Softpanorama

May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment

Reporters without conscience: once a nominally left of centre liberal publication became firmly embedded part of the Foreign Office and the US Department of State

Skepticism > Political Skeptic > Media-Military-Industrial Complex > Propaganda

News Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Links Manchester attack vs Charlie Hebdo Media as a weapon of mass deception US and British media are servants of security apparatus
Edward Licas as agent provocateur Hypocrisy of British elite MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Pussy Riot Provocation and Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome Charlie Hebdo - more questions then answers Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17?
Lewis Powell Memo Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Two Party System as Polyarchy American Exceptionalism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism
The importance of controlling the narrative Patterns of Propaganda The Real War on Reality Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Co-opting of the Human Rights to embarrass governments who oppose neoliberalism Manipulation of the term "freedom of press"
Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources Color revolutions Media-Military-Industrial Complex Manufactured consent What's the Matter with Kansas
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neo-fascism Nation under attack meme Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Bullshit as MSM communication method Big Uncle is Watching You
Ukraine: From EuroMaidan to EuroAnschluss MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Pussy Riot Provocation and "Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome" Russian Ukrainian Gas wars Nineteen Eighty-Four British hypocrisy
Groupthink Soft propaganda Fighting Russophobia Propaganda Quotes Humor Etc

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

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

  • Lapdog is easy role, watchdog is hard.
  • Lapdogs are lazy but get fed, watchdogs stand out in the cold, and get kicked.
  • Lapdogs get rich, watchdogs remain poor.
  • Lapdogs eat shit, and watchdogs kick ass.
  • Lapdogs need many masters, watchdogs are their own master.
  • Lapdogs are part of the problem, watchdogs are part of the solution.

@RIP, lapdogs are dismissed even by the asses they kissed, while history remembers watchdogs for the asses they kicked.

Backbutton

10 October 2014 3:46pm

When Gerald Celente branded the American media “presstitutes,” he got it right. The US print and TV media (and NPR) whore for Washington and the corporations. Reporting the real news is their last concern. The presstitutes are a Ministry of Propaganda and Coverup. This is true of the entire Western media, a collection of bought-and-paid-for whores.

by Paul Craig Roberts, June 4, 2013,

A lot of our problems come from the unwillingness of honest people to call out the liars, cranks, wh*res and hacks.

A Brief Theory of Very Serious People — Crooked Timber

Due to the size an introduction was converted to a separate page Guardian as a neoliberal propaganda mouthpeace


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[Oct 17, 2017] Possibly a

cato1836 nik was registered on 7 Aug 2017
~50 daily posts for a single, second rate story Facebook must 'follow the money' to uncover extent of Russian meddling is quite a bit.
Along with others in the same category he can be useful for tracking Russia-related stories in Guardian.
Oct 09, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
A couple of samples of his writing:

In response to Barry Lastname 10 Oct 2017 00:55

Putin is the main enemy of the West. He sees this as a zero sum game that will end in Putin's fall from power if he doesn't destroy us first.

Pretty simple.

View discussion Facebook must 'follow the money' to uncover extent of Russian meddling ,

In response to Principleagentprob 10 Oct 2017 00:39

"And the NSA, GCHQ, CIA does not have trolls apparently despite their massive budgets? "

Name me the place where any Western trolls operate.

We already know about 55 Savushkina St, Piter. And we've traced quite a few things back to various 'bears."

Russia is a relatively closed society, while the West is pretty open, with people like Snowden and Manning often spilling the beans.

Might operate using this stuff called "evidence." Been pretty effective for the last thousand years or so.

View discussion Facebook must 'follow the money' to uncover extent of Russian meddling

[Oct 01, 2017] Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here by Cornel West

Notable quotes:
"... The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness. ..."
"... This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future. ..."
"... In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome! ..."
"... The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang ..."
"... The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised. ..."
"... if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial! ..."
"... The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad. ..."
"... Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back. ..."
"... He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did. ..."
"... Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried. ..."
Nov 17, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang. The political triumph of Donald Trump shattered the establishments in the Democratic and Republican parties – both wedded to the rule of Big Money and to the reign of meretricious politicians.

The Bush and Clinton dynasties were destroyed by the media-saturated lure of the pseudo-populist billionaire with narcissist sensibilities and ugly, fascist proclivities. The monumental election of Trump was a desperate and xenophobic cry of human hearts for a way out from under the devastation of a disintegrating neoliberal order – a nostalgic return to an imaginary past of greatness.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process.

This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy. And since the most explosive fault lines in present-day America are first and foremost racial, then gender, homophobic, ethnic and religious, we gird ourselves for a frightening future.

What is to be done? First we must try to tell the truth and a condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak. For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and working people and obsessed with the spectacle of success. Second we must bear witness to justice. We must ground our truth-telling in a willingness to suffer and sacrifice as we resist domination. Third we must remember courageous exemplars like Martin Luther King Jr, who provide moral and spiritual inspiration as we build multiracial alliances to combat poverty and xenophobia, Wall Street crimes and war crimes, global warming and police abuse – and to protect precious rights and liberties.

Feminists misunderstood the presidential election from day one Liza Featherstone By banking on the idea that women would support Hillary Clinton just because she was a female candidate, the movement made a terrible mistake Read more

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Rightwing attacks on Obama – and Trump-inspired racist hatred of him – have made it nearly impossible to hear the progressive critiques of Obama. The president has been reluctant to target black suffering – be it in overcrowded prisons, decrepit schools or declining workplaces. Yet, despite that, we get celebrations of the neoliberal status quo couched in racial symbolism and personal legacy. Meanwhile, poor and working class citizens of all colors have continued to suffer in relative silence.

In this sense, Trump's election was enabled by the neoliberal policies of the Clintons and Obama that overlooked the plight of our most vulnerable citizens. The progressive populism of Bernie Sanders nearly toppled the establishment of the Democratic party but Clinton and Obama came to the rescue to preserve the status quo. And I do believe Sanders would have beat Trump to avert this neofascist outcome!

Click and elect: how fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election Hannah Jane Parkinson The 'alt-right' (aka the far right) ensnared the electorate using false stories on social media. But tech companies seem unwilling to admit there's a problem

In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

theomatica -> MSP1984 17 Nov 2016 6:40

To be replaced by a form of capitalism that is constrained by national interests. An ideology that wishes to uses the forces of capitalism within a market limited only by national boundaries which aims for more self sufficiency only importing goods the nation can not itself source.

farga 17 Nov 2016 6:35

The neoliberal era in the United States ended with a neofascist bang.

Really? The white house and congress are now dominated by tea party politicians who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.....read Breitbart news to see how Thatcher and Reagan are idolised.

That in recent decades middle ground politicians have strayed from the true faith....and now its time to go back - popular capitalism, small government, low taxes.

if you think the era of "neo liberalism" is over, you are in deep denial!

Social36 -> farga 17 Nov 2016 8:33

Maybe, West should have written that we're now in neoliberal, neofascist era!

ForSparta -> farga 17 Nov 2016 14:24

Well in all fairness, Donald Trump (horse's ass) did say he'd 'pump' money into the middle classes thus abandoning 'trickle down'. His plan/ideology is also to increase corporate tax revenues overall by reducing the level of corporation tax -- the aim being to entice corporations to repatriate wealth currently held overseas. Plus he has proposed an infrastructure spending spree, a fiscal stimulus not a monetary one. When you add in tax cuts the middle classes will feel flushed and it is within that demographic that most businesses and hence jobs are created. I think his short game has every chance of doing what he said it would.

SeeNOevilHearNOevil 17 Nov 2016 6:36

The age of Obama was the last gasp of neoliberalism. Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad.

Didn't Obama say to Wall Street ''I'm the only one standing between you and the lynch mob? Give me money and I'll make it all go away''. Then came into office and went we won't prosecute the Banks not Bush for a false war because we don't look back.

He did not ignore, he actively, willingly, knowingly protected them. At the end of the day Obama is wolf in sheep's clothing. Exactly like HRC he has a public and a private position. He is a gifted speaker who knows how to say all the right, progressive liberal things to get people to go along much better than HRC ever did.

But that lip service is where his progressive views begin and stop. It's the very reason none of his promises never translated into actions and I will argue that he was the biggest and smoothest scam artist to enter the white house who got even though that wholly opposed centre-right policies, to flip and support them vehemently. Even when he had the Presidency, House and Senate, he never once introduced any progressive liberal policy. He didn't need Republican support to do it, yet he never even tried.

ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 6:37

I agree with some of this, but do we really have to throw around hysterical terms like 'fascist' at every opportunity? It's as bad as when people call the left 'cultural Marxists'.

LithophaneFurcifera -> ProbablyOnTopic 17 Nov 2016 7:05

True, it's sloganeering that drowns out any nuance, whoever does it. Whenever a political term is coined, you can be assured that its use and meaning will eventually be extended to the point that it becomes less effective at characterising the very groups that it was coined to characterise.

Keep "fascist" for Mussolini and "cultural Marxist" for Adorno, unless and until others show such strong resemblances that the link can't seriously be denied.

I agree about the importance of recognising the suffering of the poor and building alliances beyond, and not primarily defined by, race though.

l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 6:40
Hang about Trump is the embodiment of neo-liberalism. It's neo-liberalism with republican tea party in control. He's not going to smash the system that served him so well, the years he manipulated and cheated, why would he want to change it.
garrylee -> l0Ho5LG4wWcFJsKg 17 Nov 2016 9:38
West's point is that it's beyond Trump's control. The scales have fallen from peoples eyes. They now see the deceit of neo-liberalism. And once they see through the charlatan Trump and the rest of the fascists, they will, hopefully, come to realize the only antidote to neo-liberalism is a planned economy.

Nash25 17 Nov 2016 6:40

This excellent analysis by professor West places the current political situation in a proper historical context.

However, I fear that neo-liberalism may not be quite "dead" as he argues.

Most of the Democratic party's "establishment" politicians, who conspired to sabotage the populist Sanders's campaign, still dominate the party, and they, in turn, are controlled by the giant corporations who fund their campaigns.

Democrat Chuck Schumer is now the Senate minority leader, and he is the loyal servant of the big Wall Street investment banks.

Sanders and Warren are the only two Democratic leaders who are not neo-liberals, and I fear that they will once again be marginalized.

Rank and file Democrats must organize at the local and state level to remove these corrupt neo-liberals from all party leadership positions. This will take many years, and it will be very difficult.


VenetianBlind 17 Nov 2016 6:42

Not sure Neo-Liberalism has ended. All they have done is get rid of the middle man.

macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 6:46

It would seem that there is a great deal of over simplifying going on; some of the articles represent an hysteric response and the vision of sack cloth and ashes prevails among those who could not see that the wheels were coming off the bus. The use of the term 'liberal' has become another buzz word - there are many different forms of liberalism and creating yet another sound byte does little to illuminate anything.

Making appeals to restore what has been lost reflects badly upon the central political parties, with their 30 year long rightward drift and their legacy of sucking up to corporate lobbyists, systems managers, box tickers and consultants. You can't give away sovereign political power to a bunch of right wing quangos who worship private wealth and its accumulation without suffering the consequences. The article makes no contribution (and neither have many of the others of late) to any kind of alternative to either neo-liberalism or the vacuum that has become a question mark with the dark face of the devil behind it.

We are in uncharted waters. The conventional Left was totally discredited by1982 and all we've had since are various forms of modifications of Thatcher's imported American vision. There has been no opposition to this system for over 40 years - so where do we get the idea that democracy has any real meaning? Yes, we can vote for the Greens, or one of the lesser known minority parties, but of course people don't; they tend to go with what is portrayed as the orthodoxy and they've been badly let down by it.

It would be a real breath of fresh air to see articles which offer some kind of analysis that demonstrates tangible options to deal with the multiple crises we are suffering. Perhaps we might start with a consideration that if our political institutions are prone to being haunted by the ghost of the 1930's, the state itself could be seen as part of the problem rather than any solution. Why is it that every other institution is considered to be past its sell by date and we still believe in a phantom of democracy? Discuss.

VenetianBlind -> macfeegal 17 Nov 2016 7:00

I have spent hours trying to see solutions around Neo-Liberalism and find that governments have basically signed away any control over the economy so nothing they can do. There are no solutions.

Maybe that is the starting point. The solution for workers left behind in Neo-Liberal language is they must move. It demands labor mobility. It is not possible to dictate where jobs are created.

I see too much fiddly around the edges, the best start is to say they cannot fix the problem. If they keep making false promises then things will just get dire as.

[Sep 27, 2017] The architect of supply-side economics is now a professor at Columbia University, former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell is an academic charlatan

Notable quotes:
"... For the architect of the euro, taking macroeconomics away from elected politicians and forcing deregulation were part of the plan ..."
"... The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do. ..."
Jan 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron :

Thanks to New Deal democrat, who made me curious about yesterday's "comment section in re Summers' piece." Then thanks to Ron Waller for his comment which closed with: (Good read: "Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro".)

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jun/26/robert-mundell-evil-genius-euro

Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro

Greg Palast

For the architect of the euro, taking macroeconomics away from elected politicians and forcing deregulation were part of the plan

The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do.

That progenitor is former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell. The architect of "supply-side economics" is now a professor at Columbia University, but I knew him through his connection to my Chicago professor, Milton Friedman, back before Mundell's research on currencies and exchange rates had produced the blueprint for European monetary union and a common European currency.

Mundell, then, was more concerned with his bathroom arrangements. Professor Mundell, who has both a Nobel Prize and an ancient villa in Tuscany, told me, incensed:

"They won't even let me have a toilet. They've got rules that tell me I can't have a toilet in this room! Can you imagine?"

As it happens, I can't. But I don't have an Italian villa, so I can't imagine the frustrations of bylaws governing commode placement.

But Mundell, a can-do Canadian-American, intended to do something about it: come up with a weapon that would blow away government rules and labor regulations. (He really hated the union plumbers who charged a bundle to move his throne.)

"It's very hard to fire workers in Europe," he complained. His answer: the euro.

The euro would really do its work when crises hit, Mundell explained. Removing a government's control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession.

"It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians," he said. "[And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business."

He cited labor laws, environmental regulations and, of course, taxes. All would be flushed away by the euro. Democracy would not be allowed to interfere with the marketplace – or the plumbing.

As another Nobelist, Paul Krugman, notes, the creation of the eurozone violated the basic economic rule known as "optimum currency area". This was a rule devised by Bob Mundell.

That doesn't bother Mundell. For him, the euro wasn't about turning Europe into a powerful, unified economic unit. It was about Reagan and Thatcher.

"Ronald Reagan would not have been elected president without Mundell's influence," once wrote Jude Wanniski in the Wall Street Journal. The supply-side economics pioneered by Mundell became the theoretical template for Reaganomics – or as George Bush the Elder called it, "voodoo economics": the magical belief in free-market nostrums that also inspired the policies of Mrs Thatcher.

Mundell explained to me that, in fact, the euro is of a piece with Reaganomics:

"Monetary discipline forces fiscal discipline on the politicians as well."

And when crises arise, economically disarmed nations have little to do but wipe away government regulations wholesale, privatize state industries en masse, slash taxes and send the European welfare state down the drain.

Thus, we see that (unelected) Prime Minister Mario Monti is demanding labor law "reform" in Italy to make it easier for employers like Mundell to fire those Tuscan plumbers. Mario Draghi, the (unelected) head of the European Central Bank, is calling for "structural reforms" – a euphemism for worker-crushing schemes. They cite the nebulous theory that this "internal devaluation" of each nation will make them all more competitive.

Monti and Draghi cannot credibly explain how, if every country in the Continent cheapens its workforce, any can gain a competitive advantage.
But they don't have to explain their policies; they just have to let the markets go to work on each nation's bonds. Hence, currency union is class war by other means.

The crisis in Europe and the flames of Greece have produced the warming glow of what the supply-siders' philosopher-king Joseph Schumpeter called "creative destruction". Schumpeter acolyte and free-market apologist Thomas Friedman flew to Athens to visit the "impromptu shrine" of the burnt-out bank where three people died after it was fire-bombed by anarchist protesters, and used the occasion to deliver a homily on globalization and Greek "irresponsibility".

The flames, the mass unemployment, the fire-sale of national assets, would bring about what Friedman called a "regeneration" of Greece and, ultimately, the entire eurozone. So that Mundell and those others with villas can put their toilets wherever they damn well want to.

Far from failing, the euro, which was Mundell's baby, has succeeded probably beyond its progenitor's wildest dreams.

[Needless to say, I am not a fan of Robert Mundell's.]

Peter K. -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 20, 2017 at 07:19 AM

Excellent article!

"It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians," he said. "[And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business."

Reminded me of a point made by J.W. Mason:

http://jwmason.org/slackwire/what-does-crowding-out-even-mean/

"..It's quite reasonable to suppose that, thanks to dependence on imported inputs and/or demand for imported consumption goods, output can't rise without higher imports. And a country may well run out of foreign exchange before it runs out of domestic savings, finance or productive capacity. This is the idea behind multiple gap models in development economics, or balance of payments constrained growth. It also seems like the direction orthodoxy is heading in the eurozone, where competitiveness is bidding to replace inflation as the overriding concern of macro policy."

Peter K. -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 20, 2017 at 07:30 AM
I wonder how this fits with the national savings rate discussion of Miles Kimball and Brad Setser.

Like would they advise Greece to boost their national savings rate or doesn't it matter since Germany controls monetary policy?

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Peter K.... , January 20, 2017 at 08:58 AM
"I wonder how this fits with the national savings rate discussion of Miles Kimball and Brad Setser."

[Don't know and it sounds like way too much work for me to try to figure out. Savings rate is not a problem for us and it is difficult to see how Greece could realistically increase theirs sufficient to change anything without some other intervention being made first to decrease unemployment and increase output.]

pgl -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , January 20, 2017 at 09:47 AM
It is also too much work for PeterK. If he can't cherry pick it, he don't bother.

But note our net national savings rate has been less than 2% for a long, long time.

[Sep 19, 2017] Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world by Stephen Metcalf

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The word ["neoliberalism"] has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human. ..."
"... Last summer, researchers at the International Monetary Fund settled a long and bitter debate over "neoliberalism": they admitted it exists. Three senior economists at the IMF, an organisation not known for its incaution, published a paper questioning the benefits of neoliberalism ..."
"... The paper gently called out a "neoliberal agenda" for pushing deregulation on economies around the world, for forcing open national markets to trade and capital, and for demanding that governments shrink themselves via austerity or privatisation. The authors cited statistical evidence for the spread of neoliberal policies since 1980, and their correlation with anaemic growth, boom-and-bust cycles and inequality. ..."
"... In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market. For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left's traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality. ..."
"... Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market ..."
"... Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But "neoliberalism" indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals. ..."
"... In short, "neoliberalism" is not simply a name for pro-market policies, or for the compromises with finance capitalism made by failing social democratic parties. It is a name for a premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity. ..."
"... No sooner had neoliberalism been certified as real, and no sooner had it made clear the universal hypocrisy of the market, than the populists and authoritarians came to power ..."
"... Against the forces of global integration, national identity is being reasserted, and in the crudest possible terms. What could the militant parochialism of Brexit Britain and Trumpist America have to do with neoliberal rationality? ..."
"... It isn't only that the free market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Brexit and Trump. There was, from the beginning, an inevitable relationship between the utopian ideal of the free market and the dystopian present in which we find ourselves; ..."
"... That Hayek is considered the grandfather of neoliberalism – a style of thought that reduces everything to economics – is a little ironic given that he was such a mediocre economist. ..."
"... This last is what makes neoliberalism "neo". It is a crucial modification of the older belief in a free market and a minimal state, known as "classical liberalism". In classical liberalism, merchants simply asked the state to "leave us alone" – to laissez-nous faire. Neoliberalism recognised that the state must be active in the organisation of a market economy. The conditions allowing for a free market must be won politically, and the state must be re-engineered to support the free market on an ongoing basis. ..."
"... Hayek had only his idea to console him; an idea so grand it would one day dissolve the ground beneath the feet of Keynes and every other intellectual. Left to its own devices, the price system functions as a kind of mind. And not just any mind, but an omniscient one: the market computes what individuals cannot grasp. Reaching out to him as an intellectual comrade-in-arms, the American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote to Hayek, saying: "No human mind has ever understood the whole scheme of a society At best a mind can understand its own version of the scheme, something much thinner, which bears to reality some such relation as a silhouette to a man." ..."
"... The only social end is the maintenance of the market itself. In its omniscience, the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts. ..."
"... According to the logic of Hayek's Big Idea, these expressions of human subjectivity are meaningless without ratification by the market ..."
"... ociety reconceived as a giant market leads to a public life lost to bickering over mere opinions; until the public turns, finally, in frustration to a strongman as a last resort for solving its otherwise intractable problems. ..."
"... What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics ..."
Aug 18, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The word ["neoliberalism"] has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human.

Last summer, researchers at the International Monetary Fund settled a long and bitter debate over "neoliberalism": they admitted it exists. Three senior economists at the IMF, an organisation not known for its incaution, published a paper questioning the benefits of neoliberalism . In so doing, they helped put to rest the idea that the word is nothing more than a political slur, or a term without any analytic power. The paper gently called out a "neoliberal agenda" for pushing deregulation on economies around the world, for forcing open national markets to trade and capital, and for demanding that governments shrink themselves via austerity or privatisation. The authors cited statistical evidence for the spread of neoliberal policies since 1980, and their correlation with anaemic growth, boom-and-bust cycles and inequality.

Neoliberalism is an old term, dating back to the 1930s, but it has been revived as a way of describing our current politics – or more precisely, the range of thought allowed by our politics . In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market. For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left's traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality.

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world – podcast

Over the past few years, as debates have turned uglier, the word has become a rhetorical weapon, a way for anyone left of centre to incriminate those even an inch to their right. (No wonder centrists say it's a meaningless insult: they're the ones most meaningfully insulted by it.) But "neoliberalism" is more than a gratifyingly righteous jibe. It is also, in its way, a pair of eyeglasses.

Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market (and not, for example, a polis, a civil sphere or a kind of family) and of human beings as profit-and-loss calculators (and not bearers of grace, or of inalienable rights and duties). Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But "neoliberalism" indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals.

Still peering through the lens, you see how, no less than the welfare state, the free market is a human invention. You see how pervasively we are now urged to think of ourselves as proprietors of our own talents and initiative, how glibly we are told to compete and adapt. You see the extent to which a language formerly confined to chalkboard simplifications describing commodity markets (competition, perfect information, rational behaviour) has been applied to all of society, until it has invaded the grit of our personal lives, and how the attitude of the salesman has become enmeshed in all modes of self-expression.

In short, "neoliberalism" is not simply a name for pro-market policies, or for the compromises with finance capitalism made by failing social democratic parties. It is a name for a premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity.

No sooner had neoliberalism been certified as real, and no sooner had it made clear the universal hypocrisy of the market, than the populists and authoritarians came to power. In the US, Hillary Clinton, the neoliberal arch-villain, lost – and to a man who knew just enough to pretend he hated free trade . So are the eyeglasses now useless? Can they do anything to help us understand what is broken about British and American politics? Against the forces of global integration, national identity is being reasserted, and in the crudest possible terms. What could the militant parochialism of Brexit Britain and Trumpist America have to do with neoliberal rationality? What possible connection is there between the president – a freewheeling boob – and the bloodless paragon of efficiency known as the free market?

It isn't only that the free market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Brexit and Trump. There was, from the beginning, an inevitable relationship between the utopian ideal of the free market and the dystopian present in which we find ourselves; between the market as unique discloser of value and guardian of liberty, and our current descent into post-truth and illiberalism.

Moving the stale debate about neoliberalism forward begins, I think, with taking seriously the measure of its cumulative effect on all of us, regardless of affiliation. And this requires returning to its origins, which have nothing to do with Bill or Hillary Clinton. There once was a group of people who did call themselves neoliberals, and did so proudly, and their ambition was a total revolution in thought. The most prominent among them, Friedrich Hayek, did not think he was staking out a position on the political spectrum, or making excuses for the fatuous rich, or tinkering along the edges of microeconomics.

He thought he was solving the problem of modernity: the problem of objective knowledge. For Hayek, the market didn't just facilitate trade in goods and services; it revealed truth. How did his ambition collapse into its opposite – the mind-bending possibility that, thanks to our thoughtless veneration of the free market, truth might be driven from public life altogether?


When the idea occurred to Friedrich Hayek in 1936, he knew, with the conviction of a "sudden illumination", that he had struck upon something new. "How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds," he wrote, "bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess?"

This was not a technical point about interest rates or deflationary slumps. This was not a reactionary polemic against collectivism or the welfare state. This was a way of birthing a new world. To his mounting excitement, Hayek understood that the market could be thought of as a kind of mind.

Adam Smith's "invisible hand" had already given us the modern conception of the market: as an autonomous sphere of human activity and therefore, potentially, a valid object of scientific knowledge. But Smith was, until the end of his life, an 18th-century moralist. He thought the market could be justified only in light of individual virtue, and he was anxious that a society governed by nothing but transactional self-interest was no society at all. Neoliberalism is Adam Smith without the anxiety.

That Hayek is considered the grandfather of neoliberalism – a style of thought that reduces everything to economics – is a little ironic given that he was such a mediocre economist. He was just a young, obscure Viennese technocrat when he was recruited to the London School of Economics to compete with, or possibly even dim, the rising star of John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge.

The plan backfired, and Hayek lost out to Keynes in a rout. Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936, was greeted as a masterpiece. It dominated the public discussion, especially among young English economists in training, for whom the brilliant, dashing, socially connected Keynes was a beau idιal . By the end of the second world war, many prominent free-marketers had come around to Keynes's way of thinking, conceding that government might play a role in managing a modern economy. The initial excitement over Hayek had dissipated. His peculiar notion that doing nothing could cure an economic depression had been discredited in theory and practice. He later admitted that he wished his work criticising Keynes would simply be forgotten.

... Hayek built into neoliberalism the assumption that the market provides all necessary protection against the one real political danger: totalitarianism. To prevent this, the state need only keep the market free.

This last is what makes neoliberalism "neo". It is a crucial modification of the older belief in a free market and a minimal state, known as "classical liberalism". In classical liberalism, merchants simply asked the state to "leave us alone" – to laissez-nous faire. Neoliberalism recognised that the state must be active in the organisation of a market economy. The conditions allowing for a free market must be won politically, and the state must be re-engineered to support the free market on an ongoing basis.

That isn't all: every aspect of democratic politics, from the choices of voters to the decisions of politicians, must be submitted to a purely economic analysis. The lawmaker is obliged to leave well enough alone – to not distort the natural actions of the marketplace – and so, ideally, the state provides a fixed, neutral, universal legal framework within which market forces operate spontaneously. The conscious direction of government is never preferable to the "automatic mechanism of adjustment" – ie the price system, which is not only efficient but maximises liberty, or the opportunity for men and women to make free choices about their own lives.

As Keynes jetted between London and Washington, creating the postwar order, Hayek sat pouting in Cambridge. He had been sent there during the wartime evacuations; and he complained that he was surrounded by "foreigners" and "no lack of orientals of all kinds" and "Europeans of practically all nationalities, but very few of real intelligence".

Stuck in England, without influence or respect, Hayek had only his idea to console him; an idea so grand it would one day dissolve the ground beneath the feet of Keynes and every other intellectual. Left to its own devices, the price system functions as a kind of mind. And not just any mind, but an omniscient one: the market computes what individuals cannot grasp. Reaching out to him as an intellectual comrade-in-arms, the American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote to Hayek, saying: "No human mind has ever understood the whole scheme of a society At best a mind can understand its own version of the scheme, something much thinner, which bears to reality some such relation as a silhouette to a man."

It is a grand epistemological claim – that the market is a way of knowing, one that radically exceeds the capacity of any individual mind. Such a market is less a human contrivance, to be manipulated like any other, than a force to be studied and placated. Economics ceases to be a technique – as Keynes believed it to be – for achieving desirable social ends, such as growth or stable money. The only social end is the maintenance of the market itself. In its omniscience, the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts.

... ... ...

The more Hayek's idea expands, the more reactionary it gets, the more it hides behind its pretence of scientific neutrality – and the more it allows economics to link up with the major intellectual trend of the west since the 17th century. The rise of modern science generated a problem: if the world is universally obedient to natural laws, what does it mean to be human? Is a human being simply an object in the world, like any other? There appears to be no way to assimilate the subjective, interior human experience into nature as science conceives it – as something objective whose rules we discover by observation.

... ... ...

More than anyone, even Hayek himself, it was the great postwar Chicago economist Milton Friedman who helped convert governments and politicians to the power of Hayek's Big Idea. But first he broke with two centuries of precedent and declared that economics is "in principle independent of any particular ethical position or normative judgments" and is "an 'objective' science, in precisely the same sense as any of the physical sciences". Values of the old, mental, normative kind were defective, they were "differences about which men can ultimately only fight". There is the market, in other words, and there is relativism.

Markets may be human facsimiles of natural systems, and like the universe itself, they may be authorless and valueless. But the application of Hayek's Big Idea to every aspect of our lives negates what is most distinctive about us. That is, it assigns what is most human about human beings – our minds and our volition – to algorithms and markets, leaving us to mimic, zombie-like, the shrunken idealisations of economic models. Supersizing Hayek's idea and radically upgrading the price system into a kind of social omniscience means radically downgrading the importance of our individual capacity to reason – our ability to provide and evaluate justifications for our actions and beliefs.

As a result, the public sphere – the space where we offer up reasons, and contest the reasons of others – ceases to be a space for deliberation, and becomes a market in clicks, likes and retweets. The internet is personal preference magnified by algorithm; a pseudo-public space that echoes the voice already inside our head. Rather than a space of debate in which we make our way, as a society, toward consensus, now there is a mutual-affirmation apparatus banally referred to as a "marketplace of ideas". What looks like something public and lucid is only an extension of our own pre-existing opinions, prejudices and beliefs, while the authority of institutions and experts has been displaced by the aggregative logic of big data. When we access the world through a search engine, its results are ranked, as the founder of Google puts it, "recursively" – by an infinity of individual users functioning as a market, continuously and in real time.

... ... ...

According to the logic of Hayek's Big Idea, these expressions of human subjectivity are meaningless without ratification by the market – as Friedman said, they are nothing but relativism, each as good as any other. When the only objective truth is determined by the market, all other values have the status of mere opinions; everything else is relativist hot air. But Friedman's "relativism" is a charge that can be thrown at any claim based on human reason. It is a nonsense insult, as all humanistic pursuits are "relative" in a way the sciences are not. They are relative to the (private) condition of having a mind, and the (public) need to reason and understand even when we can't expect scientific proof. When our debates are no longer resolved by deliberation over reasons, then the whimsies of power will determine the outcome.

This is where the triumph of neoliberalism meets the political nightmare we are living through now. "You had one job," the old joke goes, and Hayek's grand project, as originally conceived in 30s and 40s, was explicitly designed to prevent a backslide into political chaos and fascism. But the Big Idea was always this abomination waiting to happen. It was, from the beginning, pregnant with the thing it was said to protect against. Society reconceived as a giant market leads to a public life lost to bickering over mere opinions; until the public turns, finally, in frustration to a strongman as a last resort for solving its otherwise intractable problems.

... ... ...

What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics. What can't be quantified must not be real, says the economist, and how do you measure the benefits of the core faiths of the enlightenment – namely, critical reasoning, personal autonomy and democratic self-government? When we abandoned, for its embarrassing residue of subjectivity, reason as a form of truth, and made science the sole arbiter of both the real and the true, we created a void that pseudo-science was happy to fill.

... ... ...

[Sep 17, 2017] Inside the rehab saving young men from their internet addiction by Joanna Walters

Jun 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

At a cabin in the Washington state woods, the reSTART center helps residents withdraw from technology that has consumed their lives in Redmond, Washington.

By the time Marshall Carpenter's father broke down the barricaded door of his son's apartment and physically ripped him away from his electronic devices, the 25-year-old was in a bad way. He could not bear to live a life that didn't involve hours upon hours of uninterrupted screen time.

"I was playing video games 14 or 15 hours a day, I had Netflix on a loop in the background, and any time there was the tiniest break in any of that, I would be playing a game on my phone or sending lonely texts to ex-girlfriends," Carpenter says.

We are sitting in a small, plain apartment in a nondescript condo complex in Redmond, Washington, on the outskirts of Seattle. Marshall shares the apartment with other men in their 20s, all of whom have recently emerged from a unique internet addiction rehab program called reSTART Life.

"I was basically living on Dr Pepper, which is packed with caffeine and sugar. I would get weak from not eating but I would only notice it when I got so shaky I stopped being able to think and play well," he adds. By then, he'd already had to drop out of university in Michigan and had lost his sports scholarship.

His new friends Charlie and Peter nod sagely. Charlie Bracke, 28, was suicidal and had lost his job when he realized his online gaming was totally out of control. He can't remember a time in his life before he was not playing video games of some kind: he reckons he began when he was about four and was addicted by the age of nine.

Marshall and Charlie at reSTART, an internet addiction center.

Marshall and Charlie at reSTART, with Charlie's dog, Minerva. Photograph: Rafael Soldi for the Guardian

For Peter, 31, who preferred to withhold his last name, the low came when he had been homeless for six months and was living in his car.

"I would stay in church parking lots and put sunshades up on the windows and spend all day in my car on my tablet device," he says.

He was addicted to internet porn, masturbating six to 10 times a day, to the point where he was bleeding but would continue.

When he wasn't doing that, he was so immersed in the fantasy battle game World of Warcraft that in his mind, he was no longer a person sitting at a screen, but an avatar: the bold dwarvish hero Tarokalas, "shooting guns and assassinating the enemy" as he ran through a Tolkien-esque virtual realm.

And when he wasn't doing that, he would read online news reports obsessively and exercise his political opinions and a hair-trigger temper in the comment section of The Economist, projecting himself pseudonymously as a swaggering blogger-cum-troll.

"I was a virgin until I was 29. Then I had sex with a lap dancer at a strip club. That's something I never thought I would do," he says.

After completing the initial $25,000, 45-day residential stage at the main "campus" a few miles away, clients move into the cheaper, off-site secondary phase. Here they get to share a normal apartment, on the condition that they continue with psychotherapy, attend Alcoholics Anonymous-style 12-step meetings, search for work and avoid the internet for a minimum of six months.

Marshall, Charlie and Peter successfully completed the second phase and have graduated from the reSTART program, but they have chosen to stay in the same apartment complex and rent with other recovering gamers as they continue to reboot their lives.

Mostly they carry only flip phones and have to go to the library when they want to check email.

"I'm taking my life in six-month chunks at this stage. So far I haven't relapsed into gaming and I'm feeling optimistic," says Bracke.

An addiction overwhelmingly afflicting men

A climbing wall at the main ReStart campus, deep in the woods.

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A climbing wall at the main reSTART campus, deep in the woods. Photograph: Rafael Soldi for the Guardian

Nine miles east, down a dirt track off a country road that winds through forests, six young men are sitting in a wooden cabin amid a cluster of moss-draped trees – the reSTART campus.

Spring sunshine is flooding through the windows and the only sounds are birds singing and the men cracking their knuckles as they stare at the floor.

They have recently arrived at rehab.

Hilarie Cash, a psychotherapist and the chief clinical officer at reSTART, asks the guys to begin a communication exercise.

Philip, 22, steps into the middle of the group. He's been here for three weeks and is on a year's medical leave from Duke University after getting hooked on Dota 2, the sequel to the fantasy battle game Defense of the Ancients. He asks Adam, who only arrived four days ago and is fidgeting awkwardly, to stand up and face him. (The real names of those currently in the residential program have been withheld.)

Kevin, who has been here for four weeks, coaches them through an exercise known in counseling circles as the "listening cycle", designed to facilitate emotional conversations in relationships.

It's a basic introduction for the new guy.

Fears grow for children addicted to online games

Read more

Philip, who was underweight when he arrived, says to Adam, who is overweight: "I'm worried that you're not eating healthily. I noticed you've been skipping dinner."

Adam is meant to repeat back to Philip what he heard him say the problem is. He mumbles, barely audible, and can't seem to remember what he's just been told.

He's unable to focus, and the air is thick with reluctance and embarrassment.

Stephen, another newbie, is gazing at the ceiling, yawning, sighing, then looking mildly irritated.

Alex, 20, comes to the rescue. He arrived at rehab in January but has popped back to visit the group and explains: "It's so hard at the beginning. Day one here, I was a wreck, and the first two weeks I was backsliding."

His games of choice were The Legend of Zelda, a solo action adventure series, where "instead of being the depressed piece of shit I was in real life" he could exist as a swashbuckling hero.

Adapting to a tech-free world structured around rural communal living and social skills was a nightmare, he says. "I wouldn't join in at first and I got called out for it by the others."

[Sep 16, 2017] Moving Every Half Hour Could Help Limit Effects of Sedentary Lifestyle, Says Study

Highly recommended!
Sep 16, 2017 | slashdot.org
Moving Every Half Hour Could Help Limit Effects of Sedentary Lifestyle, Says Study (theguardian.com) 96 Posted by BeauHD on Monday September 11, 2017 @11:30PM from the criss-cross-applesauce dept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:

Moving your body at least every half an hour could help to limit the harmful effects of desk jobs and other sedentary lifestyles , research has revealed.

The study found that both greater overall time spent inactive in a day, and longer periods of inactivity were linked to an increased risk of death.

Writing in the journal the Annals of Internal Medicine , Diaz and colleagues from seven U.S. institutions describe how they kitted out nearly 8,000 individuals aged 45 or over from across the U.S. with activity trackers between 2009 and 2013. Each participant wore the fitness tracker for at least four days during a period of one week, with deaths of participants tracked until September 2015.

The results reveal that, on average, participants were inactive for 12.3 hours of a 16 hour waking day, with each period of inactivity lasting an average of 11.4 minutes. After taking into account a host of factors including age, sex, education, smoking and high blood pressure, the team found that both the overall length of daily inactivity and the length of each bout of sedentary behavior were linked to changes in the risk of death from any cause. The associations held even among participants undertaking moderate to vigorous physical activity. T

hose who were inactive for 13.2 hours a day had a risk of death 2.6 times that of those spending less than 11.5 hours a day inactive, while those whose bouts of inactivity lasted on average 12.4 minutes or more had a risk of death almost twice that of those who were inactive for an average of less than 7.7 minutes at a time.

The team then looked at the interaction between the two measures of inactivity, finding the risk of death was greater for those who had both high overall levels of inactivity (12.5 hours a day or more) and long average bouts of sedentary behavior (10 minutes or more), than for those who had high levels of just one of the measures.

[Sep 11, 2017] Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what is wrenching society apart by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do. ..."
"... A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like. ..."
"... Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction. ..."
"... Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement. ..."
"... It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition ..."
"... In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity ..."
"... All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomized and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in ..."
"... The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities ..."
"... Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy. ..."
"... My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices. We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other. ..."
"... According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose. ..."
"... multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labor. ..."
"... I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources. ..."
"... Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold? ..."
"... No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning. ..."
"... We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy". Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life. ..."
"... You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. ..."
"... As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide. ..."
"... The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead. We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand. Although a remainder (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and loneliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. ..."
"... We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimized. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault. ..."
"... We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether that's entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday! ..."
"... Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to. ..."
"... We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this. ..."
"... We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wanted to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected. ..."
"... We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline. ..."
"... Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality. ..."
"... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world. ..."
"... Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives. ..."
"... Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way. ..."
"... . Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979. ..."
"... As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . ..."
"... A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'. An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trick ..."
"... Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed. This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering. ..."
"... "Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on. ..."
"... There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate. ..."
"... I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. ..."
"... The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. ..."
"... Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools. No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence. ..."
"... Having grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else. ..."
"... There is no such thing as a free-market society. Your society of 'self-interest' is really a state supported oligarchy. If you really want to live in a society where there is literally no state and a more or less open market try Somalia or a Latin American city run by drug lords - but even then there are hierarchies, state involvement, militias. ..."
"... Furthermore, a society in which people are encouraged to be narrowly selfish is just plain uncivilized. Since when have sociopathy and barbarism been something to aspire to? ..."
"... Why don't we explore some of the benefits?.. Following the long list of some the diseases, loneliness can inflict on individuals, there must be a surge in demand for all sort of medications; anti-depressants must be topping the list. There is a host many other anti-stress treatments available of which Big Pharma must be carving the lion's share. Examine the micro-economic impact immediately following a split or divorce. There is an instant doubling on the demand for accommodation, instant doubling on the demand for electrical and household items among many other products and services. But the icing on the cake and what is really most critical for Neoliberalism must be this: With the morale barometer hitting the bottom, people will be less likely to think of a better future, and therefore, less likely to protest. In fact, there is nothing left worth protecting. ..."
"... Your freedom has been curtailed. Your rights are evaporating in front of your eyes. And Best of all, from the authorities' perspective, there is no relationship to defend and there is no family to protect. If you have a job, you want to keep, you must prove your worthiness every day to 'a company'. ..."
Oct 12, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

What greater indictment of a system could there be than an epidemic of mental illness? Yet plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness now strike people down all over the world. The latest, catastrophic figures for children's mental health in England reflect a global crisis.

There are plenty of secondary reasons for this distress, but it seems to me that the underlying cause is everywhere the same: human beings, the ultrasocial mammals, whose brains are wired to respond to other people, are being peeled apart. Economic and technological change play a major role, but so does ideology. Though our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the lives of others, everywhere we are told that we will prosper through competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet. The education system becomes more brutally competitive by the year. Employment is a fight to the near-death with a multitude of other desperate people chasing ever fewer jobs. The modern overseers of the poor ascribe individual blame to economic circumstance. Endless competitions on television feed impossible aspirations as real opportunities contract.

Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do.

As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett has brilliantly documented, girls and young women routinely alter the photos they post to make themselves look smoother and slimmer. Some phones, using their "beauty" settings, do it for you without asking; now you can become your own thinspiration. Welcome to the post-Hobbesian dystopia: a war of everyone against themselves.

Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing

Is it any wonder, in these lonely inner worlds, in which touching has been replaced by retouching, that young women are drowning in mental distress? A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like.

If social rupture is not treated as seriously as broken limbs, it is because we cannot see it. But neuroscientists can. A series of fascinating papers suggest that social pain and physical pain are processed by the same neural circuits. This might explain why, in many languages, it is hard to describe the impact of breaking social bonds without the words we use to denote physical pain and injury. In both humans and other social mammals, social contact reduces physical pain. This is why we hug our children when they hurt themselves: affection is a powerful analgesic. Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction.

Experiments summarised in the journal Physiology & Behaviour last month suggest that, given a choice of physical pain or isolation, social mammals will choose the former. Capuchin monkeys starved of both food and contact for 22 hours will rejoin their companions before eating. Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement.

It is not hard to see what the evolutionary reasons for social pain might be. Survival among social mammals is greatly enhanced when they are strongly bonded with the rest of the pack. It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators, or to starve. Just as physical pain protects us from physical injury, emotional pain protects us from social injury. It drives us to reconnect. But many people find this almost impossible.

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.

Studies in both animals and humans suggest a reason for comfort eating: isolation reduces impulse control, leading to obesity. As those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are the most likely to suffer from loneliness, might this provide one of the explanations for the strong link between low economic status and obesity?

Anyone can see that something far more important than most of the issues we fret about has gone wrong. So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain? Should this question not burn the lips of everyone in public life?

There are some wonderful charities doing what they can to fight this tide, some of which I am going to be working with as part of my loneliness project. But for every person they reach, several others are swept past.

This does not require a policy response. It requires something much bigger: the reappraisal of an entire worldview. Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous. We stand together or we fall apart.

RachelL , 12 Oct 2016 03:57

Well its a bit of a stretch blaming neoliberalism for creating loneliness. Yet it seems to be the fashion today to imagine that the world we live in is new...only created just years ago. And all the suffering that we see now never existed before. Plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness never happened in the past, because everything was bright and shiny and world was good.

Regrettably history teaches us that suffering and deprivation have dogged mankind for centuries, if not tens of thousands of years. That's what we do; survive, persist...endure. Blaming 'neoliberalism' is a bit of cop-out. It's the human condition man, just deal with it.

B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 03:57
Some of the connections here are a bit tenuous, to say the least, including the link to political ideology. Economic liberalism is usually accompanied with social conservatism, and vice versa. Right wing ideologues are more likely to emphasize the values of marriage and family stability, while left wing ones are more likely to favor extremes of personal freedom and reject those traditional structures that used to bind us together.
ID236975 -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:15
You're a little confused there in your connections between policies, intentions and outcomes. Nevertheless, Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition.

In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity.

As Monbiot has noted, we are indeed lonelier.

DoctorLiberty -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
That holds true when you're talking about demographics/voters.

Economic and social liberalism go hand in hand in the West. No matter who's in power, the establishment pushes both but will do one or the other covertly.

All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomized and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in.

deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:00
The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities. Over the ensuing approx 250 years we abandoned geographically close relationships with extended families, especially post WW2. Underlying economic structures both capitalist and marxist dissolved relationships that we as communal primates evolved within. Then accelerate this mess with (anti-) social media the last 20 years along with economic instability and now dissolution of even the nuclear family (which couldn't work in the first place, we never evolved to live with just two parents looking after children) and here we have it: Mass mental illness. Solution? None. Just form the best type of extended community both within and outside of family, be engaged and generours with your community hope for the best.
terraform_drone -> deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
Indeed, Industrialisation of our pre-prescribed lifestyle is a huge factor. In particular, our food, it's low quality, it's 24 hour avaliability, it's cardboard box ambivalence, has caused a myriad of health problems. Industrialisation is about profit for those that own the 'production-line' & much less about the needs of the recipient.
afinch , 12 Oct 2016 04:03

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat.

Yes, although there is some question of which order things go in. A supportive social network is clearly helpful, but it's hardly a simple cause and effect. Levels of different mental health problems appear to differ widely across societies just in Europe, and it isn't particularly the case that more capitalist countries have greater incidence than less capitalist ones.

You could just as well blame atheism. Since the rise of neo-liberalism and drop in church attendance track each other pretty well, and since for all their ills churches did provide a social support group, why not blame that?

ID236975 -> afinch, 12 Oct 2016 04:22
While attending a church is likely to alleviate loneliness, atheism doesn't expressly encourage limiting social interactions and selfishness. And of course, reduced church attendance isn't exactly the same as atheism.

Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy.

anotherspace , 12 Oct 2016 04:05
So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?

My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices. We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other.

notherspace -> TremblingFactHunt , 12 Oct 2016 05:46
We as individuals are offered the 'choice' of consumption as an alternative to the devastating ennui engendered by powerlessness. It's no choice at all of course, because consumption merely enriches the 1% and exacerbates our powerlessness. That was the whole point of my post.

The 'choice' to consume is never collectively exercised as you suggest. Sadly. If it was, 'we' might be able to organise ourselves into doing something about it.

Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose.
ParisHiltonCommune -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 07:59
Disagree. Im British but have had more foreign friends than British. The UK middle class tend to be boring insular social status obsessed drones.other nationalities have this too, but far less so
Dave Powell -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 10:54
Multiculturalism is destroying social cohesion.
ParisHiltonCommune -> Dave Powell , 12 Oct 2016 14:47
Well, yes, but multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labor.

Multiculturalism isn't the only thing destroying social cohesion, too. It was being destroyed long before the recent surges of immigrants. It was reported many times in the 1980's in communities made up of only one culture. In many ways, it is being used as the obvious distraction from all the other ways Fundamentalist Free Marketers wreck live for many.

Rozina , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
This post perhaps ranges too widely to the point of being vague and general, and leading Monbiot to make some huge mental leaps, linking loneliness to a range of mental and physical problems without being able to explain, for example, the link between loneliness and obesity and all the steps in-between without risking derailment into a side issue.

I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources.

Go on, George, you can say that, why not?

MSP1984 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
Are you familiar with the term 'Laughter is the best medicine'? Well, it's true. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, yeah? Your stress hormones are reduced and the oxygen supply to your blood is increased, so...

