complained that he was the only one to be jailed. They would love to see the whole lot of oligarchs who plundered Russia through manifestly fraudulent, staged auctions under American advisers in Yeltsin's days, to be shaken "until it's all out".

Not only the media is supportive of the extortion scheme. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC: "I think that the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] is doing a great job at transforming the country." President Trump blessed MBS along similar lines. Not a word of condemnation came out of President Putin, either. Even Al Jazeera, though reporting the extortion in a matter-of-fact way, didn't make too much out of it.

There is a veritable conspiracy around the MBS actions, a conspiracy embracing the media and governments. He kidnapped the Lebanese Prime Minister, placed him under arrest, took away his telephone and watch, forced him to read on TV a resignation letter composed by MBS people, – and the response of the world has been subdued. He bombed Yemen, causing hundreds of thousands to die of cholera and famine, and the world does not give a damn. Do you remember the response when the Russians bombed Aleppo? None of this indignation accompanies MBS's war on Yemen.

But the blanket of silence covering the Extortion Racket beats all. Usually, the global media mainstream system propagates and amplifies the news in a game of rebounding agencies that indirectly end up also to maximize headline sales, wrote the Italian journalist Claudio Resta. But in this case, the important and spectacular news made no headlines. In our Society of the Spectacle , failing to exploit the "spectacular" is a waste of the most valuable resource for the media.

The potential for a great spectacle is all here. The arrest of dignitaries and princes of blood, including the famous Al-Walid bin al-Talal, well-known investor and Bakr bin Laden, brother of the most notorious Osama would normally feed the media for days. Add to it the marvelous setting of the glorious hotel on the verge of the desert. Make it even more dramatic by open rocket fire on the escaping helicopter of Prince Mansour bin Muqrin , killing him and the other dignitaries who tried to flee.

Such a story, so brilliant and spectacular, with the colour and costume of a Middle Eastern monarchy, could sell newspapers for a week at least. But it was followed by deafening silence.

The same media that overwhelms us with the flood of details and opinions in a case of human rights violations in Russia or China in this case shows off an Olympic indifference to the fate of the princes and billionaires, unjustly and arbitrarily arrested and tortured in a country of no constitution or Habeas Corpus. The United Nations joins in the conspiracy of silence.

This is probably the most unusual aspect of the story, reminiscent of The Dog that Didn't Bark by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In that Sherlock Holmes story, a dog did not bark during the night when a race horse was removed from a stable, and that indicated that the thief was the dog's master.

In the case of MBS, the media dog keeps silent. It means that its mighty mega-owner, whom I called The Masters of Discourse, allowed and authorised the racket. We witness a unique media event, bordering with revelation. How could it be that a prince of a third-league state would be allowed the licence to kidnap prime-ministers, kill princes by ground-to-air missiles, keep and torture great businessmen and dignitaries with impunity and the media would keep mum?

Is it fear of the robber barons that the example of MBS extorting billions from his super-rich will be picked up and acted upon in their own lands? Perhaps.

... ... ...

[Nov 30, 2017] The Dog that Didn't Bark, by Israel Shamir - The Unz Review

Nov 30, 2017 | www.unz.com

Hundreds of other princes and gentlemen were tortured, too, until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten assets, 70% of all they have. As I write, and as you read these lines, the torture goes on, and so far MBS has already milked his victims of hundreds of billions $$ worth of cash and assets.

"An Extortion racket", you'll exclaim. Perhaps MBS watched The Godfather in his impressionable youth and was impressed by efficiency of their methods. However, he has solved, or rather is in the process of solving, the problem of solvency.

Perhaps this is the method to be advised to Trump and Putin, as well as to other leaders? If the neoliberal dogma forbids taxing, if the offshore are sacred, what remains for a diligent leader but a plush five-star hotel and a band of experienced torturers?

But surely, the torturer will be condemned and ostracised by human rights' defenders! Not at all. Not a single voice, neither from liberal left nor from authoritarian right objected to this amazing deed of mass torture and extortion. While the co-owner of Twitter has been subjected to daily beatings, the prime voice of liberal conscience, Tom Friedman of the New York Times, eulogised MBS as the bearer of progress. In an article as panegyric as they come, titled Saudi Arabia's Arab Spring, at Last and subtitled "The crown prince has big plans for his society".

Tom Friedman does not use the word "extortion", saying that [MBS's] "government arrested scores of Saudi princes and businessmen on charges of corruption and threw them into a makeshift gilded jail -- the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton -- until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten gains." No condemnation at all! Can you imagine what he would say if Putin were to arrest his oligarchs "until they agreed to surrender their ill-gotten gains"?

I believe one line in Friedman's eulogy, saying that the Saudis are content with the extortion act: "the mood among Saudis I spoke with was: "Just turn them all upside down, shake the money out of their pockets and don't stop shaking them until it's all out!" Moreover, I am sure the Americans would applaud if their billionaires were to get the MBS treatment. The Russians were mighty pleased when Putin locked up the oligarch Khodorkovsky, and complained that he was the only one to be jailed. They would love to see the whole lot of oligarchs who plundered Russia through manifestly fraudulent, staged auctions under American advisers in Yeltsin's days, to be shaken "until it's all out".

Not only the media is supportive of the extortion scheme. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC: "I think that the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] is doing a great job at transforming the country." President Trump blessed MBS along similar lines. Not a word of condemnation came out of President Putin, either. Even Al Jazeera, though reporting the extortion in a matter-of-fact way, didn't make too much out of it.

There is a veritable conspiracy around the MBS actions, a conspiracy embracing the media and governments. He kidnapped the Lebanese Prime Minister, placed him under arrest, took away his telephone and watch, forced him to read on TV a resignation letter composed by MBS people, – and the response of the world has been subdued. He bombed Yemen, causing hundreds of thousands to die of cholera and famine, and the world does not give a damn. Do you remember the response when the Russians bombed Aleppo? None of this indignation accompanies MBS's war on Yemen.

But the blanket of silence covering the Extortion Racket beats all. Usually, the global media mainstream system propagates and amplifies the news in a game of rebounding agencies that indirectly end up also to maximize headline sales, wrote the Italian journalist Claudio Resta. But in this case, the important and spectacular news made no headlines. In our Society of the Spectacle , failing to exploit the "spectacular" is a waste of the most valuable resource for the media.

The potential for a great spectacle is all here. The arrest of dignitaries and princes of blood, including the famous Al-Walid bin al-Talal, well-known investor and Bakr bin Laden, brother of the most notorious Osama would normally feed the media for days. Add to it the marvelous setting of the glorious hotel on the verge of the desert. Make it even more dramatic by open rocket fire on the escaping helicopter of Prince Mansour bin Muqrin , killing him and the other dignitaries who tried to flee.

Such a story, so brilliant and spectacular, with the colour and costume of a Middle Eastern monarchy, could sell newspapers for a week at least. But it was followed by deafening silence.

The same media that overwhelms us with the flood of details and opinions in a case of human rights violations in Russia or China in this case shows off an Olympic indifference to the fate of the princes and billionaires, unjustly and arbitrarily arrested and tortured in a country of no constitution or Habeas Corpus. The United Nations joins in the conspiracy of silence.

This is probably the most unusual aspect of the story, reminiscent of The Dog that Didn't Bark by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In that Sherlock Holmes story, a dog did not bark during the night when a race horse was removed from a stable, and that indicated that the thief was the dog's master.

In the case of MBS, the media dog keeps silent. It means that its mighty mega-owner, whom I called The Masters of Discourse, allowed and authorised the racket. We witness a unique media event, bordering with revelation. How could it be that a prince of a third-league state would be allowed the licence to kidnap prime-ministers, kill princes by ground-to-air missiles, keep and torture great businessmen and dignitaries with impunity and the media would keep mum?

Is it fear of the robber barons that the example of MBS extorting billions from his super-rich will be picked up and acted upon in their own lands? Perhaps.

... ... ...

[Nov 28, 2017] The Stigmatization of the Unemployed

"This overly narrow hiring spec then leads to absurd, widespread complaint that companies can't find people with the right skills" . In the IT job markets such postings are often called purple squirrels
Notable quotes:
"... In particular, there seems to be an extremely popular variant of the above where the starting proposition "God makes moral people rich" is improperly converted to "Rich people are more moral" which is then readily negated to "Poor people are immoral" and then expanded to "Poor people are immoral, thus they DESERVE to suffer for it". It's essentially the theological equivalent of dividing by zero ..."
"... That said, the ranks of the neoliberals are not small. They constitute what Jonathan Schell calls a "mass minority." I suspect the neoliberals have about the same level of popular support that the Nazis did at the time of their takeover of Germany in 1932, or the Bolsheviks had in Russia at the time of their takeover in 1917, which is about 20 or 25% of the total population. ..."
"... The ranks of the neoliberals are made to appear far greater than they really are because they have all but exclusive access to the nation's megaphone. The Tea Party can muster a handful of people to disrupt a town hall meeting and it gets coast to coast, primetime coverage. But let a million people protest against bank bailouts, and it is ignored. Thus, by manipulation of the media, the mass minority is made to appear to be much larger than it really is. ..."
Mar 20, 2011 | naked capitalism

Spencer Thomas:

Very good post. Thank you.

