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( Aug 26, 2017 , www.unz.com )
Oct 30, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org
The Republican Party is home to many a vile reactionary, but its principal function is, and long has been, to serve the most odious wing of the American ruling class.
Before Hillary Clinton threw away a sure victory last November, Donald Trump was well on the way to blowing that dreadful party apart.
No credit is due him, however. The harm he was on track for causing was unintended. Trump was not trying to do the GOP in; he was only promoting his brand and himself.
However, by stirring up longstanding rifts between the party's various factions, he effectively put himself on the side of the angels. Without intending anything of the sort, and without even trying, Trump turned himself into a scourge upon America's debilitating duopoly party system.
As Election Day approached, it was unclear whether the GOP's Old Guard would ever be able to put their genteel thing -- their WASPish Cosa Nostra -- back together again.
With Hillary Clinton in the White House, their odds were maybe fifty-fifty. Had the Democrats nominated a less inept Clintonite like Joe Biden or an old school liberal like Bernie Sanders, their odds would have been worse.
But then, to nearly everyone's surprise, including his own, Trump won -- or, rather, Clinton lost, taking many a Democrat down with her. The debacle wasn't entirely her fault. For years, the Democratic National Committee had been squandering its resources on getting Democratic presidents elected, leaving down ticket Democrats wallowing in malign neglect.
And so, for a while, it looked like the GOP would not only survive Trump, but would thrive because of him.
Even so, Republicans were not exactly riding on Trump's coattails. The party's grandees had problems with the Donald, as did comparatively sane Republican office holders and office seekers; so did Republican-leaning voters in the broader electorate. But with Clinton flubbing so badly, none of this mattered.
Being unfit and unprepared for the office he suddenly found himself holding, Trump had no choice but to call on seasoned Republican apparatchiks for help. Thus he ended up empowering the very people he had beaten into submission months before.
Thus the Republican Party and the Donald became locked together in a bizarre marriage of convenience. Their unholy aliance has by now become a nightmare for all concerned.
Moreover, with each passing day, the situation becomes more fraught – to the point that even Republican Senators, three of them so far, have already said "enough."
Republicans continue to run the House and the Senate, and they occupy hosts of other top government offices, but the Republican Party has gone into damage control mode. It had little choice, inasmuch as its Trump induced, pre-election trajectory is back on track.
After only a brief hiatus, the chances are therefore good once again that if the country and the world survive Trump, he will be remembered mainly for destroying the party that Abraham Lincoln led a century and a half ago.
This is therefore a good time to give Republicans space to destroy themselves and each other, cheering them on from the sidelines – especially as they turn on Trump and he turns on them.
Saving the world from that menace is plainly of paramount importance, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the alternative is arguably even more unpalatable. Trump is an accidental malefactor; he goes where self-interest leads him. Vice President Mike Pence, his constitutionally prescribed successor, is an opportunist too, but he is also a dedicated theocrat and a thoroughgoing reactionary. A skilled casting director could not have come up with a more suitable vector for spreading the plagues that Republican donors like the Koch brothers seek to let loose upon the world.
With Pence in the Oval Office, the chances of nuclear annihilation would diminish, but everything else would be worse. Trump is temperamentally unable to play well with the denizens of the "adult daycare center" that official Washington has become. On the other hand, because his effect on people is more soporific than terrifying, and because he is, by nature, a "pragmatic" conservative -- a mirror image of what Clinton purported to be -- Pence could end up doing more to undermine progress than Trump could ever imagine.
Therefore, Trump's demise, though necessary, would be a mixed blessing, at best.
Trump is not likely to "self-impeach" any time soon; and. at this point, only persons who have the ear of Republican bigwigs can do much of anything to hasten his departure from the scene. But there are other ways to "deconstruct" the duopoly party system -- as Trump's fascisant, pseudo-intellectual (formerly official, now unofficial) advisor, Steve Bannon might infelicitously put it.
After all, Democrats are part of the problem too -- arguably, the major part – and they can hardly remain entirely indifferent to the concerns of voters who lean left. ... ... ... ANDREW LEVINE is the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What's Wrong With the Opium of the People . He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press
May 15, 2016 | www.youtube.com
The Pinochet File is a National Security Archive book written by Peter Kornbluh. About the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159...
It covers over approximately two decades of declassified documents, from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), White House, and United States Department of State, regarding American covert activities in Chile. It is based on more than 24,000 previously classified documents that were released as part of the Chilean Declassification Project during the Clinton administration, between June 1999 and June 2000.
The Pinochet File was selected as one of "The Best Books of 2003" in the nonfiction category by the Los Angeles Times. The New Yorker said, "The evidence that Kornbluh has gathered is overwhelming." in its review. The Newsweek review of The Pinochet File describes it as "...actually two distinct but intersecting books. The first is a narrative account of the Nixon administration's involvement in Chile. Its mission was to make sure that Allende's election in 1970 didn't serve as a model for leftist candidates elsewhere. The second consists of the reproduction of hundreds of salient intelligence documents released in 1999 and 2000 in response to requests by President Bill Clinton."
The inclusion of key source documents allows the reader not only to corroborate Kornbluh's findings, but to acquire a flavor of the extent of U.S. covert activities within Chile, and to understand the tenor of conversation in the White House and CIA regarding Salvador Allende's presidency. While the U.S. claimed to support Chile and its democratic election process, the documents show intricate and extensive attempts first to prevent Allende from being elected, and then to overthrow him with a coup d'état. The coup d'état required first removing the commander in chief of the Chilean armed forces (General René Schneider), who opposed military interference in political situations; he was assassinated by CIA-funded coup plotters (retired General Roberto Viaux and active duty General Camilo Valenzuela). Once Augusto Pinochet took power, his human rights violations were tolerated, even though the U.S. knew that thousands of people had been detained and American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi murdered. The CIA fostered an extensive cover-up of its involvement in fomenting the coup, including dissembling to the Church Committee. The White House also withheld key documents. Subsequently, the role of the US in this period of history was not correctly understood based solely on the findings released at that time. Furthermore, extensive black propaganda, especially in El Mercurio, shaped world perceptions of Allende, essentially painting him as a Communist pawn and portraying the wreckage of the Chilean economy as due to his decisions. In contrast, the declassified documents show that Richard Nixon enacted an "invisible blockade" in concert with American multinational corporations and international banking organizations, which were pressured to withhold loan refinancing. Consequently, much of the history that has been written without access to these documents may need to be reexamined, as Kornbluh discusses in the book's introduction:
Indeed, the documents contain new information on virtually every major issue, episode, and scandal that pockmark this controversial era. They cover events such as Project FUBELT, the CIA's covert action to block Salvador Allende from becoming president of Chile in the fall of 1970; the assassination of Chilean commander-in-chief René Schneider; U.S. strategy and operations to destabilize the Allende government; the degree of American support for the coup; the postcoup executions of American citizens; the origins and operations of Pinochet's secret police, DINA, CIA ties to DINA chief Manuel Contreras, Operation Condor, the terrorist car-bombing of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington, D.C., the murder by burning of Washington resident Rodrigo Rojas, and Pinochet's final efforts to thwart a transition to civilian rule.
The inclusion of key source documents provide a rare behind-the-scenes view of covert regime change in operation. Key documents from the CIA, United States National Security Council (NSC), White House, DIA, and State Department were declassified in the year 2000. The more than 24,000 records correspond to an average of about three records per day gathered over two decades and Kornbluh's analysis was not complete and in print until 2003.
Image By Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile. [CC BY 2.0 cl ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b... )], via Wikimedia Commons
Latinoamericano Soy , 1 year agoThank you, I really enjoyed this documentary, it summarizes what many latinoamericans know or sense, in fact the same type of interventions have taken place in Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Granada, Bolivia, Cuba, not to mention many other countries in the rest of the planet. It's pure modern imperialism.
Oct 13, 2016 | The Washington Post
While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere. It has occupied and intervened militarily in a whole swath of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America and fomented coups against democratically elected populists .
The most infamous episodes include the ousting of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 - whose government was replaced by an authoritarian monarchy favorable to Washington - the removal and assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961, and the violent toppling of socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende, whose government was swept aside in 1973 by a military coup led by the ruthless Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
For decades, these actions were considered imperatives of the Cold War, part of a global struggle against the Soviet Union and its supposed leftist proxies. Its key participants included scheming diplomats like John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger, who advocated aggressive, covert policies to stanch the supposedly expanding threat of communism. Sometimes that agenda also explicitly converged with the interests of U.S. business: In 1954, Washington unseated Guatemala's left-wing president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had had the temerity to challenge the vast control of the United Fruit Co., a U.S. corporation, with agrarian laws that would be fairer to Guatemalan farmers. The CIA went on to install and back a series of right-wing dictatorships that brutalized the impoverished nation for almost half a century.
A young Che Guevara, who happened to be traveling through Guatemala in 1954, was deeply affected by Arbenz's overthrow. He later wrote to his mother that the events prompted him to leave "the path of reason" and would ground his conviction in the need for radical revolution over gradual political reform.... ... ...
" Aside from its instigation of coups and alliances with right-wing juntas, Washington sought to more subtly influence elections in all corners of the world. And so did Moscow. Political scientist Dov Levin calculates that the "two powers intervened in 117 elections around the world from 1946 to 2000 - an average of once in every nine competitive elections. "
In the late 1940s, the newly established CIA cut its teeth in Western Europe, pushing back against some of the continent's most influential leftist parties and labor unions. In 1948, the United States propped up Italy's centrist Christian Democrats and helped ensure their electoral victory against a leftist coalition, anchored by one of the most powerful communist parties in Europe. CIA operatives gave millions of dollars to their Italian allies and helped orchestrate what was then an unprecedented, clandestine propaganda campaign : This included forging documents to besmirch communist leaders via fabricated sex scandals, starting a mass letter-writing campaign from Italian Americans to their compatriots, and spreading hysteria about a Russian takeover and the undermining of the Catholic Church.
"We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets," recounted F. Mark Wyatt , the CIA officer who handled the mission and later participated in more than 2½ decades of direct support to the Christian Democrats.
This template spread everywhere : CIA operative Edward G. Lansdale, notorious for his efforts to bring down the North Vietnamese government, is said to have run the successful 1953 campaign of Philippines President Ramon Magsaysay. Japan's center-right Liberal Democratic Party was backed with secret American funds through the 1950s and the 1960s. The U.S. government and American oil corporations helped Christian parties in Lebanon win crucial elections in 1957 with briefcases full of cash.
In Chile, the United States prevented Allende from winning an election in 1964. "A total of nearly four million dollars was spent on some fifteen covert action projects, ranging from organizing slum dwellers to passing funds to political parties," detailed a Senate inquiry in the mid-1970s that started to expose the role of the CIA in overseas elections. When it couldn't defeat Allende at the ballot box in 1970, Washington decided to remove him anyway. "
Rude Trevor Vargas, 10/19/2016 11:32 AM EDT
"While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it,"
I laughed out loud when I read this. Was this printed the same day we started bombing Yemen on behalf of one of the world's cruelest regimes, the Saudis? It's always amusing when neoliberals clutch their pearls at the very mention of Assad's crimes against humanity, take a breath, then give the Saudis, who are every bit as horrible, weapons by the ton.
The difference? The Saudis give us oil. Assad doesn't.
Elisi Newell, 10/18/2016 3:18 AM EDT
As the late great Chalmers Johnson aptly observed, the U.S. is a malignant society. To further self-educate, read Johnson's Blowback Trilogy.
Brian Hanley, 10/17/2016 1:25 PM EDT
"While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere."
Excuse me? The USA's worst behavior is right now! The USA fomented a coup in Ukraine, backed the coup against the elected government. We are still calling it the legitimate government of Ukraine. We brought NATO to the brink of war in Europe. And Hunter Biden, who was right in the midst of that, our vice president's son, is now worth $4 billion. This is gross nepotistic corruption at the top level of our government as far as much of the rest of the world is concerned.
Behind us? This is arguably the most corrupt administration in American history.
And then there is the madness we are pursuing in Syria against that government, funding a revolutionary army against the Syrians. What's going on in journalisim's la-la land? Is that because all of that was mostly Hillary's architecting that nobody can mention it?
centex1, 10/17/2016 8:48 AM EDT
Why limit it to elections ? We have a long and meddlesome history of interfering in just about everything - everywhere !!
JohninCT, 10/17/2016 6:51 AM EDT
And, so what else is new? The only thing the rumors of Russian hacking are doing is provide cover for the chosen candidate. Plausible deniability is being set up for Hillary Clinton. "Oh, That treasonous activity wasn't me. It must have been the Russians" Same game the Republicans ran with Tailgunner Joe and the CIA in the '50's.
Stand there and wave some papers in the air alleging proof Hill. It's an old game honed to its finest under John Foster and Alan Dulles and then brought to its finest public lying under Hammering Hank Kissenger keeping us in Viet Nam waiting for Nixon's "secret plan". [Got an extra 10 to 15,000 Americans killed. thanks Henry!] All they had to do was wave the red flag and the lemmings ran off the cliff.
And so Ishann, what else is new. We're now stuck in a war begun during yet another a Republican administration to pay back their friends. And, apparently, clarified for Mr. Obama with the explanation from the military industrial complex that what is called "globalism" is in their best interests and his continued good health in office. And, many of these folks say their conservatives and patriots. they still lie pretty well!
And, so it goes. The Russian hacking myth gives their candidate plausible deniability. And, we'll have a female President who probably should be in Leavenworth and would be if she had been in the military when she conducted her hiding of misuse of classified documents.
As Freedom Flies, 10/17/2016 5:22 AM EDT
You want a one-world government and we are getting closer by the year. Is this not what Globalism was intended to be? Everyone has an opinion?
I think we should just get used to this because this is what the founders of Globalism wanted.
murray1, 10/17/2016 5:21 AM EDT
ever hear of Monroe Doctrine? other countries have similar goals as well.
rogerdsl, 10/16/2016 4:28 PM EDT [Edited]
The true is that the US has to apologize to so many people by the actions of so called "patriots" like Kissinger, who were just long distance criminals and their servants in central and South America.
No wonder it's better not to say that you are an American if you travel there.
In Chile, the US embassy was just a CIA office for the operation to kill the President elected Salvador Allende.
And all this for what? Forty years later there is a socialist as president of Chile.
The university of Chicago was also involved in the coup by sending graduate economics students to drive the Chilean government and inject billions of dollars into the economy.
Dumb and dumber in real life
Wildthing1, 10/16/2016 4:07 PM EDT
Changed? With all of our new technological advances? And the vulnerabilities of the internet published to the entire planet. Add questions of involvement in a military coup against Charles DeGaulle.
Hillary Clinton visiting Honduras just before their coup. Add having Kissinger & Brzezinski as favored advisers. And that the cold war was hyped to create permanent war footing for permanent MIC needing permanent wars to test out new weapons and get rid of the old in spasms of creative destruction.
There have been many to question an anachronistic NATO by the way and it is proving in more all the time.
The question is even more relevant after invading Iraq. How can we live with ourselves and our arrogance of power? Fulbright is a bright as ever.
munchmaquchi269, 10/16/2016 4:49 AM EDT
Overthrowing other people's governments: The Master List
By William Blum – Published February 2013
Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government)
China 1949 to early 1960s
East Germany 1950s
Iran 1953 *
Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s
British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 *
North Vietnam 1945-73
Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 *
Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 *
Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *
Indonesia 1965 *
Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 *
Greece 1967 *
Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 *
Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s
Portugal 1974-76 *
Jamaica 1976-80 *
Chad 1981-82 *
Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84
Fiji 1987 *
Nicaragua 1981-90 *
Panama 1989 *
Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 *
Afghanistan 1980s *
Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 *
Venezuela 2002 *
Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 *
Somalia 2007 to present
Libya 2011 *
Ukraine 2014 *
Lucky Barker, 10/15/2016 3:11 PM EDT
American experts officially helped Boris Yeltsin to organize massive fraud in the 1996 president elections in Russia.
There were now published payment documents!!!
Imho these was the US experts that would later become to falsify US elections in Florida (Bush vs Gore)
Ludovici, 10/15/2016 12:03 AM EDT
"While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it..." You're kidding, right? The US gov just took out Libya, helped in the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Ukraine, and are right now trying to overthrow the secular Assad in Syria. Whatever the US State Dept's true aims, they haven't changed a bit in a hundred years. Still up to the same skullduggery that the propaganda machine accuses other nations of.
M Stirner, 10/14/2016 11:09 PM EDT
The WaPo writes about US government fabricated sex scandals to influence foreign elections, and totally ignores EXACTLY the same behavior by Obama/Clinton and the rest of the ruling elite against Trump.
Robert Clark, 10/14/2016 10:24 PM EDT
you left out the last Haitian election in which the Clinton State Dept. team was instrumental in getting the third most popular candidate elected, as per the NYT article of 15 MAR 2016...."The night of the runoff, which Mr. Martelly won, Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl D. Mills, wrote a congratulatory note to top American diplomats in Haiti.
"You do great elections," Ms. Mills wrote in a message released by the State Department among a batch of Mrs. Clinton's emails. She wrote that she would buy dinner the next time she visited: "We can discuss how the counting is going! Just kidding. Kinda. Smile"
nestormakhno, 10/14/2016 1:47 PM EDT
So Kissinger, the thug responsible for Pinochet, has endorsed Hillary Clinton. But I'm totally out of my mind for voting for Jill Stein for President, huh?
And for the record, the recent parliamentary coup in Brazil has Obama's fingerprints all over it
rap n fly, 10/14/2016 11:48 AM EDT [Edited]
Thank you for this reality check. When we look at the problems in the world, we should remember that a key reason democratic institutions are so fragile in many of these countries is because of our meddling over the years. It was perceived to be in our direct national interest to undermine democratic institutions and install and support "freindly" leaders, no matter their policies towards their people.
The blowback has and will continue. We should remember this when making "holier than thou" pronouncements about countries around the world, and acting as thou the problems of these countries in the modern era are not our responsibility.
Doug Wenzel, 10/14/2016 11:32 AM EDT [Edited]
As Tom Lehrer said over fifty years ago:
"For might makes right,
And till they've seen the light,
They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
'Till someone we like can be elected.
Members of the corps
All hate the thought of war,
They'd rather kill them off by peaceful means.
Stop calling it aggression,
O we hate that expression.
We only want the world to know
That we support the status quo.
They love us everywhere we go,
So when in doubt,
Send the Marines!"
SKYDIVER, 10/14/2016 11:04 AM EDT
Thank you WAPO! I've been saying this for years: The U.S. has regularly done its worst to interfere not only with elections in foreign countries, but also with other functions in these sovereign nations. Most blatant was the Bush-Chaney attack on Iraq. It had zero to do with WMD and lots to do with trying to farm out democratic governance to a country that was not interested in or ready for democracy. Of course, Bush also wanted to take over their oil fields - a failed effort - and to avenge perceived threats against HW Bush. What Iraq had before Bush was simply a civil war - absolutely none of our business - and we've often interfered with civil wars in other countries. Democracy is great, but not all nations - whose entire populations are quite comfortable with the systems they grew up under - like or want democracy. We are wrong to interfere in the internal affairs of such countries, and we need to stop doing it.
zixu, 10/14/2016 8:25 AM EDT
It is a good reminder that the usg is a basic thug in the world. This whole anti russian campaign and the sabre rattling that goes with it are part of a classic smear campaign. It has been supported by most of the msm including the wp. this warmongering has no basis in fact. It serves a purpose for the victoria nulands and the neocons in the usg.
steveh46, 10/14/2016 10:31 AM EDT
Ummm. Just because the usg has been thuggish doesn't mean the current Russian gov't isn't thuggish.
JMater, 10/14/2016 8:24 AM EDT
US under the neocons and AIPAC went to war in Iraq based on lies, killing 5,000 US soldiers and over 500,000 Iraqi civilians.
You_Really_Believe_That, 10/16/2016 7:26 PM EDT [Edited]
We also had the Johnson Vietnam war after the Kennedy assassination of Diem. In Vietnam we had over 58,000 American deaths and over 1.3 million non-American deaths. Proportion.
JMater, 10/14/2016 8:22 AM EDT
Israel has been trying to influence our government for decades using its proxies at AIPAC and other spy agencies. It is time to expose these traitors and prosecute them.
Ma123456, 10/14/2016 8:16 AM EDT
And don't forget the most recent example: Obama said he wouldn't meet with Netanyahu because he didn't want to influence the upcoming Israeli election, yet US operatives were on the ground in Israel doing just that (led by "the architect of the grass-roots and online organizing efforts behind both of Obama's presidential campaigns") www.newsmax.com/JohnFund/israel-netanyahu-election-hillary/2015/03/18/id/630817/#ixzz4N3pX2Qyo
EdFladung, 10/13/2016 4:53 PM EDT
So here's the list of US invasions of sovereign nations since 1776: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya050713.htm
HenryAbroad, 10/13/2016 4:46 PM EDT
"Naive" and "short-sighted" is the red thread.
Marilyn Miller, 10/13/2016 1:53 PM EDT
This is so interesting, because wikileaks has just come out and said........... that the Clinton political camp knew all about the emails links, months before they came out to the public. According to Wikileaks the Clinton camp decided to use this theft on who ever was Hillary's political rival . Poor Trump he never saw it coming.
Please also : that Hillary was originally going to run against J. Bush. It was set in stone by the special interest groups that own America. Since both political parties knew about this theft ( This group also owns both political parties) it was really no big deal. IF this theft information had to be used.....it would be fruitless. Hillary was going to have a easy breezy run and, then become president. Bush would then go back to his wealthy lifestyle and life would go on. They did not expect Trump to get as far as he did this election. So the big theft would have to be blamed on him.
According to Hillary.......Donald Trump is UNFIT to become president:
- Because he has NO EXPERIENCE making people pay for access to government officials!
- Because He has NO BACKROUND in leaking intelligence that gets our people killed abroad!
- Because he couldn't wipe a server with both hands!
Oct 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
L , October 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm
Regarding this piece: "Politics is not all that complicated. It is a game of incentives. And, right now there is no incentive for Republicans to split from the President" [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report].
I have to say thank you for putting me on to her writing. To my mind though the most important point in the piece is this one:
Here's why this matters: Angry people vote. Complacent people sometimes vote and sometimes don't. And dispirited or disillusioned people stay home.
That is the basics of all victories. If the DNC cared about winning as opposed to fundraising they would take that to heart. But signing up voters it seems,is just not what they *do* only slinging tote bags.
Oct 22, 2017 | www.theatlantic.comTrump tweeted Saturday morning, "I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened."
Trump's announcement came a day after his longtime confidant Roger Stone went on Infowars , a radio show and website known for spreading conspiracy theories, and announced that Trump would not block the release of the documents, which are set to be issued by the National Archives in the coming days. Earlier that day, Politico Magazine had published an in-depth piece saying that Trump would likely block the release of the files.
Here's the thing that happens, apparently, when a conspiracy theorist becomes president of the United States: The lines between decision and reaction blur. The American people are accustomed to public officials spinning their way through public office. No president has been truly forthcoming with the electorate. Many have misled the American people.
... ... ...Regardless of the files, though, Trump's attention to them is a window into how he wants to be seen. In one dashed-off tweet, Trump positions himself as doing something noble -- advocating for transparency, against the warnings of the intelligence community -- while feeding at least two major conspiracies. One, that the press is "the enemy of the American people" working in cahoots with the deep state, and, two, by lending credibility to the idea that the official story of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect.
"The best conspiracy theories have all the trappings of a classic underdog story," wrote Rob Brotherton in his book, Suspicious Minds . "We want to see top dogs taken down a peg; we want the downtrodden underdog to triumph. And when it comes to conspiracy theories, unfair disadvantage is par for the course
Nikolas Bourbaki SatanicPanic , October 22, 2017 5:36 PM24AheadDotCom SatanicPanic , October 22, 2017 10:37 PM
The best initial attitude to have is one of skepticism...not only of conspiracy theories but of denials of conspiracy theories. Until, that is, definitive evidence is revealed. You are a fool to believe in conspiracy theories without credible evidence You are also a fool for denying them without evidence. The fact is that we know through credible records including the CIA's own internal records that they have been involved with many conspiracies with foreign militias, dictatorships, corporations, thugs, gangsters and assassins. You are a damn fool not to take an allegation seriously and to blanket dismiss new allegations unless proven false. In fact, the CIA had (has?) a campaign to discredit any criticism of its policies as "conspiracy theory". Gaslighting is a common tool they have used against anyone who dares critiques or questions them.David Ticas Polite Democrat , October 22, 2017 1:32 PM
The phrase "conspiracy theory" was invented by the CIA to cover up what they were doing. It shouldn't take much smarts to see that LHO was just a patsy.
Here's a smarts question for you: did Bush try to launch a rightwing military coup in the USA, yes or no?Richard Turnbull David Ticas , October 22, 2017 1:50 PM
The files were due to be released on this day after 25 years. In 1992, after the movie JFK came out, people were intrigued and wanted the files released. The president ordered them sealed for another 25 years (Oct 2017) and President Trump happens to be President. He will release the files, if no conspiracy there, we will FINALLY get the transparency we the people have been asking for. Nothing more, nothing less.Johnny Burnette Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 3:02 PM
How exactly will the files show there was "no conspiracy there"? Do you expect somehow the files will erase the numerous eyewitness accounts of shots from in front of the motorcade?Richard Turnbull Johnny Burnette , October 22, 2017 5:44 PM
Not only that, but the Parkland doctors said JFK's wounds ran contrary to what the Warren Report concluded. And the only doctor who saw both the assassination, the Parkland Hospital work, and the Bethesda autopsy, Dr. Burkley, was never consulted by the Warren Commission, and when asked later whether he thought shots may have hit Kennedy from more than one direction, replied: "I don't care to comment on that."Johnny Burnette Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 7:20 PM
That's exactly why Vincent Bugliosi buried "What the Parkland Doctors Saw" as Endnote 404 on a CD-ROM accompanying his part of the coverup.Liars N. Fools , October 22, 2017 3:52 PM
Bugliosi was intellectually dishonest in his massive tome. He hid inconvenient facts in order to push his agenda; i.e. that a lone gunman did all of the work alone. Serious scholars like Newman and DiEugenio have revealed his omissions for all to see.Richard Turnbull Liars N. Fools , October 22, 2017 4:42 PM
I can't say for sure how the Clintons did it, but we should recall that Bill met JFK in 1963 and used that opportunity to plant a miniature tracking device. Hillary, using one of her witch spells, then met Bill earlier than officially recorded, and the two of them recruited Oswald and Ruby, with the help of Soviet agents using Vince Foster as a temporal go-between. Foster killed himself over his guilt in the assasination. They were desperate to get Hillary elected to stop the release of the files, but of course they failed. Now we will get another reason to lock her up. I have no proof but know this in my heart to be true.@disqus_hbolPDDKSP , October 22, 2017 2:53 PM
They would have had to recruit Jack Ruby from organized crime --- see Who Was Jack Ruby? by Scripps-Howard White House correspondent Seth Kantor for more on "the mob's front man when they moved into Dallas."
Edit: Kantor was previously a reporter in Dallas-Ft. Worth and before that, a veteran of Guadalcanal --- he played a key role in testifying that Jack Ruby, who he knew well, was at Parkland Hospital while JFK was in Trauma Room One, which Ruby denied. The circumstances indicate a strong possibility Ruby planted the so-called "Magic Bullet" on an unattended stretcher.Richard Turnbull @disqus_hbolPDDKSP , October 22, 2017 6:08 PM
The lame stream news media are forever searching for ways to attack Trump. You'd think he would get some credit for releasing the 3,000 documents. But no, once again he has ulterior motives.
I remember Walter Cronkite saying that it's difficult for people to come to the conclusion that one man could have affected history to the extent that Oswald did.David Ticas , October 22, 2017 1:26 PM
That's a fine thought, but has nothing to do with an actual murder case in which Oswald is supposed to have killed Patrolman Tippit and then President Kennedy, despite not one single shred of concrete, credible evidence tying him to either of the weapons supposedly used. In fact, even worse, the weapon or weapons used don't even consistently show up in the chain-of-custody by the Dallas police, bullets don't match, wounds are seen by attending physicians which had to be fired from the front, etc.
"How could Oswald shoot Kennedy in the front from the back?" is one reductio of the Warren Commission fantasies, which is why they assiduously avoided calling scores of eyewitnesses of the assassination to testify, and mucked up the autopsy evidence. I mean, their whole "case" amounted to "Well, Oswald was a communist" (not correct) "who hated Kennedy" (wrong again!) "and killed a policeman" (this is completely bogus, with key Tippit-killing witness Helen Markham described by a WC attorney as a "crackpot" among other problems) and "Oswald was at the Texas School Book Depository" (True, he worked there in a job arranged by Ruth Paine) "so he must have shot JFK" ---
(Wrong, the eyewitness testimony --- see The Girl on the Stairs: My Search for a Missing Witness to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Barry Ernest, for example -- places him in the "wrong place" to have shot anyone down in the motorcade from the sixth floor, and that's just the first major problem, it would take too long to recount them all, as in HUNDREDS OF PAGES, so that's just a few hints about what faces anyone investigating and/or reading about the JFK assassination, as well as the murders of Tippit and Oswald, or Jack Ruby's extensive ties as an organized crime factotum in Dallas and Cuba. Yes, Cuba.Qoquaq En Transic Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 1:33 PM
Adrienne Lagrange, being the highly intellectual you try and portray. Why don't you see that by writing this negative story about President Trump you not only make yourself sound foolish, but you push neutral people to the President's side. Why do you think former President Bush came out after 9 years of silence to condemn "conspiracy theorist" days before President Trump announced the release of the JFK files? President Bush sr WAS involved with the CIA in Texas during the JFK assasination in 1963. Obviously, he does not want the truth to come out and so he got out in front of story to discredit what the files will show. Corruption is common in the U.S Government, President Trump is dismantling this corruption a little bit at a time. This is only the beginning.Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 1:40 PM
I don't think Bush's "role" is really necessarily in question.
Frankly, even with the documents coming out (IF they actually do, and IF we actually get them all) I doubt the truth will be really revealed.Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 6:21 PM
What more do you need? The JFK literature is voluminous, and maybe you need to actually try to read some of the key source material and critics and go from there.
Try reading Accessories after the Fact by Sylvia Meagher or On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, or Plausible Denial by Mark Lane. If you have the time to deal with over 1200 pages about the JFK assassination, read Vincent Bugliosi's Reclaiming History , and THEN read the ferocious debunkings of Bugliosi available online.
N.B. Some of the most important discussions in Bugliosi's massive tome are in the Endnotes, especially but not only "What the Parkland Doctors Saw." Conspiracy of Silence by Parkland M.D. Dr. Charles Crenshaw is another useful text, as is Mafia Kingfish by John Davis.Qoquaq En Transic Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 7:08 PM
Ok: my honest opinion is that you can't summarize anything as complex as the planning, execution, and subsequent coverup of the JFK assassination (including extensive use of media assets for DECADES afterward) in anything short of a manuscript of hundreds of pages, and many of the best work is already available, "just google it" ---but again, you have to be willing to read those hundreds of pages with some sense of other background facts about the Cold War and spy agencies.
This is one of the most intricate and far reaching events or set of interconnected events in modern history --- just take a look at the "tags" on the front page of kennedysandking.com and you'll see what I mean.
On the only occasion in which I had time in tutorials with Chomsky, I asked him first about his views on the nexus of players at 544 Camp Street. That question and his answer might not even make much sense to you without extensive background reading. Sorry, but that's just the facts.truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:10 PM
I truly understand your point regarding the complexity of the issue and I apologize for my earlier comment.
I'm aware of the massive inconsistencies in the examination of his body, how it was "handled", "magic bullets", and lots of other stuff I once knew but have forgotten. There's a LOT of stuff, that's for sure.
I'm also very aware of how certain agencies (especially intel agencies) operate. Their allegience to the truth is suspect at best.
I guess I was asking for was something like "It was basically an effort by (a list such as... certain elements in the FBI/CIA/NSA/government... and/or foreign governments... and/or the Mafia... or Cuba... or it was basically a coup driven by the MIC... (which I think it was) or whatever combination it may be)." Basically the 100k foot view, a very simplistic view. And I realize my opinion is not _nearly_ as informed as yours.
But that would certainly open up much noise from people like that moron I blocked earlier. And certainly no one needs more of that....
I'll check out the links. Thanks.
By the way... I met Jim Marrs twice when I lived in Texas, actually around a campfire. It was interesting meeting him, and he was a very interesting man regarding the JFK assassination. I didn't know he passed, apparently quite recently.
I hope these documents get released and I hope they answer a lot of the open questions still remaining.Richard Turnbull truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 10:01 PM
JFK was murdered by the CIA.....he wanted to "to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds"......he fired Allen Dulles. Dulles was one of seven commissioners of the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy..oh and he had no problem murdering people....
Who hasn't even been a republican since 1999?
2008 Trump: 'I Support Hillary; I Think She's Fantastic' - YouTube
Aug 15, 2016 - Uploaded by The PolitiStickGet More PolitiStick Read: http://PolitiStick.com Like: https://www.facebook.com/Po...Иван truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:23 PM
Correction: "rogue elements" of the CIA with some complicity by very high-level officials.truthynesslover Иван , October 22, 2017 6:27 PM
I don't believe a single word from a politician. They are professional liars. It's their job to lie and spin webs of deception. I watch and judge them by their actions.Иван truthynesslover , October 22, 2017 6:33 PM
1.JFK fired Dulles and top generals. He was pulling out of Vietnam and working secretly to make a deal with Castro..
2.Trump wasnt even a republican....and ran against Bush and the GOP...
Trump in 1999: GOP is 'just too crazy' | MSNBC
Aug 17, 2015The last time Donald Trump was on 'Meet the Press' he announced he was quitting the GOP. Plus, Trump .truthynesslover Иван , October 22, 2017 6:41 PM
I couldn't care less what color orange TrumPutin wears. He declared war on corporate media and that is good enough for me. I don't support him because of his position on Snowden but I agree with him on many issues.
JFK was a naive fool. He moved against forces he did not fully understand. I don't blame him for trying. He was a patriot.Ayna Иван , October 22, 2017 7:35 PM
Trump may be a baboon but he made the right enemies....the DNC ad GOP and neocons all hate him.
Those forces JFK tried to reign in are in complete control today. Trump threw them through a loop.......Иван , October 22, 2017 4:12 PM
But some politicians lie more than others. That's why Madame Never President became Madame Never President.basarov , October 22, 2017 3:15 PM
Atantuc reasserting it's superior newsmaking capabilities with click-bait headlines, unsupported assumptions and trolling. Well done. You fall below tabloid, yellow journalism.Richard Turnbull basarov , October 22, 2017 4:49 PM
LOL---americans are little antagonistic children that prefer lies to truth...see comments below! and are gullible enough to believe anything told them...who needs conspiracy theories when people are so stupid...everyone in Europe understood that americans were idiots when they accepted the impossible claim that 1 shooter killed JFK...and now they are more stupid believing that 1 gambler shot 500 people in las vegas...a nation of dimwitsИван basarov , October 22, 2017 6:14 PM
The American public had to wait TWELVE YEARS to see the Zapruder film of the assassination, showing the effect of the kill shot from in front of the motorcade. But by the time Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane had become a best seller a few years after the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission's hearings and exhibits were published (with no index --- it was left to United Nations-employed scientist Sylvia Meagher to assemble that, which spurred critics of the WC fantasies and outright lies to expose the multiple flaws and fallacies in the first "official investigation," i.e., the first attempted coverup) the credibility of the Krazy Kid Oswald nonsense was already held in disrepute by informed observers.
The article above can't whitewash the mainstream media's role in the coverup, of course --- search "Operation Mockingbird" or "Walter Sheridan and the Garrison investigation" or " Jim Di Eugenio critique of Phil Shenon's JFK books" etc,Johnny Burnette Иван , October 22, 2017 8:42 PM
If you like conspiracy theories, there were claims that Soviets did it.
and please ease up on anti-Americanism.Michael Kosanovich basarov , October 22, 2017 3:22 PM
Any claims that the Soviets or Cubans did it have been thoroughly debunked. It was an American domestic coup. If you believe the Warren Commission, I've got Indian treaties to show you.Johnny Burnette Michael Kosanovich , October 22, 2017 4:00 PM
No one has presented evidence that there was another shooter. Clint Black, the secret service agent at the scene adamantly say's no other gunshots from the grassy knoll area. Simply no proof. As for the Vegas shooting as well.wmlady Johnny Burnette , October 22, 2017 4:49 PM
I disagree with your faith-based following of Bugliosi. I think Dr. Cyril Wecht blows Bugliosi out of the water, from a forensics standpoint.
This guy debunks Bugliosi's position too: https://www.youtube.com/wat...
As for the Vegas guy? Yeah, he did it alone. That's pretty much in the forensics bag.Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:03 PM
I agree with you about Bugliosi and Wecht. Wecht pokes sufficient holes in the pristine "magic bullet" theory that it's simply unbelievable.wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:23 PM
See the book Reclaiming Parkland for an extended dismantling of Bugliosi's Reclaiming History, or just search "critical reviews of Bugliosi's JFK assassination book." It's an embarrassment that Bugliosi wrote such fine books on the Simpson case and on the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision, but was apparently either blackmailed into writing obvious lies or somehow convinced himself "no one with sufficient familiarity with the JFK assassination in the requisite granular detail will ever read my book and expose my silly attempts to distort the historical record." It took enormous chutzpah on his part to title the book "Reclaiming History."
Search "Reclaiming History? Or Re-framing Oswald?" at reclaiminghistory.org , which has links to a series of reviews of Bugliosi, none of which you will ever see discussed on CNN or any other corporate mass media outlet. Instead, without bothering to read the book much less deal with hundreds and hundreds of footnotes and "Endnotes," some of bear on crucial points about the JFK assassination (such as "What the Parkland Doctors Saw" ---see the Endnotes from 404-408} the corporate media is happy to perpetuate as best they can the "one lone nut with no ties to the CIA killed two days later by another lone nut with no relevant ties to the mob" confabulations.Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:31 PM
"Reclaiming Parkland" is not one I've read, but I will. I don't think there's any doubt that the CIA has and had assets in the media who did and do perpetuate disinformation and distraction.wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 6:02 PM
Of course they've tried to hide the fact, but the Church Committee hearings on the plots and assassinations and other criminal behavior by The Agency back in the 1950s and 1960s exposed all sorts of similar schemes.
Search "MKUltra" and "Operation Artichoke" or just "The CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald" and you can run across all sorts of interesting facts. not wild speculation, but facts, some of it from CIA documents etc. etc.Johnny Burnette wmlady , October 22, 2017 8:44 PM
I did manage to slog through Newman's "Oswald and the CIA"wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:34 PM
Newman did his homework. He has combed through the declassified records and published his findings on Oswald and the CIA, and on what really happened in Vietnam.wmlady Guest , October 22, 2017 3:09 PM
I have read about Bolden.
In my view the Miami and Chicago plans being aborted make the existence of multiple shooters in Dallas-- such as Files -- more believable; the conspirators were simply not going to miss another chance. Interestingly, Files himself says his superior told him the Dallas plot was supposed to be called off, but they ignored the order.Richard Turnbull wmlady , October 22, 2017 5:06 PM
Did you know that Gerald Posner, who wrote the definitive book concluding that Oswald acted alone ("Case Closed"), is fully in favor of releasing the remainder of the documents -- in agreement with Pres. Trump's friend Roger Stone, who is a "conspiracy theorist"?
Did you know that the original "conspiracy theorist" -- the late Mark Lane -- was a leftist and ardent supporter of JFK?
For the educated, this is about transparency, not ignorance.wmlady Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 5:29 PM
Posner? Are you posting this as some kind of joke? Posner fabricated, altered, distorted evidence on practically EVERY key point about the supposed role of Oswald, and totally ignored all the revelations about Oswald's connections which exposed the role he played as an intelligence agency asset.
Try reading some "critical reviews" of Case Closed, they are devastating and some are maliciously funny, as well.Michael Kosanovich wmlady , October 22, 2017 3:36 PM
I was being sarcastic. I was pointing out that if a guy like Posner is in favor of releasing the rest of the documents, it's a non-controversial issue.Richard Turnbull Michael Kosanovich , October 22, 2017 5:15 PM
I can promise you this; Vincent Buglioti wrote THEE masterpiece. Reclaiming history, The JFK assassination. 1612 pages, twenty year's of research, and he embarrassed every other JFK assassination writer' I've read Posner's book. Very well researched. But truthfully, it cannot compare to Bugliotis " opus"Maud Pie , October 22, 2017 2:38 PM
Get real --- Bugliosi has been thoroughly debunked. One of his favorite tricks is to partially quote the FBI reports from Sibert and O'Neill out-of-context and ignore contradictory witness testimony from witnesses (and there were dozens) not called to testify before the Warren Commission. His book (and yes, I read ALL of it but with the advantage of having ALSO read the WC report (the 26 volumes in large part, although not the part where they had dental x-rays from Jack Ruby's mother --- I kid you not --- so much as the inadvertently revelatory portions) as well as dozens and dozens of other books on the assassination, so I could immediately spot some of Bugliosi's howlers) is considered essentially a fraud on the public by informed critics of the JFK assassination.Richard Turnbull Maud Pie , October 22, 2017 2:49 PM
"Conspiracy theories are a way to stand up, through disbelief, against the powerful. Those who spread conspiracy theories in earnest are, whether they mean to or not, partaking in an act of defiance against established institutions as much as they are questioning accepted truths."
I disagree. Conspiracy theories are a way for the ignorant and stupid to delude themselves that they are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong. Conspiracy theories provide a way of feeling smart and shrewd without bothering with all that evidence and logic stuff.Maud Pie Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 2:59 PM
Your comment makes no sense, since there are political assassinations like that of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, for example, which have been both officially and "unofficially" found to be the result of conspiracies. The House Select Committee on Assassinations is one "official theory" that posits a conspiracy in the killing of President Kennedy. You could also search "The Lincoln Conspiracy the book" and read that. In fact, you don't have any idea at all about any of this, do you? You're just parroting some supposed sage advice from the usual suspects.Richard Turnbull , October 22, 2017 1:30 PM
Learn to read. I didn't say conspiracies never exist, My remarks were addressed to conspiracy "theories" not supported by evidence and logic.julianpenrod , October 22, 2017 7:31 PM
"[L]ending credibility to the idea that the official story (sic) of JFK's assassination is indeed suspect" is the incontrovertible fact that there are multiple "official stories," and at least one of them posits the probability of a conspiracy behind JFK's assassination.
Since Oswald cannot even be tied to the supposed murder weapon by a credible chain-of-evidence, nor placed in the so-called "sniper's nest" at the time shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, nor be credibly rigged up as the killer of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, it is hardly surprising that anyone stuck trying to defend the relentlessly debunked Warren Commission fantasies about the JFK-Tippit-Oswald murders is up against equally relentless debunking right up to today.
See jfkfacts.org , Jefferson Morley's website and kennedysandking.com for various paths into the maze.Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 2:40 PM
A fact that the Democratic Party toadies try to push is that Trump does not tell the truth.
He says things that are at variance with the claims the "press" try to toss at the people, but that doesn't make them untrue.
The "press" was determined to tell people that the U.S.S. Maine was sunk by Spain, even though it made no sense for them to be engage in aggressive actions that the New York Journal claimed would then escalate into overt military action. If they felt that way, they would have acted militarily from the start. Morons never questioned this and the U.S. easily entered war with Spain. Even though the explosion on the Maine seems to have been the result of a carelessly disposed of cigar.
Similarly with R.M.S. Lusitania. Imbeciles wouldn't ask why the Germans would engage in something like murdering innocent civilians on an ocean liner if they wanted war. Why not just carry out an invasion or declare war? Only now it's being admitted that Lusitania was illegally carrying war supplies and ammunition from the U.S. to the Allies, making it a legitimate target. Indeed, it is not necessarily proved that it actually carried civilian passengers.
Similarly for the claims the the U.S. spied on the USSY with U-2 spy planes. The same with the failure of the government and the "press" to admit the suspicious nature of claims of the "Gulf of Tonkin Incident".
The fact is, Trump and others in the Republican Party have said many things that the "press" denied, only to have the "press" shown to be lying later.
Hillary Clinton supporters were carrying out acts of violence after the election in Trump's name to try to undermine him. Germany didn't pay its agreed upon amount for the maintenance of NATO. Obama did bug Trump's campaign headquarters. Puerto Rico's sorry condition is the result of massive corruption in its government. There are many women who, as Trump asserted, will let a man with money and power take liberties. In fact, climate isn't changing. "Climate" is the massive, interconnected, self regulating system comprised of things like land, ocean, sky, solar energy, life. Land, ocean, solar energy, life are no different from fifty years ago. Only the weather is changing, and that is caused by chemtrails, the program of doping the air with weather modification chemicals from high flying jets, producing long, non dissipating vapor lanes that stretch from horizon to horizon and can last for an hour or more. Stop chemtrails and everything will return to normal.
Todd Akin was criticized for saying that, in "legitimate rape" women's bodies will fight being impregnated. Democratic Party followers insisted Akin was saying rape was legal. He was referring to rapes that actually occurred, not lies that many women do lodge against rich and powerful men to get money.
J. Edgar Hoover said that "civil rights" marches and such were tools of the Kremlin to try to undermine democracy. In their desperate attempt to rescue the claim that the Russians interfered with the 2016 election, none other than The Atlantic has taken up Hoover's insistence that such demonstrations were a means used by the USSR to try to destroy democracy. And the dullards of the Democratic Party's target audience won't realize they are now agreeing with the Republicans.