I try to laugh several times a day just because... it makes you feel good! Let's try that, eh? Ohohoo... Hahaha... Just, just... Hahahaha... Come on, trust me.. you'll feel.. HahaHAhaha! O-o-o-o-a-hahahahaa... Share

ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 04:19
>Neoliberalism is creating loneliness.

Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold?

totaram -> ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 05:00
No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning.
greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 04:20
We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy". Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life.

Impertinent managers ban their staff from office relationships, as company policy, because the company is more important than its staff's wellbeing.

Companies hand out "free" phones that allow managers to harrass staff for work out of hours, on the understanding that they will be sidelined if thy don't respond.

And the wellbeing of "the economy" is of course far more important than whether the British people actually want to merge into a European superstate. What they want is irrelevant.

That nasty little scumbag George Osborne was the apotheosis of this ideology, but he was abetted by journalists who report any rise in GDP as "good" - no matter how it was obtained - and any "recession" to be the equivalent of a major natural disaster.

If we go on this way, the people who suffer the most will be the rich, because it will be them swinging from the lamp-posts, or cowering in gated communities that they dare not leave (Venezuela, South Africa). Those riots in London five years ago were a warning. History is littered with them.

DiscoveredJoys -> greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 05:48
You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. If this results in loneliness then that's certainly a downside - but the upside is that billions have been lifted out of absolute poverty worldwide by 'Neoliberalism'.

Mr Monbiot creates a compelling argument that we should end 'Neoliberalism' but he is very vague about what should replace it other than a 'different worldview'. Destruction is easy, but creation is far harder.

concerned4democracy , 12 Oct 2016 04:28
As a retired teacher it grieves me greatly to see the way our education service has become obsessed by testing and assessment. Sadly the results are used not so much to help children learn and develop, but rather as a club to beat schools and teachers with. Pressurised schools produce pressurised children. Compare and contrast with education in Finland where young people are not formally assessed until they are 17 years old. We now assess toddlers in nursery schools.
SATs in Primary schools had children concentrating on obscure grammatical terms and usage which they will never ever use again. Pointless and counter-productive.
Gradgrind values driving out the joy of learning.
And promoting anxiety and mental health problems.
colddebtmountain , 12 Oct 2016 04:33
It is all the things you describe, Mr Monbiot, and then some. This dystopian hell, when anything that did work is broken and all things that have never worked are lined up for a little tinkering around the edges until the camouflage is good enough to kid people it is something new. It isn't just neoliberal madness that has created this, it is selfish human nature that has made it possible, corporate fascism that has hammered it into shape. and an army of mercenaries who prefer the take home pay to morality. Crime has always paid especially when governments are the crooks exercising the law.

The value of life has long been forgotten as now the only thing that matters is how much you can be screwed for either dead or alive. And yet the Trumps, the Clintons, the Camerons, the Johnsons, the Merkels, the Mays, the news media, the banks, the whole crooked lot of them, all seem to believe there is something worth fighting for in what they have created, when painfully there is not. We need revolution and we need it to be lead by those who still believe all humanity must be humble, sincere, selfless and most of all morally sincere. Freedom, justice, and equality for all, because the alternative is nothing at all.

excathedra , 12 Oct 2016 04:35
Ive long considered neo-liberalism as the cause of many of our problems, particularly the rise in mental health problems, alienation and loneliness.

As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide.

The worst thing is that the evidence shows it doesn't work. Not one of the privatisations in this country have worked. All have been worse than what they've replaced, all have cost more, depleted the treasury and led to massive homelessness, increased mental health problems with the inevitable financial and social costs, costs which are never acknowledged by its adherents.

Put crudely, the more " I'm alright, fuck you " attitude is fostered, the worse societies are. Empires have crashed and burned under similar attitudes.

MereMortal , 12 Oct 2016 04:37
A fantastic article as usual from Mr Monbiot.

The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead. We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand. Although a remainder (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism.

I never understood how the collapse of world finance, resulted in a right wing resurgence in the UK and the US. The Tea Party in the US made the absurd claim that the failure of global finance was not due to markets being fallible, but because free markets had not been enforced citing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac as their evidence and of Bill Clinton insisting on more poor and black people being given mortgages.

I have a terrible sense that it will not go quietly, there will be massive global upheavals as governments struggle deal with its collapse.

flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 04:39
I have never really agreed with GM - but this article hits the nail on the head.

I think there are a number of aspects to this:

  1. The internet. The being in constant contact, our lives mapped and our thoughts analysed - we can comment on anything (whether informed or total drivel) and we've been fed the lie that our opinion is is right and that it matters) Ive removed fscebook and twitter from my phone, i have never been happier
  2. Rolling 24 hour news. That is obsessed with the now, and consistently squeezes very complex issues into bite sized simple dichotomies. Obsessed with results and critical in turn of everyone who fails to feed the machine
  3. The increasing slicing of work into tighter and slimmer specialisms, with no holistic view of the whole, this forces a box ticking culture. "Ive stamped my stamp, my work is done" this leads to a lack of ownership of the whole. PIP assessments are an almost perfect example of this - a box ticking exercise, designed by someone who'll never have to go through it, with no flexibility to put the answers into a holistic context.
  4. Our education system is designed to pass exams and not prepare for the future or the world of work - the only important aspect being the compilation of next years league tables and the schools standings. This culture is neither healthy no helpful, as students are schooled on exam technique in order to squeeze out the marks - without putting the knowledge into a meaningful and understandable narrative.

Apologies for the long post - I normally limit myself to a trite insulting comment :) but felt more was required in this instance.

Taxiarch -> flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 05:42
Overall, I agree with your points. Monbiot here adopts a blunderbuss approach (competitive self-interest and extreme individualism; "brutal" education, employment social security; consumerism, social media and vanity). Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and loneliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. So, when Monbiot's rhetoric rises:

"So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?"

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

We stand together or we fall apart.

Hackneyed and unoriginal but still true for all that.

flyboy101 -> Taxiarch , 12 Oct 2016 06:19
I think the answer is only

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

because of the lies that are being sold. We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimized. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault.

We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether that's entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday!

I share Monbiots pain here. But rather than get a sense of perspective - the answer is often "More public money and counseling"

DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
George Monbiot has struck a nerve. They are there every day in my small town local park: people, young and old, gender and ethnically diverse, siting on benches for a couple of hours at a time.

Trite as it may seem, this temporary thread of canine affection breaks the taboo of strangers passing by on the other side. Conversations, sometimes stilted, sometimes deeper and more meaningful, ensue as dog walkers become a brief daily healing force in a fractured world of loneliness. It's not much credit in the bank of sociability. But it helps.

Trite as it may seem from the outside, their interaction with the myriad pooches regularly walk

wakeup99 -> DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Do a parkrun and you get the same thing. Free and healthy.
ParisHiltonCommune -> SenseCir , 12 Oct 2016 08:47
Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to.

If you don't work hard, you will be a loser, don't look out of the window day dreaming you lazy slacker. Get productive, Mr Burns millions need you to work like a machine or be replaced by one.

Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:46
Good article. You΄re absoluately right. And the deeper casue is this: separation from God. If we don΄t fight our way back to God, individually and collectively, things are going to get a lot worse. With God, loneliness doesn΄t exist. I encourage anyone and everyone to start talking to Him today and invite Him into your heart and watch what starts to happen.
wakeup99 -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Religion divides not brings people together. Only when you embrace all humanity and ignore all gods will you find true happiness. The world and the people in it are far more inspiring when you contemplate the lack of any gods. The fact people do amazing things without needing the promise of heaven or the threat of hell - that is truly moving.
TeaThoughts -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 05:23
I see what you're saying but I read 'love' instead of God. God is too religious which separates and divides ("I'm this religion and my god is better than yours" etc etc). I believe that George is right in many ways in that money is very powerful on it's impact on our behavior (stress, lack etc) and therefore our lives. We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this.

We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wanted to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected.

When I moved house to move in with family and wasn't expected to pay rent, though I offered, all that dissatisfaction and undealt with stuff came spilling out and I realised I'd had no time for any real safe care above the very basics and that was not a good place to be. I put myself into therapy for a while and started to look after myself and things started to change. I hope to never go back to that kind of position but things are precarious financially and the field I work in isn't well paid but it makes me very happy which I realise now is more important.

geoffhoppy , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Neo-liberalism has a lot to answer for in bringing misery to our lives and accelerating the demise of the planet but I find it not guilty on this one. The current trends as to how people perceive themselves (what you've got rather than who you are) and the increasing isolation in our cities started way before the neo-liberals. It is getting worse though and on balance social media is making us more connected but less social. Share
RandomName2016 , 12 Oct 2016 04:48
The way that the left keeps banging on about neoliberalism is half of what makes them such a tough sell electorally. Just about nobody knows what neoliberalism is, and literally nobody self identifies as a neoliberal. So all this moaning and wailing about neoliberalism comes across as a self absorbed, abstract and irrelevant. I expect there is the germ of an idea in there, but until the left can find away to present that idea without the baffling layer of jargon and over-analysis, they're going to remain at a disadvantage to the easy populism of the right.
Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting article. We have heard so much about the size of our economy but less about our quality of life. The UK quality of life is way below the size of our economy i.e. economy size 6th largest in the world but quality of life 15th. If we were the 10th largest economy but were 10th for quality of life we would be better off than we are now in real terms.

We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline.

wakeup99 -> Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:56
Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality.
MikkaWanders , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting. 'It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators....' so perhaps the species is developing its own predators to fill a vacated niche.

(Not questioning the comparison to other mammals at all as I think it is valid but you would have to consider the whole rather than cherry pick bits)

johnny991965 , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Generation snowflake. "I'll do myself in if you take away my tablet and mobile phone for half an hour".
They don't want to go out and meet people anymore. Nightclubs for instance, are closing because the younger generation 'don't see the point' of going out to meet people they would otherwise never meet, because they can meet people on the internet. Leave them to it and the repercussions of it.....
johnny991965 -> grizzly , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
Socialism is dying on its feet in the UK, hence the Tory's 17 point lead at the mo. The lefties are clinging to whatever influence they have to sway the masses instead of the ballot box. Good riddance to them.
David Ireland -> johnny991965 , 13 Oct 2016 12:45
17 point lead? Dying on it's feet? The neo-liberals are showing their disconnect from reality. If anything, neo-liberalism is driving a people to the left in search of a fairer and more equal society.
justask , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
George Moniot's articles are better thought out, researched and written than the vast majority of the usual clickbait opinion pieces found on the Guardian these days. One of the last journalists, rather than liberal arts blogger vying for attention.
Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
Neoliberalism's rap sheet is long and dangerous but this toxic philosophy will continue unabated because most people can't join the dots and work out how detrimental it has proven to be for most of us.

It dangles a carrot in order to create certain economic illusions but the simple fact is neoliberal societies become more unequal the longer they persist.

wakeup99 -> Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 05:05
Neoliberal economies allow people to build huge global businesses very quickly and will continue to give the winners more but they also can guve everyone else more too but just at a slower rate. Socialism on the other hand mires everyone in stagnant poverty. Question is do you want to be absolutely or relatively better off.
totaram -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:19
You have no idea. Do not confuse capitalism with neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a political ideology based on a mythical version of capitalism that doesn't actually exist, but is a nice way to get the deluded to vote for something that doesn't work in their interest at all.
peterfieldman , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
And things will get worse as society falls apart due to globalisation, uberization, lack of respect for authority, lacks of a fair tax and justice system, crime, immorality, loss of trust of politicians and financial and corporate sectors, uncontrolled immigration bringing with it insecurity and the risk of terrorism and a dumbing down of society with increasing inequality. All this is in a new book " The World at a Crossroads" which deals with the major issues facing the planet.
Nada89 -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
What, like endless war, unaffordable property, monstrous university fees, zero hours contracts and a food bank on every corner, and that's before we even get to the explosion in mental distress.
monsieur_flaneur -> thedisclaimer , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
There's nothing spurious or obscure about Neoliberalism. It is simply the political ideology of the rich, which has been our uninterrupted governing ideology since Reagan and Thatcher: Privatisation, deregulation, 'liberalisation' of housing, labour, etc, trickledown / low-tax-on-the-rich economics, de-unionization. You only don't see it if you don't want to see it.
arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:03
I'm just thinking what is wonderful about societies that are big of social unity. And conformity. Those societies for example where you "belong" to your family. Where teenage girls can be married off to elderly uncles to cement that belonging. Or those societies where the belonging comes through religious centres. Where the ostracism for "deviant" behaviour like being gay or for women not submitting to their husbands can be brutal. And I'm not just talking about muslims here.

Or those societies that are big on patriotism. Yep they are usually good for mental health as the young men are given lessons in how to kill as many other men as possible efficiently.

And then I have to think how our years of "neo-liberal" governments have taken ideas of social liberalisation and enshrined them in law. It may be coincidence but thirty years after Thatcher and Reagan we are far more tolerant of homosexuality and willing to give it space to live, conversely we are far less tolerant of racism and are willing to prosecute racist violence. Feminists may still moan about equality but the position of women in society has never been better, rape inside marriage has (finally) been outlawed, sexual violence generally is no longer condoned except by a few, work opportunities have been widened and the woman's role is no longer just home and family. At least that is the case in "neo-liberal" societies, it isn't necessarily the case in other societies.

So unless you think loneliness is some weird Stockholm Syndrome thing where your sense of belonging comes from your acceptance of a stifling role in a structured soiety, then I think blaming the heightened respect for the individual that liberal societies have for loneliness is way off the mark.

What strikes me about the cases you cite above, George, is not an over-respect for the individual but another example of individuals being shoe-horned into a structure. It strikes me it is not individualism but competition that is causing the unhappiness. Competition to achieve an impossible ideal.

I fear George, that you are not approaching this with a properly open mind dedicated to investigation. I think you have your conclusion and you are going to bend the evidence to fit. That is wrong and I for one will not support that. In recent weeks and months we have had the "woe, woe and thrice woe" writings. Now we need to take a hard look at our findings. We need to take out the biases resulting from greater awareness of mental health and better and fuller diagnosis of mental health issues. We need to balance the bias resulting from the fact we really only have hard data for modern Western societies. And above all we need to scotch any bias resulting from the political worldview of the researchers.

Then the results may have some value.

birney -> arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
It sounded to me that he was telling us of farm labouring and factory fodder stock that if we'd 'known our place' and kept to it ,all would be well because in his ideal society there WILL be or end up having a hierarchy, its inevitable.
EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:04
Wasn't all this started by someone who said, "There is no such thing as Society"? The ultimate irony is that the ideology that championed the individual and did so much to dismantle the industrial and social fabric of the Country has resulted in a system which is almost totalitarian in its disregard for its ideological consequences.
wakeup99 -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Thatcher said it in the sense that society is not abstract it is just other people so when you say society needs to change then people need to change as society is not some independent concept it is an aggregation of all us. The left mis quote this all the time and either they don't get it or they are doing on purpose.
HorseCart -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:09
No, Neoliberalism has been around since 1938.... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world.

Furthermore, it could easily be argued that the Beatles helped create loneliness - what do you think all those girls were screaming for? And also it could be argued that the Beatles were bringing in neoliberalism in the 1960s, via America thanks to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis etc.. Share

billybagel -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:26
They're doing it on purpose. ""If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." -- Joseph Boebbels
Luke O'Brien , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Great article, although surely you could've extended the blame to capitalism has a whole?

In what, then, consists the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., that it does not belong to his nature, that therefore he does not realize himself in his work, that he denies himself in it, that he does not feel at ease in it, but rather unhappy, that he does not develop any free physical or mental energy, but rather mortifies his flesh and ruins his spirit. The worker, therefore, is only himself when he does not work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor, therefore, is not voluntary, but forced--forced labor. It is not the gratification of a need, but only a means to gratify needs outside itself. Its alien nature shows itself clearly by the fact that work is shunned like the plague as soon as no physical or other kind of coercion exists.

Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

JulesBywaterLees , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
We have created a society with both flaws and highlights- and we have unwittingly allowed the economic system to extend into our lives in negative ways.

On of the things being modern brings is movement- we move away from communities, breaking friendships and losing support networks, and the support networks are the ones that allow us to cope with issues, problems and anxiety.

Isolation among the youth is disturbing, it is also un natural, perhaps it is social media, or fear of parents, or the fall in extra school activities or parents simply not having a network of friends because they have had to move for work or housing.

There is some upsides, I talk and get support from different international communities through the social media that can also be so harmful- I chat on xbox games, exchange information on green building forums, arts forums, share on youtube as well as be part of online communities that hold events in the real world.

LordMorganofGlossop , 12 Oct 2016 05:11
Increasingly we seem to need to document our lives on social media to somehow prove we 'exist'. We seem far more narcissistic these days, which tends to create a particular type of unhappiness, or at least desire that can never be fulfilled. Maybe that's the secret of modern consumer-based capitalism. To be happy today, it probably helps to be shallow, or avoid things like Twitter and Facebook!

Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives.

Interestingly, the ultra conservative Adam Smith Institute yesterday decided to declare themselves 'neoliberal' as some sort of badge of honour:
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

eamonmcc , 12 Oct 2016 05:15
Thanks George for commenting in such a public way on the unsayable: consume, consume, consume seems to be the order of the day in our modern world and the points you have highlighted should be part of public policy everywhere.

I'm old enough to remember when we had more time for each other; when mothers could be full-time housewives; when evenings existed (evenings now seem to be spent working or getting home from work). We are undoubtedly more materialistic, which leads to more time spent working, although our modern problems are probably not due to increasing materialism alone.

Regarding divorce and separation, I notice people in my wider circle who are very open to affairs. They seem to lack the self-discipline to concentrate on problems in their marriage and to give their full-time partner a high level of devotion. Terrible problems come up in marriages but if you are completely and unconditionally committed to your partner and your marriage then you can get through the majority of them.

CEMKM , 12 Oct 2016 05:47
Aggressive self interest is turning in on itself. Unfortunately the powerful who have realised their 'Will to Power' are corrupted by their own inflated sense of self and thus blinded. Does this all predict a global violent revolution?
SteB1 -> NeverMindTheBollocks , 12 Oct 2016 06:32

A diatribe against a vague boogieman that is at best an ill-defined catch-all of things this CIFer does not like.

An expected response from someone who persistently justifies neoliberalism through opaque and baseless attacks on those who reveal how it works. Neoliberalism is most definitely real and it has a very definite history.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

However, what is most interesting is how nearly all modern politicians who peddle neoliberal doctrine or policy, refuse to use the name, or even to openly state what ideology they are in fact following.

I suppose it is just a complete coincidence that the policy so many governments are now following so closely follow known neoliberal doctrine. But of course the clever and unpleasant strategy of those like yourself is to cry conspiracy theory if this ideology, which dare not speak its name is mentioned.

Your style is tiresome. You make no specific supported criticisms again, and again. You just make false assertions and engage in unpleasant ad homs and attempted character assassination. You do not address the evidence for what George Monbiot states at all.

heian555 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56
An excellent article. One wonders exactly what one needs to say in order to penetrate the reptilian skulls of those who run the system.

As an addition to Mr Monbiot's points, I would like to point out that it is not only competitive self-interest and extreme individualism that drives loneliness. Any system that has strict hierarchies and mechanisms of social inclusion also drives it, because such systems inhibit strongly spontaneous social interaction, in which people simply strike up conversation. Thailand has such a system. Despite her promoting herself as the land of smiles, I have found the people here to be deeply segregated and unfriendly. I have lived here for 17 years. The last time I had a satisfactory face-to-face conversation, one that went beyond saying hello to cashiers at checkout counters or conducting official business, was in 1999. I have survived by convincing myself that I have dialogues with my books; as I delve more deeply into the texts, the authors say something different to me, to which I can then respond in my mind.

SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56

Epidemics of mental illness are crushing the minds and bodies of millions. It's time to ask where we are heading and why

I want to quote the sub headline, because "It's time to ask where we are heading and why", is the important bit. George's excellent and scathing evidence based criticism of the consequences of neoliberalism is on the nail. However, we need to ask how we got to this stage. Despite it's name neoliberalism doesn't really seem to contain any new ideas, and in some way it's more about Thatcher's beloved return to Victorian values. Most of what George Monbiot highlights encapsulatec Victorian thinking, the sort of workhouse mentality.

Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on.

To domesticate livestock, and to make them pliable and easy to work with the farmer must make himself appear to these herd animals as if they are their protector, the person who cares for them, nourishes and feeds them. They become reliant on their apparent benefactor. Except of course this is a deceitful relationship, because the farmer is just fattening them up to be eaten.

For the powerful to exploit the rest of people in society for their own benefit they had to learn how to conceal what they were really doing, and to wrap it in justifications to bamboozle the people they were exploiting for their own benefit. They did this by altering our language and inserting ideas in our culture which justified their rule, and the positions of the rest of us.

Before state religions, generally what was revered was the Earth, the natural world. It was on a personal level, and not controlled by the powerful. So the powerful needed to remove that personal meaningfulness from people's lives, and said the only thing which was really meaningful, was the religion, which of course they controlled and were usually the head of. Over generations people were indoctrinated in a completely new way of thinking, and a language manipulated so all people could see was the supposed divine right of kings to rule. Through this language people were detached from what was personally meaningful to them, and could only find meaningfulness by pleasing their rulers, and being indoctrinated in their religion.

If you control the language people use, you can control how perceive the world, and can express themselves.

By stripping language of meaningful terms which people can express themselves, and filling it full of dubious concepts such as god, the right of kings completely altered how people saw the world, how they thought. This is why over the ages, and in different forms the powerful have always attempted to have full control of our language through at first religion and their proclamations, and then eventually by them controlling our education system and the media.

The idea of language being used to control how people see the world, and how they think is of course not my idea. George Orwell's Newspeak idea explored in "1984" is very much about this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspeak

This control of language is well known throughout history. Often conquerors would abolish languages of those they conquered. In the so called New World the colonists eventually tried to control how indigenous people thought by forcibly sending their children to boarding school, to be stripped of their culture, their native language, and to be inculcated in the language and ideas of their colonists. In Britain various attempts were made to banish the Welsh language, the native language of the Britons, before the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans took over.

However, what Orwell did not deal with properly is the origin of language style. To Orwell, and to critics of neoliberalism, the problems can be traced back to the rise of what they criticised. To a sort of mythical golden age. Except all the roots of what is being criticised can be found in the period before the invention of these doctrines. So you have to go right back to the beginning, to understand how it all began.

Neoliberalism would never have been possible without this long control of our language and ideas by the powerful. It prevents us thinking outside the box, about what the problem really is, and how it all began.

clarissa3 -> SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 06:48
All very well but you are talking about ruthlessness of western elites, mostly British, not all.

It was not like that everywhere. Take Poland for example, and around there..

New research is emerging - and I'd recommend reading of prof Frost from St Andrew's Uni - that lower classes were actually treated with respect by elites there, mainly land owners and aristocracy who more looked after them and employed and cases of such ruthlessness as you describe were unknown of.

So that 'truth' about attitudes to lower classes is not universal!

SteB1 -> Borisundercoat , 12 Oct 2016 06:20

What is "neoliberalism" exactly?

It's spouted by many on here as the root of all evil.

I'd be interested to see how many different definitions I get in response...


The reason I call neoliberalism the ideology which dare not speak it's name is that in public you will rarely hear it mentioned by it's proponents. However, it was a very important part of Thatcherism, Blairism, and so on. What is most definite is that these politicians and others are most definitely following some doctrine. Their ideas about what we must do and how we must do it are arbitrary, but they make it sound as if it's the only way to do things.

If you want to learn more about neoliberalism, read a summary such as the Wikipedia page on it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

However, as I hint, the main problem in dealing with neoliberalism is that none of the proponents of this doctrine admit to what ideology they are actually following. Yet very clearly around the world leaders in many countries are clearly singing from the same hymn sheet because the policy they implement is so similar. Something has definitely changed. All the attempts to roll back welfare, benefits, and public services is most definitely new, or they wouldn't be having to reverse policy of the past if nothing had change. But as all these politicians implementing this policy all seem to refuse to explain what doctrine they are following, it makes it difficult to pin down what is happening. Yet we can most definitely say that there is a clear doctrine at work, because why else would so many political leaders around the world be trying to implement such similar policy.

Winstons1 -> TerryMcBurney , 12 Oct 2016 06:24

Neo-liberalism doesn't really exist except in the minds of the far left and perhaps a few academics.

Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. ... Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

I believe the term 'Neo liberalism' was coined by those well known 'Lefties'The Chicago School .
If you don't believe that any of the above has been happening ,it does beg the question as to where you have been for the past decade.

UnderSurveillance , 12 Oct 2016 06:12
The ironies of modern civilization - we have never been more 'connected' to other people on global level and less 'connected' on personal level.

We have never had access to such a wide range of information and opinions, but also for a long time been so divided into conflicting groups, reading and accessing in fact only that which reinforces what we already think.

John Pelan , 12 Oct 2016 06:18
Sir Harry Burns, ex-Chief Medical Officer in Scotland talks very powerfully about the impact of loneliness and isolation on physical and mental health - here is a video of a recent talk by him - http://www.befs.org.uk/calendar/48/164-BEFS-Annual-Lecture
MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 06:22
These issues have been a long time coming, just think of the appeals of the 60's to chill out and love everyone. Globalisation and neo-liberalism has simply made society even more broken.
The way these problems have been ignored and made worse over the last few decades make me think that the solution will only happen after a massive catastrophe and society has to be rebuilt. Unless we make the same mistakes again.
A shame really, you would think intelligence would be useful but it seems not.
ParisHiltonCommune -> MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 07:19
Contemporary Neo-liberalism is a reaction against that ideal of the 60s
DevilMayCareIDont , 12 Oct 2016 06:25
I would argue that it creates a bubble of existence for those who pursue a path of "success" that instead turns to isolation . The amount of people that I have met who have moved to London because to them it represents the main location for everything . I get to see so many walking cliches of people trying to fit in or stand out but also fitting in just the same .

The real disconnect that software is providing us with is truly staggering . I have spoken to people from all over the World who seem to feel more at home being alone and playing a game with strangers . The ones who are most happy are those who seem to be living all aloe and the ones who try and play while a girlfriend or family are present always seemed to be the ones most agitated by them .

We are humans relying on simplistic algorithms that reduce us ,apps like Tinder which turns us into a misogynist at the click of a button .

Facebook which highlights our connections with the other people and assumes that everyone you know or have met is of the same relevance .

We also have Twitter which is the equivalent of screaming at a television when you are drunk or angry .

We have Instagram where people revel in their own isolation and send updates of it . All those products that are instantly updated and yet we are ageing and always feeling like we are grouped together by simple algorithms .

JimGoddard , 12 Oct 2016 06:28
Television has been the main destroyer of social bonds since the 1950s and yet it is only mentioned once and in relation to the number of competitions on it, which completely misses the point. That's when I stopped taking this article seriously.
GeoffP , 12 Oct 2016 06:29
Another shining example of the slow poison of capitalism. Maybe it's time at last to turn off the tap?
jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
I actually blame Marx for neoliberalism. He framed society purely in terms economic, and persuaded that ideology is valuable in as much as it is actionable.

For a dialectician he was incredibly short sighted and superficial, not realising he was creating a narrative inimical to personal expression and simple thoughtfulness (although he was warned). To be fair, he can't have appreciated how profoundly he would change the way we concieve societies.

Neoliberalism is simply the dark side of Marxism and subsumes the personal just as comprehensively as communism.

We're picked apart by quantification and live as particulars, suffering the ubiquitous consequences of connectivity alone . . .

Unless, of course, you get out there and meet great people!

ParisHiltonCommune -> jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 07:16
Marxism arose as a reaction against the harsh capitalism of its day. Of course it is connected. It is ironic how Soviet our lives have become.
zeeeel , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way.
Drewv , 12 Oct 2016 06:30
That fine illustration by Andrzej Krauze up there is exactly what I see whenever I walk into an upscale mall or any Temple of Consumerism.

You can hear the Temple calling out: "Feel bad, atomized individuals? Have a hole inside? Feel lonely? That's all right: buy some shit you don't need and I guarantee you'll feel better."

And then it says: "So you bought it and you felt better for five minutes, and now you feel bad again? Well, that's not rocket science...you should buy MORE shit you don't need! I mean, it's not rocket science, you should have figured this out on your own."

And then it says: "Still feel bad and you have run out of money? Well, that's okay, just get it on credit, or take out a loan, or mortgage your house. I mean, it's not rocket science. Really, you should have figured this out on your own already...I thought you were a modern, go-get-'em, independent, initiative-seizing citizen of the world?"

And then it says: "Took out too many loans, can't pay the bills and the repossession has begun? Honestly, that's not my problem. You're just a bad little consumer, and a bad little liberal, and everything is your own fault. You go sit in a dark corner now where you don't bother the other shoppers. Honestly, you're just being a burden on other consumers now. I'm not saying you should kill yourself, but I can't say that we would mind either."

And that's how the worms turn at the Temples of Consumerism and Neoliberalism.

havetheyhearts , 12 Oct 2016 06:31
I kept my sanity by not becoming a spineless obedient middle class pleaser of a sociopathic greedy tribe pretending neoliberalism is the future.

The result is a great clarity about the game, and an intact empathy for all beings.

The middle class treated each conscious "outsider" like a lowlife, and now they play the helpless victims of circumstances.

I know why I renounced to my privileges. They sleepwalk into their self created disorder. And yes, I am very angry at those who wasted decades with their social stupidity, those who crawled back after a start of change into their petit bourgeois niche.

I knew that each therapist has to take a stand and that the most choose petty careers. Do not expect much sanity from them for your disorientated kids.
Get insightful yourself and share your leftover love to them. Try honesty and having guts...that might help both of you.

Likewhatever , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
Alternatively, neo-liberalism has enabled us to afford to live alone (entire families were forced to live together for economic reasons), and technology enables us to work remotely, with no need for interaction with other people.

This may make some people feel lonely, but for many others its utopia.

Peter1Barnet , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
Some of the things that characterise Globalisation and Neoliberalism are open borders and free movement. How can that contribute to isolation? That is more likely to be fostered by Protectionism. And there aren't fewer jobs. Employment is at record highs here and in many other countries. There are different jobs, not fewer, and to be sure there are some demographics that have lost out. But overall there are not fewer jobs. That falls for the old "lump of labour" fallacy.
WhigInterpretation , 12 Oct 2016 06:43
The corrosive state of mass television indoctrination sums it up: Apprentice, Big Brother, Dragon's Den. By degrees, the standard keeps lowering. It is no longer unusual for a licence funded TV programme to consist of a group of the mentally deranged competing to be the biggest asshole in the room.

Anomie is a by-product of cultural decline as much as economics.

Pinkie123 -> Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:18

What is certain, is that is most ways, life is far better now in the UK than 20, 30 or 40 years ago, by a long way!

That's debatable. Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979.

Our whole culture is more stressful. Jobs are more precarious; employment rights more stacked in favor of the employer; workforces are deunionised; leisure time is on the decrease; rents are unaffordable; a house is no longer a realistic expectation for millions of young people. Overall, citizens are more socially immobile and working harder for poorer real wages than they were in the late 70's.

As for mental health, evidence suggest that mental health problems have been on the increase over recent decades, especially among young people. The proportion of 15/16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years, from 1 in 30 to 2 in 30 for boys and 1 in 10 to 2 in ten for girls ( http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/increased-levels-anxiety-and-depression-teenage-experience-changes-over-time

Unfortunately, sexual abuse has always been a feature of human societies. However there is no evidence to suggest it was any worse in the past. Then sexual abuse largely took place in institutional settings were at least it could be potentially addressed. Now much of it has migrated to the great neoliberal experiment of the internet, where child exploitation is at endemic levels and completely beyond the control of law enforcement agencies. There are now more women and children being sexually trafficked than there were slaves at the height of the slave trade. Moreover, we should not forget that Jimmy Saville was abusing prolifically right into the noughties.

My parents were both born in 1948. They say it was great. They bought a South London house for next to nothing and never had to worry about getting a job. When they did get a job it was one with rights, a promise of a generous pension, a humane workplace environment, lunch breaks and an ethos of public service. My mum says that the way women are talked about now is worse.

Sounds fine to me. That's not to say everything was great: racism was acceptable (though surely the vile views pumped out onto social media are as bad or worse than anything that existed then), homosexuality was illegal and capital punishment enforced until the 1960's. However, the fact that these things were reformed showed society was moving in the right direction. Now we are going backwards, back to 1930's levels or inequality and a reactionary, small-minded political culture fueled by loneliness, rage and misery.

Pinkie123 -> Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:28
And there is little evidence to suggest that anyone has expanded their mind with the internet. A lot of people use it to look at porn, post racist tirades on Facebook, send rape threats, distributes sexual images of partners with their permission, take endless photographs of themselves and whip up support for demagogues. In my view it would much better if people went to a library than lurked in corporate echo chambers pumping out the like of 'why dont theese imagrantz go back home and all those lezbo fems can fuckk off too ha ha megalolz ;). Seriously mind expanding stuff. Share
Pinkie123 -> Pinkie123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
Oops ' without their permission...
maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 06:49
As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . This was encouraged and the organisation achieved an excellent record in retaining staff at a time when recruitment was difficult. Performance levels were also extremely high . I particulalry remember with gratitude the solidarity of staff when one of our colleagues - a haemophiliac - contracted aids through an infected blood transfusion and died bravely but painfully - the staff all supported him in every way possible through his ordeal and it was a privilege for me to work with such kind and caring people .
oommph -> maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 07:00
Indeed. Those communities are often undervalued. However, the problem is, as George says, lots of people are excluded from them.

They are also highly self-selecting (e.g. you need certain trains of inclusivity, social adeptness, empathy, communication, education etc to get the job that allows you to join that community).

Certainly I make it a priority in my life. I do create communities. I do make an effort to stand by people who live like me. I can be a leader there.

Sometimes I wish more people would be. It is a sustained, long-term effort. Share

forkintheroad , 12 Oct 2016 06:50
'a war of everyone against themselves' - post-Hobbesian. Genius, George.
sparclear , 12 Oct 2016 06:51
Using a word like 'loneliness' is risky insofar as nuances get lost. It can have thousand meanings, as there are of a word like 'love'.

isolation
grief
loneliness
feeling abandoned
solitude
purposelessness
neglect
depression
&c.

To add to this discussion, we might consider the strongest need and conflict each of us experiences as a teenager, the need to be part of a tribe vs the the conflict inherent in recognising one's uniqueness. In a child's life from about 7 or 8 until adolescence, friends matter the most. Then the young person realises his or her difference from everyone else and has to grasp what this means.

Those of us who enjoyed a reasonably healthy upbringing will get through the peer group / individuation stage with happiness possible either way - alone or in friendship. Our parents and teachers will have fostered a pride in our own talents and our choice of where to socialise will be flexible and non-destructive.

Those of us who at some stage missed that kind of warmth and acceptance in childhood can easily stagnate. Possibly this is the most awkward of personal developmental leaps. The person neither knows nor feels comfortable with themselves, all that faces them is an abyss.
Where creative purpose and strength of spirit are lacking, other humans can instinctively sense it and some recoil from it, hardly knowing what it's about. Vulnerabilities attendant on this state include relationships holding out some kind of ersatz rescue, including those offered by superficial therapists, religions, and drugs, legal and illegal.

Experience taught that apart from the work we might do with someone deeply compassionate helping us where our parents failed, the natural world is a reliable healer. A kind of self-acceptance and individuation is possible away from human bustle. One effect of the seasons and of being outdoors amongst other life forms is to challenge us physically, into present time, where our senses start to work acutely and our observational skills get honed, becoming more vibrant than they could at any educational establishment.

This is one reason we have to look after the Earth, whether it's in a city context or a rural one. Our mental, emotional and physical health is known to be directly affected by it.

Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 06:55
A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'. An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trick
worried -> Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:32
The rich and powerful can be just as lonely as you and me. However, some of them will be lonely after having royally forked the rest of us over...and that is another thing
Hallucinogen , 12 Oct 2016 06:59

We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.

- Fight Club
People need a tribe to feel purpose. We need conflict, it's essential for our species... psychological health improved in New York after 9/11.
ParisHiltonCommune , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
Totally agree with the last sentences. Human civilisation is a team effort. Individual humans cant survive, our language evolved to aid cooperation.

Neo-liberalism is really only an Anglo-American project. Yet we are so indoctrinated in it, It seems natural to us, but not to hardly any other cultures.

As for those "secondary factors. Look to advertising and the loss of real jobs forcing more of us to sell services dependent on fake needs. Share

deirdremcardle , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
Help save the Notting Hill Carnival
http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/teen-disembowelled-years-notting-hill-11982129

It's importance for social cohesion -- yes inspite of the problems , can not be overestimated .Don't let the rich drive it out , people who don't understand ,or care what it's for .The poorer boroughs cannot afford it .K&C have easily 1/2billion in Capital Reserves ,so yes they must continue . Here I can assure you ,one often sees the old and lonely get a hug .If drug gangs are hitting each other or their rich boy customers with violence - that is a different matter . And yes of course if we don't do something to help boys from ethnic minorities ,with education and housing -of course it only becomes more expensive in the long run.

Boris Johnson has idiotically mouthed off about trying to mobilise people to stand outside the Russian Embassy , as if one can mobilise youth by telling them to tidy their bedroom .Because that's all it amounts to - because you have to FEEL protest and dissent . Well here at Carnival - there it is ,protest and dissent . Now listen to it . And of course it will be far easier than getting any response from sticking your tongue out at the Putin monster --
He has his bombs , just as Kensington and Chelsea have their money. (and anyway it's only another Boris diversion ,like building some fucking stupid bridge ,instead of doing anything useful)

Lafcadio1944 , 12 Oct 2016 07:03
"Society" or at least organized society is the enemy of corporate power. The idea of Neoliberal capitalism is to replace civil society with corporate law and rule. The same was true of the less extreme forms of capitalism. Society is the enemy of capital because it put restrictions on it and threatens its power.

When society organizes itself and makes laws to protect society from the harmful effects of capitalism, for example demands on testing drugs to be sure they are safe, this is a big expense to Pfizer, there are many examples - just now in the news banning sugary drinks. If so much as a small group of parents forming a day care co-op decide to ban coca cola from their group that is a loss of profit.

That is really what is going on, loneliness is a big part of human life, everyone feels it sometimes, under Neoliberal capitalism it is simply more exaggerated due to the out and out assault on society itself.

Joan Cant , 12 Oct 2016 07:10
Well the prevailing Global Capitalist world view is still a combination 1. homocentric Cartesian Dualism i.e. seeing humans as most important and sod all other living beings, and seeing humans as separate from all other living beings and other humans and 2. Darwinian "survival of the fittest" seeing everything as a competition and people as "winners and losers, weak or strong with winners and the strong being most important". From these 2 combined views all kinds of "games" arise. The main one being the game of "victim, rescuer, persecutor" (Transactional Analysis). The Guardian engages in this most of the time and although I welcome the truth in this article to some degree, surprisingly, as George is environmentally friendly, it kinda still is talking as if humans are most important and as if those in control (the winners) need to change their world view to save the victims. I think the world view needs to zoom out to a perspective that recognises that everything is interdependent and that the apparent winners and the strong are as much victims of their limited world view as those who are manifesting the effects of it more obviously.
Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
Here in America, we have reached the point at which police routinely dispatch the mentally ill, while complaining that "we don't have the time for this" (N. Carolina). When a policeman refuses to kill a troubled citizen, he or she can and will be fired from his job (West Virginia). This has become not merely commonplace, but actually a part of the social function of the work of the police -- to remove from society the burden of caring for the mentally ill by killing them. In the state where I live, a state trooper shot dead a mentally ill man who was not only unarmed, but sitting on the toilet in his own home. The resulting "investigation" exculpated the trooper, of course; in fact, young people are constantly told to look up to the police.
ianita1978 -> Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed. This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering.
Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 07:14
The impact of increasing alienation on individual mental health has been known about and discussed for a long time.

When looking at a way forward, the following article is interesting:

"Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on.

The ordinary citizen thus lives in an incredibly deceiving reality. Perhaps this explains the tremendous and persistent gap between the burgeoning of motives to struggle, and the paucity of actual combatants. The contrary would be a miracle. Thus the considerable importance of what I call the struggle for representation: at every moment, in every area, to expose the deception and bring to light, in the simplicity of form which only real theoretical penetration makes possible, the processes in which the false-appearances, real and imagined, originate, and this way, to form the vigilant consciousness, placing our image of reality back on its feet and reopening paths to action."

https://www.marxists.org/archive/seve/lucien_seve.htm

ianita1978 -> Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 08:18
For the global epidemic of abusive, effacing homogenisation of human intellectual exchange and violent hyper-sexualisation of all culture, I blame the US Freudian PR guru Edward Bernays and his puritan forebears - alot.
bonhee -> Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 09:03
Thanks for proving that Anomie is a far more sensible theory than Dialectical Materialistic claptrap that was used back in the 80s to terrorize the millions of serfs living under the Jack boot of Leninist Iron curtain.
RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:15
There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate.

Anyway, the wheel has turned thank goodness. We are becoming wiser and understanding that "ecology" doesn't just refer to our relationship with the natural world but also, closer to home, our relationship with each other.

Jayarava Attwood -> RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:37
The Communist manifesto makes the same complaint in 1848. The wheel has not turned, it is still grinding down workers after 150 years. We are none the wiser.
Ben Wood -> RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:49
"The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will."
R Hunter
ianita1978 -> Ben Wood , 12 Oct 2016 08:13
Yep. And far too many good people have chosen to be the grateful dead in order to escape the brutal torture of bullying Predators.
magicspoon3 , 12 Oct 2016 07:30
What is loneliness? I love my own company and I love walking in nature and listening to relaxation music off you tube and reading books from the library. That is all free. When I fancied a change of scene, I volunteered at my local art gallery.

Mental health issues are not all down to loneliness. Indeed, other people can be a massive stress factor, whether it is a narcissistic parent, a bullying spouse or sibling, or an unreasonable boss at work.

I'm on the internet far too much and often feel the need to detox from it and get back to a more natural life, away from technology. The 24/7 news culture and selfie obsessed society is a lot to blame for social disconnect.

The current economic climate is also to blame, if housing and job security are a problem for individuals as money worries are a huge factor of stress. The idea of not having any goal for the future can trigger depressive thoughts.

I have to say, I've been happier since I don't have such unrealistic expectations of what 'success is'. I rarely get that foreign holiday or new wardrobe of clothes and my mobile phone is archaic. The pressure that society puts on us to have all these things- and get in debt for them is not good. The obsession with economic growth at all costs is also stupid, as the numbers don't necessarily mean better wealth, health or happiness.

dr8765 , 12 Oct 2016 07:34
Very fine article, as usual from George, until right at the end he says:

This does not require a policy response.

But it does. It requires abandonment of neoliberalism as the means used to run the world. People talk about the dangers of man made computers usurping their makers but mankind has, it seems, already allowed itself to become enslaved. This has not been achieved by physical dependence upon machines but by intellectual enslavement to an ideology.

John Smythe , 12 Oct 2016 07:35
A very good "Opinion" by George Monbiot one of the best I have seen on this Guardian blog page.

I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. Many other areas of human life are also under attack from the Neoliberal, even the very air we breathe, and the earth we stand upon.

Jayarava Attwood , 12 Oct 2016 07:36
The Amish have understood for 300 years that technology could have a negative effect on society and decided to limit its effects. I greatly admire their approach. Neal Stephenson's recent novel Seveneves coined the term Amistics for the practice of assessing and limiting the impact of tech. We need a Minister for Amistics in the government. Wired magazine did two features on the Amish use of telephones which are quite insightful.

The Amish Get Wired. The Amish ? 6.1.1993
look Who's talking . 1.1.1999

If we go back to 1848, we also find Marx and Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, complaining about the way that the first free-market capitalism (the original liberalism) was destroying communities and families by forcing workers to move to where the factories were being built, and by forcing women and children into (very) low paid work. 150 years later, after many generations of this, combined with the destruction of work in the North, the result is widespread mental illness. But a few people are really rich now, so that's all right, eh?

Social media is ersatz community. It's like eating grass: filling, but not nourishing.

ICYMI I had some thoughts a couple of days ago on how to deal with the mental health epidemic .

maplegirl , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
Young people are greatly harmed by not being able to see a clear path forward in the world. For most people, our basic needs are a secure job, somewhere secure and affordable to live, and a decent social environment in terms of public services and facilities. Unfortunately, all these things are sliding further out of reach for young people in the UK, and they know this. Many already live with insecure housing where their family could have to move at a month or two's notice.

Our whole economic system needs to be built around providing these basic securities for people. Neoliberalism = insecure jobs, insecure housing and poor public services, because these are the end result of its extreme free market ideology.

dynamicfrog , 12 Oct 2016 07:44
I agree with this 100%. Social isolation makes us unhappy. We have a false sense of what makes us unhappy - that success or wealth will enlighten or liberate us. What makes us happy is social connection. Good friendships, good relationships, being part of community that you contribute to. Go to some of the poorest countries in the world and you may meet happy people there, tell them about life in rich countries, and say that some people there are unhappy. They won't believe you. We do need to change our worldview, because misery is a real problem in many countries.
SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 07:47
It is tempting to see the world before Thatcherism, which is what most English writers mean when they talk about neo-liberalism, as an idyll, but it simply wasn't.

The great difficulty with capitalism is that while it is in many ways an amoral doctrine, it goes hand in hand with personal freedom. Socialism is moral in its concern for the poorest, but then it places limits on personal freedom and choice. That's the price people pay for the emphasis on community, rather than the individual.

Close communities can be a bar on personal freedom and have little tolerance for people who deviate from the norm. In doing that, they can entrench loneliness.

This happened, and to some extent is still happening, in the working class communities which we typically describe as 'being destroyed by Thatcher'. It's happening in close-knit Muslim communities now.

I'm not attempting to vindicate Thatcherism, I'm just saying there's a pay-off with any model of society. George Monbiot's concerns are actually part of a long tradition - Oliver Goldsmith's Deserted Village (1770) chimes with his thinking, as does DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.

proteusblu -> SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. For most, it is necessary to submit yourself to a form of being yoked, in terms of the daily grind which places limits on what you can then do, as the latter depends hugely on money. The idea that most people are "free" to buy the house they want, private education, etc., not to mention whether they can afford the many other things they are told will make them happy, is a very bad joke. Hunter-gatherers have more real freedom than we do. Share
Stephen Bell -> SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 09:07
Well said. One person's loneliness is another's peace and quiet.
stumpedup_32 -> Firstact , 12 Oct 2016 08:12
According to Wiki: 'Neoliberalism refers primarily to the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.'
queequeg7 , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
We grow into fear - the stress of exams and their certain meanings; the lower wages, longer hours, and fewer rights at work; the certainty of debt with ever greater mortgages; the terror of benefit cuts combined with rent increases.

If we're forever afraid, we'll cling to whatever life raft presents.

It's a demeaning way to live, but it serves the Market better than having a free, reasonably paid, secure workforce, broadly educated and properly housed, with rights.

CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
Insightful analysis... George quite rightly pinpoints the isolating effects of modern society and technology and the impact on the quality of our relationships. The obvious question is how can we offset these trends and does the government care enough to do anything about them?

It strikes me that one of the major problems is that [young] people have been left to their own devices in terms of their consumption of messages from Social and Mass online Media - analogous to leaving your kids in front of a video in lieu of a parental care or a babysitter. In traditional society - the messages provided by Society were filtered by family contact and real peer interaction - and a clear picture of the limited value of the media was propogated by teachers and clerics. Now young and older people alike are left to make their own judgments and we cannot be surprised when they extract negative messages around body image, wealth and social expectations and social and sexual norms from these channels. It's inevitable that this will create a boundary free landscape where insecurity, self-loathing and ultimately mental illness will prosper.

I'm not a traditionalist in any way but there has to be a role for teachers and parents in mediating these messages and presenting the context for analysing what is being said in a healthy way. I think this kind of Personal Esteem and Life Skills education should be part of the core curriculum in all schools. Our continued focus on basic academic skills just does not prepare young people for the real world of judgementalism, superficiality and cliques and if anything dealing with these issues are core life skills.