Over the past three decades, large parts of our culture here in the US have internalized the lessons of the new Social Darwinism, with a significant body of literature to explain and justify it. Many of us have internalized, without even realizing it, the ideas of "dog eat dog", "every man for himself", "society should be structured like the animal kingdom, where the weak and sick simply die because they cannot compete, and this is healthy", and "everything that happens to you is your own fault. There is no such thing as circumstance that cannot be overcome, and certainly no birth lottery."

The levers pulled by politicians and the Fed put these things into practice, but even if we managed get different (better) politicians or Fed chairmen, ones who weren't steeped in this culture and ideology, we'd still be left with the culture in the population at large, and things like the "unemployed stigma" are likely to die very, very hard. Acceptance of the "just-world phenomenon" here in the US runs deep.

perfect stranger:

"Religion is just as vulnerable to corporate capture as is the government or the academy."

This is rather rhetorical statement, and wrong one. One need to discern spiritual aspect of religion from the religion as a tool.

Religion, as is structured, is complicit: in empoverishment, obedience, people's preconditioning, and legislative enabler in the institutions such as Supreme – and non-supreme – Court(s). It is a form of PR of the ruling class for the governing class.

DownSouth:

perfect stranger,

Religion, just like human nature, is not that easy to put in a box.

For every example you can cite where religion "is complicit: in empoverishment, obedience, people's preconditioning, and legislative enabler in the institution," I can point to an example of where religion engendered a liberating, emancipatory and revolutionary spirit.

Examples:

•Early Christianity •Nominalism •Early Protestantism •Gandhi •Martin Luther King

Now granted, there don't seem to be any recent examples of this of any note, unless we consider Chris Hedges a religionist, which I'm not sure we can do. Would it be appropriate to consider Hedges a religionist?

perfect stranger:

Yes, that maybe, just maybe be the case in early stages of forming new religion(s). In case of Christianity old rulers from Rome were trying to save own head/throne and the S.P.Q.R. imperia by adopting new religion.

You use examples of Gandhi and MLK which is highly questionable both were fighters for independence and the second, civil rights. In a word: not members of establishment just as I said there were (probably) seeing the religion as spiritual force not tool of enslavement.

Matt:

This link may provide some context:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology

In particular, there seems to be an extremely popular variant of the above where the starting proposition "God makes moral people rich" is improperly converted to "Rich people are more moral" which is then readily negated to "Poor people are immoral" and then expanded to "Poor people are immoral, thus they DESERVE to suffer for it". It's essentially the theological equivalent of dividing by zero

DownSouth:

Rex,

I agree.

Poll after poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans, and a rather significant majority, reject the values, attitudes, beliefs and opinions proselytized by the stealth religion we call "neoclassical economics."

That said, the ranks of the neoliberals are not small. They constitute what Jonathan Schell calls a "mass minority." I suspect the neoliberals have about the same level of popular support that the Nazis did at the time of their takeover of Germany in 1932, or the Bolsheviks had in Russia at the time of their takeover in 1917, which is about 20 or 25% of the total population.

The ranks of the neoliberals are made to appear far greater than they really are because they have all but exclusive access to the nation's megaphone. The Tea Party can muster a handful of people to disrupt a town hall meeting and it gets coast to coast, primetime coverage. But let a million people protest against bank bailouts, and it is ignored. Thus, by manipulation of the media, the mass minority is made to appear to be much larger than it really is.

The politicians love this, because as they carry water for their pet corporations, they can point to the Tea Partiers and say: "See what a huge upwelling of popular support I am responding to."

JTFaraday:

Well, if that's true, then the unemployed are employable but the mass mediated mentality would like them to believe they are literally and inherently unemployable so that they underestimate and under-sell themselves.

This is as much to the benefit of those who would like to pick up "damaged goods" on the cheap as those who promote the unemployment problem as one that inheres in prospective employees rather than one that is a byproduct of a bad job market lest someone be tempted to think we should address it politically.

That's where I see this blame the unemployed finger pointing really getting traction these days.

attempter:

I apologize for the fact that I only read the first few paragraphs of this before quitting in disgust.

I just can no longer abide the notion that "labor" can ever be seen by human beings as a "cost" at all. We really need to refuse to even tolerate that way of phrasing things. Workers create all wealth. Parasites have no right to exist. These are facts, and we should refuse to let argument range beyond them.

The only purpose of civilization is to provide a better way of living and for all people. This includes the right and full opportunity to work and manage for oneself and/or as a cooperative group. If civilization doesn't do that, we're better off without it.

psychohistorian:

I am one of those long term unemployed.

I suppose my biggest employment claim would be as some sort of IT techie, with numerous supply chain systems and component design, development, implementation, interfaces with other systems and ongoing support. CCNP certification and a history of techiedom going back to WEYCOS.

I have a patent (6,209,954) in my name and 12+ years of beating my head against the wall in an industry that buys compliance with the "there is no problem here, move on now" approach.

Hell, I was a junior woodchuck program administrator back in the early 70's working for the Office of the Governor of the state of Washington on CETA PSE or Public Service Employment. The office of the Governor ran the PSE program for 32 of the 39 counties in the state that were not big enough to run their own. I helped organize the project approval process in all those counties to hire folk at ( if memory serves me max of $833/mo.) to fix and expand parks and provide social and other government services as defined projects with end dates. If we didn't have the anti-public congress and other government leadership we have this could be a current component in a rational labor policy but I digress.

I have experience in the construction trades mostly as carpenter but some electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc. also.

So, of course there is some sort of character flaw that is keeping me and all those others from employment ..right. I may have more of an excuse than others, have paid into SS for 45 years but still would work if it was available ..taking work away from other who may need it more .why set up a society where we have to compete as such for mere existence???????

One more face to this rant. We need government by the people and for the people which we do not have now. Good, public focused, not corporate focused government is bigger than any entities that exist under its jurisdiction and is kept updated by required public participation in elections and potentially other things like military, peace corps, etc. in exchange for advanced education. I say this as someone who has worked at various levels in both the public and private sectors there are ignorant and misguided folks everywhere. At least with ongoing active participation there is a chance that government would, once constructed, be able to evolve as needed within public focus .IMO.

Ishmael:

Some people would say I have been unemployed for 10 years. In 2000 after losing the last of my four CFO gigs for public companies I found it necessary to start consulting. This has lead to two of my three biggest winning years. I am usually consulting on cutting edge area of my profession and many times have large staffs reporting to me that I bring on board to get jobs done. For several years I subcontacted to a large international consulting firm to clean up projects which went wrong. Let me give some insight here.

  1. First, most good positions have gate keepers who are professional recruiters. It is near impossible to get by them and if you are unemployed they will hardly talk to you. One time talking to a recruiter at Korn Fery I was interviewing for a job I have done several times in an industry I have worked in several times. She made a statement that I had never worked at a well known company. I just about fell out of my chair laughing. At one time I was a senior level executive for the largest consulting firm in the world and lived on three continents and worked with companies on six. In addition, I had held senior positions for 2 fortune 500 firms and was the CFO for a company with $4.5 billion in revenue. I am well known at several PE firms and the founder of one of the largest mentioned in a meeting that one of his great mistakes was not investing in a very successful LBO (return of in excess of 20 multiple to investors in 18 months) I was the CFO for. In a word most recruiters are incompetent.
  2. Second, most CEO's any more are just insecure politicians. One time during an interview I had a CEO asked me to talk about some accomplishments. I was not paying to much attention as I rattled off accomplishments and the CEO went nuclear and started yelling at me that he did not know where I thought I was going with this job but the only position above the CFO job was his and he was not going anywhere. I assured him I was only interested in the CFO position and not his, but I knew the job was over. Twice feed back that I got from recruiters which they took at criticism was the "client said I seemed very assured of myself."
  3. Third, government, banking, business and the top MBA schools are based upon lying to move forward. I remember a top human resource executive telling me right before Enron, MCI and Sarbanes Oxley that I needed to learn to be more flexible. My response was that flexibility would get me an orange jump suit. Don't get me wrong, I have a wide grey zone, but it use to be in business the looked for people who could identify problems early and resolve them. Now days I see far more of a demand for people who can come up with PR spins to hide them. An attorney/treasurer consultant who partnered with me on a number of consulting jobs told me some one called me "not very charming." He said he asked what that meant, and the person who said that said, "Ish walks into a meeting and within 10 minutes he is asking about the 10,000 pound guerilla sitting in the room that no one wants to talk about." CEO do not want any challenges in their organization.
  4. Fourth, three above has lead to the hiring of very young and inexperienced people at senior levels. These people are insecure and do not want more senior and experienced people above them and than has resulted in people older than 45 not finding positions.
  5. Fifth, people are considered expendable and are fired for the lamest reasons anymore. A partner at one of the larger and more prestigious recruiting firms one time told me, "If you have a good consulting business, just stick with it. Our average placement does not last 18 months any more." Another well known recruiter in S. Cal. one time commented to me, "Your average consulting gig runs longer than our average placement."

