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Two Party System as polyarchy

News Inverted Totalitarism Recommended Books Recommended Links Elite Theory The Iron Law of Oligarchy Pluralism as a myth Myth about intelligent voter
Principal-agent problem Neoliberalism American Exceptionalism Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Nation under attack meme Big Uncle is Watching You Neoconservatism as a stage of development of Neoliberalism
Libertarian Philosophy Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Harvard Mafia Color revolutions Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”

-- Leonard Pinkney

The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.

-- Daniel Estulin


Introduction

Two party system invented by elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for inverted totalitarism type of regimes. In Lifting the Veil they mention one of the meaning of the term polyarchy is the system where voters are limited to voting between two pre-selected representatives of the oligarchy:

polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later.

So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.

▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15

That is the essence of two party system as implemented in the USA, Great Britain, Canada and several other countries. When, in the 1940s, Joseph Schumpeter argued that ordinary citizens should limit their participation in a democracy to electing its leaders, he was effectively arguing for polyarchy. Here is how Wikipedia defined the term (polyarchy):

In a discussion of contemporary British foreign policy, Mark Curtis stated that "polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad.

This is a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation is confined to choosing leaders in elections managed by competing elites." [8]

The whole idea (the rotation of the pre-selected representative of elite at the top) is somewhat similar to an intro marketing course on how to sell bogus products to gullible consumers forcing them to make adverse selection.

There is also related issue of information asymmetry between voters and elite (represented by Party functionaries). In reality, Democratic Party in not a separate party, but an integral part of the two prong bait-and-switch system with a special function of preventing meaningful reform. In other words in two party system both parties are essentially are two branches of a single party, the party of oligarchy.

But each branch in two party system (let's call them for simplicity Democrats and Republican parties as in the USA) has it's own "hidden" political function. The hidden function of Democratic party is the function of a spoiler, preventing emergence any viable candidates from the left by forcing them first into the Party machine, then emasculating all viable ideas, and then chewing them into another puppet for the elite. The net result is always "change we can believe in" type of candidate. Contrary to that Republican Party is allowed to show its true face, the face of vanguard of the corporate elite, making possible perfect play along the lines of "good cop, bad cop" for gullible voters. At the same time they also serve as a spoiler for far right parties, preventing them entering the political mainstream. .

If the selection of candidates is performed strictly by the party machine (and according to the The Iron Law of Oligarchy, the party machine has innate tendency to self-organize into oligarchy), then subsequent elections is a pure formality, much like in the USSR. Or, more precisely, a political farce because the real voters are limited to top 1% who decide what candidates are selected within each party political machine (or, more correctly, the top 0.01%). In no way elections can be called democratic is public is completely disenfranchised in selection of the candidate. In this sense calling the US election democratic is pure hypocrisy of the ruling elite, who controls the MSM, and by extension the political discourse. This is a perfect trap, out of which there is no escape.

In this sense "regular" voters are irrelevant and play role of extras in the game of the elite (which might include power struggle between various factions). They will always face an adverse selection between between bad for their interests candidate and even worse, often disastrous candidate. For example, between Obama (who in reality is closer to Bush III then many people think) and close to the Tea Party candidate. The choice is clear and wrong as neither candidate represents interests of the voters. So majority of "regular" voters is automatically disenfranchised in a very fundamental way.

Moreover, in this situation the vote for any third candidate automatically became a vote for Tea Party (remembers the role supporters of Ralph Nader played in the election if Bush II in Florida). So electorate is in not only held hostage by two (pre-selected by oligarchy) candidates and is allowed only to chose between them. they are royally punished for disobedience.

Again, the classic example of this mechanism in action was the role of Nader in Gore vs. Bush election. This is the key mechanism of “managed democracy” or, as it is also called, the “inverted totalitarianism”.

All mechanisms discussed about that "winner takes all" election system profoundly and fundamentally is nothing but a subtle and elegant way of enforcement of the rule of oligarchy in the form of polyarchy, with the only difference from military dictatorship (which represents the extreme form of the elite rule) that there is no dictator for life. Which is an improvement but that that big improvement. It is not an improvement even in comparison with Soviet Politburo election of the General Secretary of CPSU, although it definitely has better PR potential.

i would like to stress that in a very deep sense, so called "government by the people" in case of two party system is not that different than heredity monarchal or autocratic rule, or, for a change, rule of the Soviet Politburo. This also means that Constitution became just a peace fo paper, document which is optional and redundant for ruling elite as George Bush aptly demonstrated. Constitutional provisions can't be controlled in any way if rulers are completely detached from the voters. So voters and their interests can be abused in whatever way oligarchy wishes. to lessen the pain they can be distracted by throwing them like a bone for the dog artificial issues like homosexual marriage and deciding key economic and political issues in private. Selection of the agenda is the privilege of ruling class and always was.