We can't reverse the fact that media and modern society is changing but we can prepare people for the impact which it can have on their lives.

school10 -> CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
A politician's answer. X is a problem. Someone else, in your comment it will be teachers that have to sort it out. Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. Taking kids away from their academic/cultural studies reduces this. This is a problem in society. What can society as a whole do to solve it and what are YOU prepared to contribute.
David Ireland -> CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 09:28
Rather difficult to do when their parents are Thatchers children and buy into the whole celebrity, you are what you own lifestyle too....and teachers are far too busy filling out all the paperwork that shows they've met their targets to find time to teach a person centred course on self-esteem to a class of 30 teenagers.
Ian Harris , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
I think we should just continue to be selfish and self-serving, sneering and despising anyone less fortunate than ourselves, look up to and try to emulate the shallow, vacuous lifestyle of the non-entity celebrity, consume the Earth's natural resources whilst poisoning the planet and the people, destroy any non-contributing indigenous peoples and finally set off all our nuclear arsenals in a smug-faced global firework display to demonstrate our high level of intelligence and humanity. Surely, that's what we all want? Who cares? So let's just carry on with business as usual!
BetaRayBill , 12 Oct 2016 08:01
Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools. No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence.
Bluecloud , 12 Oct 2016 08:01 Contributor
Having grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else.

What's the solution? Well if neoliberalism is the root cause, we need a systematic change, which is a problem considering there is no alternative right now. We can however, get active in rebuilding communities and I am encouraged by George Monbiot's work here.

My approach is to get out and join organizations working toward system change. 350.org is a good example. Get involved.

SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 08:09
we live in a narcissistic and ego driven world that dehumanises everyone. we have an individual and collective crisis of the soul. it is our false perception of ourselves that creates a disconnection from who we really are that causes loneliness.
rolloverlove -> SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 11:33
I agree. This article explains why it is a perfectly normal reaction to the world we are currently living in. It goes as far as to suggest that if you do not feel depressed at the state of our world there's something wrong with you ;-)
http://upliftconnect.com/mutiny-of-the-soul/
HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:10
Surely there is a more straightforward possible explanation for increasing incidence of "unhapiness"?

Quite simply, a century of gradually increasing general living standards in the West have lifted the masses up Maslows higiene hierarchy of needs, to where the masses now have largely only the unfulfilled self esteem needs that used to be the preserve of a small, middle class minority (rather than the unfulfilled survival, security and social needs of previous generations)

If so - this is good. This is progress. We just need to get them up another rung to self fulfillment (the current concern of the flourishing upper middle classes).

avid Ireland -> HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:59
Maslow's hierarchy of needs was not about material goods. One could be poor and still fulfill all his criteria and be fully realised. You have missed the point entirely.
HaveYouFedTheFish -> David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:25
Error.... Who mentioned material goods? I think you have not so much "missed the point" as "made your own one up" .

And while agreed that you could, in theory, be poor and meet all of your needs (in fact the very point of the analysis is that money, of itself, isn't what people "need") the reality of the structure of a western capitalist society means that a certain level of affluence is almost certainly a prerequisite for meeting most of those needs simply because food and shelter at the bottom end and, say, education and training at the top end of self fulfillment all have to be purchased. Share

HaveYouFedTheFish -> David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:40
Also note that just because a majority of people are now so far up the hierarchy does in no way negate an argument that corporations haven't also noticed this and target advertising appropriately to exploit it (and maybe we need to talk about that)

It just means that it's lazy thinking to presume we are in some way "sliding backwards" socially, rather than needing to just keep pushing through this adversity through to the summit.

I have to admit it does really stick in my craw a bit hearing millenials moan about how they may never get to *own* a really *nice* house while their grandparents are still alive who didn't even get the right to finish school and had to share a bed with their siblings.

Pinkie123 -> Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
There is no such thing as a free-market society. Your society of 'self-interest' is really a state supported oligarchy. If you really want to live in a society where there is literally no state and a more or less open market try Somalia or a Latin American city run by drug lords - but even then there are hierarchies, state involvement, militias.

What you are arguing for is a system (for that is what it is) that demands everyone compete with one another. It is not free, or liberal, or democratic, or libertarian. It is designed to oppress, control, exploit and degrade human beings. This kind of corporatism in which everyone is supposed to serve the God of the market is, ironically, quite Stalinist. Furthermore, a society in which people are encouraged to be narrowly selfish is just plain uncivilized. Since when have sociopathy and barbarism been something to aspire to?

LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:17
George, you are right, of course. The burning question, however, is not 'Is our current social set-up making us ill' (it certainly is), but 'Is there a healthier alternative?' What form of society would make us less ill? Socialism and egalatarianism, wherever they are tried, tend to lead to their own set of mental-illness-inducing problems, chiefly to do with thwarted opportunity, inability to thrive, and constraints on individual freedom. The sharing, caring society is no more the answer than the brutally individualistic one. You may argue that what is needed is a balance between the two, but that is broadly what we have already. It ain't perfect, but it's a lot better than any of the alternatives.
David Ireland -> LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:50
We certainly do NOT at present have a balance between the two societies...Have you not read the article? Corporations and big business have far too much power and control over our lives and our Gov't. The gov't does not legislate for a real living minimum wage and expects the taxpayer to fund corporations low wage businesses. The Minimum wage and benefit payments are sucked in to ever increasing basic living costs leaving nothing for the human soul aside from more work to keep body and soul together, and all the while the underlying message being pumped at us is that we are failures if we do not have wealth and all the accoutrements that go with it....How does that create a healthy society?
Saul Till , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
Neoliberalism. A simple word but it does a great deal of work for people like Monbiot.

The simple statistical data on quality of life differences between generations is absolutely nowhere to be found in this article, nor are self-reported findings on whether people today are happier, just as happy or less happy than people thirty years ago. In reality quality of life and happiness indices have generally been increasing ever since they were introduced.
It's more difficult to know if things like suicide, depression and mental illness are actually increasing or whether it's more to do with the fact that the number of people who are prepared to report them is increasing: at least some of the rise in their numbers will be down to greater awareness of said mental illness, government campaigns and a decline in associated social stigma.

Either way, what evidence there is here isn't even sufficient to establish that we are going through some vast mental health crisis in the first place, never mind that said crisis is inextricably bound up with 'neoliberalism'.

Furthermore, I'm inherently suspicious of articles that manage to connect every modern ill to the author's own political bugbear, especially if they cherry-pick statistical findings to support their point. I'd be just as, if not more, suspicious if it was a conservative author trying to link the same ills to the decline in Christianity or similar. In fact, this article reminds me very much of the sweeping claims made by right-wingers about the allegedly destructive effects of secularism/atheism/homosexuality/video games/South Park/The Great British Bake Off/etc...

If you're an author and you have a pet theory, and upon researching an article you believe you see a pattern in the evidence that points towards further confirmation of that theory, then you should step back and think about whether said pattern is just a bit too psychologically convenient and ideologically simple to be true. This is why people like Steven Pinker - properly rigorous, scientifically versed writer-researchers - do the work they do in systematically sifting through the sociological and historical data: because your mind is often actively trying to convince you to believe that neoliberalism causes suicide and depression, or, if you're a similarly intellectually lazy right-winger, homosexuality leads to gang violence and the flooding of(bafflingly, overwhelmingly heterosexual) parts of America.

I see no sign that Monbiot is interested in testing his belief in his central claim and as a result this article is essentially worthless except as an example of a certain kind of political rhetoric.

Rapport , 12 Oct 2016 08:38

social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat .... Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people.

Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day:

it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%

Why don't we explore some of the benefits?.. Following the long list of some the diseases, loneliness can inflict on individuals, there must be a surge in demand for all sort of medications; anti-depressants must be topping the list. There is a host many other anti-stress treatments available of which Big Pharma must be carving the lion's share. Examine the micro-economic impact immediately following a split or divorce. There is an instant doubling on the demand for accommodation, instant doubling on the demand for electrical and household items among many other products and services. But the icing on the cake and what is really most critical for Neoliberalism must be this: With the morale barometer hitting the bottom, people will be less likely to think of a better future, and therefore, less likely to protest. In fact, there is nothing left worth protecting.

Your freedom has been curtailed. Your rights are evaporating in front of your eyes. And Best of all, from the authorities' perspective, there is no relationship to defend and there is no family to protect. If you have a job, you want to keep, you must prove your worthiness every day to 'a company'.

[Sep 02, 2017] The Politics Of Desperation

Notable quotes:
"... Some will remember Walker's famous dispatch from the sharp end of the battlefield in Ukraine, in which he and his sidekick, Roland Oliphant, personally witnessed a Russian military convoy crossing into Ukraine, presumably bound for mischief in the Donbas and never got a picture. You just have to take their word for it. As I also mentioned before, Walker has his cellphone handy to snap a piccie if Aeroflot puts too much dill on his inflight meal. It's pretty hard to imagine he and his pal were on a daring mission to prove Russian military complicity in the resistance of Eastern Ukraine, and didn't bring along a single piece of equipment capable of taking a photograph. ..."
Aug 16, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Those who are regular readers here know what I think of Shaun Walker, the British Austin Powers lookalike and blabbermouth-at-large who scribes Russophobic nonsense for The Guardian , The Independent and whoever else will pay him. Naturally, since he sometimes actually lives in Moscow and writes about Russia a lot – all of it reliably sarcastic and mocking of the backward and bewildered Russian peasantry – and knows how to say "Sheremetyevo", he is regularly touted as a 'Russia expert' by the western media who feature his caustic denunciations of the Evil Empire and its wicked Emperor, Vladimir Putin.

Some will remember Walker's famous dispatch from the sharp end of the battlefield in Ukraine, in which he and his sidekick, Roland Oliphant, personally witnessed a Russian military convoy crossing into Ukraine, presumably bound for mischief in the Donbas and never got a picture. You just have to take their word for it. As I also mentioned before, Walker has his cellphone handy to snap a piccie if Aeroflot puts too much dill on his inflight meal. It's pretty hard to imagine he and his pal were on a daring mission to prove Russian military complicity in the resistance of Eastern Ukraine, and didn't bring along a single piece of equipment capable of taking a photograph.

All that notwithstanding, this is not really about Shaun Walker. He merely provided the catalyst for this post. I was reading an article awhile ago which quoted him, although of course I cannot find it now. This was around the time Russia kicked out some 600 or so employees of the United States Embassy to the Russian Federation in Moscow. Although it was too big a deal to ignore it altogether, the USA downplayed it by insisting almost none of them would be Americans, that the people let go would be almost entirely Russian 'local hires', and that the Embassy was rather looking forward to the folksy experience of teamwork and camaraderie which would see the Ambassador driving the mail truck and various diplomats sweeping the floors and taking out the trash. As if.

Anyway, for some time now Shaun Walker has been possessed of the belief that he has noticed something overlooked by the rest of the snoopy world; that back when Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the USA – ostensibly for Russian meddling in the American election and making Hillary lose – that would have been the time for Putin to drop the political-expulsion hammer of retaliation. But he didn't. Basically, there was no overt reaction whatever. Despite the fact that at the same time, the US government seized two Russian 'compounds'; property owned by Russia in the United States and used for diplomatic purposes.

Although Russia protested at the time – the properties were bought by the Soviet government, during the Cold War , at market prices and with US government approval and are therefore the legal property of the Soviet Union's inheritors – that the behavior was a de facto and de jure violation of international law, Russia did not react in kind.

A-HA!! says Walker. The reason for this apparent passivity is that Moscow was 'desperate' to see the return of these compounds – particularly the Maryland one, which is on Chesapeake Bay and which the Kremlin uses to covertly communicate with its submarines at sea. Please, don't laugh; I'm serious. Oh, Walker himself has never publicly aired the submarine theory, to the best of my knowledge, although he has helped via uncritical repetition to push the theory that Russia uses its diplomatic properties in the USA for 'spying'.

The cavalier confiscation of property without offering any proof at all that it is/was being used for nefarious purposes is typical of modern Washington administrations, for whom the law is useful only when it serves their purposes. But that's not really what got my attention. No, I was more interested in the over-use of the 'desperate' meme to characterize Russia; everywhere you look, Russia or Putin – or both – is 'desperate' about this or that. To hear the west tell it, through its stable of journalists, Russia has its back to the wall, as the forces of righteousness and retribution remorselessly advance. Is that the way it is, do you think?

I'll tell you up front – I don't. What I think is that the 'desperate' label belongs to Washington, as Russia tears its playhouse down, room by room, around the world.

In Syria. Remember Aleppo, which was lovingly shaped by western journalists as the Alamo of Syria, the last-ditch stand of all that was decent against the malevolent double-whammy of the merciless butcher Assad and hordes of Russian bombers indiscriminately blasting the shit out of everything? You don't hear much about Aleppo now, although you certainly would if it remained a shooting-gallery for the Syrian Arab Army. But in fact, since hostilities ceased with the SAA's taking of the city, more than 600,000 Syrians have moved back to their homes in Aleppo , according to the International Organization for Migration and as reported by fearless independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone.

Washington did everything it could, short of a preemptive strike, to stop the combined forces of Russia and the democratically-elected Syrian government from re-taking Aleppo, from frantic babbling for a cease-fire at every SAA advance to the absurd childish exhortations of wholly-owned State Department propaganda outlet Bana Albed to start World War Three rather than let Assad and Russia triumph. I'm not making that up; she (or her typist) actually tweeted, "Dear world, it's better to start 3rd world war instead of letting Russia and assad commit (hashtag) HolocaustAleppo" . Clearly, a girl after Phil Breedlove's own heart, and if you don't mind my saying so, quite an adult encapsulation from somebody who later could only parrot "Save the children of Syria" no matter what her interviewers asked her, and who can plainly not speak English .

In Ukraine. When Washington directly intervened in Ukraine's Maidan protests – which up to that time had been a somewhat desultory performance by a small crowd mostly comprised of students, but which quickly morphed under State Department direction into a muscular PR vehicle with paid-for crowds – it was all going to go like clockwork. The regime-change operation had been refined and bored and stroked through several successful operations, and it was child's play to knock over Yanukovych even though he had capitulated to all the protesters' demands except that he step down immediately, granting opposition figures significant government representation. But Washington's naive idealizations of how it would make a prosperous western-style market democracy of Ukraine ignored a few important things – such as that cutting it off from Russia also cut it off from more than half of its export market, and that its oligarchy remained entirely in place except for Yanukovych. The aforementioned non-Yanukovych oligarchy merrily continued stealing most of the GDP, since it is not a major concern of oligarchs who is in charge. Even if it were, the leader soon was one of their own .

These days, all you hear is how corruption is threatening the rebirth of Ukraine as a western acquisition, and quite a few of the western cheerleaders have grown exasperated with Ukraine's lack of progress toward 'western standards'. Even Nolan Peterson, former US Special Forces pilot and full-time Russophobe, who formerly spoke of Ukraine in the rhapsodic tones normally reserved for Mom's cooking and American Values, is annoyed . Floundering ever closer to failed-statehood, Ukraine has become the tar-baby the west doesn't want any more, but cannot let go of. Snatching Ukraine away from the Eurasian Union really hurt Russia, didn't it? In fact, there is every possibility it will one day – under a different government – be associated once more with Russia, although it will be a sadder and wiser country by that time. Who has it cost more to try the Ukrainian-remodeling project – Russia, or the west?

At home, in America. The silly effort to sell the story that Russian state hackers stole the election for Trump is falling apart, as former intelligence professionals point out that the data transfer rate of the stolen data which was taken from the DNC server was far too high to have occurred over the internet . Instead, they argue, it was much more likely to have been tapped off directly with a thumb drive (USB stick) or some such similar device. Washington's counter to this has so far been that the FSB could have access to much faster networks. I suppose they might, but why would they go to so much trouble to steal data on the Democrats, and then leave their own fingerprints all over it?

That doesn't mean the Democrats – and those for whom Russian hacking is a convenient story to be used for fomenting fear of Russia and an inability to think straight – are going to just give up, of course. No, indeed. They doubled down a long time ago and are now quadrupling down, or something. The latest frantic – yes, 'desperate' – dodge is the very convenient emergence of a Ukrainian 'malware expert' whose hacking tools were stolen by the Russian state to carry out their underhanded undertakings. He has been arrested, and is going to turn 'state's evidence' to clear his name. Absurd. 'Guccifer' the recently-famous hacker who was supposedly responsible for penetrating Clinton's server, identified as a Romanian; Romania is an EU country. That wasn't the 'Russia' flag Hillary and the Democrats were looking for, and hokey behavioral studies which suggested Guccifer was telling the truth were tossed out – he was obviously a liar. But now 'Profexer' (no word if that is his Christian name or his patronymic) has appeared and looks ready to blow the whistle on Russian hacking. Giving up is for weaklings.

We were discussing, in the later comments to the previous post, who it was who said that no Empire has lasted longer than 300 years, considering the USA celebrated its bicentennial in 1976. Although I was unable to find any reference which spelled that out – the introduction to "Legacy of Ashes", a book on the CIA, contains a quote which says no Republic has lasted more than 300 years – my search did turn up this quote, attributed to Alexander Tytler, in 1787.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.

If it were possible to substitute "confusion and ignorance due to being bullshitted six ways from Sunday on the true state of affairs by journalists who owe their loyalty to the political machine" for "complacency", I'd say that's just about the stage we're seeing right now.

Not much of a step from there to bondage, is it? Better get to the head of the line early; otherwise the Nerf shackles will be all gone.

[Jul 05, 2017] I thought nothing in Russia could shock me. Then I went to a television broadcast

Neoliberal guardian presstitute in all glory... It's a real Orwellian hate hour. Those presstitutes do love Saudi monarchy, though
But with is interesting that the tone of comments recently changes and composition of audience changed too. the number of hateful comments about Russia is astounding, and suggest some manipulation of public opinion. It is plausible that some or most comments are produced by government agencies or with the help of volunteers. It is difficult to see which comments are genuine and which are generated.
Jul 05, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
greenmanilishi ladyjanegrey , 30 Jun 2017 13:23 msm ,

Guardian,Telegraph,BBC,CNN,CBS,NBC ... all the letters of the alphabet have no intention of questioning US claims of authority to invade, attack, destroy nations who they decide are to be destroyed.... Iraq, Libya, Syria etc.etc.

Bush Cameron,Obama,Clinton, ΄we came , we saw, he died, ha, ha, ha΄ .....

I never heard Putin say anything like that..... push back against US war mongering and UK EU support or indifference to 25 years of destruction and mayhem... not Russian tv

Kiselev -> senya, 30 Jun 2017 13:22

That why USA have 11 peaceful aircraft carriers..Because of Russia that barely have one..

GeoffP Zepp , 30 Jun 2017 13:09

Bah: that's crap. WikiLeaks is still producing relevant stuff on the DNC and HRC as it goes along, and on the military-industrial complex in general. There's nothing wrong with that - and those that think it's 'corrupted' merely because it kicked over a beloved seizure horse really need to seriously re-examine their biases. As for this:

Their main motivation seems to be that acknowledging that Putin is a vicious dictator who interfered in US election denigrates Wikileaks.

??? Who in the hell thinks that? In short: citation needed. Badly.

doskey , 30 Jun 2017 13:07
I'm sorry as much as I would like to jump on the bandwagon (and there's much wrong in Russia), but isn't this article speaking for exactly what the police accused the writer accused of - journalism?

If he indeed came on a tourist visa and does investigative work, that is in a shady area, whatever the country. If I come to the U.S. and speak to groups as the Resistance, Black Lives Matter and democratic party leaders, I'd hardly classify as a tourist, no?

lochinverboy , 30 Jun 2017 11:23
Given the truly odious regimes we do business with and never criticise, it is telling that we never hear anything positive about Russia. Nor did we when it was part of the Communist USSR. It can't be an orchestrated US led campaign of destabilisation to allow the West access to those huge oil and gas resources!!!
footbollocks Guardianangell , 30 Jun 2017 10:42
>>"Ah, yes I remember Russia invading several countries in the last, lets say 15 years. Damn, we should keep a close eye on them."
Your reply appears to be alluding to several recent US led attacks on Arab regimes. Accordingly, in so far as it engages my observation that Putin's Russia approaches a fascist dictatorship that is a threat to countries on its borders, to the EU and to liberal democracy, you suggests one of four things:
(a) The US likewise approaches a fascist dictatorship
(b) The US poses a similar threat to the EU
(c) The US poses a similar threat to liberal democracy
(d) The US poses a similar threat to the countries on Russia's borders.
Plainly, however, all of (a) to (d) are false.
I conclude that the evident pleasure you take in what seems to you to be a clever comment is smug and delusional.
Martyn Richard Jones , 30 Jun 2017 10:37

These days Russia woos like a gangster, not a lover.

That's not the impression I get, at all. I find them to be relatively restrained, thoughtful and civil. Especially given the expansionist antics that NATO has got up to over the years.

It's easy to point the finger at Moscow, a habit that is over a century old. If the west had taken Thatcher's advice over the handling of the USSR, none of this would have probably come to pass.

dorotea petesire , 30 Jun 2017 10:25
It all really boils down to what kind of facts he was after. To, me, his whole piece sounds pretty much like hate-mongering, and yes it also can be classified as propaganda. So, the dude went to Russia pretty much with an agenda of collecting facts fitting with his already planned and pre-commissioned book, and then is so much 'surprised' when the trip is classified as professional work , not tourism. And when they asked him to sign paperwork confirming that he was travelling as a pro - he called it 'fake'. Wonderful way of presenting things that rivals the tv show he is so much disgusted with. Btw, if you want to enjoy real Orwellian hate-hour - just travel to US and turn on CNN , or any other mass media tv channel.
andrewboston , 30 Jun 2017 10:23
kleptocratic clique
-- just like Trump and May
Nazi weren't a different, long extinct species, they're alive and well as Rethugricans and Torys, today, mostly.
The UK Empire and the USA Empire are among the greatest evil the world has seen.... and they need enemies to maintain war profits.
Paul4701 , 30 Jun 2017 10:19
Interesting article, but let's be honest. It has become long clear that non-Western nations can not be viewed with Western social and political goggles. Putin might not meet many of the check boxes that symbolize Western (Democratic Values), neither does the US when we take a good close look or any of the other Western countries.
Point being: hate mongering by Russian TV is being seen as scary yet most Russian view Western Media as Hate-Mongers against Russia.
Tell me: Who is right here?
Yessen Bulumbayev chris rhode , 30 Jun 2017 10:03
Nice democracy you are having - population brainwashed by corrupted, aligned with warmongering foreign policy -->
Gwydion Madawc Williams , 30 Jun 2017 09:52
Yet another article that fails to face up to the West's abysmal failure in Russia in the 1990s. Then, they thought the West was friendly to the new non-Communist Russia. A Russia that had given up its Colonial Empire than any nation in the West managed.

The Yeltsin years saw a rise in the death rate, a shrinking of the economy and vast amounts of public property pass into the hands of crooks. This happened thanks to crackpot New Right schemes that issued shares as individual property of the company workers. Outside of New Right fairy tails, it was absolutely predictable that almost all of them would be sold for immediate cash profit. And not unexpected that it was crooks who scooped the big prizes.

Setting up genuine collectives in which you can't sell your share for cash might have worked. Anathema to the New Right, even though such schemes work and there need not be anything leftist about them.

So, years of miserable failure under Yeltsin. A recovery under Putin, whom polls show to be one of the most popular Russians ever. Though coming second to Stalin, and Western 'experts' should be wondering why instead of sneering at it from what they suppose to be a position of superior wisdom.

A 'wisdom' coming mostly from the widespread influence of Trotskyists and former Trotskyists. That this view has wholly failed to work in the real world does not put them off. (See https://gwydionwilliams.com/history-and-philosophy/why-trotksys-politics-achieved-nothing-solid /)

Protestors say that this was all wrong. That the majority who still back Putin are not allowed to do this, for unexplained reasons.

General Russian intolerance for the tiny minority nostalgic for the years of Russia's decline and humiliation is regrettable. But hardly unexpected. Do you think Britons would be any more tolerant had they been though something similar? You need only look at Northern Ireland and the dominant DUP to get the answer.

Or UKIP, which surged until the Tories took over many of its policies.

Yessen Bulumbayev jadamsj , 30 Jun 2017 09:47
Don't be lazy, read the report of UN inspection group report about gas attacks in 2013, which freely available online, before making whose baseless accusations. Or just watch the video http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22424188 Carla Del Ponte ex-leading member of a UN commission of inquiry saying that rebels used sarin.
Dregsy , 30 Jun 2017 09:46
Sorry, were you there on a work visa or a holiday visa? And what was the work visa for? It sounds to me like you've been pulled up and let off lightly for doing something you know better than to do. -->
wartypig , 30 Jun 2017 09:44
The new Russia is a reflexion of western policy, the more the west interfere tne more nationalistic and oppressive they will become. It seems Mr Putin may have detractors and yes he is becoming ever more authoritarian but he still has popular support as far as I'm aware.

This is a issue that the Russian people will resolve in their own time in their own unique manner, interference simply closes ranks. There seems to be a concerted effort to demonize Russia by the western press yet the west allies its self with far more oppressive regimes, it is a glaring double standard, this alone makes me question the validity of all anti Russian articles.

Mr Putin has a habit of serving radioactive tea to his fellow citizens so if invited to dinner I would insist on a food taster, that alone wouldn't stop me going if invited, not that our secret services are beyond such nefarious activitys.

Perdito , 30 Jun 2017 09:40
Doesn't sound much different from an average episode of Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer. Mr Roxburgh should watch more TV.

As for 'teenage supporters of Alexei Navalny', here is a view from a Russian on this latest western-sponsored hero of resistance to Putin:

http://www.unz.com/akarlin/signifying-navalny/?highlight=Navalny

The fact is that four out of five Russians like the status quo, don't like being falsely accused of 'invading' Ukraine or 'stealing' Crimea, don't like Poland facilitating NATO aggression, don't like being denounced (by neocons, already) for doing the dirty work of cleaning out ISIS in Syria.

In general they don't like foreigners lecturing them on how to become more like the Europe or America which have so often tried to conquer and plunder them- unsuccessfully. They still remember what neoliberal economics did to the country after communism packed up.

They want to be Russians, and sometimes they express that preference somewhat crudely. They think it takes a strongman to hold the place together, be he Nevsky, Ivan, Peter the Great, Suvorov, Stolypin or Stalin. They judge the latest iteration of the strongman figure rather less dictatorial and punitive than his predecessors.

Since the RF is slowly and fitfully becoming more capitalist and more Christian, why not stop riling it and concentrate on the world's really bad actors- instead of portraying Putin as a modern Blofeld, because the military industrial complex needs more arms orders?

lordtruth , 30 Jun 2017 09:29
Here is someone who is basically a journalist who travels to Russia and gets a job thus breaking the laws about tourism and work that exist everywhere in the world particularly in Britian see Brexit problems He is arrested and given a small fine whats his problem?
His function as a tourist/spy journalist is to write an article attacking every aspect of Russia ,its people and government.
What is behind all this insane talk about the Russians the Russians?
Its quite simple really. America has ways believed that its destiny is to rule and control the world.
Its main enemy has always been the British which is why it supported Germany in WW1 AND The Nazis in WW2 confidently expecting Britiain to be invaded and defeated (there was no way that had America could have helped Britain if this had happened at such a late stage.
After WW2 there was Russia to contend with.Of course there was no real threat but the cold war kept the US defence industry going and gave Americans good jobs
With the collapse of the Soviet Union the full greed of America was unleashed which has resulted in an appallingly broken nation with two thirds of Americans living in appalling conditions while the rich get richer every day. In this situation there is only one thing to be done ..bring on the big Russian Bear. Nothing makes poor people forget their misery like being frightened and having someone to hate. Its true Russia also has750 nuclear missiles ready to fire at the west and that does irritate Americans but its nothing compared to America
America is trying to humiliate Russia by destroying Russias only ally in the Middle east Syria and has used the western media to use every trick to demonise Assad
Will America actually destroy the world as a result of all this? Possibly if not probably
Meanwhile the best advice is stop reading articles attacking Russia Support Putin and Assad and if you cant ,go on holiday and wait for the nuclear cloud coming soon to a town like yours....
TrueTeller , 30 Jun 2017 09:21
Let me understand something. You go to Russia and called the Russian government a kleptocracy and the police as thuggish then expect to be treated with respect and with love. Come to New York with that nonsense and you may well end up in our local hospital if you're lucky. -->
Ieuan RoeMaporix , 30 Jun 2017 09:00
RoeMaporix asked: "Does anyone over here actually like Putin?"

No doubt I'll get labelled a 'Putinbot', but I reckon there could be worse people in charge of Russia. Alas Yeltsin and his entourage encouraged the Russian mafia (oligarchs) so much that Putin had a hell of a job to try and clear up the mess he left.

It amuses me that the mafia trusted him so much that they installed him, and then he turned on them (moral: never trust a cop). Unfortunately to make any inroads into the gangster state he took over, he had to act like a gangster himself, but you only have to look at his enemies to see that out of a very bad choice, he was probably the best.

Ordinary Russians seem to like/approve of him, and that is all that matters for me, he reflects their values (unpopular as they may be in the 'liberal' west.)

He also strikes me as a very clever man who goes his own way (which are virtues I respect) who also surrounds himself with very clever advisors.

Jared Hall ngonyama , 30 Jun 2017 08:37
There's no evidence of that. Even CNN producers are saying it's bullshit now.

CNN Senior Producer Admits "Russia Story All Bullsh*t" -->

Yarkob Bauhaus , 30 Jun 2017 08:36
Yes, coupled with the pre-crime in Syria it really does sound like the drumbeat for war is starting..oh and for an excellent set of responses to the first "chemical attack" ignore the massively biased and under researched hogwash from the OPCW and check out Theodor Postol's papers, and also Sy Hersh' excellent piece in Die Welt this week..No, I won't provide links. If people are really interested in finding out the truth, a little self-reliance is necessary these days..

You're welcome

Brenda Micheletti , 30 Jun 2017 08:04
Eventually, they let me off with a small fine

You have not been in a British Cell, by the sound of it.
Navalny was posting from his cell on the internet.
Here they take your glasses away so that you cannot see.

We had enough of so much sugar pushed down our throats.
Propaganda unlimited.

Arapas , 30 Jun 2017 07:54
Tourists should walk round Red Square and go to the Bolshoi, not interview politicians or visit environmental disaster zones, or meet teenage supporters of Putin

I know of people who got barred from entering the UK, and even worse barred from entering the US because of their religion.
It is a fact that troublemakers are not welcome in any country, except Iraq and Libya.

[Jul 02, 2017] Quite interesting Guardian piece encouraging to hate Russia and Putin while droning on about Hate Week in Orwell

Notable quotes:
"... "The use of fraudulent or forged documents should be-there's absolutely zero tolerance from us on this. If we find people submitting documents that are forged or fraudulent or they haven't disclosed full facts to us , we will not only refuse their application, they then risk a ban of 10 years from the UK if they make a subsequent application," Mackie said. ..."
Jul 02, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Pavlo Svolochenko ,

June 30, 2017 at 8:19 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/30/russia-putin-protests-police-arrests-tv-show?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fzen.yandex.com

Dumb Guardian article or dumbest Guardian article?

marknesop , June 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm
There you go – he's received the ultimate shock; time to go home to the Pearl of Empire and spend his dotage rambling the moors in his wellies, or watching the sea thrash the Cornish coast, or something. Time to leave Russia, in any event; he's been studying it for 45 years, and this is the best he can come up with, while he plainly does not understand it. Why does he spend his time there, if everyone is a thug and a hate leader – why, in the name of God, does he spend time in a country where people live who have never heard of George Orwell?

By the bye, if you enter the UK on a visitor's visa and then work as a journalist, you might be looking at a 10-year ban on a subsequent re-application , you parrot-faced wazzock.

"The use of fraudulent or forged documents should be-there's absolutely zero tolerance from us on this. If we find people submitting documents that are forged or fraudulent or they haven't disclosed full facts to us , we will not only refuse their application, they then risk a ban of 10 years from the UK if they make a subsequent application," Mackie said.

Pavlo Svolochenko , July 1, 2017 at 3:32 am
If he didn't pad it out with invective, the article would be one or two paragraphs at most.

The undeleted comments are the real hoot – the average guardian reader appears to be a human being who failed the Turing test.

Cortes , July 1, 2017 at 6:23 am
I wonder how the comment by "timiengels" of a day ago evaded the cull:

"Quite interesting a piece encouraging to hate Russia and Putin while droning on about 'Hate Week' in Orwell."

Reply

[Jun 24, 2017] Proliferation of psychopaths might be connected with two factors: less wars and more lax laws due to deregulation

Jun 24, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
muscleguy , 10 Oct 2011 12:22

@wondernick

i think my main concern with evolutionary psychology is by rationalising these behaviours as being the result of long term trends there is no way of explaining substantial changes in behaviour over time. and we know, despite the daily mails best efforts, that british culture (for example) is less aggressive and sexist than it was 50 years ago, 100 years ago etc. although there's still a long ways to go...

Some of that is likely to be genetic. Really aggressive people tend to get weeded out of civilised societies either by committing crime and then either being executed or jailed. The other route of course is to go to war, and not come back.

Other influences are that as society becomes less aggressive and more law abiding more children know their fathers and live with them. We know that boys in particular raised without their fathers tend to be more aggressive than those raised by them.

As for less sexism I think rather paradoxically that we can blame the wars for that, the industrial ones at least when women were needed to keep the country running so the men could go off and fight. Of course when they came back there was a shortage of men so some women were needed to go on working. This increased in the second and even though the Fifties were supposedly an era of housewives this was only part of the story. The interesting thing is how it was kept going afterwards when there 'enough' men again. I suspect that the white heat of technology was to blame here, the increasing complexity of industry, technology, university expansion etc meant our societies simply needed the intelligence, knowledge, dexterity etc of women, so not only did the men learn to value them by working alongside them but they had the economic independence to demand less sexism.

You are right to be skeptical of evolutionary psych that considers only Western people but not all of it does and that tendency should not be used to damn the entire field. As Trivers points out not just our primate relatives but creatures like scrub jays have been shown to employ deceit. We know at what stage our infants are able to deploy it, Trivers points out that the more intelligent we are the more likely we are to lie. So therefore it is not unreasonable to think it is somehow hardwired in us. Whether that means there are genes for deceit there may well be neural circuits for it, tied into things like mirror neurons that give us theory of mind.

Also while it is true that we are not slaves to all of our evolution laden tendencies it does not follow that we are entirely free of all of them. For eg while it is possible to stare oneself to death in the face of food, not many have managed to take the much shorter route to death of voluntarily refusing to drink. We have biochemical pathways to enable us to endure periods when food is scarce or absent or we are stupid enough to try Dr Atkins's diet. We can scavenge water from our food and stave off thirst that way but we cannot stave off thirst itself. The body has only limited ways of generating water. Burning carbs or fat will give you some but by far not enough for more than about 3 days max.

SamJo , 10 Oct 2011 12:07

Genes were responsible, somehow, for you fighting the whirlwind to save your sister, but probably not your less related cousin, and certainly not the stranger from down the road.

This is only one reason for altruism. Among social animals, altruism is probably much more to do with evolutionary game theory: we generally cooperate with everyone, but defect on anyone who has previously defected on us - a tit-for-tat strategy, which is beneficial for the individual (or for its genes) and can lead to robust global cooperation.

[Jun 24, 2017] Deceit and Self-Deception by Robert Trivers – review

Notable quotes:
"... What I Don't Know About Animals ..."
Jun 24, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Konrad Lorenz and Desmond Morris , or anthropologists such as Lionel Tiger . They linked studies of animal behaviour to the idea of Darwinian evolutionary principles to tell readers just how very like the beasts we were in our sex lives, our workplaces and our recreational behaviours. We were advised to look at chimps and other primates and derive understanding of ourselves from their apparently culture-free activities and traits. Underneath all our fancy culture and language, we were simply naked apes enacting primitive territorial imperatives.

The reading public lapped it up as both a neat, satisfying narrative, and as an excuse for all manner of not-so-civilised behaviours for which we no longer had to take personal and moral blame. We go to war – well, so do baboons; it's in our genes, we can try to overcome it, but in the end as in the beginning we're all just animals. By 1976 we didn't even have to blame the animal in ourselves: Richard Dawkins gave us the selfish gene, whose sole reason for existence was to reproduce itself. And we, that is the body and brain of you and me, were nothing but vehicles for these genes which compelled us to optimise their chances of replicating. Talk to the gene, the conscience isn't listening.

Much of this was based on algebraic theories of altruism developed by WD Hamilton , who shifted the mechanism of evolution from making groups fitter to survive to a new insistence on individual inclusive fitness. This was via kin selection, which drills down deeper than the inter-relatedness of individual organisms, to the separate alleles (of which genes are made) in every organism: these preferentially promote only those vehicles which contain alleles most closely related to themselves. Genes were responsible, somehow, for you fighting the whirlwind to save your sister, but probably not your less related cousin, and certainly not the stranger from down the road.

Some people were not crazy about this view of the human race. Genes doing algebra didn't suit a more macrocosmic idea of a fallible but responsible humanity.

Robert Trivers was the man who produced the unifying theory of kin selection and altruism. Now, decades on, he has arrived at a big, new universal theory, also essentially based on the arithmetic of gene selection. Deceit is useful where telling the (unpleasant) truth would hamper your progress. Progress towards what? Trivers would say your fitness, which is defined as raising the chances of replicating your genes into the next generation.

Your genes, apparently, would agree with him; but they would, wouldn't they? That is if they were capable of agreeing. I want to hang on to the fact that the building blocks of ourselves do not want or intend anything. Chemicals aren't conscious, although by amazing chance they can combine to make a conscious organism.

Once self-conscious humans begin to do science, and with the benefit of language, start to describe the nature of the chemicals that make them what they are, but having to use regular language if they want a large audience (maths is a much better language, but fewer people can read it), they cannot help but slide into the notion of intention. Dawkins's selfish gene gained an absurd life of its own because most people don't speak arithmetic.

The biological mechanism by which we conceal inconvenient truths from ourselves and others is shown, says Trivers, in functional MRI scans of blood flow associated with neural activity in the brain: "It is estimated that fully ten seconds before consciousness of intent, the neural signals begin that will later give rise to the consciousness and then the behaviour itself." Freud, who always believed that neurology would discover a physical basis for the unconscious, would be delighted, though according to Trivers, psychoanalysis is nothing more than a money-grabbing hoax. Yet there remains a void between brain chemicals doing what they do and the emergence of the sense we all have of possessing a mind.

Trivers's theories of deceit and self-deceit are based on multiple gleanings from experimental psychology. A trial with rats shows this, another with students suggests that. The actual experiments are referenced, rather minimally, in page-related endnotes, but Trivers's writing is full of halting phraseology as he slips from findings in the lab or questionnaire to the generality of human social behaviour.

He suggests from relatedness theory that fathers should show a "slight genetic bias towards their daughters", but "no one knows if this is true". General assertions about human behaviour are peppered with such phrases as "One is tempted to imagine ", "in mice at least ", "work still in its infancy ", "first speculations ", "Whether any of my speculations are true I have no idea ". And, really, if he doesn't, I certainly don't.

Once he has laid out his evidence, our biologically determined deceit behaviour is ready to account for just about everything Trivers doesn't like about the world, such as the false justifications for the invasion of Iraq, the self-deceiving use, by the US and UK, of 9/11 to declare war on oil-rich countries and on to torture, religion and stock-market trading. It so happens that Trivers and I dislike much the same things but, though I daresay knowledge is generally better than lack of it, I'm not convinced of the benefits of offering us the excuse of having been manipulated by our genes for our repeatedly scurrilous behaviour.

While the first part of the book explains the theory, and the second part discusses how deceit was responsible for all the political and social injustices both he and I perceive in the world, there is a third element woven through both. An actual individual life, that of Trivers himself, emerges, like a gene in the organism, offered perhaps as a consciously self-deprecating example of what evolutionary pressure to deceive can do to a person. Somehow, though, it comes across as back-handed boasting.

The man whom Trivers calls "I" is a compulsive thief who can't go into a room without coming away with a trophy. He talks of his "'inadvertent' touching of women", which occurs exclusively with his left (unconscious) hand. Apropos chimps turning their backs to hide an erection from a dominant male, he explains that he finds it very hard "in the presence of a woman with whom I am close, to receive a phone call from another woman with whom I may have, or only wish to have, a relationship, without turning my back to pursue the conversation".

He understands the male/female gender split by recollecting "trying to poison the minds of my three daughters against their mother". He nearly killed his girlfriend and nephew by driving the nephew's "cool car" too fast on a precipitous road, when he noticed her interest in the younger man. And after pages and pages on biological selection, evolutionary pressure and the dangerous deception that is religion, it not only turns out that he prays regularly, but he gives a short lecture on the proper way to say the "Lord's Prayer" (emphasise "thy"). I wasn't surprised to discover that he is on prescription antidepressants, as well as using ganja and cocaine.

There will be Iron Johns who read this book and cheer, and although he explains that each sex (abhorring the word "gender", which he calls a euphemism) contains both male and female genes, my male genes are just too wimpy to find any charm in Trivers's display of self-disclosure – machismo and pet peeves – dressed up as an important new evolutionary understanding of humanity.

Jenny Diski's What I Don't Know About Animals is published by Virago.

frustratedartist , 11 Oct 2011 03:20

@greaterzog

Oh dear- could you then...disentangle your own behaviour from your 'human nature".

In general- Yes. Human behaviour changes rapidly and depends on culture and individual choices. Human nature changes very very slowly, in 'evolutionary time'. Too slowly for it to be observed.

On the level of the individual -- No. I can't disentangle my personal choices from my inherited tendencies. To what extent does my behaviour (or my character)reflect my genes or upbringing, to what extent is it my own free will? Nature, Nurture, or Nietzsche?, as Stephen Fry would say. I can't say- except that I believe that we all have free will and are therefore in most cases responsible for our actions.

As for 'my' human nature, that is a meaningless phrase. Human nature I would define as the (evolved) psychological traits humans have in common .

greatherzog , 10 Oct 2011 15:57

In his article Pinker gives (I think) quite a convincing explanation of how human behaviour can be changing for the better, while human nature (perforce) remains the same.

Oh dear- could you then-with the help of Pinker's pseudo-scientific, deterministic, eurocentric tosh and/or Dawkins overly simplistic, to the point of idiocy take on genes and evolution- disentangle your own behaviour from your 'human nature.' I am really curious.

[Jun 18, 2017] Judges are always called activist when they fail to interpret the Constitution according to someones liking.

Jun 18, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
Janet Re Johnson Telfennol , 18 Jun 2017 13:23

Judges are always called "activist" when they fail to interpret the Constitution according to someone's liking. Keep in mind that the judges you're referring to come from both parties and all over the country.

"...a manufactured rumour of collusion for which no evidence has emerged>"

We're only in the first few months.

You surely know that investigations take months to years. And what's your alternative? Stop now & call the whole thing off? I'll bet it is.

[Jun 08, 2017] The Democrats' Davos ideology won't win back the midwest by Thomas Frank

Notable quotes:
"... The Glass Stegal repeal was passed under Clinton not Reagan. ..."
"... Yep, the Dems would do well to drop the Russia/FBI swung the election thing and the all Red State inhabitants are poorly educated idiots mentality and concentrate on developing some policies that appeal to the majority of people. ..."
"... There's a bit of bait 'n switch here. All this Davos/Deregulation/NeoLiberal whatever is a product of Republican -- right wing -- thinking. It first gained serious traction during the Reagan administration. The Democrats merely drifted into the vacuum formed by the Republican party lurching from Right/Center to Hard Right. Since then any drifting back has been subject to extreme criticism as 'socialism', 'communism' and the like. Now we're in the rather weird situation that the party of neoliberal economics is pushing the line that the Democrats are the party of entrenched money and they are the Party of the People. It beggars belief, especially when journalists take it up and run with it instead of calling the the BS that it is. ..."
"... I am so glad that the Russians are responsible for electing Trump. It would be awful to think that it was because Democrats had a really, really bad candidate in Hillary Clinton. It just could not be -- she was, after all -- the MOST QUALIFIED PERSON EVER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT, as we were instructed endlessly by Obama. Voters thought otherwise and their support for Trump was mainly to keep Hillary out, not to have a billionaire lunatic elected. But it would not matter since they all serve their master class bankers and war-makers. ..."
"... Republicans starting with Reagan made refusing to enforce financial laws they did not like a policy. It was continued under Bush43/Cheney on speed. Regulator of mortgage brokers refused to let state AGs (including Maine) move against fraudsters and refused to act himself. Chris Cox ignored the risky complex financial products that tanked our economy. ..."
"... Was Clinton an idiot to allow Rubin and Summers any where near financial market policy YES. Was Obama a bigger fool for bringing Summers into his admin- absolutely since he had already displayed financial incompetence at Harvard, YES. ..."
Jun 04, 2017 | profile.theguardian.com

Bogdanich -> lymans , 27 Apr 2017 16:06

The Glass Stegal repeal was passed under Clinton not Reagan.

Reagan did the Savings & Loan deregulation which led to the S&L bailout under G.W. Bush during which they prosecuted over 1,000 bank executives and got convictions including five sitting senators with four forced resignations.

After Clinton did the deregulation that led to the financial crisis and Obama prosecuted zero, let me say that again, zero, bank executives and provided $9 trillion in bailout liquidity.

Bogdanich , 27 Apr 2017 16:02
They can offer the illusion with the proper candidate but with the same congressmen and senators that currently hold the seats none of the substance.
Etienne LeCompte , 27 Apr 2017 15:15
Take Amtrak between Chicago and Washington DC and witness wreckage of heartland industry along a corridor 800 miles long. People still live there, forgotten. Bernie Sanders is not finished. Listen to him; and put yourself up for election locally, on a Park District board; or a Township position; as an Election Judge or for County or State office. And listen to your neighbors, who are suffering. Then do something about it. When I ran for State Representative, the Democratic Party sent me a highlighted map instead of a check for my campaign. The map showed "70% Republican" voting registration in my State Representative district. No Party cash for my campaign was forthcoming. The only way to change this Gerrymandering is to be on-hand in the State House following the next decennial census in 2020. It will be "too late" to do anything -- again -- unless "we" change the Party; and the Party changes the re-districting scam. Bernie Sanders is right about pitching in to re-shape and re-form the Democratic Party. The Party, as constructed, is passι... and as hollowed-out as the miles and miles of decrepit buildings with thousands of gaping, broken windows that lie between Chicago and DC. Go see the devastation for yourself. Then get serious about answers.
namjodh , 27 Apr 2017 14:05
Yep, the Dems would do well to drop the Russia/FBI swung the election thing and the all Red State inhabitants are poorly educated idiots mentality and concentrate on developing some policies that appeal to the majority of people.

I'm going to sound like a broken record, but Identity Politics has FAILED. The Dems are not going to cobble together some sort of Ruling Coalition out of Transgendered people and urban people of color. That's an insane strategy of hoping you will win national elections by appealing to 25% or less of the population of whom only half that number actually vote if you are lucky.

I'm not saying abandon those struggles. Under a just system those struggles will continue and prevail - the Constitution guarantees that unless you get dishonest justices on the Supreme Court - which seems more likely the more national elections you blow. Democrats need to stop worrying about narrow single issues like that and focus on developing a BROAD national strategy to appeal to the Majority of Americans.

So says the guy from Punjab who is NOT a poorly educated white person and who has voted Democrat since 1980.

martinusher , 27 Apr 2017 13:09
There's a bit of bait 'n switch here. All this Davos/Deregulation/NeoLiberal whatever is a product of Republican -- right wing -- thinking. It first gained serious traction during the Reagan administration. The Democrats merely drifted into the vacuum formed by the Republican party lurching from Right/Center to Hard Right. Since then any drifting back has been subject to extreme criticism as 'socialism', 'communism' and the like. Now we're in the rather weird situation that the party of neoliberal economics is pushing the line that the Democrats are the party of entrenched money and they are the Party of the People. It beggars belief, especially when journalists take it up and run with it instead of calling the the BS that it is.