Trump and the politicians come from rarefied levels that know facts that government and the "press" lies to the public about. One fact, that there may be actual sections of government, or "government", that act independently of any rules and can even roll over the rest of "government". "Government" is just a sleazy swindle to make the rich richer. No one controls them! Not even elections! They publish fake "vote tallies", then put who they want in. Trump speaks of the Deep State of power mongering going on behind the scenes. Hillary Clinton operated her own shadow government with a system of unregistered servers only one of which has been acknowledged. It's been suspected for a long time that the "intelligence network" acted solely on its own recognizance, answerable to no one. Questions Trump raises can point people to the truth.Richard Turnbull Qoquaq En Transic , October 22, 2017 2:54 PM
"My" research? Look, just GO ONLINE to another website like JFKfacts.org or kennedysand king.com , or search "James Di Eugenio on the JFK assassination," I have read around 150 books and articles and much of the Warren Report (the volumes not the summary) and the House Select Committee hearings reports, but compared to "serious researchers" I am a dilletante. Besides, you really NEED to study this either for yourself as a kind of "research project" or if possible, in a university level course environment.
There are THOUSANDS of really interesting books about aspects of the JFK assassination --- search "Reclaiming Parkland" by Di Eugenio and go from there, whatever.
Follow the links, and expect it to take many many hours to get the beginning of an understanding.
Ok, why don't you at least realize it's FAR more complex than any possible "avionics system," it's something akin to people on Quora asking me to "summarize Hamlet," or "summarize King Lear." It's just absurd. Besides which, the subject matter is far too important for anyone to take their views from a few summarized paragraphs, whether about Hamlet or Lear or the JFK assassination.
So yeah, I did "research" and I think the facts speak for themselves, as you would learn by delving into the posts at jfkfacts.org or kennedysandking.com , or reading Plausible Denial by Mark Lane. The thing is, it's one of the most complicated interlocking sets of topics in modern history, not something that can be scrawled on a postcard.
Oct 22, 2017 | www.theatlantic.com
And why it was so hard to see it coming In the media world, as in so many other realms, there is a sharp discontinuity in the timeline: before the 2016 election, and after.
Things we thought we understood -- narratives, data, software, news events -- have had to be reinterpreted in light of Donald Trump's surprising win as well as the continuing questions about the role that misinformation and disinformation played in his election.
Tech journalists covering Facebook had a duty to cover what was happening before, during, and after the election. Reporters tried to see past their often liberal political orientations and the unprecedented actions of Donald Trump to see how 2016 was playing out on the internet. Every component of the chaotic digital campaign has been reported on, here at The Atlantic , and elsewhere: Facebook's enormous distribution power for political information, rapacious partisanship reinforced by distinct media information spheres, the increasing scourge of "viral" hoaxes and other kinds of misinformation that could propagate through those networks, and the Russian information ops agency.
But no one delivered the synthesis that could have tied together all these disparate threads. It's not that this hypothetical perfect story would have changed the outcome of the election. The real problem -- for all political stripes -- is understanding the set of conditions that led to Trump's victory. The informational underpinnings of democracy have eroded, and no one has explained precisely how.
* * *
We've known since at least 2012 that Facebook was a powerful, non-neutral force in electoral politics. In that year, a combined University of California, San Diego and Facebook research team led by James Fowler published a study in Nature , which argued that Facebook's "I Voted" button had driven a small but measurable increase in turnout, primarily among young people.
Rebecca Rosen's 2012 story, " Did Facebook Give Democrats the Upper Hand? " relied on new research from Fowler, et al., about the presidential election that year. Again, the conclusion of their work was that Facebook's get-out-the-vote message could have driven a substantial chunk of the increase in youth voter participation in the 2012 general election. Fowler told Rosen that it was "even possible that Facebook is completely responsible" for the youth voter increase. And because a higher proportion of young people vote Democratic than the general population, the net effect of Facebook's GOTV effort would have been to help the Dems.
The potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade.
The research showed that a small design change by Facebook could have electoral repercussions, especially with America's electoral-college format in which a few hotly contested states have a disproportionate impact on the national outcome. And the pro-liberal effect it implied became enshrined as an axiom of how campaign staffers, reporters, and academics viewed social media.
In June 2014, Harvard Law scholar Jonathan Zittrain wrote an essay in New Republic called, " Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out ," in which he called attention to the possibility of Facebook selectively depressing voter turnout. (He also suggested that Facebook be seen as an "information fiduciary," charged with certain special roles and responsibilities because it controls so much personal data.)
In late 2014, The Daily Dot called attention to an obscure Facebook-produced case study on how strategists defeated a statewide measure in Florida by relentlessly focusing Facebook ads on Broward and Dade counties, Democratic strongholds. Working with a tiny budget that would have allowed them to send a single mailer to just 150,000 households, the digital-advertising firm Chong and Koster was able to obtain remarkable results. "Where the Facebook ads appeared, we did almost 20 percentage points better than where they didn't," testified a leader of the firm. "Within that area, the people who saw the ads were 17 percent more likely to vote our way than the people who didn't. Within that group, the people who voted the way we wanted them to, when asked why, often cited the messages they learned from the Facebook ads."
In April 2016, Rob Meyer published " How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election " after a company meeting in which some employees apparently put the stopping-Trump question to Mark Zuckerberg. Based on Fowler's research, Meyer reimagined Zittrain's hypothetical as a direct Facebook intervention to depress turnout among non-college graduates, who leaned Trump as a whole.
Facebook, of course, said it would never do such a thing. "Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that supporting civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community," a spokesperson said. "We as a company are neutral -- we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote."
They wouldn't do it intentionally, at least.
As all these examples show, though, the potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade before Donald Trump was elected. But rather than focusing specifically on the integrity of elections, most writers -- myself included , some observers like Sasha Issenberg , Zeynep Tufekci , and Daniel Kreiss excepted -- bundled electoral problems inside other, broader concerns like privacy , surveillance , tech ideology , media-industry competition , or the psychological effects of social media .
From the system's perspective, success is correctly predicting what you'll like, comment on, or share.
The same was true even of people inside Facebook. "If you'd come to me in 2012, when the last presidential election was raging and we were cooking up ever more complicated ways to monetize Facebook data, and told me that Russian agents in the Kremlin's employ would be buying Facebook ads to subvert American democracy, I'd have asked where your tin-foil hat was," wrote Antonio García Martínez, who managed ad targeting for Facebook back then. "And yet, now we live in that otherworldly political reality."
Not to excuse us, but this was back on the Old Earth, too, when electoral politics was not the thing that every single person talked about all the time. There were other important dynamics to Facebook's growing power that needed to be covered.
* * *
Facebook's draw is its ability to give you what you want. Like a page, get more of that page's posts; like a story, get more stories like that; interact with a person, get more of their updates. The way Facebook determines the ranking of the News Feed is the probability that you'll like, comment on, or share a story. Shares are worth more than comments, which are both worth more than likes, but in all cases, the more likely you are to interact with a post, the higher up it will show in your News Feed. Two thousand kinds of data (or "features" in the industry parlance) get smelted in Facebook's machine-learning system to make those predictions.
What's crucial to understand is that, from the system's perspective, success is correctly predicting what you'll like, comment on, or share. That's what matters. People call this "engagement." There are other factors, as Slate' s Will Oremus noted in this rare story about the News Feed ranking team . But who knows how much weight they actually receive and for how long as the system evolves. For example, one change that Facebook highlighted to Oremus in early 2016 -- taking into account how long people look at a story, even if they don't click it -- was subsequently dismissed by Lars Backstrom, the VP of engineering in charge of News Feed ranking , as a "noisy" signal that's also "biased in a few ways" making it "hard to use" in a May 2017 technical talk.
Facebook's engineers do not want to introduce noise into the system. Because the News Feed, this machine for generating engagement, is Facebook's most important technical system. Their success predicting what you'll like is why users spend an average of more than 50 minutes a day on the site, and why even the former creator of the "like" button worries about how well the site captures attention. News Feed works really well.
If every News Feed is different, how can anyone understand what other people are seeing and responding to?
But as far as " personalized newspapers " go, this one's editorial sensibilities are limited. Most people are far less likely to engage with viewpoints that they find confusing, annoying, incorrect, or abhorrent. And this is true not just in politics, but the broader culture.
That this could be a problem was apparent to many. Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble, which came out in the summer of 2011, became the most widely cited distillation of the effects Facebook and other internet platforms could have on public discourse.
Pariser began the book research when he noticed conservative people, whom he'd befriended on the platform despite his left-leaning politics, had disappeared from his News Feed. "I was still clicking my progressive friends' links more than my conservative friends' -- and links to the latest Lady Gaga videos more than either," he wrote. "So no conservative links for me."
Through the book, he traces the many potential problems that the "personalization" of media might bring. Most germane to this discussion, he raised the point that if every one of the billion News Feeds is different, how can anyone understand what other people are seeing and responding to?
"The most serious political problem posed by filter bubbles is that they make it increasingly difficult to have a public argument. As the number of different segments and messages increases, it becomes harder and harder for the campaigns to track who's saying what to whom," Pariser wrote. "How does a [political] campaign know what its opponent is saying if ads are only targeted to white Jewish men between 28 and 34 who have expressed a fondness for U2 on Facebook and who donated to Barack Obama's campaign?"
This did, indeed, become an enormous problem. When I was editor in chief of Fusion , we set about trying to track the "digital campaign" with several dedicated people. What we quickly realized was that there was both too much data -- the noisiness of all the different posts by the various candidates and their associates -- as well as too little. Targeting made tracking the actual messaging that the campaigns were paying for impossible to track. On Facebook, the campaigns could show ads only to the people they targeted. We couldn't actually see the messages that were actually reaching people in battleground areas. From the outside, it was a technical impossibility to know what ads were running on Facebook, one that the company had fought to keep intact .
Across the landscape, it began to dawn on people: Damn, Facebook owns us .
Pariser suggests in his book, "one simple solution to this problem would simply be to require campaigns to immediately disclose all of their online advertising materials and to whom each ad is targeted." Which could happen in future campaigns .
Imagine if this had happened in 2016. If there were data sets of all the ads that the campaigns and others had run, we'd know a lot more about what actually happened last year. The Filter Bubble is obviously prescient work, but there was one thing that Pariser and most other people did not foresee. And that's that Facebook became completely dominant as a media distributor.
* * *
About two years after Pariser published his book, Facebook took over the news-media ecosystem. They've never publicly admitted it, but in late 2013, they began to serve ads inviting users to "like" media pages. This caused a massive increase in the amount of traffic that Facebook sent to media companies. At The Atlantic and other publishers across the media landscape, it was like a tide was carrying us to new traffic records. Without hiring anyone else, without changing strategy or tactics, without publishing more, suddenly everything was easier.
While traffic to The Atlantic from Facebook.com increased, at the time, most of the new traffic did not look like it was coming from Facebook within The Atlantic 's analytics. It showed up as "direct/bookmarked" or some variation, depending on the software. It looked like what I called "dark social" back in 2012. But as BuzzFeed 's Charlie Warzel pointed out at the time , and as I came to believe, it was primarily Facebook traffic in disguise. Between August and October of 2013, BuzzFeed 's "partner network" of hundreds of websites saw a jump in traffic from Facebook of 69 percent.
At The Atlantic, we ran a series of experiments that showed, pretty definitively from our perspective, that most of the stuff that looked like "dark social" was, in fact, traffic coming from within Facebook's mobile app. Across the landscape, it began to dawn on people who thought about these kinds of things: Damn, Facebook owns us . They had taken over media distribution.
Why? This is a best guess, proffered by Robinson Meyer as it was happening : Facebook wanted to crush Twitter, which had drawn a disproportionate share of media and media-figure attention. Just as Instagram borrowed Snapchat's "Stories" to help crush the site's growth, Facebook decided it needed to own "news" to take the wind out of the newly IPO'd Twitter.
The first sign that this new system had some kinks came with " Upworthy -style " headlines. (And you'll never guess what happened next!) Things didn't just go kind of viral, they went ViralNova , a site which, like Upworthy itself , Facebook eventually smacked down . Many of the new sites had, like Upworthy , which was cofounded by Pariser, a progressive bent.
Less noticed was that a right-wing media was developing in opposition to and alongside these left-leaning sites. "By 2014, the outlines of the Facebook-native hard-right voice and grievance spectrum were there," The New York Times ' media and tech writer John Herrman told me, "and I tricked myself into thinking they were a reaction/counterpart to the wave of soft progressive/inspirational content that had just crested. It ended up a Reaction in a much bigger and destabilizing sense."
The other sign of algorithmic trouble was the wild swings that Facebook Video underwent. In the early days, just about any old video was likely to generate many, many, many views. The numbers were insane in the early days. Just as an example, a Fortune article noted that BuzzFeed 's video views "grew 80-fold in a year, reaching more than 500 million in April." Suddenly, all kinds of video -- good, bad, and ugly -- were doing 1-2-3 million views.
As with news, Facebook's video push was a direct assault on a competitor, YouTube . Videos changed the dynamics of the News Feed for individuals, for media companies, and for anyone trying to understand what the hell was going on.
Individuals were suddenly inundated with video. Media companies, despite no business model, were forced to crank out video somehow or risk their pages/brands losing relevance as video posts crowded others out.
And on top of all that, scholars and industry observers were used to looking at what was happening in articles to understand how information was flowing. Now, by far the most viewed media objects on Facebook, and therefore on the internet, were videos without transcripts or centralized repositories. In the early days, many successful videos were just "freebooted" (i.e., stolen) videos from other places or reposts. All of which served to confuse and obfuscate the transport mechanisms for information and ideas on Facebook.
Through this messy, chaotic, dynamic situation, a new media rose up through the Facebook burst to occupy the big filter bubbles. On the right, Breitbart is the center of a new conservative network. A study of 1.25 million election news articles found "a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world."
Breitbart , of course, also lent Steve Bannon, its chief, to the Trump campaign, creating another feedback loop between the candidate and a rabid partisan press. Through 2015, Breitbart went from a medium-sized site with a small Facebook page of 100,000 likes into a powerful force shaping the election with almost 1.5 million likes. In the key metric for Facebook's News Feed, its posts got 886,000 interactions from Facebook users in January. By July, Breitbart had surpassed The New York Times ' main account in interactions. By December, it was doing 10 million interactions per month, about 50 percent of Fox News, which had 11.5 million likes on its main page. Breitbart 's audience was hyper-engaged.
There is no precise equivalent to the Breitbart phenomenon on the left. Rather the big news organizations are classified as center-left, basically, with fringier left-wing sites showing far smaller followings than Breitbart on the right.
And this new, hyperpartisan media created the perfect conditions for another dynamic that influenced the 2016 election, the rise of fake news.Sites by partisan attention ( Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, and Ethan Zuckerman )
* * *
In a December 2015 article for BuzzFeed , Joseph Bernstein argued that " the dark forces of the internet became a counterculture ." He called it "Chanterculture" after the trolls who gathered at the meme-creating, often-racist 4chan message board. Others ended up calling it the "alt-right." This culture combined a bunch of people who loved to perpetuate hoaxes with angry Gamergaters with "free-speech" advocates like Milo Yiannopoulos with honest-to-God neo-Nazis and white supremacists. And these people loved Donald Trump.
"This year Chanterculture found its true hero, who makes it plain that what we're seeing is a genuine movement: the current master of American resentment, Donald Trump," Bernstein wrote. "Everywhere you look on 'politically incorrect' subforums and random chans, he looms."
When you combine hyper-partisan media with a group of people who love to clown "normies," you end up with things like Pizzagate , a patently ridiculous and widely debunked conspiracy theory that held there was a child-pedophilia ring linked to Hillary Clinton somehow. It was just the most bizarre thing in the entire world. And many of the figures in Bernstein's story were all over it, including several who the current president has consorted with on social media.
But Pizzagate was but the most Pynchonian of all the crazy misinformation and hoaxes that spread in the run-up to the election.
BuzzFeed , deeply attuned to the flows of the social web, was all over the story through reporter Craig Silverman. His best-known analysis happened after the election, when he showed that "in the final three months of the U.S. presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election-news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as The New York Times , The Washington Post , The Huffington Post , NBC News, and others."
But he also tracked fake news before the election , as did other outlets such as The Washington Post, including showing that Facebook's "Trending" algorithm regularly promoted fake news. By September of 2016, even the Pope himself was talking about fake news, by which we mean actual hoaxes or lies perpetuated by a variety of actors.
The fake news generated a ton of engagement, which meant that it spread far and wide.
The longevity of Snopes shows that hoaxes are nothing new to the internet. Already in January 2015 , Robinson Meyer reported about how Facebook was " cracking down on the fake news stories that plague News Feeds everywhere ."
What made the election cycle different was that all of these changes to the information ecosystem had made it possible to develop weird businesses around fake news. Some random website posting aggregated news about the election could not drive a lot of traffic. But some random website announcing that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump definitely could . The fake news generated a ton of engagement, which meant that it spread far and wide.
A few days before the election Silverman and fellow BuzzFeed contributor Lawrence Alexander traced 100 pro–Donald Trump sites to a town of 45,000 in Macedonia . Some teens there realized they could make money off the election, and just like that, became a node in the information network that helped Trump beat Clinton.
Whatever weird thing you imagine might happen, something weirder probably did happen. Reporters tried to keep up, but it was too strange. As Max Read put it in New York Magazine , Facebook is "like a four-dimensional object, we catch slices of it when it passes through the three-dimensional world we recognize." No one can quite wrap their heads around what this thing has become, or all the things this thing has become.
"Not even President-Pope-Viceroy Zuckerberg himself seemed prepared for the role Facebook has played in global politics this past year," Read wrote.
And we haven't even gotten to the Russians.
* * *
Russia's disinformation campaigns are well known. During his reporting for a story in The New York Times Magazine , Adrian Chen sat across the street from the headquarters of the Internet Research Agency, watching workaday Russian agents/internet trolls head inside. He heard how the place had "industrialized the art of trolling" from a former employee. "Management was obsessed with statistics -- page views, number of posts, a blog's place on LiveJournal's traffic charts -- and team leaders compelled hard work through a system of bonuses and fines," he wrote. Of course they wanted to maximize engagement, too!
There were reports that Russian trolls were commenting on American news sites . There were many, many reports of Russia's propaganda offensive in Ukraine. Ukrainian journalists run a website dedicated to cataloging these disinformation attempts called StopFake . It has hundreds of posts reaching back into 2014.
The influence campaign just happened on Facebook without anyone noticing.
A Guardian reporter who looked into Russian military doctrine around information war found a handbook that described how it might work. "The deployment of information weapons, [the book] suggests, 'acts like an invisible radiation' upon its targets: 'The population doesn't even feel it is being acted upon. So the state doesn't switch on its self-defense mechanisms,'" wrote Peter Pomerantsev.
As more details about the Russian disinformation campaign come to the surface through Facebook's continued digging, it's fair to say that it's not just the state that did not switch on its self-defense mechanisms. The influence campaign just happened on Facebook without anyone noticing.
As many people have noted, the 3,000 ads that have been linked to Russia are a drop in the bucket, even if they did reach millions of people. The real game is simply that Russian operatives created pages that reached people "organically," as the saying goes. Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, pulled data on the six publicly known Russia-linked Facebook pages . He found that their posts had been shared 340 million times . And those were six of 470 pages that Facebook has linked to Russian operatives. You're probably talking billions of shares, with who knows how many views, and with what kind of specific targeting.
The Russians are good at engagement! Yet, before the U.S. election, even after Hillary Clinton and intelligence agencies fingered Russian intelligence meddling in the election, even after news reports suggested that a disinformation campaign was afoot , nothing about the actual operations on Facebook came out.
In the aftermath of these discoveries, three Facebook security researchers, Jen Weedon, William Nuland, and Alex Stamos, released a white paper called Information Operations and Facebook . "We have had to expand our security focus from traditional abusive behavior, such as account hacking, malware, spam, and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people," they wrote.
"These social platforms are all invented by very liberal people. And we figure out how to use it to push conservative values."
One key theme of the paper is that they were used to dealing with economic actors, who responded to costs and incentives. When it comes to Russian operatives paid to Facebook, those constraints no longer hold. "The area of information operations does provide a unique challenge," they wrote, "in that those sponsoring such operations are often not constrained by per-unit economic realities in the same way as spammers and click fraudsters, which increases the complexity of deterrence." They were not expecting that.
Add everything up. The chaos of a billion-person platform that competitively dominated media distribution. The known electoral efficacy of Facebook. The wild fake news and misinformation rampaging across the internet generally and Facebook specifically. The Russian info operations. All of these things were known.
And yet no one could quite put it all together: The dominant social network had altered the information and persuasion environment of the election beyond recognition while taking a very big chunk of the estimated $1.4 billion worth of digital advertising purchased during the election. There were hundreds of millions of dollars of dark ads doing their work. Fake news all over the place. Macedonian teens campaigning for Trump. Ragingly partisan media infospheres serving up only the news you wanted to hear. Who could believe anything? What room was there for policy positions when all this stuff was eating up News Feed space? Who the hell knew what was going on?
As late as August 20, 2016 , the The Washington Post could say this of the campaigns:
Hillary Clinton is running arguably the most digital presidential campaign in U.S. history. Donald Trump is running one of the most analog campaigns in recent memory. The Clinton team is bent on finding more effective ways to identify supporters and ensure they cast ballots; Trump is, famously and unapologetically, sticking to a 1980s-era focus on courting attention and voters via television.
Just a week earlier, Trump's campaign had hired Cambridge Analytica. Soon, they'd ramped up to $70 million a month in Facebook advertising spending. And the next thing you knew, Brad Parscale, Trump's digital director, is doing the postmortem rounds talking up his win .
"These social platforms are all invented by very liberal people on the west and east coasts," Parscale said. "And we figure out how to use it to push conservative values. I don't think they thought that would ever happen."
And that was part of the media's problem, too.
* * *
Before Trump's election, the impact of internet technology generally and Facebook specifically was seen as favoring Democrats. Even a TechCrunch critique of Rosen's 2012 article about Facebook's electoral power argued, "the internet inherently advantages liberals because, on average, their greater psychological embrace of disruption leads to more innovation (after all, nearly every major digital breakthrough, from online fundraising to the use of big data, was pioneered by Democrats)."
Certainly, the Obama tech team that I profiled in 2012 thought this was the case. Of course, social media would benefit the (youthful, diverse, internet-savvy) left. And the political bent of just about all Silicon Valley companies runs Democratic . For all the talk about Facebook employees embedding with the Trump campaign , the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, sat with the Obama tech team on Election Day 2012.
In June 2015, The New York Times ran an article about Republicans trying to ramp up their digital campaigns that began like this: "The criticism after the 2012 presidential election was swift and harsh: Democrats were light-years ahead of Republicans when it came to digital strategy and tactics, and Republicans had serious work to do on the technology front if they ever hoped to win back the White House."
"Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power."
It cited Sasha Issenberg, the most astute reporter on political technology. "The Republicans have a particular challenge," Issenberg said, "which is, in these areas they don't have many people with either the hard skills or the experience to go out and take on this type of work."
University of North Carolina journalism professor Daniel Kreiss wrote a whole (good) book, Prototype Politics , showing that Democrats had an incredible personnel advantage. " Drawing on an innovative data set of the professional careers of 629 staffers working in technology on presidential campaigns from 2004 to 2012 and data from interviews with more than 60 party and campaign staffers," Kriess wrote, "the book details how and explains why the Democrats have invested more in technology, attracted staffers with specialized expertise to work in electoral politics, and founded an array of firms and organizations to diffuse technological innovations down ballot and across election cycles."
Which is to say: It's not that no journalists, internet-focused lawyers, or technologists saw Facebook's looming electoral presence -- it was undeniable -- but all the evidence pointed to the structural change benefitting Democrats. And let's just state the obvious: Most reporters and professors are probably about as liberal as your standard Silicon Valley technologist, so this conclusion fit into the comfort zone of those in the field.
By late October, the role that Facebook might be playing in the Trump campaign -- and more broadly -- was emerging. Joshua Green and Issenberg reported a long feature on the data operation then in motion . The Trump campaign was working to suppress "idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans," and they'd be doing it with targeted, "dark" Facebook ads. These ads are only visible to the buyer, the ad recipients, and Facebook. No one who hasn't been targeted by then can see them. How was anyone supposed to know what was going on, when the key campaign terrain was literally invisible to outside observers?
Steve Bannon was confident in the operation. "I wouldn't have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn't known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine," Bannon told them. "Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power."
The very roots of the electoral system had been destabilized.
Issenberg and Green called it "an odd gambit" which had "no scientific basis." Then again, Trump's whole campaign had seemed like an odd gambit with no scientific basis. The conventional wisdom was that Trump was going to lose and lose badly. In the days before the election, The Huffington Post 's data team had Clinton's election probability at 98.3 percent. A member of the team, Ryan Grim, went after Nate Silver for his more conservative probability of 64.7 percent, accusing him of skewing his data for "punditry" reasons. Grim ended his post on the topic, "If you want to put your faith in the numbers, you can relax. She's got this."
Narrator: She did not have this.
But the point isn't that a Republican beat a Democrat. The point is that the very roots of the electoral system -- the news people see, the events they think happened, the information they digest -- had been destabilized.
In the middle of the summer of the election, the former Facebook ad-targeting product manager, Antonio García Martínez, released an autobiography called Chaos Monkeys . He called his colleagues "chaos monkeys," messing with industry after industry in their company-creating fervor. "The question for society," he wrote, "is whether it can survive these entrepreneurial chaos monkeys intact, and at what human cost." This is the real epitaph of the election.
The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn't just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of "dark ads."
The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook. And so, during the most significant shift in the technology of politics since the television, the first draft of history is filled with undecipherable whorls and empty pages. Meanwhile, the 2018 midterms loom.
Update: After publication, Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, sent an email describing some of the work that Facebook is doing in response to the problems during the election. They include new software and processes "to stop the spread of misinformation , click-bait and other problematic content on Facebook."
"The truth is we've learned things since the election, and we take our responsibility to protect the community of people who use Facebook seriously. As a result, we've launched a company-wide effort to improve the integrity of information on our service," he wrote. "It's already translated into new products, new protections, and the commitment of thousands of new people to enforce our policies and standards... We know there is a lot more work to do, but I've never seen this company more engaged on a single challenge since I joined almost 10 years ago."
Oct 17, 2017 | www.unz.com
One month ago, I initiated here at Unz.com a discussion of the role of American Jews in the crafting of United States foreign policy. I observed that a politically powerful and well-funded cabal consisting of both Jewish individuals and organizations has been effective at engaging the U.S. in a series of wars in the Middle East and North Africa that benefit only Israel and are, in fact, damaging to actual American interests. This misdirection of policy has not taken place because of some misguided belief that Israeli and U.S. national security interests are identical, which is a canard that is frequently floated in the mainstream media. It is instead a deliberate program that studiously misrepresents facts-on-the ground relating to Israel and its neighbors and creates casus belli involving the United States even when no threat to American vital interests exists. It punishes critics by damaging both their careers and reputations while its cynical manipulation of the media and gross corruption of the national political process has already produced the disastrous war against Iraq, the destruction of Libya and the ongoing chaos in Syria. It now threatens to initiate a catastrophic war with Iran.
To be sure, my observations are neither new nor unique. Former Congressmen Paul Findley indicted the careful crafting of a pro-Israel narrative by American Jews in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby , written in 1989. Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy said much the same thing nine years ago and discussions of Jewish power do emerge occasionally, even in the mainstream media. In the Jewish media Jewish power is openly discussed and is generally applauded as a well-deserved reward bestowed both by God and by mankind due to the significant accomplishments attributed to Jews throughout history.
There is undeniably a complicated web of relationships and networks that define Israel's friends. The expression "Israel Lobby" itself has considerable currency, so much so that the expression "The Lobby" is widely used and understood to represent the most powerful foreign policy advocacy group in Washington without needing to include the "Israel" part. That the monstrous Benjamin Netanyahu receives 26 standing ovations from Congress and a wealthy Israel has a guaranteed income from the U.S. Treasury derives directly from the power and money of an easily identifiable cluster of groups and oligarchs – Paul Singer, Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, Haim Saban – who in turn fund a plethora of foundations and institutes whose principal function is to keep the cash and political support flowing in Israel's direction. No American national interest, apart from the completely phony contention that Israel is some kind of valuable ally, would justify the taxpayers' largesse. In reality, Israel is a liability to the United States and always has been.
And I do understand at the same time that a clear majority of American Jews, leaning strongly towards the liberal side of the political spectrum, are supportive of the nuclear agreement with Iran and do not favor a new Middle Eastern war involving that country. I also believe that many American Jews are likely appalled by Israeli behavior, but, unfortunately, there is a tendency on their part to look the other way and neither protest such actions nor support groups like Jewish Voice for Peace that are themselves openly critical of Israel. This de facto gives Israel a free pass and validates its assertion that it represents all Jews since no one important in the diaspora community apart from minority groups which can safely be ignored is pushing back against that claim.
That many groups and well-positioned individuals work hand-in-hand with the Israeli government to advance Israeli interests should not be in dispute after all these years of watching it in action. Several high level Jewish officials, including Richard Perle , associated with the George W. Bush Pentagon, had questionable relationships with Israeli Embassy officials and were only able to receive security clearances after political pressure was applied to "godfather" approvals for them. Former Congressman Tom Lantos and Senator Frank Lautenberg were, respectively, referred to as Israel's Congressman and Senator, while current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has described himself as Israel's "shomer" or guardian in the U.S. Senate.
A recent regulatory decision from the United Kingdom relates to a bit of investigative journalism that sought to reveal precisely how the promotion of Israel by some local diaspora Jews operates, to include how critics are targeted and criticized as well as what is done to destroy their careers and reputations.
Last year, al-Jazeera Media Network used an undercover reporter to infiltrate some U.K. pro-Israel groups that were working closely with the Israeli Embassy to counter criticisms coming from British citizens regarding the treatment of the Palestinians. In particular, the Embassy and its friends were seeking to counter the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has become increasingly effective in Europe. The four-part documentary released late in 2016 that al-Jazeera produced is well worth watching as it consists mostly of secretly filmed meetings and discussions.
The documentary reveals that local Jewish groups, particularly at universities and within the political parties, do indeed work closely with the Israeli Embassy to promote policies supported by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It also confirms that tagging someone as an anti-Semite has become the principal offensive weapon used to stifle any discussion, particularly in a country like Britain which embraces concepts like the criminalization of "hate speech." At one point, two British Jews discussed whether "being made to feel uncomfortable" by people asking what Israel intends to do with the Palestinians is anti-Semitic. They agreed that it might be.
The documentary also describes how the Embassy and local groups working together targeted government officials who were not considered to be friendly to Israel to "be taken down," removed from office or otherwise discredited. One government official in particular who was to be attacked was Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.
Britain, unlike the U.S., has a powerful regulatory agency that oversees communications, to include the media. It is referred to as Ofcom. When the al-Jazeera documentary was broadcast, Israeli Embassy political officer Shai Masot, who reportedly was a Ministry of Strategic Affairs official working under cover, was forced to resign and the Israeli Ambassador offered an apology. Masot was filmed discussing British politicians who might be "taken down" before speaking with a government official who plotted a "a little scandal" to bring about the downfall of Duncan. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is the first head of a political party in Britain to express pro-Palestinian views, had called for an investigation of Masot after the recording of the "take down" demand relating to Duncan was revealed. Several Jewish groups (the Jewish Labour Movement, the Union of Jewish Students and We Believe in Israel) then counterattacked with a complaint that the documentary had violated British broadcast regulations, including the specific charge that the undercover investigation was anti-Semitic in nature.
On October 9 th , Ofcom ruled in favor of al-Jazeera, stating that its investigation had done nothing improper, but it should be noted that the media outlet had to jump through numerous hoops to arrive at the successful conclusion. It had to turn over all its raw footage and communications to the investigators, undergoing what one source described as an "editorial colonoscopy," to prove that its documentary was "factually accurate" and that it had not "unfairly edited" or "with bias" prepared its story. One of plaintiffs, who had called for critics of Israel to "die in a hole" and had personally offered to "take down" a Labour Party official, responded bitterly. She said that the Ofcom judgment would serve as a "precedent for the infringement of privacy of any Jewish person involved in public life."
The United States does not yet have a government agency to regulate news stories, though that may be coming, but the British tale has an interesting post script. Al-Jazeera also had a second undercover reporter inserted in the Israel Lobby in the United States, apparently a British intern named James Anthony Kleinfeld, who had volunteered his services to The Israel Project, which is involved in promoting Israel's global image. He also had contact with at least ten other Jewish organizations and with officials at the Israeli Embassy,
Now that the British account of "The Lobby" has cleared a regulatory hurdle the American version will reportedly soon be released. Al-Jazeera's head of investigative reporting Clayton Swisher commented "With this U.K. verdict and vindication past us, we can soon reveal how the Israel lobby in America works through the eyes of an undercover reporter. I hear the U.S. is having problems with foreign interference these days, so I see no reason why the U.S. establishment won't take our findings in America as seriously as the British did, unless of course Israel is somehow off limits from that debate."
Americans who follow such matters already know that groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) swarm over Capitol Hill and have accomplices in nearly every media outlet. Back in 2005-6 AIPAC Officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman were actually tried under the Espionage Act of 1918 in a case involving obtaining classified intelligence from government official Lawrence Franklin to pass on to the Israeli Embassy. Rosen had once boasted that, representing AIPAC and Israel, he could get the signatures of 70 senators on a napkin agreeing to anything if he sought to do so. The charges against the two men were, unfortunately, eventually dropped "because court rulings had made the case unwinnable and the trial would disclose classified information."
And Israeli interference in U.S. government and elections is also a given. Endorsement of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election by the Netanyahu government was more-or-less carried out in the open. And ask Congressmen like Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, William Fulbright, Charles Percy and, most recently, Cynthia McKinney, what happens to your career when you appear to be critical of Israel. And the point is that while Israel calls the shots in terms of what it wants, it is a cabal of diaspora American Jews who actually pull the trigger. With that in mind, it will be very interesting to watch the al-Jazeera documentary on The Lobby in America.
Rurik , October 17, 2017 at 4:29 am GMTPhilip Giraldi is a rare American treasure. A voice of integrity and character in a sea of moral cowardice and corruption. If there is any hope for this nation, it will be due specifically to the integrity of men like Mr. Giraldi to keep speaking truth to power.googlecensors , October 17, 2017 at 5:00 am GMTOne is unable to open the documentary – all 4 parts – on YouTube suggesting that google/YouTube are censoring it and have caved into the Jewish LobbyMalla , October 17, 2017 at 5:03 am GMTWhen the Jewish Messiah comes, all of us goyim (Black, White, Yellow, brown or Red) will be living like today's Palestinians. Our slave descendant will be scurrying around in their ghettos afraid of the Greater Israeli Army military andriod drones in the sky.Frankie P , October 17, 2017 at 5:42 am GMT
But if I was a Westerner, I would support Israel any day. Because if the Israeli state were to be ever dismantled, all of them Israelis would go to the West. Why would you want that?@Rurikwayfarer , October 17, 2017 at 5:43 am GMT
He has been set free by the truth, proving the old maxim.Understand a Spoiled Child, and You Will Understand Israel. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoiled_childDan Hayes , October 17, 2017 at 5:48 am GMT
Discipline the Spoiled Child, and Boycott Israel. source: https://bdsmovement.net/
Israel Anti-Boycott Act – An Attack on Free Speech?Philip,Uebersetzer , October 17, 2017 at 6:14 am GMT
My admittedly subjective impression is that your UR reports are becoming more open/unbounded after your release from the constraints of the American Conservative . In other word, you're now being enabled to let it all hang out. In my book that's all to the good.
Of course your work and those of the other UR writers are enabled by the beneficence of its patron, Ron!There may be limits to their power in Britain. Jeremy Corbyn is hated by them, and stories are regularly run in the MSM, in Britain and also (of course!) in the New York Times claiming that under Corbyn Labour is a haven of anti-Semitism. Corbyn actually gained millions of votes in the last election. Perhaps they will nail him somewhere down the road but they have failed so far.JackOH , October 17, 2017 at 6:59 am GMT" . . . [W]ars in the Middle East and North Africa that benefit only Israel and are, in fact, damaging to actual American interests (emphases mine).Cloak And Dagger , October 17, 2017 at 7:43 am GMT
That's the money shot, Phil. I'm okay with Jews, okay with the existence of Israel, all that, but I think we were massively had by Iraq II. When Valerie Plame spoke in my area, she talked disgustedly about a plan to establish American military power throughout the Middle East. She used the euphemism "neocons" for the plan's authors, and seemed about to burst with anger. I looked up the plan, but don't recall the catch phrase for it.
I recall the basic idea was for the U. S. to do Israel's dirty work at U. S. expense and without a U. S. benefit, and I think there was the usual "God talk" cover in it about "democratization", "development", blah-blah.I remain skeptical that the Al-Jazeera undercover story in the US will be able to be viewed. I anticipate a hoard of Israel-firster congress critters to crawl out from under their respective rocks and deem Al-Jazeera to be antisemitic and call for it being banned as a foreign propaganda apparatus, much as is being done with RT and Sputnik.Mark James , October 17, 2017 at 9:32 am GMT
I fear that we are long past the point of being redeemed as a nation. We can only watch with sorrow as this great nation crumbles under the might of Jewish power – impotent in our ability to arrest its fall.ask Congressmen like Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, William Fulbright, Charles PercyKevin , October 17, 2017 at 9:37 am GMT
I'd also add Adlai E. Stevenson III and John Glenn. Stevenson was crucial in getting compensation -- paltry sum though it was– payed to "Liberty" families for their loss. The Israelis had been holding out. Something for which the Il Senator was never forgiven (especially by The Lobby).
Netanyahu should not have been allowed to address the joint session. No foreign leader should be speaking in opposition to any sitting President (in this case Obama). It only showed the power of "The Lobby." Netanyahu who knew that Iran didn't have the weapons the Bush Adm. had claimed, was treated like a trusted ally. He shouldn't have been.Tyrion , October 17, 2017 at 9:53 am GMTAnd the point is that while Israel calls the shots in terms of what it wants, it is a cabal of diaspora American Jews who actually pull the trigger. With that in mind, it will be very interesting to watch the al-Jazeera documentary on The Lobby in America.
Maybe, instead of Russia-Gate, we have is Israel-Gate. This time Netanyahu discreetly interfering in US Presidential Election ..Chilling thought though!Randal , October 17, 2017 at 9:58 am GMT
And Israeli interference in U.S. government and elections is also a given. Endorsement of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election by the Netanyahu government was more-or-less carried out in the open.
London's Mayor, Sadiq Khan, actually went to America to campaign for Hillary. Numerous European leaders endorsed her, while practically all denounced Trump. Exactly the same can be said of the Muslim world, only more so.
The problem with criticism of Israel is not that it lacks basis in truth. It is that it is removed from the context of the rest of the world. Israel's actions do not make Israel an outlier. Israel fits very much within the norm. Even with the recording this is the case.
All embassies try to further their national interest through political machinations and all people in politics tend to use hyperbolic language to describe what they are doing. I don't know if your shock is just for show or you are just a bit dim. The same applies to Buzzfeed's 'expose' of Bannon and the gasps the article let out at his use of terms like #War.
Unfortunately, contemporary idiots of all stripes seem to specialise in removing context so that they can further their specious arguments.geokat62 , October 17, 2017 at 9:59 am GMT
"so I see no reason why the U.S. establishment won't take our findings in America as seriously as the British did"
Sadly, Clayton Swisher is probably correct that the US establishment will take their findings in America just as "seriously" as the British media and political establishment, and government, did.
The British government attitude was that everything was fine because the Israeli government "apologised" and the "rogue individual" responsible was taken out of the country, and the British media mostly ignored the story after an initial brief scandal. Indeed the main substantive response was the Ofcom fishing expedition against Al Jazeera looking for ways to use the disclosure of these uncomfortable truths as a pretext for shutting that company's operations down.
But there's no "undue influence" or bias involved, and if you say there might be then you are an anti-Semite and a hater.
The supreme irony behind all this is that Trump has been prevented by his own personal and family/adviser bias from using the one certain way of removing all the laughably vague "Russian influence" nonsense that has been used against him so persistently. All he had to do was to, at every opportunity, tie criticism and investigation of Russian "influence" to criticism and investigation of Israel Lobby influence under the general rubric of "foreign influence", and almost all of the high level backing for the charges would in due course have quietly evaporated.@Rurikanimalogic , October 17, 2017 at 10:54 am GMT
Philip Giraldi is a rare American treasure.
Rare, indeed, Rurik.
And in this rare company I would place former congressman, Ron Paul.
Here's an excerpt from his latest article, President Trump Beats War Drums for Iran :
Let's be clear here: President Trump did not just announce that he was "de-certifying" Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal. He announced that Iran was from now on going to be in the bullseye of the US military. Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another Middle East war?
http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/october/16/president-trump-beats-war-drums-for-iran/This state of affairs, where the Zionist tail wags -- thrashes -- the US dog is bizarre to the point of laughter. Absent familiarity with the facts, who could believe it all? Is there a historical parallel ? I can't think of one that approaches the sheer profundity of the toxic embrace the Zionists have cover the US & west generally.The Alarmist , October 17, 2017 at 11:01 am GMTSo how is using money we give them as foreign aid (it's fungible by any definition of the US Treasury and Justice Department) to lobby our legislators not a form of money laundering? Somebody ought to tell Mnuchin to get FINCEN on this yeah, I know, it sounded naive as I typed it. FINCEN is only there to harass little people like you and me.Bardon Kaldian , October 17, 2017 at 11:05 am GMT@googlecensorsjacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:15 am GMT
Not true.@Mallajacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:21 am GMT
Abby Martin is amazingly sharp. Many of the things she says can be confirmed by Uri Avnery, both his books and articles.
Here's a link to his weekly columns.
Incredible stuff there; thanks for posting it.@Mallajacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:32 am GMT
Our slave descendant will be scurrying around in their ghettos afraid of the Greater Israeli Army military andriod drones in the sky.
According to the first vid, those drones will be built by the goyim.
Maybe there's a message there for us.@Cloak And DaggerISmellBagels , October 17, 2017 at 11:45 am GMT
I fear that we are long past the point of being redeemed as a nation. We can only watch with sorrow as this great nation crumbles
We are long past that point.
I myself am watching with joy, because this supposedly "great nation" was corrupt to the core from its inception.
For evidence, all one has to do is read the arguments of the anti-federalists who opposed the ratification of the constitution* such as Patrick Henry, Robert Yates and Luther Martin. Their predictions about the results have come true. Even the labels, "federalist" and "anti-federalist" are misleading and no doubt intentionally so.
Those who spoke out against the formation of the federal reserve bank* scheme were also correct.
The only thing great about the US in a moral sense are the high sounding pretenses upon which it was built. As a nation we have never adhered to them.
*Please note that I intentionally refrain from capitalizing those words since I refuse to show even that much deference to those instruments of corruption.Philip, glad to see you undaunted after the recent attacks on you. We can maybe take solace in the fact that their desire for MORE will finally pass a critical point, and dumbass Americans will finally wake up.jacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:47 am GMTjacques sheete , October 17, 2017 at 11:58 am GMT
"She said that the Ofcom judgment would serve as a "precedent for the infringement of privacy of any Jewish person involved in public life."
I have news for that twister of words.
In my opinion, if you choose to put yourself in the limelight, you have no private life. That is especially true for those who think they're entitled to a position of power.
In other words, if you think you're special, then you get judged by stricter standards than the rest of us.
It's called accountability.
BTW, speaking of Netanyahu, why do we hear so little about the scandal involving the theft of nuclear triggers from the US?
"The Israeli press is picking up Grant Smith's revelation from FBI documents that Benjamin Netanyahu was part of an Israeli smuggling ring that spirited nuclear triggers out of the U.S. in the 80s and 90s."
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/07/netanyahu-implicated-in-nuclear-smuggling-from-u-s-big-story-in-israel.htmlThank you Mr Giraldi. You covered an amazing number of issues in such a well written and compact article.ISmellBagels , October 17, 2017 at 12:30 pm GMT
Thanks also to Mr Unz for publishing these sorts of things.@jacques sheeteAnon , Disclaimer October 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm GMT
What she really meant by that was HOLOCAUST ALERT HOLOCAUST ALERT!!@Mallaiffen , October 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm GMT
When you listen to Abby Martin describe her experience regarding this brutal apartheid system in Israel and the genocide of the Palestinian people, remember, Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic , was a prison guard in the Israeli Defense Forces guarding the West Bank death camp. And David Brooks, political and cultural commentator for The New York Times and former op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal , has a son in the Israel Defense Forces helping to perpetuate this holocaust of the Palestinian people. I hope I live to see the day when some Palestinian Simon Wiesenthal hunts these monsters down and brings them to trial in The Hague.NPR Morning Edition 10/17/17LondonBob , October 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm GMT
Rachel Martin talks to Vahil Ali, the communications director for the Kurdish president.
In which she tries to steer him into calling for armed American intervention in Kurdistan to resist the Iranian sponsored militia.The lobby is not as powerful in Britain as it is the US, we can talk about it and someone like Peter Oborne is still a prominent journalist, but I don't see that it makes that much difference. We seem to end up in the same places the US does.Sherman , October 17, 2017 at 1:15 pm GMTI had my meeting with the Rothschilds, Goldman Sachs and the Israeli Department of Hasbara last week and we discussed how our plan to suppress both the US and British governments is progressing.ChuckOrloski , October 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm GMT
Apparently we are meeting our targets and everything is going according to plan.
Thanks for update Phil!@geokat62Jake , October 17, 2017 at 1:27 pm GMT
Speaking about how greatly rare a treasure are the P.G.'s words, below is linked a deliberately rare letter written by Congressman Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of the AZC.
Also, re, "Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another M.E. war?"