Ordinary people had no say then or now. and with two part system this is by design. According to John Jay, America’s first Supreme Court chief justice, the nation should be governed by people who owned it.

Illusion of democracy

The simple plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system also called winner-takes-all or first-past-the-post. The latter term is an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point (the "post") on the track, after which all other runners automatically lose. Elections in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada belong to this category. In this voting there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes. And as we demonstrated above such system automatically means the rule of oligarchy. On the current stage of development of the USA political system this is financial oligarchy because the the social system that exists in the USA now is neoliberalism. that make the whole social system prone to deep and devastating crises.

Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that any plurality voting system elections naturally impose a two-party system That means that single-winner voting system essentially hand all the power to the elite as it is elite that controls the electability of candidates from both parties. The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: only a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster to foster smaller parties development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

only a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster smaller parties development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

At the same time, a two party system provides a pretty realistic illusion of democracy and is actually remarkably effective both in enforcing the rule of oligarchy and preserving this illusion. A perfect system for a small group to rule, as all “mass participation” is confined to choosing between two preselected by party brass candidates. In other word elections are just a puppet show controlled by oligarchy much like elections controlled by party nomenklatura of the USSR when only a single candidate existed, but still elections were called and votes were counted. Actually the fact that they did not adopt a two party system this is a testament of the ideological rigidity of the USSR nomenklatura, as such a system is perfectly compatible with a totalitarian society and is essence is a small, insignificant (but very elegant and deceptive) variation of the one party rule.

In addition “Winner takes all” system automatically, by design, co-opts small parties into either Democratic Party or Republican Party camp, before they can get any level of maturity. That means that, unfortunately, within the “winner takes all” framework emergence of third party is temporal as they are quickly co-opted into one of two wings of the establishment party. The latter can well be "the War Party" as jingoism is the credo of both Democrats and Republicans, and in many cases it is difficult to understand who is more jingoistic.

A two party system as a mediator between conflicting interests of factions of the elite

In Golden Rule Thomas Ferguson argues the US two party system functions as a mediator between conflicting business interests. Between two parts of the ruling elite.

Rodolfo Lazo de la Vega

Democracy, Capitalism & the State, December 27, 2010

This review is from: Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems (American Politics and Political Economy Series) (Paperback)

The central foundational principle of the capitalist nation-state is that it is a reflection of its economic constituencies. Those who own and control the means of production shape the state in the form that they desire. This truism - that money runs politics - is the central argument of Thomas Ferguson's "Golden Rule." He begins by asking what are political parties? They are organizations composed of blocs of major investors who come together to advance favored candidates in order to control the state. They do this through direct cash contributions and by providing organizational support through the making available of sources of contacts, fundraisers and institutional legitimation. Candidates are invested in like stocks. For them electoral success is dependent on establishing the broadest base of elite support. Candidates whom have best *internalized* investor values see their "portfolios" grow exponentially at the expense of candidates who have not internalized these values. So what you have is a filtering system in which only the most indoctrinated and business friendly of the intellectual class advance to state power. The higher you go up the ladder the more you've appealed to elite interests. Representatives of the major investors are also often chosen to fill political appointments after a favored candidate has achieved office. This political-economic model helps explain why the state largely functions to serve elite business interests on the domestic and international stages.

Of course, corporate interests vary and evolve. Capital-intensive corporations tend to invest in Democratic politicians. Labor-intensive corporations tend to invest in Republicans. That's because capital-intensive corporations can afford to sit in a party which also represent organized labor. The AFL-CIO rarely poses a threat to Wall Street; and vice-versa. So what would we expect from a system like this? One thing we would expect is that on issues which the public cares about but on which there is cross-party investor agreement no party competition will take place. That means that the issues the public is most interested in will not appear on the agenda. The polls have been pretty consistent on this point. Major public interest revolves around issues having to do with trade agreements, in favor of a single-payer health care system, increased spending for education, slashing the Pentagon budget and many other issues. At times the population has been able to organize successfully and force popular issues onto the agenda despite business opposition.

Ferguson details how the growth, development and fall of major industries correspond to the growth, development, and fall of their political parties. He examines the rise and fall of five major investment bloc party systems - the Federalist vs. Jeffersonian, the Jacksonian, the Civil War party system, the system of 1896 and the New Deal. The latter is dealt with in much detail.

The book, while highly informative, is not without its flaws. Ferguson's prose is obtuse and very, very dry. The charts are helpful but the ideas could have been presented in a more compact form. Regardless of these reservations, this book is very important for an understanding of how our political system functions and deserves a large audience, discussion and action.