The problem with the Rust Belt states is that they keep on electing Republican state governments. These fail to deliver on anything useful for working people -- they're more interested in entrenching their power by tweaking the elections -- but then people turn to the Federal government as if this is some kind of savior capable of turning around their fortunes overnight.

Anyway, don't take my word for it. Just keep electing those regressive state legislators (and keep drinking that tainted water....).

--
Claudius hureharehure , 27 Apr 2017 13:02
Great comment on the article, but I think even you have been kind in your criticism of it. I can only hope that the writer started out with the intention of saying that while the GOP and their rich and big business political patrons are responsible for the impoverishment of those in the article, the Democrats have missed out on messaging and on more specific policies that addresses those wrongs committed against a voting block they can own. Instead the entire piece is written as though the Democrats have earned the scorn and anger of these voters. One can argue the Democrats have failed to focus more on the plight of these voters, but they are NOT the cause of these voters' plight; and there is nothing in this piece to make that distinction or about the irony of why these same voters flock to a political party primarily responsible for what has happened to them. In fact consider this below from the article:

"Mention how the Democrats betrayed working people over the years, however, and the radio station's board immediately lights up with enthusiastic callers. "

Yes, that is right! The political anomaly that Trump is can be be explained by the successful exploitation of the improvised classes by media outlets that voice these voters' anger to acquire a capture audience and then lay the blame for what has happened to them on immigrants & liberals. You never hear anything on those outlets about the unholy triad of the GOP political class, big business and media outlets in their orbit. I don't need to drive through these flyover states to know they are hurting; and I don't need to sit down with them to know they are real human beings with a great deal in common with me or to know that despite their general decency they are full of misplaced anger and resentment.

CivilDiscussion , 27 Apr 2017 13:21
I am so glad that the Russians are responsible for electing Trump. It would be awful to think that it was because Democrats had a really, really bad candidate in Hillary Clinton. It just could not be -- she was, after all -- the MOST QUALIFIED PERSON EVER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT, as we were instructed endlessly by Obama. Voters thought otherwise and their support for Trump was mainly to keep Hillary out, not to have a billionaire lunatic elected. But it would not matter since they all serve their master class bankers and war-makers.
kmtominey1923 , 27 Apr 2017 13:01
Interesting he choices of examples for how liberals let the mid west down. Republican president Reagan deregulated S&Ls with predictable awful results. Republicans under Clinton (they controlled the Senate and house ) when Glass Steagsll was repealed. Republic Phil Gramm also rescinded the AntiBucket Shop Law which loosed the disaster of the naked CDS,

Republicans starting with Reagan made refusing to enforce financial laws they did not like a policy. It was continued under Bush43/Cheney on speed. Regulator of mortgage brokers refused to let state AGs (including Maine) move against fraudsters and refused to act himself. Chris Cox ignored the risky complex financial products that tanked our economy.

It was Republican Sen. Phil Gramm who said in hearings on CSPAN that these instruments of financial mass destruction (Warren Buffet's words) were too complicated to understand and therefore should not be regulated.

Republicans wanted to free up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy subprime even NINJA loans and made it so.

Was Clinton an idiot to allow Rubin and Summers any where near financial market policy YES. Was Obama a bigger fool for bringing Summers into his admin- absolutely since he had already displayed financial incompetence at Harvard, YES.

But, it is republicans who either drove the bad financial ideas or controlled them. Republicans who support IRS rules and their laws that promote off shoring jobs and stashing cash untaxed off shore.

Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford, Bush41 - even Nixon - would not know these people.

zolotoy Atomic Girl , 27 Apr 2017 12:16
Oh, and as for the rest of the party and its defeats: A quick look at the numbers show that Democrats keep losing not because voters are switching to the Republican brand, but because they no longer bother to vote for Democrats who are just going to shiv them in the back with Republican economic policies.
JayThomas , 27 Apr 2017 12:16

Will they stand up to the money power?

You mean the people who pay $400,000 for a speech?

zolotoy Atomic Girl , 27 Apr 2017 12:15

But now liberals and the Democratic Party are to get the lion's share of the blame for everything?

As I've said on numerous occasions in the past: The reason Trump beat Hillary is the same reason Obama beat her in the 2008 primaries: Voters knew her and what she stood for -- and so were willing to take a chance on the other candidate.
joAnn chartier zolotoy , 27 Apr 2017 12:55
Thank you for the Abramson reminder -- as a retired journalist I know the importance of providing clear and accurate information to the general public. While Abramson and Frank and others are writing Opinion in the Guard and elsewhere, too many people do not understand positioning and propaganda. Media must make money to stay in business and often it is opinion writers/tv hosts etc that generate interest and coin to keep the words rolling and the money coming in.

It is especially ironic as wages are cut, jobs disappear, cost of living rises so fewer people can afford to subscribe or pay for actual news and information. Not to mention the political idiocy of reducing school funding so that the electorate knows nothing of history or how politics works.

Trump wants to take us back to Ronnie Reagan and Maggie Thatcher years that left us with trillion dollar deficits and decimation of the middle class that is now on the downward slide to actual poverty...

MightyBuccaneer , 27 Apr 2017 12:07
The People should really start to regularly book politicians for 400k speeches after they leave office.

The People should create an army of lobbyists that constantly meet and mingle with politicians in Washington to make their wishes known.

The People should up their campaign and Superpac spending.

The People should create a newspaper devoted to there interests that can rival the NYT and the WaPo.

Then, and only then, will there be populism, from any party.

Annabel1968 Jabr , 27 Apr 2017 12:05
No, it is a crap comment. From the neo-liberal 'pseudo science' that economics supposedly is (almost forgot to use the word neo-liberal, a must these days to make your point) , to the greed and the rapacity of the "one percenters".

Such a simple problem isn't it? Let's just go back in time rather than find more creative and up-to-date solution for the problems there are. Globalisation isn't going to go away, the world is too small a place. Globalisation has created problems for people, but many more people have benefitted from it.

Atomic Girl , 27 Apr 2017 11:33
"The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn. Every time our liberal leaders signed off on some lousy trade deal, figuring that working-class people had "nowhere else to go," they were making what happened last November a little more likely. "
---

As someone who's middle aged, I am getting sick and tired of this historical revisionist nonsense that all the country's woes and economic climate can be mostly pinned on the liberals and that somehow, it's something that they did wrong that is the reason why they "lost" constituents in the Midwest. Someone can peddle this nonsense over and over again with the smug belief that everyone on on the internet is too young to know whether what he's saying is true. But there are some of us "old folks" who are also on the internet and as an old folk, I have no issues calling out this article out for the nonsense that it is.

Everything that is going on now in terms of jobs can be 100% attributable to Reaganomics--period, end of. It's nothing to do with liberals. It's 100% to do with the devastating rippling effect that his neoliberal policies has had on the country since the 1980s, only made 100x worse by Republican pols who have been further carrying out his neoliberalist agenda to full effect for the past several decades.

It was under Reagan that the country began experiencing mass layoffs (euphemistically called "downsizing"). It was under Reagan that corporations began slashing benefits, cutting wages and closing up shop to ship thousands of jobs overseas. It was under Reagan that the middle class American dream died--aka, the expectation that if got a diploma, you could start working for a company full time straight out of college, work for decades with decent benefits and perks, save up enough money to buy a house and retire with a generous pension. Gone. All gone.

Remember the "Buy American" grassroots campaign? That started in the 1980s, precisely because under Reagan, the country had relied increasingly on imported goods at the expense of domestic manufacturing. Here's an actual article from 1989 that shows you that the roots of everything going on now started decades ago. It's actually a defeatist article telling people to *stop* wasting their time to get everyone to "Buy American" because it had become virtually impossible to buy American-made goods.

"Not Easy to 'Buy American'"
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1243&dat=19891227&id=Bm8PAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HYcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2971,6271486

As for the idea that there's always been a staunchly"Democratic" following in the Midwest that has been "lost" because of something that the party is doing wrong and that this caused them to turn to populism? False. It may have been true a very long time ago that this constituency has been staunchly Democratic and not amenable to populism, but not recently. It has voted on populist platforms before. Remember "welfare queens?" Remember "Willie Horton?" Willie Horton, the black bogeyman, was the "bad hombres" of today.

In addition, this constituency has been increasingly voting against its best interests for decades since Reagan was voted into office. Why? Because demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and the large number of puppets at Rupert Murdoch's vast media empire have been selling them a bill of goods since the 1990s that the reason why they're becoming poorer is that liberals are giving all their "white" hard-earned money to shiftless, lazy blacks and immigrants and losing out to them because of affirmative action. In the famous words of South Park, "THEY TOOK R JERBS" and "IT'S ALL DUH LIBRUHL'S FAULTS!!"

This constituency has developed such a deep-seated hatred and loathing for liberals because of the demagogues at FOX or news radio that even when Michael Moore directly spoke to their plight in Roger and Me, they derided him as a typical Communist-loving, anti-Capitalist pinko. Because, you see, according to FOX demagogues, calling out rich corporate fatcats who also happen to be white is attacking white people, a form of class warfare and anti-Capitalist.

Given all that, for someone to try to paint a picture that this constituency would otherwise be embracing liberalism if not for the Democratic Party adopting an "ideology" is laughable. They were never going to win because anything short of ranting, "They took r jerbs" and "Damned brown people on welfare and illegals stealing taking all our money" was going to cost them the election.

Bottom line, the Midwest was never the liberals' or Democratic Party's constituency to lose, and Reagan is behind all of the economic devastation that the region is experiencing. Anyone else trying to say otherwise is just using spin and historical revisionism.

zolotoy Joel Marcuson , 27 Apr 2017 11:28
That's exactly what America needs -- another neocon/neolib, just like Macron! As if Obama and the Clintons hadn't been neocon/neolib enough! Reply Share
fan143 , 27 Apr 2017 11:28
Frank is right that the white working class in the Midwestern states have been the swing votes for presidential elections since the Reagan election of 1984, when the white Democratic South became more fully the white Republican South. But he is wrong in not recognizing that the Democratic Party has three major constituents and it needs all of them to win elections and to do the progressive things while in office that would help people like those in the Midwest. Democrats need the votes of the white working class, but also of race/ethnic minorities, and the "new class" professionals and others. The problem is that these groups have been fighting with each other since the 1960s, continually undermining the chances for Democrats to win. In the period of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, students and professionals joined with race and ethnic minorities to challenge the influence of the unionists, big city mayors, and white working class in the Democratic Party, which is what gave us Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes. Through this period, predictably, more white working class people either stopped voting or moved to the Republican Party. In the 2016 election, with the Bernie Sanders influence, students and professionals began to attack the influence of race and ethnic minorities (and women?) in the Democratic Party, ostensibly in support of the white working class over "identity politics," with the result that we got Trump. Globalization is a difficult and complex issue, but the reality is that since the 1970s the U.S. economy has not been able to prosper, nor the working class jobs that it requires, by selling things only in the U.S. We have to be in global markets and integrated with other economies around the world and that requires trade deals that balance our interests against those of other countries. This has generated winners and losers in the economy, and it will continue to do so. While it may not be possible to bring back the same kinds of jobs that pay a middle class wage for those with not much education, it should be possible to create new jobs that pay a middle class wage and to invest in education and skill development, infrastructure, and a welfare state that sustains people through periods of disruption and transformation. The Republican Party and the New Right that took it over are fighting to the death to undermine what is left of the social safety net to force people to take whatever jobs are available at exploitative wages, and they have been successful exploiting anti-government sentiment by using racial animosity and more recently anti-immigrant hysteria. The right has been successful because those on the left who should support the Democratic Party and then fight for more progressive policies within it just keep fighting each other and in the last election delivered Trump by voting third party (along with gutting of the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, Russian influences that helped Sanders and vilified Hillary Clinton, the rogue FBI, Citizens United, and so on). The only option for the left in a two party system is to support the Democratic Party. Staying home or voting third party is a vote for your worst enemy. France is experiencing the same thing, with the left candidate refusing to support the more centrist candidate against Le Pen. We all need to learn how to form coalitions and to keep our focus on winning elections, not winning ideological battles.
zolotoy ehmaybe , 27 Apr 2017 11:26
Umm, the real goals of labor unions have been beach houses and new SUVs for labor leadership. Unions have been adept at screwing over their memberships since at least the 1970s -- no wonder they keep supporting anti-union Dims.
MonotonousLanguor Jared Hall , 27 Apr 2017 10:51
Maddow has to defend the Corporate Democratic Establishment any way she can. Maddow to my knowledge has never mentioned:

Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, has confirmed that it hired the consultancy of Tony Podesta, the elder brother of John Podesta who chaired Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, for lobbying its interests in the United States.

The two Russian banks spent more than $700,000 in 2016 on Washington lobbyists as they sought to end the U.S. sanctions, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms and documents filed with the Department of Justice. The Podesta Group charged Sberbank $20,000 per month, plus expenses, on a contract from March through September 2016.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-09/russias-largest-bank-confirms-hiring-podesta-group-lobby-ending-sanctions

[Jun 08, 2017] US legal imperialism

Jun 08, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
, johnbig , 17 Nov 2016 09:56
At the very time when American legal imperialism is gaining in strength and imposing its rules and its dues on our companies, this decline in public justice is an aberration.

This is a very important point and follows the US imposing fines on many foreign (to the US) banks for infringing boycotts decided purely by the USA. At this moment the full treaty with Iran is not being applied because firms outside the US are frightened to engage with Iran under a threat of retribution by the USA. One of the reasons for this state of affairs is the use of the Dollar as a reserve currency. It is time that the importance of other currencies was recognised in international trade I am thinking of the Euro and the Chinese Yuan.

[Jun 08, 2017] The Qatar spat exposes Britains game of thrones in the Gulf by Paul Mason

Notable quotes:
"... Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf monarchies, organised in the so called Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) , have a long history of backing the spread of Sunni Islamist ideology outside the region. Not just in Britain, but, for example, even in places such as rural Nigeria, where I've seen Gulf oil money used to incentivise Christians to convert, fuelling the religious conflict there. ..."
"... Saudi Arabia is meanwhile prosecuting a war on Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, using more than £3bn worth of British kit sold to it since the bombing campaign began. In return, it has lavished gifts on Theresa May's ministers: Philip Hammond got a watch worth £1,950 when he visited in 2015 . In turn, Tory advisers are picking up lucrative consultancy work with the Saudi government. ..."
"... However, Salman has also escalated the Yemen war and escalated tensions with Iran – most notably by executing a prominent Shia cleric and 46 other opponents last year. ..."
Jun 05, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

This clash between Britain's allies in the so-called war on terror matters. If Corbyn is prime minister on Friday, there will be a break with the appeasement of jihadi-funding autocrats

Great. Just what we need. Our self-styled key ally in the so-called war on terror – Saudi Arabia – just closed the airspace, land and sea borders with our other ally, Qatar , accusing it of supporting Isis. What's that about?

Well, like almost everything in the region, it is about the strategic duplicity of the West, exacerbated by the childlike idiocy of the US president. Does it matter for Brits – other than those stuck at airports in the Gulf, or policy wonks obsessed with Middle Eastern conflicts?

It matters on every street in Britain.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf monarchies, organised in the so called Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) , have a long history of backing the spread of Sunni Islamist ideology outside the region. Not just in Britain, but, for example, even in places such as rural Nigeria, where I've seen Gulf oil money used to incentivise Christians to convert, fuelling the religious conflict there.

But the Qataris have always punched above their weight in regional affairs, and displayed a more intelligent grasp on the strategic, demographic and cultural changes sweeping the Arab world.

It was the Qataris who set up Al Jazeera, as a counterweight to the reactionary state media across the middle east, and to challenge the US media's right to set the global narrative about the Islamic world.

Qatar supported the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and still supports and shelters the leaders of the Hamas government in Gaza . In Syria, Qatar spent up to $3bn (£2.3bn) in the first two years of the civil war bankrolling the rebels – allegedly including the al-Qaida-linked group al-Nusra Front.

The Saudis, too, bankrolled Islamist rebels , and both sides claim never to have bankrolled Isis. So what is really at stake?

The issue torturing the Saudi monarchy is Iran. Obama made peace with Iran in 2015, in the face of Saudi and Israeli opposition. Qatar is diplomatically closer to Iran. It has also supported (outside Qatar) the spread of political Islam – that is, of parties prepared to operate within nominally democratic institutions.

The Saudis' strategic aim, by contrast, is to end the peace deal with Iran and to stifle the emergence of political Islam full stop.

Last month, Donald Trump took himself to Riyadh to - participate in a sword dance and glad hand the Saudi royals. And that is where the trouble escalated.

Qatar's ruler had been reported by his own state media as warning against the escalating confrontation with Iran: "Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it," said a TV tickertape quoting the Emir.

When these comments caused outrage in Riyadh , the Qataris withdrew them, claiming they had been "hacked" .

But Trump's visit poured ethanol on to the simmering conflict. Few observers see today's move as anything other than the Saudis acting with state department backing. One Iranian official tweeted the spat was "the prelimary result of the sword dance".

Saudi Arabia is meanwhile prosecuting a war on Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, using more than £3bn worth of British kit sold to it since the bombing campaign began. In return, it has lavished gifts on Theresa May's ministers: Philip Hammond got a watch worth £1,950 when he visited in 2015 . In turn, Tory advisers are picking up lucrative consultancy work with the Saudi government.

The problem remains Saudi culpability – past and present – for funding islamist terrorism. After September 11, the Saudi monarchy did begin to crack down on islamist terrorism domestically, criminalising terrorist finance. But, as a US cable released by Wikileaks shows , even as late as 2009, that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide".

Since the coronation of King Salman in January 2015, there has been a programme of economic modernisation and political reforms the monarchy has tried to sell as liberalisation.

However, Salman has also escalated the Yemen war and escalated tensions with Iran – most notably by executing a prominent Shia cleric and 46 other opponents last year.

In Britain, when the Lib Dems in the Coalition supported airstrikes against Isis, the price they extracted was for Cameron to launch an inquiry into foreign funding of terrorism. Eighteen months on, it remains suppressed . As with the infamous Serious Fraud Office investigation into corruption at BAE , it is being buried because it would expose the past misdemeanours of the the Saudis.

We do not know why Britain has suddenly become the target for a jihadi terror surge: five foiled attempts and three gruesomely successful ones in 70 days.

One possible explanation is that, with the increased tempo of fighting in Mosul and towards Raqqa, it is becoming clear to the thousands of jihadi fantasists sitting in bedrooms across Europe, that their "caliphate" will soon be over.

If so, the question arises: a) what will replace it on the ground and b) how to deal with the survivors as they fan out to do damage here?

In both cases, it is vital that the Gulf monarchies funding the Syrian resistance are on board with the solution. And, as of today, two of the key players are waging economic war and a bitter rhetorical fight with each other.

As for the wider world, it is Iran that emerges as the tactical victor in today's spat. Trump flew to Riyadh and the result was air transport chaos across the Gulf. Iran had an election and the moderates won.

But there is good news. If Jeremy Corbyn is prime minister on Friday, Britain's game of thrones in the Gulf will end. The foreign policy he outlined at Chatham House represents a complete break with the appeasement of terror-funding Saudi autocrats. The strategic defence review he has promised would unlikely keep funding the Royal Navy base in Bahrain.

Britain cannot solve the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf. But it can stop making it worse. Last December, Boris Johnson inadvertently had a go. He named the Yemen conflict as a proxy war; accusing both the Saudis and Iran of "puppeteering". He was quickly slapped down.

Only a Labour government will stop appeasing the Saudi monarchy and reset the relationship to match Britain's strategic interest – not the interest of Britain's arms dealers and PR consultants.

[Jun 04, 2017] beccabunny09

Jun 04, 2017 | profile.theguardian.com
TheCubanGentlemen , 27 Apr 2017 10:42 Sorry Mr. Cuban but Barney has a point. Sympathy for criminals? How about a system that extracts wealth by taking family members that have made a mistake hostage. Private prisons are incredibly corrupt. They pay their guards $7 an hour, barely train them and then throw them into a hellhole of starved and abused prisoners, prisoners who's families are charged $2-5 a MINUTE to talk to them! Prisoners who are charged for laundry, for new underwear, for sanitary napkins, for extra food anything they can, they charge them for, all to meet a higher quarterly profit. If they work, prisoners get only .25 an hour! Menawhile, the items they make get a proud MADE IN AMERICA sticker and sold at a premium netting the company MORE money. This is a direct threat to DEMOCRACY! Why not contract our work to prisons with no liability and infinitesimal wages to lower costs. Gee, doesn't that sounds like a threat to low skilled workers?! Everything matters because EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED!!! -- , iamwhiskerbiscuit Ramus , 27 Apr 2017 09:35
Very little differences between neoncons and neoliberals these days. They're both in Goldman Saacs corner, they both support war even when they claim otherwise during their election... Both laugh at the idea of emulating countries that offer free Healthcare, free college, higher minimum wage and lower cost of living. Bush tax policy = Obama tax policy. Bush stance on war = Obama stance on war. Whats the difference? Abortion and gun rights. That's pretty much all thats different. Pro militarist, world police, globalists who favor a regressive tax system. Don't like it? Don't vote... You have no say in this debate.
, Hmpstdhth , 27 Apr 2017 09:17
Yes, the Democratic Party are essentially corporate shills who talk pretty to the poor and oppressed and then serve their corporate masters. But that isn't why people voted against them. That would be assuming some sort of political sophistication among the masses. It is rather, IMHO, the corporate owned media in the form of AM radio, cable and local news outlets, and most local newspapers who either report on nothing that might change the status quo or are actual propaganda outlets for the ultra right. The fact that Fox news and right wing radio is the background music of mid America, should not be discounted. And secondly, the seizure of nearly all of the church pulpits by the 'religious' right. People vote the way their pastor tells them to vote. This isn't rocket science. When there is a coup, the first order of business has always been to seize the radio and TV stations. Bernie who ?

--

, Monesque , 27 Apr 2017 09:09
In a close election, there is something of everything. But this concept that the election turned on these displaced workers is hilarious. In truth, we've been talking about things like this since the 70s or before. Why now? Because now, a wave of xenophobia and racism swept the world and that was the wave Trump rode to office. Many of his so-called displaced workers overlap with those groups. Add the religious evangelicals. That's how Trump won... take away the evangelicals, take away the racists, take away the xenophobes, take away the screaming about the Mexican this, the Muslims that, the Syrians, the pandering to far-right groups who in the past were considered the underbelly of the country..and Trump doesn't have a chance. This is a man with Mike Pence as vice president. This is a man who brings people like Steve Bannon into the administration. That's how he won and that's how he remains popular with his base. The rest is an illusion
, iamwhiskerbiscuit , 27 Apr 2017 09:00
What happens to those good old days when a job could support an entire family? Reagan happened. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy, building up our military 10 times as big as the next largest military, deregulating banks and brokerage... Then Clinton continued to deregulate further. Then Bush brought about more tax cuts for the rich and Obama kept his tax policy on place. In 68, a minimum wage worker with 3 kids fell 500 dollars above the poverty line. (5,000 in today's money). Today, a minimum wage worker with 3 kids falls 10,000 below the poverty line. And the neocon/neoliberal answer to that is women must work, single people need roommates and the wealthy need tax relief. What a load of crap.
, Ramus , 27 Apr 2017 08:57
The Democratic Party is still owned and operated by the Wall Street, fossil fuel and war interests. The fact that the DNC installed Tom Perez, who is not inspired by the idea of health care as a human right, is telling. The DNC is the enemy of lower-middle class working (or non-working) people. The DNC nominated the candidate least likely to win over Trump. The Democrats need to send their bank/war/oil candidates to the Republicans. We need a whole new truly progressive party..but since our governement has been sold to the highest bidder, it make take some unpleasantness in the streets to achieve power over the special interests. And EVERYONE must vote EVERY TIME.
, soundofthesuburbs , 27 Apr 2017 08:55
The problem is US elites, who are only exceptional in their stupidity.

"Income inequality is not killing capitalism in the United States, but rent-seekers like the banking and the health-care sectors just might" Nobel-winning economist Angus Deaton

The exceptionally stupid US elite are going for the easy money and destroying their nation.

Its elites are always rigging stuff in their favour and forgetting the reality they have hidden.

There is a huge difference between wealth creation and wealth extraction, but today we have no idea of even the concept of wealth extraction.

Well, one of our 21st Century Nobel prize winning economists, Angus Deaton, has just remembered the problem.

The Classical Economists of the 19th Century were only too aware of the two sides of capitalism, the productive side where wealth creation takes place and the parasitic side where wealth extraction takes place.

The US was a key player in developing neoclassical economics and it's what we use today.

It looks after the interests of the old money, idle rich rentiers.

The distinction between "earned" income (wealth creation) and "unearned" income (wealth extraction) disappears and the once separate areas of "capital" and "land" are conflated. The old money, idle rich rentiers are now just productive members of society and not parasites riding on the back of other people's hard work.

It happens at the end of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, but doesn't blow up until the 21st century when the exceptionally stupid US elite have forgotten what they have done.

Monetary theory has been regressing for the last one hundred years.

Credit creation theory -> fractional reserve theory -> financial intermediation theory

" banks make their profits by taking in deposits and lending the funds out at a higher rate of interest" Paul Krugman, 2015.

One of today's Nobel Prize winning economists spouting today's nonsense.

Progress in monetary theory has been in the reverse direction, leading to many of today's problems.

There was massive debt and money creation in the US leading up to the 2008 bust:

http://www.whichwayhome.com/skin/frontend/default/wwgcomcatalogarticles/images/articles/whichwayhomes/US-money-supply.jpg

The fools forgot the reality they hid.

Get back to the Classical Economists to learn how you tax "unearned" income to provide subsidized housing, healthcare, education and other services to provide a low cost economy whose workforce isn't priced out of the global market place.

When you understand money you can see in the money supply when Wall Street is getting really stupid and about to blow up the economy.

, BarneyDee , 27 Apr 2017 08:45
Throughout history, the "people" were ruled by the powerful even if the powerful were idiots, thieves, rapists and murderers. Times have changed. People don't accept that anymore. But if Democrats have made a blanket error it was in assuming that everyone sees the world as they do, and in assuming that everyone is a rational being committed to the ideals of a republic. Clearly that is not the case. And the "people" want leaders, not pals. They want security. Democrats need a person who combines the guile of a Machiavelli with the smarts of an Obama and the steel fist of a Cromwell. Thing is, under such conditions, it's doubtful if the "people" are governable anymore, in the sense of making decisions based on reality as opposed to a combination of superstition, myth, and misinformation. Oh, and vanity is an important factor: ask Susan Sarandon and her proxy vote for Trump--she voted for Stein.
, marshwren Martyn Richard Jones , 27 Apr 2017 08:20
It was the DLC ("Democrats Led by Clintons") that brought the DP to its current condition of self-satisfied atrophy and irrelevance by embracing Davos "meritocracy" and neo-liberal economics combined with neo-conservative foreign policy for the past 30 years. They sealed their fate by turning the Party (DNC, DSCC, DCCC, DGA, most state committees) into stale and pale imitations of Reagan's GOP; and Party 'leaders' are far too comfortable with their own sense of entitlement to power and wealth to understand either the fallacies of their tunnel vision, or the consequences (like electing Trump and keeping the GOP in control of Congress and most states) of their blinkered myopia.
The only hope for the DP is to let the genuine 'progressives' (aka the socialist/green 'left') take over management of the political apparatus because what passes for 'liberalism' these days is no longer an electoral/policy option, at least as far as the electorate is concerned. And all the early indications are that the from the DNC down the Party establishment is more concerned about stamping out the Bernie Bro and Ho heresies than defeating Republicans.
, greenwichite , 27 Apr 2017 06:44
Our politicians have been brainwashed by neoliberal economists.

These economists produce models that factor-in all the upsides to globalisation, but fail to model any of the crippling, expensive-to-treat consequences of shutting down entire towns in places like Michigan or Lancashire.

They assume people live frictionless lives; that when the European ship-building industry moves to Poland, riveters in Portsmouth can just up-sticks and move to Gdansk with no problem. They encourage a narrative that implies such an English riveter are lazy if he fails to seize this opportunity.

(Let's drop a few economists in Gdansk with £100 in their pockets, and see how their families do.)

Economics is a corrupt pseudo-science that gives a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and rapacity of One Percenters. Its methodological flaws are glaring. It's time economists went back to the social science faculty, where they belong.

[Jun 04, 2017] 'Give them a pill': Putin accuses US of hysteria over election hacking inquiry by Alec Luhn

Notable quotes:
"... Russian officials meeting with members of Trump's team during the campaign and transition, Putin declared they had just shared "general words about building relations" and that allegations of collusion were "some kind of hysteria, and you guys just can't stop". ..."
Jun 02, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Vladimir Putin: allegations of Russian interference in the US is 'hysteria'
Vladimir Putin

Russian president calls allegations of interference in US presidential election 'useless and harmful chatter' at St Petersburg economic forum Share on Facebook Close

Vladimir Putin has said the US needs to stop the "useless and harmful chatter" about Russian interference in the presidential election, arguing that - Donald Trump 's electoral strategy was entirely responsible for his victory.

Speaking at the St Petersburg economic forum, Putin claimed there was no concrete evidence for US intelligence agencies' allegations of Russian hacking , and said cyber specialists "can make anything up and blame anyone".

The Russian president added that this "attempt to solve internal political issues using instruments of foreign policy" was damaging international relations.

"The problem is not here, the problem is within American politics. Trump's team was more effective in the electoral campaign," Putin told the event's moderator, the US television presenter Megyn Kelly.

"In all honesty, I myself sometimes thought that the guy was going too far, but it turned out he was right: he found an approach to those groups of the population and those groups of voters he counted on, and they came and voted for him," Putin said.

Hillary Clinton's campaign team was blaming the Russians rather than admitting its own mistakes, he said.

"It's easier to say we are not guilty, the Russians are guilty It reminds me of antisemitism: the Jews are guilty of everything," Putin said at the end of his comments, which drew titters from the audience.

"If the information about the Democratic party favouring Clinton was true, is it really important who leaked it?" he asked, echoing his previous statements on Russian hacking.

... ... ...

-- Russian officials meeting with members of Trump's team during the campaign and transition, Putin declared they had just shared "general words about building relations" and that allegations of collusion were "some kind of hysteria, and you guys just can't stop".

"Do we need to give you a pill? Does anyone have a pill? Give them a pill, really, honestly. It's surprising," he said, raising a laugh even out of the impassive Indian PM, Narendra Modi, who was seated next to him.

Austria's chancellor, Christian Kern, and Moldova's president, Igor Dodon, also took part in the discussion.

Besides praising Trump's electoral campaign, Putin refused to condemn the US president's decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord , making light of the issue and questioning whether the countries of the world were really "in a position to halt climate change".

"Somehow we here aren't feeling that the temperature is really rising, but we should be thankful to President Trump. There was snow in Moscow today; [in St Petersburg], it's rainy and cold – now we can blame all this on him and American imperialism," Putin joked.

Putin told Kelly, in English, "Don't worry, be happy," assuring her that the agreement would take effect in 2021, so there was still "plenty of time to reach an agreement".

It wasn't clear what he was referring to in this comment, since the accord took effect in November 2016.

One area where Putin was critical of Trump's policy was regarding the US president's demand that Nato members raise their military spending to 2% of GDP.

"If they aren't planning to attack anyone, then why increase spending? That of course worries us," Putin said.

[Jun 03, 2017] According to NYT on Obama $400K speech, Obamas already have $12 million plus receiving $80 million for their biography/books.

Jun 03, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
ID269211 Ima Right , 29 Apr 2017 12:19 According to NYT on Obama $400K speech, Obamas already have $12 million plus receiving $80 million for their biography/books.

[Jun 03, 2017] The Democrats Davos ideology wont win back the midwest by Thomas Frank

Notable quotes:
"... Tell people about how the Russians stole the election for Trump and everyone knows you're just reiterating a Beltway talking point. Mention how the Democrats betrayed working people over the years, however, and the radio station's board immediately lights up with enthusiastic callers. Remind people of the ways in which the Democrats have reoriented themselves around affluent, tasteful white-collar people and you hear a chorus of angry yesses; talk about how the Democrats live to serve the so-called "creative class" and a murmur of recognition sweeps the room. ..."
"... People in the labor movement that I met in my turn around the midwest expressed complicated feelings about Donald Trump. On the one hand, everyone understands that he is an obvious scoundrel and they fear that his administration will bring about (via a possible supreme court ruling against public-sector unions) an epic defeat for organized labor. ..."
"... Economics is a corrupt pseudo-science that gives a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and rapacity of One Percenters. Its methodological flaws are glaring. It's time economists went back to the social science faculty, where they belong. ..."
Jun 03, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

... ... ...

Another thing that is inexcusable from Democrats: surprise at the economic disasters that have befallen the midwestern cities and states that they used to represent.

The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn. Every time our liberal leaders signed off on some lousy trade deal, figuring that working-class people had "nowhere else to go," they were making what happened last November a little more likely.

Every time our liberal leaders deregulated banks and then turned around and told working-class people that their misfortunes were all attributable to their poor education, that the only answer for them was a lot of student loans and the right sort of college degree ... every time they did this they made the disaster a little more inevitable.

Pretending to rediscover the exotic, newly red states of the Midwest, in the manner of the New York Times , is not the answer to this problem. Listening to the voices of the good people of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan is not really the answer, either. Cursing those bad people for the stupid way they voted is an even lousier idea.

What we need is for the Democratic party and its media enablers to alter course. It's not enough to hear people's voices and feel their pain; the party actually needs to change. They need to understand that the enlightened Davos ideology they have embraced over the years has done material harm to millions of their own former constituents. The Democrats need to offer something different next time. And then they need to deliver.

They are already failing on this front. Consider the idea, currently approaching revealed truth among American liberals, that last November's electoral upset was in fact an act of political vandalism attributable to some violation of fair play by the Russians or the FBI director; that it had no greater historical significance than does an ordinary act of shoplifting.

I met few who are actually buying that line. Tell people about how the Russians stole the election for Trump and everyone knows you're just reiterating a Beltway talking point. Mention how the Democrats betrayed working people over the years, however, and the radio station's board immediately lights up with enthusiastic callers. Remind people of the ways in which the Democrats have reoriented themselves around affluent, tasteful white-collar people and you hear a chorus of angry yesses; talk about how the Democrats live to serve the so-called "creative class" and a murmur of recognition sweeps the room.

People in the labor movement that I met in my turn around the midwest expressed complicated feelings about Donald Trump. On the one hand, everyone understands that he is an obvious scoundrel and they fear that his administration will bring about (via a possible supreme court ruling against public-sector unions) an epic defeat for organized labor.

In the union hall of the Steelworkers local that represents workers at the Indianapolis Carrier plant – a union hall where you might expect Trump to be venerated – I spotted instead a flyer depicting the billionaire president with his famous pompadour on fire. The headline: "Lying Con and Volatile Gasbag is Enemy of the Working Class."

On the other hand, Trump at least pretended to be a friend of the working class, and it was working-class people in this part of America who turned against the Democrats and helped delivered him into the White House. By a certain school of thought, this should make working-class people the Number One swing group for Democrats to court.

Of course it isn't working out that way. So far, liberal organs seem far less interested in courting such voters than they do in scolding them, insulting them for their coarse taste and the hate for humanity they supposedly cherish in their ignorant hearts.

Ignorance is not the issue, however. Many midwesterners I met share an outlook that is profoundly bleak. They believe that the life has gone out of this region; indeed, they fear that a civilization based on making things is no longer sustainable.

They tell me about seniors falling prey to Fox News syndrome and young people who are growing up without hope. And just about everyone I talked to believes that the national Democratic party has abandoned them. They are frustrated beyond words with the stupidity of the party's leadership.

One thing we must never forget about the midwest, however, is that radicalism lurks just beneath the surface. The region has always swung back and forth between contentment and outrage; between Chicago Tribune-style business-worship and Eugene Debs-style socialism. I was reminded of this one night in Minneapolis, when a friend told me the story of a local Teamsters strike in 1934, a conflict that briefly plunged the Twin Cities into something akin to civil war.

I have no doubt that people in this part of America would respond enthusiastically to a populist message that addressed their unhappy situation – just look, for example, at the soaring popularity of Bernie Sanders.

As things have unfolded thus far, however, our system seems designed to keep such an alternative off the table. The choice we are offered instead is between Trumpian fake populism and a high-minded politics of personal virtue. Between a nomenklatura of New Economy winners and a party of traditional business types, willing to say anything to get elected and (once that is done) to use the state to reward people like themselves. The public's frustration with this state of affairs, at least as I heard it on my midwestern trip, is well-nigh overwhelming.

The way I see it, the critical test for our system will come late next year. The billionaire great-maker in the Oval Office has already turned out to be an incompetent buffoon, and his greatest failures are no doubt yet to come. By November 2018, the winds of change will be in full hurricane shriek, and unless the Democratic Party's incompetence is even more profound than it appears to be, the D's will sweep to some sort of mid-term triumph.

But when "the resistance" comes into power in Washington, it will face this question: this time around, will Democrats serve the 80% of us that this modern economy has left behind? Will they stand up to the money power? Or will we be invited once again to feast on inspiring speeches while the tasteful gentlemen from JP Morgan foreclose on the world?

Robert Glass , 29 Apr 2017 15:38

Writing that Trump is an 'incompetent buffoon' only highlights the foolishness of the Washington establishment, and why millions see the media with disdain.
While you may dislike the man, you still have to contend with the fact that the guy has been successful, and he is a byproduct of a system that rewards success. It is similar to the derision that Obama experienced when he claimed that 'you didn't build that."
Historically hard work and self determination has been a shared American value, and during the campaign we saw one who skated through process and the other who worked his butt off to win. To dismiss this American value as incompetent and buffoonery is the height of elitism from a pointed headed pencil pusher. Reply Share Share on Facebook Facebook Share on Twitter Twitter | Pick - > Report -> mmercier0921 -> deborahmconner , 29 Apr 2017 15:32 Americans of age are not bolshevik's. What is killing the rat party is reality that the immigrants here tend to want freedom or anarchy, not old communists loading over them. The stunted domestic children's have proven mostly... dysfunctional at the political levels so far, and a burden on us all.

The only hope for the Democrat party at this point is economic colapse and war... their only remaining tried and true methods.

mmercier0921 - > ThinkThankThunk , 29 Apr 2017 15:21

Trump is the third party. This is why he is so hated by both. --

ID269211 - > Ima Right , 29 Apr 2017 12:19

According to NYT on Obama $400K speech, Obamas already have $12 million plus receiving $80 million for their biography/books. --
RobertAnglin , 29 Apr 2017 11:38
Mr. Frank may be overestimating the Democrats' chances next year. My senator is one of the most liberal but already this year she has voted for new sanctions on Iran and admitting Montenegro into NATO.

I'm seriously considering staying home on election day next year -- for the first time in my life.

Stranger1548 -> RedKrayola , 29 Apr 2017 08:24
It wasn't Bill Clinton who in February 2001 called on Fannie and Freddie to get busy while simultaneously calling on the private sector to get "creative" so low income mortgages could be written. That was Bush!
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/business/worldbusiness/21iht-admin.4.18853088.html?pagewanted=all

The turmoil in financial markets was triggered by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for subprime mortgages, beginning in late 2004 through 2007. That's when Republicans controlled all branches of government. The share of mortgages held by Fannie and Freddie during that time went from 48% to 24%, being eclipsed by private mortgage banks. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2008/10/12/53802/private-sector-loans-not-fannie.html

Bush's Securities and Exchange Commission allowed the nation's largest financial institutions to "self-regulate;" taking the cops off the beat. Unregulated mortgage brokers sold subprime loans aided by the NINA (No Income No Assets) program. Major financial institutions packaged those bad mortgages into securities and sold them as low-risk investments.
In 2007, FOX News taking heads, Art Laffer, Ben Stein and others laughed themselves silly over an impending housing collapse they had championed. They said "It can't happen," claiming lasting wealth had been created by subprime loans. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz_yw0kq3MM

ydobon - > J Nagarya , 29 Apr 2017 05:15
First of all, the idea that the nationalist right is exclusively 'Nazi', or that Trump is a 'white supremacist', is more than a bit silly, but regardless:

My argument has absolutely nothing to do with Trump's tax cuts (which, fwiw, I'm hugely opposed to). --

ungruntled - > ChipKennedy , 29 Apr 2017 01:59
A complete overhaul of Economics is needed, the Austrian school of Mises, Hated and Friedman is now obsolete and broken, it can never be relevant again. The Inequality it has given us in the name of progress is toxic, and must be addressed.
https://dangerousglobe.com/news/finance/introducing-delicious-new-way-delivering-21st-century-economics-doughnut /
ungruntled , 29 Apr 2017 01:19
As an outside observer I am not well enough informed to dig deep into regional issues in America, but on a national level many can see the some root causes.
The US has a political system that does not monitor and control election spending by parties or candidates. You get the best people that money can buy, not the best people.
You have an electoral "commission" that is a privately run club of 2 parties whose stated aim is to keep it like that, and do so by strangling any dissent at birth.
You also have a media circus with players like Rupert Murdoch involved and wherever he goes you find mischief, spin, downright lies all mobilised to get you all to believe in whatever movement is generating him the most cash.
You also have a large and powerful group of dark suits that "advise" the administration, whoever it is, on foreign policy and how to control, manipulate or even overthrow, foreign governments of countries that have resources America needs.
As a result, your idea of living in a Demoracy is just that, a nice idea.
You can argue with me all day long, but the fact remains, that I have watched all of the above actually happen over a 70 year period, with my own eyes, while still of sound mind.
Much the same is happening in the UK too, creating diabolical levels of inequality that are destroying large sections of society.
It will get much worse before it gets much better. Will it get better before the planet shrugs humans off it though?
justanotherflyboy - > OXIOXI20 , 28 Apr 2017 18:27
not like electing Hillary would have helped us. she's just as complacently sure that neoliberalism works. well, yeah, for the billionaires it does. hasn't done us much good though.

I'm not supporting Trump's election. but as far as economic problems, neither of the two main candidates offered us much of anything but more of the same.

justanotherflyboy - > OXIOXI20 , 28 Apr 2017 18:27
not like electing Hillary would have helped us. she's just as complacently sure that neoliberalism works. well, yeah, for the billionaires it does. hasn't done us much good though.

I'm not supporting Trump's election. but as far as economic problems, neither of the two main candidates offered us much of anything but more of the same.

rvail136 - > deborahmconner , 28 Apr 2017 17:14

They won the popular vote ONLY because of Democrats overwhelming strength in Los Angeles, California & New York City...if you remove the votes for BOTH Hillary & Donald from those two regions, Trump would have won by 2 million votes. That alone is why the men who wrote the US Constitution instituted the Electoral College. It was to keep a few large cities from choosing the president and essentially ignoring the rest of the country. It was called the Virginia Compromise...
Bfunuconn - > deborahmconner , 28 Apr 2017 17:04
I'm an analytics professional that worked on Obama's primary & re-election where I saw first hand a robust machine learning process. Electoral politics is so insanely tribal because you're seeing voter outcomes reflect voter self image based on their general zip code/geographic living space.

Electorally we don't know how Bernie would have performed because it's unknown how the oppo research would have impacted older voters outcomes. This is even harder to predict because of the $$ spent required to run in a general. You can assume Bernie would have gotten 60% of Millennials instead of Hillary's 55% (matching Obama's number in 2012). However; we don't know what happens in the reverse manner.

Hillary had entrenched Democratic loyalty with urban blanks/latinos/Asians /Jews/White educated women. Because Latino/Asian turnout rates increased from 46% to 56% Clinton basically outperformed Obama in ever major metro area except ( Detroit / Milwaukee). That's because black turnout rates dropped from 64% to 54%. And these two metros are heavily AA .

Hillary slightly outperformed Obama in Philly metro; but she was brutalized in literally all these heavily white working class areas.

Pat McGroyne , 28 Apr 2017 16:13

"The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn."

Yup! And the means doing away with public sector unions in their present form, it means securing the borders, it means getting big banks and wall street under control, it means dropping the left wingnut social policies and getting the government out of peoples lives, not the other way 'round.

Ain't gonna happen.

The liberal/progressive leftist totalitarians are in charge of the party, and unless they change their ways, as previously described, they are going to wander in the wilderness for a very long time.

simpledino, 28 Apr 2017 13:57
It's fine to blame the Democratic Party and let it go at that, but let's frame the problem somewhat more clearly: the United States hasn't managed its transition from industrial capitalism to post-industrial capitalism wisely, or really at all.

The Republican Party? Well, everyone pretty much expects them to act like worshipers of the Great God Mammon; they wrongly think any kind of capitalism is perfect, so they offer no modifications to a situation that has left millions of Americans behind.

The Democrats? You would expect them at least to show some appreciation of the problem and to go beyond lip service when it comes to economic justice and opportunity for all. But you would be mostly mistaken in that, since they have (if at times ambivalently) embraced the shifting lay of the land -- an attitude that amounts to a species of fatalism. That leaves them little to offer except support for some important but not fully curative improvements in American life: support for equality for LGBTQI people, for example. That support, proper though it is, then gets slammed by vicious, sneering Republicans as elitism or extremism. The truth is that if the Dems appear to be all about such issues, it's only because right-wing morons oppose them with primitive ferocity at every turn, making the Dems' steadfast belief in fairness look like a mere obsession with "boutique" issues that only directly affect very small segments of the population. So the answer isn't for Democrats to drop their support for civic and human rights for all people -- that isn't the problem.

This is a genuine dilemma because the pain the country's going through has fundamentally to do with our economic system and the technological shifts to it, and we really aren't going to jettison that system. But I suggest that the Democrats are better positioned to become the great "rearticulators" of why we are in the fix we are in and of a more compassionate social system that won't ignore the working class, won't embrace some kind of neoliberal fatalism that writes people off as "collateral damage" of an inevitable shift.

Marcel Williams , 28 Apr 2017 12:55
The Democratic Party has gradually become the party of the status quo and business as usual instead of the progressive-- working people's party-- it use to be under Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy. Even Obamacare is a concept originally conceived by the Republicans to force all Americans into the arms of the private health insurance companies.

Instead of more trickle down economics, Democrats should be trying to focus on creating a worker's paradise in order to re-energize the American economy:

1. A 32 hour work week (overtime beyond 32 hours):

2. Up to six weeks of annual Federally mandated paid vacation

3. Reduction of individual income tax to just 1% for individuals that make less than $60,000 a year

4. Employer payment of all Federal payroll taxes for all employees that make less than $60,000 a year

5. A $1000 a year workers rebate from the Federal government if you work full time or part time or employ full time or part time workers

6. Federal infrastructure program providing matching funds for cities that want to build affordable urban-- rental housing-- for senior citizens and the working class families and individuals, who don't own their own home who make less than $60,000 a year.

7. Federal and employer financed medical savings accounts for all American citizens

8. High tariffs (15% to 100%) on all imports coming in from nations that are not free and democratic (China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.). Low tariffs (1% to 10%) on imports from nations that are free and democratic. How Democrats could have ever gone along with allowing a fascist state like China to have full and free trading access to the American economy is almost incomprehensible (and it also cost Americans more than 3 million jobs)!

Marcel

hureharehure - > Darin Brown , 28 Apr 2017 12:33
Us coastal elites in NY have just passed a free college program. It isn't perfect but it's a good start.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/cuomo-bold-college-aid-program-article-1.3071144

The coastal elites in California are progressing toward single payer healthcare, as I mentioned in another comment on this article:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article145846229.html

http://inthesetimes.com/article/20051/single-payer-here-we-come-california-jerry-brown-healthcare-sanders

I'm at a loss as to why anyone would think voting for Trump conveys a desire for these things. He has spent his entire career taking advantage of working class people who had the misfortune to be employed by him, and he was literally fighting charges for running a fraudulent, for-profit university during the campaign.

https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/trump-lawsuits /

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/us/trump-university-settlement.html

jimmyc1955 , 28 Apr 2017 12:07
Lets review the key points of Democratic politics as they now pronounce it (through words and action)

1 - Save the planet - translation - regulate any and all forms of energy to be too expensive then subsidize renewable energy. This means a few major companies will win huge government contracts to put up windmills while, power plant operators, miners, natural gas workers and countless supporting industries go dark.