History shows that, in order for ZUSA to start M.E. wars, Americans are routinely fed Executive Branch / Corporate Media-sauteed lies. Such deceit is par-for-the-course.
At present, it would be foolish for me to not realize there is a False Flag Pentagon plan "on the table" & ready for a war with Iran.What is playing out in the UK, and is in early stages in America, is the fight between the two side of Victorian WASP pro-Semtiism.Michael Kenny , October 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm GMT
WASP culture has always been philo-Semitic. That cannot be stated too much. WASP culture is inherently philo-Semtic. WASP culture was born of Anglo-Saxon Puritanism, which was a Judaizing heresy. Judaizing heresy naturally and inevitably produces pro-Jewish culture. No less than Oliver Cromwell made the deal to get Jewish money so he could wage culture war to destroy British Isles natives were not WASPs.
WASP culture has always been allied with Jews to destroy white Christians who are not WASPs. You cannot solve 'the Jewish problem' unless you also solve 'the WASP problem.'
By the beginning of the Victorian era, virtually all WASP Elites in the Empire – who then had a truly globalist perspective – were divided into two pro-Semitic camps. The larger one was pro-Jewish. It would give the world the Balfour Declaration and the state of Israel.
The smaller and growing one was pro-Arabic and pro-Islamic. It would give the world the people who backed Lawrence of Arabia and came to prop up the House of Saud.
Each of these philo-Semitic WASP Elites groups was more than happy to keep the foot on the pedal to destroy non-WASP European cultures while spending fortunes propping up its favorite group of Semites.
And while each of those camps was thrilled to ally to keep up the war against historic Christendom and the peoples who naturally would gravitate to any hope of a revival of Christendom, they also squabbled endlessly. Each wished, and always will wish, to be the A-#1 pro-Semitic son of daddy WASP. Each will play any dirty trick, make any deal with the Devil himself, to get what he wants.
The Israeli lobby is more powerful throughout the Anglosphere than the Saudi/Arabic lobby, but the Saudi lobby is equally detestable and probably even a more grave threat to the very existence of Western man.
It is impossible to take care of a serious problem without knowing its source and acting to sanitize and/or cauterize and/or cut out that source. The source of this problem is WASP culture.That the intelligence services of many countries engage in such conduct is not really news. Indeed, you could say that it's part of their normal job. They usually don't get caught and when accused of anything they shout "no evidence!" (now, where have I heard that recently?) Of course, if the Israelis engage in such conduct, then, logically, other countries' services do so too.Fran Macadam , Website October 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm GMT
Thus, Mr Giraldi's argument lends credibility to the claims that Russia interfered in the US election and to the proposition that US intelligence agents are seeking to undermine the EU.
Since those two operations are part of the same transaction, i.e. maintain US global hegemony by breaking the EU up into its constituent Member States or even into the regional components of the larger Member States, using Putin as a battering ram and a bogeyman to frighten the resulting plethora of small and largely defenseless statelets back under cold war-era American protection, could it be that US and Russian intelligence services collaborated to manipulate Trump into the White House? If that were true, it would be quite a scandal! Overthrowing foreign governments is one thing, collaborating with a foreign power to manipulate your own country's politics is quite another! But of course, there's "no evidence"Not surprising that the Jewish public gets gamed by Israeli political elites, just as the American public keeps getting gamed by our own cabal of bought politicians. Trying to fool enough of the people, enough of the time, contra Lincoln (who was not exactly a friend of critical dissent against war either .)Anon , Disclaimer October 17, 2017 at 1:53 pm GMT@wayfarer
Daphne Caruana Galizia exposed both local thieves and the CIA-Azerbaijan cooperation in supplying ISIS with arms:
"Azerbaijan considers Malta to be "one of its provinces": https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2017/09/azerbaijan-considers-malta-one-provinces/
The Middle Eastern wars have repercussion .
Oct 16, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
cognitivedissonance1 , 15 Oct 2017 13:25Nothing new here, C Wright Mills, the US state as a plutocracy , government by the few , said it all fifty years ago , especially the economic oligarchsimipak -> NoBets , 15 Oct 2017 13:21
http://plutocratsandplutocracy.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-power-elite.htmlI would again point to Plato. Those whose affluence exceeds the critical threshold stagnate. They have no need to work, no need to hold anything as valuable, they contribute nothing and take everything.Viddyvideo , 15 Oct 2017 13:19
What is the point in being so rich? There's nothing you can gain from it, other than bank account pinball.
The purpose of being rich is to enable you. It is the only purpose. Once you are fully enabled, money has no value.
Those who are poor can't afford the tools to work well, the education/training needed, anything by which they could better themselves and be upwardly mobile.
There are some who are poor by choice. Voluntary hermits are common enough. They're not included in here because they're self-sufficient and have the tools they need so fall out of scope.
The middle band, where prone work the best, function the best, are mentally and physically the best, is very very big. Nothing stops you cramming society into there because they've plenty of room to stretch out.
But people always want to improve. No big. Make tax follow a curve, so that you always improve but the game gets harder not easier. Would you play a computer game where level 100 was easier than level 1? No, you'd find it boring. As long as it's a single curve, nobody gets penalized.
You now get to play forever, level billion is better than level million is better than level thousand, but it's asymptotic so infinite improvement never breaks outside the bounds.
"Asymptotic" is a word that meets your objection AND my rebuttal. You do not have to have either a constant, infinity or hard ceilings. Leave straight lines to geometers and enter the world of inflection points.Elites exist the world over -- East, West, North and South. Question is how do we create a world where power is shared -- Plato and his Guardians perhaps or are we doomed to be ruled by elites until the end of time?handygranny -> R Zwarich , 15 Oct 2017 13:14Indeed; smart, intelligent, "clever" folks in no way confers any degree of civility on their "vested" interests. Manipulation and control are suitably useful tools for their purposes.memo10 -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 13:11RecantedYank -> mjmizera , 15 Oct 2017 13:09
Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?
The media is not a major player in running the country, contrary to what much of the right has been brainwashed to believe. It's a tool of the elite. A hammer is also a very useful tool but it doesn't do much to determine what the carpenter builds.Rapid is still quite right... We convinced ourselves that our form of oligarchy was somehow "better" than other forms, when in fact, the end game was always the same..concentrating the power in as few hands as possible. Denial was the name of the game here in the US.CommanderMaxil -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 13:08jessthecrip's comment was clearly not calling for JRM to be imprisoned or in any way punished for his views , but for his votes . Specifically his votes in the House of commons to support benefit cuts for disability claimants. Admittedly that a pretty extreme position from my point of view, but nonetheless you are misrepresentating what was said, whether deliberately or because you genuinely have not understood only you can knowSpudnik2 -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 13:05More people should simply look up from time to time and quit living in fantasy books. The whole and real truth is not written in a book its all around you if you are willing to except what you see.vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 13:04Form a government in same way we select juries. No entrenchment of the same old guard, no lobbyists,no elite, no vested interests.Just people like you,and you.People like your children.People like your parents.People like your neighborsmjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 13:03The industrial-military complex of the 50-70s didn't just disappear, but morphed into today's structures.mjmizera -> voogdy , 15 Oct 2017 13:00Not anymore, as conspiracy nuts are now serving their new masters, the altRight. They joined the enemy.theseligsussex -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 12:59Not really driven by the oligarch, more looted. And there's normally 1 greedy bugger, Sulla or Pompey, who has to have it all and upsets the apple cart, and then you get Augustus.mjmizera -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:58There is never the right far enough that one can't be to the left of.mjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:55All the good/bad labels lose their meaning without a qualifier - for whom.winemaster2 , 15 Oct 2017 12:54The US and it being a democracy, the word that is no where mentioned in the Constitution is one big hoax and the perpetuation of the same, where the missed people in this country are further conned by the elite and the rich. Then on top of it all we f or sure not practice what we preach. To that end our political system with two senators from each of 50 states m irrespective to the population is lot to be desired in terms of any real democratic process, let alone equality in representation. To add insult to injury, the US House of Representatives where Congressional Districts are gerrymandered just about every two years, is even worst. Just as the US Congress in which over 90% of the people have no confidence.sejong -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:50Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?makingalist , 15 Oct 2017 12:47
Liberal MSM has been emasculated. It doesn't know it's dead. It doesn't move any needles. It just brays on in ineffective anti-Trump outrage and one identity politics issue after another.
Rightwing media is king in USA.One way they get away with it is by having their own separate education system. It's high time private schools were closed down.handygranny -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 12:47Who was it again who said he loves the undereducated and uninformed during the campaign season of 2016?laerteg -> ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 12:44Yes- the demonization of liberalism on the right and the turning away from liberalism on the left *has* paved the way for oligarchy.Shrimpandgrits -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 12:44
Divide and conquer, as usual, is working.Slavery -- chattel slavery -- was an element.Leon Sphinx , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
Socialist, mass slavery was not.The House of Lords in the U.K. and the Senate in the US were originally there to prevent poor people - always the majority - from voting to take away wealth and lands from the rich. Basically, if such a vote was cast, the HoL and Senate - filled with the elites of society - had the power to block it.ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:41This is a fascinating dissection of how the "leftist/liberal" media was completely disrupted by Trump. It is a long read and quite difficult (so not likely to appeal to most of the knee-jerk commentators) but, whatever your politics it is well worth a lookLaurence Bury , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502 /The human (and probably animal) world is made up of oligarchies that deal with each other. History has shown that only lone soldiers can upset established orders: Alexander, Napoleon, Lenin, Castro and Bin Laden come to mind.laerteg -> Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 12:40I agree with the article's premise. We have allowed the oligarchs to consolidate power.Matt Quinn , 15 Oct 2017 12:40
Why? Because Americans revere wealth and power. We have bought into the capitalist model hook, line, and sinker. We willingly elect candidates and sign on to policies that allow oligarchs to consolidate their power, increase their wealth and income inequality, pomote greed and selfishness, and undermine democracy - the power of the people.
We have been busy electing agents of oligarchy to Congress since 1980. Buying ino the "small government" con, the "taxes are theft" con, "the business is overregulated" con, the "corporations are the job creators" con and its twin the "government never created jobs" con, the anti-union con, etc, etc, etc.
Our political system would be a lot more representative of the people if the people would get off their butts and start participating in it. Our electoral ststem is open to anyone who wants to participate.
But who and how many participate any more?
When the people create a vacuum with their apathy and cynicism, the oligarchs fill it with their greed.
Oligarchs will always be attracted to power, no matter what system is in place. What's needed to minimize their ability to entrench themselves is vigilance in defending our institutions against corruption.
And vigilance is something that the American people seem to have less and less of every day.Maximise aggregate happiness as John Nash suggested. Cooperation beats competition in almost every sphere. Uniting the 99% will happen after the 1% have brought civilisation to a standstill and a billion people starve.vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 12:38The biggest impediment to true and real democracy is the existence of political parties.RapidSloth -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:27Denial is a powerful mental mechanism, that and also people tend to associate oligarchy with brutal, straight forwards autocratic rule.RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:20
US has a very sophisticated socio-political system that has isolated the elite and the common man through many filters rather than one solid brick wall - so people dont see it. This paired with large enough populations who are cretinous enough to actually vote for somebody like Trump or give a second term to the likes of G.W Bush makes fooling extremely easy.
There is also the tendency of treating laws like dogma and the constitution like the bible. A stark example of it is how they boast about freedom of speech. Everybody is keen to point out that one can publicly criticize politicians without fear of prosecution but nobody seems to notice how useless that speech is and how effectively the political elite shelters itself from negative opinion and is able to proceed against the public will. I find it quite fascinating.ALL oligarchies are bad...they just function from a different starting point.virgenskamikazes , 15 Oct 2017 12:20
In the US, we have an oligarchy based on wealth,who then uses their money to buy the political animals.
In Communist countries, you had a political oligarchy, who used their political powers to corner the wealth.
And in religious oligarchies you have a few selected "high priests" using religious fervor/special communication lines with whatever deity, to capture both wealth and politics.
None of these are preferable over the other as they all concentrate power into the hands of the few (1-2%), against the interests of the many.The fact is Western Democracy (democratic capitalism) is not and was never a true democracy.sejong , 15 Oct 2017 12:15
Historians from at least 300 years from now, when studying our historical time, will state our system was capitalism, whose political system was plutocracy -- the rule of the capitalist class from behind the curtains, through puppet governors.
Sure, the same historians will, through archaeological evidence, state, correctly, that we called and considered ourselves to live in a democracy. But they will also find evidence that this claim was always contested by contemporaries. Emperor Augustus restored the façade of the Republic and called himself princeps instead of king, and, officially, Rome was still a Republic until the time of Marcus Aurelius to Diocletian (maybe the first emperor to openly consider himself a monarch) -- it doesn't fool today's historians, and it seems it didn't fool the Roman people also.Oligarchy in USA is secure. For a generation, it has leveraged rightwing media to get unquestioning support from white America based on aggrieved truculence toward the liberal, the brown, and the black. And that was pre-Trump.voogdy , 15 Oct 2017 12:10
Now Trump rampages against the very symbol of the grievance: Obama.
It's midnight in the world's leading third world countryAnyone who's been accusing united states of being an oligarchy so far was branded as a conspiracy nut. So does this article rehabilitates them and confirms their assertions?j. von Hettlingen , 15 Oct 2017 12:07In ancient Greece: "While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors." Today the oligarchs aren't always united, because they see each other as rivals. But they have nothing against dividing and weakening the people in order to prevent them from rising up to "their oppressors."PeterlooSunset -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 12:06
Mass indoctrination is the answer. Oligarchs around the world seek to build up a media empire to brainwash a gullible public and sow discord in the society. The most notorious members of a civil oligarchy in the West are Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch. Like oligarchs in ancient Greece, their modern counterparts need democratic support to legitimise their goals. And they support candidates in elections who will do their bidding once in office.
Oligarchy and plutocracy will continue to rule America, because the worship of money is a popular faith. As long as an individual is well off, he/she sees little incentive to help improve social equality. A revolution will only be possible if a critical mass is behind it.The current US education system was put in place by the oligarch foundations of the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Guggenheims . It exists to keep the majority of the citizenry misinformed, thus docile workers and passive consumers.ID3924525 -> 37Dionysos , 15 Oct 2017 12:05Sounds about right - a least some, a very small minority, realise they're being suckered - the overwhelming majority die pig ignorant, whether they believe they've made it or live in a trailer park.lasos2222 , 15 Oct 2017 12:03it's very rare that an article in the Guardian doesn't have an obvious agenda. Simple click bait stuff. This article is different, and worthwhile reading. Excellent.RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:02I am only surprised that anyone would still be in the dark about whether or not the US is an oligarchy. It's been obvious now for at least the past three-four decades.RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 12:01If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, yep sure... too elections held in the last two decades contradict that statement.37Dionysos -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 12:01Yep---for where very few have very much and most have nothing, you have a pressure-cooker. The property-police must indeed grow in number and brutality.37Dionysos -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:58And the other half of it is what Ben Franklin warned about, "the corruption of the people." The gangsters really sense and know how to play people against themselves---arousing appetites, appealing to short-term pleasure, to short-term feel-good thinking and acts, and to greed and lust for seemingly easy power. When you realize you're had, it's too late: "In every transaction, there's a sucker. If you're wondering who that is, it's you."Feindbild -> PSmd , 15 Oct 2017 11:55Yep sure. The 'big white kid' pritecting the brown kid does tend to be working class or middle class Jewish, and indeed, more likely to be socialist than liberal (in my experience).MTorrespico -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:52
I wouldn't limit credit for this kind of thing to any particular ethnicity. But I will say that most major successful reform 'crusades' of modern Western history were inspired by Christian ideals, and often led by Christian clergy, including the anti-slavery Abolition movement in 19th-century America, the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and '60s, and the anti-Communist revolutions in 1980's Eastern Central Europe. Even in the anti-Apartheid movement, the churches played a leading role, personified, of course, by Bishop Tutu.Correct, because that would be too easy . . . for 'Muricans, because Other people might benefit, and because it is too, too logical a solution for the Turd World USA.37Dionysos , 15 Oct 2017 11:51In the Oxford English Dictionary you find that "profit" and "advantage" are close cousins etymologically. Makes sense, since "profit" (the word for value you did not put into an exchange) creates "advantage"---and then you use advantages to give even less and take even more profit. Round and round she goes, and there's no bottom. "Advantage" of course is also inherently relative to somebody else's "DIS-advantage": hence our planet full of "disadvantaged" working people.OldTrombone -> rg12345 , 15 Oct 2017 11:50No, I think the Democrats are the ones most successful at diverting the people from their own power in favor of the banks. The Republicans are far less successful by their own control, instead benefitting only from luck such as Wasserman-Schultz denying Elizabeth Warren from her rightful place in the Oval Office. Sanders was the consolation candidate for Warren voters. Warren would have beaten Trump 50-nil.MTorrespico -> Nash25 , 15 Oct 2017 11:50Correct. Two equal evils from the same nest-egg, a political party with two right-wings. At the least, the public know why the First Nazi of Great America has an aura of flies.name1 -> Skip Breitmeyer , 15 Oct 2017 11:46Divisions or hijacking? I suspect the latter.PeterlooSunset , 15 Oct 2017 11:39teamofrivals , 15 Oct 2017 11:38
a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.
Thanks for the cracking joke. That was hilariously funny.There's a term on everything and a rhythm to all things and its an impertinence to think that any political system lasts forever for our security.brianBT , 15 Oct 2017 11:34full and transparent disclosure of all finical and gift transactions between elected official and anyone not in govt.. this include "payments" to family, friends their charities.. etc.. if you cant see the lie no one fight to have the laws and rules changed... additionally lobbyist must no longer be allowed to have the type of closed door access to our leaders.. all these conversations must be moderated or flat out banned and a new form of communication is developed.... put it this way I have never been able to get a meeting with my leading politician yet big business can at almost any time.. I'm glad this issues is being more openly discussed.. we need more of the sameID3924525 -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:32Karl Marx, in The Communist Manifesto , indentified this in his concept, "False Consciousness", and Orwell, taking Stalinism to exemplify it, points to the same in Animal Farm , though I bet they weren't the first, and hope they won't be the last.OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:31Machiavelli was right, when you need political favors to get to the top, then you will always owe the favor-givers when you get there. Machiavelli also said this:laerteg , 15 Oct 2017 11:29
When the most powerful person has literally zero interest in the outcome, they will defer to moral utilitarianism every time. Ask Canada's John Ralton Saul "The Unconcious Civilization" and Australia's Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party [seriously] who scuppered Aussie right-wingers from bringing US-style education-loans to rent-seek our economy to death.The problem is that today's so-called "populists" have been so propagandized into despising the liberalism that could fight the oligarchs, and buying into the very policies and philosophies that allow the oligarchs to consolidate their power (endless tax cuts, undermined government, deregulation, big money in politics, destruction of unions, etc, etc.) that they play right into their hands.Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:28
They've mistaken a demagogue for a man of the people and continue to cheer on the dismantling of the checks on oligarchy that our system provides.
This country is in a world of hurt and those who should be exercizing their democratic power to diminish the power of the oligarchs are busy dismantling it, thanks to decades of right wing media propaganda.
All I see is more oligarchy, more autoctacy, and less power to the people. We just keep sticking it to ourselves.I literally copy pasted the comments in order, how have I twisted anything?OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:25
The person complained about some reaction to Rees-Mogg for having different political views being over the top and you promptly justified their claim.Capitalist oligarchies = bad, right?ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 11:22
So... communism, then, right?
It's time for SORTITION
When anyone could instantly become president, then everyone has to be educated as much as possible. Right? Hey classical policy scholars, sortition worked in Ancient Greece too! As well as everywhere else ever since. Ever heard of court juries?Divide and rule - the oldest trick in the book, and incredibly easy, as long as people are kept ignorant by propaganda (currently known as The Media) and education.rg12345 -> Rainborough , 15 Oct 2017 11:21Many (most?) Of us do understand it, that's why we're opposed to Citizens United, whereas the Republicans are for it.Nash25 , 15 Oct 2017 11:20Hillary Clinton lost because the working class (correctly) perceived her to be a supporter of oligarchy in the USA. Her ties to Wall Street, corporate power, and the upper class were too obvious.jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:19
Yes, Trump fooled many voters into believing that he was populist, but their perception of Clinton was still accurate.
If the Democratic party leaders had chosen Sanders as their candidate, they would have won the election. But the "Democratic" party leaders (ironically) feared what he offered: real democracy.You are an expert twister and no mistake. I can only salute youSoxMcCarthy -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 11:18"The Bad Hayek emerged when he aimed to convert a wider public. Then, as often happens, he tended to overreach, and to suggest more than he had legitimately argued. The Road to Serfdom was a popular success but was not a good book. Leaving aside the irrelevant extremes, or even including them, it would be perverse to read the history, as of 1944 or as of now, as suggesting that the standard regulatory interventions in the economy have any inherent tendency to snowball into "serfdom." The correlations often run the other way. Sixty-five years later, Hayek's implicit prediction is a failure, rather like Marx's forecast of the coming "immiserization of the working class.""fivefeetfour , 15 Oct 2017 11:18Lenin has written that politics is a concentrated economy more than a century ago.rg12345 -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:16Do you think Democrats are the only ones trying to consolidate wealth and power? You must have missed the part about keeping people divided.Lafcadio1944 , 15 Oct 2017 11:15This of course is a simplified version and can't really touch on everything, however he glaringly leaves out the deliberate human suffering results from the oligarchy protecting its wealth and aggressively taking over ever more markets. Yes, of course, what today is called "alignment of interests" among the oligarchy is necessary but that alone is not enough they mus also be ruthless beyond that of others. Nothing stands in the way of profits nothing stands in the way of ever greater control. The oligarchy has decided that nature itself is just another obstacle profit making - there is no room for empathy in the world of the oligarchy poverty suffering from curable disease mutilation from bombs are acceptable external consequences to their obsessive accumulation of wealth.Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:14
The real reason the oligarchy wins is because they are willing to be ruthless in the extreme and society rewards ruthlessness and ridicules the empathetic."Perhaps the OP was proposing prison for JRM for expressing a viewpoint..."R Zwarich -> Kay Nixon , 15 Oct 2017 11:14
Nobody was proposing that, it was hyperbole from rjm2017.
Well it was hyperbole until your comment calling on punishment for those with different political views.This may be true, they often seem so blinded by their raw greed that their powers of reason become dysfunctional. I don't think, however, that the stupid things they do to slake their greed means that they are stupid. When the chips are down, they are capable of bringing their considerable powers of reason to bear.fragglerokk , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
However stupid or smart they might be, we surely must realize that they have been at least smart enough to gain total ownership and control of all our mass media. They use this tool, the most powerful tool of social control that has ever existed, with consummate skill in pursuit of their agenda(s).
If you look at the overall content of our mass media, you can see an impressive level of 'mind' at work, 'behind the curtain'. This 'mind' is constantly manipulating our consciousness, using very highly sophisticated, highly skilled techniques.Their understanding of human psychology, and their ability to manipulate us using our most basic appetites and desires, is characterized by true genius, even ig that genius is diabolical in its designs.
'They' choose what movies get made. Which TV shows are produced. Which songs get airplay. Which social and political issues are sensationalized and which are buried.
Most of the citizens of our ostensible 'democracy' have been 'trained', just as any animals are trained to any behavior, to be 'consumers' rather than 'citizens'. We are well trained by an omnipresent mass media that assaults us constantly. In any direction that we turn our gaze, or our attention, 'they' are there, to direct our thoughts as they think serves their purposes.
I sure wouldn't sell these people's intelligence short. They may often do stupid things to serve their greed, but they did not acquire the power that they have through any lack of intelligence.what everyone seems to forget is that whilst ancient Greece was the cradle of democracy it was not only a slave state (whose slaves had no rights to vote) but that only an elite minority were eligible to vote themselves - power very much rested with the vested interests of the few.OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:13
I agree that societies are a reflection of the 'will' of the people these days, even if that will is ill informed, reactionary or, as seems to be the case, largely uninterested in voting. You get the governments you deserve and people in the West have become lazy, permanently distracted, often ignorant and usually in the grip of one addiction or another, thus allowing 'democracy' to be subverted. The media have had their role in this by allowing themselves to be manipulated and owned by vested interests, rarely reporting the truth and doing as they are told by various govt offices and departments. Uninformed people make poor decisions.What the Black Lives Matter movement is telling us is that the Oligarch's enforce their rules of 'law' precisely at the barrels of guns, and by the words of one man after one man, each with a uniform on and a camera off.TheResult -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 11:13National Anthems only make sense in context of International GamesElgrecoandros -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:11
Where 2 anthems are played out of respect for each otherFurther, you stated above that you were "...responding to a poster who called for imprisonment for those concerned", when in fact the quote shows they were complaining about people calling for imprisonment, not calling for it.Skip Breitmeyer -> sparkle5nov , 15 Oct 2017 11:09
That shows you are twisting what was said, it is incredibly disingenuous of you.It's the divisions of the left that allow Tory and Republican minority rule to prevail. In the US the divide is quite bitter between Hillary and Bernie wings of the Dems- at the moment I don't really see where reconciliation can emerge. And of course in Great Britain you actually have two major parties competing rather self-destructively for the available votes on the left. (As well as the mighty Greens...). Divided and conquered, indeed. And such a bloody cliche!OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:06jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 11:06
Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality
And yet Marx doesn't rate a single mention in the entire article...No, even though you've quoted me you have misunderstood what was perfectly plain. I stated 'like everyone else who voted to cut even more from disabled people's benefits'. Perhaps the OP was proposing prison for JRM for expressing a viewpoint, but that was not and is not where I'm coming from.OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 11:05PSmd -> Dark Angel , 15 Oct 2017 11:02
At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes.
Here is the exact reason why the Democratic Party is lost now. The Clintons, Wasserman-Schultz, and their new Goldman Sachs alumni hero in New Jersey, and now Kamala Harris seeking the same money from the same bankers.
And who did Hillary blame? Bernie, of course.It's sort of worked against the right though. Take a look at the last election. Yes, the Tories got most votes, but they've pretty much lost all ethnic minorities, including asian professionals, hindus and sikhs. Why is this, especially when Labour moved to left and are now more socialist than left liberal?Elgrecoandros -> jessthecrip , 15 Oct 2017 11:01
Purely because the right has been subsumed by angry grievance mentality, or aggreived entitlement. The internet is awash by people who hate assertive blacks and asians, Dianne Abbott received half of all abuse of female MPs. And so.. the Labour pick up votes that Tories had gained under Cameron. If you are a prosperous hindu dentist or stockbroker, sure you might have shrugged off your parents labour voting tendencies and might be Tory. But also, you might be seeing this sort of stuff, the bile on the internet, the resentment expressed behind internet anonymity. And you might be thinking that deep down underneath that expensive suit of yours, you are your father and mother, a tentative, slightly frightened, cheaply dressed immigrant who has arrived as an outsider and are visibly aware that half the population likes you, but the other half doesn't.
And so you vote Labour.
Divisiveness actually divides the core group you are aiming to win. If you do white chauvinism, well, you end up unite everyone who is not white. Black, brown, yellow, all huddle together scared, back under the labour fold. And you end up dividing the whites into the patriotic and the 'self hating libtard'.The sequence of comments was...barciad -> FrankLittle , 15 Oct 2017 10:57
"Just read the language of many in here...apparent JRM should be banished and locked away. You don't need to look to far to find odeous beliefs."
Your reply to that:
"Not locked away. Prison is expensive for the taxpayer. Assets sequestered for the good of the commons and put to work cleaning - streets, hospitals, care homes - on workfare. Like everyone else who voted to cut even more from disabled people's benefits, causing what the UN has described as a 'catastrophe' for disabled people in this country"
My reply to you:
"You are advocating confiscation of private property and forced physical labour for people who hold different political views to you. Is Stalin a hero of yours?"
Yours is a call to punish people for holding different political views to you.
Yours is an extremist position and, like all extremists, you think it is justified.Skip Breitmeyer -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 10:56
e.g. Park Chung-hee sent thousands of homeless people to camps where they were used as slave labour, many were were tortured and executed.
Like I said, benignish. He took a third world basket case (which is what South Korea was up until his seizure of power) and set it on the way to becoming a first world economy.One of the most interesting mini-discourses I've read anywhere. I would only add that the 'mob' currently in charge of the polity of the House is actually a minority that has gamed the system.AladdinStardust -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 10:56which is exactly what the author did when her ill health meant that she no longer had medical insurance. Ain't life a bitch?OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:55Rainborough , 15 Oct 2017 10:55
They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods
Like Wine-stine? (Wine-stain?)"Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality."ChesBay -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 10:52
No democrat with two working brain cells to rub together could honestly suppose that great concentrations of wealth, which necessarily confer political power on the wealthy class, can fail to undermine democracy. A capitalist democracy is an oxymoron and a delusion.They admire the rich, and the lifestyles of the rich, although it is out of their reach.AveAtqueCave , 15 Oct 2017 10:51
They do not admire the wise, and the experienced.
They don't know who are their state and federal representatives.
They don't know the reason for the Civil War.
They don't know much about our history, our constitution, or anything about civics.
They don't know much about world history.
They don't read much, and are suspicious of education, and the properly educated.
They are easy marks for lies, and negative influence, because they never question.
They refuse to address, or even admit, their own irrational prejudices.
They don't vote, but they do plenty of complaining, and like to blame others for the problems of our nation.Good luck with that.FrankLittle -> barciad , 15 Oct 2017 10:45I do not think that benign or even benign(ish) suits the majority of the above e.g. Park Chung-hee sent thousands of homeless people to camps where they were used as slave labour, many were were tortured and executed.DammedOutraged , 15 Oct 2017 10:44
Not sure how Carl Mannerheim gets to be on your list? He was appointed Military chief during the Finnish civil war and he was elected President of FinlandOh you mean a bit like all those plebs going out and voting to wreck the EU oligarchy's vision as to whats best?vastariner , 15 Oct 2017 10:44StephenR45 -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 10:43
At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success. Instead of public works projects, dedicated in the name of the people, they relied on what we can think of as philanthropy to sustain their power.
That was more because there was no income tax regime - something difficult to impose when there was no centralized collection from a single consistent professional government. So if the Athenian navy wanted a ship, it got a rich chap to pay for it. Rather than out of general taxation.
Athens got rich on levies it imposed on its allies by way of protection money, which eventually collapsed in acrimony, but that's a different story.You'll be first "over the top" then?Alfandomega -> timiengels , 15 Oct 2017 10:41Owen Jones ? ......a man of high minded principle and unblemishedsomebody_stopme , 15 Oct 2017 10:41
virtue . Don't think he would object to a spot of terror........in defence
of his liberal principles , of course..I guess we are seeing some of oligarchy break down. Many oligarchs support many socialist policies to avoid tension between classes. For eg: many rich support universal basic income and some even support single payer healthcare.imperium3 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:41Kay Nixon , 15 Oct 2017 10:40
You make a good point but in my wide but less than comprehensive knowledge of rapid development often occurrs in periods of oligarchy.
All those mills that drove the industrial revolution, created by oligarchy.
All those armies and aqueducts that drove the Roman Empire, created by oligarchy.
All those libraries and universities that drove Greek learning, funded by the oligarchy.
The great library of Alexandria, oligarchy.
OK, I'll concede that. Which makes for an interesting perspective on things overall, actually. One can see the advantage of an oligarchy - wealth and power is concentrated in few enough hands to achieve great things, but not so few that, like in a monarchy or dictatorship, the leader must spend most time and effort on keeping their power. Whereas a more equal democracy lacks the capacity to make bold steps or drive through unpopular new ideas. But this also means the oligarchs have the power to grind down those underneath them, and therefore in order to enjoy the fruits of that development, the oligarchy needs to be destroyed.
In other words, oligarchies deliver growth, democracies deliver prosperity. I would certainly not like to live under an oligarchy (assuming I'm not an oligarch) but it would be beneficial for a country to have had one in the past.I have come to the conclusion that the oligarchy which rules the world are complete imbeciles who haven't a clue that the whole Neoliberal system they built in the 1970's is collapsing and they are clueless on how to handle it. Just because they are wealthy and greedy doesn't mean they are intelligent.J.K. Stevens -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 10:40In order to prevent the protests from going out over the airwaves Fox (sports) in all their 'logic' started excluding broadcast of the Anthem. Early on I said I would not watch any of these sporting events with, as you say, these jingoistic displays going out and Fox has obliged me but I wont say thanks.desertrat49 -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 10:39Yes....Nothing in current affairs would surprise the ancient political philosophers who were students of real human nature ...and real history!yule620 , 15 Oct 2017 10:37Understanding Greece is not something you associate comfort with.desertrat49 -> DrPepperIsNotARealDr , 15 Oct 2017 10:36It serves as a relieve valve...just as it did in Ancient Greece and Rome.Obfusgator , 15 Oct 2017 10:36It's very simple really. The law system makes a complete mockery of democracy and the judiciary is comprised of a bunch of laissez-faire twits.desertrat49 -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 10:35The last recourse of scoundrels is patriotism!...always been thus because it always works...see H.L. Mencken et. al. !Postconventional -> SenseiTim , 15 Oct 2017 10:34Britain isn't different. Oligarchy is built into our system of governance, e.g. royals and house of lords. We even have special oligarch schools where children are sent to be educated for leadershipdesertrat49 -> zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 10:33You do not think the pomp and circumstance of Oligarchs, Monarchs and Military Dictators is without purpose or effect, do you?StephenR45 -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 10:32Ban Keeping up with the Kardashians.Gunsarecivilrights -> ID059068 , 15 Oct 2017 10:31Or in other words, "I can't take care of myself, so I demand the government take money from others and give it to me!"maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 10:31"An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy." - Thomas JeffersonEquilibriaJones -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:31
We have Americans who don't know when the Civil War was fought, or even who won, but insist we must stand for the national anthem before a ballgame.
So much for 'the Land of the Free'.Saying life can only get better if we are all collectively greedy together is not a logical argument. Ask the polar bears.StephenR45 -> davshev , 15 Oct 2017 10:30It didn't start with Trump.Gunsarecivilrights -> DirDigIns , 15 Oct 2017 10:30More people need to read Atlas Shrugged.desertrat49 -> MarmaladeMog , 15 Oct 2017 10:30All of the wishful thinking is hugely naive.....they have not been studying the lessons of history.J.K. Stevens -> OldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:29And in the older grades, they prescribe (hand out) adderall, CSN stimulants, like chiclets to help student study (cram) and with comprehensive test taking.desertrat49 -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 10:28
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-frances/why-are-so-many-college-a_b_8331958.htmlThis is the rub.....and the mob does not value education while the rulers value propaganda. Notice the close association between Autocratic and Oligarchic systems and religion, historical mythology and hyper-patriotism!EquilibriaJones -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 10:28Or that's the evil of it. Economic inequality rises until people die. Like homeless on the streets, starving food banks, grenfell tower, waiting on hospital beds instead of famine and pitchfork wars.desertrat49 -> Crusty Crab , 15 Oct 2017 10:25
The idea is to progress and solve problems before they escalate to pitchfork wars. Praising grotesque inequality is not part of the solution, it's the cause of the problems.H. L. Mencken is a must read on this!Alfandomega -> Peter Martin , 15 Oct 2017 10:24Very remote possibility . I think you'll find their over inflated salariesSenseiTim , 15 Oct 2017 10:24
weigh more heavily in the balance than their " principles ".This article should be required reading for all Americans. I am posting a link to Twitter and Facebook to get as many Yank eyeballs on it as possible.desertrat49 -> Langsdorff , 15 Oct 2017 10:24What emerges from Plutocracy is Oligarchy...what emerges from Oligarchy is Autocracy. Autocracy is one form or another is the natural state of human society....all the others are ephemeral systems...or systems that disguise the actual Oligarchy or Autocracy!davshev , 15 Oct 2017 10:23The biggest contributor to America's plutocracy is our abysmally uninformed electorate.desertrat49 , 15 Oct 2017 10:20
HL Mencken knew this nearly a century ago when he said:
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."Just exactly when was it that "democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece"?jessthecrip -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 10:18
What proportion of the population in Ancient Athens, for example, were actually citizens...and what proportion of those actually held the franchise?...I believe that you would find the numbers surprising!
Also ...when these (and other) writers speaks of Ancient Greece.....it is usually Athens that they are mythologizing....most the Ancient Greek world had little by way of representative government...let alone "Democracy"!No I wasn't. I already responded to you regarding this. To remind you, I saidOldTrombone , 15 Oct 2017 10:17I was not suggesting punishment for 'thought crime' or for expressing views, but for actions seriously damaging to our citizens.
when people in positions of power take £28 billion (at least) off one of the most powerless and already impoverished groups in our country (disabled people), resulting in hundreds of suicides, enormous suffering, worsened isolation, serious lack of care support, and thousands dying soon after being found 'fit to work' (a situation the UN has described as a 'catastrophe') then I think it perfectly reasonable to favour some punishment for those politicians who inflicted such suffering on their fellow citizensI have worked in several of the American rich's schools where they charge $30k per kid, families have 3-5 kids there, plus they donate another $30k per kid per year. These schools shame their $50k/year teachers into donating hundreds and thousands per year to their own schools in order to prompt further donations from parents, who expect the poor teachers to prove their fidelity to these rich kids by giving their own money to them. I have seen these schools' principals fire teachers who teach "how to change things". I have seen them promote teachers who teach absolutely nothing, because then the rich kids enjoy insulting and demeaning those teachers' weaknesses. I have heard rich $chool principals tell Harvard psychology lecturers that grade inflation is a marketplace necessity. I have seen rich principals tell school inspectors that the curriculum presented for verification is supplied by a currently-employed teacher (who was awfully bad at teaching) when in fact it was written and prepared by a teacher who had just been fired "for methodology problems"...davshev -> ID50611L , 15 Oct 2017 10:15
American rich schools are the sickest schools on earth, even sicker than British boarders, even sicker than other countries' orphanages.Yes, but we now have the consummate...emphasis on "con"...bullshit artist in the White House whose first order of business has been to discredit the media whenever it exposes him for what he truly is. Trump has thousands of people believing that any media story about him which is negative is "fake."Sailor25 -> JosephCamilleri , 15 Oct 2017 10:14Yes they did and in all those political systems there where rich bastards at the top making the decisions.RutherfordFHEA , 15 Oct 2017 10:13
They may have been bastards but on balance they actually made some pretty good decisions.In his book Culture Inc. , Herbert Schiller quoted a recent study on neoliberal deregulation in the US which began with the question:Sailor25 -> Dan2017 , 15 Oct 2017 10:13
"Is deregulation... a strategy on the part of corporations to re-appropriate the power lost to democratic reforms of the mid-20th century?"So you are in favour of populism?ID50611L -> debt2zero , 15 Oct 2017 10:12
I consider populism an important part of the process as it creates a balance for oligarchy.
I would consider that the greedy big picture thinking of oligarchy drives growth while the greedy small picture thinking of the plebs (of which I am one) tries to get that growth more equally distributed.Spot onMoonMoth -> Tenthred , 15 Oct 2017 10:10It is perhaps unlikely that a radical Athenian democrat from ancient Greece would recognise any current form of government as genuinely democratic.Dark Angel , 15 Oct 2017 10:10
The cleverest way to maintain a long term oligarchy in these enlightened times might be to have an elective one, only dressed up as something like say a 'parliamentary democracy'. Luckily no-one has come up with this idea yet.Exactly that is going on now - we have 'workers' and 'benefit scroungers', British against 'immigrants' who exactly are not immigrants as having legal rights to live in the UK (EU citizens), 'deserving' poor and 'undeserving' poor.Sailor25 -> Swoll Man , 15 Oct 2017 10:09
Divide and rule.
Without knowing the past, it is impossible to understand the true meaning of the present and the goals of the future.
It's so annoying that is has been so easy to manipulate with our society - Tories and UKIP say 'hate!' and people do as if they are trained animals - hate people on benefits, EU citizens, immigrants, asylum seekers, a conflict between Brexiters/Remainers...Laughing at the fact that you chose to write an insult rather than engage in debate.barciad -> FrankLittle , 15 Oct 2017 10:08Benign(ish) dictators of the 20th Century:-Sailor25 -> Boghaunter , 15 Oct 2017 10:07
Carl Mannerheim (Finland)
Kemal Ataturk (Turkey)
Fidel Castro (Cuba)
Park Chung-hee (South Korea)
Like I said, benign(ish). Each one the subject for a debate within themselves.There is always winners and losers but the worst loser in modern British society had a better standard of living than a winner of a century ago.Langsdorff , 15 Oct 2017 10:06
The key to human development is driving sustainable progress not worrying about who losses out today.
Of course there must be balance because morally we must consider who loses our today. The question is how much do we hamstring the children of tomorrow to help the losers of today.To war on the Oligarchs is to war on our own nature.whitman100 , 15 Oct 2017 10:03The super rich conservative oligarchy, currently running the UK, get away with it because enough of the British people vote against their own economic interest.GKB507 -> Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 10:02
Parents, for example, effectively vote for the food to be taken from their children's mouths, converted to cash and given in tax cuts to the super rich conservative elite so they can send their children to £30k a year private schools.
Political economy and political science should be compulsory in primary and secondary school so that the ripping-off of the British people is made obvious through education and ended through democratic revolution... it's scary though.. automation will eliminate the economic support line for many, while companies like Google have eyes and ears in every household.JamesKeye -> webapalooza , 15 Oct 2017 10:02Definition of democracy: "a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives." You are presenting an anti-Democratic party talking point, not an enlightened understanding of subtle political differences. Of course, the intention was a democracy in the USA, as compromised as it was and is. What we are not, and never have been, is an absolute direct democracy -- a form of governance appropriate only to small communities.dcroteau -> Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 10:01Considering that "the people" are not that much more enlightened than they were in ancient Greece, yes it is the will of the people that allowed the US to become an oligarchy.KK47 , 15 Oct 2017 10:00
Considering the voting turnout around 56%, that means that 44% decided that they didn't care whether or not their leader would be a good or a bad one.
That's more than 1 in 3 people who couldn't care less about the outcome of the elections.
So political apathy is the will of the people.Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space.J.K. Stevens -> Peter Martin , 15 Oct 2017 10:00
When I read this I think: why am I reminded of the words 'gentrification' and 'privately-owned public spaces'?
Excerpt from the above link:
the spread of pseudo-public space in London – large squares, parks and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers
And I'm also reminded of Attlee's great words about the attitudes of oligarchs in general:
Excerpt from the above link:
Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim. - AttleeI know that it's just geography but it appears that the 'left coast (west coast) teams (players))' are taking a leadership role in this struggle. Unlike other professional sports systems, the NFL players are at a disadvantage in terms of career length and working conditions (eg, head injuries). I believe they're going to need some outside help (in whatever form) to be successful which doesn't give me hope. There are a bunch of chicken s____ outfits and power players out there at present that, as an example, allowed (contributed) the Executive Branch takeover by a Russian backed interloper.ID50611L -> Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 09:58agree 100%Sailor25 -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 09:58You make a good point but in my wide but less than comprehensive knowledge of rapid development often occurrs in periods of oligarchy.sparkle5nov -> FE Lang , 15 Oct 2017 09:58
All those mills that drove the industrial revolution, created by oligarchy.
All those armies and aqueducts that drove the Roman Empire, created by oligarchy.
All those libraries and universities that drove Greek learning, funded by the oligarchy.
The great library of Alexandria, oligarchy.
I recognise that it takes a plebeian revolt now and again to get the wealth shared out fairly but the engine that drives the wealth so it can be shared often seem to be oligarchy.Agree! I've been saying for years; cheap fast food, cheap ale and cheap television have replaced religion as the opiate of the people.ID50611L -> zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 09:57Trump is using the toolbox created by the Bush & Obama administrations.Crusty Crab , 15 Oct 2017 09:57A free educated and honest press may be the answer to a true democracy ?DolyGarcia -> Hector Hajnal , 15 Oct 2017 09:55And how do you keep the people informed and educated when the oligarchs control the media?ID50611L , 15 Oct 2017 09:54how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government? ...consequence of a lap dog media who lick the ass rather than expose and speak the truth to power elites.TheResult -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:53Now is the right time to ban the National AnthemW.a. Thomaston , 15 Oct 2017 09:50
Brainwashing jingoist nonsense is a bandwagon platform for wet fartsThe captured author/minions have obviously not had full access to the reading roomHector Hajnal , 15 Oct 2017 09:49
*And the secret writings of
Part of a small cache of loose leaf scrolls smuggled out of Alexandria before the fire
Last entrusted to a small elite 13th century band of chainsaw wielding warrior...
Comedy writing nunsIs about education, oligarchy wins to ignorant people. In order to have a healthy democracy the people must be informed and educated other wise oligarchies groups will inundate everything with cheap adds, will manipulate and will win control, methinksId1649 -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 09:45And all brought down when the elites forgot that they were only the top of a pyramid and that they ultimately relied on those below. We at the foot of the monolith can see that the oligarchs serve only themselves so no longer buy into their project. We see that it is one big club and we - unlike our political masters - ain't in it. So empires fall.MarmaladeMog , 15 Oct 2017 09:45Sitaraman's colleague sounds worryingly naive.Sailor25 -> EquilibriaJones , 15 Oct 2017 09:44True, perhaps that's the beauty of it.webapalooza , 15 Oct 2017 09:44
The senators have to supply the bread and circuses the plebs want or out come the pitchforks.The author demonstrates his ignorance of the American system of government. He uses the word "democracy" no less than 8 times, yet American is not a democracy and never has been a democracy. You will find no form of the word "democracy" in any of the founding documents. The Founding Fathers knew very well the dangers of democracies, and so they created the American government as a constitutional republic. Not once does the author mention that; I doubt he even knows what it means, let alone the difference.NoBets -> imipak , 15 Oct 2017 09:43If you're complaining because prices are (inevitably) regressive on the "poor" (however defined), what do you say to the obvious retort that this is indeed the main difference between being "poor", being comfortable, being affluent and being rich?FrankieOwen -> TheResult , 15 Oct 2017 09:38
What is the point of working and earning if it isn't aimed at making oneself less "poor" or more affluent?Dunno, doesnt appear that they do in the rough parts of Chicago.furryandrew -> Commem , 15 Oct 2017 09:38Or as Mayer Amschel Rothschild correctly summed up the situation in 1790 - "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws"Peter Martin -> J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:36
What this article fails to draw our attention to , and they never do, is that private banks CREATE 97% of our entire money supply (look up "fractional reserve banking"). Whilst that remains the case the "oligarchy" will always have firm control over the rest of us.Wonder what would happen if all players took a knee, if they all stood together then the owners would start to fret.nhickman -> TheWindsOfWinter93 , 15 Oct 2017 09:32There was a time when the deadliest military weapon was the longbow. It could only be handled by men who had been trained up since infancy.zootsuitbeatnick , 15 Oct 2017 09:32
It enabled the English to rout a numerically superior French force at Agincourt, 1415.