With all of that said, I have a hard time understanding such statements as "@attempter "Workers create all wealth. Parasites have no right to exist." What does that mean? Every worker creates wealth. There is no difference in people. Sounds like communism to me. I make a good living and my net worth has grown working for myself. I have never had a consulting gig terminated by the client but I have terminated several. Usually, I am brought in to fix what several other people have failed at. I deliver basically intellectual properties to companies. Does that mean I am not a worker. I do not usually lift anything heavy or move equipment but I tell people what and where to do it so does that make me a parasite.

Those people who think everyone is equal and everyone deserves equal pay are fools or lazy. My rate is high, but what usually starts as short term projects usually run 6 months or more because companies find I can do so much more than what most of their staff can do and I am not a threat.

I would again like to have a senior challenging role at a decent size company but due to the reasons above will probably never get one. However, you can never tell. I am currently consulting for a midsize very profitable company (grew 400% last year) where I am twice the age of most people there, but everyone speaks to me with respect so you can never tell.

Lidia:

Ishmael, you're quite right. When I showed my Italian husband's resume to try and "network" in the US, my IT friends assumed he was lying about his skills and work history.

Contemporaneously, in Italy it is impossible to get a job because of incentives to hire "youth". Age discrimination is not illegal, so it's quite common to see ads that ask for a programmer under 30 with 5 years of experience in COBOL (the purple squirrel).

Hosswire

Some good points about the foolishness of recruiters, but a great deal of that foolishness is forced by the clients themselves. I used to be a recruiter myself, including at Korn Ferry in Southern California. I described the recruiting industry as "yet more proof that God hates poor people" because my job was to ignore resumes from people seeking jobs and instead "source" aka "poach" people who already had good jobs by dangling a higher salary in front of them. I didn't do it because I disparaged the unemployed, or because I could not do the basic analysis to show that a candidate had analogous or transferrable skills to the opening.

I did it because the client, as Yves said, wanted people who were literally in the same job description already. My theory is that the client wanted to have their ass covered in case the hire didn't work out, by being able to say that they looked perfect "on paper." The lesson I learned for myself and my friends looking for jobs was simple, if morally dubious. Basically, that if prospective employers are going to judge you based on a single piece of paper take full advantage of the fact that you get to write that piece of paper yourself.

Ishmael:

Hosswire - I agree with your comment. There are poor recruiters like the one I sited but in general it is the clients fault. Fear of failure. All hires have at least a 50% chance of going sideways on you. Most companies do not even have the ability to look at a resume nor to interview. I did not mean to same nasty things about recruiters, and I even do it sometimes but mine.

I look at failure in a different light than most companies. You need to be continually experimenting and changing to survive as a company and there will be some failures. The goal is to control the cost of failures while looking for the big pay off on a winner.

Mannwich:

As a former recruiter and HR "professional" (I use that term very loosely for obvious reasons), I can honestly say that you nailed it. Most big companies looking for mid to high level white collar "talent" will almost always take the perceived safest route by hiring those who look the best ON PAPER and in a suit and lack any real interviewing skills to find the real stars. What's almost comical is that companies almost always want to see the most linear resume possible because they want to see "job stability" (e.g. a CYA document in case the person fails in that job) when in many cases nobody cares about the long range view of the company anyway. My question was why should the candidate or employee care about the long range view if the employer clearly doesn't?

Ishmael:

Manwhich another on point comment. Sometimes either interviewing for a job or consulting with a CEO it starts getting to the absurd. I see all the time the requirement for stability in a persons background. Hello, where have they been the last 15 years. In addition, the higher up you go the more likely you will be terminated sometime and that is especially true if you are hired from outside the orgnanization. Companies want loyalty from an employee but offer none in return.

The average tenure for a CFO anymore is something around 18 months. I have been a first party participant (more than once) where I went through an endless recruiting process for a company (lasting more than 6 months) they final hire some one and that person is with the company for 3 months and then resigns (of course we all know it is through mutual agreement).

Ishmael:

Birch:

The real problem has become and maybe this is what you are referring to is the "Crony Capitalism." We have lost control of our financial situation. Basically, PE is not the gods of the universe that everyone thinks they are. However, every bankers secret wet dream is to become a private equity guy. Accordingly, bankers make ridiculous loans to PE because if you say no to them then you can not play in their sand box any more. Since the govt will not let the banks go bankrupt like they should then this charade continues inslaving everyone.

This country as well as many others has a large percentage of its assets tied up in over priced deals that the bankers/governments will not let collapse while the blood sucking vampires suck the life out of the assets.

On the other hand, govt is not the answer. Govt is too large and accomplishes too little.

kevin de bruxelles:

The harsh reality is that, at least in the first few rounds, companies kick to the curb their weakest links and perceived slackers. Therefore when it comes time to hire again, they are loath to go sloppy seconds on what they perceive to be some other company's rejects. They would much rather hire someone who survived the layoffs working in a similar position in a similar company. Of course the hiring company is going to have to pay for this privilege. Although not totally reliable, the fact that someone survived the layoffs provides a form social proof for their workplace abilities.

On the macro level, labor has been under attack for thirty years by off shoring and third world immigration. It is no surprise that since the working classes have been severely undermined that the middle classes would start to feel some pressure. By mass immigration and off-shoring are strongly supported by both parties. Only when the pain gets strong enough will enough people rebel and these two policies will be overturned. We still have a few years to go before this happens.

davver:

Let's say I run a factory. I produce cars and it requires very skilled work. Skilled welding, skilled machinists. Now I introduce some robotic welders and an assembly line system. The plants productivity improves and the jobs actually get easier. They require less skill, in fact I've simplified each task to something any idiot can do. Would wages go up or down? Are the workers really contributing to that increase in productivity or is it the machines and methods I created?

Lets say you think laying off or cutting the wages of my existing workers is wrong. What happens when a new entrant into the business employs a smaller workforce and lower wages, which they can do using the same technology? The new workers don't feel like they were cut down in any way, they are just happy to have a job. Before they couldn't get a job at the old plant because they lacked the skill, but now they can work in the new plant because the work is genuinely easier. Won't I go out of business?

Escariot:

I am 54 and have a ton of peers who are former white collar workers and professionals (project managers, architects, lighting designers, wholesalers and sales reps for industrial and construction materials and equipment) now out of work going on three years. Now I say out of work, I mean out of our trained and experienced fields.

We now work two or three gigs (waiting tables, mowing lawns, doing free lance, working in tourism, truck driving, moving company and fedex ups workers) and work HARD, for much much less than we did, and we are seeing the few jobs that are coming back on line going to younger workers. It is just the reality. And for most of us the descent has not been graceful, so our credit is a wreck, which also breeds a whole other level of issues as now it is common for the credit record to be a deal breaker for employment, housing, etc.

Strangely I don't sense a lot of anger or bitterness as much as humility. And gratitude for ANY work that comes our way. Health insurance? Retirement accounts? not so much.

Mickey Marzick:

Yves and I have disagreed on how extensive the postwar "pact" between management and labor was in this country. But if you drew a line from say, Trenton-Patterson, NJ to Cincinatti, OH to Minneapolis, MN, north and east of it where blue collar manufacturing in steel, rubber, auto, machinery, etc., predominated, this "pact" may have existed but ONLY because physical plant and production were concentrated there and workers could STOP production.

Outside of these heavy industrial pockets, unions were not always viewed favorably. As one moved into the rural hinterlands surrounding them there was jealously and/or outright hostility. Elsewhere, especially in the South "unions" were the exception not the rule. The differences between NE Ohio before 1975 – line from Youngstown to Toledo – and the rest of the state exemplified this pattern. Even today, the NE counties of Ohio are traditional Democratic strongholds with the rest of the state largely Republican. And I suspect this pattern existed elsewhere. But it is changing too

In any case, the demonization of the unemployed is just one notch above the vicious demonization of the poor that has always existed in this country. It's a constant reminder for those still working that you could be next – cast out into the darkness – because you "failed" or worse yet, SINNED. This internalization of the "inner cop" reinforces the dominant ideology in two ways. First, it makes any resistance by individuals still employed less likely. Second, it pits those still working against those who aren't, both of which work against the formation of any significant class consciousness amongst working people. The "oppressed" very often internalize the value system of the oppressor.

As a nation of immigrants ETHNICITY may have more explanatory power than CLASS. For increasingly, it would appear that the dominant ethnic group – suburban, white, European Americans – have thrown their lot in with corporate America. Scared of the prospect of downward social mobility and constantly reminded of URBAN America – the other America – this group is trapped with nowhere to else to go.

It's the divide and conquer strategy employed by ruling elites in this country since its founding [Federalist #10] with the Know Nothings, blaming the Irish [NINA - no Irish need apply] and playing off each successive wave of immigrants against the next. Only when the forces of production became concentrated in the urban industrial enclaves of the North was this strategy less effective. And even then internal immigration by Blacks to the North in search of employment blunted the formation of class consciousness among white ethnic industrial workers.

Wherever the postwar "pact of domination" between unions and management held sway, once physical plant was relocated elsewhere [SOUTH] and eventually offshored, unemployment began to trend upwards. First it was the "rustbelt" now it's a nationwide phenomenon. Needless to say, the "pact" between labor and management has been consigned to the dustbin of history.