2 - Identity Politics - Translation - Vast swaths of America are understood only in context of their race, gender (chosen or otherwise) or political perspective. They will be administered according to an as yet unpublished preference chart favoring some over others. Meaning that individuals don't matter and needs don't matter. Only that you fit into some defined category where political messaging will tell you why your oppressed and that only democrats can free you.

3 - Free Trade Agreements - In short - how to off shore manufacturing to cheap labor countries. That one is very simple.

4 - Sanctuary Cities - People who arrived into this country illegally will be protected from deportation, even identifcation as illegal regardless of the law. This reduces the cost of labor for less skilled workers and drives up costs - which drive up taxes to provide services. In point of fact California is in the process of creating a single payer healthcare system that will provide free (only if your don't earn and income) healthcare to anybody in California - no questions asked.

What is missing? Jobs. There are zero plans to bring back jobs. The coasties don't care about manufacturing. They only buy the highest quality imports with the right labels on them anyway. Their answer - why more government "programs" designed to robe Peter to pay Paul. Job training for jobs that don't exist where people live, and often disappeared years ago.

I don't think that plays well in the midwest.

RobinSchulberg , 28 Apr 2017 11:49
I am entirely sympathetic to Frank's point of view. My question is what kind of economic policy would help the working class people he is talking about. I'm reading Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of Revolution (1789-1848) and here's what he has to say about the mechanization of the cotton industry in Britain: "Everywhere weaving was a mechanized a generation after spinning, and everywhere, incidentally, the handloom weavers died a lingering death, occasionally revolting against their awful fate, when industry no longer had any need for them." You can't stop technological progress. Nor (although I'm less sure of this) does it seem like a good idea for governments to intervene in preventing production from migrating to the countries where it is cheapest. What public policy can do is offer displaced persons a choice: government support to go back to school to learn a skill that will make you employable; or government employment at a job that uses the skills you already have on projects that the private sector would not undertake but which fulfills a social need (from infrastructure to building affordable housing in low income areas to driving a bus from poor neighborhoods to jobs). Financed, of course, by higher taxes on the wealthy.
tommydog , 28 Apr 2017 11:48
Thomas Frank is at least a liberal who recognizes that the Democrats offer nothing to the working class, but he fails to really see how Democratic policies have made states under Democratic governance less attractive to those businesses that would actually hire the working class. He make make snide remarks about lousy trade deals, yet many foreign car manufacturers have set up some of the most sophisticated plants in the US, but in southern states. In fact, US manufacturing output is near all time highs, but it is ever more automated. Even some rust belt states, under Republican governance, are attracting industry back to these states.

The Dems really crises is going to come when blue collar Hispanics conclude that their economic interests are not dissimilar to those of blue collar whites. They too might conclude that their best course is to deal with those who might actually hire them as opposed to those that will never hire them but who want to set the terms whereby others might. That will surely dash the idea (or fantasy) that changing demographics portend a coming brown progressive paradise led by old white hippies.

W.a. Thomaston , 28 Apr 2017 11:35
Meritocracy?
The best of the best of the best?
Not for the Smugatocratic World Rigging Nepotistic 'Davos' Elite!

(Busy "Late Night" Offices)

Seth Myer's Secretary

Seth! Call; "Line 1" You better take it

Seth Myers

Hello?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Seth My Dear Boy I really need you to do me a solid
you remember my Granddaughter Brittany?


Seth Myers

Ummm .Not really .?
Who is this?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

No matter .You met her last year at Davos

Seth Myers

Ahhh .I didn't actually go to Davos last year?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Well she just graduated from Emerson Gawd knows what they learn there?
AAAAAANYWAAAYS .
this whole "Clinton Kerfuffle" has kind of put us in a little bind

Seth Myers

Oh really?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

And Britt had her dear little heart set on interning with Hilly and Billy

Seth Myers

Oh....She did?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Now, she'd really like to work on your show

Seth Myers

My show?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Oh .She's a really good writer

Seth Myers

Writer .Wow .Why not just host?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

You think? Well, maybe?
K Thanks Gottah Run Love Yah' Bunches Britt will just be so thrilled!
See you at Davos .

Seth Myers

Wait I'm not go

Seth Myer's Secretary

Seth! Call; "Line 2" You better take it

Seth Myers

Hello?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Seth .My Dear Boy I really, really need you to do me a solid you remember my Granddaughter...Gemma?

On the children of the Elite and their remarkable ability to obtain internships?
"Internships Are Not a Privilege"
(Breaking a Cycle That Allows Privilege to Go to Privileged)
"TALENT is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. And while many Americans believe fervently and faithfully in expanding opportunity, America's internship-industrial complex does just the opposite."
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/opinion/breaking-a-cycle-that-allows-privilege-to-go-to-privileged.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

"How a Ruthless Network of Super-Rich Ideologues Killed Choice and Destroyed People's Faith in Politics"
"Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trump's triumph"
http://evonomics.com/ruthless-network-super-rich-ideologues-killed-choice-destroyed-peoples-faith-politics /

"Robert Reich: 7 Truths Democrats Need to Understand"
http://chicago.suntimes.com/opinion/robert-reich-7-truths-democrats-need-to-understand /

NO MORE NEOLIBERAL LIES OR NEOCON CONS!

Benjohn6379 - > jcm124 , 28 Apr 2017 09:59
Special interests are intertwined with the Dems as much as they are with Repubs now, that's what's changed. The article speaks of the neoliberal policies that are destroying the Democratic party (deregulation, pro-corporate/anti-worker policies).

Yes, Republicans do those things and always have, but the point is that the Dems now do them too. And they need to step away from neoliberal policies like that if they want to be relevant again.

sassafrasdog - > Citizen0 , 28 Apr 2017 08:16
The 1970s were the beginning of the end because oil was no longer cheap, and our factories were in northern cities and both ran on oil. Unions didn't help with strikes and corruption. Unions were also divided on race. Manufacturing was more expensive in terms of energy and labor in the North than in the South. Since then paper mills and auto plants have followed areas where unions never caught on, the growing season for trees is short, and which have mild winters. This is logic, not NAFTA.

Now we glorify unions of a hazy past, but then they seemed to have gotten too big for their britches. Midwesterners voted for Reagan and neoliberal policies back then, which is ignored in this discussion.

NAFTA, passed under George HW Bush, and signed when Clinton was new in office, recognized that industry was changing. It also created new markets for agriculture, which is also a Midwest product, let it not be forgotten. Oh, but agriculture was Republican territory. Which is why it was passed under Bush.

NAFTA isn't the issue but is an excuse. The refusal of the auto industry to wake up until they had to in the recent recession or refusal to face the cost of energy that fueled it is the issue. It couldn't have been the companies where people could work for $25/hr with only a H.S. Diploma?? No, it must be those "others" from far away, right?

direwolf7 , 27 Apr 2017 22:48
While it is true that Hillary and the Neoliberal wing of the Democrats has prevailed, until 2016 the Neoliberals were the only wing of the Republicans. Trump can talk a good game offer some hope to the Rust Belt Hopeless, but does anyone really believe the commercial interests that have been the backbone of the GOP since Lincoln are going to let Trump cancel NAFTA, reimpose tariffs and cut of the flow of cheap labor?

No doubt about it, the industrial towns of the Midwest have been savaged by Globalization and the wages of a lot on essentially unskilled worker have fallen behind but there are a lot of people who have benefited from it as well, like everyone who shops at Walmart or drives a car.

How much more are you willing to pay for "stuff" so that somebody in Youngstown Ohio can get the $25 an hour job he thought would be waiting for him when he graduated from H.S.?

Changes in the world economy create winners and losers and losers seek relief from the federal government. They don't want help navigating the changed situation they find themselves in, they want things back to the way they were before.

Mkjaks , 27 Apr 2017 22:14
I equate neoliberalism with MBA NATION. The stupidity of book learning the economics of numbers but not of their effects on human life.

I recall hearing an interview with an economist who was dismissing something Trump said about how he'd handle certain things in the economy. "Sure," the economist huffed, "It would put more money in average people's pockets but it wouldn't improve the GDP or the economy as a whole."

The interview didn't call the "expert" out on this nonsense. It stopped me in my tracks (I was walking past the office lunch room). As a citizen, I would very much like to be living in a world where we put more money in my neighbours' pockets (as well as my own, of course) than watch it magnetize to the rich and ever-more-powerful, making the big numbers look impressive while the average person abandons all hope of a decent future for themselves and their children.

I am not a Trump supporter, but I will say that I am an MBA NATION loather. Free trade that lines the pockets of rich people and robs citizens of the right to intervene or shift or change the deal is obscene.

trp981 , 27 Apr 2017 19:34

"What we need is for the Democratic party and its media enablers to alter course. It's not enough to hear people's voices and feel their pain; the party actually needs to change. They need to understand that the enlightened Davos ideology they have embraced over the years has done material harm to millions of their own former constituents."

Yes of course. But that's not gonna happen. Demanding such a thing is demanding that rational self-interested individuals go against their entrenched self-interest, which goes against everything held sacred in an enlightened market economy and against the sacred neoclassical tenet of the rational homo economicus . You don't wish to be perceived as an apostate now Mr. Frank, do you? It is in the interest of the operatives and functionaries of the party to maintain the current status quo by acting in the interest of Wall Street and Silicon Valley and other top economic players to the detriment of their base.

The Democratic party took a drubbing from the right with the dawn of the Reagan era. The emergence of the so-called Third Way in the 1990s was an acknowledgement of this defeat. Clinton's major political innovation was to secure a source of funding for the Democrats by prostrating before the financial sector. This is a formula that has proven successful, and no Democratic candidate will deviate from this script as long as it continues to be so. Essentially, the Democratic party transformed itself from the "loser" representative of unions, teachers, and ordinary folk in general, to a "kinder, gentler" version of the Republican party. The they-have-nowhere else-to-go strategy was quite rational and has worked for more than two decades, and will conceivably work for at least four more presidential election cycles. However, the initial givenness of the Democratic base in 1992 was a finite source of electoral fuel, and as the election of Trump has shown this resource is nearing depletion.

"One thing we must never forget about the midwest, however, is that radicalism lurks just beneath the surface."

Please, that ship sailed a long time ago, at least a century to be more precise. This is red-state Heartland territory now through-and-through, respect the empirical data.

"The choice we are offered instead is between Trumpian fake populism and a high-minded politics of personal virtue. Between a nomenklatura of New Economy winners and a party of traditional business types, willing to say anything to get elected and (once that is done) to use the state to reward people like themselves."

To use a quantitative scale, the choice offered to the non-elite voters is between a zero-to-slightly-positive socially liberal neoliberalism, and a negative socially conservative neoliberalism. Put another way, economically the choice is between the nothing of the Democrats and the worse-than-nothing of the Republicans. The calm and stability at the center of wealth and power masks the constant rattling sound of the lives perturbed and dislocated by the dominant economic forces. At this point, the relation of the non-elite voters to the D-R duopoly resembles sadomasochism. Or perhaps the working people voting for Trump is a form of supplication before their god: "Shoot me now Lord, please."

To be more generous and grant the Heartland left-behind a measure of agency and rationality, they - and one group in particular, the Reagan Democrats - took a chance on his and his descendants' rhetoric of the shining city upon a hill, and when they realized that the end result was the loss of jobs and diminution of their standards of living and that of their offspring, they graciously accepted the verdict and had the fortitude and decency to bear the burden of their own decision. There is nothing the matter with Kansas, the only thing that needs attention is the inconsistency between its pronunciation and that of Arkansas.

DavidEG , 27 Apr 2017 18:42
Thomas Frank offers an advice to democrats - break up with your neoliberal fallacies and embrace Bernie Sanders. It clearly means a break up with their true (core) base - big money. Such choice is too stark, hard to believes they are willing or capable of making it.
Rather than pleading with them, I could offer a better option - reject republico-cratic duopoly (and its enterprising scoundrels) altogether, and embrace an American version of La France insoumise
maha - > martinusher , 27 Apr 2017 16:12 Contributor
"All this Davos/Deregulation/NeoLiberal whatever is a product of Republican -- right wing -- thinking." Yes, originally, but the Clinton-third way wing of the Democratic Party went along with it and adopted neoliberalism lite. That's the problem. Instead of offering an alternative vision to what Republicans were doing, they offered "me, too."
Bogdanich -> - > lymans , 27 Apr 2017 16:06

The Glass Stegal repeal was passed under Clinton not Reagan. Reagan did the Savings & Loan deregulation which led to the S&L bailout under G.W. Bush during which they prosecuted over 1,000 bank executives and got convictions including five sitting senators with four forced resignations. After Clinton did the deregulation that led to the financial crisis and Obama prosecuted zero, let me say that again, zero, bank executives and provided $9 trillion in bailout liquidity. --

Bogdanich , 27 Apr 2017 16:02

They can offer the illusion with the proper candidate but with the same congressmen and senators that currently hold the seats none of the substance. --
Etienne LeCompte , 27 Apr 2017 15:15
Take Amtrak between Chicago and Washington DC and witness wreckage of heartland industry along a corridor 800 miles long. People still live there, forgotten. Bernie Sanders is not finished. Listen to him; and put yourself up for election locally, on a Park District board; or a Township position; as an Election Judge or for County or State office. And listen to your neighbors, who are suffering. Then do something about it. When I ran for State Representative, the Democratic Party sent me a highlighted map instead of a check for my campaign. The map showed "70% Republican" voting registration in my State Representative district. No Party cash for my campaign was forthcoming. The only way to change this Gerrymandering is to be on-hand in the State House following the next decennial census in 2020. It will be "too late" to do anything -- again -- unless "we" change the Party; and the Party changes the re-districting scam. Bernie Sanders is right about pitching in to re-shape and re-form the Democratic Party. The Party, as constructed, is passι... and as hollowed-out as the miles and miles of decrepit buildings with thousands of gaping, broken windows that lie between Chicago and DC. Go see the devastation for yourself. Then get serious about answers.
namjodh , 27 Apr 2017 14:05
Yep, the Dems would do well to drop the Russia/FBI swung the election thing and the all Red State inhabitants are poorly educated idiots mentality and concentrate on developing some policies that appeal to the majority of people.

I'm going to sound like a broken record, but Identity Politics has FAILED. The Dems are not going to cobble together some sort of Ruling Coalition out of Transgendered people and urban people of color. That's an insane strategy of hoping you will win national elections by appealing to 25% or less of the population of whom only half that number actually vote if you are lucky.

I'm not saying abandon those struggles. Under a just system those struggles will continue and prevail - the Constitution guarantees that unless you get dishonest justices on the Supreme Court - which seems more likely the more national elections you blow. Democrats need to stop worrying about narrow single issues like that and focus on developing a BROAD national strategy to appeal to the Majority of Americans.

So says the guy from Punjab who is NOT a poorly educated white person and who has voted Democrat since 1980.

martinusher , 27 Apr 2017 13:09
There's a bit of bait 'n switch here. All this Davos/Deregulation/NeoLiberal whatever is a product of Republican -- right wing -- thinking. It first gained serious traction during the Reagan administration. The Democrats merely drifted into the vacuum formed by the Republican party lurching from Right/Center to Hard Right. Since then any drifting back has been subject to extreme criticism as 'socialism', 'communism' and the like. Now we're in the rather weird situation that the party of neoliberal economics is pushing the line that the Democrats are the party of entrenched money and they are the Party of the People. It beggars belief, especially when journalists take it up and run with it instead of calling the the BS that it is.

The problem with the Rust Belt states is that they keep on electing Republican state governments. These fail to deliver on anything useful for working people -- they're more interested in entrenching their power by tweaking the elections -- but then people turn to the Federal government as if this is some kind of savior capable of turning around their fortunes overnight.

Anyway, don't take my word for it. Just keep electing those regressive state legislators (and keep drinking that tainted water....).

Claudius - > hureharehure , 27 Apr 2017 13:02
Great comment on the article, but I think even you have been kind in your criticism of it. I can only hope that the writer started out with the intention of saying that while the GOP and their rich and big business political patrons are responsible for the impoverishment of those in the article, the Democrats have missed out on messaging and on more specific policies that addresses those wrongs committed against a voting block they can own. Instead the entire piece is written as though the Democrats have earned the scorn and anger of these voters. One can argue the Democrats have failed to focus more on the plight of these voters, but they are NOT the cause of these voters' plight; and there is nothing in this piece to make that distinction or about the irony of why these same voters flock to a political party primarily responsible for what has happened to them. In fact consider this below from the article:

"Mention how the Democrats betrayed working people over the years, however, and the radio station's board immediately lights up with enthusiastic callers. "

Yes, that is right! The political anomaly that Trump is can be be explained by the successful exploitation of the improvised classes by media outlets that voice these voters' anger to acquire a capture audience and then lay the blame for what has happened to them on immigrants & liberals. You never hear anything on those outlets about the unholy triad of the GOP political class, big business and media outlets in their orbit. I don't need to drive through these flyover states to know they are hurting; and I don't need to sit down with them to know they are real human beings with a great deal in common with me or to know that despite their general decency they are full of misplaced anger and resentment.

CivilDiscussion , 27 Apr 2017 13:21
I am so glad that the Russians are responsible for electing Trump. It would be awful to think that it was because Democrats had a really, really bad candidate in Hillary Clinton. It just could not be -- she was, after all -- the MOST QUALIFIED PERSON EVER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT, as we were instructed endlessly by Obama. Voters thought otherwise and their support for Trump was mainly to keep Hillary out, not to have a billionaire lunatic elected. But it would not matter since they all serve their master class bankers and war-makers.
kmtominey1923 , 27 Apr 2017 13:01
Interesting he choices of examples for how liberals let the mid west down. Republican president Reagan deregulated S&Ls with predictable awful results. Republicans under Clinton (they controlled the Senate and house ) when Glass Steagsll was repealed. Republic Phil Gramm also rescinded the AntiBucket Shop Law which loosed the disaster of the naked CDS,

Republicans starting with Reagan made refusing to enforce financial laws they did not like a policy. It was continued under Bush43/Cheney on speed. Regulator of mortgage brokers refused to let state AGs (including Maine) move against fraudsters and refused to act himself. Chris Cox ignored the risky complex financial products that tanked our economy.

It was Republican Sen. Phil Gramm who said in hearings on CSPAN that these instruments of financial mass destruction (Warren Buffet's words) were too complicated to understand and therefore should not be regulated.

Republicans wanted to free up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy subprime even NINJA loans and made it so.

Was Clinton an idiot to allow Rubin and Summers any where near financial market policy YES. Was Obama a bigger fool for bringing Summers into his admin- absolutely since he had already displayed financial incompetence at Harvard, YES.

But, it is republicans who either drove the bad financial ideas or controlled them. Republicans who support IRS rules and their laws that promote off shoring jobs and stashing cash untaxed off shore.

Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford, Bush41 - even Nixon - would not know these people.

zolotoy - > Atomic Girl , 27 Apr 2017 12:16
Oh, and as for the rest of the party and its defeats: A quick look at the numbers show that Democrats keep losing not because voters are switching to the Republican brand, but because they no longer bother to vote for Democrats who are just going to shiv them in the back with Republican economic policies. Reply Share
JayThomas , 27 Apr 2017 12:16

Will they stand up to the money power?

You mean the people who pay $400,000 for a speech? Reply Share

zolotoy - > Atomic Girl , 27 Apr 2017 12:15

But now liberals and the Democratic Party are to get the lion's share of the blame for everything?


As I've said on numerous occasions in the past: The reason Trump beat Hillary is the same reason Obama beat her in the 2008 primaries: Voters knew her and what she stood for -- and so were willing to take a chance on the other candidate.
joAnn chartier - > zolotoy , 27 Apr 2017 12:55
Thank you for the Abramson reminder -- as a retired journalist I know the importance of providing clear and accurate information to the general public. While Abramson and Frank and others are writing Opinion in the Guard and elsewhere, too many people do not understand positioning and propaganda. Media must make money to stay in business and often it is opinion writers/tv hosts etc that generate interest and coin to keep the words rolling and the money coming in.

It is especially ironic as wages are cut, jobs disappear, cost of living rises so fewer people can afford to subscribe or pay for actual news and information. Not to mention the political idiocy of reducing school funding so that the electorate knows nothing of history or how politics works.

Trump wants to take us back to Ronnie Reagan and Maggie Thatcher years that left us with trillion dollar deficits and decimation of the middle class that is now on the downward slide to actual poverty...

MightyBuccaneer , 27 Apr 2017 12:07
The People should really start to regularly book politicians for 400k speeches after they leave office.

The People should create an army of lobbyists that constantly meet and mingle with politicians in Washington to make their wishes known.

The People should up their campaign and Superpac spending.

The People should create a newspaper devoted to there interests that can rival the NYT and the WaPo.


Then, and only then, will there be populism, from any party.

Annabel1968 - > Jabr , 27 Apr 2017 12:05
No, it is a crap comment. From the neo-liberal 'pseudo science' that economics supposedly is (almost forgot to use the word neo-liberal, a must these days to make your point) , to the greed and the rapacity of the "one percenters".

Such a simple problem isn't it? Let's just go back in time rather than find more creative and up-to-date solution for the problems there are. Globalisation isn't going to go away, the world is too small a place. Globalisation has created problems for people, but many more people have benefitted from it.

Atomic Girl , 27 Apr 2017 11:33
"The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn. Every time our liberal leaders signed off on some lousy trade deal, figuring that working-class people had "nowhere else to go," they were making what happened last November a little more likely. "
---

As someone who's middle aged, I am getting sick and tired of this historical revisionist nonsense that all the country's woes and economic climate can be mostly pinned on the liberals and that somehow, it's something that they did wrong that is the reason why they "lost" constituents in the Midwest. Someone can peddle this nonsense over and over again with the smug belief that everyone on on the internet is too young to know whether what he's saying is true. But there are some of us "old folks" who are also on the internet and as an old folk, I have no issues calling out this article out for the nonsense that it is.

Everything that is going on now in terms of jobs can be 100% attributable to Reaganomics--period, end of. It's nothing to do with liberals. It's 100% to do with the devastating rippling effect that his neoliberal policies has had on the country since the 1980s, only made 100x worse by Republican pols who have been further carrying out his neoliberalist agenda to full effect for the past several decades.

It was under Reagan that the country began experiencing mass layoffs (euphemistically called "downsizing"). It was under Reagan that corporations began slashing benefits, cutting wages and closing up shop to ship thousands of jobs overseas. It was under Reagan that the middle class American dream died--aka, the expectation that if got a diploma, you could start working for a company full time straight out of college, work for decades with decent benefits and perks, save up enough money to buy a house and retire with a generous pension. Gone. All gone.

Remember the "Buy American" grassroots campaign? That started in the 1980s, precisely because under Reagan, the country had relied increasingly on imported goods at the expense of domestic manufacturing. Here's an actual article from 1989 that shows you that the roots of everything going on now started decades ago. It's actually a defeatist article telling people to *stop* wasting their time to get everyone to "Buy American" because it had become virtually impossible to buy American-made goods.

"Not Easy to 'Buy American'"
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1243&dat=19891227&id=Bm8PAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HYcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2971,6271486

As for the idea that there's always been a staunchly"Democratic" following in the Midwest that has been "lost" because of something that the party is doing wrong and that this caused them to turn to populism? False. It may have been true a very long time ago that this constituency has been staunchly Democratic and not amenable to populism, but not recently. It has voted on populist platforms before. Remember "welfare queens?" Remember "Willie Horton?" Willie Horton, the black bogeyman, was the "bad hombres" of today.

In addition, this constituency has been increasingly voting against its best interests for decades since Reagan was voted into office. Why? Because demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and the large number of puppets at Rupert Murdoch's vast media empire have been selling them a bill of goods since the 1990s that the reason why they're becoming poorer is that liberals are giving all their "white" hard-earned money to shiftless, lazy blacks and immigrants and losing out to them because of affirmative action. In the famous words of South Park, "THEY TOOK R JERBS" and "IT'S ALL DUH LIBRUHL'S FAULTS!!"

This constituency has developed such a deep-seated hatred and loathing for liberals because of the demagogues at FOX or news radio that even when Michael Moore directly spoke to their plight in Roger and Me, they derided him as a typical Communist-loving, anti-Capitalist pinko. Because, you see, according to FOX demagogues, calling out rich corporate fatcats who also happen to be white is attacking white people, a form of class warfare and anti-Capitalist.

Given all that, for someone to try to paint a picture that this constituency would otherwise be embracing liberalism if not for the Democratic Party adopting an "ideology" is laughable. They were never going to win because anything short of ranting, "They took r jerbs" and "Damned brown people on welfare and illegals stealing taking all our money" was going to cost them the election.

Bottom line, the Midwest was never the liberals' or Democratic Party's constituency to lose, and Reagan is behind all of the economic devastation that the region is experiencing. Anyone else trying to say otherwise is just using spin and historical revisionism.

zolotoy - > Joel Marcuson , 27 Apr 2017 11:28
That's exactly what America needs -- another neocon/neolib, just like Macron! As if Obama and the Clintons hadn't been neocon/neolib enough! Reply Share
fan143 , 27 Apr 2017 11:28
Frank is right that the white working class in the Midwestern states have been the swing votes for presidential elections since the Reagan election of 1984, when the white Democratic South became more fully the white Republican South. But he is wrong in not recognizing that the Democratic Party has three major constituents and it needs all of them to win elections and to do the progressive things while in office that would help people like those in the Midwest. Democrats need the votes of the white working class, but also of race/ethnic minorities, and the "new class" professionals and others. The problem is that these groups have been fighting with each other since the 1960s, continually undermining the chances for Democrats to win. In the period of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, students and professionals joined with race and ethnic minorities to challenge the influence of the unionists, big city mayors, and white working class in the Democratic Party, which is what gave us Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes. Through this period, predictably, more white working class people either stopped voting or moved to the Republican Party. In the 2016 election, with the Bernie Sanders influence, students and professionals began to attack the influence of race and ethnic minorities (and women?) in the Democratic Party, ostensibly in support of the white working class over "identity politics," with the result that we got Trump. Globalization is a difficult and complex issue, but the reality is that since the 1970s the U.S. economy has not been able to prosper, nor the working class jobs that it requires, by selling things only in the U.S. We have to be in global markets and integrated with other economies around the world and that requires trade deals that balance our interests against those of other countries. This has generated winners and losers in the economy, and it will continue to do so. While it may not be possible to bring back the same kinds of jobs that pay a middle class wage for those with not much education, it should be possible to create new jobs that pay a middle class wage and to invest in education and skill development, infrastructure, and a welfare state that sustains people through periods of disruption and transformation. The Republican Party and the New Right that took it over are fighting to the death to undermine what is left of the social safety net to force people to take whatever jobs are available at exploitative wages, and they have been successful exploiting anti-government sentiment by using racial animosity and more recently anti-immigrant hysteria. The right has been successful because those on the left who should support the Democratic Party and then fight for more progressive policies within it just keep fighting each other and in the last election delivered Trump by voting third party (along with gutting of the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, Russian influences that helped Sanders and vilified Hillary Clinton, the rogue FBI, Citizens United, and so on). The only option for the left in a two party system is to support the Democratic Party. Staying home or voting third party is a vote for your worst enemy. France is experiencing the same thing, with the left candidate refusing to support the more centrist candidate against Le Pen. We all need to learn how to form coalitions and to keep our focus on winning elections, not winning ideological battles.
zolotoy - > ehmaybe , 27 Apr 2017 11:26
Umm, the real goals of labor unions have been beach houses and new SUVs for labor leadership. Unions have been adept at screwing over their memberships since at least the 1970s -- no wonder they keep supporting anti-union Dims.
MonotonousLanguor - > Jared Hall , 27 Apr 2017 10:51
Maddow has to defend the Corporate Democratic Establishment any way she can. Maddow to my knowledge has never mentioned:

Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, has confirmed that it hired the consultancy of Tony Podesta, the elder brother of John Podesta who chaired Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, for lobbying its interests in the United States.
The two Russian banks spent more than $700,000 in 2016 on Washington lobbyists as they sought to end the U.S. sanctions, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms and documents filed with the Department of Justice. The Podesta Group charged Sberbank $20,000 per month, plus expenses, on a contract from March through September 2016. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-09/russias-largest-bank-confirms-hiring-podesta-group-lobby-ending-sanctions

beccabunny09 - > TheCubanGentlemen , 27 Apr 2017 10:42

Sorry Mr. Cuban but Barney has a point. Sympathy for criminals? How about a system that extracts wealth by taking family members that have made a mistake hostage. Private prisons are incredibly corrupt. They pay their guards $7 an hour, barely train them and then throw them into a hellhole of starved and abused prisoners, prisoners who's families are charged $2-5 a MINUTE to talk to them! Prisoners who are charged for laundry, for new underwear, for sanitary napkins, for extra food anything they can, they charge them for, all to meet a higher quarterly profit. If they work, prisoners get only .25 an hour! Menawhile, the items they make get a proud MADE IN AMERICA sticker and sold at a premium netting the company MORE money. This is a direct threat to DEMOCRACY! Why not contract our work to prisons with no liability and infinitesimal wages to lower costs. Gee, doesn't that sounds like a threat to low skilled workers?!

Everything matters because EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED!!! -

iamwhiskerbiscuit - > Ramus , 27 Apr 2017 09:35

Very little differences between neoncons and neoliberals these days. They're both in Goldman Saacs corner, they both support war even when they claim otherwise during their election... Both laugh at the idea of emulating countries that offer free Healthcare, free college, higher minimum wage and lower cost of living. Bush tax policy = Obama tax policy. Bush stance on war = Obama stance on war. Whats the difference? Abortion and gun rights. That's pretty much all thats different. Pro militarist, world police, globalists who favor a regressive tax system. Don't like it? Don't vote... You have no say in this debate.
Hmpstdhth , 27 Apr 2017 09:17
Yes, the Democratic Party are essentially corporate shills who talk pretty to the poor and oppressed and then serve their corporate masters. But that isn't why people voted against them. That would be assuming some sort of political sophistication among the masses. It is rather, IMHO, the corporate owned media in the form of AM radio, cable and local news outlets, and most local newspapers who either report on nothing that might change the status quo or are actual propaganda outlets for the ultra right. The fact that Fox news and right wing radio is the background music of mid America, should not be discounted. And secondly, the seizure of nearly all of the church pulpits by the 'religious' right. People vote the way their pastor tells them to vote. This isn't rocket science. When there is a coup, the first order of business has always been to seize the radio and TV stations. Bernie who ?

--

Monesque , 27 Apr 2017 09:09
In a close election, there is something of everything. But this concept that the election turned on these displaced workers is hilarious. In truth, we've been talking about things like this since the 70s or before. Why now? Because now, a wave of xenophobia and racism swept the world and that was the wave Trump rode to office. Many of his so-called displaced workers overlap with those groups. Add the religious evangelicals. That's how Trump won... take away the evangelicals, take away the racists, take away the xenophobes, take away the screaming about the Mexican this, the Muslims that, the Syrians, the pandering to far-right groups who in the past were considered the underbelly of the country..and Trump doesn't have a chance. This is a man with Mike Pence as vice president. This is a man who brings people like Steve Bannon into the administration. That's how he won and that's how he remains popular with his base. The rest is an illusion
iamwhiskerbiscuit , 27 Apr 2017 09:00
What happens to those good old days when a job could support an entire family? Reagan happened. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy, building up our military 10 times as big as the next largest military, deregulating banks and brokerage... Then Clinton continued to deregulate further. Then Bush brought about more tax cuts for the rich and Obama kept his tax policy on place. In 68, a minimum wage worker with 3 kids fell 500 dollars above the poverty line. (5,000 in today's money). Today, a minimum wage worker with 3 kids falls 10,000 below the poverty line. And the neocon/neoliberal answer to that is women must work, single people need roommates and the wealthy need tax relief. What a load of crap.
Ramus , 27 Apr 2017 08:57
The Democratic Party is still owned and operated by the Wall Street, fossil fuel and war interests. The fact that the DNC installed Tom Perez, who is not inspired by the idea of health care as a human right, is telling. The DNC is the enemy of lower-middle class working (or non-working) people. The DNC nominated the candidate least likely to win over Trump. The Democrats need to send their bank/war/oil candidates to the Republicans. We need a whole new truly progressive party..but since our governement has been sold to the highest bidder, it make take some unpleasantness in the streets to achieve power over the special interests. And EVERYONE must vote EVERY TIME.
soundofthesuburbs , 27 Apr 2017 08:55
The problem is US elites, who are only exceptional in their stupidity.

"Income inequality is not killing capitalism in the United States, but rent-seekers like the banking and the health-care sectors just might" Nobel-winning economist Angus Deaton

The exceptionally stupid US elite are going for the easy money and destroying their nation.

Its elites are always rigging stuff in their favour and forgetting the reality they have hidden.

There is a huge difference between wealth creation and wealth extraction, but today we have no idea of even the concept of wealth extraction.

Well, one of our 21st Century Nobel prize winning economists, Angus Deaton, has just remembered the problem.

The Classical Economists of the 19th Century were only too aware of the two sides of capitalism, the productive side where wealth creation takes place and the parasitic side where wealth extraction takes place.

The US was a key player in developing neoclassical economics and it's what we use today.

It looks after the interests of the old money, idle rich rentiers.

The distinction between "earned" income (wealth creation) and "unearned" income (wealth extraction) disappears and the once separate areas of "capital" and "land" are conflated. The old money, idle rich rentiers are now just productive members of society and not parasites riding on the back of other people's hard work.

It happens at the end of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, but doesn't blow up until the 21st century when the exceptionally stupid US elite have forgotten what they have done.

Monetary theory has been regressing for the last one hundred years.

Credit creation theory -> fractional reserve theory -> financial intermediation theory

" banks make their profits by taking in deposits and lending the funds out at a higher rate of interest" Paul Krugman, 2015.

One of today's Nobel Prize winning economists spouting today's nonsense.

Progress in monetary theory has been in the reverse direction, leading to many of today's problems.

There was massive debt and money creation in the US leading up to the 2008 bust:

http://www.whichwayhome.com/skin/frontend/default/wwgcomcatalogarticles/images/articles/whichwayhomes/US-money-supply.jpg

The fools forgot the reality they hid.

Get back to the Classical Economists to learn how you tax "unearned" income to provide subsidized housing, healthcare, education and other services to provide a low cost economy whose workforce isn't priced out of the global market place.

When you understand money you can see in the money supply when Wall Street is getting really stupid and about to blow up the economy.

BarneyDee , 27 Apr 2017 08:45
Throughout history, the "people" were ruled by the powerful even if the powerful were idiots, thieves, rapists and murderers. Times have changed. People don't accept that anymore. But if Democrats have made a blanket error it was in assuming that everyone sees the world as they do, and in assuming that everyone is a rational being committed to the ideals of a republic. Clearly that is not the case. And the "people" want leaders, not pals. They want security. Democrats need a person who combines the guile of a Machiavelli with the smarts of an Obama and the steel fist of a Cromwell. Thing is, under such conditions, it's doubtful if the "people" are governable anymore, in the sense of making decisions based on reality as opposed to a combination of superstition, myth, and misinformation. Oh, and vanity is an important factor: ask Susan Sarandon and her proxy vote for Trump--she voted for Stein.
marshwren - > Martyn Richard Jones , 27 Apr 2017 08:20
It was the DLC ("Democrats Led by Clintons") that brought the DP to its current condition of self-satisfied atrophy and irrelevance by embracing Davos "meritocracy" and neo-liberal economics combined with neo-conservative foreign policy for the past 30 years. They sealed their fate by turning the Party (DNC, DSCC, DCCC, DGA, most state committees) into stale and pale imitations of Reagan's GOP; and Party 'leaders' are far too comfortable with their own sense of entitlement to power and wealth to understand either the fallacies of their tunnel vision, or the consequences (like electing Trump and keeping the GOP in control of Congress and most states) of their blinkered myopia.

The only hope for the DP is to let the genuine 'progressives' (aka the socialist/green 'left') take over management of the political apparatus because what passes for 'liberalism' these days is no longer an electoral/policy option, at least as far as the electorate is concerned. And all the early indications are that the from the DNC down the Party establishment is more concerned about stamping out the Bernie Bro and Ho heresies than defeating Republicans.

greenwichite , 27 Apr 2017 06:44
Our politicians have been brainwashed by neoliberal economists.

These economists produce models that factor-in all the upsides to globalisation, but fail to model any of the crippling, expensive-to-treat consequences of shutting down entire towns in places like Michigan or Lancashire.

They assume people live frictionless lives; that when the European ship-building industry moves to Poland, riveters in Portsmouth can just up-sticks and move to Gdansk with no problem. They encourage a narrative that implies such an English riveter are lazy if he fails to seize this opportunity.

(Let's drop a few economists in Gdansk with £100 in their pockets, and see how their families do.)

Economics is a corrupt pseudo-science that gives a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and rapacity of One Percenters. Its methodological flaws are glaring. It's time economists went back to the social science faculty, where they belong.

[May 22, 2017] Newt Gingrich repeats Seth Rich conspiracy theory in Fox appearance by Lois Beckett

Guardian defends Hillary. Again. They also are afraid to open the comment section on this article.
Notable quotes:
"... A prominent ally of Donald Trump suggested on Sunday that the - - special counsel appointed to investigate alleged links between the president's aides and - - Russia should instead focus on the murder last year of a young Democratic staffer, Seth Rich, which has become the focus of conspiracy theorists . ..."
"... This week, the Russian embassy in the UK shared the conspiracy on Twitter, CNN reported , calling Rich a murdered "WikiLeaks informer" and claiming that the British mainstream media was "so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice". ..."
"... "He's been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder. So, I'd like to see how [former FBI director Robert] Mueller is going to define what his assignment is, and if it's only narrowly Trump, the country will not learn what it needs to learn about foreign involvement in American politics." ..."
"... The Rich family has sent Wheeler a cease-and-desist letter, threatening legal action if he continues to discuss the case, the Washington Post reported . ..."
May 22, 2017 | - www.theguardian.com
Trump confidante and husband of ambassadorial nominee repeats WikiLeaks theory denounced as 'fake news' by family of murdered DNC staffer Sunday 21 May 2017, 16.48 EDT Last modified on Monday 22 May 2017

A prominent ally of Donald Trump suggested on Sunday that the - - special counsel appointed to investigate alleged links between the president's aides and - - Russia should instead focus on the murder last year of a young Democratic staffer, Seth Rich, which has become the focus of conspiracy theorists .

In an appearance on Fox and Friends less than two days after his wife was - - proposed as ambassador to the Holy See , Newt Gingrich – former speaker of the House, 2012 presidential candidate and a Trump confidante – publicly endorsed the conspiracy theory that Rich was "assassinated" after giving Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks.

Rich, 27, was shot dead in the early hours of 10 July 2016, as he walked home in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington. In August, the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, - - insinuated that Rich had been a source. Police initially explored whether Rich's murder might be connected to robberies in the area, according to a local news report , and officials in the capital have publicly debunked other claims.

"This is a robbery that ended tragically," Kevin Donahue, Washington's deputy mayor for public safety, told NBC News this week. "That's bad enough for our city, and I think it is irresponsible to conflate this into something that doesn't connect to anything that the detectives have found. No WikiLeaks connection."

On Sunday, the Washington DC police public affairs office did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

In January, American intelligence agencies concluded with " high confidence " in a public report that Russian military intelligence was responsible for hacking the DNC and obtaining and relaying private messages to WikiLeaks, which made a series of embarrassing public disclosures. The goal, the agencies concluded, was to undermine the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and boost Trump, as well as hurt Americans' trust in their own democracy.

This week, the Russian embassy in the UK shared the conspiracy on Twitter, CNN reported , calling Rich a murdered "WikiLeaks informer" and claiming that the British mainstream media was "so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice".

The Rich family has repeatedly denied that there is any evidence behind the conspiracy theories and called on Fox News to retract its coverage of their son's murder. Earlier this week, a spokesman for the family said in a statement that "anyone who continues to push this fake news story after it was so thoroughly debunked is proving to the world they have a transparent political agenda or are a sociopath".

On Fox and Friends, Gingrich said: "We have this very strange story here of this young man who worked for the DNC who was apparently assassinated at four in the morning having given WikiLeaks something like 23,000 – I'm sorry, 53,000 – emails and 17,000 attachments.

"Nobody's investigating that, and what does that tell you about what was going on? Because it turns out it wasn't the Russians, it was this young guy who, I suspect, who was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee.

"He's been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigate his murder. So, I'd like to see how [former FBI director Robert] Mueller is going to define what his assignment is, and if it's only narrowly Trump, the country will not learn what it needs to learn about foreign involvement in American politics."

Last week, the private investigator and Fox News commentator Rod Wheeler claimed that evidence existed that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks. Questioned by CNN, however, he said: "I only got that [information] from the reporter at Fox News" and added that he did not have any evidence himself.

"Using the legacy of a murder victim in such an overtly political way is morally reprehensible," a Rich family spokesman told CNN.

The Rich family has sent Wheeler a cease-and-desist letter, threatening legal action if he continues to discuss the case, the Washington Post reported .

[May 16, 2017] America is still segregated. We need to be honest about why by Richard Rothstein

Notable quotes:
"... Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values.

Hostile, sometimes fatal confrontations between police and African American youth might be rarer if the poorest young people were not concentrated in neighborhoods lacking well-resourced schools, good jobs and transportation to better opportunities. In integrated neighborhoods with substantial middle class populations, police perform as public servants, not as an occupying force.

We've done little to desegregate neighborhoods, believing their racial homogeneity is "de facto", tied to private prejudice, personal choices, realtor discrimination or income differences that make middle-class suburbs unaffordable to most African Americans. Under our constitutional system, if neighborhoods are segregated by private activity, we can do little about it.

Only if neighborhoods are segregated "de jure", by explicit government policy, is remedial action permitted. Indeed, the constitution requires remedies for de jure segregation.

In truth, de facto segregation is largely a myth. As my new book, The Color of Law, recounts, racially explicit government policy in the mid-twentieth century separated the races in every metropolitan area, with effects that endure today.

The New Deal created our first civilian public housing, intended to provide lodging mostly for lower-middle class white families during the Depression. The Roosevelt administration built a few projects for black families as well, but almost always segregated. At the time, many urban neighborhoods were integrated because workers of both races lived in walking distance of downtown factories. The Public Works Administration (PWA) demolished many such integrated neighborhoods – deemed slums – to build segregated housing instead, creating segregation where it had never before existed.

In his autobiography, The Big Sea, the poet and novelist Langston Hughes described going to high school in an integrated Cleveland neighborhood where his best friend was Polish and he dated a Jewish girl. The PWA cleared the area to build one project for whites and another for African Americans. Previously integrated neighborhoods in Cambridge, Atlanta, St Louis, San Francisco and elsewhere also gave way to segregated public housing, structuring patterns that persisted for generations.

During the second world war, white and black Americans flocked to jobs in defense plants, sometimes in communities that had no tradition of segregated living. Yet the government built separate projects for black and white citizens, determining future residential boundaries. Richmond, California, was the nation's largest shipbuilding center. It had few African Americans before the war; by its end, some 15,000 were housed in a federal ghetto along the railroad tracks.

By the mid-1950s, projects for white Americans had many unoccupied units while those for African Americans had long waiting lists. The contrast became so conspicuous that all public housing was opened to African Americans. As industry relocated to suburbs, jobs disappeared and public housing residents became poorer. A program that originally addressed a middle-class housing shortage became a way to warehouse the poor.

Why did white housing projects develop vacancies while black ones had long waiting lists? It largely resulted from a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program that guaranteed loans to builders of suburban subdivisions, on the explicit condition that black families be excluded and that house deeds prohibit resale to them. In the late 1940s, William Levitt could never independently have amassed capital to construct 17,000 houses in what became Levittown, east of New York City. He could do so only because the FHA relieved banks of risk in making development loans, provided homes were for whites only.

Urban public housing, originally for middle-class white Americans and later for lower-income African Americans, combined with FHA subsidized suburbanization of whites, created a "white noose" around urban black families that persists to this day.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act permitted African Americans to access previously white neighborhoods. But it prohibited only future discrimination, without undoing the previous 35 years of government-imposed segregation. In suburbs like Levittown that sprouted nationwide in the 1940s and 50s, houses sold for about $100,000 (in today's currency), twice the national median income.

FHA-amortized mortgages were affordable for working-class families of either race, although only whites were allowed. Today, these houses sell for $400,000, seven times national median income, unaffordable to working-class families. Meanwhile, whites who suburbanized with federal protection gained $300,000 in equity to use for children's college tuition, care for aging parents, or medical emergencies. Black families remaining as renters gained no such security.

Our belief in "de facto" segregation is paralyzing. If our racial separation stems from millions of individual decisions, it is hard to imagine the millions of different choices that could undo it. But if we remember that residential segregation results primarily from forceful and unconstitutional government policy, we can begin to consider equally forceful public action to reverse it. Learning this history is the first step we can take.

[May 16, 2017] Mohamed El-Erian: We get signals that the system is under enormous stress

Notable quotes:
"... "The minute you to start talking about the inequality of opportunity, you fuel the politics of anger. The politics of anger have a tendency to produce improbable results. The major risk is that we don't know how much we've strained the underlying system. But what we do know is we are getting signals that suggest it's under enormous stress, which means the probability of either a policy mistake or market accident goes up." ..."
"... Third, pockets of extreme indebtedness must be addressed, a lesson he learned working with the IMF in Latin America in the 1980s. "When you have a debt overhang, it's like a black cloud," he argues. "It sucks oxygen out of the system. You cannot grow of it: whether it's Greece or student loans in the US, you need to deal with debt overhangs." The process of debt forgiveness is hard, he concedes, because some people are unfairly rewarded – "but the alternatives are worse." ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Leading economist and investor believes world leaders, and global capitalism, have reached fork in road between equality and chaos

This is the nub of El-Erian's analysis of why the developed world is approaching a fork in the road. The inequality generated by the current low-growth climate has three elements: inequality of wealth, income and opportunity. The last of the three – manifested in high youth unemployment in many eurozone countries, for example – is the most explosive element.

"The minute you to start talking about the inequality of opportunity, you fuel the politics of anger. The politics of anger have a tendency to produce improbable results. The major risk is that we don't know how much we've strained the underlying system. But what we do know is we are getting signals that suggest it's under enormous stress, which means the probability of either a policy mistake or market accident goes up."

... ... ...

How do we take the high, benign road? El-Erian has a four-point plan.

First, "we need to get back to investing in things that promote economic growth, infrastructure, a more pro-growth tax system for the US, serious labour retooling ... If you're in Europe, youth employment is an issue you've really got to think about very seriously."

Second, countries that can afford to do so must "exploit the fiscal space," meaning borrowing to invest or cutting taxes. He puts the US and Germany unambiguously in that category "and to a certain extent the UK".

Third, pockets of extreme indebtedness must be addressed, a lesson he learned working with the IMF in Latin America in the 1980s. "When you have a debt overhang, it's like a black cloud," he argues. "It sucks oxygen out of the system. You cannot grow of it: whether it's Greece or student loans in the US, you need to deal with debt overhangs." The process of debt forgiveness is hard, he concedes, because some people are unfairly rewarded – "but the alternatives are worse."

Fourth, regional and global governance needs repair. He compares the eurozone to a stool with one-and-a-half legs instead of four. The complete leg is monetary union, the half is banking union. The missing legs are fiscal integration, meaning a common budget, and political harmonisation. No wonder the eurozone is unstable, he says: "You can do three legs, you can't do one and half."

To return to El-Erian's core T-junction analogy, none of the required manoeuvres sound easy. "You don't need a big bang," he replies. "If you want to take the good turn you have to see some progress on some of these elements. If you don't, then we take the other turn." He ascribes equal probabilities – "it's a political judgment."

What's an investor to do? El-Erian says his own approach, which he admits is hard for the average person to copy, is framed like a bar-bell. At one end, he's invested in high-risk startups where you don't need all to succeed. At the other, he's in cash and cash-like investments. In the middle, he'll invest in public markets only tactically.

The bottom line: "I'm risk off."