The notion that the early 15th century was a period of democratic government is an interesting reading of history.imoNewmacfan , 15 Oct 2017 09:30
In the US today, the oligarchy cannot win without an assist from a significant segment -- not necessarily a majority -- of the overall population.
9/11 taught us that many people are willing to give up freedoms for the myth of security.
The Trump presidency is teaching us that many people are willing to give up their voice -- democracy -- for the myth of returning to a perceived better way of life (group superiority over racial, gender, religious, etc equality) from some bygone era.
imoWe are currently experiencing a destabalisation of our nation and fellow Western Nations by the dominant Western Nation to try to halt the failure of this vastly endebted bigger brother......how do we stop this?J.K. Stevens , 15 Oct 2017 09:28On this NFL Sunday it is not hard to imagine the secret meetings that owners and/or their representatives had to coalesce against Kaepernick's 'taking a knee' to stop this form of protest in its tracks as a oligarchical institution. On Tuesday, when Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones declared that any player taking a knee would not play today, the circle of the objective to chill dissent was complete.TheLibrarianApe -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 09:27
And the plutocratic beat goes on.Top post.DrPepperIsNotARealDr , 15 Oct 2017 09:26Democracy was always like this. What is that famous quote, by Earl Grey or Sandwich or someone, in Parliament, about allowing peasants to have the vote? "I do this, not to weaken our power, but to preserve it"FE Lang -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 09:25
Democracy in the UK and the US has always been a forum for the oligarchy to resolve their own disputes rather than rule for the people by the people. Brexit is an example, a referendum held essentially because of the split in conservative party.And conservatives are going to save us all from done minded feel good policies of the left, is that it?BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 09:21
Since the 80's American politics had swing do far to the right liberals are capitalists monied elites, but the right had an army of simple minded uneducated lemmings on thier side, people that will be against thier own personal interests because of 12th century religious horse spit or group think. Thier are more Right winners in State houses, leadership positions then ever before, they control the Congress, the courts, the Presidency and yet dolts like you still say the country is going in the wrong directions and listen to son misters tell you its the fault of the left. Somewhere in your reptilian brain you know this makes no sense, but you lack of depth, you inability to comprehend what you read or to shake free from the group think or right wing ideology will never let you understand that the bet people you vote in time after time are the very ones whom have sold your job to the Chinese, profited from your child's illnesses, war, chaos in some far off land.
Keeping voting Republicans, it's working out so well for you tailer, Nascar types...The article obfuscates a distinction laid out by Aristotle, in The Politics: aristocracy - rule by the few, focused on the common good; and oligarchy - rule by the few (wealthy), focused on their selfish good. He argues that aristocracy, rule by the best, inevitably turns into oligarchy, rule by the wealthy. In Aristotle's three forms of government - rule by one, by few, by many - the three legitimate forms (monarchy, aristocracy, polity) degenerate into their evils twins (tyranny, oligarchy, democracy). For Aristotle, Democracy was not a legitimate form of government, but a corrupted form: mob rule, we might call it. The US Constitution deliberately set out to create a mixed form of government: monarchy (president); aristocracy (Senate and Supreme Court); polity (House of Reps.). From the beginning, Americans have focused on the potential for our "monarch" (president) to turn into a tyrant: Trump is the poster child for a single executive ruling on his own, selfish behalf. We have been less aware of the fact that the Senate has become a simple oligarchy, while the House has degenerated into a bastion of deputies chosen by what Aristotle would have called democracy, that is, a corrupted form of rule by the many. Aristotle's citizens - those who rule and are ruled in turn - can constitute about 10% of the population; in today's US that would mean 20+ million people actively and continuously involved in politics (i.e., not simply showing up every four years to mark a ballot). Millions of Americans have long done such things, and political life remains active at the local level in many areas. On the national level, the Tea Party has shown how this level of enhanced involvement can transform politics, and has further shown that a coherent, organized minority can demolish what we think of as democratic norms. They are about to elect a Senator in Alabama who has twice been removed as a judge on the state's Supreme Court (an elective body), for violations of judicial norms. Here in the US, all three forms of our original government - monarchy, aristocracy, polity - have degenerated into their evil twins. Yes, the wealthy 1% will always game the system in their favor, but until we restore each of the parts of our forma mixta, we can never reduce their advantages to a level consonant with a decent form of society. Under W Bush, the oligarchs got the tax rates (above all on capital gains) reduced to their 1929 levels. That legislation had a time limit, and Obama chose not to continue it: indeed, he raised capital gains rates a further 3.8% [making the rate 23.8% as against the 15% of Bush]. Now, the two greatest goals of the oligarchs are a return to the 15% rate and the abolition of the estate tax, so all of the fantastically rich Baby Boomers (say, Sec'y of Commerce Ross, net worth $2.5 billion) can leave their wealth unencumbered to their heirs, solidifying the oligarchy's control. The Tea Party, through all the yahoos now in the House, can focus on creationism, climate change denial, immigration, etc., while the oligarchs quietly change the tax system to perpetuate their dominance. Over here, we are already in fiscal year 2018 (started on Oct 1), so tax changes would really go into effect in 2019, that is, after the mid-term election. If Mnuchen and Co. get their changes to capital gains rates and other technical loopholes aimed at the 0.1% [sic], and eliminate the estate tax, we'll know that the oligarchs have eliminated any barriers to their collective dictatorship.TheLibrarianApe -> Commem , 15 Oct 2017 09:20This is a blindingly excellent article.BlueberryMuffin -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 09:17
What's new is, like this article, we have the vocabulary to frame both the problem and the solution. Oligarchy is no longer inevitable and whilst the means of control are greater, the means for derogation are too and there are fewer oligarchs than plebs.
Its now easier to spot bad behaviour and harder to keep secrets. Oligarchs have to use force more often to hold into power and that tips their hand.
This article has left me (an avowed pessimist) feeling rather more optimistic.Liberalism is about freedom. Personal and economic. Not about "proletariat solidarity" and totalitarian Marxist regimes.FE Lang -> GusDynamite , 15 Oct 2017 09:15They learned their lessons well after the 60's, the last time the people really raised up against the machine, so they have given us all the; junk food at a low cost, all the TV and mindless sexually charged entertainment, all the "debt wealth", a simple minded, unread, semi-literate, beer swilling fool could ever ask for. And we all gladly gobble it up and follow the crowd, for who wants to be on the outside looking in...Giftshop , 15 Oct 2017 09:12There is always a ruling elite because power is the wellspring of all human actions. There is also a certain moral consciousness that many people argue is innate in human nature, and that consciousness is fairness. The fairness instinct survives where ordinary human sympathy may fail. Based upon this basic morality of fairness those of us who are willing to take risks in the interest of fairness need to prune and tend the ruling elites as soon as possible. We proles need to act together.W.a. Thomaston -> awilson5280 , 15 Oct 2017 09:09
Democracy is not enough and besides democracy we also need reason, facts,and fighting spirit.As the inventor of the "hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica" once said: " you have a Republic if you can keep it"amwink -> awilson5280 , 15 Oct 2017 09:06Sparta was more than just militarism, and slavery was also practised in Athens, as well as in Rome and quite much everywhere else in the ancient world.logos00 -> apacheman , 15 Oct 2017 09:05
Sparta did something that today's democracies have forgotten: it cared about protection of its citizens. That's the most elementary reason why a State exists, not to provide health or education.
Now, regarding a replacement, epistocracy has yet to be tried. And the same democracy, but with census suffrage, or via election of electors, who in turn elect the ones who will hold office, have worked quite well in many places, producing better politicians, less inclined to populism (take the Venetian Republic, for example).richard160458 -> MattSpanner , 15 Oct 2017 09:05
Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation.
One must have already broken, or at least sufficiently loosened, the oligarchic grip on politics to institute such a policy.
Here in the UK, things are the darkest they have been in my lifetime, including the Thatcher years, but we are in a moment of possibilities that can lead in opposite directions.
The author is surely right when he says
With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.
Dominance of oligarchic political power, through neoliberalism, over the last four decades has effectively put such policies out of bounds.
We had a Labour government that won convincingly under Blair while declaring itself relaxed about the accumulation of great wealth.And democracy failed after generations of poor decisions and warrichard160458 , 15 Oct 2017 09:02Greece had a long period of decline at the hands of democracy. Plato wrote his Republic as a protest, and to put forward an alternative. Eventually the romans took control.debt2zero , 15 Oct 2017 09:01
There are indeed parallels with today but given the external challenges I for one believe that western society will be overtaken by q new set of rules.Very good, interesting article. You know, every now & then this paper, for all it's faults, serves up an article that is quite enlightened/ing.GusDynamite , 15 Oct 2017 09:00
The last one I recall was an article by Kenan Malik on identity politics . For what exists in this country, the UK, I have previously used the term "oligarchy by profession" ... meaning a pool of the usually upper half of the middle class, or a group in whom that group is disproportionally represented, who not only likely have a select education but who go on to become part of certain professions - accountants, lawyers, journalists, bankers, doctors etc. ... and of course, politicians tend to be drawn from these.
And revolving door arrangements is one of the ways this pool retains a certain cohesion, or as in the article "homogeneity in culture and values".
As for division, how many times have I read, "oh, we are so divided .. blah, blah", as though some journalists have an almost unconscious need to promote it.
Interesting article.Bit too late, really. Not to mention it's super easy to take what they want while we're all so distracted by arguing about who is the most racist misogynist, defending ourselves from the accusations or applauding comic book movies. Apparently we're so distracted that we're also all genuinely shocked that Hollywood is rife with pedophilia and extreme sexual harassment as though it's some revelation that we didn't know already, but that's another conversation.PhilJoMar -> ConBrio , 15 Oct 2017 08:53
If we're all so distracted then it's not difficult for our political 'representatives' -- I use that word very tentatively because they barely ever do -- to subject themselves to the oligarchs for a few scraps more than we have ourselves.
Maybe if we didn't bicker like kids we'd beat them.Either you've not read the article attentively enough or your bias is irremediable. Limiting govt still leaves economic power and the tendency towards monopoly untouched. The genetic impulse you mention is a spurious concept in itself. If there were such a genetic impulse we would not have seen such a change as the major advances of women in the last half century. Culture is the key, much more than any genetic impulse, which is practically meaningless and so explains nothing.
As wealth defense is so important to oligarchs, there is a constant pressure to cheat and break the law. One solution therefore is to apply the law but also to construct legislation with specific principles in mind. If the point of tax legislation is to contribute your share towards the general good then those who avoid and evade tax would be guilty of a technical breach but also a breach of the principle.
However our laws are skewed to allowing the wealthy to defend their wealth and so a party of the people is always needed. Always.
Lastly private schooling needs to be looked at. I mean FFS Eton has charitable status!
Oct 15, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.
The system, in other words, can't really be "rigged" to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government?
The question was a good one, and while I had my own explanations, I didn't have a systematic answer. Luckily, two recent books do. Oligarchy works, in a word, because of institutions.
In his fascinating and insightful book Classical Greek Oligarchy, Matthew Simonton takes us back to the ancient world, where the term oligarchy was coined. One of the primary threats to oligarchy was that the oligarchs would become divided, and that one from their number would defect, take leadership of the people, and overthrow the oligarchy.
To prevent this occurrence, ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. Among other things, they passed sumptuary laws, preventing extravagant displays of their wealth that might spark jealously, and they used the secret ballot and consensus building practices to ensure that decisions didn't lead to greater conflict within their cadre.
Appropriately for a scholar of the classics, Simonton focuses on these specific ancient practices in detail. But his key insight is that elites in power need solidarity if they are to stay in power. Unity might come from personal relationships, trust, voting practices, or – as is more likely in today's meritocratic era – homogeneity in culture and values from running in the same limited circles.
The ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power
While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.
These collaborators legitimized the regime and gave oligarchs beachheads into the people. In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing. They would expel people from town squares: a diffuse population in the countryside would be unable to protest and overthrow government as effectively as a concentrated group in the city.
They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods. Reading Simonton's account, it is hard not to think about how the fragmentation of our media platforms is a modern instantiation of dividing the public sphere, or how employees and workers are sometimes chilled from speaking out.
The most interesting discussion is how ancient oligarchs used information to preserve their regime. They combined secrecy in governance with selective messaging to targeted audiences, not unlike our modern spinmasters and communications consultants. They projected power through rituals and processions.
At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success. Instead of public works projects, dedicated in the name of the people, they relied on what we can think of as philanthropy to sustain their power. Oligarchs would fund the creation of a new building or the beautification of a public space. The result: the people would appreciate elite spending on those projects and the upper class would get their names memorialized for all time. After all, who could be against oligarchs who show such generosity?
An assistant professor of history at Arizona State University, Simonton draws heavily on insights from social science and applies them well to dissect ancient practices. But while he recognizes that ancient oligarchies were always drawn from the wealthy, a limitation of his work is that he focuses primarily on how oligarchs perpetuated their political power, not their economic power.
To understand that, we can turn to an instant classic from a few years ago, Jeffrey Winters' Oligarchy. Winters argues that the key to oligarchy is that a set of elites have enough material resources to spend on securing their status and interests. He calls this "wealth defense," and divides it into two categories. "Property defense" involves protecting existing property – in the old days, this meant building castles and walls, today it involves the rule of law. "Income defense" is about protecting earnings; these days, that means advocating for low taxes.
The challenge in seeing how oligarchy works, Winters says, is that we don't normally think about the realms of politics and economics as fused together. At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes. Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.
Winters argues that there are four kinds of oligarchies, each of which pursues wealth defense through different institutions. These oligarchies are categorized based on whether the oligarchs rule is personal or collective, and whether the oligarchs use coercion.
Warring oligarchies, like warlords, are personal and armed. Ruling oligarchies like the mafia are collective and armed. In the category of unarmed oligarchies, sultanistic oligarchies (like Suharto's Indonesia) are governed through personal connections. In civil oligarchies, governance is collective and enforced through laws, rather than by arms.
Democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.'
With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing.
They build a legal system that is skewed to work in their favor, so that their illegal behavior rarely gets punished. And they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy. In a civil oligarchy, these actions are sustained not at the barrel of the gun or by the word of one man, but through the rule of law.
If oligarchy works because its leaders institutionalize their power through law, media, and political rituals, what is to be done? How can democracy ever gain the upper hand? Winters notes that political power depends on economic power. This suggests that one solution is creating a more economically equal society.
The problem, of course, is that if the oligarchs are in charge, it isn't clear why they would pass policies that would reduce their wealth and make society more equal. As long as they can keep the people divided, they have little to fear from the occasional pitchfork or protest.
Indeed, some commentators have suggested that the economic equality of the late 20 th century was exceptional because two World Wars and a Great Depression largely wiped out the holdings of the extremely wealthy. On this story, there isn't much we can do without a major global catastrophe.
Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown." Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people.
In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.
The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.Ganesh Sitaraman is the author of The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution
curiouswes -> antdog , 16 Oct 2017 00:37I think the USA is a republic and not a democracy. I also think the distinction isn't a subtle one. Many think we'd be better off as a democracy. I don't. In a democracy, the majority rules. That means when you are in the minority, you don't have a say. The electoral college prevents the larger states from squeezing out the smaller states. However some don't think that is necessarily a problem. Urban life is very different from rural life and we can't make all of the rules based on urban life.hardmoney -> trundlesome1 , 16 Oct 2017 00:27They're too busy being distracted with Bread and Circuses.gregwani , 16 Oct 2017 00:24Whilst the suggestion of "creating a more economically equal society" is obviously desirable, it's not exactly a practical recommendation against the context of the rest of the article.BrunoForestier -> Hypatia415 , 16 Oct 2017 00:19
Herein lies the key: "...they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy."
Possible solution? No vote; no donation.
Curtail corporate funding of political parties, Super PACs, Unions, etc. and have election campaigns financed from public funds ONLY. If you can't vote as an individual person/citizen, you can't contribute.
This would remove a big barrier to reform - lobbyists and political patronage - and ensure that elected leaders are unshackled, with the freedom to govern based on evidence-based policy and long-term planning rather than just rewarding the corporate elite who put them there.Even with compulsory voting Australia still funnels votes to those we don't want to elect in the form of transferable 1st pass the post single member electorates. True democracy would grant proportional representation, and allow citizen initiated binding referenda.BrunoForestier -> FLanzy61 , 16 Oct 2017 00:12White nationalism wasn't necessary when you were 90% of the population - it has only emerged with the mass immigration era, when socially engineered policies threaten to make you a minority in your own nation-state. (yes, I am aware that the indigenous population was here first and was disposessed - but America the nation state was clearly built predominantly on European settlement)curiouswes -> nonsensefactory , 16 Oct 2017 00:07
There used to be an effective form of identity politics - based on working class common interest - that brought a high standard of living to most people (even the oppressed Black minority). It is the splitting of that identity that has allowed the neoliberals to sideline class as a divider of common interest.regarding (1): not sure it is feasible and I don't think we should do it if it is. The market is a weird animal imho. Both the hedgers and the speculators can drive a market share price up or down and contrary to popular opinion, I don't believe the speculators are to blame when a company does well. A lot of people got financially devastated because they had holdings in Enron. I wouldn't want to punish those investors even further because they invested in a bad company.BrunoForestier , 16 Oct 2017 00:00
regarding (2): I agree. The concept of globalism is a good concept. However the way it is being implemented isn't.
regarding (3): Again I agree. Most of the regular posters who agree with the media nonsense don't post on articles like this one because a paid troll sticks out like a sore thumb on articles like this.By these measures you could say America has been an oligarchy from its very conception. Look at the robber-barons of the 19th c. There are occasional "raisings of the veil" such as new deal or great society when the general public gets a fair go. The industrial boom of ww2 is what gave the working class a shot at living a decent life - and of course offshoring industry is precisely closing that door again.functor , 15 Oct 2017 23:56I am not an expert on Greek history but wouldn't the example of Alcibiades suggest that when an oligarchy falls-- due to war and plague in the case of Athens -- dangerous demagogues who break away from the same oligarchy ride the "democratic" wave and cause even more misery like the idiotic invasion of Sicily? Weren't the democratic people-- the landless poor of Athens-- more inclined to war at that point than the oligarchs? In some sense aren't we seeing what happens when a member of the oligarchy breaks away in present day U.S-- Trump rode a populist wave that was very democratic and people powered-- and where has that got us? Sometimes true democracy can be a messy and frightening affair.Bewareofnazihippies -> ChesBay , 15 Oct 2017 23:55
I offer no defense of oligarchies, but the older I get, the more I wonder whether democracy of the people, by the people, is really for ALL the people.
Take Brexit, Trump, or for a more remote example, the Fascist inspired Hindu right wingers in India. All of them are in many ways a truer representation of the voice of the people, but that voice is so ugly, so exclusionary, so narrow, that one might be forgiven to want the sedate stability of an oligarchy back.I'm afraid I have to agree. When thinking on these issues, I have a recurring mental image, it's the crowd scene at Brian's window, in the greatest cinematic example of satire, Life of Brian.antdog -> sejong , 15 Oct 2017 23:41
Brian -"You are all individuals. You are all different! "
The crowd -"YES! WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS! WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! "
Man -"I'm not"
The crowd -"Ssh! Ssh! "......ahhh, reclining in the facetious lounge; unfortunately, this amusement left us with a candidate ignoring the masses of the American population opening the door for Trump.mrkris -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 23:40
Tens of millions of Americans waited patiently for a Dem candidate to talk about our stacked decks, D.C. swamps, and broken systems -- instead, they gave us a Hillary coronation and expected us to embrace the pantsuit.
Meanwhile, tens of millions then voted for Trump, knowing point-blank he was lying; they happily voluntarily deceive themselves (current/active); how sad is this reality ?As someone already said, instead of treating poor people unequally well, why not treat rich people the same as everyone else- don't let them hide their money from the taxman, don't give the rich unfair breaks and handoutscuriouswes -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 23:40Alex Cardosa -> koikoi , 15 Oct 2017 23:38
Do you think that is going to inspire Americans to get out and vote?
When the choice for the most powerful office in the world comes down to a choice between Donald J Trump and Hillary R Clinton (who were friends before the election started), I tend to think that our problem is not due to voter apathy, but rather voter apathy is due to our problem.
Those who still participate, still think this is all about the left vs the right because they think they still have a choice. They do. they get to choose between neoliberalism and fascism.The way its always been done. At the end of a pike. The rest is just fantasy.antdog -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:31After university econ training, and a long business career, I now consider education a terrible thing. Knowing what I know now about how our systems really work, when I observe our Congressional leaders looking into the camera with point-blank lies day in and day out, I feel they deserve execution; literally, I am feeling like heads should roll.hardmoney -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
Our systems have been hijacked, and the interests of the masses of our populations are being completely ignored--what should be the penalty for selling out, via acute sophisticated engineering, the population of an entire nation ?"Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us."hardmoney -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
Pretty difficult when the criminals are in charge of lawmaking."Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us."PGNEWC -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 23:30
Pretty difficult when the criminals are in charge of lawmaking.I dont think its a belief in 2 parties but a belief in a type of fixed yin and yang that drives thisBewareofnazihippies -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 23:18
Opposites like Good v Evil , the Unknown Others (like Foreigners) v the known (your Family /Friends ) etc . We see things as Either/Or because it is the simplest way of making sense of our world. But the world is far more complex and nuanced than this and there are degrees of rightness and wrongness and we as you say take on board the whole rigid structure of one side or the other -- it plays right into the oligarchs handsYour instant dismissal of zaarth's point of view is the essential problem of modern democracy - casual demeaning and disregarding attitude from the ruling elites towards an informed citizen expressing concerns of inequality and systemic concentration of political power to the oligarchs.Be Gold , 15 Oct 2017 23:02
There maybe no political will to address these issues, but there sure as hell is plenty of social will! As for your last sentence "- So redistributionist policies have no future. ", well, considering that we've had 40years of global wealth being redistributed to the 1%, it's about time it was spread around a bit more equitably, don't you think?In America, oligarchs win when Dems are center right (in practice, not rhetoric) and are sold out to the oligarchs. Case in point, HC. There is no counterbalance to those who are even further to the right. Oligarchs win without a legit 3rd party.koikoi , 15 Oct 2017 22:39A article. A case in point - Iceland, where the elite owns the fishing fleet and controls the financial industry, whereas the majority of the population barely scrape by. People are furious but how do you overturn centuries of oligarch 'rule and law'?vr13vr -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 22:38Disagree. "Why" is always a question. If you don't know and understand "why," the original intent of a law, you can't interpret and apply it properly. As a result, it gets perverted to the point that it does no longer make sense. We have plenty of examples in the US.vr13vr -> Wolframite , 15 Oct 2017 22:35
Without why you can't adapt to the changing environment either.But how successfully? And with how much resources, compared to various industrial and other deep pocket lobbies?franklin100 -> kizbot , 15 Oct 2017 22:34Yes, it's the same wherever people keep their mouth shut to keep their job. That's the corrosive effect of corruption.hardmoney -> SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 22:31Do you know how small the odds are to get a large group of people to rally (or vote) around a cause? This is why grassroots have a low success rate. The founding fathers certainly knew how small the odds are and gave the people a bone they naively believed to be useful and powerful; the right to vote. It is one of the biggest cons played on the people and has managed to keep the natives quiet and complacent, while the elite and powerful do their bidding.franklin100 -> Nada89 , 15 Oct 2017 22:30As the joke goes, I welcome our new oligarch overlord. Yes, most likely one fallen oligarch will be replaced by another.kyoung21b -> helenus , 15 Oct 2017 22:09The ones that rob you blind, wantonly if they're called republicans and apologetically if they're called democrats.franklin100 -> Bewareofnazihippies , 15 Oct 2017 22:06To get back to the argument about the oligarchs buying collaborators, everybody who keeps their mouth shut to keep their job falls into that category. So that's the majority in work.boilingriver -> antdog , 15 Oct 2017 22:06That's why i want to go after the politicians and bypass their evil, selfish, stupid pawns they are encouraging right now.antdog , 15 Oct 2017 21:58
Start demanding some laws for them to follow that has some teeth when they lie to us.
They want to sanction Russia who was just repeating what republican/tea party had been saying."A loophole in American tax law permits companies with just 20 percent foreign ownership to reincorporate abroad, which means that if a big U.S. firm acquires a smaller company located in a tax haven, it can then "invert" – that is, become a subsidiary of its foreign-based affiliate – and kiss a huge share of its IRS obligations goodbye.........Over the next decade, corporate inversions could cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $20 billion" Rolling Stonesejong -> thenthelightningwill , 15 Oct 2017 21:56
They made this legal, folks, and it's just the tip of the iceburg. Meanwhile, not a peep (cricket, cricket, cricket.....)As Putin said, when a spring is compressed all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard.franklin100 -> MoonMoth , 15 Oct 2017 21:54
Trump caught that wave perfectly. Clinton was wading in the kiddie pool.Corporate lobbyists have so much more wealth than the incomes of individual politicians, that is their political salary, that they are all bought not so much with brown envelopes but with jobs like Osborne's, a day's work a month for Blackrock for which he is paid £650k a year. It's so obviously not a payment for what will be done as for what has been done.HistoryHacker , 15 Oct 2017 21:53Thought provoking and excellent comments that should be read before opining. As for my opinion, it seems that communism was left out when it might just be the answer to a conundrum that seems unresolvable. Uniformity of wealth within reason (the rule of seven times) can be achieved and sustained. But that requires education which again, can be achieved and sustained. That is, if we don't blow ourselves to smithereens before we achieve such a heightened state which after all should be a...normal?!thenthelightningwill -> sejong , 15 Oct 2017 21:51Obama and the Dems lost 1,000 elected positions before Trump came along. It's because he sold out to the big banks. We don't need two Wall St. parties. Until the Dems learn to respect their voters and do things like support single payer, this is all we get.sejong -> antdog , 15 Oct 2017 21:49Debbie Wasserman's decide our candidates, thus, our elections.antdog -> Will D , 15 Oct 2017 21:48
You make a good point. DWS and HRC: it's all their fault that Trump is president.......whaaaa ? You mean to tell me coronation is not true democracy ?SoAmerican , 15 Oct 2017 21:47
I need to upchuck.The primary institution that drives oligarchy in the US is the "two party system". It is not enshrined in the Constitution. It is purely the working of the political class. The people need to quit believing that there can only be two parties.antdog -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 21:45The spin and brainwash are now far, far more powerful than the 1960's.SoAmerican -> zzoetrope , 15 Oct 2017 21:44
How else do you explain tens of millions of formerly hardworking middle class, now on the outside looking in (with their adult children), continuing to wave the flag, with a large smile on their faces, all the way to the poorhouse day in and day out--and not even a peep?Honestly though, it becomes more undemocratic when people rag on it sy as you have done above. Do you think that is going to inspire Americans to get out and vote? What you don't understand, or maybe you do too well, is that the biggest threat to democracy in the US is apathy. When you present it as such a situation that there is no reprieve, then why should they vote?Will D -> Andrew Stronto , 15 Oct 2017 21:35As the article points out the oligarchs use selected messaging, which includes anti-left propaganda and misinformation. So the result is that any political movement that is left of centre (and the centre has shifted quite a lot to the right in the last few decades) is made to seem like hard-core socialism or even communism.Will D -> Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 21:27
When you look at the policies from Bernie Sanders in the USA and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, and see how they've been attacked by the right-wing media, but when you put them into the perspective of the policies of the 60' and 70's they aren't even particularly left-wing. Most would have been described as centrist policies.
The oligarchs have succeeded in moving the goal posts to the right and made centrist policies seem dangerously left-wing.They don't overlook it because they have been bought by it. Today's 'democrats' are complicit, and rely on it for their post-political income.nonsensefactory , 15 Oct 2017 21:26Modern oligarchs owe their political and economic power to a variety of structures and systems, such as:SoAmerican -> Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 21:23
(1) The limited-liability, shareholder-controlled corporation, designed to maximize profits for the shareholders while protecting them from the consequences of their actions (why can't one sue the shareholders of ExxonMobil for the actions of the company that they control?)
(2) The global neoliberal 'free-trade' unlimited-capital-flow system, which allows oligarchs to pit nation-states and workers against one another in a race to the bottom for the lowest wages and pollution and safety standards - a system promoted by both Democratic and Republican parties in the United States, which has boosted profits for oligarchs and destroyed the middle class.
(3) The monopolistic tightly-controlled corporate media system, which promotes the interests of the oligarchs who own and control it, setting the narrative played out across television, radio, print media and much of the Internet to the overall population in a remarkably coordinated fashion - such that most 'media' serves to distract or deceive the public, rather than to inform.
There are no doubt others - such as tax codes that allow the rich to accumulate vast wealth, while stripping wealth from poor people and the middle class - but those are among the most important factors.Small D Democrats. Not big D Democrats. The Clintons are clearly in the oligarch class, much like Trump. It is rather hilarious to hear Trump supporters talk about how he cares for the poor.boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 21:19Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people.robinaldlowrise , 15 Oct 2017 21:02
In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations.
It always takes a revolution/ protest from the people to throw out the political corruption and then the rich just start again.
Until we get some laws that they have to follow and serious jail time when they do not, we will not have decent people to choose from. The reason we have such crappy choices is this is the only job in the world where you can lie and cheat to your boss (us) and face no serious consequences.It's difficult to see how Ancient Greece fits into either of those narratives if Aristotle's conclusions from his contemporary, careful, empirical (yes, really) investigations of the whole range of political variants present in Ancient Greece entered into their analyses. For a start, even in political units as small as a city-state, he rates democracy as a degenerate form of government (albeit the best of all three degenerate forms) that naturally tends towards oligarchy (another degenerate form), though – give or take some refinement of concepts involved – a proper mix of both results in the best form of "rule by the many", namely "polity", in an over-all ranking of forms of government by good or "correctness" that is topped by monarchy and tailed by tyranny.Andrew Stronto -> Hypatia415 , 15 Oct 2017 20:55
Getting in to all this while not falling victim to the modern trigger word syndrome requires significantly greater subtlety of thought than seems to be deployed by either of the authors under consideration, though how much of their analyses has slipped by the author of this piece is unknowable on the basis of the evidence here available. Have any of the trio even considered a Ancient Ryanair trip to Ancient Greece for a third millennium looksee?The oligarchs best work is done through divide and conquer and should they ultimately be truly threatened then they will prevail through an order out of chaos of their own creation. Most issues you mention like the widening gap between the rich and poor, climate change.. yada yada are engineered to fracture society to make us all easier to control. Oh and they love to stamp their handy work so keep an "eye" out for them !Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 20:53" Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality . "Roderick Llewellyn -> boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 20:51
Hog wash! They know where the money is and they want it transferred into their pockets. And if some of that money trickles down to the less fortunate, they surely will take credit for it. The Clintons didn't become multi-millionaires by concentrating on inequality.I suspect the article's Author, when he said "democrats" (notice lower case) was not referring to the political party the Democrats (upper case). He meant any who advocate for an increase in democracy. This presumably overlaps with the Democratic Party, but by no means is congruent to it.Tom Wessel -> helenus , 15 Oct 2017 20:46They are the ones that always have a smile on their faces and constantly give to charities from the monies they exploited from the ignorant masses. Then in retaliation, the masses put them on pedestals. It's a very simply routine. Wash, rinse and repeat.boilingriver , 15 Oct 2017 20:43Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.Hypatia415 , 15 Oct 2017 20:42
The Dem voters do not overlook that. To be fair the Dem politicians do look at economic policy. Affordable health care using the rich taxes, environment, clean drinking water and making CO responsible. Just look at what trump tea/party are dismantling. Dems are also for increasing min wage. They should do better, but they are not as worthless as republicans. The republicans work for the rich not us.
I find it strange that you never called out the republicans actions, just the Dems. The republicans are the ones putting in the policies/laws that are cementing the riches power and making our lives worse.A very deep and timely article given that oligarchies threaten the very survival of our world. Think the widening gap between the rich and poor, climate change, environmental degradation, war and the mass movements of people fleeing all of the above.Mercurey -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 20:41
Even with democracy and compulsory ballots in Australia voters still believe their best interests lie with the representatives of the oligarchs, the banks, financial services and transnational corporations.Demonstrably not the case when one looks at successful periods of progressive policies such Butkers Education act. The idea that the fruits of life are distributed according to talent & effort is a grim joke that can be dismissed out of hand.RobertLlDavies -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 20:29
Social privilege repeats itself & counteracting that is a moral duty. As is exposing the myths that justify it.You haven't got a clue. have you. I've spent years recruiting people into unions in small unorganised workplaces, where employers do their best to victimise anyone who tries to form a union. Many people are either afraid of joining a union - or they have no idea what unions do, except for the rubbish printed about in the anti-union papers (viz. most of them). I'm happy to say that, in the end, we succeed in enabling workers to get together in many workplaces to defend and improve their lot at work. I live in a traditional working class area, near many unionised and non-unionised workplaces. Whate about you? How many ordinary workers have you ever discussed these matters with? How many trades unionists?stanphillips , 15 Oct 2017 20:28Read the "Iron Heel" by Jack London" for a description of an extreme oligarchy set in the USA of the early twentieth century. The book is a narrative by the wife and partner of the main male character Ernest Everhard (interesting name I know). Some of Everhard's descriptions of what London saw as consolidation of the American oligarchs are succinct and chilling. If you haven't read it then it really demonstrates in a fictional sense how long the concept of modern oligarchies have been around:hardmoney -> zzoetrope , 15 Oct 2017 20:19
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1164"It never ceases to amaze me how Americans delude themselves into thinking that they live in a democracy."zzoetrope , 15 Oct 2017 20:14
They don't come by it naturally. Their delusion is pushed along by very well oiled propaganda machines, probably mostly financed by the taxpayers themselves.hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 20:08It never ceases to amaze me how Americans delude themselves into thinking that they live in a democracy. The US executive, arguable the most powerful collection of people in the world, is substantially un-elected. Only the President stands for election and he's not elected by the people but by an undemocratic electoral college; Hilary Clinton received the most votes and lost the election.
Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don't want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.
The rest of the Executive aren't elected, they're appointed and you can't "just vote them out".
Then there's Congress where electorates are so gerrymandered that in the vast majority of cases the results are foregone conclusions; national elections are decided in a few "swinging" seats. Congress is also corrupted by the dependence of the system on massive donations, by lobbyists, and vested interests.
Of the world's democracies, the Unites States must be one of the least democratic.And the Oscar goes to America, land of the free and milk and honey; created, propagandized and brought to you by the Hollywood tv and film industry for the last 100 years.skydolphinattakforce , 15 Oct 2017 20:05in America the 2 partys pretty much control the election and they are both part of the oligarchy. so I don't think theres much hope for the U.S.PennyCarter -> RBHoughton , 15 Oct 2017 20:02I recently read an essay where the American political system is likened to a rodeo. The bull is the voting public being ridden by the oligarchs. If the oligarch falls off the bull the bull is distracted by the rodeo clown (the president) until he can get back on the bull.Tom Wessel -> Manacatsaman , 15 Oct 2017 19:57" I personally wonder,... just how much longer this level of stupidity will persist. "Tom Wessel -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 19:53
Probably well into the disaster of global warming." Who exactly are the oligarchs? Do you think that they know that they are oligarchs? "gerryinoz , 15 Oct 2017 19:52
I doubt a pervert or rapist looks at himself as such.Who are our oligarchs and who do they finance, lobby, influence and control in Canberra?desertrat49 -> GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 19:51
The law. The fucking law is mainly for the very wealthy or influential, not for grafters like me.
Still, all in all, in Oz we have a labor party that gave us decent wages, Medicare and super.I think our oligarchs are greedy bastards but not as severe as the American, Russian or Arab oligarchs. The French knew how to deal with theirs in the 18th century and a couple of ours could do with that treatment.As Socrates was forever doing...if we do not define our terms, we quickly end up in the weeds. Britain is King in Parliament (badly corrupted under Victoria!) and America is a Plutocratic Republic!...No Democracy intended...or delivered...but much mythologized none the less!Tom Wessel -> aldebaranredstar , 15 Oct 2017 19:51"kind of like taking a knee ...we shouldn't be pursuing niche interest anymore."RBHoughton , 15 Oct 2017 19:51
Police brutality is a "niche" Issue? I can see you haven't met a Brown Shirt you didn't like.The American people cannot vote out the oligarchs because they make the rules of the game and the electorate must comply. The author seems to suppose there is a democracy operating on this planet when the nearest we have approached that ideal is the supposedly representative democracies of numerous countries.JosephCamilleri -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 19:49
One of the features that reinforce the oligarchy in power in USA is the agenda of the nine Supreme Court judges who approved 'Citizens United' and assured the oligarchs that the man with the money would call the shots.
Another important point that does not surface in this article is the 600BC institution, jointly with democracy, of theatre. That allowed playwrights to present the naive electorate with plays enacting the hard choices that citizens would have to make now they were responsible for their own government. There is a group of greats scholars on the BBC's 2014 series "Guilty Pleasures" who discuss and approve this point.On balance over thousands of years some rich bastards made some good decisions? How scientific of you. Not so much a logical argument as a watery fart.Bewareofnazihippies , 15 Oct 2017 19:48Please Guardian, don't close this comments section too soon.Tom Wessel , 15 Oct 2017 19:48
This topic truly goes to the heart of why so much of humanity's failings of governance and stewardship of the Earth is so malevolent.
The quality of the responses highlight that many readers recognize that this is THE issue that underlies so many of our existing problems." Ancient Greek elites developed institutions and practices to keep themselves united. "desertrat49 -> TallulahD , 15 Oct 2017 19:46
Nothing couldn't be more relevant then the Guardian running Hillary Clinton articles. Saw at least 3 on the front page right now. Let's keep the elite neoliberals in power.Like I said elsewhere, one has to first define citizenship and who has the franchise before one gets too carried away by talk of Democracy!JosephCamilleri -> Amanzim , 15 Oct 2017 19:44There are democracies and "democracies". India has a ruling class that rules for its class, so not really that democratic. India isn't USA, USA isn't Australia, Australian isn't Germany, Germany isn't the Netherlands. That's roughly the scale.desertrat49 -> PennyCarter , 15 Oct 2017 19:44One of the interesting conceits of American culture is the way that the mega rich envision themselves as simply middle class...one sees it all the time.aldebaranredstar , 15 Oct 2017 19:40
The short answer is that the politically aware Oligarchs know very well who they are....and the wannabes know who they are as well!
My favourite is still one of the Koch brothers saying that he had no problem with Oligarchy...so long as he got the government that he paid for! Beautiful!!More than oligarchs I see alliances built on niche interests, or interests that are particular to a group of people. these special interests are wedge issues for that group, kind of like taking a knee and how that affects the NFL and ripples through the whole culture. Too many niche interests are being pushed forward, and that's why there's no consensus or very little. That's why there is gridlock and stasis. we shouldn't be pursuing niche interest anymore. we need larger consensus agreements, things we can agree on in society as a whole, and we got to keep talking until we find that agreement. that's how I see itsejong , 15 Oct 2017 19:33A hundred years ago, as the West industrialized, oligarchs wielded power via the employment relationship. Beginning a generation ago with the transfer of manufacturing to China, the instrument of power shifted to media. Murdoch was one of the first to exploit this. And now we have Trump.guest0987 -> Zaarth , 15 Oct 2017 19:28Agree totally. Redistribution of wealth to keep a few from controlling everything is what we need. And this does have a future as moving to the left is the way for the US to go. The right has shown for at least the past 40 years to offer nothing.Redredemptionist -> WhatTheTruth , 15 Oct 2017 19:22Dear WT..., WT... do you mean by:PennyCarter -> peter nelson , 15 Oct 2017 19:21
"the oligarchy of Socialism" ?
"giving people too many rights" ? and
"neutralises everything to a standstill" ?
Too many 'dog whistles' make a strong sound but no meaningful sense what so ever!My guess is that oligarchs don't even think they are oligarchs. They probably think they are actually part of a meritocracy, having conflated the rigged political system with what they believe to be their superior abilitiesDave514 -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 19:18Sorry that was WSC.JamesValencia -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 19:17The "?" was merely rhetorical, as is usually the case on t'interwebs :)peter nelson -> MartinSilenus , 15 Oct 2017 19:14The comments in this thread mostly seem to be by whinging old style Labour supporters, who can no longer hide the contempt that they have for ordinary people - your "apathetic proles".Dave514 -> JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 19:14"Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculuspeter nelson -> 3melvinudall , 15 Oct 2017 19:12
mus." The original Latin quote used by WAX to accurately describe Attlee.Oh rubbish. People choose whether to join a union. It takes closed shop contracts to enforce union membership, and the fact that unions seldom form in right to work states prove that when given a choice most workers don't want to join a union.peter nelson -> Timothy Everton , 15 Oct 2017 19:09Nonsense. The American government was elected by the voters. Local and state government to draw the voting districts for US house races were elected by the voters. US Senate governor and presidential races cannot be gerrymandered. And Hillary Clinton WAY outspent Donald Trump.Sailor25 -> theseligsussex , 15 Oct 2017 19:06
Progressives need to stop whining and complaining about the Koch brothers and start putting together a slate of candidates and ideas that ordinary Americans want to vote for.Looted and raised off the back of slaves but in the process laying the foundation of western civilisation.peter nelson -> Zaarth , 15 Oct 2017 19:06
My point isn't that it's fair or right or good. My point is that the concentration of power and wealth in a small group of individuals often leads to incredible development that betters all of humanity down the line.Who cares what you support? There is no political will for such a thing and the general direction of democratically elected governments is toward the right not the left. So redistributionist policies have no future.peter nelson -> Manacatsaman , 15 Oct 2017 19:04Money IS speech. Surely if the founding fathers intended to protect any particular kind of speech, it must have been political speech. So if I want to use my money to promote a particular policy or political candidate then any attempt by the government to prevent that is obviously and clearly a violation of my right to political speech.Bewareofnazihippies , 15 Oct 2017 19:01One of the best articles I've read here. It's about time an article like this finally gets a hearing. I mostly read these kind of arguments and perspectives from the comments section. So well done.JamesValencia -> rikmac78 , 15 Oct 2017 19:00Well, given what I said above, one might expect me to agree, but I wouldn't: New Labour nevertheless did an enormous amound of good: A fairer britain, enormously improved public services, the business sector properly regulated. taxation improved.nottrue , 15 Oct 2017 18:59
The problem was Blair. The background was Labour, which kept on beavering away with Labour principles: "society first" in a word.
New Labour achieved a huge amount. A shame abour Blair. If John Smith hadn't dropped dead, it might be different. With emphasis on "might" - at least Smith, although also restructuring Labour towards the centre, wasn't so bent on reneging Labour core values.
Luckily the Labour party reneged little: Labour endures :)Very interesting. While it currently appears impossible to win back democracy there might be some hope. I sense that things might change soon. The debacle of the current electricity market in Australia and lack of action to mitigate climate change can be seen in the light of the Oligarchy's fear of losing their wealth base, which could end up in a rise of democracy.'TallulahD , 15 Oct 2017 18:56In Athens, enslavement for debt had been a fundamental law from the time of Draco in the 39th Olympiad in the 7th Century BC. However, in the sixth century BC, the lawgiver Solon ordained a radical new constitution: by cancelling all debts both public and private, he "liberated the people once and for all" thus paving the way for all citizens to be admitted into the Assembly: Aristotle, "The Athenian Constitution", Parts 6 and 43 (although the Athenian form of direct democracy was a limited concept by modern standards - to become a citizen one had to be an adult male, born of citizen parents).Manacatsaman , 15 Oct 2017 18:38Most people in the U.S. conflate democracy with capitalism; there's no comprehension of separateness of political and economic "systems". The prevailing idea is that "America is a nation of business" and in the 19th Century the Supreme Court declared corporations to be individual persons and most recently confirmed that "money is speech". So, the people who have the ability to vote out the oligarchy don't even know what one is, or why it's bad for them. Thus a lying, cheating, greedy "Billionaire" is seen by the middle and lower classes, or as I'm sure Trump refers to them behind closed doors, "my marks", as their savior. I personally wonder, as the Trump Administration works tirelessly to grind its base into the dirt, just how much longer this level of stupidity will persist.SteveofCaley , 15 Oct 2017 18:38The process of branding and advertising, a century old, places unmerited trust in non-human entities, corporations and institutions. Humans are slick and untrustworthy. We assume that Police Departments are always kind. If harm occurs, is it a rotten cop or rotten citizen? Pick one. Ask a disloyal NFL player. They hate the troops, peace, freedom and justice, right?SocAlan , 15 Oct 2017 18:38
The modern oligarchy is to hide behind labels and brands. God so loved the world that he founded a privately-held nonprofit with tax advantages ...whatnow? Exxon owns your axxons, folks.Sailor25 -> EquilibriaJones , 15 Oct 2017 18:35
At the same time, they sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success.