One of early proponents of "elite [dominance] theory" James Burnham in his book, The Machiavellians, argued and developed his theory that the emerging new élite would better serve its own interests if it retained some democratic trappings — two party system, illusion of "free press" and a controlled "circulation of the elites."

Notes on Republican Party

As Anatol Leiven noted:

...the Republican Party is really like an old style European nationalist party. Broadly serving the interests of the moneyed elite but spouting a form of populist gobbledygook, which paints America as being in a life and death, struggle with anti-American forces at home and abroad.

It is the reason for Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. That is the rhetoric of struggle acts as a cover for political policies that benefit a few and lay the blame for the problems of ordinary Americans on fictitious entities.

The main side effects of the nationalism are the current policies which shackles America to Israel uncritically despite what that country might and how its actions may isolate America from the rest of the world. It also justifies America on foreign policy adventures such as the invasion of Iraq.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion. Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate "citizens" and transnational elite (becoming this way just another neoliberal party), systematically neglecting the needs of the middle class (lower classes never have any meaningful political representation, so nothing changed for them). That combination produces an apathetic electorate which completely lost hope in the political process. This is the essence of "inverted totalitarism".

Note on Democratic Party

Democratic Party after Clinton became Republican Party light, the party of Wall Street, that has nothing to do with labor movement, which previously was its base. The reasoning is that labor is nowhere to go in any case, so it is safe for democratic establishment to serve financial oligarchy.

The current democratic president would be viewed as a moderate republican just 30-50 years ago, as politically he is positioned to the right in comparison with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Just compare his famous warning about Military-Industrial Complex and Obama behavior during Snowden revelations of NSA total surveillance regime. Even Nixon, who finished Vietnam war is in some major aspects to the left of Clinton and Obama. Note how unceremoniously Obama dumped labor immediately after being reelected for the second term.

Essentially under Obama the USA two party system became undistinguishable in its major features from the USSR one party system, as behind the façade of two parties there is a single party, the party of oligarchy, the party of top 0.01% much like CPSU was the party of Soviet nomenklatura, which was hostile to the interests of middle class of the USSR (which is perfectly provable by the very low standard living of the middle class in the USSR).

Democracy promotion as used by the USA foreign policy
is actually a promotion of polyarchy

This oligarchy system was actively promoted in third world countries via so called color revolutions. Democracy promotion term in the US foreign policy is nothing but promotion of polyarchy. It is the policy that strives to put pro-Western elite groups and large international companies in power using variety of "grey area" methods which come short of armed apprising against the demonized "evil" regime. That was very successful policy in post USSR space with Ukraine and Georgia as two prominent examples.

After such a revolution a new, more pro-Western part of the elite (lumpenelite) comes to power and exercise often brutal monopoly power in the interests of the USA and transnational corporations. Typically privatization of the county is in the cards. Which regimes of Boris Yeltsin, Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili demonstrated all too well. Also important that as 1965 CIA report about Philippines stresses that "The similarity of the parties, nevertheless encourages moderation, readiness to compromise, and lack of dogmatism in the political elite". Philippines were a key client regime in 1950th and 1960th with Clark Air Base and Subtic Naval Base to be the largest military facilities outside US mainland (Promoting polyarchy globalization ... - William I. Robinson (p. 120))

Here is one Amazon review of the book:

Brilliant exposition of US policy and the global order June 12, 2001

By Geoff Johnson

Format:Paperback

In this difficult but extremely provocative and scholarly work, William I. Robinson presents a new model for understanding US foreign policy and the emergent global society as a whole. The crux of his thesis is this: US foreign policy has changed in the last twenty years or so from open support of authoritarian regimes in countries where the US has economic and/or strategic interests to a program of "democracy promotion" that strives to place minority elite groups who are responsive to the interests of the United States and transnational capital at the head of the political, economic, and civic structures of "third world" countries.

Contrary to popular opinion (and that of much of academia), the real goal of democracy promotion, or what Robinson refers to as "promoting polyarchy", is not the promotion of democracy at all, but rather the promotion of the interests of an increasingly transnational elite headed by the US who seek open markets for goods and an increase in the free flow of capital. This marks a conscious shift in foreign policy in which the US now favors "consensual domination" by democratically elected governments rather than authoritarian leaders and the type of "crony capitalism" made famous by the likes of Ferdinand Marcos and Anastacio Somoza.