White, suburban America has hitched its wagon to that of the corporate horse. Demonization of the unemployed coupled with demonization of the poor only serve to terrorize this ethnic group into acquiescence. And as the workplace becomes a multicultural matrix this ethnic group is constantly reminded of its perilous state. Until this increasingly atomized ethnic group breaks with corporate America once and for all, it's unlikely that the most debilitating scourge of all working people – UNEMPLOYMENT – will be addressed.

Make no mistake about it, involuntary UNEMPLOYMENT/UNDEREMPLYEMT is a form of terrorism and its demonization is terrorism in action. This "quiet violence" is psychological and the intimidation wrought by unemployment and/or the threat of it is intended to dehumanize individuals subjected to it. Much like spousal abuse, the emotional and psychological effects are experienced way before any physical violence. It's the inner cop that makes overt repression unnecessary. We terrorize ourselves into submission without even knowing it because we accept it or come to tolerate it. So long as we accept "unemployment" as an inevitable consequence of progress, as something unfortunate but inevitable, we will continue to travel down the road to serfdom where ARBEIT MACHT FREI!

FULL and GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT are the ultimate labor power.

Eric:

It's delicate since direct age discrimination is illegal, but when circumstances permit separating older workers they have a very tough time getting back into the workforce in an era of high health care inflation. Older folks consume more health care and if you are hiring from a huge surplus of available workers it isn't hard to steer around the more experienced. And nobody gets younger, so when you don't get job A and go for job B 2 weeks later you, you're older still!

James:

Yves said- "This overly narrow hiring spec then leads to absurd, widespread complaint that companies can't find people with the right skills"

In the IT job markets such postings are often called purple squirrels. The HR departments require the applicant to be expert in a dozen programming languages. This is an excuse to hire a foreigner on a temp h1-b or other visa.

Most people aren't aware that this model dominates the sciences. Politicians scream we have a shortage of scientists, yet it seems we only have a shortage of cheap easily exploitable labor. The economist recently pointed out the glut of scientists that currently exists in the USA.

http://www.economist.com/node/17723223

This understates the problem. The majority of PhD recipients wander through years of postdocs only to end up eventually changing fields. My observation is that the top ten schools in biochem/chemistry/physics/ biology produce enough scientists to satisfy the national demand.

The exemption from h1-b visa caps for academic institutions exacerbates the problem, providing academics with almost unlimited access to labor.

The pharmaceutical sector has been decimated over the last ten years with tens of thousands of scientists/ factory workers looking for re-training in a dwindling pool of jobs (most of which will deem you overqualified.)

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2011/03/03/a_postdocs_lament.php

Abe, NYC:

I wonder how the demonization of the unemployed can be so strong even in the face of close to 10% unemployment/20% underemployment. It's easy and tempting to demonize an abstract young buck or Cadillac-driving welfare queen, but when a family member or a close friend loses a job, or your kids are stuck at your place because they can't find one, shouldn't that alter your perceptions? Of course the tendency will be to blame it all on the government, but there has to be a limit to that in hard-hit places like Ohio, Colorado, or Arizona. And yet, the dynamics aren't changing or even getting worse. Maybe Wisconsin marks a turning point, I certainly hope it does

damien:

It's more than just stupid recruiting, this stigma. Having got out when the getting was good, years ago, I know that any corporate functionary would be insane to hire me now. Socialization wears off, the deformation process reverses, and the ritual and shibboleths become a joke. Even before I bailed I became a huge pain in the ass as economic exigency receded, every bosses nightmare. I suffered fools less gladly and did the right thing out of sheer anarchic malice.

You really can't maintain corporate culture without existential fear – not just, "Uh oh, I'm gonna get fired," fear, but a visceral feeling that you do not exist without a job. In properly indoctrinated workers that feeling is divorced from economic necessity. So anyone who's survived outside a while is bound to be suspect. That's a sign of economic security, and security of any sort undermines social control.

youniquelikeme:

You hit the proverbial nail with that reply. (Although, sorry, doing the right thing should not be done out of malice) The real fit has to be in the corporate yes-man culture (malleable ass kisser) to be suited for any executive position and beyond that it is the willingness to be manipulated and drained to be able to keep a job in lower echelon.

This is the new age of evolution in the work place. The class wars will make it more of an eventual revolution, but it is coming. The unemployment rate (the actual one, not the Government one) globalization and off shore hiring are not sustainable for much longer.

Something has to give, but it is more likely to snap then to come easily. People who are made to be repressed and down and out eventually find the courage to fight back and by then, it is usually not with words.

down and out in Slicon Valley:

This is the response I got from a recruiter:

"I'm going to be overly honest with you. My firm doesn't allow me to submit any candidate who hasn't worked in 6-12 months or more. Recruiting brokers are probably all similar in that way . You are going to have to go through a connection/relationship you have with a colleague, co-worker, past manager or friend to get your next job .that's my advice for you. Best of luck "

I'm 56 years old with MSEE. Gained 20+ years of experience at the best of the best (TRW, Nortel, Microsoft), have been issued a patent. Where do I sign up to gain skills required to find a job now?

Litton Graft :

"Best of the Best?" I know you're down now, but looking back at these Gov'mint contractors you've enjoyed the best socialism money can by.

Nortel/TRW bills/(ed) the Guvmint at 2x, 3x your salary, you can ride this for decades. At the same time the Inc is attached to the Guvmint ATM localities/counties are giving them a red carpet of total freedom from taxation. Double subsidies.

I've worked many years at the big boy bandits, and there is no delusion in my mind that almost anyone, can do what I do and get paid 100K+. I've never understood the mindset of some folks who work in the Wermacht Inc: "Well, someone has to do this work" or worse "What we do, no one else can do" The reason no one else "can do it" is that they are not allowed to. So, we steal from the poor to build fighter jets, write code or network an agency.

Hosswire:

I used to work as a recruiter and can tell you that I only parroted the things my clients told me. I wanted to get you hired, because I was lazy and didn't want to have to talk to someone else next.

So what do you do? To place you that recruiter needs to see on a piece of paper that you are currently working? Maybe get an email or phone call from someone who will vouch for your employment history. That should not be that hard to make happen.

Francois T :

The "bizarre way that companies now spec jobs" is essentially a coded way for mediocre managers to say without saying so explicitly that "we can afford to be extremely picky, and by God, we shall do so no matter what, because we can!"

Of course, when comes the time to hire back because, oh disaster! business is picking up again, (I'm barely caricaturing here; some managers become despondent when they realize that workers regain a bit of the higher ground; loss of power does that to lesser beings) the same idiots who designed those "overly narrow hiring spec then leads to absurd, widespread complaint that companies can't find people with the right skills" are thrown into a tailspin of despair and misery. Instead of figuring out something as simple as "if demand is better, so will our business", they can't see anything else than the (eeeek!) cost of hiring workers. Unable to break their mental corset of penny-pincher, they fail to realize that lack of qualified workers will prevent them to execute well to begin with.

And guess what: qualified workers cost money, qualified workers urgently needed cost much more.

This managerial attitude must be another factor that explain why entrepreneurship and the formation of small businesses is on the decline in the US (contrary to the confabulations of the US officialdumb and the chattering class) while rising in Europe and India/China.

Kit:

If you are 55-60, worked as a professional (i.e., engineering say) and are now unemployed you are dead meat. Sorry to be blunt but thats the way it is in the US today. Let me repeat that : Dead Meat.

I was terminated at age 59, found absolutely NOTHING even though my qualifications were outstanding. Fortunately, my company had an old style pension plan which I was able to qualify for (at age 62 without reduced benefits). So for the next 2+ years my wife and I survived on unemployment insurance, severance, accumulated vacation pay and odd jobs. Not nice – actually, a living hell.

At age 62, I applied for my pension, early social security, sold our old house (at a good profit) just before the RE crash, moved back to our home state. Then my wife qualified for social security also. Our total income is now well above the US median.

Today, someone looking at us would think we were the typical corporate retiree. We surely don't let on any differently but the experience (to get to this point) almost killed us.

I sympathize very strongly with the millions caught in this unemployment death spiral. I wish I had an answer but I just don't. We were very lucky to survive intact.

Ming:

Thank you Yves for your excellent post, and for bringing to light this crucial issue.

Thank you to all the bloggers, who add to the richness of the this discussion.

I wonder if you could comment on this Yves, and correct me if I am wrong I believe that the power of labor was sapped by the massive available supply of global labor. The favorable economic policies enacted by China (both official and unofficial), and trade negotiations between the US government and the Chinese government were critical to creating the massive supply of labor.

Thank you. No rush of course.

Nexus:

There are some odd comments and notions here that are used to support dogma and positions of prejudice. The world can be viewed in a number of ways. Firstly from a highly individualised and personal perspective – that is what has happened to me and here are my experiences. Or alternatively the world can be viewed from a broader societal perspective.

In the context of labour there has always been an unequal confrontation between those that control capital and those that offer their labour, contrary to some of the views exposed here – Marx was a first and foremost a political economist. The political economist seeks to understand the interplay of production, supply, the state and institutions like the media. Modern day economics branched off from political economy and has little value in explaining the real world as the complexity of the world has been reduced to a simplistic rationalistic model of human behaviour underpinned by other equally simplistic notions of 'supply and demand', which are in turn represented by mathematical models, which in themselves are complex but merely represent what is a simplistic view of the way the world operates. This dogmatic thinking has avoided the need to create an underpinning epistemology. This in turn underpins the notion of free choice and individualism which in itself is an illusion as it ignores the operation of the modern state and the exercise of power and influence within society.