Privatisation!People always die, the default position of humanity is grinding poverty.SocAlan , 15 Oct 2017 18:32
What we should be looking at is why come civilisations escaped that. A modern Britain is less likely to die of poverty today than at any other time in history.
The concentration of wealth in small groups of individuals often provides the impetus for development. To much concentration of wealth means you end up with exploitation of the plebs the flip side leaves you with economic stagnation.
The key as in most things is getting the balance right.Timothy Everton -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 18:31
They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.
Does this not remind one of the last Labour government?Do a bit of reading. I would suggest Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains" for a start. It has a direct line to the big-money influence of the Koch family over the U.S. government. There are many others, of course.Hector Hajnal -> DolyGarcia , 15 Oct 2017 18:30ehmm well... thats something that must start within the family and the community, if family fails theres the community if community fails thats window open to attack. Even so I have been knew fellows and sisters that even in the must adverse circumstances manage to make themselves educated and with a good criteria vice versa with fellows from a good environment turn to be as... so is a matter of choose as well. The problem with that is that this are the times of internet instant gratification which create the perfect scenario to create a bunch of idiotics egocentric lunatics with not will nor performance at all just slaves to machines. So ehmmm we need some kind of a bomb which disables some of the technology, not all, just for a while and try to get some to nromalSailor25 -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 18:29I wouldn't like to live in an extreme oligarchy either but we must remember our present will be somebodies past.Guangudo -> GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 18:28
Money we direct away from growth to support our current living standard makes the people of tommorow less wealthy.
As I posted earlier there needs to be balance but we shouldn't assume oligarchy is a bad thing in of itself.I would say oligarchy or oligarchy, because "democracy" does not really exist, it never did. Nothing will change unless we do away with Darwinism.Guangudo , 15 Oct 2017 18:15"Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, dēmokratía literally "rule of the people"), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as "rule of the majority".MartinSilenus -> sparx104 , 15 Oct 2017 18:12
Having this definition in mind I do find rather bizarre that everyone insists on calling such a system a "democracy" when it is a fact that women and slaves where not allowed to vote.
Nowadays is getting somehow worse, because manipulation and agnotology have upset everything. The systems control perfectly everything and this charade are done by a power in the shadow, and although most people ignore it, this Power is theocratic.
The fact that repeating a lie constantly does not make it an axiom ...1984 is my `favourite` book, the subtext is that there is in fact no hope from the proles, as Winston Smith comes to see. They are apathetic & any who might rouse them, are liquidated. They have the power to overthrow the party, but are mostly just ignored by it, & so just get on with their lives. The lesson is that power, without the will to use it, is meaningless: still true as it happens.Dave514 -> 3melvinudall , 15 Oct 2017 18:07My, my, you've got this all sorted out so we'll have a dictatorship that is able to abolish the Supreme Court and Congress. Wow!rikmac78 -> JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 18:06New Labour is simply a lighter shade of Tory power...Pushk1n -> blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 18:00Francis Galton was a founder of the science of statistics and a bit of a snob.Dave514 -> glenns , 15 Oct 2017 17:59
Galton was a keen observer. In 1906, visiting a livestock fair, he stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal's weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 participated, and Galton was able to study their individual entries after the event.
Galton stated that "the middlemost estimate expresses the vox populi, every other estimate being condemned as too low or too high by a majority of the voters", and reported this value (the median, in terminology he himself had introduced, but chose not to use on this occasion) as 1,207 pounds. To his surprise, this was within 0.8% of the weight measured by the judges. Soon afterwards, in response to an enquiry, he reported the mean of the guesses as 1,197 pounds, but did not comment on its improved accuracy. Recent archival research has found some slips in transmitting Galton's calculations to the original article in Nature: the median was actually 1,208 pounds, and the dressed weight of the ox 1,197 pounds, so the mean estimate had zero error. James Surowiecki uses this weight-judging competition as his opening example: had he known the true result, his conclusion on the wisdom of the crowd would no doubt have been more strongly expressed.
He thought the judges local yokels and was expecting to laugh instead he found that irrespective of perceived intelligence the mean of the wisdom of the crowd ( the 800 entering the competition for a prize) was surprisingly accurate.
There are more things in Heaven and Earth ....And you know this specifically how?J4Zonian -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 17:58US media hasn't been "leftist" ever. In the 1930s and a few other periods it's had significant minorities that were liberal or leftish, but otherwise, it's mostly right-of-center imperial support mechanism media; now and increasingly, it's extreme right wing (Fox, Murdoch (WSJ, National Geographic, etc.) Clear Channel and Sinclair dominating TV and radio with more than 1000 stations. Reporters are sometimes left-leaning but that has little or nothing to do with what's published. Hollywood tends to be liberal on social issues but rarely moves off the imperial support wagon except for occasional dips into history to communicate with platitudes. Any media that considers Obama and Clinton anything but right of center corporate duopolists is way over on the right wing; that includes everything 95% of people ever hear or see--all networks, cable, every daily newspaper... The Guardian a little bit, Pacifica radio's 5 stations, Mother Jones and sort of The Nation, Common Dreams and a few other sites, blogs etc.--that's the left in the US. Pitiful, especially considering that a large majority of people in the US favor very liberal positions on almost all issues except war, death penalty and imprisonment.Dave514 -> JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 17:56British Rail was even a greater disaster ushered in by Clement, the mountains laboured a d brought forth a mouse, Attleecuriouswes -> RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 17:55For me, things really took a decisive turn for the worst when Wilson was president. Before that, the defacto government wasn't codified. According to this wikipedia article the was a "growing concern" about the so called money trust.TWOBOBS , 15 Oct 2017 17:51
The Pujo Committee was a United States congressional subcommittee in 1912–1913 that was formed to investigate the so-called "money trust", a community of Wall Street bankers and financiers that exerted powerful control over the nation's finances. After a resolution introduced by congressman Charles Lindbergh Sr. for a probe on Wall Street power, congressman Arsène Pujo of Louisiana was authorized to form a subcommittee of the House Committee on Banking and Currency.
from the article above:
In civil oligarchies, governance is collective and enforced through laws, rather than by arms.
Democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.'
With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy.
I don't know much about economics, but from what I think I know, one can speed up or slow down the economy by increasing or decreasing the money supply respectively; and prior to Wilson's term, the government had that power. However after Wilson's term that power moved into the private sector because laws were passed. I see that as a huge problem and from what I can gather, so did Lindbergh:
The new law will create inflation whenever the trusts want inflation. From now on depressions will be scientifically created.I think the citizenry is being screwed by the oligarchy on both the left and the right, which tend to merge into the same thing. Both are about power and control and have very little to do with democracy or individual liberties. Neither the capitalists nor the socialists care much about you. You are a means to an end. Both the right and the left seek to control speech and thought through the media and through institutions. Both the right and left want a disempowered, compliant population.JamesValencia , 15 Oct 2017 17:48There's lots to think about there. Thanks for a good article, more on democracy please ! It strikes me we're in a situation where we need to relearn what it is, exactly.Pushk1n -> Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 17:46
What struck me most was the oligarchy eroding symbols of democracy, and taking over the legal system of government, and I'd add, taking over the management of government through privatisation of government services: The civil service increasingly outsourced to the private sector, that is, the oligarchy.
This is what "the small state" political project, currently centre stage in the UK and the USA, is leading towards: governments run by the private sector.
And the response is always "it's cheaper and more efficient! And democracy is the representative - who cares if government departments are shut down and their services delivered by the private sector? It means less tax !"
And we end up with Network Rail, and the other scandals of privatised services in the UK, and to Labour's undying shame, much of this was ushered in by New Labour.I think you need to read the article. Trump fits every definition of an Oligarch, his actions are exactly how Oligarchs survive, true he may not be the only one in the US.Skullen -> deeaiden , 15 Oct 2017 17:42You sound slightly like a psychopath yourself.johnthebaptiste -> alloomis , 15 Oct 2017 17:38or even dictatorshiipMalicX -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 17:37
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elective_dictatorshipJessthecrip seems to have been supporting punishment of some kind for people whose actions demonstrably cause actual, serious harm to real people. You seem to consider the actions which create such actual harm (including many deaths) to be a 'political opinion'. I think that's where the difference in attitude lies.Shannon Renee Kayne-Amoureux , 15 Oct 2017 17:35Bilderberg Group, et al.Pushk1n -> GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 17:35You Think, the people were well and truly lied to by rather rich and unscrupulous people who hope to benefit from the chaos as this article makes clear this is the way that Oligarchy works by manipulating and dividing the demos.curiouswes -> hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 17:31Zaarth , 15 Oct 2017 17:22True. However, a women has the right to abort a fetus. That is a fact. Now we can have an opinion that she has the right to kill her own fetus, but that wouldn't be a fact because technically we can't ascertain that the fetus is alive because it doesn't necessarily "stay" alive if we remove it from the mother (at least not in the first trimester). Therefore legalized abortion isn't legalized murder. However it is unconstitutional to take everybody's guns away. It really takes verbal gymnastics to try to make the constitution say anything different, so the proponents for gun control swear up and down that they aren't trying to take everybody's guns away. However when you ask what their objective is, they say they want to stop people from killing each other with guns. Without that measuring rod (the constitution), they don't take that tone. Instead they argue that people don't need guns. The same can be said for speech. Hate speech imho does more damage than the right to bear arms, but the 1st amendment gives those fools the right to behave the way the did in Charlottesville. Those who tried to silence them walked on the 1st amendment, again in the name of the greater good. As a black man, I'm not about to side with people who think we need to keep those statues up. I know exactly what those statues represent. However again the constitution is there protecting their right to voice an opinion to say what I vehemently oppose. I can disagree with them but I don't have the constitutional right to silence them. When people want to force others not to speak on college campuses, that isn't constitutional. It is authoritarian. Authoritarianism in the name of the greater good. some don't have a problem with that kind of authoritarianism, but when it comes from the orange one, that's authoritarianism that nobody needs because it's really hard to find his "greater good". His sense of greater good generally seems to benefit some, while marginalizing others. Personally I think his impeachment is now months overdue, but, as you say, that is just my opinion. I think firing Comey was an authoritarian move. I think when a head of state can neutralize his detractors, in theory we can't get rid of him for anything, because he can simply fire any perceived threat to his power. The fact that he is still in power is an outrage to me. But then again, I think it was an outrage that HRC was even running for president. They dumped Gary Hart, because he was having an extramarital affair, but for some reason, HRC was able to walk through "airport security" with all of her baggage. But, "no election rigging" from state side. It was all done by the Russian oligarchs according to our wonderful media. However this is a democracy because we had a choice between, "Lock her up" and "I cannot tell the truth"
The problem is and always has been, life is not black or white, but gray. One man's fact is another man's differing opinion.This is why I support wealth redistribution through progressive taxation. It's not so much about achieving "income equality" as it is about preventing power being concentrated in the hands of a few. Extreme wealth is a public danger. Many would trample on our rights for their own profit, convenience, or pleasure, and most politicians are all too eager to let the super wealthy buy their place as public masters.Gunsarecivilrights -> Spudnik2 , 15 Oct 2017 17:19Voluntaryism is to be commended. Compelling people to be charitable with force is not.Adkult -> Newmacfan , 15 Oct 2017 17:02Yet you were complaining about regions wanting to separate before. The EU doesn't fund Spain's regional parties by the way, as much as you'd like them to.Spudnik2 -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 17:01I accept that so much of what I see demands action. The world needs more helping hands and kindness.memo10 -> mjmizera , 15 Oct 2017 16:45
You can believe in what ever you like, but actions make all the difference. Donate something like canned food, or volunteer someplace and you can make a real difference in someones life ( more than any book or bible ever did ).memo10 -> clshannon , 15 Oct 2017 16:42
The industrial-military complex of the 50-70s didn't just disappear, but morphed into today's structures.
15 years in Iraq & Afghanistan says it never changed at all.Ponderbelle -> Gamba Puirida , 15 Oct 2017 16:40
Not true, the standards are high enough, it is the fact that kids from disfunctional families and poverty cannot reach them. So the teachers just pass them on to the next grade anyway. You end up with poorly educated adults who 'know' education is useless according to their experience raising children who continue the cycle.
The curriculum is demanding enough. They just don't demand anything relevant to people's lives. As long as everything stays irrelevant they can continue rewarding the people who play by the system's rules and punish those who find that stupid and frustrating.Reich has a soul full of light and empathy. Once people are allowed to attain their basic needs, the rest is mostly fluff. Nature provides every resource needed to sustain a wholesome existence...not a cash register one to be found in the fields of plenty. Ancient greed has never been faced full-on by humanity. The required efforts to shelter, feed and clothe ourselves are too often run over roughshod due to the number one vice: Profits first and foremost, with the essentials for survival marked for the highest bid; callously termed 'what the market will bear'.kyoung21b -> TragicomedyBeholder , 15 Oct 2017 16:39
Democracy? Not in many decades. We are under the total rule of organized business; which applies to most developed nations. The virtues of sharing and goodwill would be one remedy to the basic economic inequalities.
However, in our current bailout experiment (and, not a few economists are status quo baloney feeders) the inertia is in a free wheeling philosophical advantage to the gods of the highest profit. You'll never see any sympathy cards slated for modern economists. A simple evident reality is that
our basic needs for survival are the same. Damned if we can manage to seriously address that fact first and create systems which have a clear vision for the betterment and uplift of all.
It will not be long before the loud financial bubble pop sounds off again - it will be called the inevitable market correction or due to aggressive over reach. Oligarchy will feign much needed financial aid required. We deserve much better. I predict eventually a r e v o l t from those who suffer the insanity of deprivation in a world of plenty. Certainly in the US our votes are mean less and less with the likes of Citizens United. Corporations may be legal entities but they are N O T citizens. All that exists, exists for all.Yes much more rational to treat everyone "equally" like providing huge subsidies to, e.g. big oil, big ag, and big pharma so they too can appear to be performing equally.Obtrectator -> deeaiden , 15 Oct 2017 16:37Unworldly middle-class theorists create revolutions but almost invariably cannot control them. They tear up the rule-sheets, failing to understand that that loosens or destroys the restraints on psychopaths of whatever background, who then proceed to hack their way to the top.alloomis , 15 Oct 2017 16:31
Thus Lenin facilitated Stalin; Sun Yat-sen ultimately resulted in Mao; Desmoulins and the Girondistes were devoured by the Jacobins and their Reign of Terror."He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of "oligarchic breakdown." Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. " unfortunately, democracy did not defeat oligarchy in ancient greece, except briefly in athens and its dependencies. and the usa is no kind of democracy. voting for who will be your master is not democracy, it is elective aristocracy. and that is the political arm of the economic oligarchy called 'capitalism.'Bochi -> threeoutside , 15 Oct 2017 16:283melvinudall , 15 Oct 2017 16:26
Who, exactly, doesn't think of "the realms of politics and economics as fused together"?
It's been the basic assumption of UK politics from 1997 until 2015 (at least) that there is only one "common sense" economic model that works, and that is an extreme market-oriented form of neo-liberalism.
Most of the electorate in this country still buy into neo-liberalism's deceitful platitudes as if the argument was over 40 years ago and democracy consists of choosing a few people to manage it every five years.Oligarchs in the US have, for 40 years, taken the power from the people. They have accomplished it by destroying the labor unions and any hint of a labor movement. They have taken control of the media by buying it ( 80 or so owners of MSM to 5 or 6 owners now), they control the narrative. They control what we talk about. They control the politicians by "dark money". Outside money floods strategic states to influence elections down to school board levels. Money is donated to universities with conditions to control who is hired to run certain schools within the university ( the economics school at FSU, for example). Economic policies and tax codes have funneled growth income to the top 140 families in the US. Now we are witnessing the cumulative efforts of these oligarchs bear fruit. Unions are meaningless, growth income flows to the wealth class, we talk about God, guns and gays in every election cycle, efforts to do away with all social programs and rig the tax codes so the middle class pays more and the wealthy pay less. I would say the Oligarchs are in control and have won. They control the courts and all branches of government....what is left? Can democracy survive now that they control the ballot box and the elections? And they certainly can control enough minds to win an election...we witness that in 2016.GimmeHendrix -> Arch Stanton , 15 Oct 2017 16:20'And Trump being the worst type of oligarch may create 'oligarchic breakdown' and bring the whole corrupt shitheap called US democracy crashing down.'GimmeHendrix -> threeoutside , 15 Oct 2017 16:18
Contradictions in terms. Its either a democracy or an oligarchy.You suggest a determinism which is false. Brexit is a classic example where the political will of the masses acts contrary to the immediate interests of domestic capital.GimmeHendrix , 15 Oct 2017 16:12Well its just been confirmed. We live in an oligarchy. One where the notion of democracy acts as an ideological support.curiouswes -> hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 16:09Likewise.sparx104 , 15 Oct 2017 16:07
Similar to Dorothy and her ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz; she had the power all along, but didn't know it.
Ahh, the Ruby slipper analogy! Well done! I missed it, obviously :-)Someone else seems to have understood this some time ago. ..RapidSloth -> curiouswes , 15 Oct 2017 16:06
"'If there is hope,' wrote Winston, 'it lies in the proles.' If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within'"hardmoney -> curiouswes , 15 Oct 2017 16:00
it does show when the government is exceeding it's authority
Except that when you look at how much power the constitution has given to the state in the past three decades the answer to the question of whenever or not US is an oligarchy is should be rather obvious...."...we need some way to separate fact from opinion."fragglerokk , 15 Oct 2017 16:00
The problem is and always has been, life is not black or white, but gray. One man's fact is another man's differing opinion.Can't recommend Requiem For The American Dream highly enough, absolutely required viewing for anyone wishing to understand the mockery of democracy under which we live.fragglerokk -> Gamba Puirida , 15 Oct 2017 15:59Requiem For The American Dream also ... any adult would be extremely enlightened by watching it.curiouswes -> zippy200 , 15 Oct 2017 15:55Elgrecoandros -> CommanderMaxil , 15 Oct 2017 15:54
Trouble is liberals on the one hand bang on about proletariat solidarity, yet on the other, peddle identity politics and turn a blind eye at increasingly fragmented communities.
"The Jews, will not, replace us!" I'm so glad the "president" rebuked this blatant display of identity politics in Charlottesville.That is a semantic argument over whether or not his votes can be taken to represent his views. It is still calling for punishment of political opponents because they disagree with the political opinions of the poster.GusDynamite -> Skip Breitmeyer , 15 Oct 2017 15:48Look, I'm not fan of the left way of things but to claim they are entirely to blame is willfully ignorant of conservative and right wing failings. I can hardly expect either to see my point and accept that they're the problem, the best I can do is pause now and then I know that I am the problem as much as any and try to mind myself. If we all just took responsibility for ourselves left and right and anything in between would matter far less.hardmoney -> curiouswes , 15 Oct 2017 15:40Hi wes, hope you are doing well. Yes, the people DO have the power, but they either don't know how or choose not to use it. Similar to Dorothy and her ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz; she had the power all along, but didn't know it.curiouswes -> RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 15:31ID7380890 , 15 Oct 2017 15:27
There is also the tendency of treating laws like dogma and the constitution like the bible.
I wouldn't call the constitution a bible, but it does show when the government is exceeding it's authority. In times when some are actually concerned about whether or not the USA is a oligarchy, we need some way to separate fact from opinion.Spot on article. Lots of loopy comments. Personally I find the positions the Guardian takes to be those that further the interests of our ruling elite.AnonForNowThanks -> Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 15:26
Where are the discussions about Trust Law which is nothing more than a huge tax avoiding scheme for the wealthy.
How about the control of the legal costs the high street solicitor can claim when he wins for the average person against the badly behaved housing associations and landlords, the insurers and employers. It has forced good solicitors out of these types of litigation. The result is occurrences like Grenfell Tower. The Guradian always goes on about Legal Aid. Solicitors don't need poverty rate legal aid. They need the corrupt, the greedy and incompetent to pay the same rates per hour for the small man's lawyers when they lose as they pay for their own lawyers. This funds all the work those small high street solicitors do in investigating cases that go nowhere, and enables them to provide free advice.
Or take the continuous false fears propaganda of those who wish to ignore the Leave vote. The majority voted for an end to cheap migrant labour driving down wages and living standards for the working population, for an end to an economy dominated by financial services and house price inflation.What "people?"Dave514 -> AnonForNowThanks , 15 Oct 2017 15:25
Racially polarized voting does not constitute a "people." It echoes a much earlier time, when there was a slave society on American land.
Roughly 1 in 4 active duty enlisted men and women in the US Army are black, compared with about 13.5% of the total population, hence 80%+ higher than their representation in the general population.
You don't see a problem here?Not o my the two major Vet Organization but a myriad of Vet support groups.curiouswes -> hardmoney , 15 Oct 2017 15:24Hi Money!Gamba Puirida , 15 Oct 2017 15:15
I think the people really do have the power. I think as long as we have the bill of rights, the power is still ours to retain or relinquish. Just because the scotus doesn't strike down unconstitutional laws like the patriot act, brady bill (gone at the moment but likely to come back), I don't think it means that we have no power. It is just that well informed people such as yourself have a difficult time informing those less informed because the media is engaged in a very effective endeavor to keep them misinformed. As you correctly pointed out in another post, people will believe anything. It is only those who really care enough to actually stop and think are what you are saying, only those will be informed despite the efforts of the media to keep them in the dark. If you can get enough people behind you, I think you could really change this. Me? I don't think the masses care enough. I think they are good people. It is just that they can't think ahead enough to see the crisis as it presents itself today. They don't feel the sense of urgency and as long as the media continues this game of deception, they will be more worried about the local football team they any existential threat until the media makes it out to be an existential threat.
thank you for all you do and have done!IMO, Robert Reich's movie - Inequality for all - should be played and discussed in every class around the age of 16 in western countries.AnonForNowThanks -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 15:14Which brings to mind another question: who lobbies for the homeless veterans? The oligarchs depend on the armed forces for their vast wealth and position, then discard them.SunwynRavenwood , 15 Oct 2017 15:13Then, of course, there is the guillotine.Arch Stanton -> newsfreak , 15 Oct 2017 15:13As the News International scandal showed, the British justice system / rule of law is the finest legal system that money can buy.Hornplayer -> vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 15:09Trump the Sequel you mean?Dave514 -> Hornplayer , 15 Oct 2017 15:09The major Vet organizations do so already in the US as for the homeless Churches and other charitable organizations.deeaiden , 15 Oct 2017 15:06Conveniently forgotten in all this is the fact that most of history's most horrendous dictators and political psychopaths came from the poor. Most, if not all, revolution political movements come from the upper middle class...people who have enough money to be comfortable and afford luxuries, but not enough that they are afraid of changing things to their financial and, possibly, social detriment. The only people who really want to defend and protect the status quo are the wealthy, for obvious reasons, and the poor, who do not want to change the system--which is all they know and perhaps all they understand--but only change their position in it. I meet a lot of people who are wealthy and well-educated--theseGagaInGreenacres -> unclestinky , 15 Oct 2017 15:01
attributes are not necessarily reflective of each other--and a great many people who are poor. Trust me, you definitely do not want the latter group running things. "Street smarts" are great...on the street.And who would not tolerate unemployment. In Australia, Menzies almost lost the 1961 when unemployment nudged 3%!newsfreak , 15 Oct 2017 14:59Enlightening! The judiciary is the bastion of oligarchy and the media, for the most part, confuses and divides public opinion to ensure all remains under control -- of the oligarchs.GagaInGreenacres -> imipak , 15 Oct 2017 14:52The taxation curve is a very low order matter. The primary question is the difficulty of the first level, of getting a job where you feel you are making a valuable contribution, either because of the remuneration or because of the job satisfaction. We don't need the numbers in the masters accounts to achieve this, we can make our own numbers and give them to people who are willing to make a worthwhile contribution. Even if the masters slander them as "unworthy". Even if they are not really our sort of people.threeoutside , 15 Oct 2017 14:52
The main use of taxation is to prevent masters from hiring their own private armies or worse still the national army.Excuse me? Who, exactly, doesn't think of "the realms of politics and economics as fused together"? Anybody under the age of about 16, from what I can see. What a dumb statement. Interesting subject here, though.Hornplayer -> gregwani , 15 Oct 2017 14:51Aristotle went further. Those with money Pay to participate and the money is used to pay those that are too poor and otherwise would not participate. Now the question is how much needs to be paid? The Duke of Westminster and the like should probably cough up a good whack so that the homeless and families at the food bank can be paid to participate.Arch Stanton , 15 Oct 2017 14:42The United States of America is an oligarchy as shown in 2008 when the banks through their control of the Federal Reserve and numerous politicians stole billions from the public purse. Then, Obama's consistent failure to deal with the criminal acts of JP Morgan and other banks shows who is in running that country. Cvr13vr -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 14:40
Which of course is why the political mainstream has imploded and Trump was elected. If you know that the criminals in charge vote for the man they detest most even if he is an utterly preposterous showboating unprincipled liar.
And Trump being the worst type of oligarch may create 'oligarchic breakdown' and bring the whole corrupt shitheap called US democracy crashing down.
Brexit has split the oligarch's poodles in the U.K. Ie. Blairites & Osborne v Gove / Johnson / Tory head bangers and may consign the Conservative party to oblivion. This may lead to a genuinely left wing government that represents the many and not the few.One of the questions is why? The other is that even if it is in the constitution, does it mean it can never be changed? If the reality on the ground and social threats have changed over the last 200 years, so should the laws that protect us from those threats.GagaInGreenacres -> whitman100 , 15 Oct 2017 14:39Maybe, but remember that currently even a university education in economics leaves people thinking that taxes and borrowings "fund" government spending and that banks " lend on" deposits according to the "money multiplier".Tim2006 -> Dave514 , 15 Oct 2017 14:38Corruption is not. We are talking about legalized corruption ...Ritula Fränkel -> Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 14:37What on Earth are you talking about?Scot Fourowls , 15 Oct 2017 14:37
Donald Trump is the oligarchy. His disruption at the feeding trough comes from his greed: instead of understanding that oligarchs maintain stability by sharing, he remains primarily concerned with distributing privileges to his closest circle.
Trump is not a radical anti-oligarch. He's just a simpleton oligarch who doesn't understand the rules.In response to the well-researched truth of this politically significant article, the propaganda reversal machine is in full force by the comments of upended sanity-and- unreality reverence toward the existentially ridiculous, dangerous and deceptive kleptocratic regime of 45; see, e.g., the comment of whatever or whoever is called in print "Light_and_Liberty."Evangelist9 , 15 Oct 2017 14:30
Maybe I'm just noting the comnent activity of bots. Anybody who is a real person and would want to know the truth about 45's vile regime needs only to read every political article of the Guardian UK US edition today.
Enough said.Democracy was not the norm the city states of ancient Hellas, but just one among a number of political systems. Whilst Athens had democracy in that all male citizens could vote and take part in the governing of the city (from the introduction of the system by Cleisthenes in 507 BC, and lasting for around 200 years), Sparta, for example, never had any form of democracy but two hereditary kings supported by a council of elders and the ephors. This system served the Spartans well because they were constantly on a war footing and their kings led their armies (hence the need for two kings, in case one was killed in battle, as happened with Leonidas).tjt77 -> winemaster2 , 15 Oct 2017 14:29
Some city states had τύραννοι , or "tyrants", though it did not have its modern connotations of oppression and cruelty. It merely meant an absolute ruler, good or bad.
In ancient Athens, a citizen who chose not to vote was called an ιδιώτης, which gives us our modern word "idiot".
The ancient Greeks were innovators in politics (also. of course, a Greek word) - as in almost every other sphere of life - and would not have attached the modern value terms to them that we do today. They were the greatest experimenters in history and the debt we owe to them in the modern world is incalculable."the word that is no where mentioned in the Constitution is one big hoax and the perpetuation of the same," 'One nation under God' was not mentioned either.. but nothing is static and things tend to evolve or devolve..GagaInGreenacres -> maddiemot , 15 Oct 2017 14:28
There has been lot of chit chat about a 'Democratic Republic' in the 30+ yrs Ive resided in the USA... Seems to me that a more accurate description would be "Empire" given the big enforcement stick in over 5,000+ locations across the Globe added to the huge production of military weaponry that is sold to various despots every year. An Empire which, like all those before it, cannot sustain indefinitely.You know the masters are happy reading this sort of divisive posting. So the jocks hate the nerds, get over it. The jocks are the one's suffering the main burden of unemployment.Light_and_Liberty , 15 Oct 2017 14:16You got it totally backwards: can oligarchy survive in the face of democracy unchained.Dave514 -> gregwani , 15 Oct 2017 14:16
The election of Donald Trump was a middle finger to the establishment ruling class (aka oligarchy) and the results are self evident. We have a Federal Bureau of Investigation investigating a phony dossier and calling it Russian Collusion. We have a special counsel looking for anything to indict him with vis-a-vis that phony dossier so as to remove him from office. We have the Republican party -- the president's own party -- intentionally doing nothing to forward the agenda of the people. We have embedded federal employees who are undermining the president's agenda. We have the media and Hollywood in full propaganda mode. We have Democrats aiding and abetting rioters and protesters and call it 'The Resistance'.
So, yes, it is interesting to see what happens when Democracy takes on Oligarchy and Oligarchy cannot accept the people's effrontery in voting for their own interests.Lobbying is protected by the ConstitutionGagaInGreenacres -> BayardDC , 15 Oct 2017 14:14The taxation shenanigans only work as long as long as the economy is a zero sum or worse game. That is when austerity and targeted spending on "job creation" in the private sector means that money creation only happens for the wealthy. The first step in not taxing the stagnant wealth pools, but rather getting the fresh water of government spending heading onto the dried plains of the working class.Antoni Jaume -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 14:12
Remember the masters feel far more threatened that we do, they have never experienced an honest, respectful human relationship in there lives and have no sense of self reliance what so ever. Threatening taxation as a first step to reform, is certain to get maximum response even from the "liberal" majority of the masters.If you believe that, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell, a very good bargain...gregwani , 15 Oct 2017 14:10Good article in the causes - thanks for your work - but whilst the suggestion of "creating a more economically equal society" is obviously desirable, it's not exactly a practical recommendation against the context of the rest of the article.Matt Simonton -> blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 14:06
Herein lies the key: "...they sustain all of this through a campaign finance and lobbying system that gives them undue influence over policy."
So we need to specifically advocate for curtailing corporate funding of political parties, Super PACs, etc. and have election (& referendum) campaigns financed from public funds and heavily regulated private citizen donations. If you can't vote, you can't contribute. This would remove a massive barrier to widespread reform in the shape of lobbyists and political patronage whilst ensuring that elected leaders are unshackled, with the freedom to govern based on evidence-based policy and long-term planning rather than just rewarding the corporate elite who put them there.The book brackets a discussion of Sparta, which was an atypical oligarchy (although it regularly supported more conventional oligarchies militarily). The focus of the book is not on the Athenian oligarchies of the later fifth century, but on oligarchic rule as practiced in the wider Greek world (e.g. Corinth, the Boeotian koinon, Thasos, Chios, Ephesus). These regimes did not follow Sparta's austerity model, but neither did the Athenian oligarchies of 411 and 404. Kolkhis above is correct on Sparta that while there was a mirage of austerity around Sparta, over the course of the fifth and fourth centuries it gradually developed into a more conventional oligarchy of extreme wealth stratification. One need only turn to the reforms of Agis and Cleomenes in the third century to see how unequal it had become. Stephen Hodkinson has done excellent work on wealth inequality within Sparta.SN1789 , 15 Oct 2017 14:04"Unity might come from personal relationships, trust, voting practices, or – as is more likely in today's meritocratic era – homogeneity in culture and values from running in the same limited circles." All of these features of elite unity are under girded by shared economic interests vis-a-vis the masses.clshannon -> pbalrick , 15 Oct 2017 14:04Not true, the standards are high enough, it is the fact that kids from disfunctional families and poverty cannot reach them. So the teachers just pass them on to the next grade anyway. You end up with poorly educated adults who 'know' education is useless according to their experience raising children who continue the cycle.aquagreen -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 14:03Ritula Fränkel , 15 Oct 2017 14:03
The spoils of the Roman and British Empires mostly went to enrich the oligarchs while the vast majority of the population laboured in poverty.
Oh please, don't spoil our nostalgic view with inconvenient facts.Thank you - excellent article.letsbeclearaboutthis -> vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 14:00
Since ownership conventionally involves the direct enactment of control and choice upon things (at least according to the ethicist Daniel Sperling), might it not be an idea to examine the conventions upon which property law is built in the West, since property law often is held as a model for all other types?
Sperling suggests that ownership is not absolute but instead is inferred out of a confluence of 'interests' that surround an object - I'd like to think that a cultural shift towards the recognition of the interests , rather than the ownerships , that guide policy-making could indeed challenge an oligarchy that views law-making essentially as the defence of property.People who have no effing idea of why they are there, nor what the intricacies of the process are.Kolkhis -> blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 13:58Yet it did all go wrong in Sparta. This links to a splendid source on ancient Greece and Rome. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0009%3Achapter%3D6%3Asection%3D13letsbeclearaboutthis -> MrMorningDew , 15 Oct 2017 13:57
Even with a ban on money - or as you say a literally iron currency, still land accumulated into ever fewer hands. This particular link is short enough to quote in full.
Spartan women, like men, could own land privately. Ordinary coined money was deliberately banned to try to discourage the accumulation of material goods, but the ownership of land remained extremely important in Spartan society. More and more land came into the hands of women in later Spartan history because the male population declined through losses in war, especially during the Classical Age. Moreover, Spartan women with property enjoyed special status as a result of the Spartan law forbidding the division of the portion of land originally allotted to a family. This law meant that, in a family with more than one son, all the land went to the eldest son. Fathers with multiple sons therefore needed to seek out brides for their younger sons who had inherited land and property from their fathers because they had no brother surviving. Otherwise, younger sons, inheriting no land from their own family, might fall into dire poverty.What makes you think the idiosynchracies of democratic governance stop at the federal level?letsbeclearaboutthis , 15 Oct 2017 13:55You have neglected to point out how oligarchs manage to convince ordinary people that their best interests coincide. In the recent NZ election, the National party, representing farmers and businesspeople, used the prospect of a tax giveaway to convince people they would be better off under National. It worked because of the number of people who look no further than their own immediate interests when voting. Who's to blame for that?Danexmachina , 15 Oct 2017 13:48The rich get richer and the poor get poorer because we work for them and buy their stuff. Then someone remembers the other uses for pitchforks and torches....blogdubdrib , 15 Oct 2017 13:47
The current delay is because nobody lives on the land except corporate farmers, so the masses no longer have territory to defend except in Faecesbook."while he recognizes that ancient oligarchies were always drawn from the wealthy, a limitation of his work is that he focuses primarily on how oligarchs perpetuated their political power, not their economic power."trp981 , 15 Oct 2017 13:46
I'm intrigued about how this might apply to Sparta which had legal limitations on wealth, an iron currency and a tightly knit ruling class which eschewed wealth in pursuit of solidarity and military discipline.
This article, which shows no interest in the historical specifics, fair enough seems to be thinking of the oligarchic counter-currents within Athenian democracy eg the coup of 411, Plato's Republic etc - both of which incidentally were influenced by admiration for Sparta's austere Lycurgan constitution which banned wealth. After all, if you have democracy you give stupid people a vote and this lead if you do not have checks and balances against cynical populists to terrible decisions like the Sicilian Expedition, the executions in the wake of Arginusae ... contributory factors in the unnecessary defeat of 404.
Likewise Brexit, Trump."As of oligarchy so of tyranny, the end is wealth." -- Aristotle, Politicsfritsd -> Fibonaccisequins , 15 Oct 2017 13:45
"With this typology behind him, Winters declares that America is already a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing."
Although the neoliberal turn since the coming of the Reagan exacerbated the trend towards an oligarchic concentration of political/economic power, the seeds were planted from the very beginning. The Electoral College and the Three-Fifths Compromise in the US Constitution are both examples of democratic procedures designed to ensure the preservation of concentration of political power in the hands of economic oligarchs, and to act as barriers to the dispersal and democratization of political power. We have already seen the effect of this constitutional design twice in the new century in the disparity between the outcome of the Electoral College and the popular vote in 2000 and 2016.
"Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of 'oligarchic breakdown.' Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs' solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people."
The dangers of the ever-increasing extreme inequality can also be viewed from the perspective of its impact on the stability of the social formation. A decrease in stability manifests itself through an increase in the brittleness of the socioeconomic system and a decrease in its ability to respond to unforeseen shocks in a versatile manner. Although fortunately the adverse impact of extreme inequality is at present only affecting the majority of the population in the US, the effects will also be felt by the oligarchs in the long run, unless they manage to build an earth orbiting Elysium before the arrival of the long run. The dangers of extreme inequality and the instability it can cause are explored by various scholars including Acemoglu and Turchin . The latter models social instability as a time-dependent variable, and tracks its evolution over time. In the language of mathematics, this is known as a dynamical system approach. The particular variable the evolution of which he tracks is what he calls the political stress indicator, which combines the effects of three other variables (mass mobilization, elite mobilization, and state fiscal distress) and their nonlinear interaction through time. The dynamical behavior of each of these factors measures the stability of the overall socioeconomic system, and acts as a warning signal when regions of criticality and instability are breached. The formation of oligarchic interests maps into a subset of the variable "elite mobilization" in Turchin's model. According to his analysis we are at present on the cusp of a critical socioeconomic instability. The increasing instability of the neoliberal order implies the shifting of the ground beneath it. The previous givenness of the passive citizenry is becoming less so, and critical junctures might approach fast and unforeseeably.America: the best Democracy money can buy!Gunsarecivilrights -> Spudnik2 , 15 Oct 2017 13:41I accept that what I see is the abhorrent stupidity that is socialistic and collectivist thoughts perpetuated by the progressive sheep.RobertsJimm , 15 Oct 2017 13:40According to Bill Bonner, author of Bill Bonner's Daily Reckoning, the Deep State of unelected insiders, government cronies, generals and their industrial allies, assorted lobbyists and back scratchers are the force that runs the government. Elections are theater. And the current performance is a tragic-comedyCinBrooklyn , 15 Oct 2017 13:38The US is NOT a democracy. It is a Republic. Let's start from a correct premise. The opening of this article is political dross. Am I wasting my time if I read further? Come on, Guardian.MrMorningDew , 15 Oct 2017 13:34When your colleague says the US is a democracy, you should tell him that is not correct. Point out to him that the person who finishes second in the vote count of our citizens wins the presidency and that 12% of our population controls 50% of the votes in the Senate. Gerrymandering allows a minority of votes to control the House. There is nothing democratic about the Federal Government, you need to get down to the state level to find democracy.hardmoney -> RapidSloth , 15 Oct 2017 13:33"A stark example of it is how they boast about freedom of speech."MeRaffey , 15 Oct 2017 13:32
And as useless as protest. The people's power is a lie formulated and carried out in Oz.Time to get creative. We have become so predictable, the wealthy can keep way ahead of us.
Fanning the flames of our asinine CULTURE WARS on effing FACEBOOK, was all the Russians needed to do to drive our presidential in their direction. The little boys who run global-tech-empires were no match for the Russians. Even now, when Trump is running the planet via TWITTER, our little tech-boys can't figure out how they lost control of their own creations.
Asymmetric power might be the key. Right now, the wealthy own a piece of every country and everyone on earth. We have been reduced to the size of an ant and we need to start thinking, and acting like ants. Instead of feeding our money to the wealthy, we need to starve them out.
Create disruption. Stop doing anything you normally do.
For example, order take-out anywhere you please, but refuse to go inside restaurant chains of any kind - diners, fast-food joints or upscale joints anywhere. Enter locally owned businesses only.
Stop putting your money in banks, stocks, bonds and other capitalist owned systems. Remove cold, hard cash from the system by putting your money in a safe deposit box at your local bank. Force the wealthy out of the closet, to try and pass laws allowing them to open your safe deposit bank.
Stop giving your old clothes and stuff to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or thrift shops. Stop sorting your trash - plastic, glass, metal and put all of it in your trash. Create a mess so big, so fast and so pervasive it becomes a crisis - for the wealthy trash hauler kings and their politicians.
Stay off facebook for one month. The next month, back on facebook, and out of Twitter.
Sign up for an email account anywhere but google and then use it for all of your on-line shopping only.
Stop being so predictable by using the same corporate chain grocery store, gas station or clothes store. Take your business to new places, try new things, get out more, mix it up, mix and match, but stop being predictable.
Confuse and baffle. Sign on to new news sources. If you're a liberal, sign onto Brietbart. If you're a conservative, sign onto Center for Progress. Use your new email to sign up for alerts from a dozen different sources, including foreign ones.
Do not buy anything, but go on-line and shop for shit you hate. Shop until you see ads for everything you hate, from music, to books, clothes and household stuff popping up on your computer screen like crazy.
Lie like crazy. Go on comment boards and pretend you are an entirely different person. Pretend you are a Russian, Canadian, or German, a conservative, a liberal, a Trump hater, a Trump lover. Your task is to confuse by lying. If you are 65, post pictures of your new baby. If you are 20, post pictures of you in nursing home bed. Get creative. Have fun. Lie like crazy.
Confuse. Baffle. Lie. STOP being predictable.
Oct 12, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Oct 6, 2017here's was a moment in Steve Bannon's recent 60 Minutes inter view when the former presidential advisor was asked what he's done to drain "the swamp," the Trumpists' favorite metaphor for everything they hate about Washington DC. Here was Bannon's reply: "The swamp is 50 years in the making. Let's talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It's a successful business model. It's a donor, consultant, K Street lobbyist, politician ... 7 of the 9 wealthiest counties in America ring Washington, DC."
With a shock of recognition I knew immediately what Bannon meant, because what he was talking about was the subject matter of my 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew – the interconnected eco-system of corruption that makes Washington, DC so rich.
The first chapter of my book had been a description of those wealthy counties that ring Washington, DC: the fine cars, the billowing homes, the expense-account restaurants. The rest of the book was my attempt to explain the system that made possible the earthly paradise of Washington and – just like Steve Bannon – I did it by referring to a business model: the political donors and the K Street lobbyists, who act in combination with politicians of the Tom DeLay variety.
My critique of Washington was distinctly from the left, and it astonished me to hear something very close to my argument coming from the mouth of one of the nation's most prominent conservatives. But in fact, Bannon has a long history of reaching out to the left – you might say, of swiping its populist language and hijacking its causes.
In this space back in February, for example, I described Bannon's bizarre 2010 pseudo-documentary about the financial crisis, which superficially resembles actual documentaries, but which swerves to blame this failure of the deregulated financial system on the counterculture of the 1960s.
Bannon's once-famous denunciation of Wall Street banks for their role in the financial crisis is another example. His fondness for the author Christopher Lasch is also revealing. As was his admiring phone call with Robert Kuttner, a well-known liberal editor, which happened just before Bannon left his high-ranking White House job in August.
Mimicry is supposed to be a form of flattery, right
Dig a little deeper, and it sometimes seems like the history of the populist right – with its calls to "organize discontent" and its endless war against "the establishment" and the "elites" – is nothing but a history of reformatting left-wing ideas to fit the needs of the billionaire class. Think of Ronald Reagan's (and Mike Pence's) deliberate reprise of Franklin Roosevelt. Or the constant echoes of Depression-era themes and imagery that one heard from the Tea Party movement.
Donald Trump's presidential campaign took this cynical strategy farther than any of his Republican predecessors, openly reaching out to alienated working-class voters, the backbone of so many left-wing protest movements.
Trump told us he was going to do something about Nafta, a left-wing bête noir since the 1990s. He promised to revive Glass Steagall. He claimed to care so very, very much about the people of the deindustrialized zones whose sufferings have been so thoroughly documented by left-wing authors.
So many fine, militant words. So many clarion calls rousing the people against corrupt elites. And now comes Steve Bannon, the terror of the Republican establishment, hectoring us about "the swamp" with ideas so strikingly similar to my own.
Look at deeds rather than words, however, and it seems as though Trump and his gang have been using The Wrecking Crew more as a how-to guide than anything else. In that book, for example, I pointed out that one of the hallmarks of modern conservative governance is the placement of people who are hostile to the mission of federal agencies in positions of authority in those very agencies.
This is an essential component of the Washington corruption Bannon loves to deplore – and yet this is precisely what Bannon's man Trump has done. Betsy DeVos, a foe of public schools, is running the Department of Education. Scott Pruitt, a veteran antagonist of the EPA, has been put in charge of the EPA. Rick Perry now runs the Department of Energy, an agency he once proposed to abolish.
Another characteristic of the DC wrecking crew is a war on competence within the Federal bureaucracy – and that, too, is back on, courtesy of the folks who rallied you against corruption so movingly last year.
Lobbying ? The industry appears to be gearing up for a return of its Reagan-era golden age. In the early days of the administration, lobbyists were appointed en masse to team Trump and a brigade of brash new K Street personalities is rising up to replace the old guard.
Privatization? The people in DC are trying it again, and this time on a gigantic scale. Trump's ultra-populist infrastructure promise now seems to be little more than a vast scheme for encouraging investment firms to take over the country's highways and bridges. Even the dreams of privatized war are back, brought to you courtesy of the enterprising Erik Prince, a familiar face from the worst days of the Iraq war.
Above it all towers the traditional Republican ideal of business-in-government. "The government should be run like a great American company," is how Jared Kushner puts it this time around; and with his private-jet-set cabinet Donald Trump is going to show the nation exactly what that philosophy looks like.
All the elements are here. The conclusion is unquestionable. The wrecking crew is back.
And why is it back? Because, among other things, Republicans are better at fulminating against the wrecking crew than are Democrats. Maybe that's because Democratic leaders feel it's inappropriate to use such blunt and crude language.