The first sections of the book introduce numerous theoretical concepts (drawing heavily on the theories of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, in particular his theory of hegemony) that are crucial to the understanding of the text. I personally found these sections extremely difficult but well worth the time it takes to read certain parts several times. Robinson then goes on to document four case studies-- the Phillipines, Chile, Nicaragua, and Haiti-- each of which fleshes out his conceptual framework in much more concrete terms. The result is a disturbing picture of US foreign policy and the current direction of "globalization." I would highly recommend this to anyone with a strong interest in foreign affairs and/or the future of humanity.

Here is an interesting review of Wolin's book: Inverted Totalitarianism in the US

The US is a self-declared empire that scholars have labeled a “superpower” since it achieved military and cultural hegemony in a “unipolar moment” at the “end of history” while seeking “full-spectrum dominance” of land, sea, air, cyberspace and outer space, as stated in the Department of Defense’s Joint Vision 2020.

In order to impede the Soviet Union’s imperial projects, the US likewise slung itself astride the globe using multilateral institutions, spy networks and covert operations which produced a “Cold War” that eliminated the idea of peacetime and demanded permanent military mobilization bolstered by the military-industrial-congressional complex while placing citizens on high alert against nuclear threats and a domestic infestation of “reds” that excused the government’s surveillance of citizens.

The Constitution, which limits power, and a democracy, which requires local control and citizen empowerment, are both profaned by superpower, which defies limits in its quest for global supremacy, overshadowing localities and overpowering citizens while projecting power outward and inward simultaneously.

To describe this configuration, the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term “inverted totalitarianism.”

In old totalitarianism, the state dominated the economy while iconic demagogues who permanently held office mobilized citizens and openly flaunted the blanketing power of the new order they were imposing. With inverted totalitarianism, the economy dominates the state wherein temporary “representatives” serve a permanent corporate regime that demobilizes citizens while claiming to protect individual liberty by reducing state power, thus concealing the totalitarian character.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion, and Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate “citizens” while systematically neglecting the needs of regular citizens, producing an apathetic electorate that’s lost hope in the political process.

State power is legitimated by media events called “elections” that elites have learned to control through finance, marketing and media ownership, while politicians accept bribes called “contributions” that are considered “speech” – as defined by the Supreme Court, effectively using “free speech” to silence the citizenry while replacing constituents with lobbyists.

Citizens fear job loss and benefit loss due to downsizing and outsourcing, which maximize “efficiency,” while the government shreds social safety nets for the sake of “efficiency,” leaving citizens vulnerable and yet unable to protect themselves when states outlaw collective bargaining, thus criminalizing worker self-defense.

Contrary to popular belief, slashing federal programs enhances state power by making government less unwieldy and easier to control since it dilutes public involvement, thus depleting public power and solidifying executive power.

The idea of democracy is emptied of substance and used as a slogan to justify military invasion, occupation and torture while the doctrine of “preemptive war” renders all acts of aggression as defensive and undertaken for the sake of insuring “stability.” For example, deference to US demands and the protection of corporate assets – in a war against terrorism that lacks a specific geographic location and thus requires the globe-girdling ability to strike anywhere anytime.

Instead of a Politburo circulating state propaganda that touts one political ideology, the corporate media feigns democratic debate that features “both sides” who are portrayed as extreme opposites but actually reflect a slim range of political discourse, thus giving the appearance of freedom while relying on White House, State Department and Pentagon spokespeople to supply the “official” version of political affairs, which are broadcast into every home through television, thus manipulating the public rather than including them.

Democracy functions as a useful myth that obscures the totalitarian atmosphere in which citizens feel politically impotent and fearful as they are dwarfed by giant, rigid, top-heavy bureaucracies that respond to the protocols of a corporate state that collaborates with telecommunications companies to monitor the population and develop detailed digital profiles of citizens while local police forces cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies, augmenting the burgeoning prison industry as the state loosens laws that forbid army soldiers from patrolling US streets.

The corporate state defunds public programs and forces everything into the market, including health, education, social security, pensions, public broadcasting, prisons, water, soldiers, surveillance and national intelligence, while businesses commodify the environment and patent DNA.

Two Party System as an enabler of the Quiet Coup:
privatization by the elite of the whole country

In the “democracy” that America has evolved to, money counts more than people. In past elections, the votes were counted, now they are going to start weighing them.

America The Counter-Revolution - Salem-News.Com

“(T)he rich elites of (the USA) have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.”

-- Mike Lofgren

Two party system also makes possible a very interesting recent phenomenon, which started under Reagan (or may be Nixon) and first fully demonstrated itself after the dissolution of the USSR: a deep split between the elite and the rest of population to the extent that the country because a hostage of the elite which now behave like a brutal occupiers, not as compatriots. In other work the self-serving(aka greedy) elite with its neoliberal ideology emerged as much more formidable threat to democracy then communist ideology of the past. Neoliberalism not only defeated Marxism, it also decimated the US labor movement. Neoliberalism is in essence transnational, so Marxist slogan "proletarians of all countries unite" materialized in a form "elite of all countries unite" ;-). and that spells deep troubles for the 99% of the USA population as labor arbitrage is used to lower their living standard.