[May 14, 2017] NHS workers and patients on how cyber-attack has affected them

May 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Officials have claimed in the wake of the global ransomware attack that patient care has been unaffected despite 45 NHS sites being hit.

But hospitals across England and Scotland were forced to cancel routine procedures and divert emergency cases in the wake of the attack, which has shut down access to computers in almost 100 countries. Here, patients and NHS workers reveal how the crisis has affected them.

Bill, a doctor at a hospital in London
I have been unable to look after patients properly. However much they pretend patient safety is unaffected, it's not true. At my hospital we are literally unable to do any X-rays, which are an essential component of emergency medicine. I had a patient this evening who we could not do an X-ray for, who absolutely should have had one. He is OK but that is just one example.

My hospital is good in many ways but the IT system is appalling. I was shocked when I started in hospital at how bad the systems are. I know the staff will do their very best to keep looking after everyone, but there are no robust systems in place to deal with blackouts like this, information-sharing is hard enough in a clinical environment when everything works.

Without the IT systems I suspect test results will be missed, and definitely delayed. Handovers are much more difficult. It will absolutely certainly impact patient safety negatively, even if that impact can't be clearly measured. This is basically all the result of chronic underfunding and crap, short-sighted management.

Theresa, 44, a breast cancer patient from Lincolnshire
I was halfway through my chemotherapy infusion when the attack happened. The treatment finished without a hitch, but I then had to wait for a couple of hours for my medications to take home. That's because all drugs have to be checked against prescriptions, and they are all computerised. The hospital pharmacists worked quickly to produce paper copies, but it still took a while. The horrible side-effects (nausea, exhaustion, dizziness) kicked in while I was stuck in rush-hour traffic coming home. Fortunately, I wasn't driving.

There were other patients in the ward waiting to start their chemo whose drugs had been delivered but again couldn't be checked, so administration was delayed. In some cases treatment had to be postponed entirely for another day. The oncology nurses and the hospital staff were brilliant throughout, reassuring patients and doing their best in difficult circumstances. They were also deeply apologetic, frustrated that they couldn't do their job, and angry that such an act had put patients treatment – and lives – at risk.

Amber, 40, a community nurse from Essex
We have been unable to check patient information and scheduled visits for this afternoon. I am working this weekend and had to write down who we may see tomorrow from my own memory. Our own call centre for community services is in lockdown and unable to receive any information regarding authorisation for drug changes or referrals. We are also unable to look up patient addresses, complete any documentation or check test results.
Alun Phillips, 45, a community pharmacist from Merseyside
Doctors in Liverpool have been advised to isolate their computer systems from the wider NHS network. This has left many of our local surgeries unable to access patient records, which are cloud-based. Surgeries are unable to issue prescriptions from their systems, most of which are now issued electronically via the NHS spine. Even if they could, we (community pharmacy) are being advised to not connect to the spine. We have had quite a few requests from local surgeries to tell them what medication patient are on, as although they cannot access patient records we still have our copy of the patients' medication records. We have also made some emergency supplies of medication to patients unable to access GP services while they are down.
Kyle, 42, a patient from Maidestone
I am waiting for test results after a urine infection and pain in my kidneys. I called the doctors this afternoon. They said it looks like I need a further prescription but the doctor will need to call me back. Two hours later I get a call from the doctor advising me that they have had to shut down their systems due to this hack, and that they can't give me any results till Monday. I am now worried that my situation is going to get worse without any treatment.
Ben, 37, in the prescription team at a GP surgery in the north
We were unable to process any prescriptions for patients, including urgent requests. As a result patients could potentially be left without asthma, epilepsy or diabetes medication over the weekend. We also had a medical emergency on-site and waited over 40 minutes for an ambulance to attend.
Ali, a cardiologist from the north
I am a cardiology registrar. At work, on call for a tertiary cardiology centre. Treating patients with heart attacks, attending cardiac arrests, seeing sick patients in resus. We are unable to access to old notes, blood results, x-rays or order vital tests. Blood samples are being sent to other hospitals. We have one working x-ray viewer for the entire hospital and emergency results are being rung through already overloaded phone lines. All of which potentially delays vital treatment and could jeopardise patient safety. Those with life-threatening problems are still receiving appropriate care. Though this couldn't have happened at a worse time with the weekend looming, patients are still being looked after safely thanks to the dedication of all the members of staff at work tonight. It's been a stark reminder of the conditions we worked under over 20 years ago – and on how reliant on computers we are even to do things as simple as prescribe basic drugs.
Kaley, 30, a receptionist at a large surgery in the north-west
Friday afternoons are usually one of our busiest times at the surgery. With already full clinics and people ringing for emergency appointments there were five reception staff on duty. There was no warning that there was anything wrong with the computer systems but at around 3pm the screens all went black, indicating that the computers had crashed. We had no access to any patient information for the GPs or nurses. There was no way of checking the patients in. Phones were still ringing. The computers were down for about an hour but then we were able to get back on. We received notification that there was a virus affecting the whole of the NHS. The practice manager received a text from the CCG advising that we should invoke "emergency planning measures". This involves printing lists out of patients due to attend all clinics from Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon. Then we had to print out full medical information for each patient as the system was being taken down to investigate the virus. It's been a difficult afternoon.
Some names and details have been changed.

[May 14, 2017] Cyber-attack could escalate as working week begins, experts warn by Robert Booth

May 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

"Cyber criminals may believe they are anonymous but we will use all the tools at our disposal to bring them to justice," said Oliver Gower from the National Crime Agency.

A computer security expert credited with stopping the spread of the ransomware on Saturday by activating a digital "kill switch" warned on Sunday that a fresh attack was likely.

The expert, known only as MalwareTech on Twitter, said hackers could upgrade the virus. "Version 1 of WannaCrypt was stoppable but version 2.0 will likely remove the flaw," he said on Twitter . "You're only safe if you patch ASAP."

On Sunday, Microsoft issued a security bulletin marked "critical" including security updates that it said "resolves vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows".

It emerged over the weekend that NHS Digital last month emailed 10,000 individuals in NHS organisations warning them to protect themselves against the specific threat of ransomware and included a software patch to block such hacks on the majority of systems. However, it would not work with outdated Windows XP systems that still run on about 5% of NHS devices.

NHS Digital said it did not yet know how many organisations installed the update and this would be revealed in a later analysis of the incident.

... ... ...

Amber Rudd, the home secretary, who is leading the response to the attack, said the same day: "I don't think it's to do with ... preparedness. There's always more we can all do to make sure we're secure against viruses, but I think there have already been good preparations in place by the NHS to make sure they were ready for this sort of attack."

[May 12, 2017] What is WanaCrypt0r 2.0 ransomware and why is it attacking the NHS Technology by Alex Herb

The article was published at 12:16 EDT so the work probably was unleashed at least 24 hours before that
May 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The ransomware uses a vulnerability first revealed to the public as part of a leaked stash of NSA-related documents in order to infect Windows PCs and encrypt their contents, before demanding payments of hundreds of dollars for the key to decrypt files.

How does it spread?

Most ransomware is spread hidden within Word documents, PDFs and other files normally sent via email, or through a secondary infection on computers already affected by viruses that offer a back door for further attacks.

MalwareHunterTeam (@malwrhunterteam)

There is a new version of WCry/WannaCry ransomware: "WanaCrypt0r 2.0".
Extension: .WNCRY
Note: @Please_Read_Me@.txt @BleepinComputer pic.twitter.com/tdq0OBScz4

May 12, 2017
What is WanaCrypt0r 2.0?

The malware that has affected Telefσnica in Spain and the NHS in Britain is the same software: a piece of ransomware first spotted in the wild by security researchers MalwareHunterTeam , at 9:45am on 12 May.

Less than four hours later, the ransomware had infected NHS computers, albeit originally only in Lancashire , and spread laterally throughout the NHS's internal network. It is also being called Wanna Decryptor 2.0, WCry 2, WannaCry 2 and Wanna Decryptor 2.

How much are they asking for?

WanaCrypt0r 2.0 is asking for $300 worth of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin to unlock the contents of the computers.

Myles Longfield (@myleslongfield)

Shocking that our @NHS is under attack and being held to ransom. #nhscyberattack pic.twitter.com/1bcrqD9vEz

May 12, 2017
Who are they?

The creators of this piece of ransomware are still unknown, but WanaCrypt0r 2.0 is their second attempt at cyber-extortion. An earlier version, named WeCry, was discovered back in February this year : it asked users for 0.1 bitcoin (currently worth $177, but with a fluctuating value) to unlock files and programs.

How is the NSA tied in to this attack?

Once one user has unwittingly installed this particular flavour of ransomware on their own PC, it tries to spread to other computers in the same network. In order to do so, WanaCrypt0r uses a known vulnerability in the Windows operating system, jumping between PC and PC. This weakness was first revealed to the world as part of a huge leak of NSA hacking tools and known weaknesses by an anonymous group calling itself "Shadow Brokers" in April.

Was there any defence?

Yes. Shortly before the Shadow Brokers released their files, Microsoft issued a patch for affected versions of Windows, ensuring that the vulnerability couldn't be used to spread malware between fully updated versions of its operating system. But for many reasons, from lack of resources to a desire to fully test new updates before pushing them out more widely, organisations are often slow to install such security updates on a wide scale.

Who are the Shadow Brokers? Were they behind this attack?

In keeping with almost everything else in the world of cyberwarfare, attribution is tricky. But it seems unlikely that the Shadow Brokers were directly involved in the ransomware strike: instead, some opportunist developer seems to have spotted the utility of the information in the leaked files, and updated their own software accordingly. As for the Shadow Brokers themselves, no-one really knows, but fingers point towards Russian actors as likely culprits.

Will paying the ransom really unlock the files?

Sometimes paying the ransom will work, but sometimes it won't. For the Cryptolocker ransomware that hit a few years ago, some users reported that they really did get their data back after paying the ransom, which was typically around £300. But there's no guarantee paying will work, because cybercriminals aren't exactly the most trustworthy group of people.

There are also a collection of viruses that go out of their way to look like ransomware such as Cryptolocker, but which won't hand back the data if victims pay. Plus, there's the ethical issue: paying the ransom funds more crime.

What else can I do?

Once ransomware has encrypted your files there's not a lot you can do. If you have a backup of the files you should be able to restore them after cleaning the computer, but if not your files could be gone for good.

Some badly designed ransomware, however, has been itself hacked by security researchers, allowing recovery of data. But such situations are rare, and tend not to apply in the case of widescale professional hits like the WanaCrypt0r attack.

How long will this attack last?

Ransomware often has a short shelf life. As anti-virus vendors cotton on to new versions of the malware, they are able to prevent infections originating and spreading, leading to developers attempting "Big Bang" introductions like the one currently underway.

Will they get away with it?

Bitcoin, the payment medium through which the hackers are demanding payment, is difficult to trace, but not impossible, and the sheer scale of the attack means that law enforcement in multiple countries will be looking to see if they can follow the money back to the culprits.

Why is the NHS being targeted?

The NHS does not seem to have been specifically targeted, but the service is not helped by its reliance on old, unsupported software. Many NHS trusts still use Windows XP, a version of Microsoft's operating system that has not received publicly available security updates for half a decade, and even those which are running on newer operating systems are often sporadically maintained. For an attack which relies on using a hole fixed less than three months ago, just a slight oversight can be catastrophic.

Attacks on healthcare providers across the world are at an all-time high as they contain valuable private information, including healthcare records.

Ransomware threat on the rise as 'almost 40% of businesses attacked'

[May 05, 2017] Trump is not like Hitler; Trump does not believe in anything but pleasing himself. That is dangerous, but not as dangerous as if he had a delusional vision. Trump is not very bright and a bit lazy

Notable quotes:
"... Well calling him a Fascist was somewhat drama queen-ish to begin with. In any case, the way the American system of checks and blanaces is set up was always going to balance out any excesses he thought he could ram through. ..."
"... He never had any experience in government. He just assumed it was run like a business, where the boss says 'do it' and everyone follows. Much to his surprise, he has learnt it doesn't work that way. ..."
"... The comparison to Hitler/Mussolini is interesting but omits a crucial difference: Germany and Italy were in the grip of profound and longlasting socio-economic chaos, with mass unemployment and massive poverty. ..."
"... The USA, when Trump came to power, had a 4.7% unemployment rate and was economically is normal to good shape, albeit the outcomes were unequally distributed.So what accounts for Trump's rise and enduring protofascist appeal? My answer: the loss of cultural capital ..."
"... His problem with CIA is that he is not their asset, as was every president since at least Reagan. But don't worry. The Agency will take care of the "problem" one way or the other. It's the american way, right? ..."
May 05, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
uuuuuuu , 2d ago

Trump is not like Hitler; Trump does not believe in anything but pleasing himself. That is dangerous, but not as dangerous as if he had a delusional vision. Trump is not very bright and a bit lazy (although restless at the same time); he is a billionaire's son who got away with everything in life and has no concern for anybody but himself.

If the US institutions hold their nerve, we can get through his presidency with a functioning planet.

A recent poll asked whether people think negatively about him because he has not fulfilled his campaign promises or positively despite not having fulfilled them. I am grateful that he has not achieved anything; that is a big positive.

cynthearothrock , 2d ago

As the article rightly pointed out fascism is a product of socialism. Socialists see the riches of the business world and strike a pact with it and the state they seize.
Trump is very much part of that business world and strikes down the state to conservative levels of near libertarian scope.

Namely: Trump is the polar opposite of a fascist. Thanks Professor de Grazia

lochinverboy cynthearothrock, 2d ago

Naw. He is just an extreme right wing, dumbed down Republican.

Dickbird cynthearothrock , 2d ago

Not sure if I missed something, but I can't see where the article 'points out' that fascism is a product of socialism and it would be a shaky hypothesis if it did considering that neither Italy nor Germany were socialist countries prior to the rise of fascism in the one and naziism in the other. Fear of socialism was certainly a driving force behind fascism, especially amongst those who had most to lose from it, but trying to put the blame for fascism on socialism is just silly.

But a very good article, and one of the best analyses of what Trump is about I have read.

John Hunter , 30 Apr 2017 10:21
Differences between Trump and Hitler.

Is it useful to refer to Trump as Hitler or a Fascist? Not really, because you are preoccupied by a label and trying constantly to make it stick by indulging in name calling while not analysing and dealing with the root of the problems in a rational or effective way.

Bashing of minorities that are not considered legitimate members of the nation is not an exclusive Nazi or a pass time of Hitler alone, Stalin did so as well he also targeted Jews along with Kalmyk people, Crimean Tatars, Armenians and Azerbaijanis , Estonians, Cossacks, Ukrainians, Poles and even Germans and there were many other leaders and political systems and genocides the Armenian genocide or the Serbian genocides to name a few. Trump is not exactly involved in a nazi style genocide against undocumented migrants in America although some nutters would try hard to create some extreme narrative like that.

anthr1agnststupidity , 30 Apr 2017 10:21
My observations have told me from the very first time I saw him on TV in the 80's that he is a con man. Since the campaign I learned about his brother and I have seen more of him than I would have voluntarily subjected myself to. I still think he is a con man with the addition of some idea of his pathology.

I expect that his father was an abusive twat. His brother was mercilessly mentally and emotionally beaten down and turned to drink as many do to kill the unspeakable pain of having ones self esteem destroyed by a parent. Donald saw this and chose to please dad for fear of facing the same fate. He dissociated that fact and internilized everything dad said.

The him we see is the construct he created to please daddy, the little boy inside never got to grow into a man because he had to maintain the false construct to create the impression he had to for dad. This is why he has such disregard for the truth. He does not understand that truth is truth.

Everything else is the frenetic activity adult children of abuse engage in to avoid feeling what they feel while waiting for the next opportunity to trot out the constructed self.

He never became a person in his own right. He is a construct of all the behaviors he has developed, first to please daddy and then to please/manipulate those he wished to take advantage of or please.

Bardolphe , 30 Apr 2017 09:29
Trump and his republican henchmen and enablers isn't a Nazi because they do not possess the historical context or political tools to become proper fascists.

If the Americans had been humiliated in war, undergone a vast currency devaluation, and starved in the streets, then these people would have everything they need to set up a real tyranny.

People have predicted the rise of American fascism for years. When the true global emergency arrives, which is climate change and the wars that it will cause, and the coasts start contracting, and the dollar turns to confetti, and the militias start to march, then the military will seize control and true American fascism will emerge.

thegoinggetsclough , 30 Apr 2017 09:19

Well calling him a Fascist was somewhat drama queen-ish to begin with. In any case, the way the American system of checks and blanaces is set up was always going to balance out any excesses he thought he could ram through.

He never had any experience in government. He just assumed it was run like a business, where the boss says 'do it' and everyone follows. Much to his surprise, he has learnt it doesn't work that way.

cynthearothrock thegoinggetsclough , 30 Apr 2017 10:08
A cool and calm assessment there. I would credit him with more nous than you provide but it's difficult to prove. How about going in with the worst eventualities and bargain from there as a way of getting what one wants.

Two examples:

1. I'm taking us out of NATO. NATO needs America more than vice versa but it's certainly useful for America to be a part of it, they just want to not pay so much.

2. I'm going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. Trump wants a secure border and a total re-negotiation of Nafta, the wall is the bargaining chip.

He can do both, he might yet end up doing so, nobody has called his bluff yet, we'll see. He's way smarter than certain people think.

ralbin , 30 Apr 2017 08:53
On target. A few points of amplification:
1) The Nazis did not have enough votes to pass the Enabling Act that made Hitler the dictator of Germany. The key votes were provided by the deputies from the Catholic Center Party led by Msgr Ludwig Kaas. As in Italy, the Catholic Church played a significant role in enabling fascist dictatorship.
2) The correct historical analogy for Trump isn't Hitler or Mussolini, its Alfred Hugenberg.
3) The success of German and Italian fascism, and the Trump phenomenon, have some important common elements. All are rooted in the fact that conservative, elitist parties defending the interests of the wealthy can't attract sufficient masses of voters successfully without appeals to forms of bigotry. This is most successful when appealing to middle-class voters battered by economic changes and to those with frustrated middle-class aspirations.
4) Readers interested in exploring this topic further should read Robert Paxton's (one time colleague of Prof. de Grazia at Columbia) thoughtful Anatomy of Fascism.
digitalspacey , 30 Apr 2017 08:44
Hmmm... Lets see.

He's signing Executive Orders (remember when he said that Obama was behaving like a dictator for signing EO's, despite Obama signing less than he has?) that effectively dismantle any barrier to Corporations making profit, from slashing and burning Environmental Protection Laws to abolishing Consumer Protection Laws.

He's using his position to build up the family business, including positioning family members into key political positions, and making the tax payer fund his various jaunts to the property he owns, while Ivanka sits in on important meetings then tweets that you too can own that piece of jewellery she wore that she coincidently will directly profit from if you do, while his sons use tax payer funds to travel overseas and make business deals.

Trump is also slashing taxes for the rich and corporations while slashing programs that help the sick, the disabled, the elderly and the unemployed.

He has also openly attacked the Judiciary, threatens to oust any one who dares go against him from within the Legislative Branch, attacks at will the 'Fourth Estate', and today stated the Constitution is 'archaic' and, I quote, 'really a bad thing for the country.'

He attacks minorities at will, creates enemies by making false claims (no, Obama didn't have you tapped), holds rallies for the faithful making bombastic claims, openly states he could shoot someone in the head and his supporters would still love him, and on live television states he will have his political opponents jailed.

He has close links and is supported by radical white supremacists ans also has close links to conspiracy theorists.

He is a gross misogynist who has admitted to grabbing women by the pussy and is recorded as stating that he would often walk into the dressing rooms of young, underage teenage girls while they were in various states of undress essentially because he was the boss and he was entitled to.

He also stated without foundation that millions of illegals voted in the Election attempting to throw into doubt the validity of any results (logically this would naturally throw into doubt his win, but hey, the guy is an idiot).

He has also expanded the military budget despite the US spending by far more than any other nation (more than the next 7 nations combined in fact).

He also has an obsession with nationalal security, deliberately making false claims not only about statistics within the US but also falsely claiming that events have occurred overseas when they clearly have not. He is also using his obsession with National Security to push for an enormous and expensive Border Wall while claiming that Mexico will pay for it.

His disdain for intellectuals and the arts is clear (he had a juvenile dig at Hollywood today, again), in fact it was one of the platforms which he used to gain the Presidency, all couched within the term 'Liberal elite' which seems to include just about anyone who would dare speak out against him.

He has now created a group that will announce crimes committed by immigrants, despite statistics that show immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than the general population, which satisfy not only his obsession with crime and punishment, but also his obsession with scapegoating minorities.

Now I know, many people don't like the term fascist, but what else should we call him??? The terms 'fascist' and 'fascism' actually have real meanings. And Trumps actions very much tick the majority of the following list:

14 signs of fascism:

Powerful and continuing nationalism
Disdain for human rights
Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
Supremacy of the military
Rampant sexism
Controlled mass media
Obsession with national security
Religion and government intertwined
Corporate power protected
Labor [sic] power suppressed
Disdain for intellectuals & the arts
Obsession with crime & punishment
Rampant cronyism & corruption
Fraudulent elections

Seems to tick a whole lot on that list, doesn't he??

YowserMcTrowser digitalspacey , 30 Apr 2017 09:21
In your head maybe but not in the real world. Grow up. Reply Share
digitalspacey YowserMcTrowser , 30 Apr 2017 09:47
So.... all the things I've listed just happened in may head?

Trump hasn't attacked the judiciary?

He hasn't threatened members of his own Party that if they didn't get on board he'd make sure they wouldn't get elected again?

He didn't talk, on camera, about walking into the dressing room of your teenage women because he was the boss and could?

He didn't say in a televised debate that he would make sure Hillary would be jailed?

He isnt constantly attacking the press?

He didn't, again, on camera, in a Press Conference, allude to the fact that something terrible had happened in Sweden the night before?

Ivanka and Jared haven't been given key roles in the White House?

Ivanka didn't sit in on a meeting with the Japanese PM then tweet that you could buy the piece of Jewelery she was wearing?

The taxpayer isn't paying for Trumps trips to play golf at mar-o-lago??

Trump don't say Obama was behaving like a Dictator by signing Executive Orders?

Trump isn't slashing taxes for the rich while slashing Federal funding to things like Meals on Wheels?

I can keep going if you like?

Typical Trumpette.

Trying to tell people who saw and heard what Trump said and what Trump did that what they saw Trump say and do did not in fact happen.

What is wrong with you??

YowserMcTrowser digitalspacey , 30 Apr 2017 10:06
What you have listed is just a hysterical fruit salad of campaign speech quotes and catastrophist exaggerations. The notion that Trump encapsulates ALL that you find distasteful is one thing, but your attempt to prove (and fail) that in 100 days of office he has single-handedly transformed a liberal democracy into a fascist hell-hole is risible.
snakeyear , 30 Apr 2017 08:23
"Nazi storm troopers lit bonfires of un-German books"

The only people I see burning books, attacking free speech, and starting streetfights with those they disagree with are the progressives (I resfuse to call them liberal or left wing as they are not). They are the new fascists.

unclestinky snakeyear , 30 Apr 2017 08:31
You haven't seen anyone burning books. Stop fibbing.
Anders Ull snakeyear , 30 Apr 2017 08:32
And yes only the right wing extremist that do the killing.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/quebec-city-mosque-shooting-latest-alexandre-bissonnette-donald-trump-marine-le-pen-facebook-social-a7554451.html

http://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/indian-killed-in-kansas-hate-crimes-in-us-are-rising-since-trump-assumed-office/story-zTBmdRsbsmI8hJJ1d88m5N.html

realityseeker , 30 Apr 2017 08:19
I dislike Mr. Trump intensely but to call him the only fascist is incorrect. It is the left that attack anyone who agrees with Mr. Trump - and I mean physically and with extreme violence. There is a major attempt to shut down free speech and drive the Trump supporters into silence. The comparison with the Nazi brownshirts in the harsh days of the 1930's is unmistakable. Actually the two sides in American politics show a mish-mash of Nazi characteristics each. I despair of sanity returning to the United States anytime soon.
Laurence Bury , 30 Apr 2017 07:35
The US is a corporate plutocracy and there is enormous false consciousness on the liberal side to take tax cutting and populist measures that are pro-American business to constitute a fascist regime.

The psychology behind this false consciousness is the denial of the failure of the Obama's Democrat presidency to address the extremities of free market capitalism. Fair enough, as the US will always be a high risk free market society, but the partisan project of the liberal international media is to convince the world that somehow the Democrats are always on the side of the angels.

This is wholly dishonest ideological manipulation which results only in the inevitable conversion of American politics into a never-ending culture war.

cvneuves Laurence Bury , 30 Apr 2017 08:28

never-ending culture war

or identity politics .
cvneuves , 30 Apr 2017 07:21
Amazing, how a bombing raid on Syria supposedly transformed Trump from a "fascist" to a mere "reactionary". Reply Share
dallasdunlap cvneuves , 30 Apr 2017 08:05
Trump has adopted Hillary's foreign policy, so the MIC is happy with him. The liberals still hate jis domestic policies, though. So he's no longer fascist, just reactionary.
forgodsake cvneuves , 30 Apr 2017 09:45
A bombing raid carried out before any inquiry took place . The last time they investigated a supposed attack by Assad's troops the investigators did not even visit the site . This time they bombed one of the only places they could have gathered evidence. I guess the depth of an investigation or the burden of proof depend on the agenda. I don't know if it was a false flag or not .I do know no real investigation has taken place. I also know the media is biased. There were no cries of heinous crime when the following week the rebels backed by the US bombed busses full of civilians, mostly children being evacuated . The mainstream media hardly mentioned it. No cries of war crimes. We are living in a post truth era. America, Israel ,Saudi and Turkey have an agenda. Could it just be a coincidence Assad is that stupid to cross the line in the sand just as he realises he is winning. Britain's ex ambassador to Damascus certainly didn't think so when interviewed the day after the attack.
OinkImSammy , 30 Apr 2017 07:11

If we look at Adolf Hitler's action over his 100 days, we see his goals were terrifyingly consistent, namely, to build a world empire over the corpse of the Soviet Union and to eliminate the Jews.

AND the Gypsies.
ID3924525 , 30 Apr 2017 06:06
He's a dangerous man - too dangerous for even the CIA. Reply Share
lsrnyc ID3924525 , 30 Apr 2017 07:51
Indeed. Rallies. Sitins. Art projects. Television comedy. Rants. Raves. All passionate and probably fun too. But no real political response to Trump.
newyorkred ID3924525 , 30 Apr 2017 11:29
The comparison to Hitler/Mussolini is interesting but omits a crucial difference: Germany and Italy were in the grip of profound and longlasting socio-economic chaos, with mass unemployment and massive poverty. The USA, when Trump came to power, had a 4.7% unemployment rate and was economically is normal to good shape, albeit the outcomes were unequally distributed. So what accounts for Trump's rise and enduring protofascist appeal? My answer: the loss of cultural capital experienced by white Americans, and the ideology of liberalism-hatred this has produced. Democracy and social justice are hated because they underpin the transfer of social prestige away from whites and towards minorities and women--hence the economically irrational hatred of Democrats. The GOP is basically driven by an ideology of white hatred these days. The old left-right argument about the role of the state has given way to an identitarian politics.
lsrnyc ID3924525 , 30 Apr 2017 07:51
Indeed. Rallies. Sitins. Art projects. Television comedy. Rants. Raves. All passionate and probably fun too. But no real political response to Trump.
newyorkred ID3924525 , 30 Apr 2017 11:29
The comparison to Hitler/Mussolini is interesting but omits a crucial difference: Germany and Italy were in the grip of profound and longlasting socio-economic chaos, with mass unemployment and massive poverty.

The USA, when Trump came to power, had a 4.7% unemployment rate and was economically is normal to good shape, albeit the outcomes were unequally distributed.So what accounts for Trump's rise and enduring protofascist appeal? My answer: the loss of cultural capital experienced by white Americans, and the ideology of liberalism-hatred this has produced.

Democracy and social justice are hated because they underpin the transfer of social prestige away from whites and towards minorities and women -- hence the economically irrational hatred of Democrats. The GOP is basically driven by an ideology of white hatred these days. The old left-right argument about the role of the state has given way to an identitarian politics.

MrHumbug ID3924525 , 30 Apr 2017 12:56
His problem with CIA is that he is not their asset, as was every president since at least Reagan. But don't worry. The Agency will take care of the "problem" one way or the other. It's the american way, right?
katastrofa OinkImSammy , 30 Apr 2017 07:19
AND the homosexuals. And enslave the Slavic nations.

[May 02, 2017] Fascism is a mindset that only the wealthy deserve to rule and the state is managed by corporations and the wealthy

Notable quotes:
"... "The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. " ..."
"... "...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society.... ..."
"... I think romnraven's definition and Mussolini's work very well together. Nothing odd about romnraven's characterization of "fascism" at all. YOUR specifically quoted portion of the Mussolinian dictionary definition (a piece of propaganda in its own right) is more about Totalitarianism than fascism. ..."
May 02, 2017 | profile.theguardian.com

romnraven , 2d ago

Fascism has a clear meaning defined by Mussolini as, corporatism, when the state is managed by corporations and the wealthy. Fascism is a mindset that only the wealthy deserve to rule. Which is blindly adhered to by the Petit Bourgeoisie. For obvious reasons, fascists see organized labor, or any organized opposition to their agenda, as their enemy. The bourgeoisie is too self absorbed to even care about such things. t rump is a master of obfuscation. T rump gibberish is now substituted for official policy statements. While he is misdirecting our attention with blatant lies and gibberish, he is working to undermine years of bi partison work on policy that benefits we the people.

Pat Deegan -> romnraven , 2d ago

I thought this sounded rather odd so I did a quick search:

"The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. " Source: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.asp

There was also, in the late 20th century, a general public understanding of fascists as those authoritarian policitians who would compel the public, burn books and have people beaten up.

The early 21st century definition of a fascist appears to be "anyone who disagrees with ME" to a lot of people...

Aldous0rwell -> Pat Deegan , 2d ago

And from the same source you linked:

"...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....

I think romnraven's definition and Mussolini's work very well together. Nothing odd about romnraven's characterization of "fascism" at all. YOUR specifically quoted portion of the Mussolinian dictionary definition (a piece of propaganda in its own right) is more about Totalitarianism than fascism.

There are those who confuse "socialism" with "fascism". The link you provided shows how clearly such a conflation is nonsense.

Cynthia Almy Savage , 2d ago

I think the major difference between the US and the European experience is the timing between the existence of a monarchy/aristocracy and the implementation of totalitarian rule.

The US has always been mostly democratic, even when the country was 13 colonies being ruled by a distant power. The likelihood that people would "accept their fates" in the face of an autocrat is much less likely here, whereas Germany still had experience with a monarch in the 20th century.

Fascism is defined as a merger of state and corporate power so, really, the US has been a quasifascist state since Nixon embraced neoliberalism in the 70s. The difference is the existence of a police state.

It is clear Hitler and Mussolini led fascist police states in the 20th century. As for whether or not the US is also a police state depends on who you ask. The US leads the world in incarcerations and a significant percentage of black and Latino males are incarcerated.

simpledino -> Cynthia Almy Savage , 2d ago

You make very good points. Still, I would suggest that the so-called War on Terror has considerably softened the American people's resolve against being treated as "serfs with cellphones." I don't believe Trump would succeed if he were, today, just to shut down Congress and ascribe by fiat all political power to himself. That, the people and the legislative branch wouldn't allow. But if there is a full-scale war or a major terrorist incident, I'm not at all certain that whatever drastically antidemocratic steps Trump might care to take wouldn't be sent right on through the legislative pipe, effectively ending the republic and replacing it with the reign of a corrupt plutocrat and his family, along with assorted flunkies in government and industry. That sounds an awful lot like fascist dictatorship, doesn't it? It could happen. It probably won't, but it could.

ID1411575 Longerenong , 2d ago

I think you Americans don't grasp the concept of fascism. Trump is a wanna be authoritarian leader and has some very backwards ideas, like Mussolini might have been, but you should not confuse ideology with the form of government. Back in the '20s, Italy was a parliamentary monarchy. It had a so called flexible constitution, meaning that it could be easily changed to give the government extraordinary powers to the detriment of the parliament, and this is exactly what Mussolini did. He eliminated the opposition parties both by changing the law and by force (he had the leader of the communist party Giacomo Matteotti killed), while the king stood there doing nothing. The rest is in the article. Trump does not have the power to do that, at least not alone. But if the entire Republican party allows him to get more power, shut out the congress and eliminate "unfriendly" judges, then the danger will be a lot more real.

[May 02, 2017] Stone/Putin: will their TV debate rival Frost/Nixon? by Editors

Guardian was an is neoliberal swamp. Those presstitutes have no honor... They will call black white and smile.
Notable quotes:
"... The mistake most people make is thinking of the world as black and white. I somehow feel Oliver Stone has gotten himself into such a rut. His criticism of the US is fair enough, but he appears to think that, because Putin is critical of the US too, he is somehow unequivocally the "good guy". People have different reasons for being critical of the US, and I can tell you for free that Putin's is very different from, say, Noam Chomsky's. ..."
"... Love Oliver Stone. While his dramatic radar has been shot-to-pieces recently (although I've yet to see 'Snowden'), his interviews and documentaries have been awesome. His book/series 'The Untold History of the United States' with Peter Kuznick is especially a must-see. ..."
"... Robbie Mook and campaign chair, John Podesta met and assembled her communications team in their Brooklyn headquarters to 'engineer the case' and rehearse the 'pitch' to give to the press that 'Russian hacking' was to blame for the whole miserable fiasco. ..."
"... Together with the Godless orange hooligan's bombing of Russian ally Syria recently and John Miller / John Barron 's refusal to allow Exxon Mobil a waiver on existing sanctions, the Russia narrative seems based on fantasy; a misdirection tactic to stop the pitchforks and flaming torches heading for Hillary's campaign and her neoliberal shills, operatives and 'running dogs' ..."
"... The CIA certainly *supports* coups that are in US interests ..."
May 02, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Film director Oliver Stone has visited the Russian president four times over the past two years, conducted a dozen interviews with him, and the results have been condensed into four hours of TV. It is being shown over four evenings from 12 to 15 June on the US cable channel Showtime , and is said to be a no-holds-barred, gloves (but not shirt) off encounter.

... ... ...

How did Stone pull off such a coup? He got access to Putin when making his film about the whistleblower Edward Snowden. The two apparently got on like a dacha on fire, and these extended exchanges are the result.

... ... ...

Stone is likely to be pretty well disposed towards Putin. He supports Russia's view that the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 was a CIA plot aimed at driving a wedge between Russia and Ukraine, and rejects the assertion that Russia hacked the US presidential election.

... he reckons that the hacking allegations are fake news got up by the Democrats to delegitimise the president.

... he still sees the hand of the CIA in attempts to "blow up" Trump and destabilise Russia.

WhatsMyMantra , 2 May 2017 19:09
"Russian dissidents are American heroes, American dissidents are Russian heroes" - Penny Rimbaud

The mistake most people make is thinking of the world as black and white. I somehow feel Oliver Stone has gotten himself into such a rut. His criticism of the US is fair enough, but he appears to think that, because Putin is critical of the US too, he is somehow unequivocally the "good guy". People have different reasons for being critical of the US, and I can tell you for free that Putin's is very different from, say, Noam Chomsky's.

At the very least he seems to think that anything the US accuses Putin of must be false because the US are always the "bad guy". Just because he doesn't approve of the US and/or thinks they always have ulterior motives, doesn't mean that they never tell the truth, or that Putin usually does. It would be more useful if he looked scientifically for the truth rather than remaining solely partisan.

Haigin88 , 2 May 2017 19:00
Love Oliver Stone. While his dramatic radar has been shot-to-pieces recently (although I've yet to see 'Snowden'), his interviews and documentaries have been awesome. His book/series 'The Untold History of the United States' with Peter Kuznick is especially a must-see.

"... He supports Russia's view that the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 was a CIA plot aimed at driving a wedge between Russia and Ukraine ...".

As does the brilliant Robert Parry , who broke much of Iran-Contra.

"... rejects the assertion that Russia hacked the US presidential election ....".

As does the new book, written by Hillary insiders Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen (who got their access due to their previous book 'HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton') called 'Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign'.

According to them, 24 hours after Hillary's concession speech, recognising her miserable defeat to the short-fingered, orange bandit, campaign manager, Robbie Mook and campaign chair, John Podesta met and assembled her communications team in their Brooklyn headquarters to 'engineer the case' and rehearse the 'pitch' to give to the press that 'Russian hacking' was to blame for the whole miserable fiasco.

Together with the Godless orange hooligan's bombing of Russian ally Syria recently and John Miller / John Barron 's refusal to allow Exxon Mobil a waiver on existing sanctions, the Russia narrative seems based on fantasy; a misdirection tactic to stop the pitchforks and flaming torches heading for Hillary's campaign and her neoliberal shills, operatives and 'running dogs'

DrBrule , 2 May 2017 18:50
I'm an alt-righter, but I quite enjoyed and respected Ollie's 'Untold History of the United States' even if I didn't agree with all of it. Most often the minority report is the more interesting. Unless it is written by John Pilger.

You have to try and make the effort to take your blinders off and rethink your preconceptions, and my sense is that Stone does that, while remaining civil, prepared to listen to counter arguments and open to debate

johhnyv321 , 2 May 2017 18:50
I kinda like Putin
DrBrule -> johhnyv321 , 2 May 2017 18:57
I was tempted because I wanted to see him as a counter weight to the emerging global order in the West. There are issues that I think the West has mishandled or used to provoke confrontation, but Putin is basically a gangster and Russia a mafia state at the moment Reply Share
WhatTheTruth DrBrule , 2 May 2017 19:22
All transitions are tough. Which country that now calls herself Democratic doesn't come from using Mafia tactics to gain wealth. "Americans", originally from Europe, wiped out the Native Americans and the British gained a lot from their colonial past.

It's easy to be nice when you have the power and know that you can use it when someone doesn't do what you ask.

krissywilson87 , 2 May 2017 18:15
"He supports Russia's view that the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 was a CIA plot aimed at driving a wedge between Russia and Ukraine"

I always love this idea that the CIA is able to magic up tens of thousands of people out of nowhere and coordinate them to overthrow their government - as if there was nothing wrong with the Ukrainian government totally betraying their promises and engaging in massive corruption and Ukrainians were totally fine with it until the CIA used their mass mind control on them...

The CIA certainly *supports* coups that are in US interests, it can't magic them up out of nowhere.

objectinspace , 2 May 2017 17:45
"He supports Russia's view that the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 was a CIA plot aimed at driving a wedge between Russia and Ukraine, and rejects the assertion that Russia hacked the US presidential election" and Oliver Stone's credibility is pretty shot....

US power isn't innocent, but neither Russian. Stone, a bit like Pilger, is at a point where his desire to critique US power seems to blind him to the abuses of others.

He is, in other words, naοve.

[May 02, 2017] Hillary Clinton: Im to blame for election loss but outside interference cost me by Sabrina Siddiqui

Of course Russian were guilty. not her warmongering and sellout to Wall Street. Only Russians.
May 02, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Hilary Clinton said on Tuesday she takes "personal responsibility" for her loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

But the former Democratic nominee also blamed Russian interference in the US election and the release just before the election of a letter by the FBI director, James Comey , pertaining to the investigation into her emails, saying such factors deprived her of an otherwise expected victory.

Run against Trump? Elizabeth Warren will certainly stand and fight Read more

"I take absolute personal responsibility," Clinton said of her November defeat during a sit-down with CNN's Christiane Amanpour at an event titled Women for Women in New York. "I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had."

The former secretary of state nonetheless maintained she was on track to become the first female president of the United States when a series of obstacles altered the trajectory of the race.

"It wasn't a perfect campaign. There is no such thing," she said. "But I was on the way to winning, until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on 28 October and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off."

Clinton was referring to the decision by Comey to disclose – 11 days before election day – that the FBI was reviewing newly discovered emails in relation to the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server while at the helm of the Department of State. Just days later, Comey concluded the emails were mostly personal or duplicates of what the government had already examined prior to clearing Clinton of any criminal charges.

[May 02, 2017] Many call Trump a fascist. 100 days in, is he just a reactionary Republican? by Victoria de Grazia

Notable quotes:
"... Politics is all about timing, as Machiavelli said. Not being able to choose the times or circumstances, the prince's success depends on his virtue or genius and good fortune. And both in turn depend on having an agenda, sticking with it, and finding the way for the vested interests and major institutions of power to accommodate it. That is especially true if the prince, fόhrer or duce – however we want to call him – claims to want to change everything to bring back national greatness. ..."
"... Victoria de Grazia is Professor of History at Columbia University. She has written numerous books on fascism ..."
"... above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society.... ..."
"... There are those who confuse "socialism" with "fascism". The link you provided shows how clearly such a conflation is nonsense. ..."
"... Fascism is defined as a merger of state and corporate power so, really, the US has been a quasifascist state since Nixon embraced neoliberalism in the 70s. The difference is the existence of a police state. ..."
"... It is clear Hitler and Mussolini led fascist police states in the 20th century. As for whether or not the US is also a police state depends on who you ask. The US leads the world in incarcerations and a significant percentage of black and Latino males are incarcerated. ..."
"... You make very good points. Still, I would suggest that the so-called War on Terror has considerably softened the American people's resolve against being treated as "serfs with cellphones." ..."
"... But if there is a full-scale war or a major terrorist incident, I'm not at all certain that whatever drastically antidemocratic steps Trump might care to take wouldn't be sent right on through the legislative pipe, effectively ending the republic and replacing it with the reign of a corrupt plutocrat and his family, along with assorted flunkies in government and industry. That sounds an awful lot like fascist dictatorship, doesn't it? It could happen. It probably won't, but it could. ..."
Apr 30, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
A close historical examination of Hitler and Mussolini's early days underscores how different Trump's path is to the dictators of the 1930 'Whereas the establishment embraced Hitler and Mussolini, Trump has embraced the establishment.'

Many call Trump a fascist. 100 days in, is he just a reactionary Republican? Victoria de Grazia

A close historical examination of Hitler and Mussolini's early days underscores how different Trump's path is to the dictators of the 1930

Comments 548

Sunday 30 April 2017 06.00 EDT Last modified on Monday 1 May 2017 11.25 EDT O n 10 May 1933, Adolf Hitler's 100th day as German chancellor, as students and Nazi storm troopers lit bonfires of un-German books in central Berlin, the new minister of enlightenment and propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, endorsed their "right to clean up the debris of the past". On 6 February 1923, his 100th day in office, Benito Mussolini battered parliament with another bellicose speech, this one about Italy's right to play a more aggressive role in international affairs.

Neither the 44-year-old fόhrer of the Nazi party, whom President General Von Hindenburg had named Reich's chancellor on 30 January 1933, nor the 39-year-old duce of fascism, whom King Victor Emmanuel III had called to Rome on 30 October 1922 to form a cabinet, began with an electoral majority.

Donald Trump's first 100 days: a guide to the successes, the failures – and the tweets Take a journey through the id of the president of the United States across his first 100 days in office – and look ahead to what comes next

The establishment's expectation was that they would get rid of the left and trade unions, bring back law and order, and restore the nation's ancient glory. Yet by the end of their first 100 days of rule, they had obtained so tight a grip over national political life that by the end of another thousand, they had become dictators for life.

Politics is all about timing, as Machiavelli said. Not being able to choose the times or circumstances, the prince's success depends on his virtue or genius and good fortune. And both in turn depend on having an agenda, sticking with it, and finding the way for the vested interests and major institutions of power to accommodate it. That is especially true if the prince, fόhrer or duce – however we want to call him – claims to want to change everything to bring back national greatness.

Now, Donald Trump did want to change everything, if we take seriously his October 2016 "100-Day Action Plan to Make America Great Again". Pursuing this end, many have accused him of showing fascistic impulses in his contempt for the administrative state and eagerness to upend the liberal international order, his hyper-nationalism, militarism, populist sympathies, cult of leadership, misogyny, racism and political showmanship.

Has his modus operandi in his first months in office reinforced this accusation? Or have his "alt-right" propensities been coopted by the establishment he promised to oust?

•••

If we look at Hitler's action over his 100 days, we see his goals were terrifyingly consistent, namely, to build a world empire over the corpse of the Soviet Union and to eliminate the Jews. And he was utterly ruthless to achieve those ends, starting the very evening of Day 1, when he paraded tens of thousands of followers around parliament in a torch lit parade. Day 3, 1 February 1933, in a national radio address to the German people, after underscoring the "appalling inheritance of 14 years of Marxist parties and their followers," he asked for "four years and then to judge us".

But he had no intention to wait for, much less to be judged on the basis of open elections. As the condition for accepting the appointment, he had President Hindenburg promise to dissolve parliament and hold elections on 5 March. Meanwhile, after filling all of the major police and security positions with his own men, he governed without parliamentary checks. By the end of Week 2, Hitler had reassured the military and industrial establishments of his plans for rearmament and infrastructure projects.

By lucky timing, before Month 1 was up, on 27 February, the Reichstag building – home to the German parliament – was set on fire , Hitler immediately laid the blame on a communist plot to overthrow the government, and before the next day was over, issued the so-called Reichstag Fire Decree "for the Protection of the People and the State", stripping citizens of their constitutional liberties and outlawing the communists.

This enabled Hitler, after his coalition won the 5 March general elections by a plurality, to muster the two-thirds majority to pass the constitution-changing Enabling Act on 23 March , to strip the Reichstag of its legislative powers and create the legal basis for his dictatorship.

On 11 March, Hitler extracted cabinet approval for the creation of the infamous Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda. On 20 March, with arrests of the political opposition soaring into the scores of thousands, the Bavarian police commissioner, Heinrich Himmler, opened the first concentration camp at Dachau. By Day 60 or so, after the left parties had been smashed, organized labor became easier to co-opt.

On 1 May, Hitler's 90th day, he held the first national socialist May Day, only to dissolve the unions altogether the following week and to incorporate them soon thereafter into the Nazi party-controlled Labor Front.

With that, virtually every signature policy was in place. Germany was a full-fledged dictatorship. The Nazi party, which had 850,000 members on Hitler's Day 1, had soared to 2.85 million on Day 100. As for the Jews: on April 1, the Third Reich began systematic persecution with a one-day boycott of Jewish businesses.

If we look at Mussolini, he seem slower paced, but only because Hitler had learned from the duce's 1922 coup, failed at his own first Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, and spent the next 10 years perfecting his targets and timing.

In his first 100 days, Mussolini usurped power immediately by taking the key foreign and interior departments for himself, obtaining emergency powers to push through fiscal and civil service reforms, without parliamentary approval, and on 16 November 1922, by making his first speech as prime minister to the Italian chamber of deputies , flaunting his power.

"I could have transformed this drab silent hall into a bivouac for my squads...I could have barred the door to parliament and formed a government exclusively of fascists, he said, "but I chose not to, at least not for the present."

To allay the establishment's suspicions of him as an ex-socialist, he made nice with the church and he de-regulated wartime controls on industry, reversed land reforms, reduced inheritance taxes and privatized telephone and telegraph services.

Like Hitler, he set up a parallel government. On 15 December, he set up a parallel cabinet in the Grand Council. On 3 January, he turned his private army of black shirts into a national militia loyal solely to him, not the king or the army. Failing to co-opt the left unions, he licensed his squads to terrorize them.

People protested after a Black Shirts massacred 19 workers on 18 December at Turin, only to see the government amnesty the squadristi five days later for having acted in the name of the nation.

•••

President Trump, who started his 100 days with a Republican majority in Congress, immediately showed his authoritarian impulses with his show-off immigration ban, only to see it overturned by the courts, and he set up his National Security Council outside of normal channels, only to see his main advisors unceremoniously removed.

Fortunately, the US has faced no national emergency to accelerate the tempo of his illegalities, though the president has flailed around to invent one – or several – in terrorist immigrants, North Korean missiles, terrorist attacks abroad, and the disloyal "party of the opposition" in the liberal media.