Maybe that's because, for 40 years or so, the leadership faction of the Democratic Party has been at war with its own left wing, defining us out of the conversation, turning a deaf ear to our demands, denouncing populism even as the right grabbed for it with both hands. Either way, the Democrats seem to have no intention of changing their approach now.
Maybe we on the left should take consolation in the things Steve Bannon says. Our own team may not listen to us, but at least there's someone out there in a position of power who apparently does. And mimicry is supposed to be a form of flattery, right?
No. All this is happening for one reason only: to steal the traditional base of the Democratic Party out from under us. That it will also enrich countless contractors and lobbyists and bunglers and wreckers is just a bonus.Thomas Frank is a Guardian columnist
Thirdparty -> bh_two , 9 Oct 2017 04:04Right. The traditional base of the Democratic Party stopped supporting it when it was taken over by right-wingers like the Clintons.Thirdparty , 9 Oct 2017 04:01On running the government like a business: That is exactly what the Trump regime is doing. Their business model is the mob. And to be fair, the idea of running government like a business makes precisely as much sense as running a business like a government.Aligarter , 9 Oct 2017 03:15Steve Bannon is part of the plan to de-democratize the USA and Republicans can only do that by lying on an industrial scale, which they do very efficiently and effectively. Why the need? Because although they are good at destruction, they are no good at all at building the nation or government.bh_two , 9 Oct 2017 01:27
The First Rule of Marketing says that if you give people what they want, they will give you dollars. The billionaires who fund the Republicans again and again do so not because they believe in good government, or have the slightest concern for the wealth, health and defense of the nation, but because they get what they want. It's a purchasing contract.curiouswes -> HauptmannGurski , 9 Oct 2017 01:22"....to steal the traditional base of the Democratic Party out from under us"
They aren't your servants to do your bidding and wait your table. Nor your political property. There is no more similarity of average working blokes to self-infatuated intellectuals of "the left" than a potato to a hubcap.
Working people left the party because they plainly are no longer welcome except during the brief hours when the polls are open.MD1212a , 8 Oct 2017 21:32
What are we at?
I haven't the vaguest idea. When Sanders decided to support HRC, I figured nothing will ever change. He built up a lot of hope (as did Obama), only to pull the rug out at the eleventh hour.Moving to the far towards the "progressive" left, the Democratic party abandoned the working and middle classes in favor of the coastal well to do city dwellers while trying to appeal to the "oppressed identity" single issue "groups". The only answer it presented to all problems was more government control over the economy and over all aspects of people's life. People got tired of losing their jobs to "globalization", with the government deciding what they can do with policies of "diversity", which is essentially a quota system, and with having ideologues and bureaucrats decide what is good or bad for them.DocDiv -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 20:16TPP was a secret deal, which had written into it, its own right to trump the legal systems of signatory countries with TPP-sponsored arbitration and even mediation judgments. Trump saw that off on his first day.Lyndon Watson , 8 Oct 2017 20:02If we lost the base of the Democratic party it wasn't because it was stolen from us. It was because it was given away. We started giving it away when we learned the wrong lesson after Ronald Reagan and thought that we had to move to the right with Bill Clinton to win the presidency.Cas Ann -> J.K. Stevens , 8 Oct 2017 19:20
It was later given away when we didn't accomplish much when we had the majorities in the House, Senate and Presidency back in 2008. If Trump picked up our message it was because he took it, it was because it was just sitting there waiting to be picked up.Nonsense. Clinton is the ultimate Swamp Creature,and large reason for her loss is that she spent more time with her high dollar donors then in swing states. How do you think the "Clinton Foundation" got so big?JohnCan45 , 8 Oct 2017 17:11So the Democrats embraced the moneyed establishment because they felt they had to to win, while the Republicans denounced that same establishment but only as part of a bait-and-switch strategy. Meanwhile the establishment hedges their bets and wins no matter what the election outcome.curiouswes -> stderr2 , 8 Oct 2017 16:51budhudnut -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 16:39
Conservatives argue against identity politics.
That is a good message. I'll be more supportive of the conservatives when they actually practice what they preach. But please don't get me wrong. Not all conservatives are into white supremacy. The problem I see is that if one is a white supremacist, the conservatives don't publicly denounce that position. It makes many people of color feel alienated by conservatism. At least the left openly denounces white supremacy. The right praises MLK but doesn't condemn those in Charlotteville. They had a right to protest and the left shouldn't have tried to silence them. However it was identity politics. They wouldn't be protecting the open display of the confederacy if they weren't into identity politics. That message seems to get lost as conservatism frowns on identity politics.
I don't know what that refers to.
NAFTA passed under Clinton , but more importantly, so did the Uruguay Round of GATT. When the Senate passed that (the House passed it to but technically the House doesn't ratify treaties), it severely curtailed the USA's ability to negotiate our own trade deals. All members of the WTO are vulnerable to financial penalties if any member nation tries to override the rulings set by the WTO. Not only did Ralph Nader recognize this as a problem and try to run for president because of it, so did Pat Buchanan. Buchanan saw this as lost sovereignty (in his words). Both Nader and Buchanan were of course unsuccessful because we vote in an FPTP voting system which tends to eliminate third parties form being successful.
The point is that Clinton forced Congress to pass the legislation just like Paulson forced Congress to approve a bailout of the banks during the financial crisis. It wasn't really all the republicans fault, but the oligarchy would have taken down the global economy if it didn't get bailed out. Anyway the WTO has a policy on dumping:
If a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market, it is said to be "dumping" the product. The WTO Agreement does not regulate the actions of companies engaged in "dumping". Its focus is on how governments can or cannot react to dumping -- it disciplines anti-dumping actions, and it is often called the "Anti-dumping Agreement".
both dems and reps rant and rave about China dumping steel but nothing ever gets done to stop it because the WTO is there protecting China (or american companies making steel in China). Either way the american steel worker gets screwed in the process and that is why populists hate globalism. The American worker knows he's getting screwed but he may not be aware of the mechanism by which he is getting screwed. The media rarely talks about the WTO because if the American worker knew how he was getting screwed, he'd be screaming to get out of the WTO. Typically he only knows his jobs are gone and where they are. However it was Clinton who did this and the idea that anybody would even think of putting HRC back in the white house while she is still married to that dude is due to utter ignorance of the fact of what he did when he was there the first time.
I think both Clinton and W should be in jail, but this isn't about W.I agree, the New Deal was quite leftist, in the sense that it acknowledged the crisis which had struck the working class. It's atypical in the history of the Democratic Party, which has been devoted to advancing the interests of U.S. corporations and since the Clinton years, those of multinational business consortia. But even the New Deal was a far cry from a revolutionary call to arms. In fact, it was meant to curtail such agitation. Roosevelt said as much.ID6995146 , 8 Oct 2017 16:15There is no left movement in Washington. Each is going after money from lobbyists. I just see the USA rapidly consuming itself and fragmenting. It has poor social, medical, policing programs. And it continues to digest itself in petty hate between the Democrats and Republicans. It really has no serious governance and worse its flagship superior court is now being sold to capitalism. Capitalism will fail as predicted by Marx and those who really know about it. It is our children who will pick up the tab if they can survive.stderr2 -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 15:19stderr2 -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 15:12> Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us.
Conservatives argue against identity politics. I don't know what the oligarchy is supposed to be, in the context of the US. People in power often came from varied backgrounds, not usually all that rich backgrounds.
> upward mobility is being taken from us
Upward from what? If you are poor, there's a lot of upward that might be possible, but if you are middle class, whatever that means, you can't have everyone moving up or the definition of middle class would change to them.
> The worst thing that happened to us, happened under Clinton
I don't know what that refers to. Welfare reform? Various changes to banking regulations? Allowing bin Laden to hit us again and again but instead of doing what needed to be done, frolicking with a young frisky intern in the Oval Office? I doubt Bush Sr would've done that.curiouswes -> stderr2 , 8 Oct 2017 14:49> However if you stand up for the rights of one group and ignore the rights of another today some people still don't "get it".
They don't get what? When someone protests in the street, whether they are sweetness and light or racist or whatever, they have the right to protest. Plenty of people would argue that "hate speech" should be banned, them defining what "hate speech" means, of course. These people are arguing against settled constitutional law.
> I tend to think the US citizen should be protected by the bill of rights and not necessarily those here illegally.
Yet not protecting everyone with due process, for example, is a violation of constitutional law.I consider myself a populist. Not exactly from the left but certainly more left that right. Identity politics is what the oligarchy is using to divide us. I just think it is counterproductive to battle each other when the upward mobility is being taken from us. I wish others could see it. The worst thing that happened to us, happened under Clinton, but rest assured; HW Bush would have done it had he won the election in 92.budhudnut -> curiouswes , 8 Oct 2017 13:10My point was that calling the Democratic Party a leftist party requires a notion of that term drained of real meaning. The Democratic Party has always upheld the supremacy of capital and the necessity of forestalling a revolution. I realize that in the United States plenty of people regard President Obama and Hillary Clinton as communists, but that's simply a measure of how far to the right political discourse stands there. The American left was eliminated from public life in the 1940s and 1950s with the suppression of the Communist Party, the purging of the unions and professions, and strict mass indoctrination of the citizenry. And whenever new manifestations of leftist energy have appeared, they have been met with unremitting hostility from liberal and conservative centers of power.lsjogren -> dallasdunlap , 8 Oct 2017 10:27
Finally, the Democratic Party is a party not just of capital, but of empire. This was never more true than in last year's election, in which Donald Trump was able to appeal to marginal voters on the ambiguous claim that he was less warlike than Secretary Clinton. No, there's nothing in the two party set-up which expresses the basic demands of the modern left- an end to imperialism, nationalization of key industries, and so on. And when people restrict their political thinking to the narrow range offered by a business oligopoly, they're going to be misreading their own reality.The Republican Party has a big problem in that its agenda has at best a small grassroots following of perhaps 10% of the populace.lsjogren , 8 Oct 2017 10:22
Meantime, populist-nationalism is in sync with the views of I would estimate at least 50% of the US citizenry and perhaps as much as 60%. (the other 30% of the public are "progressives")
The establishment has maintained power by default. When our political system offers only a choice between a "progressive" Democrat and an establishment Repubilcan, many voters choose the latter as the lesser evil.
If and when voters actually are offered a genuine choice at the ballot box, watch out. I think you will start seeing this played out on a grand scale in the 2018 and 2020 Republican primaries.Fighting the corporate establishment has never been the exclusive province of the left.dallasdunlap , 8 Oct 2017 09:03
Immigration restrictionists in the US have for decades fought the corporate establishment. In fact, we have fought what are probably the most powerful coalitions of special interests in human history, coalitions of corporate predators, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Media, and Big Government.
This movement is one of the grassroots pillars fueling Bannonism.There are plenty of populists in the Republican Party, but the governing portion of the party is solidly neocon. Hence the battle between President Trump and the "17 intelligence agencies," and the remarkable undermining of Trump's foreign policy proposals by his own cabinet.budhudnut , 8 Oct 2017 06:26
Just as the progressive base of the Democratic Party is suppressed by the corporatists at the DNC and other centralized party organs, the Republican base is a captive to its Washington elite power brokers.Thomas Frank's interesting and thoughtful pieces on the failure- or refusal- of the Democratic Party to come to terms with the depths of voter disaffection form an interesting contrast with the Guardian's DNC-supplied outlook. I suppose that's why he's been hired, to take up all that slack as the paper trudges ever rightward. Here's a link to an extended recent interview he gave with Paul Jay at The Real News.Christopher Oxley , 7 Oct 2017 16:53
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=832&Itemid=74&jumival=1649Populist movements typically tend to involve more focus on complaining and raging about problems than coming up with any real solutions for them, so it doesn't really matter whether members self-identify as coming from the left or right. Given the Trump campaign was all about manipulation anyway, with Trump just a puppet to distract the public from seeing the corprate take-over of the state, it's not surprising they used a populist rhetoric, as seen in shock doctrine, that inherent rage blinds them from seeing they are being manipulated.Ben Groetsch -> sludgeco , 7 Oct 2017 15:48The last time the Democrats actually offered something to the American people was the War on Poverty and Civil Rights legislation by President Johnson in the 1960s. Other than the Democrats have been acting like an extended PR arm of corporate America by performing sideshows on social issues while failing to address the needs of working families. I clearly don't buy into the notion that the Democrats are a tad better than the Republicans. No, the Democrats need to be radically to the left like Bernie Sanders, not moderate Republican lite such as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. This country simply cannot continue electing conservative governments all the time in Washington DC.sparkylab -> JoeintheMidwest , 7 Oct 2017 12:50Apparently 'isolationism' now means simply advocating for some restraint on endless global US military interventionism, hundreds and hundreds of bases in 80+ countries, and trillion dollar 'defence' budgets.JoeintheMidwest -> PennyCarter , 7 Oct 2017 12:25A broken clock is right twice a day. Yes, Republican isolationists are the only ones in their primarily interventionist party to ever make a principled critique of endless U.S. wars abroad. Sadly, the Democrats are, with some honorable exceptions like Dennis Kucinich, as committed to these endless wars as their partners across the aisle. This is one of the many reasons why Hillary Clinton lost. However, Buchanan's xenophobia makes his brand of anti-imperialism shallow--he still thinks "Western civilization" is superior to other cultures, and has denied the genocide against Native Americans. His views about Jews are also rather creepy. That said, I'll take an isolationist over a neo-con any day.money777 , 7 Oct 2017 07:21There is divisive manipulation on the left and the right, the pundits blame each other to keep America divided. The right stereotypes the left while the left stereotypes the right . The working class crazy white guy is oppressing the hispanic and blacks while the blacks and hispanic oppress the working class white. The left pundits make fun of the working class while the right pundits make fun of the left pundits. Both sides are entralled by business interests aka socoio-political interests. Afterall, this is a business world where ppl have to put food on the table.America is on the verge of becoming as divided as america was prior to the civil war. What am i supposed to do? Join the resistence of division taking place on the left and the right? Protest against another american at a divided left vs. right rally? Resistence is futile because resistence leads to more division.Ponderbelle -> America_Loves_Trump , 7 Oct 2017 05:16
Excuse my unedites grammar semtence structure lack of sense and not serious online commentTrump can't stop calling others names - with the absurd stance that he must bully people to create a sense of self respect.ID6823856 , 7 Oct 2017 04:10
Those who support Trump or Bannon generally have in common a refusal to see any viewpoint other than their own. They'll find a way to make most any belief, policy or decision which T&B uphold, look justified or non-offensive in motives.
Trump runs every which way, so, there are bound to be a few things one finds agreeable (even from the left). Bannon thinks democracy does not work. He'd like to see the federal government crash.
In fact, The USA has no true democracy. Like many developed nations we are under the total rule of organized business. Profit is superior and normalized whereas basic human needs are for the highest bid competition. Greed older than Methuselah's first breakfast. Bannon doesn't have a vision for the betterment and uplift of society any more than anyone else. Who cannot can see corporate greed has its tentacles around us? The common person on the street knows the scheme. What to do about it finds us in the land of inertia. Next crash (it is coming) the panicked cry for bailouts will be near impossible to put-up with. With billions on the planet we are in new territory, as to resources and competition. A system which cannot survive with its hand in our pocket while claiming free market enterprise will even out the system on balance - meaning for investors, and head in sand more of the same.The "base" of the Democratic party is now the same get rich ideologues of Clinton-ism who are happy to lobby and privatise with as much enthusiasm as any right wing Republican/Conservative/Tea Party ideologue. Every administration, Republican or Democratic, from Clinton, to Bush, to Obama, has held to the same policies of the Reagan administration. The "traditional base" of the Democratic Party was destroyed long ago by de-industrialisation, hollowing of labor law, and now by opioids of the masses. The present day DNC is run by and for their army of contractors, lobbyists, bunglers, and wreckers.rogerscorpion , 7 Oct 2017 04:06Mr. Frank, I found it surprising that you mentioned both Betsy de Vos and Erik Prince -- but didn't mention the fact that they are siblings.PeterOrmonde , 7 Oct 2017 03:45Yep - the big mistake with critters like Bannon is to ignore or dismiss everything they say and fail to detect what resonance they are striking with what audience.Maury A. Bousson , 7 Oct 2017 02:42
But it's awkward when you just read them and recognise grains of truthiness - they see the same problems it's just their solutions are all wrong. But they are actually cutting the left's grass - pinching the alienation and discontent that rightly belongs to progress, no? Now the NRA have got 'em - not even the GOP.
Be yer unfinished civil war this... grinding away slowly ... so now the whole place is riven by fear and suspicion - of race, wealth, cities, the guvvermint, of anything and everything really. A deeply traumatised culture you've got sitting down there - victims real and imagined wandering about and none of it getting fixed at all..
Not everyone or everywhere - but the most fearful and angry cluster are centred on the underlying issues of the era of Lincoln. Trump is speaking for and to them. There can be no more nonsense about lone gunmen - this is now part of US culture - systemic and systematic.
Yer 500 kiddies are just the price of open-carry freedoms according to the Vegas mayor. All the same old folk-wisdoms: can't have laws that stop bad people being bad?... why should the 1% of evildoers dictate our liberties?
But of course they do. That is how all laws work, whether murder or shoplifting - everyone shows their bags. In fact they are arguing for lawlessness - vigilantism and John Wayne cowboy myths. That's the Trump/Bannon audience ... National Enquirer readers packing heat .
Gonna get ugly before it's fixed.#TheHouseAlwaysWins The author gets so close to putting his finger on the problem and then at the last moment swerves off into partisan rhetoric. Wake up dude! Both of the things you think are opposite sides are out to get us.eastbayradical -> newyorkred , 7 Oct 2017 02:24The list below delineates the policies and initiatives that Hillary Clinton supported over course of her political career (including as a loyal First Lady to Bill Clinton). They help explain the depressed voter enthusiasm and turnout for the Dems among many of the groups to whom you say Frank, as a "well-to-do white man" pining for "white working class revolution," owes an apology:suddenoakdeath -> James F. , 7 Oct 2017 01:24
--Deregulation of the investment banks (and against reinstatement of Glass--Steagall)
--Deregulation of the telecommunications industry
--Deregulation of derivatives
--The destruction of welfare (which has caused the numbers living in extreme poverty to double since its passage)
--The Omnibus Crime Bill (increased the prison population massively)
--The sanctions regime against Iraq of the 1990s that killed 500,000 Iraqi children ("it was worth it," said her friend Madeline Albright)
--The Defense of Marriage Act
--CAFTA (granted stealthy support)
--The objectively-racist death penalty
--The private prison industry
--The Patriot Act
--The Iraq War
--The bombing of Libya
--Military intervention in Syria
--Israel's starvation blockade and blitzkrieg against Gaza
--The right-wing coup in Honduras
--Investor-friendly repression and cronyism in Haiti
--A 31 cents/hour minimum wage in Haiti (and against attempts to raise it)
--The recently announced 20 year, $1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) upgrade of the US's nuclear arsenal
--Historically-high numbers of deportations under the Obama Adm.
--Oil drilling in the Arctic
--The fight against free public university tuition
--The fight against single-payer health care
--Acceptance of tens of millions of dollars of corporate money
--Credit-card industry favored bankruptcy laws
--The bail-out of Wall Street....and America was convinced Trump cared about them, so says Thomas Frank.Alex W -> Ben Groetsch , 6 Oct 2017 21:21If you think America is bad, then try living in the UK. The UK is a hotbed of religious nutters. Just look at Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, David Cameron, and Theresa May.askzippy , 6 Oct 2017 21:09
- Tony Blair said 'God' told him to invade Iraq. BBC: Blair 'prayed to God' over Iraq
- David Cameron regularly talked about his Christian faith and the need to 'defend Christian values'. HuffingtonPost: David Cameron Urges Britons To Stand Up And Defend Christian Values
- Theresa May said she was 'praying to God' over the Brexit crisis. Telegraph: Theresa May says her Christian faith helps her make difficult decisions
- Oh, and let's not forget David Silvester -- a UKIP councilor who believes floods are 'punishment from God' for gay marriage. BBC: UKIP councillor blames storms and floods on gay marriage
The UK still has a "state-established" church (the Church of England). The UK's national anthem ' God Save the Queen ' mentions 'God' over 30 different times. And most British schools are still faith-based and funded by the church. Also, abortion and gay marriage are still banned in some parts of the UK, such as Northern Ireland.
Forget Donald Trump.... the UK is far more religious & dangerous.Lol, yeah it's only the Rs that do bad stuff in DC. HRC was the Queen of the system described above. An article designed to confuse those without eyes to see.sejong , 6 Oct 2017 20:55
The interesting thing for me is the hate levels on the left which appear to be almost off the scale at the moment. Identity politics seems to have a deep hold on your hearts.The national of USA should be changed from bald eagle to lone wolf. Forget e pluribis unum. War of all against all.Alex W -> Sharon Sekhon , 6 Oct 2017 20:04The U.S. is more liberal & secular than ever. The election of Trump doesn't change that. According to a 2011 Pew Report , the U.S. now has the 3rd largest atheist population in the world -- after China & Japan. On top of that, a 2015 Gallup Poll found that 60% of Americans would vote for an atheist President -- a record number that continues to grow every year.kmacafee -> Attu de Bubbalot , 6 Oct 2017 19:53
Additionally, gay marriage is legal in all 50 U.S. states. Marijuana is legal & taxed in 8 U.S. states. Euthanasia (assisted suicide) is legal in 6 U.S states -- including California (the largest state in America with over 40 million people). Even prostitution is legal & regulated in some U.S. states, such as Nevada!
*Sign into Youtube to watch this video about legal American brothels.
The U.S. constitution guarantees separation of Church & State -- unlike the UK, which still has a "state-established" church (the Church of England).Not really. They will be defeated in the next election and they are already facing charges and prison time. This will not end with a bang, but with a whimper and whining like you've never heard. There are many more in the one percent and the top 10% who are already disgusted with Mercer, Koch, Trump and the whole Putin cabal. Evil is evil and splashing some fake christianity on their hitler speeches is not fooling anyone but the already fooled; and they are a small lot getting smaller every single day.Zepp -> NYbill13 , 6 Oct 2017 18:21Most of Bannon's story about dear old dad is pure crap. He was already a right wing film-maker before the 2008 meltdown, and dear old dad would still have his money if he had listened to his two financier sons instead of the cable TV idiot Cramer. AT&T, in case you haven't heard, came through the crash intact.colacj , 6 Oct 2017 18:1615 billion dollars worth of missiles being sold to Saudi Arabia ........ while a few days ago Saudi Arabia goes to Moscow and talks to putin which is the first tie ever.......... so we sold them weapons to what , aim at us........Ben Groetsch -> MTavernier , 6 Oct 2017 18:15So, do you preferred two thirds of the American population to live on welfare aid like Medicaid which doesn't even covered dental and eye exams? As much you don't like the GOP approach to healthcare reform, the Democrats would rather bailed out the insurance industry by making consumers to buy unaffordable coverage and public assistance programs and refused to embraced Bernie Sanders approach to universal healthcare. The Democratic Party simply has no ideas, just empty tough talk against the President.Ben Groetsch -> Social36 , 6 Oct 2017 18:10I hate to say it to you, but Trump voters who live in Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa weren't looking for upscale living and calling for lower corporate taxes etc. One out of four WV residents are living under economic distress. They just want decent jobs and a government that represents working people, not the wealthy.
Oct 12, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com
Ben Groetsch -> Sharon Sekhon , 6 Oct 2017 18:02So, you're suggesting that Frank's political instincts are all wrong when he first wrote his book thesis on "What's the matter with Kansas," which lays out the scanting indictment of the pro-corporate wing of the Democratic Party and their wealthy supporters. Here's the reality that you Clinton bots don't understand: the rest of the country is like Kansas, not glamour LA or Wall Street NYC. People work in blue collar and grey collar professions, have modest wealth, and some are involved in trade unions. Many don't have a college degree; many also have no desires to go to a liberal arts school or state public university. Nearly eighty percent of middle America have a high school diploma. Only thirty percent have a college BA degree, and less than five percent have a advanced degree in Law or PH'D. Those numbers haven't changed since the 1960s. And yet, the corporate ruling class which showers money to both political parties have been selling the public a bill of false promises and lies about the necessary of getting a college degree in order to find gainful employment with living wages. Sorry, there isn't no living wage jobs. Our industrialized state has been devalued by NAFTA, a pro-corporate trade deal signed by Bill Clinton in the 1990s, had destroyed the fabric of mostly blue collar communities in middle America. Both Democrats and Republicans all conspired to gut the entire working classes out of the middle class status and into the underclass welfare state as a whole---first with welfare reform in the 1990s, followed by Bush era tax cuts, getting rid of Glass-Stegeall, awarding companies with job outsourcing, failure to provide affordable housing to the needy while selling risky sub-prime mortgages, making our higher educational system as a luxury commodity, destroying our pension system and replacing it with an inadequate 401K retirement package, allowing the one percent to hide their money overseas in tax haven accounts, subsidizing the rich, and control the media through corporate consolidation. We no longer have the ability to innovate, produce, or create a thriving working class middle. Instead, corporate dominance in our politics and our legal system makes it almost impossible to generate a fair, diverse, and expanding opportunities economy on the basis of progressive regulations that is desperately needed.Ben Groetsch , 6 Oct 2017 17:39
What Frank had in mind is what the donor class within the Democratic Party is scared about. That is, working people are being shoved aside due to the power of money in government, and yet the Democratic Party has to changed its tune in order to regain the working class voters in middle America.Well, Bannon is partly right given the fact that our government has been at the wheel of powerful lobbyists and wealthy donors for so long. However, given the dysfunctional and unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Trump Administration in DC, the Democrats seem to appear as aloof and tone deaf with the American people----a state of utter denial regarding a major political party that just lost the Presidential election to a dingbat D list reality tv star and real estate tycoon who has the mindset of a spoiled child.fabfreddy -> CivilDiscussion , 6 Oct 2017 17:05
The true reason behind Bannon's conquest for political votes is that the working class here in the US have been totally neglected and left behind by eight years of Obama and the last two terms of Bush Jr from the previous decade. Working people want actual middle class jobs and a shot of a decent life in retirement, not welfare checks from the government.Is that just about everybody? Or do you think there are people that wouldn't want to be billionaires?Rollmeover , 6 Oct 2017 16:56Democrats are so disorganized that to elect them is folly. We already have disorganization. Trump will win a second term.chunki , 6 Oct 2017 16:55The Left in English-speaking countries has been overtaken by upper-middle class people who are obsessed with sexual identity and race. They are snobby towards working class people and will abuse them as racist when they talk about problems with immigration or other social groups with different coloured skin. I moved from the first group into the second, and I know working class people are no more prejudiced than upper-middle class, but they don't have the vocabulary to express it in a way that "educated" people will recognise.jackrousseau -> EyeFullEnt , 6 Oct 2017 14:14
This snobbery towards possible complexities in the life of working class people is damning leftwing parties to continual oblivion.
(Working class people use blunt language, but they apply it to themselves equally. Those higher up the social ladder are not used to hearing that type of language.)Did anything I say indicate I support Trump? I described his administration as an economically centrist "kleptocracy". Trump Jr. taking thinly veiled payoffs on the speaking/grift circuit is par for the course.America_Loves_Trump -> EyeFullEnt , 6 Oct 2017 11:44
Though, I imagine Trump Jr. commands significantly less than Chelsea Clinton ($65,000 as of 2015). http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/chelsea-clinton-speaking-fee-university-missouri-119580
And I imagine it's only a matter of time before we also see Obama's children "speaking" for thinly veiled payoffs. One already scored an prestigious internship with the socially progressive Weinstein Company. And Michelle's currently getting in excess of $200,000 for 1hr speeches. https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/05/02/michelle-obama-s-speaker-fee-is-as-much-as-some-former-president/22065295 /
...All enough to make someone a little cynical about American politics.More misinformed nonsense.TheRexican , 6 Oct 2017 11:31
In fact, Breitbart gets criticism on the right for being too gung ho in embracing Israel. Steve Bannon quotes that give some of his supporters pause are things like "no media outlet is more pro-Israel than Breitbart". I guess politics is a factor but most of us don't like all the money we give them and how a major reason that the Muslim world is so angry at the Western one is it's unflinching backing of Israel, no matter how much of the West Bank they encroach upon, among other things.
The idea that Breitbart is anti-Semitic is an absurd Media Matters talking point going back to an article calling Bill Kristol a "Renegade Jew". The article was, obviously, written by a Jew. And the thrust of the article was that Bill Kristol (and others) making attempts to steal the Republican nomination from Trump (as the Dems had from Bernie Sanders) would ultimately harm Israel. So it was a Jew calling a Jew a Renegade Jew for making a decision he believed was bad for the Jewish homeland.
I know it's all very confusing but hopefully that's cleared up now."I did it by referring to a business model: the political donors and the K Street lobbyists, who act in combination with politicians of the Tom DeLay variety."America_Loves_Trump -> charlieblue , 6 Oct 2017 11:10
There are almost no members of Congress who are of any other sort than the "Tom Delay" variety you refer to. Very nearly every single member is corrupt. The game is ruined. Perhaps an end to gerrymandering (if we shoudl be so fortunate) will allow some mechanism for changing the guard in Congress. We need to remove them all. They sold us out and we need to exile them for life.
Don't think your rep is any better. This keeps us stuck.I don't JUST yell Hillary. I also mentioned Obama and the rest of the criminals who make up the Democratic Party. Whose list of proven criminality is simply staggering enough before you get in to the mountains of very damning circumstantial stuff that begs investigation.Whiplashed -> America_Loves_Trump , 6 Oct 2017 10:53
And when I mention the Democrats, you act as if it's some irrelevent non sequitur. IT IS NOT. Please remember that the choice was Trump OR Hillary. So whenever people lament how apparently terrible the President who has brought us 3.1% GDP growth for the first time in years and well over a million new jobs along with finally insisting that the law needs to be enforced for the first time in 8 years, the issue of the alternative to this IS of course relevant.
As I said: Clinton is a part of the establishment. A real swamp monster. One of the really big stinking ones, with huge wads of cash stuck to her blood soaked claws. Trump is not. And by the very low bar set by the past few Presidents, just not being more of the same is an improvement.
And by the way, Hillary Clinton did commit multiple felonies. The private server = felony (whether "intent" was there or not, that was an irrelevant muddying of the waters). The storing and forwarding of classified info on this server = felony (whether or not she, after decades in government understood that (C) meant classified as it always had all along).
You've got your head in the sand, palYou seem to be taking Clinton Cash as evidence of something, but that is just a piece of propaganda meant to sway the election. Where are your reputable sources?boilingriver -> America_Loves_Trump , 6 Oct 2017 10:51There are some great videos on Youtube where he talks about economics.America_Loves_Trump -> NYbill13 , 6 Oct 2017 10:12
HAHA yes where he deliberately lies about the cause of 2008.
Where he is now silent on cohn who is now in charge of economic policy.
So, while Cohn was overseeing one team inside Goldman Sachs preoccupied with implementing the big short, he was in regular contact with others scrambling to offload its subprime inventory. One Goldman trader described the mortgage-backed securities they were selling as "shitty." Another complained in an email that they were being asked to "distribute junk that nobody was dumb enough to take first time around." A December 28 email from Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre, a Goldman vice president later convicted of fraud, instructed traders to focus on less astute, "buy and hold" investors rather than "sophisticated hedge funds" that "will be on the same side of the trade as we will."
Then there is Mnuchin( Treasury secretary) the foreclosure king, who made a fortune on taking peoples home, some for $1 mistake.
Why did republicans mot make up some laws to put them into prison. Why are they silent now when trump is deregulating by executive order.
Talk about fake outrage putting in the people who caused the problems as the solutions.Spoken from someone who has obviously never listened to what Steve Bannon said or his message.LittleTomcat , 6 Oct 2017 09:28
You obviously don't know, for example, that his Dad - a union guy - lost half of his life savings in the crash of 2008.
And you do not have a single quote where you can attribute "master race" stuff to Bannon. That's literally a smear based on nothing, created by the Clinton people as revenge for his role in the absolutely devastating expose Clinton Cash.
Those of us paying attention understand what he is: an unbelievably bright guy who was the first man who successfully harnessed the informed outrage of the alternative media to have an impact in national politics. He and Trump beat the rigging and achieved for the socially conservative anti-deepstate people what Bernie Sanders was unable to achieve on the Left... if he ever really had the stomach for the fight in the first place."That it will also enrich countless contractors and lobbyists and bunglers and wreckers is just a bonus." Mmmm, maybe not a bonus so much as the objective, perhaps? As an aside, the method of installing nomenclature to control agencies, such as the agency responsible for granting broadcast licences, was described, if I recall correctly, in Josef Korbel's 1959 "The Communist Subversion of Czechoslovakia, 1938-1948". For a funny take on the privatisation of perpetual military conflict, Christopher Buckley's "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?" might provide a laugh, if you don't think about how closely it matches reality.oiler , 6 Oct 2017 07:03The proletariat, or at least the opioid threatened, white and marginalized cadre on show in the Rust belt states, probably thought they had their man in DJT because he said what it took to get himself elected in the vernacular they prefer, feeling its authenticity made them look honest.. Ha! But look! They are no different from other vulnerables after all, and they will be and are, being screwed over accordingly. Turkeys and Christmas, Foxes and henhouses, its all been said and now its being done: educate yourselves, folks.. before its too late.HilltopRide , 6 Oct 2017 06:30Yep, judge em solely on their actions. Trump is about entrenching the corporate coup d'etat. Expanding the swamp, not draining it. The question is now, after Citizens United and with a conservative SCOTUS in perpetuity, whether it's too wide and deep ever to be drained.
Oct 11, 2017 | www.unz.com
DN: What about the impact that you've seen of identity politics in America?
CH: Well, identity politics defines the immaturity of the left. The corporate state embraced identity politics. We saw where identity politics got us with Barack Obama, which is worse than nowhere. He was, as Cornel West said, a black mascot for Wall Street, and now he is going around to collect his fees for selling us out.
My favorite kind of anecdotal story about identity politics: Cornel West and I, along with others, led a march of homeless people on the Democratic National Convention session in Philadelphia. There was an event that night. It was packed with hundreds of people, mostly angry Bernie Sanders supporters. I had been asked to come speak. And in the back room, there was a group of younger activists, one who said, "We're not letting the white guy go first." Then he got up and gave a speech about how everybody now had to vote for Hillary Clinton. That's kind of where identity politics gets you. There is a big difference between shills for corporate capitalism and imperialism, like Corey Booker and Van Jones, and true radicals like Glen Ford and Ajamu Baraka. The corporate state carefully selects and promotes women, or people of color, to be masks for its cruelty and exploitation.
It is extremely important, obviously, that those voices are heard, but not those voices that have sold out to the power elite. The feminist movement is a perfect example of this. The old feminism, which I admire, the Andrea Dworkin kind of feminism, was about empowering oppressed women. This form of feminism did not try to justify prostitution as sex work. It knew that it is just as wrong to abuse a woman in a sweatshop as it is in the sex trade. The new form of feminism is an example of the poison of neoliberalism. It is about having a woman CEO or woman president, who will, like Hillary Clinton, serve the systems of oppression. It posits that prostitution is about choice. What woman, given a stable income and security, would choose to be raped for a living? Identity politics is anti-politics.
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com
H. I. on May 13, 2011This Book Explains EVERYTHING!!!!!
Hedges cogently and systematically dismantles the most pernicious cultural delusions of our era and lays bare the pitiful truths that they attempt to mask. This book is a deprogramming manual that trims away the folly and noise from our troubled society so that the reader can focus on the most pressing matters of our time.
Despite the dark reality Hedges excavates, his screed is a liberating tonic against the crazy-making double-speak and the lies Americans are sold by our country's elite in order to distract us from the true threat and nature of the Corporate State, from the cult of celebrity, to how our nation's Universities have been hijacked to serve the interests, not of the public, but of our corporate overlords. It explains the self-same conditions in all aspects of our society and culture that we now must face, the ever-shrinking flame of enlightenment being exchanged for the illusory shadows on a cave wall.
As a twenty-something caught in the death-throes of American Empire and culture, I have struggled to anticipate where our country and our world are heading, why, and what sort of life I can expect to build for myself. Hedges presents the reader with the depressing, yet undeniable truth of the forces that have coalesced to shape the world in which we now find ourselves. The light he casts is searing and relentless. He fearlessly and incisively calls us out on the obvious farce our democracy has become, how we got here, and highlights the rapidly closing window in which we have to do something to correct it. It is a revelation, and yet he merely states the obvious. The empire has no clothes.
One of the most powerful aspects of this book was in regard to how our Universities are run these days. I may be in the minority, but I experienced a life-changing disillusionment when I gained entrance to a prestigious "elite" University. Instead of drawing the best and the brightest, or being a place where scholarship was valued, where students were taught critical thinking skills, the University I attended was nothing more than an expensive diploma mill for the children of the wealthy. In the eyes of the University, students were not minds to be empowered and developed, but walking dollar signs.
Instead of critical thinking, students were taught to OBEY, not to question authority, and then handed a piece of paper admitting them to the ruling class that is destroying America without a moral compass. Selfishness, deceit, disregard for the common good, and a win-at-all-costs attitude were rewarded. Empathy, curiosity, dissent, and an honest, intellectually rigorous evaluation of ourselves and our world were punished. Obviously I am not the only one to whom this was cause to fear for the future of our country.
Five stars is not enough. Ever since I began reading Empire of Illusion, I have insisted friends and family pick up a copy, too. Everyone in America should read this incredibly important book.
The truth shall set us free.
Oct 08, 2017 | steemit.com
People need to learn, relearn, and talk to others about this. Let's admit it: today's Republicans & Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We ought to just call them what they really all are -- "Neocons."
Both sides need to be replaced by truly independent voters giving strength to an administration that is neither R nor D, and that should be the Libertarians. Trump is not one, but he's going to end up making the way for them during his four years.
I'd like to see this: President Rand Paul, VP Tulsi Gabbard, chief of staff Ron Paul, and Sec. of Defense Wesley Clark, for starters.
cve3 2 months agoIt was either Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens who said "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."
Oct 07, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
psychohistorian | Oct 6, 2017 11:07:01 PM | 25
"We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.
They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.
We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."
George Orwell, 1984
Oct 05, 2017 | www.unz.com
Billionaires in the commercial conglomerates, like Walmart, exploit workers by paying poverty wages and providing few, if any, benefits. Walmart earns $16 billion dollar a year in profits by paying its workers between $10 and $13 an hour and relying on state and federal assistance to provide services to the families of its impoverished workers through Medicaid and food stamps. Amazon plutocrat Jeff Bezos exploits workers by paying $12.50 an hour while he has accumulated over $80 billion dollars in profits. UPS CEO David Albany takes $11 million a year by exploiting workers at $11 an hour. Federal Express CEO, Fred Smith gets $16 million and pays workers $11 an hour.
Inequality is not a result of 'technology' and 'education'- contemporary euphemisms for the ruling class cult of superiority – as liberals and conservative economists and journalists like to claim. Inequalities are a result of low wages, based on big profits, financial swindles, multi-trillion dollar public handouts and multi-billion-dollar tax evasion. The ruling class has mastered the 'technology' of exploiting the state, through its pillage of the treasury, and the working class. Capitalist exploitation of low paid production workers provides additional billions for the 'philanthropic' billionaire family foundations to polish their public image – using another tax avoidance gimmick – self-glorifying 'donations'.
Workers pay disproportional taxes for education, health, social and public services and subsidies for billionaires.
Billionaires in the arms industry and security/mercenary conglomerates receive over $700 billion dollars from the federal budget, while over 100 million US workers lack adequate health care and their children are warehoused in deteriorating schools.
Workers and Bosses: Mortality Rates
Billionaires and multi-millionaires and their families enjoy longer and healthier lives than their workers. They have no need for health insurance policies or public hospitals. CEO's live on average ten years longer than a worker and enjoy twenty years more of healthy and pain-free lives.
Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives. The quality of their medical care and the qualifications of their medical providers present a stark contrast to the health care apartheid that characterizes the rest of the United States.
Workers are treated and mistreated by the health system: They have inadequate and often incompetent medical treatment, cursory examinations by inexperienced medical assistants and end up victims of the widespread over-prescription of highly addictive narcotics and other medications. Over-prescription of narcotics by incompetent 'providers' has significantly contributed to the rise in premature deaths among workers, spiraling cases of opiate overdose, disability due to addiction and descent into poverty and homelessness. These irresponsible practices have made additional billions of dollars in profits for the insurance corporate elite, who can cut their pensions and health care liabilities as injured, disabled and addicted workers drop out of the system or die.
The shortened life expectancy for workers and their family members is celebrated on Wall Street and in the financial press. Over 560,000 workers were killed by opioids between 1999-2015 contributing to the decline in life expectancy for working age wage and salary earners and reduced pension liabilities for Wall Street and the Social Security Administration.
Inequalities are cumulative, inter-generational and multi-sectorial.
Billionaire families, their children and grandchildren, inherit and invest billions. They have privileged access to the most prestigious schools and medical facilities, and conveniently fall in love to equally privileged, well-connected mates to join their fortunes and form even greater financial empires. Their wealth buys favorable, even fawning, mass media coverage and the services of the most influential lawyers and accountants to cover their swindles and tax evasion.
Billionaires hire innovators and sweat shop MBA managers to devise more ways to slash wages, increase productivity and ensure that inequalities widen even further. Billionaires do not have to be the brightest or most innovative people: Such individuals can simply be bought or imported on the 'free market' and discarded at will.
Billionaires have bought out or formed joint ventures with each other, creating interlocking directorates. Banks, IT, factories, warehouses, food and appliance, pharmaceuticals and hospitals are linked directly to political elites who slither through doors of rotating appointments within the IMF, the World Bank, Treasury, Wall Street banks and prestigious law firms.
Consequences of Inequalities
First and foremost, billionaires and their political, legal and corporate associates dominate the political parties. They designate the leaders and key appointees, thus ensuring that budgets and policies will increase their profits, erode social benefits for the masses and weaken the political power of popular organizations .
Secondly, the burden of the economic crisis is shifted on to the workers who are fired and later re-hired as part-time, contingent labor. Public bailouts, provided by the taxpayer, are channeled to the billionaires under the doctrine that Wall Street banks are too big to fail and workers are too weak to defend their wages, jobs and living standards.
Billionaires buy political elites, who appoint the World Bank and IMF officials tasked with instituting policies to freeze or reduce wages, slash corporate and public health care obligations and increase profits by privatizing public enterprises and facilitating corporate relocation to low wage, low tax countries.
As a result, wage and salary workers are less organized and less influential; they work longer and for less pay, suffer greater workplace insecurity and injuries – physical and mental – fall into decline and disability, drop out of the system, die earlier and poorer, and, in the process, provide unimaginable profits for the billionaire class . Even their addiction and deaths provide opportunities for huge profit – as the Sackler Family, manufacturers of Oxycontin, can attest.
The billionaires and their political acolytes argue that deeper regressive taxation would increase investments and jobs. The data speaks otherwise. The bulk of repatriated profits are directed to buy back stock to increase dividends for investors; they are not invested in the productive economy. Lower taxes and greater profits for conglomerates means more buy-outs and greater outflows to low wage countries. In real terms taxes are already less than half the headline rate and are a major factor heightening the concentration of income and power – both cause and effect.
Corporate elites, the billionaires in the Silicon Valley-Wall Street global complex are relatively satisfied that their cherished inequalities are guaranteed and expanding under the Demo-Republican Presidents- as the 'good times' roll on.
Away from the 'billionaire elite', the 'outsiders' – domestic capitalists – clamor for greater public investment in infrastructure to expand the domestic economy, lower taxes to increase profits, and state subsidies to increase the training of the labor force while reducing funds for health care and public education. They are oblivious to the contradiction.
In other words, the capitalist class as a whole, globalist and domestic alike, pursues the same regressive policies, promoting inequalities while struggling over shares of the profits. One hundred and fifty million wage and salaried taxpayers are excluded from the political and social decisions that directly affect their income, employment, rates of taxation, and political representation. They understand, or at least experience, how the class system works. Most workers know about the injustice of the fake 'free trade' agreements and regressive tax regime, which weighs heavy on the majority of wage and salary earners.
However, worker hostility and despair is directed against 'immigrants' and against the 'liberals' who have backed the import of cheap skilled and semi-skilled labor under the guise of 'freedom'. This 'politically correct' image of imported labor covers up a policy, which has served to lower wages, benefits and living standards for American workers, whether they are in technology, construction or production. Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.
The pro and anti-immigrant issue avoids the root cause for the economic exploitation and social degradation of the working class – the billionaire owners operating in alliance with the political elite.
In order to reverse the regressive tax practices and tax evasion, the low wage cycle and the spiraling death rates resulting from narcotics and other preventable causes, which profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical billionaires, class alliances need to be forged linking workers, consumers, pensioners, students, the disabled, the foreclosed homeowners, evicted tenants, debtors, the under-employed and immigrants as a unified political force.
Sooner said than done, but never tried! Everything and everyone is at stake: life, health and happiness.
conatus > , October 5, 2017 at 9:02 am GMTjacques sheete > , October 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm GMT
Ronald Reagan can be blamed for the excess of billionaires we now have. His lauding of the entrepreneurial spirit and how we are all brave individual risk takers makes it seem you are an envious chickensh$t if you advocate against unlimited assets.
But even Warren Buffet has come out for the estate tax saying something like now the Forbes 400 now possesses total assets of 2.5 trillion in a 20 trillion economy when 40 years ago they totaled in the millions. The legal rule against perpetuities generally used to limit trusts to a lifetime of 100 years, now some states offer 1000 year trusts which will only concretize an outlandishly high Gini coefficient(a measure of income inequality).