Being transnational they treat their "host" country as occupiers. Their allegiance is with transnational elite not with old ("national") bourgeoisie. In some countries like Russia under Putin national bourgeoisie (and imprisonment of Khodorkovky was a watershed invent in this respect as it prevented sell-out of Russian oil reserves to the US corporations) managed partially displace transnational elite form command hights but it remain to be seen how stable this regime is.

They now crave for "materialization" of their status in a form of great wealth and reject moral and cultural values of the past. This was first noticed by Christopher Lasch in 1994 when he published his groundbreaking book The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. This was partly due to the book prophetic recognition that the elites of this country (and indeed the developed world) -- the professionals, top managers (upper-middle class and higher) -- were pulling away from the rest of the pack, tacitly renouncing their stake in and responsibility to society social contract, and slowly changing the rules of the game to increate economic inequality and appropriate the large share of society wealth. Tyler Durden writes Zero Hedge on Feb. 15, 2013, that 1% of Americans control over 40% of the United States’ wealth. But those making $10 million or more a year pay an average income tax rate of only 19%, less then people who are making 60K a year. As an old-school conservative, Lasch considered excessive economic inequality to be intrinsically undesirable: the difficulty of limiting the influence of wealth suggests that wealth itself needs to be limited.

Since the Reagan administration the USA has indeed accomplished a successful transformation to an effective One Party State with the financial oligarchy instead of Soviet nomenklarura and Wall Street instead of the Communist Party of the USSR. As Soviet nomenklatura had shown to the surprised world at one moment the elite can just privatize the whole country (with active participation of KGB which in theory should protect the regime). In other words the objective of the elite and their political handmaidens became to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves. This new ruling caste, schooled separately, brought up to believe in fairytales, lives in a world of its own, from which it can project power without understanding or even noticing the consequences. A removal from the life of the rest of the nation is no barrier to the desire to dominate it. In fact it appears to be associated with a powerful, almost psychopathic sense of entitlement. This transition of elite (which now is first and foremost financial elite) into brutal occupiers of their own country was recently popularized by Professor Simon Johnson under then name of "Quiet Coup":

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government -- a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. ...

…the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital -- a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.

At least since Reagan years we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’etat whose purpose is to repeal every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal and entrench the privileged positions of the wealthy and powerful — who haven’t been as wealthy or as powerful since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. As professor Reich noted:

Its techique is to inundate America with a few big lies, told over and over (for example, the debt is Obama’s fault and it’s out of control; corporations and the very rich are the “job creators” that need tax cuts; government is the enemy, and its regulations are strangling the private sector; unions are bad; and so on), and tell them so often they’re taken as fact.

Then having convinced enough Americans that these lies are true, take over the White House, Congress, and remaining states that haven’t yet succumbed to the regressive right (witness Tuesday’s recall election in Wisconsin).

Preventing meaningful reform

Two party system proved to be ideal instrument for preventing any meaningful social and political reform as recent political history of the USA aptly demonstrates. Here are some relevant comments from Naked Capitalism forums:

kievite

I am pretty pessimistic about the current situation. There are some tectonic forces at work and politicians can do only so much to try to prevent an earthquake.

One aspect of the problem is that the society became way too complex.

Tainter in his book suggested that as societies become more complex, the costs of meeting new challenges increase, until there comes a point where extra resources devoted to meeting new challenges produce diminishing and then negative returns.

The USA has an interesting twist in this regard which make some form of drastic change more plausible: Republican Party. The current Republican Party (aka wrecking crew) is a textbook demonstration of the forces that prevent any meaningful reform. Democratic Party is another part of the same bait-and-switch system.

The amount of resources diverted to military industrial complex and financial companies probably serve as another severe limitation on what can be done to prevent new crisis.

And with 40% of population believing that Saddam was instrumental in 9/11 the chances of political change are slim. Looks like country is pretty evenly divided and multi-year brainwashing can’t be reverted until the current generation pass away.

Rampant unemployment and absence of meaningful jobs creation are two features that make the current situation unsustainable.

Simple solutions like some form of fascism are definitely becoming more attractive in this atmosphere. So we can be sure that attempts to explore this opportunity will be made. Clerical fascism is one possibility.

High unemployment is a powerful catalyst of mass support of any radical ideology.