However, with no significant activist base of his own, no special laws to suppress dissent, and no monopoly over the media, he can't prevent the opposition from growing louder and louder. And the liberal international order, no matter how dispirited at the US's harum-scarum leadership, is multilateral and with substantial enough ballast in the United Nations, international treaties, and other powers, notably China and the European Union to curb the worst saber-rattling

Whereas the establishment embraced Hitler and Mussolini, Trump has embraced the establishment. That leaves us to conclude that after having fumbled around his first 100 days, the 45th president will push ahead another thousand days in the time-honored ways of reactionary Republican regimes.

He has brought Wall Street into his inner circle, empowered the military to make national strategy, reinforced racial antagonisms by enhanced policing, and by means of tariffs, regressive taxation, and cuts in provisions for health, education, and welfare intends to further impoverish America's most vulnerable citizens, his own white working class constituency included.

That leaves us to contemplate liberal democracy's greatest asset, namely, the tick tock of the electoral cycle. By the end of their 1,000 days, Mussolini spoke of "Eternal fascism," and Hitler of the Thousand Year Reich. Trump will have to face elections, and failed presidents get turned out of office.

Victoria de Grazia is Professor of History at Columbia University. She has written numerous books on fascism

Latinotoons , 1 May 2017 12:52

The modern American is a wounded cornered animal, running from his own shadow. The Bully Pulpit now belongs to the most wounded and insecure animal in America. The "president" fears more than he understands, so he channels that fear into oppression, rather than admit his own shortcomings. Fear of Freedom by Fromm sums it up nicely: "The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness. It is the expression of the inability of the individual self to stand alone and live. It is the desperate attempt to gain secondary strength where genuine strength is lacking. The word power has a twofold meaning. One is the possession of power over somebody, the ability to dominate him; the other meaning is the possession of power to do something, to be able, to be potent. The latter meaning has nothing to do with domination; it expresses mastery in the sense of ability."
MarkTaylor22 Latinotoons , 1 May 2017 13:55
This is what we like, the world afraid of the USA.

I love it. Reply Share

tjt77 MarkTaylor22 , 2 May 2017 07:58
Promoting fear in order to cement power is the essence of authoritarianism..( which Erich Fromm, having observed the effects, quite correctly sees as human weakness) rather odd that promoting fear and bullying others seems so popular in a nation that proclaims to be enthusiastic about 'christianity'..

I dont like it at all.. too many idiots who are unable to feel safe without guns because they live in fear..

gstallichet , 1 May 2017 06:43
No, Trump is not Hitler and he is not Mussolini. He has, however, with his policies and pronouncements, followed a time-tested path to populist, fascist authoritarianism. He has rallied his base by demonizing discreet and vulnerable minorities with false allegations of criminality and lack of patriotism and by making absurd claims that foreigners and foreign governments are responsible for the sense of economic disenfranchisement afflicting so many in the United States. He has waged an unrelenting war on the press and our collective sense that an objective truth can be divined. He has attacked the independant judiciary in a manner that betrays either a complete failure to understand, or a thorough contempt for, our system of checks and balances. He has gone so far as to say of our democratic structure that "It's a very rough system," ... It's an archaic system It's really a bad thing for the country." It may be that the rapidity of the descent to facism in pre-war Germany and Italy is more a reflection of the relative fragility of those democracies. To assume that our institutions are immune from historically tried and true methods of delegitimization is analogous to the "...it can't happen here" prelude to the worst atrocities in modern history. We are fools if we whistle past this graveyard. This is not normal. It is extremely dangerous and we all need to recognize that fact and respond accordingly with resistance at every level and by speaking out loudly at every opportunity.
Fred1 , 30 Apr 2017 23:53
Here's where I'm at on Trump the fascist (to be a fascist someone does not need to be Hitler or Mussolini and indeed fascism is a mass movement so it's a bit pointless focusing too much on the individual), one definition of fascism that I've used a lot is this one from Robert Paxton:

"A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

That definition almost exactly captures Trump and Trumpism except for the bit about violence and expansion.

The "obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation [and] victimhood" pretty much sums up his election campaign.

The "compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity," sums up his rallies.

The "committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites," almost sums up his voter base.

The "abandon[ment of] democratic liberties" sums up some of his policies like the muslim ban.

He has displayed no "ethical or legal restraints" in his life let alone his presidency.

So the only bits we're missing are:

"redemptive violence" (let's ignore his calls to beat up protestors at his rallies) and "goals of internal cleansing" (let's ignore his overt racism) and "external expansion." (fingers crossed).

Many of the checks and balances that were put in place by the US constitution (many of which he has tried to circumvent) were to prevent someone like Trump doing his worse. So just because the system has so far withstood a full blown dictatorship shouldn't mean that we shouldn't be worried.

Trump has significant authoritarian tendencies which set him apart from previous republican candidates.

Bannon's influence seems to have waned recently which might suggest he's moving away from the far right (either by design or in response to the realities he's facing).

The big question with Trump however is what does he want?

Calling him a fascist is pointless unless we know what he's up to.

Is he "just" after money or power or does he have a specific political goal?

When he stirs up islamophobic and racial tensions or when he undermines the press, is he doing this deliberately and why is he doing it?

I think he is doing it deliberately. He's a master manipulator. So that leaves the "why"?

It could be a divide and conquer thing but it could also be part of an ideology.

There's plenty of evidence that he is in fact racist.

http://m.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83

Ok I apologise for linking to the Huffongton Post but one of the examples given is this:

"When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor," Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump's Castle, told the New Yorker for a September article. "It was the eighties, I was a teen-ager, but I remember it: they put us all in the back."

If this story is true then this would indicate that he is in fact ideologically racist.

Fascist movements usually have an ideological and practical form of racism, but the latter usually drives the former.

For example, the reason the Nazis targetted the Jews was because they wanted their stuff. They then made up some bull shit ideology to justify taking it.

It's the same with the slave trade where it was really just about making money by selling human beings and then was justified through pseudo science about black people having smaller brains.

With Trump there could well be the ideologcial but there's still the issue of the practical. Practically how can he gain from his racism? Well he can gain power (by dividing and conquering) and he might even make some money (by starting wars).

There also needs to be the right conditions for fascism to occur. Societies before were less integrated and were easier to divide. It's harder to do that these days because races and cultures won't stay in their boxes (which is part of the reason for the backlash).

So for me Trump is a fascist but he may hopefully be prevented from turning America into a fascist state because of a large number of random factors.

jivemi , 30 Apr 2017 20:54
Fascism is a totalitarian ideology which brooks no political opposition while allowing some private ownership of the means of production. Sorta like China today, come to think of it. In any case Trump hasn't made any move to shut down the Democrats or the Lefty-lib media. With both Left and Right in the West accusing each other of being "fascist," it seems that Godwin's Law is getting strong reinforcement.
Zhubajie1284 , 30 Apr 2017 18:57
It was the last administration which legalized "disappearing" people into secret prisons as well as the Kill List, filled out by a secret committee. The one before that sort of legalized torture. Names don't matter much. The USA has been drifting towards authoritarianism and disguised dictatorship for a long time.
timmit , 30 Apr 2017 18:46
I think the national psyches of Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 30s was much different than the US psyche(s) in 2017. The US hasn't been forced to pay huge war reparations to Britain and France and hasn't been kept from having an effective military. The "nationalism" that Trump claims isn't rooted in a real national humiliation, just a badly made fake one. On the other hand, there were lots of such rationalizations before Hitler became a true menace.
JohnBinxBolling , 30 Apr 2017 18:19
As Bertram Gross predicted in Friendly Fascism , when it comes to America it will not take the form that fascism took in Germany and Italy. It will have a friendly face, one most likely with less overt brutality and without the public spectacles and perhaps even without an in-your-face dictatorship.

But what it will have, at its base, is the ever increasing collusion of big business and big government "in order to 'manage society' in the interests of the rich and powerful"

Donald Trump has eliminated the middle men. We now have government of, by and for big business. Friendly fascism, American style.

heliosphere , 30 Apr 2017 17:04
Mussolini wasn't all talk and no action unfortunately. imprisonment, torture and murder of political opponents on the part of his militia happened very frequently throughout the 20s, well before hitler took power. They killed socialist mp giacomo Matteotti in 1924 for example.
jdanforth , 30 Apr 2017 14:26

Or have his alt-right propensities been coopted by the establishment he promised to oust?

On the contrary, the only Trump policy coopted by the "establishment" so far has been his antiwar stance!

For years, he expressed strong opposition to Obama's war in Syria, he advocated good relations with Russia, and at one point he even promised to pull all US troops out of South Korea. In his first hundred days in office, under heavy pressure from the "establishment," he has turned sharply against all of those positions, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war.

The Guardian is one of many media outlets to have played a role in this process, though there are obviously much stronger forces driving the imperialist killing machine than just its pro-war media mouthpieces.

BritCol ferret70 , 30 Apr 2017 14:39
Fascism, like all the other 'isms' are so overused they have become impotent words with no actual meaning anymore.

Like the way Brits overuse 'brilliant' or feminists overuse 'sexism' etc. The left have become fascist themselves with all their bans on anything they don't like. [And I used to be left until this rather infantile means of 'debate' became the norm for fake progressives.]

jdanforth , 30 Apr 2017 12:55
An article very similar to this one was published over a month ago by Stansfield Smith. Here his idea has been fleshed out a bit in terms of historical background and watered down a bit in terms of political clarity.

Regardless, it is true, and important to point out, that Trump is not a fascist. Fascism is a violent mobilization of the middle class against the working class, an activist movement of lynch mobs. It is capitalism's emergency Plan B when the charade of the democratic republic is no longer possible. Trump is not part of such a movement or party, let alone the leader of one, although the way he talks does embolden those who are, and in his administration, they do seem to have some friends in high places.

simpledino , 30 Apr 2017 12:41
I don't see the intelligence or the ruthless, murderous drive in Trump that an outright "fascist dictator" needs. I see a willingness to upend the traditions of governance, but not much skill in actually doing that since (so far, anyway) the courts keep laughing in his face. The thing I see coming from him that's on a par with the infamous rulers referenced in the article is Trump's evident delight in whipping up mobs of ignorant, wholly irrational and even delusional people who adore him without reserve. In his apparent hatred of a free press and his love for political spectacle over rational, measured discourse, he is justly mentioned alongside Hitler and Mussolini, who went out of their way to appeal to people's desires and passions rather than to their minds.
CaptainHaymaker simpledino , 30 Apr 2017 22:32
Probably the main point of similarity would be the wish to do away with pesky legal inhibitions getting in the way of doing what they want to do. Trump's plan for doing so however is to simply cry 'wahh wahh wahh' until enough people cave in.

romnraven, 2d ago

Fascism has a clear meaning defined by Mussolini as, corporatism, when the state is managed by corporations and the wealthy. Fascism is a mindset that only the wealthy deserve to rule. Which is blindly adhered to by the Petit Bourgeoisie.

For obvious reasons, fascists see organized labor, or any organized opposition to their agenda, as their enemy. The bourgeoisie is too self absorbed to even care about such things.

Trump is a master of obfuscation. Trump gibberish is now substituted for official policy statements. While he is misdirecting our attention with blatant lies and gibberish, he is working to undermine years of bipartisan work on policy that benefits we the people.

Pat Deegan -> romnraven

I thought this sounded rather odd so I did a quick search: "The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. " Source: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.asp

There was also, in the late 20th century, a general public understanding of fascists as those authoritarian policitians who would compel the public, burn books and have people beaten up.

The early 21st century definition of a fascist appears to be "anyone who disagrees with ME" to a lot of people...

Aldous0rwell -> Pat Deegan 2d ago

And from the same source you linked:

"...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production.... And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....

I think romnraven's definition and Mussolini's work very well together. Nothing odd about romnraven's characterization of "fascism" at all. YOUR specifically quoted portion of the Mussolinian dictionary definition (a piece of propaganda in its own right) is more about Totalitarianism than fascism.

There are those who confuse "socialism" with "fascism". The link you provided shows how clearly such a conflation is nonsense.

Cynthia Almy Savage , 2d ago

I think the major difference between the US and the European experience is the timing between the existence of a monarchy/aristocracy and the implementation of totalitarian rule. The US has always been mostly democratic, even when the country was 13 colonies being ruled by a distant power. The likelihood that people would "accept their fates" in the face of an autocrat is much less likely here, whereas Germany still had experience with a monarch in the 20th century.

Fascism is defined as a merger of state and corporate power so, really, the US has been a quasifascist state since Nixon embraced neoliberalism in the 70s. The difference is the existence of a police state.

It is clear Hitler and Mussolini led fascist police states in the 20th century. As for whether or not the US is also a police state depends on who you ask. The US leads the world in incarcerations and a significant percentage of black and Latino males are incarcerated.

simpledino Cynthia Almy Savage , 2d ago

You make very good points. Still, I would suggest that the so-called War on Terror has considerably softened the American people's resolve against being treated as "serfs with cellphones."

I don't believe Trump would succeed if he were, today, just to shut down Congress and ascribe by fiat all political power to himself. That, the people and the legislative branch wouldn't allow.

But if there is a full-scale war or a major terrorist incident, I'm not at all certain that whatever drastically antidemocratic steps Trump might care to take wouldn't be sent right on through the legislative pipe, effectively ending the republic and replacing it with the reign of a corrupt plutocrat and his family, along with assorted flunkies in government and industry. That sounds an awful lot like fascist dictatorship, doesn't it? It could happen. It probably won't, but it could.

ID1411575 -> Longerenong, 2d ago

I think you Americans don't grasp the concept of fascism. Trump is a wanna be authoritarian leader and has some very backwards ideas, like Mussolini might have been, but you should not confuse ideology with the form of government.

Back in the '20s, Italy was a parliamentary monarchy. It had a so called flexible constitution, meaning that it could be easily changed to give the government extraordinary powers to the detriment of the parliament, and this is exactly what Mussolini did.

He eliminated the opposition parties both by changing the law and by force (he had the leader of the communist party Giacomo Matteotti killed), while the king stood there doing nothing. The rest is in the article. Trump does not have the power to do that, at least not alone.

But if the entire Republican party allows him to get more power, shut out the congress and eliminate "unfriendly" judges, then the danger will be a lot more real.


bobkolker 2d ago

Where are the Brown Shirts (or in Trump's case, The Orange Shirts). Trump was and is a business man (of questionable quality, no doubt). He is not founding a Political Movement. So far Trump has done nothing unconstitutional. One hundred days, and no Reichstag Fire! Imagine that!

There is no doubt that Our Donald is inept in the Office he now occupies. And he does at times lack couth. Also he has a twitchy tweeting thumb. But a Fascist???? Not even close.

[Apr 28, 2017] Neoliberal Democrats are betayer of working class interests and will never win back workers votes

Apr 28, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Another thing that is inexcusable from Democrats: surprise at the economic disasters that have befallen the midwestern cities and states that they used to represent.

The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn. Every time our liberal leaders signed off on some lousy trade deal, figuring that working-class people had "nowhere else to go," they were making what happened last November a little more likely.

Would Trump supporters elect him again now? For some Trump voters in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, their new president has already done more than Obama – but others have had enough Every time our liberal leaders deregulated banks and then turned around and told working-class people that their misfortunes were all attributable to their poor education, that the only answer for them was a lot of student loans and the right sort of college degree ... every time they did this they made the disaster a little more inevitable.

Pretending to rediscover the exotic, newly red states of the Midwest, in the manner of the New York Times , is not the answer to this problem. Listening to the voices of the good people of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan is not really the answer, either. Cursing those bad people for the stupid way they voted is an even lousier idea.

Ima Right , 28 Apr 2017 21:58

Appearently, Obama's $400k speech would seem to indicate the tone, punish the rich by making them hear you talk.
voxusa , 28 Apr 2017 21:14
This is embarrassing even for you, Mr Franks!

More obscene tax cuts for the rich, windfall deals for cronies, unparalleled corruption, and utter and complete betrayal of the 99% (NO affordable healthcare, war on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), and a LOSS of decent jobs engineered by perhaps the most demagogic liar and despot wannabe' in recent times, and YOU have the stones to talk about a 'Davos mindset'?

Double-speak and distortion worthy of those you apparently serve.

CeltiLad56 , 28 Apr 2017 20:22
Good luck. The Dems just don't want to get it and unless individual Dems start acting on their own for the good of all of us, who in the past were strictly loyal to the party, then they'll lose again. What BC did with NAFTA and his total disregard for decimating entire regions of the country by doing so, with nothing to replace those jobs with but a snotty attitude, will haunt them until they wake up. Sadly, for us, this isn't likely as they will think once again that people will vote for whoever they toss up just because Trump is so "deplorable". No one wants 4 more years of Trump, not even those who voted for him.
Gray Wolf , 28 Apr 2017 18:29
Frank is still trying to turn American blue collar workers into European style class warfare socialists.
Many (if not most) of the traditional jobs are not comng back, and only a few are in China.
AUTOMATION.
Neither party can do anything about that.
We'd better start thinking about a much bigger labor force than available jobs
ChipKennedy Gray Wolf , 28 Apr 2017 19:26
A Tax on every Robot sufficient to fund a modern Welfare State and a Universal Basic Income is what some propose to address this development. A 20 hour work week doing community service work helping ones fellow citizens in some constructive way?
Audrat , 28 Apr 2017 16:58
Remember that a lot of people voted for Trump or abstained from voting altogether (thereby basically giving the vote to Trump, as it turns out) because we refused to vote for Hillary. Wisconsin voted for Bernie in the primaries. I firmly believe that it was an intense distrust of Mrs. Clinton, and not overwhelming faith in the promises and abilities of Donald Trump, that made our state show red on Election Day. If Bernie hadn't been cheated out of the race by her bottle blondiness, I'm relatively certain that he probably might have won in a race against Uncle Don.
Pat McGroyne , 28 Apr 2017 21:13
"The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn."

Yup! And the means doing away with public sector unions in their present form, it means securing the borders, it means getting big banks and wall street under control, it means dropping the left wingnut social policies and getting the government out of peoples lives, not the other way 'round.

Ain't gonna happen.

The liberal/progressive leftist totalitarians are in charge of the party, and unless they change their ways, as previously described, they are going to wander in the wilderness for a very long time.

Marcel Williams , 28 Apr 2017 17:55
The Democratic Party has gradually become the party of the status quo and business as usual instead of the progressive-- working people's party-- it use to be under Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy. Even Obamacare is a concept originally conceived by the Republicans to force all Americans into the arms of the private health insurance companies.

Instead of more trickle down economics, Democrats should be trying to focus on creating a worker's paradise in order to re-energize the American economy:

1. A 32 hour work week (overtime beyond 32 hours):

2. Up to six weeks of annual Federally mandated paid vacation

3. Reduction of individual income tax to just 1% for individuals that make less than $60,000 a year

4. Employer payment of all Federal payroll taxes for all employees that make less than $60,000 a year

5. A $1000 a year workers rebate from the Federal government if you work full time or part time or employ full time or part time workers

6. Federal infrastructure program providing matching funds for cities that want to build affordable urban-- rental housing-- for senior citizens and the working class families and individuals, who don't own their own home who make less than $60,000 a year.

7. Federal and employer financed medical savings accounts for all American citizens

8. High tariffs (15% to 100%) on all imports coming in from nations that are not free and democratic (China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.). Low tariffs (1% to 10%) on imports from nations that are free and democratic. How Democrats could have ever gone along with allowing a fascist state like China to have full and free trading access to the American economy is almost incomprehensible (and it also cost Americans more than 3 million jobs)!

Marcel

jimmyc1955 , 28 Apr 2017 17:07
Lets review the key points of Democratic politics as they now pronounce it (through words and action)

1 - Save the planet - translation - regulate any and all forms of energy to be too expensive then subsidize renewable energy. This means a few major companies will win huge government contracts to put up windmills while, power plant operators, miners, natural gas workers and countless supporting industries go dark.

2 - Identity Politics - Translation - Vast swaths of America are understood only in context of their race, gender (chosen or otherwise) or political perspective. They will be administered according to an as yet unpublished preference chart favoring some over others. Meaning that individuals don't matter and needs don't matter. Only that you fit into some defined category where political messaging will tell you why your oppressed and that only democrats can free you.

3 - Free Trade Agreements - In short - how to off shore manufacturing to cheap labor countries. That one is very simple.

4 - Sanctuary Cities - People who arrived into this country illegally will be protected from deportation, even identifcation as illegal regardless of the law. This reduces the cost of labor for less skilled workers and drives up costs - which drive up taxes to provide services. In point of fact California is in the process of creating a single payer healthcare system that will provide free (only if your don't earn and income) healthcare to anybody in California - no questions asked.

What is missing? Jobs. There are zero plans to bring back jobs. The coasties don't care about manufacturing. They only buy the highest quality imports with the right labels on them anyway. Their answer - why more government "programs" designed to robe Peter to pay Paul. Job training for jobs that don't exist where people live, and often disappeared years ago.

I don't think that plays well in the midwest.

W.a. Thomaston , 28 Apr 2017 16:35
Meritocracy?
The best of the best of the best?
Not for the Smugatocratic World Rigging Nepotistic 'Davos' Elite!

(Busy "Late Night" Offices)

Seth Myer's Secretary

Seth! Call; "Line 1" You better take it

Seth Myers

Hello?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Seth My Dear Boy I really need you to do me a solid
you remember my Granddaughter Brittany?


Seth Myers

Ummm .Not really .?
Who is this?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

No matter .You met her last year at Davos

Seth Myers

Ahhh .I didn't actually go to Davos last year?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Well she just graduated from Emerson Gawd knows what they learn there?
AAAAAANYWAAAYS .
this whole "Clinton Kerfuffle" has kind of put us in a little bind

Seth Myers

Oh really?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

And Britt had her dear little heart set on interning with Hilly and Billy

Seth Myers

Oh....She did?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Now, she'd really like to work on your show

Seth Myers

My show?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Oh .She's a really good writer

Seth Myers

Writer .Wow .Why not just host?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

You think? Well, maybe?
K Thanks Gottah Run Love Yah' Bunches Britt will just be so thrilled!
See you at Davos .

Seth Myers

Wait I'm not go

Seth Myer's Secretary

Seth! Call; "Line 2" You better take it

Seth Myers

Hello?

Member of "Smugatocratic" Elite

Seth .My Dear Boy I really, really need you to do me a solid you remember my Granddaughter...Gemma?

On the children of the Elite and their remarkable ability to obtain internships?
"Internships Are Not a Privilege"
(Breaking a Cycle That Allows Privilege to Go to Privileged)
"TALENT is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. And while many Americans believe fervently and faithfully in expanding opportunity, America's internship-industrial complex does just the opposite."
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/opinion/breaking-a-cycle-that-allows-privilege-to-go-to-privileged.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

"How a Ruthless Network of Super-Rich Ideologues Killed Choice and Destroyed People's Faith in Politics"
"Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trump's triumph"
http://evonomics.com/ruthless-network-super-rich-ideologues-killed-choice-destroyed-peoples-faith-politics /

"Robert Reich: 7 Truths Democrats Need to Understand"
http://chicago.suntimes.com/opinion/robert-reich-7-truths-democrats-need-to-understand /

NO MORE NEOLIBERAL LIES OR NEOCON CONS!

furiousa , 28 Apr 2017 16:11
Speaking of "Davos Ideology", it would help if people like Al Gore and Leo Dicaprio didn't fly there on private jets to lecture people back home about their carbon footprint. Midwesterners notice stuff like that. "Incongruities", I believe, would be Mr. Frank's chatterati term for it.
Bob Josephs , 28 Apr 2017 14:44
Blue collar workers understand the laws of supply and demand just as well as Harvard trained economists. The Democratic party's embrace of open borders and amnesty is the exact same position as the Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 15% of America is foreign born and many of those people are competing with citizens for jobs. Business loves it for holding down wages and the DNC loves it for the future reliable Democratic voters.. Tech, medicine, and higher education noticed how this policy has squeezed blue collar wages and are manipulating H1B and other visa programs to do the same thing to their 100k+ professional workers. The DNC loves the visa programs as well mostly because of their addiction to big tech and other Silicon Valley donors. I think the DNC is trying to come up with a policy to do the least possible to attract these blue collar voters and still keep their billionaire new economy donors happy.
jcm124 Benjohn6379 , 28 Apr 2017 14:47
Example, "Every time our liberal leaders deregulated banks and then turned around and told working-class people that their misfortunes were all attributable to their poor education, that the only answer for them was a lot of student loans and the right sort of college degree ... every time they did this they made the disaster a little more inevitable." Aside from Bill, democrats are the party that believes in regulation and have many times fought republicans from destroying them. What's happening now is just a return of republican priorities. Lower regulation on nearly all business to include the financial industry and the same old trickle down theory that has only increase income and wealth inequality. Additionally, it was the Reagan administration that began making higher education more a business that required student loans to attend.
Benjohn6379 jcm124 , 28 Apr 2017 14:59
Special interests are intertwined with the Dems as much as they are with Repubs now, that's what's changed. The article speaks of the neoliberal policies that are destroying the Democratic party (deregulation, pro-corporate/anti-worker policies).

Yes, Republicans do those things and always have, but the point is that the Dems now do them too. And they need to step away from neoliberal policies like that if they want to be relevant again.

J Nagarya , 28 Apr 2017 13:45
A major cause of the deindustrialization of the US Midwest is offshoring jobs. That isn't the fault of the Democrats.

In fact, while Trump jabbers about "bringing the jobs back to the US," he and his daughter Ivanka continue to manufacture their clothing lines in such as Bangladesh, China, and Mexico. "Made in the America" is yet another of his slogans fed to the stupid.

But I guess that Trump is a hypocrite and liar is the fault of the Democrats too.

The problem with the rhetoric of this article is that it slings the usual labels -- "neoliberal" -- without a clue as to their meaning. But that's the nature of right-wing propaganda.

Odysss J Nagarya , 28 Apr 2017 13:49
Well, like it or not, the main point that the democrats have been hollywoodized and cannot bring themselves to go somewhere that arugula is not sold, is true. As for making clothing in China, who knows what clothing manufacturers there are left in the USA and whether they can do what is needed. You don't know that.
J Nagarya alan101 , 28 Apr 2017 13:49
The deindustrialization of the US is the result of corporate policies.

And while Trump jabbers about bringing jobs back to America, he and his daughter continue to manufacture their clothing lines in countries where they can pay the least in wages for the most in production. Chinese manufacturing of Ivanka's now-relabeled clothing line pays $60.00 for a 57-hour week.

Obviously the author of this article either doesn't know those facts, therefore doesn't know what he's talking about, or he makes no mention of it in order to dishonestly bash the Democrats, who are NOT doing manufacturing in Bangladesh, China, and other third-world countries.

Odysss alan101 , 28 Apr 2017 13:52
Please remember it was Bill Clinton who granted China most favored nation status. That is what really hurt the mid west. -->
ID2572205 , 28 Apr 2017 07:42
Thomas Frank reveals the rage middle-class Midwesterners feel towards Democrats and entrenched politicians. Over the past decade, he voiced this warning, but it fell on deaf ears. Only one major television commentator dared to express similar warnings, Ed Schultz, formerly of MSNBC. Schultz was removed from MSNBC and forced off MSM. Frank was a frequent guest and commentator on his and other main television news shows. Since the election, the major broadcast news no longer invites Frank. Democracy, journalism and political expression are diminished.

[Apr 28, 2017] A shocking display of sheer avarice of Obama family

Apr 28, 2017 | profile.theguardian.com
Peter L. Winkler BumbleDumble , 20h ago Barack and Michelle Obama just signed a dual book deal giving them $65 million dollars. And now he grabs at $400,000 for an hour long speech funded by Wall Street. It's a shocking display of sheer avarice.

[Apr 18, 2017] Atomization of workforce as a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
"... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
"... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
"... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
"... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

I particularly liked this point:

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

[Apr 14, 2017] The west used colonies as laboratories for weapons. Its not different today

Apr 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The United States has dropped its largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat against Isis targets in Afghanistan. But why drop such a gargantuan bomb in the first place? No one can have any sympathy for Isis and its murderous offshoots, but you don't need to be a military expert to suspect something strange might be going on here.

Since the US's stated objective was to destroy underground tunnels, wouldn't so-called bunker buster bombs, which can also be huge and dig deep into the earth, serve the aims of this mission just as well, if not better?

Look to the history of colonial warfare for the answer. The lands of the colonized have always served as the western world's laboratory for the newest and worst weapons of war.

Bombs may have been with us since the invention of gunpowder, but the phenomenon of aerial warfare is only as old as 1 November 1911, when Libya became the first country to suffer a bombardment from the sky.

Late to the colonial scramble for Africa, Italy coveted Libya, then a province of the failing Ottoman empire. In 1911, the Italians invaded the north African territory and that November, Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti flew over Ain Zara, just east of Tripoli. Unbeknownst to his superiors, Gavotti tossed four 1.5kg grenades out of his window, pulling the pins with his teeth, and watching them explode on the oasis town below. He later wrote that he was "really pleased with the result".

Just like today, the press went crazy with the news. The innovation of aerial warfare was mind blowing. Gavotti was lauded as a true Italian hero, although Europe's professional warriors initially thought otherwise. They considered the act beneath the rules of civilized combat. Their contempt didn't last long, and a new era of aerial warfare, especially against "uncivilized" peoples, began.

In 1920, Britain took charge of Iraq, and a popular revolt quickly erupted. The Royal Air Force responded with a new strategy they called "control without occupation". The thinking was that there would be no need for large and costly contingents of soldiers on the ground if one could simply bomb the local population into submission from the sky. And bomb they did. For days, weeks, and months on end.

Churchill , who in 1919 had penned a memo stating that he was "strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes", even pushed Air Marshal Trenchard in 1920 to "proceed with the experimental work on gas bombs, especially mustard gas, which would inflict punishment upon recalcitrant natives without inflicting grave injury upon them". Historians now believe there wasn't enough mustard gas to go around, so large-scale conventional bombing was left to achieve Britain's desired result in Iraq.

The United States is not immune to such military opportunism either. The US fired its first depleted uranium munitions during the 1991 Gulf war. A total of 320 tons (290,300 kgs) landed in Iraq in that war, and depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, as old as our solar system now is. The results have been spectacularly terrible throughout Iraq, with birth defects and cancer rates disturbingly elevated throughout the country.

The Russian military has exploited its campaign assisting the Assad regime in Syria to test out 162 new weapons systems, including new cruise missiles and long-range bombers. It would seem the Russians are very proud of their new weapons. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu used the occasion of Vladimir Putin's 63 rd birthday to announce that Russia had fired cruise missiles at targets in Syria from the Caspian Sea, some 900 miles away.

Look at the countries mentioned thus far – Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan . Southeast Asia of course also suffered terribly when it was the west's main laboratory of death and destruction, but this list of countries should give us a sense of history regarding our current conflicts along with some much-needed humility about the success of bombing people into submission.

This brings us to the GBU-43/B, a 22,600-pound bomb that is known as a Moab, officially a Massive Ordinance Air Blast and unofficially a Mother of All Bombs. Developed for the 2003 Iraq war, each GBU-43/B reportedly costs $16m. The bomb, which explodes before impact and with a reported blast radius as large as a mile in diameter, is the second largest non-nuclear weapon in the American arsenal. It has never been used before. Until now.

Once again, the territory inhabited by the "uncivilized" has been shelled so the west can try out its new lethal toys. Forgotten in all of this is that bombs, especially ones this size, don't affect only people. Munitions may be aimed at enemies, but an enormous bomb such as this kills plant life massively as well. When such a bomb detonates, a percussive blast destroys everything in it fatal path, shattering the insides of humans and animals alike.

The air is literally sucked out of the atmosphere to feed the jealous fire created by its explosion. The aim of such a bomb is to kill enemies but at what consequence to our earth? There is something narcissistic to think that bombs of this enormity are an attack on humanity. In fact, they are an assault on all forms of life.

--> Devondaddy , 13m ago The MOAB used in Afghanistan was almost exactly the same size as Barns Wallace's Grandslam' bomb deployed by the RAF against the Nazis in 1945.
Sorry if that doesn't fit with the narrative, but in conflict the most appropriate weapons are deployed irrespective of who the enemy are.
Try reading a little military history if you are going to write about it.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Slam_(bomb )

--> , MartinSilenus , 14 Apr 2017 18:01

Oh, Poison Gas was first used, on Europeans, by Europeans.
Nuclear weapons only use was not on `uncivilised tribes`, but an Industrial Nation, Imperial Japan.
Mostly, we used the most sdvanced weapons, to kill other western forces: only then, were they used in Colonial wars. Custers men at the Little Big Horn, used single shot rifles, the only repeating rifles were used by some of the Native Americans. He could have taken `Gatling Guns`he refused!
"The Lakota and Cheyenne warriors did join the battle with a number of Henry and Spencer repeating rifles"
https://www.wired.com/2009/06/dayintech_0625 /
http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-little-bighorn-were-the-weapons-the-deciding-factor.htm
http://custerlives.com/7thcav11.htm
, Briar , 14 Apr 2017 17:57
Of course The West doesn't do things like this - as far as its own self portrait is concerned. You won't find any shade of the opinion of this commentator in the items singing the praises of America's massive WMDs in the media today. They are so excited about the size of the bomb! About the message it sends about the West's Greatness. I daresay most men of god will similarly support it this Sunday by not mentioning the obscenity of calling the bomb a "mother" or deploying it at Easter. It's just so Christian - killing people of lesser gods en masse at what the West regards as the holiest time of the year.
, Black_Sparrow , 14 Apr 2017 17:56
Failing banana republics like the US need to distract as much as possible from the domestic problems. Dropping big bombs in Afghanistan makes Americans think they are still powerful, while the country is collapsing like a cheap tent.
, MartinSilenus , 14 Apr 2017 17:49
Note, in the below - famous - Churchill memo on the use of `poison gas` he states quite clearly the type he envisages using: "making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas".

Lachrymatory means tears/crying, in other words tear gas, formally known as a lachrymatory agent. He had been in the Trenches, the effects of Mustard gas on the Eyes, Skin & Lungs would have been familiar to him, read the memo yourself, does it sound like WWI poison gasses: Chlorine, Phosgene or Mustard gas, was being proposed? Note: the blinded of Mustard Gas, could have lived until the late 20th Century, why no accounts of them blinded as children, great anti British propoganda, so why has no such tales of gas blindings from the 1920`s ever been reported from Iraq?

" as shown in a War Office minute of 12 May 1919 in which Winston Churchill argued :

"I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected."

, PierreCorneille , 14 Apr 2017 17:48
It amazes me, well, not anymore, how ignorant Americans are. This "Mother" bomb is not the biggest ever used. One of them yes, but the RAF used a 22,000 pound bomb called the Grand Slam. Carried by the Avro Lancaster, it was used for highly reinforced positions like U boat pens. Reply Share
, CforCynic PierreCorneille , 14 Apr 2017 17:53
Biggest in terms of the amount of explosives inside it. Grand Slam had just less than half the amount of explosives inside it that the MOAB does. We used to have a few empty Grand Slam casings laying around on one of the MoD sites I worked at. Extremely thick steel, to say the least. Reply Share
, Pfalze CforCynic , 14 Apr 2017 18:06
Grand Slams were designed to go deep into the ground and explode creating an underground chamber.They were also known as earthquake bombs.The largest high explosive bomb was the Blockbuster. A 12000lb bomb 3/4 of the weight of the bomb was the contents.It was designed as a blast bomb. Reply Share
, CforCynic Pfalze , 14 Apr 2017 18:17
I spent a bit of my MoD career working with what was euphemistically referred to as "energetic materials". We had quite a few WW2 relics at one of the sites. From bits of Tallboy and Grand Slam casings, to all different types of MC and HC bombs. Last I heard the scrappy got his hands on them, so they're probably baked-bean cans by now.
, Pier16 , 14 Apr 2017 17:40
I have figured out 90% of the US government activity is selling BS to the American people so that they can continue doing what they're doing without being questioned.

In the big scheme of things this is a big bomb to take out supposedly a large depot of arms belonging to the ISIS terrorists who were about to commence their spring offensive in that area.

Americans have done bombings like this before (not with MOAB ~~ but hundreds of smaller bombs). But, the "public relations" aspect of this bombing was just out of this world. For example retired general McCaffrey on MSNBC said this is a weapon of terror (he meant it in a good way). It terrorizes ISIS and anyone who cooperates with them. I guess he meant in a "shock and awe" way. The American media is cheering this, as if no one in the world knows US has nukes and can blow everyone off the face of the earth several times, until they deployed this weapon. You hear from the talking heads and their echo chambers, this is going to give a message to the North Koreans and this or that group. The message North Koreans, and this or that group is getting is US has a huge amount of weapons, a big military, but after fighting for 16 years in an impoverished country, with a GDP of $3 billion, US has resorted to biggest nonnuclear weapon in its arsenal to show how tough they are. The message this sends to the rest of the world is US military is impotent and incompetent, so is the US government.

, CriticAtLarge Pier16 , 14 Apr 2017 17:49
The Taliban control more of Afghanistan than at any point since 2001. Yeah, I am sure a massive bomb will turn the tide. Reply Share
, moria50 CriticAtLarge , 14 Apr 2017 18:06
The Taliban have head office in Turkey, UAE and Qatar....and business meetings in the Maldives.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22957827

[Apr 13, 2017] Simply no incentive for the SAF to launch a chemical weapons attack.

Notable quotes:
"... Trump is throwing the haters a bone to gnaw on while he completes the rest of his agenda. Then he'll get back to the likely fake news of chemical weapons use and debunk it. ..."
"... Fake news. Fake. news. You think this was fake news? Not only that, but you think it was fake news and that the only person able to determine reality is Donald Trump? Good lord. ..."
"... It is not an accident that chemical poisoning happened a day after Trump decided not to remove Assad. Rebel-terrorists supported by the West want Assad removed, they arranged that chemical spill ... and not for the first time. ..."
Apr 13, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Rob Saunders , 6d ago

This article alludes to the "merits of western intervention in Syria". It is therefore nonsensical.

green_forest -> Rob Saunders , 6d ago

Yip. Simply no incentive for the SAF to launch a chemical weapons attack.

Robert Fisk's most recent article on the pummeling of Nusra and ISIS is here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-deir-hafer-syria-army-soldiers-town-village-death-muder-islamic-state-daesh-murder-killing-army-a7660481.html

Els Bells , 6 Apr 2017 14:20

Trump is throwing the haters a bone to gnaw on while he completes the rest of his agenda. Then he'll get back to the likely fake news of chemical weapons use and debunk it.
petesire Els Bells , 6 Apr 2017 15:03
Fake news. Fake. news. You think this was fake news? Not only that, but you think it was fake news and that the only person able to determine reality is Donald Trump? Good lord.
DillyDit2 petesire , 6 Apr 2017 15:29
I know, right? Check out comments on any Brietbart news story, though, and you'll how typical of a select minority of Americans that kind of thinking represents (suggest you wear earphones to block out the cacophony of thousands of bleeting sheep).
fanUS , 6 Apr 2017 14:20
It is not an accident that chemical poisoning happened a day after Trump decided not to remove Assad. Rebel-terrorists supported by the West want Assad removed, they arranged that chemical spill ... and not for the first time.

[Apr 13, 2017] Is it hard to wonder why Syrians might hold a grudge against the US?

Apr 13, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
johnbonn , 2h ago Russia has to move quickly to secure a 100 year lease for the Latakia port and airbase. Otherwise the US will soon attempt to render it useless as well, regardless of which of the moderate rebel factions it decides to install.

... Spirits die hard, and those of the Arab spring and the Orange Revolution are still alive in the halls of the Pentagon.

.... A controlled cold war however, is the only way to a avoid a larger mess than what the West has already inflicted on the innocent Syrian people by using the most abortive war design that has ever been conceived by the war college or any other war commander.

...... At the current rate there will be more Syrians in Germany than those remaining in Syria.

......... Is it hard to wonder why Syrians might hold a grudge against the US?

BlueCollar , 2h ago

Regime change ? All in the name of democracy as we see it.Why not try it in the Kingdom of family owned country KSA or why not another family owned enterprises called UAE.

Pier16 , 12 Apr 2017 15:58

The Americans have a fetish with regime change. Up until recently they were discrete about it and did it in secret, now they are all in the open. People who are against regime change are considered anti-Americans and tools of the Soviets...ahm.... Russia. The amazing thing is Tillerson said Assad's faith should be left with the Syrian people, the American establishment in unison said how could he says such a terrible thing, "we should decide what Syrian people want." These are the same people who elected Trump, maybe they should let Syrian people select the US president. The result may end up better.
freeandfair , 12 Apr 2017 15:53
> Bashar al-Assad is not a good person. He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged. Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad.

Yes, Assad is not a good person. But what about American politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who armed "moderate rebels" and supported the opposition in pursuit of regime change?
And Syria is not the only country were this happened.
Will there ever any responsibility taken for their actions by the US and NATO?

First, they make a manageable problem into a huge problem, then just hightail back home, living local people to pick up the pieces.

Those half millions of deaths - are they all responsibility of Assad or do the sponsors of jihadists and jihadists themselves have some responsibility as well?

Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
The choice as I see it is this:

A. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........but women can wear what they like in public, get a good education courtesy of the State, and embark on a career.

B. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........where women are denied education, made virtual prisoners in their own homes, and have acid flung in their faces for having the temerity to appear unveiled when they do go out in public.

It's not a great choice, but one is definitely better than the other.

[Apr 12, 2017] Trump told Xi of Syria strikes over beautiful piece of chocolate cake

China politically is major beneficiary of Trump Syria strike. Trump now has a monkey on his neck and need to sort our problems with Russians and well as the feeling of betrayal of his own electorate. For the first time since beginning of his presidency impeachment became a political reality for him. although noe Decocrats has less incentive to pursue this pass as he surrendered to neocons. It also drive the wedge between Putin and Trump and lessen change that Trump manage to lure Russia into position opposing China political and economic interests and to undermine the fledging alliance between two nations with some kind of "carrost and sticks" diplomacy. Of which the USA is a proven master, which fooled Russian leaders not once and even not two times.
Notable quotes:
"... Bill Bishop, a Washington-based China expert who tracks the country's political scene on his Sinocism newsletter, said Beijing would not have welcomed Trump's decision to break the news over dessert. ..."
"... The Chinese generally hate those kinds of surprises. The Chinese would have preferred it hadn't happened while they were in the US. Clearly it overshadowed the summit ..."
"... Beijing would also commemorate how the Syria strikes had driven a wedge between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin. ..."
"... "It's an unsolvable problem. If the US gets sucked into another conflict in the Middle East, it is less likely that the US is going to be focused or have the capacity to really pressure China on certain issues." ..."
Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

..."I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We are now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you have ever seen. And President Xi was enjoying it," Trump said.

"And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded. What do you do? And we made a determination to do it. So the missiles were on the way.

"And I said: 'Mr President, let me explain something to you we've just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq [sic] heading toward Syria and I want you to know that.'

"I didn't want him to go home and then they say: 'You know the guy you just had dinner with just attacked [Syria].'"

Asked how the leader of China, which alongside Russia has repeatedly blocked UN resolutions targeting the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, had reacted, Trump said: "He paused for 10 seconds and then he asked the interpreter to please say it again – I didn't think that was a good sign."

"And he said to me, anybody that uses gases – you could almost say, or anything else – but anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that to young children and babies, it's OK. He was OK with it. He was OK."

... ... ...

All mention of the US strikes on Syria was relegated from the front pages of state-run newspapers in a bid to prevent Trump's dramatic military intervention overshadowing Xi's visit.

Bill Bishop, a Washington-based China expert who tracks the country's political scene on his Sinocism newsletter, said Beijing would not have welcomed Trump's decision to break the news over dessert.

" The Chinese generally hate those kinds of surprises. The Chinese would have preferred it hadn't happened while they were in the US. Clearly it overshadowed the summit ," he said.

But Bishop said Beijing had still managed to capitalise on the Mar-a-Lago meeting by spinning Xi as "Trump's equal" in China's domestic media. Beijing would also commemorate how the Syria strikes had driven a wedge between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

... ... ..

"It's an unsolvable problem. If the US gets sucked into another conflict in the Middle East, it is less likely that the US is going to be focused or have the capacity to really pressure China on certain issues."

[Apr 12, 2017] Those interested in how the MSM fell in love with terrorists in Syria should go back and check out Charlie Skeltons illuminating piece from The Guardian 2012

Notable quotes:
"... In late 2015, Eren Erdem, a Turkish MP, said in Parliament that the Turkish state was permitting Da'esh to send sarin precursors to Syria. He had a file of evidence, so was accused of treason for accessing and publicizing confidential material. The investigation into the people responsible for the transfer of toxic chemicals was shut down. ..."
"... Al-Assad is certainly capable of murdering opponents, and not bothering too much about collateral damage, but strategically it makes no sense for him to do this now, when peace talks under the aegis of Russia and Iran have begun, and the world is watching. Also, Assad has been engaged in a reconciliation process, allowing members of the FSA to return to the Syrian army, and Aleppans remain in Damascus if they didn't wish to go to Idlib. At such a juncture, using chemical weapons would be counter-productive. If Sarin was used at his command, he should be properly prosecuted: but bombing a Syrian air base merely assists Da'esh and its cronies. ..."
"... I have just watched the press conference in which Trump labelled Assad a butcher, and went on again about dead babies. I just wish that someone at one of these conferences would have the guts to point out to Trump his own butchery. ..."
"... Anyone watching this performance would think that US forces had never been responsible for killing innocent civilians, men, women, children and babies. To listen to Trump, you wouldn't think that US forces had ever killed over 150 civilians in Mosul, dozens in Raqqa, or had bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, or schools in Iraq, or were supporting the Saudi blockade of Yemen resulting in the starvation of children and babies, or had destroyed wedding parties with drones,.....I could go on. ..."
"... If Assad is a butcher, he is only a junior, apprentice, corner-shop butcher. Trump is the real thing, the large-scale, wholesale, expert butcher. ..."
"... Gotta get that pipeline in for the Saudi's, eh, no matter how many children's carcasses it crosses, yay, regime change again, yay, and a heap of new terrorists for our kids in the west to dodge and duck, yay. ..."
"... Despite the several misrepresentations, the facts are that Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria , which is a proxy war against Iran. ..."
"... Britain was at the forefront in setting up the Al Nusra Front and in hosting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to disseminate deeply negative propaganda about the Syrian Government and armed forces. ..."
"... Every step of this including the media campaign which has comprised a major part of the military campaign against Syria, has been an attempt to delegitimize the Sovereign government and its institutions and to gain consensus from the somnambulistic British and US public for yet another direct military campaign against another Middle Eastern country. ..."
Apr 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
ID4352889 , 12 Apr 2017 17:57
Those interested in how the MSM fell in love with terrorists in Syria should go back and check out Charlie Skelton's illuminating piece from The Guardian 2012 .
Ciarαn Here , 12 Apr 2017 17:48
The Gulf of Tonkin, WMD in Iraq...
Ciarαn Here , 12 Apr 2017 17:46
Did the USA bomb war planes that they said had been used to carry chemical weapons - a chemical attack!
Robert Rudolph , 12 Apr 2017 17:40
Instead, the western powers have followed the example cited by Machiavelli: "in order to prove their liberality, they allowed Pistoia to be destroyed."

... ... ..

1Cedar , 12 Apr 2017 17:39
In late 2015, Eren Erdem, a Turkish MP, said in Parliament that the Turkish state was permitting Da'esh to send sarin precursors to Syria. He had a file of evidence, so was accused of treason for accessing and publicizing confidential material. The investigation into the people responsible for the transfer of toxic chemicals was shut down.

That surely ought to make us at least ask evidence-seeking questions about the Idlib gas attack before yet again demanding regime change.

Al-Assad is certainly capable of murdering opponents, and not bothering too much about collateral damage, but strategically it makes no sense for him to do this now, when peace talks under the aegis of Russia and Iran have begun, and the world is watching. Also, Assad has been engaged in a reconciliation process, allowing members of the FSA to return to the Syrian army, and Aleppans remain in Damascus if they didn't wish to go to Idlib. At such a juncture, using chemical weapons would be counter-productive. If Sarin was used at his command, he should be properly prosecuted: but bombing a Syrian air base merely assists Da'esh and its cronies.

unsouthbank , 12 Apr 2017 17:32
I have just watched the press conference in which Trump labelled Assad a butcher, and went on again about dead babies. I just wish that someone at one of these conferences would have the guts to point out to Trump his own butchery.