The rationale for lowering taxes and the untouchable rich is usually the trickle down theory but, as one of these billionaires said, "How many pairs of pants can I buy?" It takes 274 years spending 10,000 a day to spend a billion dollars.
Better Henry Ford's virtuous circle than Ronald Reagan's entrepreneur.
Ban all billionaires. Bring back the union label. Otherwise .. what do we have to lose?
http://nobillionairescom.dotster.com/advancedatheist > , October 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm GMT
@Wally "According to the US Internal Revenue Service, billionaire tax evasion amounts to $458 billion dollars in lost public revenues every year – almost a trillion dollars every two years by this conservative estimate."
No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.
An income tax is the most degrading and totalitarian of all possible taxes. Its implementation wrongly suggests that the government owns the lives and labor of the citizens it is supposed to represent.
Tellingly, "a heavy progressive or graduated income tax" is Plank #2 of the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and first published in 1848.
To provide funding for the federal government, Ron Paul supports excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, massive cuts in spending
"We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990s. We don't need to "replace" the income tax at all. I see a consumption tax as being a little better than the personal income tax, and I would vote for the Fair-Tax if it came up in the House of Representatives, but it is not my goal. We can do better."
No, it's $458 billion that the government has not managed to steal.
There was a time that I would have agreed with that, and technically still get the point, but what it really means is that the government merely allows the corporations which they favor, subsidize, and bail out to keep the chump change they've stolen from the workers, besides that which the government steals from the workers and hands to the corporations.
Corporations and government work hand in hand to fleece the herd and most of the herd apparently think it's just fine.
Never forget that thanks to government, corporations socialize risk while privatizing profit. They are partners in gangsterism.anonymous > , Disclaimer October 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm GMT
Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives.
Sorry, I don't buy the notion that billionaires have access to some super-healthcare that the rest of us don't know about. In the real world rich people notoriously waste a lot of money on quackery, like the current fad of receiving plasma transfusions from young people as a phony "anti-aging" treatment.
More likely the kinds of men who become billionaires just enjoy better health and longevity for genetic reasons. They tend to have higher IQ's, for example, and some scientists think that IQ correlates with "system integrity" in their bodies which just make higher IQ people more resilient. Look up the growing body of research on cognitive epidemiology.MarkinLA > , October 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm GMT
I'm disappointed there was no mention of the "Billionaires" use of social media. They've always controlled the press of course: startin' wars, hatin' on those guys, gettin' the blood up, jailin' the 'bad guys', preaching an empty delusion of social justice propaganda, payin' Ken Burns to propagandize and put a new coat of paint on the industrial scale killing of Vietnam. Probably just in time for more violence.
Let's face it, many of the workin' stiff will blow a hedge fund manager and kneel before the so-called free market corpse of Sam Walton but most importantly they'll grab their guns outa' patriotic fervor and social media will be right there with 'em. "I love Elon Musk!"
It's a great thing we're watched and datamined for our own good – information is how billionaires became billionaires along with a lot of help from the Government they usually encourage you to dislike. Keep posting!
Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of 'law and order' and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.
BZZZZ – wrong. Rich conservative support massive immigration so they can get cheap labor while simutaneously virtue signaling. I thought you just got done sayiong they don't pay for the costs of the working poor? The middle class is who is against immigratioin. They bear the burden and pay the taxes that support it.
Oct 02, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org
The race for governor of New Jersey is the most important election of 2017. With so much at stake you might think the people would have a real choice, and they do, its just not the choices presented by the Democrats and Republicans.
When it comes down to what really matters -- power and money -- New Jersey is run by machine politics and the insiders know how to wheel and deal.
Power in the Garden State is managed by a shifting alliance of political machines, ready to cut deals, share power and scratch each others back. At least that is how its been since Chris Christie came to rule the roost.
60 Democratic officials endorsed Christie in 2013, including major Democratic machine bosses .
Let that sink in. 60 elected Democrats endorsed Christie.
In one of the best pieces of investigative reporting ever written on New Jersey politics Alec MacGillis states:
Christie owes his rise to some of the most toxic forces in his state -- powerful bosses who ensure that his vow to clean up New Jersey will never come to pass. He has allowed them to escape scrutiny, rewarded them for their support, and punished their enemies. All along, even as it looked like Christie was attacking the machine, he was really just mastering it.
MacGillis continues to describe the gears and wheels:
In most of the United States, the big political machines have been broken, or reduced to wheezing versions of their former selves. In New Jersey, though, they've endured like nowhere else. The state has retained its excessively local distribution of power -- 566 municipalities, 21 counties, and innumerable commissions and authorities, all of them generous repositories of contracts and jobs. The place still has bona fide bosses -- perhaps not as colorful as the old ones, but about as powerful. The bosses drum up campaign cash from people and firms seeking public jobs and contracts, and direct it to candidates, who take care of the bosses and the contributors -- a self-perpetuating cycle
The relationship between Democratic machine bosses and Christie was so cozy that in the 2013 gubernatorial race the Democratic Party failed to support its own candidate, Barbara Buono.
In her concession speech Buono thanked her supporters who:
"withstood the onslaught of Betrayal from our own party .The Democratic political bosses, some elected, some not made a deal with this governor .They did not do it for the State they did it out of a desire to help themselves."
The machines effectively deprive the voters of New Jersey of a free, fair and competitive election.
This time around it's Christie that " kicks sand " in the face of the Republican candidate even thought his very own Lt. Governor. Guadagno is way down in the polls and millions short.
After Christie's gross absenteeism during his vain run for the Presidency, Bridgegate, Beachgate, plundering of the treasury with record giveaways to favored corporations , the protection and rescue of Exxon and the unprecedented low approval ratings to show for it, there is nothing Christie can or will do to help.
Referring to his miserable poll ratings Christie said , "Poll numbers matter when you're running for something .And I don't care." He used New Jersey for his personal gain and trashed the Republican Party, but no worries, now its the Democrats turn.
The big money knows the game and former Christie donors have switched to supporting Murphy.
A Republican politician, Chris Brown, is quoted in PoliticoNewJersey as saying:
I can only speak for myself and say that I believe there has been an unholy alliance between Governor Christie and Senator Sweeney, which I don't believe is in the best interest of the people I represent in Atlantic County or this state ."
Where are the lesser of two evils in New Jersey?
When it came time to attack workers they were one big happy family.
As reported in The Nation:
[W]hen Christie launched an aggressive assault on the pensions and health-care benefits of state employees in 2011, he did so with the support of Norcross, DiVincenzo, and other Democratic bosses, whose allies in the Assembly joined the Republican governor to give him the margin he needed to pass the changes despite massive protests outside the State House by the NJEA, the CWA, and other unions.In June of that year, Wisniewski appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, where he joined her in bemoaning the state of the Democratic Party and added, in regard to the pension-"reform" fiasco: "We fought real hard, but unfortunately there were some Democrats who chose to side with the Republicans on this bill."
Some Democrats? Just the most powerful Democrats in the state.
Watch this revealing video of Joseph DiVincenzo, Democratic machine boss of Essex county endorse Chris Christie of Governor . DiVincenzo took the opportunity to champion Christie's attacks against workers. DiVincenzo then accurately praises Shelia Oliver, now Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, for moving the Christie agenda when Oliver was Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly.
Joe DiVincenzo is Shelia Oliver's political mentor and boss on her day job. Machine much?
New Jersey's supreme Democratic boss is also a long-term ally of Christie. George Norcross and his brothers Phil and Donald have built their careers on the city of Camden . After 30 years of such leadership the people of Camden are desperately poor and plagued by all the problems extreme poverty includes. Read this scathing critique of Norcorss's recent attempt to develop Camden.
George Norcross lives a life of luxury greasing Christie's wheels and hanging out at Trump's Mar-a-Lago where he can easily toss the $200,000 a year membership fee to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful. Camden gets poverty, crime, violence and silence. Norcross gets caviar, cash and Trump's company.
The machine bosses decided their narrow interest was far more important than giving the people of New Jersey a real choice. And so we got Chris Christie delivered on a platter by the Democrats themselves. Now its the Democrat's turn.
And if you think there is no payoff, then tell me why the cash-strapped state government approved a $86 million tax break for an insurance company run by -- you guessed it -- New Jersey's most powerful Democrat, George Norcross .
Any complaints from supposed Republican Chris Christie for lining the pockets of the leading Democrat? None. One hand washes the other and the people of New Jersey get the shaft. And the shaft is coming.
According to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, New Jersey is ranked 50th , among US states for its fiscal health. Will Murphy repeat Corzine by making fine sounding promises followed by austerity?
There is only one reason that New Jersey -- one of the riches states in the richest country in the history of the world -- has budget problems and that, in the end, is the machine.
And Phil "Goldman-Sachs" Murphy has signaled his acceptance and alliance with the machine by appointing tried and true team player Shelia Oliver as his running mate.
Murphy does not have to run hard. The fix is in and he is way ahead on money and polls. Why have a ground game when the real game is to marry New Jersey's old-school machine with the most greedy, ruthless players on Wall Street and on Trump's cabinet: Goldman Sachs.
Machine meets machine, falls in love and we live unhappily ever after.
But, what is broken in Jersey can be fixed in Jersey if we have the courage and vision to restore competition, democracy and basic honestly to politics. This election we are lucky to have a real alternative with the Green Party candidates for governor Seth-Kaper Dale and Lisa Durden.
It's time to stop voting for the bosses unless we want to be political prisoners for the rest of our lives.
Oct 04, 2017 | www.unz.com
jacques sheete > ,October 3, 2017 at 9:58 pm GMT
What emerges from his meticulous and merciless chronicle at last is a picture of Uncle Sam with a ring in his nose, and a thousand cords flowing from it, and a hearty band of swindlers yanking every cord It reduces democracy, not only to absurdity, but also to obscenity.
-H.L. Mencken, Hornswoggling the Rabble, review of Behind the Scenes in Politics, by Anonymous
The American Mercury, October 1924, p. 252
I would add, "perversity."
Oct 03, 2017 | www.unz.com
Barsamian: Do you see any encouraging activity on the Democrats' side? Or is it time to begin thinking about a third party?
Chomsky: There is a lot to think about. The most remarkable feature of the 2016 election was the Bernie Sanders campaign, which broke the pattern set by over a century of U.S. political history. A substantial body of political science research convincingly establishes that elections are pretty much bought; campaign funding alone is a remarkably good predictor of electability, for Congress as well as for the presidency.
It also predicts the decisions of elected officials. Correspondingly, a considerable majority of the electorate -- those lower on the income scale -- are effectively disenfranchised, in that their representatives disregard their preferences.
Sep 29, 2017 | theintercept.com
... ... ...
Many of my colleagues, Republican colleagues, here in the Senate, for example, disparage the United Nations, he says, sitting across the table from me, in front of a wall of Vermont tourism posters. While clearly the United Nations could be more effective, it is imperative that we strengthen international institutions, because at the end of the day, while it may not be sexy, it may not be glamorous, it may not allow for great soundbites, simply the idea of people coming together and talking and arguing is a lot better than countries going to war.
... ... ...
The senator makes clear that unilateralism, the belief that we can simply overthrow governments that we dont want, that has got to be re-examined. After referencing the Iraq War -- one of the great foreign policy blunders in the history of this country -- the senator touches on another historic blunder which, to his credit, few of his fellow senators would be willing to discuss, let alone critique. In 1953, the United States, with the British, overthrew [Mohammed] Mossadegh, the prime minister of Iran – and this was to benefit British oil interests, he reminds me. The result was the shah came into power, who was a very ruthless man, and the result of that was that we had the Iranian Revolution, which takes us to where we are right now.
...So far this year, Sanders has hired Matt Duss , a respected foreign affairs analyst and former president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), as his foreign policy adviser, and has given speeches at the liberal Jewish lobbying group, J Street, where he condemned Israels continued occupation of Palestinian territories as being contrary to fundamental American values, and at the centrist Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, where he rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin for trying to weaken the transatlantic alliance.
Last week, my colleague Glenn Greenwald penned a column in The Intercept headlined, The Clinton Book Tour Is Largely Ignoring the Vital Role of Endless War in the 2016 Election Result. Greenwald argued that Clintons advocacy of multiple wars and other military actions pushed some swing voters into the arms of both Donald Trump and third-party candidates, such as Jill Stein. I ask Sanders whether he agrees with this analysis.
I mean, thats a whole other issue. And I dont know the answer to that. I persist. Surely hed concede that foreign policy was a factor in Clintons defeat? He doesnt budge. I want to talk about my speech, not about Hillary Clinton. So foreign policy plays no role in elections?
... ... ...
The U.S. funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how U.S. aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area. So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues. He then, finally, answers my question: So the answer is yes.
It is -- by the depressingly low standard of modern U.S. politics -- a remarkable and, dare I say it, radical response from Sanders. Aid to Israel in Congress and the pro-Israel community has been sacrosanct, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted earlier this year, and no president has seriously proposed cutting it since Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s.
Sep 25, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.pressNoam Chomsky Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy Defend Democracy Press
CL: Social democracy
NC: Social democracy, yeah. That's sometimes called "the golden age of modern capitalism." That changed in the '70s with the onset of the neoliberal era that we've been living in since. And if you ask yourself what this era is, its crucial principle is undermining mechanisms of social solidarity and mutual support and popular engagement in determining policy.
It's not called that. What it's called is "freedom," but "freedom" means a subordination to the decisions of concentrated, unaccountable, private power. That's what it means. The institutions of governance -- or other kinds of association that could allow people to participate in decision making -- those are systematically weakened. Margaret Thatcher said it rather nicely in her aphorism about "there is no society, only individuals."Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them.
She was actually, unconsciously no doubt, paraphrasing Marx, who in his condemnation of the repression in France said, "The repression is turning society into a sack of potatoes, just individuals, an amorphous mass can't act together." That was a condemnation. For Thatcher, it's an ideal!and that's neoliberalism. We destroy or at least undermine the governing mechanisms by which people at least in principle can participate to the extent that society's democratic. So weaken them, undermine unions, other forms of association, leave a sack of potatoes and meanwhile transfer decisions to unaccountable private power all in the rhetoric of freedom.
Well, what does that do? The one barrier to the threat of destruction is an engaged public, an informed, engaged public acting together to develop means to confront the threat and respond to it. That's been systematically weakened, consciously. I mean, back to the 1970s we've probably talked about this. There was a lot of elite discussion across the spectrum about the danger of too much democracy and the need to have what was called more "moderation" in democracy, for people to become more passive and apathetic and not to disturb things too much, and that's what the neoliberal programs do. So put it all together and what do you have? A perfect storm.
CL: What everybody notices is all the headline things, including Brexit and Donald Trump and Hindu nationalism and nationalism everywhere and Le Pen all kicking in more or less together and suggesting some real world phenomenon.
NC: it's very clear, and it was predictable. You didn't know exactly when, but when you impose socioeconomic policies that lead to stagnation or decline for the majority of the population, undermine democracy, remove decision-making out of popular hands, you're going to get anger, discontent, fear take all kinds of forms. And that's the phenomenon that's misleadingly called "populism."
CL: I don't know what you think of Pankaj Mishra, but I enjoy his book Age of Anger , and he begins with an anonymous letter to a newspaper from somebody who says, "We should admit that we are not only horrified but baffled. Nothing since the triumph of Vandals in Rome and North Africa has seemed so suddenly incomprehensible and difficult to reverse."
NC: Well, that's the fault of the information system, because it's very comprehensible and very obvious and very simple. Take, say the United States, which actually suffered less from these policies than many other countries. Take the year 2007, a crucial year right before the crash.
What was the wondrous economy that was then being praised? It was one in which the wages, the real wages of American workers, were actually lower than they were in 1979 when the neoliberal period began. That's historically unprecedented except for trauma or war or something like that. Here is a long period in which real wages had literally declined, while there was some wealth created but in very few pockets. It was also a period in which new institutions developed, financial institutions. You go back to the '50s and '60s, a so-called Golden Age, banks were connected to the real economy. That was their function. There were also no crashes because there were New Deal regulations.
Starting in the early '70s there was a sharp change. First of all, financial institutions exploded in scale. By 2007 they actually had 40 percent of corporate profits. Furthermore, they weren't connected to the real economy anymore.
In Europe the way democracy is undermined is very direct1. Decisions are placed in the hands of an unelected troika: the European Commission, which is unelected; the IMF, of course unelected; and the European Central Bank. They make the decisions. So people are very angry, they're losing control of their lives. The economic policies are mostly harming them, and the result is anger, disillusion, and so on.
... ... ...
NC: I think the fate of the species depends on it because, remember, it's not just inequality, stagnation. It's terminal disaster. We have constructed a perfect storm. That should be the screaming headlines every day. Since the Second World War, we have created two means of destruction. Since the neoliberal era, we have dismantled the way of handling them. That's our pincers. That's what we face, and if that problem isn't solved, we're done with.
CL: I want to go back Pankaj Mishra and the Age of Anger for a moment!
NC: It's not the Age of Anger. It's the Age of Resentment against socioeconomic policies which have harmed the majority of the population for a generation and have consciously and in principle undermined democratic participation. Why shouldn't there be anger?
CL: Pankaj Mishra calls it -- it's a Nietzschean word -- "ressentiment," meaning this kind of explosive rage. But he says, "It's the defining feature of a world where the modern promise of equality collides with massive disparities of power, education, status and!
NC: Which was designed that way, which was designed that way. Go back to the 1970s. Across the spectrum, elite spectrum, there was deep concern about the activism of the '60s. It's called the "time of troubles." It civilized the country, which is dangerous. What happened is that large parts of the population -- which had been passive, apathetic, obedient -- tried to enter the political arena in one or another way to press their interests and concerns. They're called "special interests." That means minorities, young people, old people, farmers, workers, women. In other words, the population. The population are special interests, and their task is to just watch quietly. And that was explicit.
Two documents came out right in the mid-'70s, which are quite important. They came from opposite ends of the political spectrum, both influential, and both reached the same conclusions. One of them, at the left end, was by the Trilateral Commission -- liberal internationalists, three major industrial countries, basically the Carter administration, that's where they come from. That is the more interesting one [ The Crisis of Democracy , a Trilateral Commission report]. The American rapporteur Samuel Huntington of Harvard, he looked back with nostalgia to the days when, as he put it, Truman was able to run the country with the cooperation of a few Wall Street lawyers and executives. Then everything was fine. Democracy was perfect.
But in the '60s they all agreed it became problematic because the special interests started trying to get into the act, and that causes too much pressure and the state can't handle that.
... ... ...
Listen to the full conversation with Noam Chomsky on Radio Open Source.
Sep 20, 2017 | www.foxnews.com
Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was 'unmasking' at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 - and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump's inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.
Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.
Aug 13, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org
The Trump administration's foreign policy often resembles a Mad Hatter's Tea Party or a loose cannon on a ship deck. But every now and then, a good idea emerges from the fracas. Such is the case with a reform that could sharply reduce America's piety exports.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is revising the State Department mission statement to focus on promoting "the security, prosperity and interests of the American people globally." Washington pundits are aghast that "democracy promotion" is no longer trumpeted as a top US foreign policy goal. Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush's "democracy czar," complained, "We used to want a just and democratic world, and now apparently we don't the message being sent will be a great comfort to every dictator in the world."
But this is like presuming that any preacher who fails to promise to eradicate sin is a tool of the devil. Instead, it is time to recognize the carnage the US has sown abroad in the name of democracy.
The US has periodically pledged to spread democracy ever since President Woodrow Wilson announced in 1913: "I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men!" Democracy is so important that the US government refuses to stand idly by when foreign voters go astray. Since 1946, the US has intervened -- usually covertly -- in more than 80 foreign elections to assist its preferred candidate or party.
In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." While Bush's invocation thrilled Washington, the rest of the world paid more attention to his support for any tyrant who joined his War on Terror.
President Barack Obama was supposed to redeem the honor of US foreign policy. In 2011, Obama portrayed the US bombing of Libya as a triumph of democratic values. After Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was killed, Obama speedily announced that Libyans "now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya." But violence spiraled out of control and claimed thousands of victims (including four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012). Similarly, Obama administration officials invoked democracy to justify arming quasi-terrorist groups in Syria's civil war, worsening a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands and created millions of refuges.
But the Obama team, like prior administrations, did not permit its democratic pretensions to impede business as usual. After Egyptian protestors toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, Obama pledged to assist that nation "pursue a credible transition to a democracy ." But the US government disapproved of that nation's first elected leader, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi. After the Egyptian military deposed Morsi in 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry bizarrely praised Egypt's generals for " restoring democracy ." Similarly, many Ethiopians were horrified when Obama visited their country in 2015 and praised its regime as " democratically elected " -- despite a sham election and its brutal suppression of journalists, bloggers and other critics.
Democracy promotion gives US policymakers a license to meddle almost anywhere on Earth. The National Endowment for Democracy , created in 1983, has been caught interfering in elections in France, Panama , Costa Rica , Ukraine , Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, Czechoslovakia , Poland , Haiti and many other nations. The State Department has a long list of similar pratfalls, including pouring vast amounts of money in vain efforts to beget democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan .
Democracy at its best is a wonderful form of government but many so-called democracies nowadays are simply elective despotisms. Elections abroad are often herd counts to determine who gets to fleece the herd. Many democracies have become kleptocracies where governing is indistinguishable from looting.
In some nations, election victories legitimize destroying voters en masse. This is exemplified by the Philippines, where the government has killed 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers , including several mayors . After President Rodrigo Duterte publicly declared that he would be " happy to slaughter " three million drug users, Trump phoned him and, according to a leaked transcript, said, "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job [you're doing] on the drug problem." Similarly, Trump congratulated Turkish president Recep Erdogan after he won a referendum that awarded him quasi-dictatorial powers.
It is time to admit that America lacks a Midas touch for spreading democracy. Freedom House reported that, even prior to Trump's election, more than 100 nations have seen declines in democracy since 2005.
Rather than abandoning all moral goals in foreign policy, Washington could instead embrace a strict policy of "honesty in democracy promotion." Under this standard, the US government would cease trying to covertly influence foreign elections, cease glorifying tinhorn dictators who rigged elections to capture power, and cease bankrolling authoritarian regimes that blight democratic reforms in the bud. But the odds of Washington policymakers abiding by those restraints is akin to the chances that all of Trump's tweets will henceforth be edifying.
Rather than delivering political salvation, US interventions abroad more often produce "no-fault carnage" (no one in Washington is ever held liable). At a minimum, we should get our own constitutional house in order before seeking to rescue benighted foreigners. Ironically, many of the same people who equate Trump with Hitler still insist that the US government should continue its political missionary work during his reign.
James Bovard, author of Public Policy Hooligan , is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors . Follow him on Twitter @JimBovard
Reprinted with author's permission from USA TODAY .
William Blum's "Cri de Coeur",
February 9, 2013
William Blum's Cri de Coeur
A review of "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy" by William Blum (Zed Books, London/New York, 2013.)
(As it has appeared at DissidentVoice, OpEdNews, etc.):
In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring:
"If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State."
Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:
"If I were... president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize... to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions... have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but... a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. ... That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."
Unfortunately, Blum never made it to the White House! But, fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.
America's Deadliest... is divided into 21 chapters and an introduction--and there's something to underline or memorize on every page! Sometimes it's just one of Blum's irrepressible quips, and sometimes it's a matter of searing American foreign or domestic policiy that clarifies that Bushwhackian question of yore: "Why do they hate us?"
Reading this scrupulously documented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!
Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest ... is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.
Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:
- Why they hate us;
- America means well;
- We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
- We will use whatever means necessary--including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.
Along the way, we get glimpses of Blum's experientially rich life. A note "About the Author" tells us that, "He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital."
In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."
America's Deadliest... is a book of wisdom and wit that ponders "how this world became so unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid?" In a pointillistic approach, sowing aphoristic seeds for thought, Blum enumerates instances of that cruelty, often with wry, pained commentary. "War can be seen as America's religion," he tells us. Reflecting on Obama's octupling Bush's number of drones used to assassinate, collaterally kill and terrorize, he affirms:
"Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left." And, he avers, "Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." And then turns around and reminds us--lest we forget--how the mass media have invaded our lives, with memes about patriotism, democracy, God, the "good life": "Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America's young people to fight a foreign war to defend `capitalism'?" he wonders.
"The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved references now are to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise."
Cynthia McKinney writes that the book is "corruscating, eye-opening, and essential." Oliver Stone calls it a "fireball of terse information."
Like Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Cindy Sheehan and Bradley Manning, Blum is committed to setting the historical record straight. His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable "truths" one has taken for granted--often since childhood--are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed. One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: "`We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly,'" Powell said. "`We must have a brute demonstration of power.'
Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! ... Stay strong! ... Kill them! ... We are going to wipe them out!'"
Blum's intellectual resources are as keen as anyone's writing today. He also adds an ample measure of humanity to his trenchant critiques. He juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of our professed values with the mordant facts of our deeds. The cognitive dissonance makes for a memorable, very unpretty picture of how an immensely privileged people lost themselves, while gorging on junk food, junk politics, junk economics, junk education, junk media. Like an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, he lambastes his own--us!--flaying layers of hypocrisy and betrayals while seeking to reveal the core values of human dignity, empathy and moral rectitude.
Gary Corseri has published and posted prose, poetry and dramas at hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide, including CommonDreams, Countercurrents, BraveNewWorld.in, OpEdNews, CounterPunch, Outlook India, The New York Times, Dissident Voice. He has published novels, poetry collections and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been presented on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. He has taught in US public schools and prisons, and at American and Japanese universities. Contact: email@example.com.
Aug 02, 2014 | CounterPunch
A specter is haunting Europe and Western world - it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.
As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.
By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one's motherland was and is a sign of extremism.
German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'.
And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom.
An unelected monster, as it has done for centuries, is playing with the world, torturing some, and plundering others, or both.
The West, in a final act of arrogance, has somehow confused itself with its own concept of God. It has decided that it has the full right to shape the planet, to punish and to reward, to destroy and rebuild as it wishes.
This horrible wave of terror unleashed against our planet, is justified by an increasingly meaningless but fanatically defended dogma, symbolized by a box (made of card or wood, usually), and masses of people sticking pieces of paper into the opening on the top of that box.
This is the altar of Western ideological fundamentalism. This is a supreme idiocy that cannot be questioned, as it guarantees the status quo for ruling elites and business interests, an absurdity that justifies all crimes, all lies and all madness.
This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language.
In our latest book, "On Western Terrorism – from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare", Noam Chomsky commented on the 'democratic' process in the Western world:
"The goal of elections now is to undermine democracy. They are run by the public relations industry and they're certainly not trying to create informed voters who'll make rational choices. They are trying to delude people into making irrational choices. The same techniques that are used to undermine markets are used to undermine democracy. It's one of the major industries in the country and its basic workings are invisible."
But what is it that really signifies this 'sacred' word, this almost religious term, and this pinnacle of Western demagogy? We hear it everywhere. We are ready to sacrifice millions of lives (not ours of course, at least not yet, but definitely lives of the others) in the name of it.
All those grand slogans and propaganda! Last year I visited Pyongyang, but I have to testify that North Koreans are not as good at slogans as the Western propagandists are.
"In the name of freedom and democracy!" Hundreds of millions tons of bombs fell from the sky on the Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside bodies were burned by napalm, mutilated by spectacular explosions.
"Defending democracy!" Children were raped in front of their parents in Central America, men and women machine-gunned down by death squads that had been trained in military bases in the United States of America.
"Civilizing the world and spreading democracy!" That has always been a European slogan, their 'stuff to do', and a way of showing their great civilization to others. Amputating hands of Congolese people, murdering around ten million of them, and many more in Namibia, East Africa, West Africa and Algiers; gassing people of the Middle East ( "I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes", to borrow from the colorful lexicon of (Sir) Winston Churchill).
So what is it really? Who is it, that strange lady with an axe in her hand and with a covered face – the lady whose name is Democracy?
It is all very simple, actually. The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people". Then and now, it was supposed to be in direct contrast to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), that means "rule of an elite".
'Rule of the people' Let us just visit a few examples of the 'rule of the people'.
People spoke, they ruled, they voted 'democratically' in Chile, bringing in the mild and socialist government of 'Popular Unity' of Salvador Allende.
Sure, the Chilean education system was so brilliant, its political and social system so wonderful, that it inspired not only many countries in Latin America, but also those in far away Mediterranean Europe.
That could not be tolerated, because, as we all know, it is only white Europe and North America that can be allowed to supply the world with the blueprint for any society, anywhere on this planet. It was decided that "Chile has to scream", that its economy had to be ruined and the "Popular Unity" government kicked out of power.
Henry Kissinger, belonging, obviously, to a much higher race and country of a much higher grade, made a straightforward and in a way very 'honest' statement, clearly defining the North American stand towards global democracy: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."
And so Chile was ravaged. Thousands of people were murdered and 'our son-of-a-bitch' was brought to power. General Pinochet was not elected: he bombed the Presidential palace in Santiago, he savagely tortured the men and women who were elected by the Chilean people, and he "disappeared" thousands.
But that was fine, because democracy, as it is seen from Washington, London or Paris, is nothing more and nothing less than what the white man needs in order to control this planet, unopposed and preferably never criticized.
Of course Chile was not the only place where 'democracy' was 'redefined'. And it was not the most brutal scenario either, although it was brutal enough. But it was a very symbolic 'case', because here, there could be absolutely no dispute: an extremely well educated, middle class country, voted in transparent elections, just to have its government murdered, tortured and exiled, simply because it was too democratic and too involved in improving the lives of its people.
There were countless instances of open spite coming from the North, towards the 'rule of the people' in Latin America. For centuries, there have been limitless examples. Every country 'south of the border' in the Western Hemisphere, became a victim.
After all, the self-imposed Monroe Doctrine gave North Americans 'unquestionable rights' to intervene and 'correct' any 'irresponsible' democratic moves made by the lower races inhabiting Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.
There were many different scenarios of real ingenuity, in how to torture countries that embarked on building decent homes for their people, although soon there was evidence of repetitiveness and predictability.
The US has been either sponsoring extremely brutal coups (like the one in Guatemala in 1954), or simply occupying the countries in order to overthrow their democratically elected governments. Justifications for such interventions have varied: it was done in order to 'restore order', to 'restore freedom and democracy', or to prevent the emergence of 'another Cuba'.
From the Dominican Republic in 1965 to Grenada in 1983, countries were 'saved from themselves' through the introduction (by orders from mainly the Protestant North American elites with clearly pathological superiority complexes) of death squads that administered torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. People were killed because their democratic decisions were seen as 'irresponsible' and therefore unacceptable.
While there has been open racism in every aspect of how the Empire controlled its colonies, 'political correctness' was skillfully introduced, effectively reducing to a bare minimum any serious critiques of the societies that were forced into submission.
In Indonesia, between 1 and 3 million people were murdered in the years1965/66, in a US -sponsored coup, because there too, was a 'great danger' that the people would rule and decide to vote 'irresponsibly', bringing the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), at that time the third most numerous Communist Party anywhere in the world, to power.
The democratically elected President of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered in 1961, by the joint efforts of the United States and Europe, simply because he was determined to use the vast natural resources of his country to feed his own people; and because he dared to criticize Western colonialism and imperialism openly and passionately.
East Timor lost a third of its population simply because its people, after gaining independence from Portugal, dared to vote the left-leaning FRETILIN into power. "We are not going to tolerate another Cuba next to our shores", protested the Indonesian fascist dictator Suharto, and the US and Australia strongly agreed. The torture, and extermination of East Timorese people by the Indonesian military, was considered irrelevant and not even worth reporting in the mass media.
The people of Iran could of course not be trusted with 'democracy'. Iran is one of the oldest and greatest cultures on earth, but its people wanted to use the revenues from its oil to improve their lives, not to feed foreign multi-nationals. That has always been considered a crime by Western powers – a crime punishable by death.
The people of Iran decided to rule; they voted, they said that they want to have all their oil industry nationalized. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, was ready to implement what his people demanded. But his government was overthrown in a coup d'état, orchestrated by the British MI6 and North American CIA, and what followed was the murderous dictatorship of the deranged Western puppet – Reza Pahlavi. As in Latin America and Indonesia, instead of schools, hospitals and housing projects, people got death squads, torture chambers and fear. Is that what they wanted? Is that what they voted for?
There were literally dozens of countries, all over the world, which had to be 'saved', by the West, from their own 'irresponsible citizens and voters'. Brazil recently 'celebrated' the 50th anniversary of the US-backed military coup d'état, which began a horrendous 20 year long military dictatorship. The US supported two coups in Iraq, in 1963 and 1968 that brought Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party to power. The list is endless. These are only some random examples.
On closer examination, the West has overthrown, or made attempts to overthrow, almost any democratically elected governments, on all continents attempting to serve their own people, by providing them with decent standards of living and social services. That is quite an achievement, and some stamina!
Could it be then that the West only respects 'Democracy' when 'people are forced to rule' against their own interests? And when they are 'defending' what they are ordered to defend by local elites that are subservient to North American and European interests? and also when they are defending the interests of foreign multi-national companies and Western governments that are dependent on those companies?
Can anything be done? If a country is too weak to defend itself by military means, against some mighty Western aggressor, could it approach any international democratic institutions, hoping for protection?
A good example is Nicaragua, which had been literally terrorized by the United States, for no other reason than for being socialist. Its government went to court.
The case was called: The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America.
It was a 1986 case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua.
The judgment was long, consisting of 291 points. Among them that the United States had been involved in the "unlawful use of force." The alleged violations included attacks on Nicaraguan facilities and naval vessels, the mining of Nicaraguan ports, the invasion of Nicaraguan air space, and the training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying of forces (the "Contras") and seeking to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.
Judgment was passed, and so were UN votes and resolutions. The UN resolution from 1986 called for the full and immediate compliance with the Judgment. Only Thailand, France and the UK abstained. The US showed total spite towards the court, and it vetoed all UN resolutions.
It continued its terror campaign against Nicaragua. In the end, the ruined and exhausted country voted in 1990. It was soon clear that it was not voting for or against Sandinista government, but whether to endure more violence from the North, or to simply accept depressing defeat. The Sandinista government lost. It lost because the voters had a North American gun pointing at their heads.
This is how 'democracy' works.
I covered the Nicaraguan elections of 1996 and I was told by voters, by a great majority of them, that they were going to vote for the right-wing candidate (Aleman), only because the US was threatening to unleash another wave of terror in case the Sandinista government came back to power, democratically.
The Sandinistas are now back. But only because most of Latin America has changed, and there is unity and determination to fight, if necessary.
While the Europeans are clearly benefiting from neo-colonialism and the plunder that goes on all over the world, it would be ridiculous to claim that they themselves are 'enjoying the fruits of democracy'.
In a dazzling novel "Seeing", written by Jose Saramago, a laureate for the Nobel Prize for literature, some 83% of voters in an unidentified country (most likely Saramago's native Portugal), decide to cast blank ballots, expressing clear spite towards the Western representative election system.
This state, which prided itself as a 'democratic one', responded by unleashing an orgy of terror against its own citizens. It soon became obvious that people are allowed to make democratic choices only when the result serves the interests of the regime.
Ursula K Le Guin, reviewing the novel in the pages of The Guardian, on 15 April 2006, admitted:
Turning in a blank ballot is a signal unfamiliar to most Britons and Americans, who aren't yet used to living under a government that has made voting meaningless. In a functioning democracy, one can consider not voting a lazy protest liable to play into the hands of the party in power (as when low Labour turn-out allowed Margaret Thatcher's re-elections, and Democratic apathy secured both elections of George W Bush). It comes hard to me to admit that a vote is not in itself an act of power, and I was at first blind to the point Saramago's non-voting voters are making.
She should not have been. Even in Europe itself, terror had been unleashed, on many occasions, against the people who decided to vote 'incorrectly'.
Perhaps the most brutal instance was in the post WWII period, when the Communist Parties were clearly heading for spectacular victories in France, Italy and West Germany. Such 'irresponsible behavior' had to be, of course, stopped. Both US and UK intelligence forces made a tremendous effort to 'save democracy' in Europe, employing Nazis to break, intimidate, even murder members of progressive movements and parties.
These Nazi cadres were later allowed, even encouraged, to leave Europe for South America, some carrying huge booty from the victims who vanished in concentration camps. This booty included gold teeth.
Later on, in the 1990's, I spoke to some of them, and also to their children, in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. They were proud of their deeds, unrepentant, and as Nazi as ever.
Many of those European Nazis later actively participated in Operation Condor, so enthusiastically supported by the Paraguayan fascist and pro-Western dictator, Alfredo Strössner. Mr Strössner was a dear friend and asylum-giver to many WWII war criminals, including people like Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the "Angel of Death", who performed genetic experiments on children during the WWII.
So, after destroying that 'irresponsible democratic process' in Europe (the post-war Western Empire), many European Nazis that were now loyally serving their new master, were asked to continue with what they knew how to do best. Therefore they helped to assassinate some 60,000 left-wing South American men, women and their children, who were guilty of building egalitarian and just societies in their home countries. Many of these Nazis took part, directly, in Operacion Condor, under the direct supervision of the United States and Europe.
As Naomi Klein writes in her book, Shock Doctrine:
"Operación Cóndor, also known as Plan Cóndor, Portuguese: Operação Condor) was a campaign of political repression and terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. The program was intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas, and to suppress active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments."
In Chile, German Nazis rolled up their sleeves and went to work directly: by interrogating, liquidating and savagely torturing members of the democratically elected government and its supporters. They also performed countless medical experiments on people, at the so-called Colonia Dirnidad, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, whose rule was manufactured and sustained by Dr. Kissinger and his clique.
But back to Europe: in Greece, after WWII, both the UK and US got heavily involved in the civil war between the Communists and the extreme right-wing forces.
In 1967, just one month before the elections in which the Greek left-wing was expected to win democratically (the Indonesian scenario of 1965), the US and its 'Greek colonels' staged a coup, which marked the beginning of a 7 year savage dictatorship.
What happened in Yugoslavia, some 30 years later is, of course clear. A successful Communist country could not be allowed to survive, and definitely not in Europe. As bombs fell on Belgrade, many of those inquisitive and critically thinking people that had any illusions left about the Western regime and its 'democratic principles', lost them rapidly.
But by then, the majority of Europe already consisted of indoctrinated masses, some of the worst informed and most monolithic (in their thinking) on earth.
Europe and its voters It is that constantly complaining multitude, which wants more and more money, and delivers the same and extremely predictable electoral results every four, five or six years. It lives and votes mechanically. It has totally lost its ability to imagine a different world, to fight for humanist principles, and even to dream.
It is turning into an extremely scary place, a museum at best, and a cemetery of human vision at the worst.
As Noam Chomsky pointed out:
Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, "That's politics." But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics.
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.
Arundhati Roy, commented in her "Is there life after democracy?"
The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?
After all that brutality, and spite for people all over the world, the West is now teaching the planet about democracy. It is lecturing Asians and Africans, people from Middle East and Sub-Continent, on how to make their countries more 'democratic'. It is actually hard to believe, it should be one of the most hilarious things on earth, but it is happening, and everyone is silent about it.
Those who are listening without bursting into laughter are actually well paid.
There are seminars; even foreign aid projects related to 'good governance', sponsored by the European Union, and the United States. The EU is actually much more active in this field. Like the Italian mafia, it sends covert but unmistakable messages to the world: "You do as we say, or we break your legs But if you obey, come to us and we will teach you how to be a good aide to Cosa Nostra! And we will give you some pasta and wine while you are learning."
Because there is plenty of money, so called 'funding' members of the elite, the academia, media and non-government organizations, from countries that have been plundered by the West – countries like Indonesia, Philippines, DR Congo, Honduras, or Colombia –send armies of people to get voluntarily indoctrinated, (sorry, to be 'enlightened') to learn about democracy from the greatest assassins of genuine 'people's power'; from the West.
Violating democracy is an enormous business. To hush it up is part of that business. To learn how to be idle and not to intervene against the external forces destroying democracy in your own country, while pretending to be 'engaged and active', is actually the best business, much better than building bridges or educating children (from a mercantilist point of view).
Once, at the University of Indonesia where I was invited to speak, a student asked me 'what is the way forward', to make his country more democratic? I replied, looking at several members of the professorial staff:
"Demand that your teachers stop going to Europe on fully funded trips. Demand that they stop being trained in how to brainwash you. Do not go there yourself, to study. Go there to see, to understand and to learn, but not to study Europe had robbed you of everything. They are still looting your country. What do you think you will learn there? Do you really think they will teach you how to save your nation?"
Students began laughing. The professors were fuming. I was never invited back. I am sure that the professors knew exactly what I was talking about. The students did not. They were thinking that I made a very good joke. But I was not trying to be funny.
As I write these words, the Thai military junta has taken over the country. The West is silent: the Thai military is an extremely close ally. Democracy at work
And as I write these words, the fascist government in Kiev is chasing, kidnapping and "disappearing" people in the east and south of Ukraine. By some insane twist of logic, the Western corporate media is managing to blame Russia. And only a few people are rolling around on the floor, laughing.
As I write these words, a big part of Africa is in flames, totally destroyed by the US, UK, France and other colonial powers.
Client states like the Philippines are now literally being paid to get antagonistic with China.
Japanese neo-fascist adventurism fully supported by the Unites States can easily trigger WWIII. So can Western greed and fascist practices in Ukraine.
Democracy! People's power!
If the West had sat on its ass, where it belongs, in Europe and in North America, after WWII, the world would have hardly any problems now. People like Lumumba, Allende, Sukarno, Mosaddeq, would have led their nations and continents. They would have communicated with their own people, interacted with them. They would have built their own styles of 'democracy'.
But all that came from the Bandung Conference of 1955, from the ideals of the Non-Aligned movement, was ruined and bathed in blood. The true hopes of the people of the world cut to pieces, urinated on, and then thrown into gutter.
But no more time should be wasted by just analyzing, and by crying over spilt milk. Time to move on!
The world has been tortured by Europe and the United States, for decades and centuries. It has been tortured in the name of democracy but it has all been one great lie. The world has been tortured simply because of greed, and because of racism. Just look back at history. Europe and the United States have only stopped calling people "niggers", but they do not have any more respect for them than before. And they are willing, same as before, to sacrifice millions of human lives.
Let us stop worshiping their box, and those meaningless pieces of paper that they want us to stick in there. There is no power of people in this. Look at the United States itself – where is our democracy? It is a one-party regime fully controlled by market fundamentalists. Look at our press, and propaganda
Rule of the people by the people, true democracy, can be achieved. We the people had been derailed, intellectually, so we have not been thinking how, for so many decades.
Now we, many of us, know what is wrong, but we are still not sure what is right.
Let us think and let us search, let us experiment. And also, let us reject their fascism first. Let them stick their papers wherever they want! Let them pretend that they are not slaves to some vendors and swindlers. Let them do whatever they want – there, where they belong.
Democracy is more than a box. It is more than a multitude of political parties. It is when people can truly choose, decide and build a society that they dream about. Democracy is the lack of fear of having napalm and bombs murdering our dreams. Democracy is when people speak and from those words grow their own nation. Democracy is when millions of hands join together and from that brilliant union, new trains begin to run, new schools begin to teach, and new hospitals begin to heal. All this by the people, for the people! All this created by proud and free humans as gift to all – to their nation.
Yes, let the slave masters stick their pieces of paper into a box, or somewhere else. They can call it democracy. Let us call democracy something else – rule of the people, a great exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams. Let our taking control over our lives and over our nations be called 'democracy'!
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called "Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear". He has just completed the feature documentary, "Rwanda Gambit" about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
Jul 28, 2015 | Antiwar.com
Cold wars freeze despotism in place, and thaws in foreign relations melt it away
The recent Iran nuclear deal represents a thaw in the American cold war against that country. It is a welcome sequel to the Obama administration's partial normalization with Cuba announced late last year.
Hardliners denounce these policies as "going soft" on theocracy and communism. Yet, it is such critics' own hardline, hawkish policies that have done the most to ossify and strengthen such regimes.
That is because war, including cold war, is the health of the state. Antagonistic imperial policies - economic warfare, saber-rattling, clandestine interventions, and full-blown attacks - make the citizens of targeted "rogue states" feel under siege.
This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks.
Rogue state governments eagerly amplify and exploit this siege effect through propaganda, taking on the mantle of foremost defender of the nation against the "Yankee Imperialist" or "Great Satan." Amid the atmosphere of crisis, public resistance against domestic oppression by the now indispensable "guardian class" goes by the board. "Quit your complaining. Don't you know there's a cold war on? Don't you know we're under siege?"
Moreover, cold wars make it easy for rogue state governments to shift the blame for domestic troubles away from their own misrule, and onto the foreign bogeyman/scapegoat ("bogeygoat?") instead. This is especially easy for being to some extent correct, especially with regard to economic blockades and other crippling sanctions, like those Washington has imposed on Cuba, Iran, etc.
Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime.
The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners.
The last thing hardliners want is the loss of their cherished bogeygoat. Once an emergency foreign threat recedes, and the fog of war hysteria lifts, people are then more capable of clearly seeing their "guardians" as the domestic threat that they are, and more likely to feel that they can afford to address that threat without exposing themselves to foreign danger. This tends to impel governments to become less oppressive, and may even lead to their loss of power.
Thus after Nixon normalized with communist China and belatedly ended the war on communist Vietnam, both of those countries greatly liberalized and became more prosperous. Even Soviet reforms and the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union only arose following American detente.
Simultaneously, as the American cold wars against communist Cuba and communist North Korea continued without stint for decades, providing the Castros and Kims the ultimate bogeygoat to feature in their propaganda, the impoverishing authoritarian grip of those regimes on their besieged people only strengthened.
Similarly, ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the puppet dictator that the CIA had installed over Iran in a 1953 coup, the Ayatollahs have been able to exploit ongoing hostility from the American "Great Satan" to retain and consolidate their repressive theocratic power.