Actually the beginning of this century looks in many ways similar to the beginning of the previous century. And we know how things developed in the previous century. We just do not know the form “change we can believe in” will take.

kievite:

Actually splitting UR into two parties which are just replica of the USA structure with Democratic/Republican parties is a fascinating idea. As the USA experience proved it can be pretty stable politically as one branch of the same “united oligarchy party” would marginalise left and the other can marginalise extreme right.

As Gore Vidal said

“There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man.”

This might be an interesting political innovation for Russia: substituting single party regime with the “dualism without choice” (or “choice we can believe in” if we use politically correct language ;-) . This dual party structure can serve as a powerful force for marginalising opposition both on left and right. reform. In this case both parties are the necessary and vital parts of the same bait-and-switch system.

As for Medvedev actions I think that few people either in mass population or elite forgot economical and political rape of Russia under Yeltsin.

As unforgettable George W. Bush said: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

A popular mock word for “democrats” — “der’mokcats” and for “liberals” — “liberasts” reflects the common attitude after Yeltsin reforms.

Among interesting attempt to explain the current electoral situation provided in "American Revolution Today- First Principles and Basic Precepts " have some merits:

What does the prospect of Revolution mean today in The United States? Well, the very fact that today we are a nation, whereas in the late eighteenth century our forefathers were simply a collection of subject farmers and tradesmen inhabiting a colonial outpost of The British Empire, puts us in a very different set of circumstances than our predecessors. And yet some of the very same intolerable conditions that impelled our colonial ancestors to revolt against an arbitrary and unresponsive British crown exist today.

In fact, if anything, the tax burden you and I face now is greater by a substantial sum than what existed at the outset of The American Revolution when the cry "Taxation Without Representation" was the clarion call for defiance against The British Crown. More troubling perhaps is that those individuals that stand today at the head of our leading institutions of public life, whether they be the Treasury Secretary, Federal Reserve Bank Chairman, Senior Congressmen and women, and even The President, seem every bit as disinterested in honestly addressing our legitimate concerns, and in answering our probing questions, as any eighteenth century British Parliamentarian or exhalted royal head of state were in addressing the complaints of the colonialists.

Some might offer that the answer to such a lamentable state of affairs is to simply replace, via the ballot box, recalcitrant and unresponsive leaders. Regrettably, it is the opinion of American Revolution Today that the mechanisms of government are now so deeply flawed, so intractably corrupt, that no such simple remedy is possible were it even allowed. In truth, it is the view of American Revolution Today that:

  1. The United States Federal Government, functioning primarily on behalf of monied interests, particularly big banking and Wall Street, has become a nemesis of "We The People."
  2. The entrenched two party system comprised of Democrats and Republicans is, in the main, obstructive of reform, and, by definition, utterly opposed to anything resembling revolutionary change.
  3. At this juncture, traditional means of political self determination may not be the way forward, but in any case, we at American Revolution Today are convinced that no candidate from either the Democratic or Republican parties should receive support; any affiliation with the two party system almost assures that such a candidacy would ultimately be antithetical to government benefiting "We The People."

Following on from that, no candidate who runs for Federal public office that does not feature the following planks in their campaign platform will be deemed suitable for election.

A.) Term limits
B.) Campaign Finance Reform
C.) Shortened Election Cycles
D.) Cessation of "Redistricting"
E.) Full Audit of The Federal Reserve
F.) The restoration of constitutional mandate for congressional control of U.S. currency.
G.) An end to further raising of the debt ceiling
H.) Immediate removal of all troops, personnel, and material from Iran and Afghanistan
I.) Replacement of income tax and estate taxes with new levies on consumption, and amended levies on capital gains by individuals and corporations.
J.) Health care reform that is first and foremost free market based with no governmental bias towards "Big Pharma" or the insurance industry.
K.) A multi-generational program designed to return some "reasonable sum" of manufacture back to the United States
L.) The complete overhaul of such government agencies as the SEC, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and Homeland Security, to name but a few.
M.) Full investigations of those individuals in and out of government who are alleged to have engaged in criminal activity associated with the collapse of various large banking concerns and quasi government agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
N.) An end to the entire "alphabet soup" of programs funneling money to too big to be allowed to exist parasitic institutions such as AIG, BOA, GS, Citicorp, and JPM.
O.) A restoration of mark to market accounting standards, and the cessation of the writing of any more "standard performance contracts" aka OTC derivatives, until such time as a regulated exchange is instituted for their trade.
P.) A complete rollback of all cap and trade legislation.

If you are in agreement with the ideas and political initiatives expressed here, and feel as we do, join us in making the Second American Revolution a reality. Join us in reestablishing a nation where The Constitution is fully respected, and where good government is defined as one that governs least and always on behalf of the greater good.