It was stated in one of the comments that the use of capital (machines, robotics, CAD design, etc.) de-skills. This is hardly the case as skills rise for those that remain and support highly automated/continuous production factories. This is symptomatic of the owners of capital wanting to extract the maximum value for labour and this is done via the substitution of labour for capital making the labour that remains to run factories highly productive thus eliminating low skill jobs that have been picked up via services (people move into non productive low skilled occupations warehousing and retail distribution, fast food outlets, etc). Of course the worker does not realise the additional value of his or her labour as this is expropriated for the shareholders (including management as shareholders).

The issue of the US is that since the end of WW2 it is not the industrialists that have called the shots and made investments it is the financial calculus of the investment banker (Finance Capital). Other comments have tried to ignore the existence of the elites in society – I would suggest that you read C.W.Mills – The Power Elites as an analysis of how power is exercised in the US – it is not through the will of the people.

For Finance capital investments are not made on the basis of value add, or contribution through product innovation and the exchange of goods but on basis of the lowest cost inputs. Consequently, the 'elites' that make investment decisions, as they control all forms of capital seek to gain access to the cheapest cost inputs. The reality is that the US worker (a pool of 150m) is now part of a global labour pool of a couple of billion that now includes India and China. This means that the elites, US transnational corporations for instance, can access both cheaper labour pools, relocate capital and avoid worker protection (health and safety is not a concern). The strategies of moving factories via off-shoring (over 40,000 US factories closed or relocated) and out-sourcing/in-sourcing labour is also a representations of this.

The consequence for the US is that the need for domestic labour has diminished and been substituted by cheap labour to extract the arbitrage between US labour rates and those of Chinese and Indians. Ironically, in this context capital has become too successful as the mode of consumption in the US shifted from workers that were notionally the people that created the goods, earned wages and then purchased the goods they created to a new model where the worker was substituted by the consumer underpinned by cheap debt and low cost imports – it is illustrative to note that real wages have not increased in the US since the early 1970's while at the same time debt has steadily increased to underpin the illusion of wealth – the 'borrow today and pay tomorrow' mode of capitalist operation. This model of operation is now broken. The labour force is now being demonized as there is a now surplus of labour and a need to drive down labour rates through changes in legislation and austerity programs to meet those of the emerging Chinese and Indian middle class so workers rights need to be broken. Once this is done a process of in-source may take place as US labour costs will be on par with overseas labour pools.

It is ironic that during the Regan administration a number of strategic thinkers saw the threat from emerging economies and the danger of Finance Capital and created 'Project Socrates' that would have sought to re-orientate the US economy from one that was based on the rationale of Finance Capital to one that focused in productive innovation which entailed an alignment of capital investment, research and training to product innovative goods. Of course this was ignored and the rest is history. The race to the lowest input cost is ultimately self defeating as it is clear that the economy de-industrialises through labour and capital changes and living standards collapse. The elites – bankers, US transnational corporations, media, industrial military complex and the politicians don't care as they make money either way and this way you get other people overseas to work cheap for you.

S P:

Neoliberal orthodoxy treats unemployment as well as wage supression as a necessary means to fight "inflation." If there was too much power in the hands of organized labor, inflationary pressures would spiral out of control as supply of goods cannot keep up with demand.

It also treats the printing press as a necessary means to fight "deflation."

So our present scenario: widespread unemployment along with QE to infinity, food stamps for all, is exactly what you'd expect.

The problem with this orthodoxy is that it assumes unlimited growth on a planet with finite resources, particularly oil and energy. Growth is not going to solve unemployment or wages, because we are bumping up against limits to growth.

There are only two solutions. One is tax the rich and capital gains, slow growth, and reinvest the surplus into jobs/skills programs, mostly to maintain existing infrastructure or build new energy infrastructure. Even liberals like Krugman skirt around this, because they aren't willing to accept that we have the reached the end of growth and we need radical redistribution measures.

The other solution is genuine classical liberalism / libertarianism, along the lines of Austrian thought. Return to sound money, and let the deflation naturally take care of the imbalances. Yes, it would be wrenching, but it would likely be wrenching for everybody, making it fair in a universal sense.

Neither of these options is palatable to the elite classes, the financiers of Wall Street, or the leeches and bureaucrats of D.C.

So this whole experiment called America will fail.

[Oct 16, 2017] The Limits of Neoliberalism Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition by William Davies

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Faced with this mess, the obituarists for neoliberalism are out again. Some I recognise from 2008 - the definition of a left-wing economist being one who has spotted ten out of the last two crises of capitalism. Others have joined them, perhaps spurred on by the Brexit vote, or the rise of Donald Trump or the nice-sounding promises made by Theresa May. ..."
"... This is where, I think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which I focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy'. ..."
"... Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck ..."
"... Hardship itself doesn't necessarily lead to the hopelessness and fury of which Donald Trump seemingly speaks. But when hardship feels both permanent and undeserved, the psychological appeal of demagogues promising to divert blame elsewhere, be it towards Muslims, 'experts', immigrants, the Chinese, Brussels or wherever, becomes irresistible. Seemingly irrational or even nihilistic popular upheavals make some sense, if understood in terms of the relief they offer for those who have felt trapped by their own impotence for too long, with nobody available to blame but themselves. ..."
"... Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long. ..."
"... The re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow r of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly. ..."
"... Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'. ..."
"... The Limits of Neolibcralism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone. ..."
"... The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Foreword

... ... ...

The crash has sharpened the central contradiction in neoliberal economics: it has become purely a system that rewards dead money even while it fails to create new money. No ideology can survive unless it has something to offer the young and the almost young. You cant keep winning elections if you cant promise reasonable jobs, wage rises, affordable groceries and housing. Put another way, you can have neoliberalism but you cant have democratic validity.

This is the contradiction over which mainstream politicians wedded to neoliberalism - both left and Right - keep stumbling. Where they can, they rely on the old tricks to get by: operating party machinery, access to big money funders, consulting the manual of TV presentability. But the formula isn't reliable, as the New Labour generation can tell you. And where it can deliver majorities it doesn't confer legitimacy, as David Cameron and Hilary Clinton now know.

Faced with this mess, the obituarists for neoliberalism are out again. Some I recognise from 2008 - the definition of a left-wing economist being one who has spotted ten out of the last two crises of capitalism. Others have joined them, perhaps spurred on by the Brexit vote, or the rise of Donald Trump or the nice-sounding promises made by Theresa May.

I understand the thinking and I certainly get the thinking. But to imagine that an ideology that has ruled Britain for longer than Yugoslavia was communist will now just fall apart is sheer fantasy. It is to mistake word for deed, symbolism for policy. In Brexit Britain, not much has changed yet except for rhetoric. The Treasury continues with its austerity programme; the government presses on with its privatisations of whatever is left in public hands, from social housing to the Green Investment Bank; the establishment still hankers after those grand free-trade deals such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). True, there is more talk now about those 'left behind' by globalization, but the very phrasing gives away how shallow the concern is - this is your fault for not keeping up.

Besides, politics is never a simple test of logic. Winning or exercising power is not a chess game. As Will Davies points out in this book, neoliberalism began as, and largely remains, an elite project. What four decades of neoliberalism in practice have achieved is the bulldozing of many sites of dissent. To see what I mean, visit any of the places in Britain that have done worst out of it - from the North East to South Wales. The regional business elites have nearly all died or fled to London. The trade unions are a shadow of their former selves, as are the fierce tenants' associations. The universities are now largely anodyne. The local newspapers are typically mere repositories of agency copy and local advertisements, while the regional BBC studios have either shrunk or consolidated elsewhere. Without such civic institutions there is no hope of building an alternative.

The answer to neoliberalism isn't another ideology. It certainly isn't a Mont Pelerin Society of the Left, which would surely be as ghastly as it sounds. No, the answer is democracy. Without that, we will continue with the same bankrupt ideology -- expecting failure, and not being surprised or even angry' any more when it comes.

Adilya Chakrabortty

Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian

Introduction

When exploring paradigm shifts in political economy, maybe it makes more sense to identify how protracted crises were book-ended historically than to seek specific turning points. Consider the crisis of Keynesianism, which provided the opening for the neoliberal take-over and overhaul of economic policy, including those Thatcher and Reagan victories. 1968 was a critical year, not only for the civic unrest that swept the world, but also for the early signs that the US economy would be unable to sustain its role in the global financial system on which Keynesian domestic policies depended. A slow-down in US productivity growth that year, combined with the fiscal costs of an escalation of the Vietnam war, meant that the dollar started to come under increased strain. The 'Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, with the dollar (convertible to gold) at its centre, struggled on for another five years, before being abandoned under Richard Nixon.

It was a further three years before the final death-knell of Keynesianism was sounded, most loudly in Britain. In 1976, Britain's Labour government had to turn to the IMF for a loan, and agreed to adopt a new monetarist, neoliberal strategy for restoring the public finances. That September, Jim Callaghan, the leader of the Labour Party, famously addressed his party conference with the words:

... ... ...