All this is an object lesson for US relations with Putin's Russia, Chavista Venezuela, and beyond. Disastrously, it is being unheeded.
Even while thawing relations with Iran, the Obama administration has triggered a new cold war with Russia over Ukraine. This has only made Russian President Vladimir Putin more domestically popular than ever.
And even while normalizing relations with Cuba, Obama recently declared Venezuela a national security threat, imposing new sanctions. As journalist Alexandra Ulmer argued, these sanctions "may be godsend for struggling Venezuelan leader," President Nicolas Maduro. As Ulmer wrote in Reuters:
"Suddenly, the unpopular leader has an excuse to crank up the revolutionary rhetoric and try to fire up supporters, copying a tactic used skillfully for more than a decade by his mentor and predecessor, the late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez.
A new fight with the enemy to the north may also help unite disparate ruling Socialist Party factions and distract Venezuelans from relentless and depressing talk about their day-to-day economic problems."
www.moonofalabama.orgPiotr Berman | May 18, 2017 10:04:50 PM | 77"Donald Trump used alt-right messaging to get into the White House, but he and his third-rate staff haven't the slightest clue of what gave rise to the deplorables in the first place and how to address the root despair of the western working class." VietnamVet
I do not know how highly rated the staff was, but it was sufficiently high. If the opponent has fourth-rate staff, it would be wasteful to use anything better than third-rate. Figuring what gave rise to the deplorable is a wasted effort, sociologist differ, and in politics the "root causes" matter only a little.
And all authorities suggest to exploit the despair with soundbites and posturing. Granted, this is a platitude, but how to obtain compelling soundbites and posturing? I think that the best technique is based on so-called wedge issues.
A good wedge issue should raise passions on "both sides" but not so much in the "center", mostly clueless undecided voters.
Calibrate your position so it is a good scrap of meat for your "base" while it drives the adversaries to conniptions, the conniptions provide talking points and together, drive the clueless in your direction. Wash, repeat.
Sep 13, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
(Never mind that if Thomas Frank is correct, and the Democrats are the party of the professional classes, the Democrats cannot possibly be the party of "marginalized" people.) Being the sort of person I am, my first thought was to ask myself what the heck Reid could mean by "tribe," and how a "tribe" can act as a political entity. Naturally, I looked to the Internet and did a cursory search; and it turns out that, at least at the scholarly level, the very notion of "tribe" is both contested and a product of colonialism. David Wiley, Department of Sociology and African Studies, Michigan State University, 2013
Tribe, a concept that has endeared itself to Western scholars, journalists, and the public for a century, is primarily a means to reduce for readers the complexity of the non-Western societies of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the American plains. It is no accident that the contemporary uses of the term tribe were developed during the 19th-century rise of evolutionary and racist theories to designate alien non-white peoples as inferior or less civilized and as having not yet evolved from a simpler, primal state. The uses and definitions of 'tribe' in the sociological and anthropological literature are varied and conflicting. Some authors appear to define tribe as common language, others as common culture, some as ancestral lineages, and others as common government or rulers. As anthropologist Michael Olen notes, "The term tribe has never satisfied anthropologists, because of its many uses and connotations. Societies that are classified as tribal seem to be very diverse in their organization, having little in common." Morton H. Fried and this author contend that "the term is so ambiguous and confusing that it should be abandoned by social scientists."
Even more striking is the invention of ethnic (labeled tribal) identities and their varied and plastic salience across the African continent. In some cases, "tribal identifies" have been invented in order to unite colonial and post-colonial clerical workers or other occupational and social groups to serve the interests of the members even though they were not bound together by language or lineage.
In the United States, where similar derogatory language of tribe has been used to characterize and stereotype Native American or First Nations peoples, the identity has been reified in federal legislation that requires "tribes," formerly under the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to accept that formal tribal identification in order to access the hunting, fishing, farming, and casino rights of reservations. Almost humorously, the Menominee peoples of Wisconsin decided to decline that nomenclature because many members lived in Milwaukee and other non-reservation sites; however, they then learned they must reverse that vote and re-declare themselves as "a tribe" in order to regain their reservation rights.
So, from the 30,000 foot level, it seems unlikely that what scholars mean (or do not mean) by "tribe" is the same as what Reid means, simply because there is no coherent meaning to be had. My second thought was to try to fit "tribe" into the framework of identity politics, where tribes would be identities, or possibly bundles of allied identities. Here's a handy chart showing the various ways that identity can be conceptualized, from Jessica A. Clarke*, "Identity and Form," California Law Review , 2015:
(Clarke gives definitions of ascriptive, elective, and formal identity -- for Adolph Reed on ascriptive identity, see here -- but I think the definitions are clear enough for our purposes from the examples in the table.) However, if we look back to Reid's quote, we see that she conflates ascriptive identity ("black or brown") with elective identity ("the sort of Pabst Blue Ribbon voter, the kind of Coors Lite-drinking voter"), and also conflates both of those with formal identity (if one's ethnicity be defined by one's own citizenship papers, or those of one's parents, or a changed surname; one thinks of Asian cultures putting the family name last in American culture, for example). So there is no coherence to be found here, either.
Let's return then to Reid's words, and look to her operational definition:
which party goes out and find more
It's not clear to me whether Reid conceptualize parties as tribes, or as meta-tribes of tribes bundled together; I'm guessing the latter. Here is an example of Reid's conceptualizations ("like" each other) in action. From Teen Vogue , "Amandla Stenberg and Janelle Monáe Open Up About Racism and Where They Were During the Election" (2017). Somewhat too much of this, but the build-up is important:
AMANDLA STENBERG: Janelle frigging Monáe!?
JANELLE MONÁE: Hi, sweetie. You know I love, love, love you. First: pronouns! I want to make sure that I'm being respectful of how I'm referring to you. I know that the way we view ourselves and how we want to be addressed can change depending on where we are in life.
AS: I love that you asked me! Thank you. I have felt at times that she/her pronouns weren't entirely fitting, but I've never felt uncomfortable with them. It's more important for me to open up that conversation around pronouns and how gender itself is a construct that doesn't make much sense in our society.
JM: Got it. I remember seeing you for the first time in Colombiana, and then, like many people, I was drawn to your character in The Hunger Games as Rue. I'm a huge sci-fi nerd, so just seeing this little black girl in a dystopian world being a hero for an oppressed community, I was intrigued! The way you embodied this character felt like you were mature enough to understand how important she was to the movie but also how important the Rues all over the world are to our society.
AS: That's one of the best compliments that I've received! I remember we saw each other at the Tyler, the Creator show; we took a picture with Solange. You were wearing a jacket that said "black girl magic" on it, and I flipped out.
JM: Me, too! I was like, I am right between you and Solange, two people who are the epitome of black girl magic! I saw you later on, and you had just shot Everything, Everything, which, by the way, you are incredible in. The original story was written by a black woman [NicolaYoon], and your director [Stella Meghie] is also a black woman. What was going through your mind as you were considering the role?
AS: I kind of wrote it off initially because I figured it was one of those instances where I was receiving a script for a YA romance project that was intended for a white actress. I thought maybe they'd float the idea of casting it in a more diverse manner but that ultimately it wouldn't end up going that direction, because that's happened to me a lot. Then I realized that this project was based on a book written by a black woman and that the casting was intentionally diverse. I'd never seen a story like this made for an interracial couple. I'm not someone who generally has a pop or mainstream sensibility, but I see the incredible power of infiltrating these larger movies that show a lot of people who we are and how diverse and beautiful our community is. I thought it would be really powerful to see a black girl [lead] character like Maddy who is joyous and creative and dimensional specifically marketed to teenagers and young adults. We don't always get to see black women carrying that energy. That's one of the reasons why I respect and love you so much!because I feel like you perpetuate such whimsy and joy!
JM: Aw! Well, because I take a similar approach when I'm choosing projects. With the roles of Teresa in Moonlight and Ms. Mary Jackson in Hidden Figures , they're two women of color from totally different backgrounds and eras!from the hood to NASA, these black women were the backbones of their communities. I thought it was so important to let the rest of the world know that we're not monolithic. And with Hidden Figures in particular, I was so proud to be a part of exposing that if it were not for these women, we would not have gone to space. That's American history! Black history is part of American history, and it should be treated as such.
(Note in passing that I loathe the phrase "open up," which I define as "carefully engineered for a celebrity by public relations professionals." ) Of course, both actors are -- and rightly -- proud of their work, but note the carefully calibrated ways they establish that they are (as Joy Reid says) "like" each other. Oh, and do note the caption: "Miu Miu dress, price upon request." Class snuck in there, didn't it? In fact, we might go so far as to formalize Reid's definition of "tribe" as follows:
Tribes are people who are "like" each other when class is not taken into account
With that, let's take an alternative approach to conceptualizing tribes and tribalism, one that incorporates class. From former Arab Spring activist Iyad El-Baghdadi , I present the following charts, taken from the Twittter . (I'll present each chart, then comment briefly on it.) There are five:
Figure 1: Tribal Divisions
Comment: I'm taking El-Baghdadi's "ethnic affiliation," as a proxy for Reid's "tribe"; the verticality is clearly the same.)
Figure 2: Class Divisions
Comment: El-Baghdadi's representation of class divisions is fine as a visual shorthand, but I don't think it's an accurate representation. I picture the class structure of the United States not as a "normal distribution" with a fat "middle class" (I don't even accept "middle class" as a category) but as a power curve with a very few people at the head of the curve ( the "1%," more like the 0.01% ), followed by a steep shoulder of the 10% (white collar professionals, from Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal ), and trailed by a long tail of wage workers (and unwaged workers, as I suppose we might call the disemployed, unpaid caregivers, System D people like loosie-selling Eric Garner, and so on). If you want to find who hasn't had a raise in forty years, look to the long tail, which I would call l "working class," rather than "lower class."
Figure 3: Privilege Divisions
Comment: Taking once again El-Baghdadi's "ethnic affiliation," as a proxy for Reid's "tribe," and conceptualizing WASPs as a tribe, it's clear to me, if I look at my own history, that I'm more likely ti have good luck than some other tribes. I'm more likely to have intergenerational wealth in the form of a house, or even financial assets, more likely to be highly educated, more likely to have the markers and locutions that enable me to interact successfully with bureaucratic functionaries, etc. I didn't earn any of those advantages; I would have had to have chosen to be born to different parents to avoid them. I think we can agree that if we were looking for an operational definition of justice, this wouldn't be it.
Figure 4: Punching Sideways
Comment: Classically, we have owners following Gould's maxim by bringing in (mostly black) scabs to break the Homestead Strike in 1892, with a resulting "tribal" conflict -- although those scabs might protest -- and rightly -- that (a) they were only trying to provide for their families and (b) that the Jim Crow system had denied them the "good jobs" that in justice would have given them (leaving aside the question of who implemented Jim Crow, and for what material benefits). In modern times we have "tribes" (white, black, Asian, at the least) battling on the field of "affirmative action" having weaponized their ascriptive identities. Here again, representatives of some "tribes" would protest -- and rightly -- that systems like "legacy admissions" give some "tribes" unjust advantage over others, but the hidden assumption is one of resource constraint; given a pie of fixed size, if Tribe A is to have more, Tribe B must have less. Note that programs like "tuition-free college" tend to eliminate the resource constraint, but are "politically feasible" only if Tribes A and B solve their collective action problem, which is unlikely to be done based on tribalism.
Figure 5: Punching Up
Comment: This diagram implies that the only "legitimate" form of seeking justice is vertical, "punching up." This eliminates clear cases where justice is needed within and not between classes, like auto collisions, for example, or the household division of labor. More centrally, the nice thing about thinking vertically is that it eliminates obvious absurdities like "Justice for black people means making the CEO of a major bank black (ignoring the injustices perpetrated using class-based tools disproportionately against black people in, say, the foreclosure crisis, where a generation's-worth of black household wealth was wiped out under America's first black President). Or obvious absurdities where justice is conceived of as a woman, instead of a man, using the power of office to kill thousands of black and brown people, many of them women, to further America's imperial mission.
* * *
Concluding a discussion on politics and power that has barely begun -- and is of great importance if you believe, as I do, that we're on the midst of and ongoing and highly volatile legitimacy crisis that involves the break-up and/or realignment of both major parties -- it seems to me that El-Baghdadi visual representation, which fits tribalism into a class-driven framework, is both analytically coherent (as Reid's usage of "tribe" is not) and points to a way forward from our current political arrangements (as Reid's strategy of bundling "punching sideways" tribes into parties while ignoring class does not). More to come .
Sep 13, 2017 | theguardian.com
KTBFFH , 14 Nov 2016 3:46I don't necessarily disagree with much of this piece but I can't help feeling that the hints given by Monbiot about some new thinking to combat neoliberalism being developed is more about hope than expectation.NeilJ01 -> KTBFFH , 14 Nov 2016 3:50
I am rather more cynical. The Clinton and Remain campaigns shared an approach of trying to convince people ahead of time that what they need is not necessarily what they want. Both campaigns lost and the fall-out has included lots of cries that people are fed up with being told what to think and do by the "liberal elite". Fine, so now they believe they can think and do more themselves.
It may be better to sit back for a while to let people rejoice in getting what they want in order that they can self-educate through grim reality that what they thought they wanted was a fiction. Sometimes people have to find out for themselves that they have made a terrible mistake.Given that on both sides of the Atlantic, the majority of people oppose the shift to the right, surely all that is needed is some decent organization against them and leadership capable of galvanizing the repulsion of this year's events. My fingers are firmly crossed, but I cannot see anything on the horizon at the moment.Johanes -> KTBFFH , 14 Nov 2016 4:08"Sometimes people have to find out for themselves that they have made a terrible mistake" - shame that in the meantime, that "terrible mistake" is pounced upon as democratic justification for the entry of economic elites waiting in the wings.NeilJ01 , 14 Nov 2016 3:47
Do you really think people's "mistakes" (a) are random, and/or (b) will be allowed to lead to the general good without being hijacked?It is not clear how Trump's election is going to be handled by the GOP. Ryan now leads the neoliberal cause in the party and a lot of what Trump wants to do (borrow and spend on public projects or limit free trade for example) will not sit well with them.northsylvania -> NeilJ01 , 14 Nov 2016 4:23
George has highlighted the key battle - can the 'swarm that is now surrounding Trump, fill this empty vessel' and bend him to their ideology or will he prove true to his campaign promises. As each of his promises is one by one 'modified' the danger increases that those who voted for him realise that they have been shafted once again. I suspect though, that they may never come to realise who is doing this to them.Trump has said that he wants to continue holding rallies, something political pundits put down to his overwhelming ego. He might want an army of the dedicated behind him to convince the power structure that it would be in their own best interests to give him what he wants. It's telling that he chose Priebus, a member of the power structure, to be chief of staff and Bannon to be his chief strategist.Helen121 , 14 Nov 2016 3:48I'm not convinced that Trump is going to steer the world away from neo-liberalism. If anything, Hayek is now going to run wild...factgasm -> Helen121 , 14 Nov 2016 4:15The People keep voting for their oppressors - because that's the only choice the system offers them.rcourt130864 -> Helen121 , 14 Nov 2016 8:20Neoliberalism could burn itself out - could get messy!Oldfranky , 14 Nov 2016 3:48This is the most enlightening article I have read in the Guardian. It goes a long way to explaining the root of Thatcherism, and why she behaved as she did, towards so many organisations, she saw as the enemy of her chosen path! I have wondered why she is remembered with such fondness by many, and her legacy revered, when it left so many problems for the future. Sure, the rich got richer, our manufacturing base was decimated, and those unholy bankers, stockbrokers, arms dealers and the like, revelled in her folly!Oldfranky -> Oldfranky , 14 Nov 2016 4:09
Multi National companies thrived, setting up bases all over the World to avoid tax, whilst the ordinary folk were hounded by Inland Revenue, for all that was due. I trust Mrs May will not exemplify her, and make sure the Country is a fairer place for all, as she said in her statement in front of No 10!As an addenda: Not that the Left has done any better, especially under the neo conservative Blair and his cohort Brown, and now Corbyn!ehywhat , 14 Nov 2016 3:48I have to say, Trump has not looked to me like any kind of very happy bunny since he got elected. He looks pretty worried and overwhelmed. I wonder whether he can stay the course?MyEvilHiddenAgenda -> ehywhat , 14 Nov 2016 12:08I noticed this too. He looked very subdued - miserable, even - in that meeting with Obama. His conciliatory victory speech sounded nothing like his rallies. Perhaps this is why every supposed saviour turns out to be a complete fraud. They're all being taken out the back, shot, and replaced with doubles by the Illuminati as soon as they win. I think it's more likely Trump simply has no appetite for the job and no real convictions, yet lots of people to please.soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 3:48Trump offered change, Hillary Clinton was the status quo. The establishment couldn't accept their neoliberal ideas had failed and the people had to push them out. The status quo has failed – wake up – this is the new reality.graun -> soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 4:07
Capitalism gets itself into dead ends - 1930s, 1970s, today's secular stagnation and new normal. Let's keep lowering interest rates and adding more QE forever, it hasn't worked for eight years maybe in a hundred years time it will start to work or perhaps it won't. Show me a version of Capitalism that hasn't failed. We need to recognise that we have been through many versions of Capitalism and they all fail as this version is failing now.
As John Kenneth Galbraith points out in "The Affluent Society" there is always a desperate attempt to hold onto the "conventional wisdom" that those at the top have invested so much time and effort in. The death throes of each system are maintained for as long as feasible until it is almost impossible for anyone to believe that the current system can work. A new system comes along with promises that everything will be much better, and it is, for a decade or two.
- Capitalism mark 1 – Unfettered Capitalism. Crashed and burned in 1929 with a global recession in the 1930s. The New Deal and Keynesian ideas promised a bright new world.
- Capitalism mark 2 – Keynesian Capitalism. Ended with stagflation in the 1970s. Market led Capitalism ideas promised a bright new world.
- Capitalism mark 3 - Unfettered Capitalism (Part 2 – Market led Capitalism) Crashed and burned in 2008 with a global recession in the 2010s. It has followed the same path as Unfettered Capitalism (Mark 1).
- 1920s/2000s - high inequality, high banker pay, low regulation, low taxes for the wealthy, robber barons (CEOs), reckless bankers, globalisation phase
- 1929/2008 - Wall Street crash
- 1930s/2010s - Global recession, currency wars, rising nationalism and extremism
Unfettered Capitalism has a catastrophic failure mode and dressing it up in the Emperor's New Clothes of supply side economics didn't make a blind bit of difference. We've done Neo-Keynesian stimulus. After eight years of pumping trillions into the top of the economic pyramid, banks, and waiting for it to trickle down. It didn't work, hardly anything trickled down.
The powers that be are now for Keynesian stimulus. Carry out infrastructure projects that create jobs and wages which will be spent into the economy and trickle up (pumping money into the bottom of the economic pyramid). A new brush sweeps clean, the old ideologues stuck in their old failed ways must go. The Left is still full of neoliberal ideologues; it's time to move on.nishville -> soundofthesuburbs , 14 Nov 2016 4:17Your examples of "failures" actually demonstrate exactly the opposite: that capitalism is resilient. It survived 2 world wars, the 1930's depression, withdrawal of the gold standard (which had far-reaching effects on the "establishment"), the 2008 crash, the oil crises of the 1970s (that caused your "stagflation") and pretty much everything else that has been thrown at the financial world in the past 100 years.
Show me a version of Capitalism that hasn't failedAfter eight years of pumping trillions into the top of the economic pyramid, banks, and waiting for it to trickle down. It didn't work, hardly anything trickled down.
And it won't until you prick it with pitchforks.
Sep 01, 2017 | nationalinterest.orgspending nearly $13.7 billion. Just two years ago, it seemed that Seoul and Beijing were embarking on a honeymoon phase when President Park Geun-hye attended a military parade in Tiananmen Square commemorating the end of World War II!the only U.S. ally to do so.
Then THAAD happened.
In July 2016, Seoul and Washington announced their decision to deploy the anti-missile system. China opposed the deployment, saying it undermined China's security and would destabilize the region because its radars could be used by the United States to track China's missile activities.
China wanted to "teach South Korea a lesson" for the effrontery of the THAAD deployment. Shortly after the announcement, Beijing banned the airing of Korean TV shows, films, and K-pop acts in China. After it was revealed that Lotte Group!a South Korean conglomerate operating 112 stores in mainland China!once owned the land THAAD would be based on, Chinese state media called for a nationwide boycott of the company. By March 2017, nearly half of Lotte's stores on the mainland were shutdown , due to vague "safety violations." That same month, Beijing banned its travel agencies from selling trips to Korea, resulting in a 66 percent decrease in Chinese visitors from last year. Shortly after President Moon Jae-in was elected to the Blue House in May 2017, he announced the suspension of further THAAD deployments until further review.
Many South Koreans told me they expected blowback from the decision to deploy THAAD, but the swiftness and intensity of Beijing's retaliation caught them off guard. Beijing's response to THAAD, they said, "opened our [South Korean] eyes to China's true colors ." Simply put, they believed Beijing could not be relied on to consider South Korea's interests if China's interests were on the line. This disillusionment is fanning mistrust and has damaged China's image in South Korea. A March 2017 Asan Institute poll found that, for the first time ever , Koreans had a more favorable view of Japan than of China. This was a shocking finding; Japan has consistently been South Koreans' least favorite country after North Korea.
In spite of growing mistrust, South Koreans recognize the crucial role Beijing plays in reining in Pyongyang. Many interlocutors said they believed, in spite of THAAD, that Chinese officials wanted to maintain good relations with South Korea!albeit on China's terms.
Sep 01, 2017 | www.unz.com
jorge videla > , August 31, 2017 at 6:53 am GMTRod1963 > , August 31, 2017 at 7:25 pm GMT
the purpose of identity politics is to avoid economic issues when they are more pressing than at any time since ww ii. the brainwashing of americans against socialism has continued for those born after 12/26/1991. as long as the alt-right is dominated by the brainwashed it will fail.
It needs to stop calling itself conservative and right.
What the majority of the electorate wants is bernie sanders, a wall, e-verify and the subsequent self-deportations, more environmental regulations, the end of affirmative action, etc..
the purpose of identity politics is to avoid economic issues when they are more pressing than at any time since ww ii. the brainwashing of americans against socialism has continued for those born after 12/26/1991. as long as the alt-right is dominated by the brainwashed it will fail. it needs to stop calling itself conservative and right. what the majority of the electorate wants is bernie sanders, a wall, e-verify and the subsequent self-deportations, more environmental regulations, the end of affirmative action, etc..
Yes, identity politics are a distraction, it's the political equivalent of sugar, it gets you high but eventually ruins you.
It also answers the question why is Silicon Valley, Wall Street and the bankers all of a sudden are supporting identity politics? Because it's a counter to populism and economic awareness.
This keeps people from noticing their politicians are all owned by wealthy special interests who don't give a shit about the people and it fact plan to reduce most to serfs in the name of profit. No one ever talks about why Wall Street gets a multitrillion dollar bail out for what amounted to was a scam concocted by the bankers and real-estate moguls and bond ratings agencies. Yet no one ever went to jail over this.
It distracts the young why they can't file for bankruptcy after graduating with a worthless college degree that they paid $150k for.
Sep 01, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Asher Schechter at ProMarket discusses Raghuram Rajan's views on the rise of populist nationalism:Raghuram Rajan: Populist Nationalism Is "the First Step Toward Crony Capitalism" : The wave of populist nationalism that has been sweeping through Western democracies in the past two years is "a cry for help from communities who have seen growth bypass them."So said Raghuram Rajan, the former governor of the Reserve Bank of India, during a keynote address he gave at the Stigler Center's conference on the political economy of finance that took place in June.Rajan, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, spoke about the "concentrated and devastating" impact of technology and trade on blue-collar communities in areas like the Midwest, the anger toward "totally discredited" elites following the 2008 financial crisis, and the subsequent rise of populist nationalism, seen as a way to restore a sense of community via exclusion.In his talk, Rajan focused on three questions related to current populist discontent: 1. Why is anger focused on trade? 2. Why now? 3. Why do so many voters turn to far-right nationalist movements?"Pointing fingers at these communities and telling them they don't understand is not the right answer," he warned. "In many ways, the kind of angst that we see in industrial countries today is similar to the bleak times [of] the 1920s and 1930s. Most people in industrial countries used to believe that their children would have a better future than their already pleasant present. Today this is no longer true." ...
There's quite a bit more. I don't agree with everything he (Raghuram) says, but thought it might provoke discussion.
DrDick , August 31, 2017 at 11:03 AMFrankly, "crony capitalism" has always been the primary one, as even Adam Smith noted.Paine , August 31, 2017 at 11:54 AMThe understanding of exploitationChristopher H. , August 31, 2017 at 11:54 AM
Of wage earning production workers
Is a better base then the 18 th century liberal ideal of equality
Exploitation and oppression are obviously not the same
even if they make synergistic team mates oftener then not
So long as " them " are blatantly oppressed
It's easy to Forget you are exploited
Exploitation can be so stealthy
So not part of the common description of the surface of daily life
Calls for equality must include a careful answer to the question
" equal with who ? "
Unearned equality is not seen as fair to those who wanna believe they earned their status
Add in the obvious :
To be part of a successful movement aimed at Exclusion of some " thems " or other
Just as fighting exclusion can be a narcotic too for " thems "
But fighting against exclusion coming from among a privileged rank among
The community of would be excluders
That is a bummer
A thankless act of sanctimony
Unless you spiritually join the " thems"
Now what have we got ?
Jim Crow thrived for decades it only ended
When black arms and hands in the field at noon ...by the tens of millions
were no longer necessary to Dixie"Pointing fingers at these communities and telling them they don't understand is not the right answer," he warned. "In many ways, the kind of angst that we see in industrial countries today is similar to the bleak times [of] the 1920s and 1930s. Most people in industrial countries used to believe that their children would have a better future than their already pleasant present. Today this is no longer true." ...gregory byshenk , September 01, 2017 at 08:54 AM
I thought this sort of thinking was widely accepted only in 2016 we were told by the center left that no it's not true.
"Rajan, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, spoke about the "concentrated and devastating" impact of technology and trade on blue-collar communities in areas like the Midwest, the anger toward "totally discredited" elites following the 2008 financial crisis, and the subsequent rise of populist nationalism, seen as a way to restore a sense of community via exclusion."
Instead the center left is arguing that workers have nothing to complain about and besides they're racist/sexist.'"These communities have become disempowered partly for economic reasons but partly also because decision-making has increasingly been centralized toward state governments, national governments, and multilateral [agreements]," said Rajan. In the European Union, he noted, the concentration of decision-making in Brussels has led to a lot of discontent.'
I'd suggest that this part is not true. Communities have become politically disempowered in large part because they have become economically disempowered. A shrinking economy means a shrinking tax base and less funds to do things locally. Even if the local government attempts to rebuild by recruiting other employers, they end up in a race to the bottom with other communities in a similar situation.
I'd also suggest that the largest part of the "discontent" in the EU is not because of any "concentration of decision-making", but because local (and regional, and national) politicians have used the EU as a convenient scapegoat for any required, but unpopular action.
Aug 27, 2017 | www.unz.com
My thesis is very simple: the reason why the US always support foreign minorities to subvert states and use domestic minorities to suppress the majority US population is because minorities are very easy to manipulate and because minorities present no threat to the real rulers of the AngloZionist Empire . That's all there is to it.
I think that minorities often, but not always, act and perceive things in a way very different from the way majority groups do. Here is what I have observed:
Let's first look at minorities inside the US:They are typically far more aware of their minority identity/status than the majority. That is to say that if the majority is of skin color A and the minority of skin color B, the minority will be much more acutely aware of its skin color. They are typically much more driven and active then the majority. This is probably due to their more acute perception of being a minority. They are only concerned with single-issue politics , that single-issue being, of course, their minority status. Since minorities are often unhappy with their minority-status, they are also often resentful of the majority . Since minorities are mostly preoccupied by their minority-status linked issue, they rarely pay attention to the 'bigger picture' and that, in turn, means that the political agenda of the minorities typically does not threaten the powers that be . Minorities often have a deep-seated inferiority complex towards the putatively more successful majority. Minorities often seek to identify other minorities with which they can ally themselves against the majority.
To this list of characteristics, I would add one which is unique to foreign minorities, minorities outside the US: since they have no/very little prospects of prevailing against the majority, these minorities are very willing to ally themselves with the AngloZionist Empire and that, in turn, often makes them depended on the AngloZionist Empire, often even for their physical survival.
The above are, of course, very general characterizations. Not all minorities display all of these characteristics and many display only a few of them. But regardless of the degree to which any single minority fits this list of characteristics, what is obvious is that minorities are extremely easy to manipulate and that they present no credible (full-spectrum) threat to the Empire.
The US Democratic Party is the perfect example of a party which heavily relies on minority manipulation to maximize its power. While the Republican Party is by and large the party of the White, Anglo, Christian and wealthy voters, the Democrats try to cater to Blacks, women, Leftists, homosexuals, immigrants, retirees, and all others who feel like they are not getting their fair share of the proverbial pie. Needless to say, in reality there is only one party in the US, you can call the the Uniparty, the Republicracts or the Demolicans, but in reality both wings of the Big Money party stand for exactly the same things. What I am looking at here is not at some supposed real differences, but the way the parties present themselves. It is the combined action of these two fundamentally identical parties which guarantees the status quo in US politics which I like to sum up as "more of the same, only worse".
I would like to mention an important corollary of my thesis that minorities are typically more driven than the majority. If we accept that minorities are typically much more driven than most of the population, then we also immediately can see why their influence over society is often out of proportion with the numerical demographical "weight". This has nothing to do with these minorities being more intelligent or more creative and everything to do with them willing to being spend much more time and efforts towards their objectives than most people.
So we have easy to manipulate, small groups, whose agenda does not threaten the 1% (really, much less!), who like to gang up with other similar minorities against the majority. Getting scared yet? It gets worse.
Western 'democracies' are mostly democracies only in name. In most of them instead of "one man one vote" we see "one dollar one vote" meaning that big money decides, not "the people". Those in real power have immense financial resources which they cynically use to boost the already totally disproportional power of the various minorities. Now this is really scary:
Easy to manipulate, small groups, highly driven, whose agenda does not threaten the ruling plutocracy, who like to gang up with other similar minorities against the majority and whose influence is vastly increased by immense sums of money invested in them by the plutocracy. How is that for a threat to real people power, to the ideals of democracy?!
The frightening truth is that the combination of minorities and big money can easily hijack a supposedly 'democratic' country and subjugate the majority of its population to the "rule of the few over the many".
Once we look this reality in the face we should also become aware of a very rarely mentioned fact: while we are taught that democracies should uphold the right of the minorities, the opposite is true: real democracies should strive to protect majorities against the abuse of power from minorities!
I know, I have just committed a long list of grievous thoughtcrimes!
At those who might be angry at me, I will reply with a single sentence: please name me a western country where the views of the majority of its people are truly represented in the policies of their governments? And if you fail to come up with a good example, then I need to ask you if the majority is clearly not in power, then who is?
I submit that the plutocratic elites which govern the West have played a very simple trick on us all: they managed to focus our attention on the many cases in history when minorities were oppressed by majorities but completely obfuscated the numerous cases whereminorities oppressed majorities.
Speaking of oppression: minorities are far more likely to benefit and, therefore, use violence than the majority simply because their worldview often centers on deeply-held resentments. To put it differently, minorities are much more prone to settling scores for past wrongs (whether real or imagined) than a majority which typically does not even think in minority versus majority categories .
Not that majorities are always benign or kind towards minorities, not at all, humans being pretty much the same everywhere, but by the fact that they are less driven, less resentful and, I would argue, even less aware of their "majority status" they are less likely to act on such categories.
Foreign minorities play a crucial role in US foreign policy. Since time immemorial rulers have been acutely aware of the " divide et impera " rule, there is nothing new here. But the US has become the uncontested leader in the art of using national minorities to create strife and overthrow a disobedient regime. The AngloZionist war against the Serbian nation is the perfect example of how this is done: the US supported any minority against the Serbs, even groups that the US classified as terrorists, as long as this was against the Serbs. And, besides being Orthodox Slavs and traditional allies of Russia, what was the real 'crime' of the Serbs? Being the majority of course! The Serbs had no need of the AngloZionists to prevail against the various ethnic (Croats) and religious (Muslims) minorities they lived with. That made the Serbs useless to the Empire. But now that the US has created a fiction of an independent Kosovo, the Kosovo Albanians put up a statue of Bill Clinton in Prishtina and, more relevantly, allowed the Empire to build the Camp Bondsteel mega-base in the middle of their nasty little statelet, right on the land of the Serbian population that was ethnically cleansed during the Kosovo war. US democracy building at its best indeed
The same goes for Russia (and, the Soviet Union) where the US went as far as to support the right of self-determination for non-existing "captive nations" such as "Idel-Ural" and "Cossakia" . I would even argue that the Empire has created several nation ex nihilo (What in the world is a "Belarussian"?!).
I am fully aware that in the typical TV watching westerner any discussion of minorities focusing on their negative potential immediately elicits visions of hammers and sickles, smoking crematoria chimneys, chain gangs, lynchmobs, etc. This is basic and primitive conditioning. Carefully engineered events such as the recent riots in Charlottesville only further reinforce this type of mass conditioning. This is very deliberate and, I would add, very effective. As a result, any criticism, even just perceived criticism, of a minority immediately triggers outraged protests and frantic virtue-signaling (not me! look how good I am!!).
Of course, carefully using minorities is just one of the tactics used by the ruling plutocracy. Another of their favorite tricks is to created conflicts out of nothing or ridiculously bloat the visibility of an altogether minor topic (example: homo-marriages). The main rule remains the same though: create tensions, conflicts, chaos, subvert the current order (whatever that specific order might be), basically have the serfs fight each other while we rule .
In Switzerland an often used expression to describe "the people" is "the sovereign". This is a very accurate description of the status of the people in a real democracy: they are "sovereign" in the sense that nobody rules over them. In that sense, the issue in the United States is one of sovereignty: as of today, the real sovereign of the US are the corporations, the deep state, the Neocons, the plutocracy, the financiers, the Israel Lobby – you name it, anybody BUT the people.
In that system of oppression, minorities play a crucial role, even if they are totally unaware of this and even if, at the end of the day, they don't benefit from it. Their perception or their lack of achievements in no way diminishes the role that they play in the western pseudo-democracies.
How do with deal with this threat?
I think that the solution lies with the minorities themselves: they need to be educated about the techniques which are used to manipulate them, and they need to be convinced that their minority status does not, in reality, oppose them to the majority and that both the majority and the minorities have a common interest in together standing against those who seek to rule over them all. Striving to remain faithful to my "Putin fanboy" reputation, I will say that I believe that Russia under Putin is doing exactly the right thing by giving the numerous Russian minorities a stake in the future of the Russian state and by convincing the minorities that their interests and the interest of the majority of the people are fundamentally the same: being a minority does not have to mean being in opposition to the majority. It is a truism that minorities need to be fully integrated into the fabric of society and yet this is rarely practiced in the real world. This is certainly not what I observe today in Europe or the US.
The French author Alain Soral has proposed what I think is a brilliant motto to deal with this situation in France. He has called his movement "Equality and Reconciliation" and as of right now, this is the only political movement in France which does not want to favor one group at the expense of the other. Everybody else either wants to oppress the "français de souche" (the native, mostly White and Roman-Catholic majority) on behalf of the "français de branche" (immigrants, naturalized citizens, minorities), or oppress the "français de branche" on behalf of the "français de souche". Needless to say, the only ones who benefit from this clash is the ruling Zionist elite (best represented by the infamous CRIF , which makes the US AIPAC look comparatively honorable and weak). As for Soral, he is vilified by the official French media with no less hate than Trump is vilified in the US by the US Ziomedia.
Still, equality and reconciliation are the two things which the majorities absolutely must offer the minorities if they want to prevent the latter to fall prey to the manipulation techniques used by those forces who want to turn everybody into obedient and clueless serfs. Those majorities who delude themselves and believe that they can simply solve the "minority problem" by expelling or otherwise making these minorities disappear are only kidding themselves. To 'simply' solve the "minority problem' by cracking down on these minorities inevitably
Grandpa Charlie > , August 26, 2017 at 6:29 am GMTFran Macadam > , Website August 26, 2017 at 6:56 am GMT
"While we all typically [have] several co-existing identities inside us (say, German, retired, college-educated, female, Buddhist, vegetarian, exile, resident of Brazil, etc. as opposed to just "White"), in manipulated minorities one such identity (skin color, religion, etc.) becomes over-bloated and trumps all the others." -- The Saker
That's a great critique of "identity politics" and one reason why identity politics is self-limiting, maybe even self-destructive (as well as destructive of democracy).Grandpa Charlie > , August 26, 2017 at 7:13 am GMT
To distill it to an aphorism, "A million guys with one buck, are no match for one guy with a million bucks."WorkingClass > , August 26, 2017 at 9:24 am GMT
The poorer people are, the more vulnerable they are to identity politics.
It's like an Indian movie I once saw that was constructed as a family history. When the family experienced many setbacks, one after another, until they were all disheartened, the patriarch of the family spoke up, saying, "Remember, we are Bengali!" That was the turning point in the film: after that things began to improve for the family so that the film could have a happy Bolliwood ending.
That was like saying, "Remember, we have a proud history!"
There was also a Yiddish joke that someone told me, like this: There was a young Jewish man in some place like Minsk, somewhere in Eastern Europe, and he saw an advertisement by none other than a great member of the Rothschild banking family. The ad said "Wanted: young Jewish man for difficult and physically challenging assignment." So the hero (or anti-hero?) of this story set out immediately for Paris. Unfortunately, our hero experienced many tragedies, even losing an arm and a leg. But he was determined and he persevered, with the help of a crutch. Finally, he had to camp out in front of the gate of the Rothschild mansion outside of Paris. Eventually, the great Rothschild had his carriage stop and spoke to the man, saying, "You know, I've seen you standing here day after day what is it that you want?" Our hero brought out the advertisement that he had carried with him through all his misadventures. The great Rothschild read the advertisement and exclaimed, "What's the matter with you? Did you not read that the job was physically challenging?" To which our hero responded, "Yes, but, Mr. Rothschild, the ad says "young Jewish man."
Being myself a gentile, I did not at first get the joke, but eventually I got a chuckle out of it.Mao Cheng Ji > , August 26, 2017 at 11:17 am GMT
What do all races, genders, nationalities and creeds have in common? An overwhelming majority of them are working class. That's why I am white and Nationalist but not a White Nationalist. The working class wants work and wages. The ruling class gives us war and welfare. Solidarity is the only effective defense against concentrated wealth. Absent solidarity the working class is a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Witness the American prole. Simultaneously under the lash and at each others throats.Bragadocious > , August 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm GMT
Here's a similar sentiment, by Nassim Taleb:
https://medium.com/incerto/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dictatorship-of-the-small-minority-3f1f83ce4e15Anonymous > , Disclaimer August 26, 2017 at 4:24 pm GMT
Could it be out of a deep sense of guilt of having committed the only "pan-genocide" in human history
I guess Saker's never heard of the Ukranian Holodomor, perpetrated by his beloved Russia. And what were Spain, Portugal and Britain up to in the New World? This guy's a left-wing Euro clown.Bartolo > , August 26, 2017 at 6:55 pm GMT
I also lived for 5 years in Washington, DC, which was something like 70% Black and, at the time, openly and often rudely hostile to Whites (I never thought of myself as a color before, but I sure felt like one during those 5 years). And now I am a "legal alien" living in the US. Anyway, while I am "White" (what a nonsensical category!)
Nonsensical? Really? Both the DC blacks and their DC (((paymasters))) hate your "category" but you're still confused and want to hold hands and educate them ? Do you have children?
The French author Alain Soral has proposed what I think is a brilliant motto to deal with this situation in France. He has called his movement "Equality and Reconciliation" and as of right now, this is the only political movement in France which does not want to favor one group at the expense of the other.
Demographically speaking, the native French group ( white category FYI) is already doomed to lose their homeland unless they reverse the invasion and punish the plotters. Reconciling with their invaders would be assisted suicide, surely. Almost as bad as the forced miscegenation idea proposed by Nicolas "Jew Midget" Sarkozy a few years back.
You need to wake up and check for any vitamin/mineral deficiencies you might have, Saker. Our ancestors butchered countless invaders to give us the land we're standing on – they didn't reconcile it away.Cyrano > , August 26, 2017 at 7:52 pm GMT
Excellent diagnosis, ridiculous therapy.
One single question shows how profoundly silly The Saker's his "solution" is:
Why would it be easier to convince resentful, envious minorities to just get along with the majority than to convince the elites to act better, according to the noblesse oblige principle?
Elites will always misuse their power. Minorities/majorities will always quarrel and resent each other.
Give us (back) ethnically homogeneous states instead. No panacea, but the besf we can hope for.RDM10005 > , August 26, 2017 at 8:46 pm GMT
The ruling elites of US (both democrats and republicans) can be divided into 2 categories:
1. The ones who think that they are better because of their race.
2. The ones who think that they are better because they were able to overcome the feeling of being better because of their race. In other words – the morally superior ubermensch instead of racially superior ubermensch.
In reality, category 2 doesn't exist (at least not among the ruling elites) – they are all liars. They haven't been able to overcome any feeling of superiority, they just added another one – the one of moral superiority. Actually, the ruling elites for the most part are still category 1, only pretending to be category 2. Not only do they feel they are superior to other races, they feel they are superior to their own race – the poorer members of it.
The ruling elites are manipulating the population of US into declaring that they belong in either one of these 2 camps. Result: Charlottesville riots.Issac > , August 26, 2017 at 8:54 pm GMT
I already wrote about that here http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2016/08/29/deep-state-plutocrat-elite-use-protected-classes-to-do-their-dirty-work/ 2 years ago and published last year. This is old hat and old news.Ricard > , August 27, 2017 at 4:50 am GMT
This post would sound eminently reasonable if the white identitarians had any kind of state blessing, but they are a de facto criminal element being suppressed. Not for the sake of democracy, but for the sake of the elite who are Jewish, not Zionist, and not very Anglo.
White nationalism would have zero credibility if actual white leadership were transparently in control over the state. The wellspring of their support comes from the fact that what whites do exist in the power structure are absolutely and transparently subservient to other interests.Alden > , August 27, 2017 at 4:57 am GMT
While we all typically several co-existing identities inside us
Spot the missing verb.jocose > , August 27, 2017 at 5:02 am GMT
@Fran Macadam Here is the mantra of political fund raisers. " it's easier to get one donor to give $1,000 than to get 20 donors to give $50 apiece."ogunsiron > , August 27, 2017 at 5:08 am GMT
One of the problems is that the US was (and still is) a republic-with a small r. The republican form of government assumes that the voters are too stupid or ignorant to pass laws, so they have to hire professional political types to write their governing laws for them. The politicos are easy targets for the powers that be to manipulate, evidently.Wally > , Website August 27, 2017 at 5:51 am GMT
Soral is well meaning but i don't think his "réconciliation nationale" is possible. It's just not realistic.
The maghrebians/arabs who ally themselves with Soral are mostly preoccuppied with the "sionisme" question. They happen to agree with the traditional french right wing that the ((())) are a really big problem. A certain number of arabs/maghrebians are willing to rub shoulders with french extreme rightists to collaborate on fighting zion, but when Soral addresses legitimate grievances of the White French majority, I notice that the arabs/maghrebians are less interested.
There are a few, very few maghrebians who truly care about the White French people and who can see things from their perspective. A guy like Aldo Sterone is a good example of an arab who basically takes the White European side by default.
There are even fewer Black people who are able to get past their deep, deep resentment of Whites. Soral's reconciliation is already a very hard undertaking when it comes to arabs. It's pretty much a waste of time when it comes to Black Africans. Kemi Seba is a rare, very rare example of a black nationalist who has done a lot of work with White French nationalists. The rest of the black population in France can't be convinced to let go of their resentment, imho.Beckow > , August 27, 2017 at 6:33 am GMT
Saker tellingly left out direct mention of the usual enemies of free speech.
The facts are that Jews support Israeli immigration laws which specify JEWS ONLY, while they demand massive 3rd world immigration into the US & Europe?
He did say something which deserves praise:
"I am fully aware that in the typical TV watching westerner any discussion of minorities focusing on their negative potential immediately elicits visions of hammers and sickles, smoking crematoria chimneys , chain gangs, lynchmobs, etc. This is basic and primitive conditioning. Carefully engineered events such as the recent riots in Charlottesville only further reinforce this type of mass conditioning."
Mass conditioning indeed.
The '6M Jews, 5M others, & gas chambers' are scientifically impossible frauds.
see the 'holocaust' scam debunked here:
No name calling, level playing field debate here:
"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."
"Some stories are true that never happened."
- Elie Wiesel
The problem is – as always – with the numbers. The large influx of migrants is changing the demographics and that changes the goals and behaviour of each group. The minority groups can see the promised land in the future when they will take over. The majority knows that they cannot stop it by "equality and reconciliation" (whatever that would mean in practise, maybe endless workshops to whine about each other?).
The numbers game has gone too far and there is no easy way to restore stability. E.g. the labor markets in the West cannot be fixed without drastic restrictions on supply of new labor from the Third World. The article has some valuable insights, but the lame 'solution' it suggests is useless.
Another issue not addressed is that many minorities are a majority in their regions leading to a geographic instability by putting borders in question. That separation actually makes sense in many cases.
What we have had for some time are the elites behaving badly, they have stopped being responsible and thoughtful. The best solution I can see would be for the elites to sober up and start taking their role seriously again. Short of that, we will have chaos, and not the fun type of chaos. Those are the wages of the baby boomer idiocy.