Anyone watching this performance would think that US forces had never been responsible for killing innocent civilians, men, women, children and babies. To listen to Trump, you wouldn't think that US forces had ever killed over 150 civilians in Mosul, dozens in Raqqa, or had bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, or schools in Iraq, or were supporting the Saudi blockade of Yemen resulting in the starvation of children and babies, or had destroyed wedding parties with drones,.....I could go on.

If Assad is a butcher, he is only a junior, apprentice, corner-shop butcher. Trump is the real thing, the large-scale, wholesale, expert butcher.

Ruthie Riegler , 12 Apr 2017 17:21
...Indeed, Richard Spencer last week protested outside the White House against the airstrikes on the regime airbase carrying a sign that read "No more wars 4 Israel."
NezPerce macmarco , 12 Apr 2017 17:37

There are two possible regimes, the Assad fascists, or the rebel jihadist

The Syrian government is Baathist, it was elected.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Socialist_Ba%27ath_Party_–_Syria_Region

http://www.france24.com/en/20160417-syria-bashar-assad-baath-party-wins-majority-parliamentary-vote

Latest update : 2016-04-17
Syria's ruling Baath party and its allies won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections last week across government-held parts of the country, the national electoral commission announced late Saturday.

Who are the rebels supported by Washington and Westminster?

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-falls-to-syrian-regime-bashar-al-assad-rebels-uk-government-more-than-one-story-robert-fisk-a7471576.html

And we're going to learn a lot more about the "rebels" whom we in the West – the US, Britain and our head-chopping mates in the Gulf – have been supporting.

They did, after all, include al-Qaeda (alias Jabhat al-Nusra, alias Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), the "folk" – as George W Bush called them – who committed the crimes against humanity in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001. Remember the War on Terror? Remember the "pure evil" of al-Qaeda. Remember all the warnings from our beloved security services in the UK about how al-Qaeda can still strike terror in London?

jimbo2000M , 12 Apr 2017 16:55
Gotta get that pipeline in for the Saudi's, eh, no matter how many children's carcasses it crosses, yay, regime change again, yay, and a heap of new terrorists for our kids in the west to dodge and duck, yay.
unsouthbank , 12 Apr 2017 16:40
I agree that Bashar al-Assad is not a "good person". It is impossible to be an authoritarian leader, struggling to maintain the unity, or even existence, of a nation state, and at the same time be a kind and gentle person. However, I do not believe him to be the psychopathic monster that he is portrayed as being, either. He is almost certainly not personally responsible for the chemical attack in Idlib province.

Presidents do not normally make detailed decisions on what sort of weapons should be used on every airstrike made by their aircraft. He may be a dictator, but he is not a complete imbecile. Even the dimmest of politicians could have foreseen that this chemical attack would end up being a massive own-goal. Nobody as cynically calculating as Assad is supposed to be, would be that stupid. My own hunch, (and that is all it is) is that sarin was used due to a blunder by a low or medium ranking Syrian airforce officer.

Yes, of course Assad bears responsibility for overall strategy in this vicious war of survival, and as such, has blood on his hands. But, so does Trump, so does Obama, so does Putin so does Erdogan, so does May, and so do all the leaders who have supplied the numerous rebel groups with billions of pounds worth of weapons, and have therefore kept the pot boiling.

Last year, Theresa May stood up in parliament and proudly proclaimed her willingness to commit mass indiscriminate murder on a scale that would make Syria look like a pinprick. She declared her willingness to press the nuclear button and therefore slaughter hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of completely innocent men, women, children and babies. She not only has blood on her hands, she is proud of it. Perhaps we should remember that, when she comes out with one of her sanctimonious, nauseatingly hypocritical statements about Syria.

martinusher , 12 Apr 2017 16:35
Assad was democratically elected more than once so he must be doing something right. (OK, so they're democracy might not be our democracy but 'our' democracy has brought us Trump, Brexit and the like so its really six to one, a half dozen to the other). Syria until we started messing with it -- creating, supporting and even arming opposition groups -- was stable, wasn't messing with its neighbors and had significant religious and cultural freedoms compared to other countries in the area. (Our actions might suggest that we really don't want stable, peaceful, countries in that region, we need them to be weak and riven by internal factions.)

Anyway, given our outstanding track record of success with regime change in that part of the world we should probably adopt a hands-off approach -- all we seem to do is make an unsatisfactory situation dire. Hardly the way to win friends and influence people.

KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 16:07
Despite the several misrepresentations, the facts are that Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria , which is a proxy war against Iran.

Britain was at the forefront in setting up the Al Nusra Front and in hosting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to disseminate deeply negative propaganda about the Syrian Government and armed forces.

Every step of this including the media campaign which has comprised a major part of the military campaign against Syria, has been an attempt to delegitimize the Sovereign government and its institutions and to gain consensus from the somnambulistic British and US public for yet another direct military campaign against another Middle Eastern country.

The whole which has visited terrible and incalculable suffering, on the Syrian people. Syria was a paradise before the British and US did their usual work. The journalists, government and security services in Britain who have wrought this mess , I'm sure will not escape the consequences of their actions. One hopes they experience a 1000 times of the hell they have visited on Syria. These actions are truly despicable acts of cowardice and absolute wickedness.

TomasStedron KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 16:27
Syria was a paradise for those who rule Syria........ the Assad regime brutally repressed any opposition to their rule. In 1982 Assad΄s father killed probably more than 30,000 in the siege of Hama. As well as sheltering a number of terrorist organisations who have their headquarters in Damascus....... he also armed and supported the fledgling Al-Quaeda resistance to the coalition in Iraq, giving them asylum in Syria........now the IS ....... I can think of Paradise in different ways......
MacMeow KhalijFars , 12 Apr 2017 17:30

Britain has been one of the main protagonists in prosecuting this war against Syria

Link please. Because without evidence the rest of your post collapses.

KhalijFars MacMeow , 12 Apr 2017 17:50
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/01/trial-swedish-man-accused-terrorism-offences-collapse-bherlin-gildo

The prosecution of a Swedish national accused of terrorist activities in Syria has collapsed at the Old Bailey after it became clear Britain's security and intelligence agencies would have been deeply embarrassed had a trial gone ahead, the Guardian can reveal.

His lawyers argued that British intelligence agencies were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he was, and were party to a secret operation providing weapons and non-lethal help to the groups, including the Free Syrian Army.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines


Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting "collapse" of Assad's regime "from within."

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

Jermaine Charles , 12 Apr 2017 16:02
More guff from the guardian/ Mr Williams, with just a little realistic sense, but who can replace Assad and in Syria he remains very popular, despite the western media like lies!
johnbonn , 12 Apr 2017 16:00
Russia has to move quickly to secure a 100 year lease for the Latakia port and airbase. Otherwise the US will soon attempt to render it useless as well, regardless of which of the moderate rebel factions it decides to install.

... Spirits die hard, and those of the Arab spring and the Orange Revolution are still alive in the halls of the Pentagon.

.... A controlled cold war however, is the only way to a avoid a larger mess than what the West has already inflicted on the innocent Syrian people by using the most abortive war design that has ever been conceived by the war college or any other war commander.

...... At the current rate there will be more Syrians in Germany than those remaining in Syria.

......... Is it hard to wonder why Syrians might hold a grudge against the, US?

BlueCollar , 12 Apr 2017 15:59
Regime change ? All in the name of democracy as we see it.Why not try it in the Kingdom of family owned country KSA or why not another family owned enterprises called UAE.
stratplaya , 12 Apr 2017 15:58
History tells us replacing Assad would be a bad idea. We should have learned the lesson with Hussain and Iraq, but didn't. We would go on to replace Gaddafi of Libya and boom, it trigged ISIS.

The hard lesson here is that for some reason Muslim majority countries have a strong central authoritarian leader. No matter if that leaders is called president, king, prime minister, or whatever. When that strong leaders is deposed, chaos ensues.

Pier16 , 12 Apr 2017 15:58
The Americans have a fetish with regime change. Up until recently they were discrete about it and did it in secret, now they are all in the open. People who are against regime change are considered anti-Americans and tools of the Soviets...ahm.... Russia. The amazing thing is Tillerson said Assad's faith should be left with the Syrian people, the American establishment in unison said how could he says such a terrible thing, "we should decide what Syrian people want."

These are the same people who elected Trump, maybe they should let Syrian people select the US president. The result may end up better.

freeandfair , 12 Apr 2017 15:53
> Bashar al-Assad is not a good person. He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged. Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad.

Yes, Assad is not a good person. But what about American politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who armed "moderate rebels" and supported the opposition in pursuit of regime change? And Syria is not the only country were this happened. Will there ever any responsibility taken for their actions by the US and NATO?

First, they make a manageable problem into a huge problem, then just hightail back home, living local people to pick up the pieces.

Those half millions of deaths - are they all responsibility of Assad or do the sponsors of jihadists and jihadists themselves have some responsibility as well?

GlozzerBoy1 , 12 Apr 2017 15:40
Absolutely, stay the hell out, we should have no footprint in that awful part of the world.
Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
The choice as I see it is this:

A. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........but women can wear what they like in public, get a good education courtesy of the State, and embark on a career.

B. A horrible authoritarian regime that tortures and murders it's opponents...........where women are denied education, made virtual prisoners in their own homes, and have acid flung in their faces for having the temerity to appear unveiled when they do go out in public.

It's not a great choice, but one is definitely better than the other.

Weefox Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 15:43
Also worth remembering that under Assad people are allowed religious freedom. I know two Syrian Christians who are terrified of what will happen if the rebels take control of their country.
Tom1982 Weefox , 12 Apr 2017 15:46
I'd imagine the Shia feel the same.
freeandfair Tom1982 , 12 Apr 2017 16:06
Choice B also includes Sharia law, full extermination of other faiths and death sentence for rejection of Islam. Basically Choice B is another Saudi Arabia, but a lot of people will have to die first.
oddballs , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
Assad would stand a good chance of winning a fair and honest election,
Still waiting for evidence by forensic experts over the chemical weapons , who did what and where.
Until proof is given hat prove otherwise the rebels are the most likly suspects. --> normankirk , 12 Apr 2017 15:35
SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:24
The world's biggest superpower is willing to risk a nuclear war with mass destruction of billions and possible extinction of life on earth on an unproven assertion made by Al Qaeda sympathisers that the Syrian government bombed them with sarin? OBL must be laughing in his grave.
aleph SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:45
1. Who is threatening a nuclear war? The Russians? I haven't heard them threaten that. Probably because no-one would seriously believe them.

2. An intellectually honest person should not describe young children as terrorist sympathisers. Let alone imply they somehow deserve to be deliberately targeted by nerve gas as a result.

Fort Sumpter aleph , 12 Apr 2017 14:54
If you have the evidence of a nerve gas agent being present please supply it forthwith.

I keep asking you guys, who must be on the ground in Idlib such is your certainty, to provide the proof but you always refuse. Why is that?

SHA2014 aleph , 12 Apr 2017 14:56
An intellectually honest person should question the veracity of a report that is unverified by a terrorist organisation. The children were never described by me as 'terrorist sympathisers' so you make a dishonest accusation, the terrorist sympathisers are those who produced the report on which the whole story is based. It is not about the death of the children which is of course a crime, but they are being used by the terrorists for thier purposes.
An intellectually honest person would also show outrage about the mass murder of civilians, including children in Mosul and by a US bombing in Syria that seem to not arouse the same outrage.
SHA2014 , 12 Apr 2017 14:13
Regime change by US has been used at least three times against democracies, in Chili, in Iran and in Ukraine. Attempted regime change has also been used often in South America to oust populist rulers because of US interests. Although the above analysis raises the very good point that change has to come from the bottom up, it starts with the same fallacies of assuming that all of the death and destruction in Syria comes from one person which is an extremely flawed point to start from. The point that is to be made is that there is no military solution to the conflict except in an anti terrorist capacity. The problem is that all of those against the Syrian government in the current conflict are either outright terrorists or those who collaborate heavily with terrorists making it difficult to have a conventional peace process.
Imperialist , 12 Apr 2017 14:07
America should not be the one who decides who is an acceptable government, and sends soldiers to enforce its will.

The UN should have done that long ago. To Assad. To Kim. Stopped the Khmer Rouge. Or Rwanda.

Yet the only time they ever have actually fought is in the Korean War.

Fort Sumpter Imperialist , 12 Apr 2017 14:55
*cough* The US supported the Khmer Rouge *cough*
Mauryan , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
America engaged in regime changes to suit American interests during the cold war and the New world order drive. The fact that they supported dictatorships worldwide and helped them overthrow democratically elected governments tells clearly that imposing democracy forcibly was not their intention. Intervention in global conflicts is mainly for controlling pathways for resources and gaining ground for business opportunities for their multinational giant corporations.
diddoit Mauryan , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
It's all about what's best for the US and the incredibly powerful(in the US) Israel lobby. The UK just goes along with it.
NezPerce , 12 Apr 2017 13:52
The West's narrative has fallen apart, nobody believes that the Syrian rebels are peace loving democrats. We have ample evidence that they are infinitely worse than Assad.

We also have plenty of evidence that the Western deep state, not the public, wants another regime change in the middle east and will stop at nothing to achieve its end including false flag gas attacks. This article goes into detail.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-08/false-flag-how-us-armed-syrian-rebels-set-excuse-attack-assad

False Flag: How the U.S. Armed Syrian Rebels to Set Up an Excuse to Attack Assad

Evidence suggests a false flag chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people was initiated by Syrian rebels with the help of the United States in order to justify Thursday night's U.S. Military attack on a Syrian base.

The Left is very opposed to war in Syria, the Libertarian right is very opposed to war in Syria but a hugely powerful Deep State will stop at nothing to achieve its ends.

Nat-Nat aka Kyl Shinra , 12 Apr 2017 13:50
"Worse still, more than 500,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the civil war, 6.1 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million are seeking refuge abroad. "

well, you cannot put the blame on Assad only. He never asked for that war for a start and a lot of the refugees you're talking about may very well be pro-Assad.

This said, I agree, leave Assad and Syria alone.

Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:48
Finally an article which still sticks to logical thinking when it comes to Syria. Assad is a terrible leader but atleast with him, most of the factions within the country can be sorted. The West's obsession with stuffing democracy down the throats of every oil producing country in the Middle East has resulted in the Mad Max wasteland i.e. Libya and the unsolvable puzzle i.e. Iraq. Both Gaddafi and Saddam were terrible human beings but removing them left a vacuum which has cost the lives of thousands and displaced millions. The West must make its peace with Assad for now, stop supporting the rebels and try to find common ground with Russia against the real enemy - ISIS.
diddoit Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
The west - as the US/UK like to themselves, couldn't give a damn about democracy . They want compliance , not democracy. A good(brutal) dictator is better than a 'difficult' democratically elected leader , look at events in Egypt for example.

Our own democracies are pretty ropey, certainly not up there with the Scandinavian best practice.

dusktildawn Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
You're kidding right? The West stuffing democracy down the throats of the Gulf countries. More like defending them against the threat of democracy by arming them to the teeth and stationing troops there. Have you heard of Bahrain?
diddoit Jayesh Iyer , 12 Apr 2017 13:55
call themselves. -typo
dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:47
The only plausible solution to this conflict is partition assuming of course the imminent defeat of Isis.

While getting rid of Assad would create a dangerous power vacuum and is in any case perhaps impossible given Russias backing, the sheer scale of the killing he's done and destruction he's unleashed on his own people - of a totally different scale to Saddam Hussein and even his father, from whom he seems to have inherited his psychopathic tendencies -renders the idea that he could continue to rule a "united" Syria or even the majority of it, laughable.

Mauryan dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:52
Partition would create more Assads.
Jemima15 , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
If you get rid of Assad, whoever replaces him is going to have a very difficult task. How on Earth do you enforce any sort of civilized law and order in a country which has some of the worst terrorist organizations the world has ever known. With organizations like ISIS around, a government is gong to need to take a firm hand somewhere. It's not as if you can send Jihadists on community service and expect them to come back as reformed characters.
DanielDee , 12 Apr 2017 13:46
Regime change? Why not?
Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi would make a fine statesman!
Pipcosta DanielDee , 12 Apr 2017 14:03
Until he turns on his mater
IamDolf , 12 Apr 2017 13:45
Fact is that Assad still enjoys considerable support among Syrians. In particular among those who have no problem with a woman going to the beach in a bikini and driving a car to work. He is not giong anywhere soon. And if he did, the situation would be worse. As in the case of the butcher Saddam Hussein and the crazy dictator Khadaffi, who also were supposedly removed in an attempt to bring "freedom and democracy to the people."
diddoit IamDolf , 12 Apr 2017 13:49
Syria was one of the few countries in the ME where you could drink alcohol. Does anyone believe whoever follows Assad be it someone picked by the US/Israel/KSA/Qatar will be quite so tolerant?
Patin , 12 Apr 2017 13:43
Why can't world leaders be held to account for their crimes against humanity? Is it not about time that they are compelled to comply with international law and for the United Nations Assembly to make them so by enforceable resolutions passed by a majority vote?

Assad is a tyrant who should be removed from office and held accountable for his crimes against humanity. Syrians should be entitled to a government that is respectful of their human rights.

The UN should take responsibility for enforcing a permanent ceasefire and brokering talks to secure Syria's future. It should require as a condition of UN membership compliance with and adherence to international law protecting human rights. Non compliance should be met with expulsion and the economic isolation of the country concerned from the rest of the world.

freeandfair Patin , 12 Apr 2017 16:19
> Why can't world leaders be held to account for their crimes against humanity?

You should start with American leaders like Bush. If you are serious about this.

roachclip , 12 Apr 2017 13:42

There is no shortcut to lasting peace. As uncomfortable as it is, the best that western governments can do is provide aid and assistance to those in distress, while pressuring those countries that continue to feed money and weapons to the combatants to change their positions.

You are absolutely right.

Such a pity then that the western governments in question, the UK, America and to a lesser extent, France, are in fact the same entities, via their surrogate power in the middle east, Saudi Arabia, who are the ones providing the weapons and money.

Just as they did in Iraq and Libya, and always for the same reason, to achieve regime change against the Middle Eastern leaders who were threatening their control of the oil market.

This situation is nothing new, these Western Powers have been attacking various parts of the Middle East for nigh on a century. Winston Churchill was responsible for bombing Iraq in the 1920's. That also was to achieve regime change.

All of the deaths and the destruction in the Middle East can ultimately be laid at the door of the 'Western Powers' and their willingness to do anything to protect their oil interests.

Taku2 , 12 Apr 2017 13:35
One of the most despicable thing about the West's attempts to bribe, entice and force Russia into abandoning the Syrian Government, so that America, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia can rush in, like hyenas to finish off a wounded animal, is how patronising they have been towards the Russians and Iranians. Granted that their racism towards the Russians might not be what it is towards the Syrian state, which they want to deny a voice and disrespect to the extent of talking to the Russians, and ignoring the Syrian government.

Yes, the West is behaving towards the Syrian state as if it is just something for it to manipulate, as it does with the global economy. Not having made any progress in manipulating the Syrian proxy conflict into the outcomes it wants, the West has now resorted to making merciless and unjustified attacks on Russian and the Iranians. Despite the fact that it is Russia and the Syrian government forces and their Hezbollah allies who have broken the impasse in this terrible war.
It is scurrilous that there should now be this coordinated media and political campaign to make Russia out to be 'the bad guy', the 'devil', as it were.

As for 'the liberals', well, guess what, if you want to do something constructive. Then stop blaming Russia and demonising the Russians, the Syrian Government and their allies. Look closer to home, to America, To Britain, to France and Saudi Arabia. There you will find more demons disguised as 'humanitarians' and 'angels' than probably in all of Russia and Syria.
The guys in the West who are posturing as angels are no less culpable than the Syrian government.
Of course the West should not destroy the Syrian state and government. But, since when has logic prevented this cartel from exercising its destructive force? As Libya, Iraq and Yemen have proven? The liberals need to grow up and stop being allied to the right.

Arapas Taku2 , 12 Apr 2017 13:42

so that America, France, Britain and Saudi Arabia can rush in, like hyenas to finish off a wounded animal

Your point is of great importance.
Now that Russia has done the dirty work at great cost, pushing them out of the way.........................
That will not happen, Rex was told by Sergei.

Arapas , 12 Apr 2017 13:34
robust belief in a supposed American ability to fix what is wrong.

Is meant to be the joke of the month.
What did they ever fix ? Just look what the Korean war has lead to.
Vietnam, where the Americans were defeated, is now a united and peaceful country.
On the other hand, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other regime change candidates have been reduced to failed states.

In Syria, the fate of the Alwites will be the same of that of women and children cowering in St Sophia in 1453.
Utter slaughter!

ganaruvian , 12 Apr 2017 13:32
Firstly, we have yet to see the results of any impartial investigation checking out the Syrian/Russian version of events about the gas in Idlib province, which could be true. Nobody that I can see is 'supporting' the use of gas against civilians, but it is known that the bigger terrorist organisations such as ISIS and al Qaeda do have stocks of poison gas. Secondly,so many uninformed commentators have not understood that Syria's 6 year war has been and remains a religious war! Asad's Shiite/ Alawite/Christian/ Druse/ Ismaili communities and other minorities supported by Iran and Lebanon's Shiites, fighting for their very survival against Saudi/ Qatari/Gulf States' extremist Wahhabi fighters, who via ISIS ,Al Qaeda and similar Islamists, want to wipe them off the face of the earth (with Turkey playing a double game). At this very moment people are condemning Assad for bombing civilians, whilst the US-led coalition including our own RAF, is doing exactly the same thing in the ISIS held city of Mosul -for the same reasons. The rebels take over and then surround themselves in cities, with civilians, hoping that these horrors will raise western public opinion against the government forces trying to defeat them. The 'half- informed' public opinion is now behaving in exactly this predictable way against the Syrian government, trying to deal with its own religious extremist rebels, many of whom are not even Syrians. It was always a war that the west should stay out of -other peoples religious wars are incomprehensible to non-believers in that particular faith. To talk now of replacing Asad is juvenile and mischievous - maybe that's why Boris is so engaged?
Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 13:20
Assad is the lesser of two evils. Those who are hailed as rebels pose an enormous threat to our security.
jonnyross Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 13:44
There is an equality of evil between Assad and ISIS. That said, Assad's forces and their Shia allies have slaughtered the vast majority of the victims.

Both Assad and ISIS will lose eventually. How many Syrians are slaughtered in the meantime is anyone's guess.

Why murderous dictators are so popular btl is a mystery.

john evans , 12 Apr 2017 13:20
Syria is finished.
According to Wikipedia Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, per opposition activist groups, vary between 321,358 and 470,000.
On 23 April 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria put out an estimate of 400,000 that had died in the war.

Also,according to Wikipedia I n 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria. In January 2017, UNHCR counted 4,863,684 registered refugees.
Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees.

Before the troubles,Syria had a population of 23 million.
No country could go back to normality after that upheaval.

Arapas john evans , 12 Apr 2017 13:37

No country could go back to normality after that upheaval.

It can --
Look at Chechnya! A newly rebuilt Grosny, living in peace.
Bearing in mind Iraq, Libya etc who wants to see that --

NativeBornTexan Arapas , 12 Apr 2017 14:08
Chechnya is ruled by a Russian puppet dictator who executes gay men.
Shad O NativeBornTexan , 12 Apr 2017 15:13
That's because politics is heartlessly, ruthlessly, compassionlessly pragmatic. If having a pet local petty king in the area keeps it stable and does not a politically costly military operation, everything else is seen as "acceptable collateral damage".

It's funny but western foreign policy is fundamentally the same in the methods, just different in goals. If the goal of regime change is achieved and political points collected, everything else is completely irrelevant. Opposition can become "moderately islamist", "democratic" rebels may implement sharia law, "precision strikes" may cause tens of thousands of civilian casualties, but it's all for the greater good.

Pipcosta , 12 Apr 2017 13:18
Why do we send a sewer rat to the UN as our ambassador
brianboru1014 , 12 Apr 2017 13:14
Every time the West especially the Anglo west of the USA and Britain intervene in another countries affairs, the end product is a disaster so for that reason alone these two societies which can only communicate in English should leave this to the Russians.
Ruby4 , 12 Apr 2017 13:13
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Albert Einstein

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

Chilcot report: Findings at-a-glance:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36721645

FFC800 , 12 Apr 2017 13:08
This almost manages to achieve sense, and it's good to see an article not promoting regime change for once, but it still falls short of stating the truth that the correct policy in Syria is to help Assad win the war, and then impose conditions on his conduct in the peace.

He has reduced once great Syrian cities such as Homs and Aleppo to rubble. All six of Syria's Unesco world heritage sites have been damaged.

Most of that was done by rebels.
jackrousseau , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
I must now begrudgingly thank the Trump Administration for causing me to realize a profound and universal truth. History doesn't rhyme at all; it parodies.

The build up to our inevitable Syria invasion is essentially an SNL parody of our Iraq invasion. All the way down to allegations of to "hidden stockpiles of WMDs", "gassing own citizens", "violation of no WMD agreement", "weapons inspectors not doing job", and most recently "Assad/Saddam is Hitler". All that's left is the final piece of evidence to tip public opinion in...the holy grail, "yellowcake uranium".

Of course, 6 months ago --with full knowledge of Saddam's gassing of the Kurds--Trump said toppling Hussein was a "uge" mistake and defended him as an "efficient killer of terrorists". "Efficient" indeed... https://cnn.com/cnn/2016/07/05/politics/donald-trump-saddam-hussein-iraq-terrorism/index.html

I'm not sure exactly what comes next (presumably Trump declaring an "Axis of Evil" consisting of Syria, ISIS, Iran, N.Korea...and perhaps Russia and/or China or both...thus setting the stage for a hilarious parody of WWII).

Who knows...I guess at least it's interesting.

John Smythe , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
Perhaps dear Boris should have had more talks with the British government to find out what is the political position of the conservative government over Syria, and more importantly with Russia. So far the American have by the look of things, telling the British Government in what they want, not bothering to ask what Britain thinks what is important.
There is actually no point in swapping one master the EU, to handcuff ourselves to the a far more right wing America.
bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 13:00
I find the commments on here quite confusing...

Take Isil and jihadists out of the equation and what you're left with are people that want to oust a tyrannical and unelected leader who clearly has nothing but disdain for his people (groups of at least).

Those rebels (or freedom fighters) are being seen as the bad guys it seems to me...?

The only reason I can see for this is that they have slight support from the United States.

Had the boot been on the other foot and the US we're supporting Assad and Russia,the rebels (freedom fighters) I'm quite sure public opinion (Guardian readers at least) would be quite different.

So what do the Syrian rebels who are looking to overthrow a dictator have to do to be put on a pedestal of righteousness as Castro was for effectively trying to achieve the same end goal....

Oh, that's right, Castro was trying to stick it to the Yanks.... now I get it.

dusktildawn bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 13:34
I think there's a definite strain of anti-Americanism on display however cautiously we have to view their actions after Iraq and give their closeness to the Gulf States. A quarter of the country has fled Assad, some 10 million internally displaced not to mention the incredible numbers of dead and wounded.

And yet there's a close minded reflex to say that things will be better off with him in charge ignoring even the possibility of partition, which strikes me as the most plausible option. The idea that Assad can now after all he's done rule a united country indefinitely putting a lid on refugees and terrorism strikes me as utterly preposterous.

bemusedfromdevon dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 14:11
My sentiments entirely and it shocks me that there are a considerable number of Assad apologists commenting on here as he is clearly seen as a better 'devil' than Trump...

I'm just very pleased I don't live in Syria and I think the run of the mill Syrian dying in their droves due to gas, bombs or simply drowning in the Med would be horrified to read a large number of comments on here in relation to this article and how Assad 'isn't such a bad old stick!'

I'm embarrassed to be honest....

Shad O bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 15:25

Take Isil and jihadists out of the equation and what you're left with

what you are left is nothing. This was the big point since 2013, when Nusra began taking over the last remnants of the FSA. Since then Cameron (or was it Hammond) had to coin the term "relatively hardline islamists" to make some of the jihadi groups somewhat acceptable.

In its latest iteration, Nusra (now rebranded yet againTahrir al-Sham) has formally absorbed several other "rebel" group, including the Nour al-Din al-Zenki, who were in the past equipped by the US, and were quoted by various agencies (including this paper) as "opposition" during the recapture of Aleppo.

Ah, yes, you also have the Kurds, who are building their own state. But if there is something all the local powers agree on (Russia, US, Turkey, Syria, Iraq...) is that they don't want an independent Kurdish state.

NezPerce , 12 Apr 2017 12:58

President Obama was heavily criticized for not doing more in Syria, but he made a difficult decision that was in many ways the right on.

Obama required cover from the British Parliament. Bombing Syria was incredibly unpopular with the UK public from right to left. David Miliband listened to the public and stopped the bombing of Syria. Nobody expected a Labour politician to dare to oppose the US war machine, it took them all by surprise.

Bombing Syria was incredibly unpopular with the US public and the European public, Miliband saved us from ISIS and Al Nusra both al Qaeda franchises running Syria.

The BBC routinely portrays the Libertarian right wing in the USA as Isolationists but if you hear it from them they are anti-war. The American working class understands what war is like in the middle east because many of them have experienced it. They are clearly anti another war in the middle east. proof:

https://www.infowars.com/exclusive-michael-savage-begs-trump-to-stop-wwiii/

In this off the cuff interview Michael Savage begs Donald Trump to not plunge the world into another world war that could destroy life as we know it

.

Trump has been subjugated by the deep state, his base is outraged and in despair.

dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:58
You could argue this isn't about regime change per se but prosecuting a dictator for targeting and massacring civilians. And surely the same rationale can be used against Isis. In other words you don't allow mass murderers to take. Over but prosecute them as well.
Mates Braas dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 15:05
You can start proceedings against your own war criminals. There is a long list of them, stretching from, Paris, London, Washington and Tel Aviv.
freeandfair dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 16:41
In that case North Korea and Saudi Arabia should be on top of the list.
Trekkie555 , 12 Apr 2017 12:57
Good article. Hits the nail on the head. Regime change may be required for Syria the G7 and Arab countries must come together to carefully plan what happens afterwards.
Nolens , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
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diddoit , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
'Monster' Assad was courted by western leaders: Remember the Assads pictured taking tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen(google it) , Blair all smiles in Damascus. The Kerry family pictured in Damascus enjoying a late evening supper with the Assads(google it).

But Bashar al-Assad is a stubborn man , he wouldn't distance himself from Iran and their proxies such as Hezbollah, thus his fate was sealed.

zolotoy diddoit , 12 Apr 2017 12:59
Nope, wrong. Assad wouldn't give the USA, Qatar, and Turkey a nice pipeline to kneecap Russian natural gas sales in Europe.

It's all about oil and money, petrodollars and ensuring American worldwide hegemony.

sokkynick zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 13:07
+1
diddoit zolotoy , 12 Apr 2017 13:42
Well it's all tied in . People talk about Israel wanting the Golan Heights permanently in part due to oil interests, they talk about Qatar and the gas pipeline to Europe Assad refuses. They talk about the KSA being unnerved by Iran's growing influence in the region after the Iraq war, and how it would suit KSA , Israel and the US for Sunni leadership to emerge in Syria to rebalance the region.

I think it's all of the above . Which isn't what US/UK populations are being told.

Ilan Klinger , 12 Apr 2017 12:53
A regime changing in Syria?
Can someone here try and convince me that the State of Syria still exists?
And change it from what to what?From a Murderouscracy to a Oppressionocracy?
peterwiv , 12 Apr 2017 12:52
The West learns nothing from its mistakes. Can't we understand that our real enemy is ISIS and that springs directly from our disastrous invasion of Iraq? Assad may be pretty awful but surely we should be able to comprehend that he is an ally in the fight against ISIS just as the far more horrible Stalin was an ally against the Nazis.
Just because Trump suddenly talks about "beautiful babies", we all go mad again.
aleph , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
Syria is going to need serious amounts of aid and foreign investment to recover when peace starts to take hold. But Assad cannot travel internationally because he will be subject to arrest. At least in any civilised country. So he will be gone one way or antithetical. Putin has backed the wrong horse. It's too handicapped to run.
elaine naude aleph , 12 Apr 2017 15:43
Who should he have backed? - Isis?
algae64 , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
Until the Saudis, US & UK decide that enough is enough, then this idiocy will continue. Assad is a better leader for Syria than Isis, Al Qaeda, or the other Saudi-backed groups would be.

Syria was secular and religiously tolerant under Assad. It won't be either of those things if Assad is deposed. More than likely, it would end up as a Saudi-style Islamic theocracy with the harshest head-chopping, hand-chopping version of sharia law.

BorisMalden , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble

Did Assad deliberately bring his country into civil war? When his forces are being attacked by rebels sponsored by foreign groups, he really only has two choices: give up leadership and allow the rebels to take over the country, or fight back. Given that you're arguing that a regime change is a bad idea it logically follows that you support the second option, so it hardly seems fair to criticise him for the consequences of that resistance. You might do better to blame the rebels and those who sponsor them for bringing war to what was previously a (relatively) peaceful country.

Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
This Regime Change Policy adopted by the US and in many, if not all cases, supported by the UK, whilst in some case toppling Dictators, has left nothing but chaos in its wake.
We need to consider the case of Syria, very carefully, as we may well find ourselves handing the Country to ISIL on a plate.
Better to help Assad stabilise the Country, and then discuss political change.
The rhetoric coming from the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, can do nothing to help, but make the UK look stupid.
aleph Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:56
"Better to help Assad stabilise the Country"

Hahahahaha, collude with crimes against humanity in the name of stability and call it progress because after six years we cannot think of an alternative. Great.

Oldfranky aleph , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
Are you sure it's only Assad, laugh all you will.
BorisMalden , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
He has reduced once great Syrian cities like Homs and Aleppo to rubble

Did Assad deliberately bring his country into civil war? When his forces are being attacked by rebels sponsored by foreign groups, he really only has two choices: give up leadership and allow the rebels to take over the country, or fight back. Given that you're arguing that a regime change is a bad idea it logically follows that you support the second option, so it hardly seems fair to criticise him for the consequences of that resistance. You might do better to blame the rebels and those who sponsor them for bringing war to what was previously a (relatively) peaceful country.

Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:46
This Regime Change Policy adopted by the US and in many, if not all cases, supported by the UK, whilst in some case toppling Dictators, has left nothing but chaos in its wake.
We need to consider the case of Syria, very carefully, as we may well find ourselves handing the Country to ISIL on a plate.
Better to help Assad stabilise the Country, and then discuss political change.
The rhetoric coming from the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, can do nothing to help, but make the UK look stupid.
aleph Oldfranky , 12 Apr 2017 12:56
"Better to help Assad stabilise the Country"

Hahahahaha, collude with crimes against humanity in the name of stability and call it progress because after six years we cannot think of an alternative. Great.

Oldfranky aleph , 12 Apr 2017 13:58
Are you sure it's only Assad, laugh all you will.
Foracivilizedworld , 12 Apr 2017 12:44

Regime change in Syria? That would be a mistake

Absolutely no... it will be a colossal disaster... and would explode the entire region affecting not only all ME countries including Israel, but will extend to Europe and NA, You can't keep it all "Over There"

And I think Trump would do it.

SaracenBlade , 12 Apr 2017 12:43
Regime change, evidently the US has n't learned from the past experience. Look at Iraq, Lybia, regime change has resulted in complete chaos, instability, and perpetual conflict. Syrian population is strictly divided on sectarian line - Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Kurds. Who is going to make a cohesive government capable of running the affairs of the state? Bashar Assaad's father, Hafiz Assaad ruled Syria with an iron grip, he understood Syrian sectarian divide.
notDonaldTrump SaracenBlade , 12 Apr 2017 12:49
'regime change has resulted in complete chaos, instability, and perpetual conflict.'

If one tried to think impartially the evidence might lead one to think that was the plan all along.

BlueCollar notDonaldTrump , 12 Apr 2017 15:50
If any country needs regime change, it is Saudi Arabia. All important positions are controlled by hundreds of Royals of Al Saud, even honest criticism of royals brings you closer to the back swing of executioner .
timefliesby , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Have we learnt nothing?
zolotoy timefliesby , 12 Apr 2017 12:54
Some of us have learned to be very comfortable with scraps from the war machine table -- Western legacy media in particular.
moreorless2 , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
My newsagent loves Assad. Why because he's a Syrian Christian. Assad is the only hope for the minority's in Syria. All of the opposition groups are some variation on Islamic nationalists. They will all happily slaughter anyone not of their faith. Assad is a murdering bastard but he kills those that threaten him. In Middle Eastern terms he's a liberal.
Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 12:39
Quite right. What the people of Syria need is stability and an end to the fighting. All else is secondary. In particular, the greatest crime that the West has committed in recent decades is the attempt to foist democracy on countries like Syria and Iraq, where it simply does not work. Even now, Western liberals dream of sitting Sunni, Shia, Alevi, Kurds, secularists and Islamic militants around a table to talk through to a democratic and mutually acceptable future for Syria. This is a fantasy - as democracy always is in heavily tribalised societies. It can only end in renewed civil war and inevitable dictatorship. I often wonder whether the West is just naive in these attempts at liberal cultural imperialism, or whether they are in fact a cynical front to mask the equally egregious aim of checkmating Russian influence in the region. Either way, shame on us.
StrongMachine Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
Are you calling George W Bush a liberal?
PSmd Terra_Infirma , 12 Apr 2017 13:07
It's not liberal cultural imperialism. It's painted as that to sell to domestic audiences.

It's liberal economic imperialism.

sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
Now to be fair, no one knows really what the president is thinking, not even apparently his chief diplomat or his UN envoy, who have sent conflicting messages. But let's cut to the chase – this is a very, very bad idea.

WW3 is definately a very very bad idea.
The idea that the US can change the government of another country for the better is born of US arrogance and lying manipulation.

juster , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
It's a bit funny that we just casually mention that the country harping on about the respect of the international rule book sinc 2014 vaiolate one of the core UN charter principles 72 times and is openly speaking of braking it the 73th time.

Jsut picture China saying openly their goal is to change the Abe regime in Tokio or Russia to change the regime in Kiev. They can't even have a pefered presidential candidate without mass interference hysteria and we just feel like it's A OK to go around the world changing who's in charge of countries.

freeandfair juster , 12 Apr 2017 16:58
> They can't even have a pefered presidential candidate without mass interference hysteria and we just feel like it's A OK to go around the world changing who's in charge of countries.

An excellent point.

bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 12:35
There are two main choices... Regime change... which hasn't worked out well where it's been attempted or just let the despots get on with it...

There are no easy answers but perhaps the only way is to let dictators crush and annihilate their opposition, utilise death squads to make dissenters disappear in the dead of night and, outwardly at least pretend everything is rosey....

If we, as a civilised society are able to 'look the other way' then that might be the simple answer... just hope everyone can sleep well at night and be grateful that, however much you hate our present government they aren't out gassing (allegedly) Guardian readers.

Jared Hall bemusedfromdevon , 12 Apr 2017 12:42
Not gassing people no, but still killing plenty of "innocent little babies" bombing hospitals and helping the Saudis cluster bomb fishing villages. Why don't we see pictures on TV of Yemeni kids mutilated by American bombs? How do we sleep with that?
bemusedfromdevon Jared Hall , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
We're pulling the trigger??

And that makes supporting a tyrant who will do anything a satisfactory solution to you?

Sounds like crocodile tears to me.

SterlingPound Jared Hall , 12 Apr 2017 13:11
Well, we saw the aftermath of a deliberate attack by Saudis planes on a clearly demarcated Yemeni hospital on the BBC last year. The first rocket hit an arriving ambulance with civilian casualties and a doctor on board. The response of the Saudi shills in the Commons - what is it about the British upper class and the Arabs, I wonder - was to demand forcefully that the Saudis set up an inquiry to examine the evidence of a war crime.
It should have been sadly obvious from the get-go that we had to back Assad before he attempted to beat his father's record for murder and repression, the whole family's fucking insane, but it's long past too late now. He's soiled goods and Tillerson's untutored idea of elections is surely farcical.
Muzzledagain , 12 Apr 2017 12:35
Fair article, although ISI and rebels actively participated in the destruction of Syria. If Assad falls, anarchy due to vacuum will follow, guaranteed. Agree with the last paragraph in particular and still wondering why they (the West) don't do it especially pressuring the countries that feed the rebels, and they are not so moderate, with money and weapon. Unless this is because of the infamous pipeline. Tragic state of affair indeed.
Aethelfrith , 12 Apr 2017 12:31
Decade after decade, the west has interfered or overthrown government after governemnt , all over the world , mainly for the benefit of capitalist puppeteers . America has been the worst , one only has to look at the CIA's track record in South America when legitimately elected governments were ousted by force so that "American business" interest were looked after.
This same vested self interest has been the driving force over the last few years. The interventions in Iraq , Libya, Afghanistan have all been total disasters fro the regions and resulted in more deaths than any tin pot dictator could have achieved. Backing so called "moderate" terrorists seems to be the excuse to get involved.
More moral achievement and good could have been achieved by widespread dropping of food around the world , or even the cost of the military hegemony being given as cash handouts to poor people , but this simplistic altruism does not allow for the geopolitical control games that is the true beating heart of western aggression.
austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:30
And it will serve as a welcome distraction from the lack of domestic achievements by the U.S. govt.
Fort Sumpter austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:36
Theresa could also do with some distraction from her shambolic government and the whole Brexit disaster.
timefliesby austinpratt , 12 Apr 2017 12:44
Got to agree. Dead cat. Nobody is talking about links and the FBI any more and Putin is mentioned on a new context.
Approval ratings from US voters?
Moo1234 Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:45
We are all Brexiteers now. I voted remain, but accept the democratic will of the people. Blame David Cameron and get on with the job of making a success of it, rather than whining about it....
dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:30
What if this was Apartheid era South Africa and the white minority were bombing the hell out of the majority black civilians who wanted them out?
duthealla dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 12:49
Nobody intervened in South Africa despite massacres like Sharpeville....perhaps it would've let to full on racial war though?
dusktildawn duthealla , 12 Apr 2017 12:55
I'm just saying people making the case for the West to back off would probably be saying the opposite in that case if the white minority were massacring black people on the scale of Syria. Isn't that hypocrisy?
Fort Sumpter dusktildawn , 12 Apr 2017 13:04
It isn't hypocrisy because your South African scenario bears little resemblance to what is happening in Syria. Simple as that.
Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:28
Boris obviously has a more pressing engagement over Easter.
BeanstalkJack , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Regime change - a phrase that reminds us imperialism is alive and well.
Gandalf66 BeanstalkJack , 12 Apr 2017 12:47
The successful regime changes mentioned in the article such as Poland and the rest of the Eastern bloc were initiated by the people themselves, rather than the the "help" of a foreign power.
BeanstalkJack Gandalf66 , 12 Apr 2017 13:03
The people did it all by themselves did they? So nothing to do with the economic collapse of the Soviet Union caused by an arms race ramped up by President Reagan. Nothing to do with a very costly war in Afghanistan?
sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:27
Given the situation, it is understandable why some people may think ousting Assad is necessary. Such thinking has a long pedigree in the United States, where there is a robust belief in a supposed American ability to fix what is wrong.

I think the word is arrogance rather than belief.

Mates Braas sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 14:51
I think the word is arrogance rather than belief...............and exceptionalism.
brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Trump is the new boy on the block, trying to use missiles as a penis substitute.

Sorry, but simple definitions are sometimes correct.

yshani brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 13:19
Would you have said the same thing in 1917 and 1940. Would you have said the same thing in the duration of the cold war. If US did not have a bigger penis then you would not be around to comment about it.

Long live the US penis and may it grow longer and stronger.

brucebaby yshani , 12 Apr 2017 13:26
WW2 was won principally by the USSR, who suffered many more casualties than the western alliances. The cold war would not have happened if not for the USA.

Sorry, the USA is more of a threat to the planet than any country, and Trump is unintelligent, a real threat to the world.

MacMeow brucebaby , 12 Apr 2017 17:01

WW2 was won principally by the USSR

That old clunker again, it's like the war in the Pacific never happened.

Sorry4Soul , 12 Apr 2017 12:26
Why it would be a mistake ?
Libya was such a success story.
Trumbledon , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
Finally, at long last, some sense.

I agree wholeheartedly; by far the best analysis I've read in this paper.

sokkynick , 12 Apr 2017 12:24
If the US wants Assad ousted, they should support a UN investigation to find out WHO was at fault. Shoot first questions later? Hollywood Wild West thinking. The US has zero credibility. You simply cannot blame someone without having the facts independently checked out. Yet they didn't wait and decided to break interantional law instead.
joAnn chartier , 12 Apr 2017 12:23
There seems to be a crucial component of reality lacking in this opinion piece: rather than bombing and droning and etc, why does the 'world order' not stop the manufacture and distribution of weapons of mass destruction like barrel bombs, nuclear warheads etc etc -- where profits are made by arms manufacturers and their investors--oh, could that be the reason?
Fakecharitybuster , 12 Apr 2017 12:20
Quite. Assad is awful, but he is less awful that the Islamist alternatives, which are the only realistic alternatives. We should stop posturing and accept this unpalatable reality.
ganaruvian Fakecharitybuster , 12 Apr 2017 13:40
Spot-on!
Viva_Kidocelot , 12 Apr 2017 12:20
Much more level reporting, but still is framing the narrative as a brutal gas attack and is still a rush to judgement when the case is that bombs were dropped on a supply of toxic gas, most likely Phosgene.
Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:19
At last, some common sense. like Saddam and Gaddafi, Assad is a ruthless tyrant. What the West, including the petulant Boris Johnson need to realise is that Syria ISN'T the West. Don't impose your values on a country that isn't ready for them. The sickening hypocrisy of the British government would look very foolish if Putin pulled out and allowed Syria to fall to isis. Would Boris and Theresa put British troops on the ground to keep the extremists out of Turkey?
Gandalf66 Moo1234 , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
Why isn't Syria ready for Western values? After what the country has been through the people would probably leap at the chance of free elections. Prior to the conflict Syria was a multi-ethnic patchwork. Whatever happens to the country needs to be decided by the Syrians themselves.
Mates Braas Gandalf66 , 12 Apr 2017 14:50
"Why isn't Syria ready for Western values?"

The geopolitical status quo in the Middle East is unstable, and tribal affiliations/religious/ ethnic allegiances need to be carefully balanced and controlled. Something Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iraq achieved reasonably peacefully for many years before all the US led interventions.

There is no evidence that the terrorists are fighting for democracy, although if westerners ask them that is what they will likely say.

shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:18
So Trump is unfit to govern because of his locker room humour and possible antics, but gas a few thousand people and hey presto! A darling of the left.
bemusedfromdevon shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:22
That's how it seems...
Fort Sumpter shockolat1 , 12 Apr 2017 12:25
Not the left. These writers are pro-British Establishment, pro mixed economy liberals. Soft right if anything.
zolotoy Fort Sumpter , 12 Apr 2017 12:51
You're talking about this rag. Take a look at what's coming out of Howard Dean's mouth, or Bernie Sanders's, or practically any Democrat in Washington not named Tulsi Gabbard.

Or, if you have a really strong stomach, take a look at Daily Kos.

They're what passes for "left" in America, unfortunately, because the number of SWP and Green Party members is statistically insignificant.

richmanchester , 12 Apr 2017 12:17
"Given the situation, it is understandable why some people may think ousting Assad is necessary"

The Guardian reported that in Libya, the last country to benefit from US and "our" attempts at regime change there are now open air slave auctions.

So yeah, why not do the same in Syria; what is there to lose?

Mates Braas , 12 Apr 2017 12:16
Regime change is illegal under international law, except to the rogues of course found in western capitals, and their Gulf vassals. These are the only group of people in the entire planet who talk openly about overthrowing sovereign governments of other countries.

Imperial hubris knows no bounds. <