In one sense, the 'book-ends' of this recent crisis are the inverse of the ones that killed Keynesianism. 1968 was a year of political and civic uprisings, under circumstances of rising prosperity and a still relatively coherent paradigm for economic policy making, albeit one that was showing early signs of deterioration. It was a public and political crisis, which posed a threat to a society of rising prosperity and falling inequality. The technical failings of Keynesianism only really emerged subsequently, before snowballing to the point where the macroeconomic paradigm could simply not be sustained any longer.

The crisis of neoliberalism has reversed this ordering. 2008 was an implosion of technical capabilities on the part of banks and financial regulators, which was largely unaccompanied by any major political or civic eruption, at least until the consequences were felt in terms of public sector cuts that accelerated after 2010, especially in Southern Europe. The economic crisis was spookily isolated from any accompanying political crisis, at least in the beginning. The eruptions of 2016 therefore represented the long-awaited politicisation and publicisation of a crisis that, until then, had been largely dealt with by the same cadre of experts whose errors had caused it in the first place.

Faced with these largely unexpected events and the threat of more, politicians and media pundits have declared that we now need to listen to those people 'left behind by globalisation. Following the Brexit referendum, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May made a vow to the less prosperous members of society, 'we will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you.' This awakening to the demands and voices of marginalised demographics may represent a new recognition that economic policy cannot be wholly geared around the pursuit of 'national competitiveness' in the global race', a pursuit that in practice meant seeking to prioritise the interests of financial services and mobile capital. It signals mainstream political acceptance that inequality cannot keep rising forever. But it is still rooted in a somewhat economistic vision of politics, as if those people 'left behind by globalisation' simply want more material wealth and 'opportunity', plus fewer immigrants competing for jobs. What this doesn't do is engage with the distinctive political and cultural sociology of events such as Brexit and Trump, which are fuelled by a spirit of rage, punishment and self-punishment, and not simply by a desire to get a slightly larger slice of the pie.

This is where, I think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which I focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy'.

The appeal of this as a political template for society is that, according to its advocates, it involves the discovery of brilliant ideas, more efficient business models, naturally talented individuals, new urban visions, successful national strategies, potent entrepreneurs and so on. Even if this is correct (and the work of Thomas Piketty on how wealth begets wealth is enough to cast considerable doubt on it) there is a major defect: it consigns the majority of people, places, businesses and institutions to the status of'losers'. The normative and existential conventions of a neoliberal society stipulate that success and prowess are things that are earned through desire, effort and innate ability, so long as social and economic institutions are designed in such a way as to facilitate this. But the corollary of this is that failure and weakness are also earned: when individuals and communities fail to succeed, this is a reflection of inadequate talent or energy on their part.

This has been critically noted in how 'dependency' and 'welfare' have become matters of shame since the conservative political ascendency of the 1980s. But this is just one example of how a culture of obligatory competitiveness exerts a damaging moral psychology, not only in how people look down on others, but in how they look down on themselves. A culture which valorises 'winning' and 'competitiveness' above all else provides few sources of security or comfort, even to those doing reasonably well. Everyone could be doing better, and if they're not, they have themselves to blame. The vision of society as a competitive game also suggests that anyone could very quickly be doing worse.

Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck (Davies, Montgomerie 8t Wallin, 2015).

In order to understand political upheavals such as Brexit, we need to perform some sociological interpretation. We need to consider that our socio-economic pathologies do not simply consist in the fact that opportunity and wealth are hoarded by certain industries (such as finance) or locales (such as London) or individuals (such as the children of the wealthy), although all of these things are true. We need also to reflect on the cultural and psychological implications of how this hoarding has been represented and justified over the past four decades, namely that it reflects something about the underlying moral worth of different populations and individuals.

Hardship itself doesn't necessarily lead to the hopelessness and fury of which Donald Trump seemingly speaks. But when hardship feels both permanent and undeserved, the psychological appeal of demagogues promising to divert blame elsewhere, be it towards Muslims, 'experts', immigrants, the Chinese, Brussels or wherever, becomes irresistible. Seemingly irrational or even nihilistic popular upheavals make some sense, if understood in terms of the relief they offer for those who have felt trapped by their own impotence for too long, with nobody available to blame but themselves.

One psychological effect of this is authoritarian attitudes towards social deviance: Brexit and Trump supporters both have an above-average tendency to support the death penalty, combined with a belief that political authorities are too weak to enforce justice (Kaufman, 2016). However, it is also clear that psychological and physical pain have become far more widespread in neoliberal societies than has been noticed by most people. Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long.

NEOLIBERALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE?

The question inevitably arises, is this thing called 'neoliberalism' now over? And if not, when might it be and how would w r e know? In the UK, the prospect of Brexit combined with the political priority of reducing immigration means that the efficient movement of capital (together with that of labour) is being consciously impeded in a w r ay that would have been unthinkable during the 1990s and early 2000s. The re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow r of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly.

Before we reach that point, it is already possible to identify a reorientation of national economic policy making away from some core tenets of neoliberal doctrine. One of the main case studies of this book is antitrust law and policy, which has been a preoccupation for neoliberal intellectuals, reformers and lawyers ever since the 1930s. The rise of the Chicago School view of competition (which effectively granted far greater legal rights to monopolists, while also being tougher on cartels) in the American legal establishment from the 1970s onwards, later repeated in the European Commission, meant that market regulation became a more expert, esoteric and ostensibly non-political means of power. One of the ideals of neoliberal scholars, both in the Austrian tradition of Friedrich Hayek and the Chicago School of Milton Friedman, was that the economic 'rules of the game' be established beyond the reach of democratic politics, where they might be manipulated to suit particular short-sighted intellectual, social or political agendas. Independent central banks are one of the more prominent examples of this, but the establishment of rational, apolitical and European-wide antitrust and state aid rules would be another.

As I explore in Chapter 5, the banking crisis caused some immediate damage to this vision of apolitical, permanent rules of competitive economic activity. The need to rescue the financial system at all costs saw EU state aid rules being overlooked, at least for a few months, suggesting that neoliberalism entered a state of'exception where the state took rapid executive decisions, wherever they were deemed necessary. Takeover rules were suspended to allow banks to buy failing competitors, again on the basis that this was necessary to secure the existential viability of the economy as such. But as is common in the state of 'exception, this was all done to preserve the status quo on the basis that an emergency had struck. It wasn't done with the aim of transforming the economic paradigm.

While anti-trust and state aid are only one small area of European Commission powers, they are symbolically very important. Competition regulations represent the normative ideal of the marketplace, which - in the case of post-war Europe - is imagined as an international, even post-national space of freedom, transcending cultural, linguistic and political differences. The liberal vision of cosmopolitan Europe becomes realised in economic institutions such as the single currency, but also the rules that govern market competitors. For these reasons, Britain's post-Brexit opportunity to withdraw from European anti-trust and state-aid regulations is symbolic of the new post-liberal or post-neoliberal era that is emerging. Already, Theresa May has used her first few speeches as UK Prime Minister to push for a more interventionist state, that seeks to shape economic outcomes around national, political and social priorities (a reduction of immigration above all else) no doubt mindful of the fact that the British state will soon have far more discretion to do this, once it is no longer bound by state aid rules.

At the time of writing, the odds are against Trump becoming President of the United States, though one lesson of 2016 is not to be too confident regarding political odds. This means that the prospect of the United States abandoning its

... ... ...

The rise of behavioural economics, for example, represents an attempt to preserve a form of market rationality in the face of crisis, by incorporating expertise provided by psychologists and neuroscientists. A form of 'neo-communitarianism' emerges, which takes seriously the role of relationships, environmental conditioning and empathy in the construction of independent, responsible subjects. This remains an economists logic, inasmuch as it prepares people to live efficient, productive, competitive lives. But by bringing culture, community and contingency within the bounds of neoliberal rationality, one might see things like behavioural economics or 'social neuroscience and so on as early symptoms of a genuinely post-liberal politics. Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'.

The Limits of Neolibcralism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone.

For similar reasons, we might soon find that we miss some of the normative and political dimensions of neoliberalism, for example the internationalism that the EU was founded to promote and the cosmopolitanism that competitive markets sometimes inculcate. There may be some elements of neoliberalism that critics and activists need to grasp, refashion and defend, rather than to simply denounce: this books Afterword offers some ideas of what this might mean. But if the book is to be read in a truly post-neoliberal world, I hope that in its interpretive aspirations, it helps to explain what was internally and normatively coherent about the political economy known as 'neoliberalism', but also why the system really had no account of its own preconditions or how to preserve them adequately.

The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'.