Honest Elections Myth

Here is characterization by the USA MSM of the particular foreign election

They have the right to have an honest elections... We will have to disagree on the scale of the electoral fraud – from what I can see , the “elections”: were a total , crudely executed sham

In fact this characterization if perfectly applicable to the US elections as well. In fact elections are always stolen from people by oligarchy. There was an excellent observation here:

There’s no real skill in convincing people that they’re unhappy with the current state of affairs, and to set visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads (if I may be seasonal for a moment).

Everybody feels they’re entitled to something better, and the only thing left to do is identify the person or persons standing in the way of their getting it.

But everybody who isn’t a dolt usually says at some point, “Uhhh….how’s that going to work?”

I would add my two cents.

  1. When we face critic of elections who claim they are dishonest that classic Russian question arise " Who are the judges?" (Griboedov) .

    Judges are representatives of several political forces:

    Typically none of them is better then "current corrupt regime". That supports that statement that means that taking into account the alternative, the word democracy here is used as a Trojan force for regime change with the hope that the next regime will more suitable for geo-political security interests of the USA and Western Europe.

  2. Absolutization of the idea of "honest election" is nothing but dirty PR trick. I would remind here old, but still relvant work of Robert Michels who became famous for his formuation of "Iron law of oligarchies": He demostrated (in 1911 !) that the idea of "honest election" is a myth the covers the universal trend of democratic organizations towards oligarchy. And that elections are form of civilised struggle of different oligarchic groups represented by party functionaries for power. Which in turn represent so called "leading families". The latter is one (a) that develops, retains and renews its wealth over a number of generations; (b) in which some children in each generation secure good positions in the various elites of society; and (c) where the family holds together as a network for information on and influence over the development of a local community or ─ in certain cases ─ the country as a whole. More than one thinks, the history of Europe and America in the past century has consisted of the history of the leading families.

  3. It's natural that like after any dirty football game the fans of the winning team call it brutal but honest and fans of the losing team "dirty and dishonest". As there are some objective criteria of the level of "dirty tricks" played in election people who try to absolutize the idea of "honest election" are crooks who want to "rock the boat". .

Credibility trap of two party system

Credibility trap of one party system is well known. Two party system is more resilient in this respect but is not totally immune to credibility trap.

A credibility trap [in two party sytem] is a situation in which the regulatory, political and/or the informational functions of a society have been thoroughly taken in by a corrupting influence and a fraud, so that one cannot address the situation without implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure and the status quo who at least tolerated it, if not profited directly from it, and most likely continue to do so.

This lead to an interesting situation when voting became a special type of entertainment aptly described in John Chuckman Nov 6, 2013 essay HOW AMERICA LEARNED TO PLAY GOD

Just as there is a natural cycle in the life of great industries – the scores of early American car manufacturers are now reduced to a few functioning as an oligopoly, an historical pattern repeated in industry after industry – there appears to be a life cycle for a government organized like that of the United States. The duopoly which runs the American government consists of two parties which differ in almost no particulars except some social issues, but even that difference is rather a sham because the American government no longer has any interest in social issues. It is concerned overwhelmingly with representing and furthering the interests of the nation’s three great power centers of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. Social issues now are soap-box stuff for street-corner politicians and members of NGOs.

But in any case, all players in this political duopoly, no matter to which office they may be elected, know they can never challenge the immense authority and virtual omnipresence of America’s military, intelligence, corporate hierarchies and special interests like the Israel Lobby, powerful anti-democratic institutions which literally shape the space America’s politicians must inhabit.

Americans today quite simply could not vote in an informed manner if they wanted to do so (and many are not interested in voting at all, as we shall see): they are completely in the dark as to what happens inside their government, both its operations within the country and in international affairs. No one knows the full extent of spending on intelligence, nor do they know what dark programs are underway. No one knows the full extent of spending on the military, nor do they know to what questionable tasks it is being put around the world. No one knows the immense extent and complexity of lobbying and special interests in the American government. And of course no one is privy to the planning and operations of the great corporations, nor do they know anything of the dealings and financing arrangements between those corporations (or the wealthy individuals who own and run them) and the people’s supposed representatives, who all must spend a substantial part of their time just raising money for the next election (the average American Senator is said to spend two-thirds of his or her time doing just that).

Americans’ votes in elections have become to a remarkable extent meaningless, although an elaborate political stage play keeps the appearance of meaning and keeps those interested in politics involved and entertained. Almost certainly as a result of sensing how little their votes count, Americans often simply do not vote and do so in increasing numbers. The further down the political totem pole you go from the presidential elections which generate the most noise owing to the obscene amounts of money spent on marketing and advertising, the greater is this truth. Maybe 60% vote for president, a minority vote in other national elections, and a tiny fraction vote in state and local elections.