[Oct 09, 2017] Amazon.com Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges published this book eight years ago and the things he predicted have sadly been realized
Notable quotes:
"... his screed is a liberating tonic against the crazy-making double-speak and the lies Americans are sold by our country's elite in order to distract us from the true threat and nature of the Corporate State, from the cult of celebrity, to how our nation's Universities have been hijacked to serve the interests, not of the public, but of our corporate overlords. It explains the self-same conditions in all aspects of our society and culture that we now must face, the ever-shrinking flame of enlightenment being exchanged for the illusory shadows on a cave wall. ..."
"... He fearlessly and incisively calls us out on the obvious farce our democracy has become, how we got here, and highlights the rapidly closing window in which we have to do something to correct it. It is a revelation, and yet he merely states the obvious. The empire has no clothes. ..."
"... One of the most powerful aspects of this book was in regard to how our Universities are run these days. I may be in the minority, but I experienced a life-changing disillusionment when I gained entrance to a prestigious "elite" University. Instead of drawing the best and the brightest, or being a place where scholarship was valued, where students were taught critical thinking skills, the University I attended was nothing more than an expensive diploma mill for the children of the wealthy. In the eyes of the University, students were not minds to be empowered and developed, but walking dollar signs. ..."
"... Instead of critical thinking, students were taught to OBEY, not to question authority, and then handed a piece of paper admitting them to the ruling class that is destroying America without a moral compass. Selfishness, deceit, disregard for the common good, and a win-at-all-costs attitude were rewarded. Empathy, curiosity, dissent, and an honest, intellectually rigorous evaluation of ourselves and our world were punished. Obviously I am not the only one to whom this was cause to fear for the future of our country. ..."
"... The chapter involving the porn trade that is run by large corporations such as AT&T and GM (the car maker, for crying out loud) was an especially dark, profanity-laced depiction of the abuse and moral decay of American society . ..."
"... He is correct in his belief that the continual barrage of psuedo-events and puffery disguised as news (especially television) has conditioned most of Americans to be non-critical thinkers. ..."
"... Entertainment, consumption and the dangerous illusion that the U.S. is the best in the world at everything are childish mindsets. ..."
"... The are the puppet masters." As extreme as that is, he is more credible when he says, "Commodities and celebrity culture define what it means to belong, how we recognize our place in society, and how we conduct our lives." I say 'credible' because popular and mass culture's influence are creating a world where substance is replaced by questionable style. ..."
"... Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. ..."
"... Visibility has replaced substance and accomplishment; packaging over product, sizzle not steak. Chris Rojek calls this "the cult of distraction" where society is consumed by the vacuous and the vapid rather than striving for self-awareness, accomplishment and contribution ("Propaganda has become a substitute for ideas and ideology."). Hedges builds on Rojek's descriptor by suggesting we are living in a "culture of illusion" which impoverishes language, makes us childlike, and is basically dumbing us all down. ..."
"... Today's delusionary and corrupted officials, corporate and government, are reminiscent of the narratives penned by Charles Dickens. Alexander Hamilton referred to the masses as a "great beast" to be kept from the powers of government. ..."
"... Edmund Burke used propaganda to control "elements of society". Walter Lippmann advised that "the public must be kept in its place". Yet, many Americans just don't get it. ..."
"... Divide and conquer is the mantra--rich vs. poor; black vs. white. According to Norm Chomsky's writings, "In 1934, William Shepard argued that government should be in the hands of `aristocracy and intellectual power' while the `ignorant, and the uninformed and the antisocial element' must not be permitted to control elections...." ..."
"... The appalling statistics and opinions outlined in the book demonstrate the public ignorance of the American culture; the depth and extent of the corporatocracy and the related economic malaise; and, the impact substandard schools have on their lives. ..."
"... This idea was recently usurped by the U.S. Supreme Court where representative government is called to question, rendering "our" consent irrelevant. Every voting election is an illusion. Each election, at the local and national level, voters never seemingly "miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" to eliminate irresponsible and unresponsive officials. ..."
"... Walt Kelly's quote "We have met the enemy and he is us" prevails! ..."
"... It's also hard to follow at times as Hedges attempts to stress the connections between pop culture and social, political. and economic policy. Nor is Hedges a particularly stylish writer (a sense of humor would help). ..."
"... The stomach-turning chapter on trends in porn and their relationship to the torture of prisoners of war is a particularly sharp piece of analysis, and all of the other chapters do eventually convince (and depress). ..."
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

H. I. on May 13, 2011

This Book Explains EVERYTHING!!!!!

Hedges cogently and systematically dismantles the most pernicious cultural delusions of our era and lays bare the pitiful truths that they attempt to mask. This book is a deprogramming manual that trims away the folly and noise from our troubled society so that the reader can focus on the most pressing matters of our time.

Despite the dark reality Hedges excavates, his screed is a liberating tonic against the crazy-making double-speak and the lies Americans are sold by our country's elite in order to distract us from the true threat and nature of the Corporate State, from the cult of celebrity, to how our nation's Universities have been hijacked to serve the interests, not of the public, but of our corporate overlords. It explains the self-same conditions in all aspects of our society and culture that we now must face, the ever-shrinking flame of enlightenment being exchanged for the illusory shadows on a cave wall.

As a twenty-something caught in the death-throes of American Empire and culture, I have struggled to anticipate where our country and our world are heading, why, and what sort of life I can expect to build for myself. Hedges presents the reader with the depressing, yet undeniable truth of the forces that have coalesced to shape the world in which we now find ourselves. The light he casts is searing and relentless. He fearlessly and incisively calls us out on the obvious farce our democracy has become, how we got here, and highlights the rapidly closing window in which we have to do something to correct it. It is a revelation, and yet he merely states the obvious. The empire has no clothes.

One of the most powerful aspects of this book was in regard to how our Universities are run these days. I may be in the minority, but I experienced a life-changing disillusionment when I gained entrance to a prestigious "elite" University. Instead of drawing the best and the brightest, or being a place where scholarship was valued, where students were taught critical thinking skills, the University I attended was nothing more than an expensive diploma mill for the children of the wealthy. In the eyes of the University, students were not minds to be empowered and developed, but walking dollar signs.

Instead of critical thinking, students were taught to OBEY, not to question authority, and then handed a piece of paper admitting them to the ruling class that is destroying America without a moral compass. Selfishness, deceit, disregard for the common good, and a win-at-all-costs attitude were rewarded. Empathy, curiosity, dissent, and an honest, intellectually rigorous evaluation of ourselves and our world were punished. Obviously I am not the only one to whom this was cause to fear for the future of our country.

Five stars is not enough. Ever since I began reading Empire of Illusion, I have insisted friends and family pick up a copy, too. Everyone in America should read this incredibly important book.

The truth shall set us free.

By Franklin the Mouse on February 5, 2012

Dream Weavers

Mr. Hedges is in one heck of a foul mood. His raging against the evolving of American democracy into an oligarchy is accurate, but relentlessly depressing. The author focuses on some of our most horrid characteristics: celebrity worship; "pro" wrestling; the brutal porn industry; Jerry Springer-like shows; the military-industrial complex; the moral void of elite colleges such as Yale, Harvard, Berkeley and Princeton; optimistic-ladened pop psychology; and political/corporate conformity.

Mr. Hedges grim assessment put me in a seriously foul mood. The chapter involving the porn trade that is run by large corporations such as AT&T and GM (the car maker, for crying out loud) was an especially dark, profanity-laced depiction of the abuse and moral decay of American society .

He is correct in his belief that the continual barrage of psuedo-events and puffery disguised as news (especially television) has conditioned most of Americans to be non-critical thinkers.

Entertainment, consumption and the dangerous illusion that the U.S. is the best in the world at everything are childish mindsets.

The oddest part of Mr. Hedges' book is the ending. The last three pages take such an unexpectedly hard turn from "all is lost" to "love will conquer," I practically got whiplash. Overall, the author should be commended for trying to bring our attention to what ails our country and challenging readers to wake up from their child-like illusions.

Now, time for me to go run a nice, warm bath and where did I put those razor blades?...

By Walter E. Kurtz on September 25, 2011
Amazing book

I must say I was captivated by the author's passion, eloquence and insight. This is not an academic essay. True, there are few statistics here and there and quotes from such and such person, but this is not like one of those books that read like a longer version of an academic research paper. The book is more of author's personal observations about American society. Perhaps that is where its power comes from.

Some might dismiss the book as nothing more than an opinion piece, but how many great books and works out there are opinion pieces enhanced with supporting facts and statistics?

The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is about celebrity worship and how far people are willing to humiliate themselves and sacrifice their dignity for their five minutes of fame. But this is not just about those who are willing to make idiots out of themselves just to appear on television. This is about how the fascination with the world of rich and famous distracts the society from the important issues and problems and how it creates unhealthy and destructive desire to pursue wealth and fame. And even for those few who do achieve it, their lives are far from the bliss and happiness shown in movies. More than one celebrity had cursed her life.

Chapter two deals with porn. It offers gutwrenching, vomit inducing descriptions of lives and conditions in the porn industry. But the damage porn does goes far beyond those working in the "industry". Porn destroys the love, intimacy and beauty of sex. Porn reduces sex to an act of male dominance, power and even violence. Unfortunately, many men, and even women, buy into that and think that the sex seen in porn is normal and this is how things should be.

After reading this chapter, I will never look at porn the same way again. In fact, I probably will never look at porn at all.

Chapter three is about education. It focuses mostly on college level education and how in the past few decades it had increasingly changed focus from teaching students how to be responsible citizens and good human beings to how to be successful, profit seeking, career obsessed corporate/government drones. The students are taught that making money and career building are the only thing that matters. This results in professionals who put greed and selfishness above everything else and mindlessly serve a system that destroys the society and the whole planet. And when they are faced with problems (like the current economic crisis) and evidence that the system is broken, rather than rethink their paradigm and consider that perhaps they were wrong, they retreat further into old thinking in search of ways to reinforce the (broken) system and keep it going.
Chapter four is my favorite. It is about positive thinking. As someone who lives with a family member who feeds me positive thinking crap at breakfast, lunch and supper, I enjoyed this chapter very much. For those rare lucky few who do not know what positive thinking is, it can be broadly defined as a belief that whatever happens to us in life, it happens because we "attracted" it to ourselves. Think about it as karma that affects us not in the next life, but in this one. The movement believes that our conscious and unconscious thoughts affect reality. By assuming happy, positive outlook on life, we can affect reality and make good things happen to us.

Followers of positive thinking are encouraged/required to purge all negative emotions, never question the bad things that happen to them and focus on thinking happy thoughts. Positive thinking is currently promoted by corporations and to lesser extent governments to keep employees in line. They are rendered docile and obedient, don't make waves (like fight for better pay and working conditions) and, when fired, take it calmly with a smile and never question corporate culture.

Chapter five is about American politics and how the government and the politicians had sold themselves out to corporations and business. It is about imperialism and how the government helps the corporations loot the country while foreign wars are started under the pretext of defense and patriotism, but their real purpose is to loot the foreign lands and fill the coffers of war profiteers. If allowed to continue, this system will result in totalitarianism and ecological apocalypse.

I have some objections with this chapter. While I completely agree about the current state of American politics, the author makes a claim that this is a relatively recent development dating roughly to the Vietnam War. Before that, especially in the 1950s, things were much better. Or at least they were for the white men. (The author does admit that 1950s were not all that great to blacks, women or homosexuals.)

While things might have gotten very bad in the last few decades, politicians and governments have always been more at the service of Big Money rather than the common people.

And Vietnam was not the first imperialistic American war. What about the conquest of Cuba and Philippines at the turn of the 20th century? And about all those American "adventures" in South America in the 19th century. And what about the westward expansion and extermination of Native Americans that started the moment the first colonists set their foot on the continent?

But this is a minor issue. My biggest issue with the book is that it is a powerful denunciation, but it does not offer much in terms of suggestions on how to fix the problems it is decrying. Criticizing is good and necessary, but offering solutions is even more important. You can criticize all you want, but if you cannot suggest something better, then the old system will stay in place.

The author does write at the end a powerful, tear inducing essay on how love conquers all and that no totalitarian regime, no matter how powerful and oppressive, had ever managed to crush hope, love and the human spirit. Love, in the end, conquers all.

That is absolutely true. But what does it mean in practice? That we must keep loving and doing good? Of course we must, but some concrete, practical examples of what to do would be welcome.

By Richard Joltes on July 18, 2016
An excellent and sobering view at the decline of reason and literacy in modern society

This is an absolutely superb work that documents how our society has been subverted by spectacle, glitz, celebrity, and the obsession with "fame" at the expense of reality, literacy, reason, and actual ability. Hedges lays it all out in a very clear and thought provoking style, using real world examples like pro wrestling and celebrity oriented programming to showcase how severely our society has declined from a forward thinking, literate one into a mass of tribes obsessed with stardom and money.

Even better is that the author's style is approachable and non judgemental. This isn't an academic talking down to the masses, but a very solid reporter presenting findings in an accurate, logical style.

Every American should read this, and then consider whether to buy that glossy celebrity oriented magazine or watch that "I want to be a millionaire" show. The lifestyle and choices being promoted by the media, credit card companies, and by the celebrity culture in general, are toxic and a danger to our society's future.

By Jeffrey Swystun on June 29, 2011
What does the contemporary self want?

The various ills impacting society graphically painted by Chris Hedges are attributed to a lack of literacy. However, it is much more complex, layered, and inter-related. By examining literacy, love, wisdom, happiness, and the current state of America, the author sets out to convince the reader that our world is intellectually crumbling. He picks aspects of our society that clearly offer questionable value: professional wrestling, the pornographic film industry (which is provided in bizarre repetitive graphic detail), gambling, conspicuous consumption, and biased news reporting to name a few.

The front of the end of the book was the most compelling. Especially when Hedges strays into near conspiracy with comments such as this: "Those who manipulate the shadows that dominate our lives are the agents, publicists, marketing departments, promoters, script writers, television and movie producers, advertisers, video technicians, photographers, bodyguards, wardrobe consultants, fitness trainers, pollsters, public announcers, and television news personalities who create the vast stage for illusion. The are the puppet masters." As extreme as that is, he is more credible when he says, "Commodities and celebrity culture define what it means to belong, how we recognize our place in society, and how we conduct our lives." I say 'credible' because popular and mass culture's influence are creating a world where substance is replaced by questionable style.

What resonated most in the book is a passage taken from William Deresiewicz's essay The End of Solitude: "What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge -- broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider -- the two cultures betray a common impulse.

Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves -- by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity. If Lionel Trilling was right, if the property that grounded the self, in Romanticism, was sincerity, and in modernism it was authenticity, then in postmodernism it is visibility."

Visibility has replaced substance and accomplishment; packaging over product, sizzle not steak. Chris Rojek calls this "the cult of distraction" where society is consumed by the vacuous and the vapid rather than striving for self-awareness, accomplishment and contribution ("Propaganda has become a substitute for ideas and ideology."). Hedges builds on Rojek's descriptor by suggesting we are living in a "culture of illusion" which impoverishes language, makes us childlike, and is basically dumbing us all down.

This is definitely a provocative contribution and damning analysis of our society that would be a great choice for a book club. It would promote lively debate as conclusions and solutions are not easily reached.

By S. Arch on July 10, 2011
A book that needs to be read, even if it's only half true.

Empire of Illusion might be the most depressing book I've ever read. Why? Because it predicts the collapse of America and almost every word of it rings true.

I don't know if there's really anything new here; many of the ideas Hedges puts forth have been floating around in the neglected dark corners of our national discourse, but Hedges drags them all out into the daylight. Just about every social/cultural/economic/political ill you can think of is mentioned at some point in the text and laid at the feet of the villains whose insatiable greed has destroyed this once-great country. Hedges is bold. He predicts nothing less than the end of America. Indeed, he claims America has already ended. The American Dream is nothing more than an illusion being propped up by wealthy elites obsessed with power and the preservation of their lifestyle, a blind academia that has forgotten how to critique authority, and a government that is nothing more than the puppet of corporations. Meanwhile, mindless entertainments and a compliant news media divert and mislead the working and middle classes so they don't even notice that they are being raped to death by the power-elite and the corporations.

(Don't misunderstand. This is no crack-pot conspiracy theory. It's not about secret quasi-mystical cabals attempting world domination. Rather, Hedges paints a credible picture of our culture in a state of moral and intellectual decay, and leaders corrupted by power and greed who have ceased to act in the public interest.)

At times Hedges seems to be ranting and accusing without providing evidence or examples to substantiate his claims. But that might only be because his claims have already been substantiated individually elsewhere, and Hedges's purpose here is a kind of grand synthesis of many critical ideas. Indeed, an exhaustive analysis of all the issues he brings forth would require volumes rather than a single book. In any case, I challenge anyone to read this book, look around honestly at what's happening in America, and conclude that Hedges is wrong.

One final note: this book is not for the squeamish. The chapter about pornography is brutally explicit. Still, I think it is an important book, and it would be good if a lot more people would read it, discuss it, and thereby become dis-illusioned.

By Bruce E. McLeod Jr. on February 11, 2012
Thorough and illuminating

Chris Hedges book, "Empire of Illusion" is a stinging assessment and vivid indictment of America's political and educational systems; a well-told story. I agree with his views but wonder how they can be reversed or transformed given the economic hegemony of the corporations and the weight of the entrenched political parties. Very few solutions were provided.

Corporations will continue to have a presence and set standards within the halls of educational and governmental institutions with impunity. Limited monetary measures, other than governmental, exist for public educational institutions, both secondary and post-secondary. Historically, Roman and Greek political elitists operated in a similar manner and may have set standards for today's plutocracy. Plebeian societies were helpless and powerless, with few options, to enact change against the political establishment. Given the current conditions, America is on a downward spiral to chaos.

His book is a clarion call for action. Parents and teachers have warned repeatedly that too much emphasis is placed on athletic programs at the expense of academics. Educational panels, books and other experts have done little to reform the system and its intransigent administrators.

Today's delusionary and corrupted officials, corporate and government, are reminiscent of the narratives penned by Charles Dickens. Alexander Hamilton referred to the masses as a "great beast" to be kept from the powers of government.

Edmund Burke used propaganda to control "elements of society". Walter Lippmann advised that "the public must be kept in its place". Yet, many Americans just don't get it.

They continue to be hood-winked by politicians using uncontested "sound bites" and "racially-coded" phrases to persuade voters.

Divide and conquer is the mantra--rich vs. poor; black vs. white. According to Norm Chomsky's writings, "In 1934, William Shepard argued that government should be in the hands of `aristocracy and intellectual power' while the `ignorant, and the uninformed and the antisocial element' must not