This vacuum is filled with Big Intelligence which become one of the "king makers":

The record of arrogance and abuse by security organizations, such as CIA or the FBI, is long and costly, filled with errors in judgment, abuse of power, incompetence, and immense dishonesty. Owing to the black magic of classified secrecy, much of the record involves projects about which we will never know, but even what we do know about is distressing enough. And I’m not sure that it can be any other way so long as you have Big Intelligence. Apart from Big Intelligence’s own propensity towards criminal or psychopathic behavior, one of the great ironies of Big Intelligence is that it will always agree to bend, to provide whatever suppressions and fabrications are requested by political leaders working towards the aims of the other great anti-democratic institutions, the military and the corporations. This became blindingly clear in the invasion of Iraq and, even before that, in the first Gulf War.

Among other things they provide powerful filtering system so that none undesirable slips into important office:

America’s political system, honed and shaped over many decades, fits comfortably with these institutions. National elections are dominated by a two-party duopoly (being kept that way through countless institutional barriers deliberately created to maintain the status quo) , both these parties are dominated by huge flows of campaign contributions (contributions which form what economists call an effective barrier to entry against any third party seriously being able to compete), both parties embrace much the same policies except for some social issues of little interest to the establishment, and election campaigns are reduced to nothing more than gigantic advertising and marketing operations no different in nature to campaigns for two national brands of fast food or pop. It takes an extremely long time for a candidate to rise and be tested before being trusted with the huge amounts of money invested in an important campaign, and by that time he or she is a well-read book with no surprising chapters.

If for any reason this political filtering system fails, and someone slips through to an important office without having spent enough time to make them perfectly predictable, there still remains little chance of serious change on any important matter. The military-industrial-intelligence complex provides a molded space into which any newcomer absolutely must fit. Just imagine the immense pressures exerted by the mere presence of senior Pentagon brass gathered around a long polished oak table or a table surrounded by top corporate figures representing hundreds of billions in sales or representatives or a major lobbying group (and multi-million dollar financing source for the party). We see the recent example of popular hopes being crushed after the election of Obama, a man everyone on the planet hoped to see mend some of the ravages of George Bush and Dick Cheney. But the man who once sometimes wore sandals and bravely avoided a superfluous and rather silly flag pin on his lapel quickly was made to feel the crushing weight of institutional power, and he bent to every demand made on him, becoming indistinguishable from Bush. Of course, the last president who genuinely did challenge at least some of the great institutional powers, even to a modest extent, died in an ambush in Dallas.

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[Oct 21, 2014]  Would Stronger Parties Mean Less Polarization? by Thomas B. Edsall

Much of the polarization is fake and is just a shrewd method to enforce adverse selection conditions on voters.
Oct 21, 2014  | nytimes.com

Ever since they emerged in the early 1800s, political parties have been a target of public scorn. But they have always had their defenders — a smaller, less influential camp that holds that parties are more beneficial than harmful because they play an essential role in mediating political disputes.

The anti-party forces fitfully succeed in enacting laws and rules to restrain party organizations and bosses, including the adoption of referendum and recall procedures; requirements that states pick delegates to the national conventions through primaries and caucuses; bans on closed-door meetings; the prohibition of legislative earmarks; and legislation that restricts the size and source of contributions to the national political parties.

The intensity of polarized politics at every level of government now puts the dispute over political parties at the center of a debate among office holders, political scientists, legal experts and partisan activists. Is it possible that strengthening the parties could lessen polarization?

The pro-party camp contends that many reforms have unintentionally fostered polarization: diminishing the clout of parties and party leaders undermines their role as a force for moderation and compromise.

... ... ...

Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is a strong supporter of McCain-Feingold, disagrees with Persily and La Raja. At the conference, and in later email exchanges, Mann made a number of key points.

First of all, Mann contends, Republicans are the driving force behind polarization. Their opposition to Democratic proposals is based less on ideological principle than on a strategic political decision to oppose President Obama on every front, even when he takes a position previously advocated by conservatives. Examples of the latter include the individual mandate under Obamacare and end-of-life counseling.

“Much of the acrimony and gridlock is not a consequence” of ideological issues or campaign finance, Mann told participants at the conference. Instead, he argues, “it’s strategic – it’s all about capturing a majority in the House and Senate, and the White House.”

According to Mann,

The Republican Party leadership has largely embraced the ideological positions of Tea Party activists and uses its campaign resources to help elect Republicans wherever they have a good chance of winning, not to favor less extreme candidates or to try to discipline their most extreme or recalcitrant members.

Lifting campaign contribution limits to help them raise more money is unlikely to make much of a difference.

Rima Regas, is a trusted commenter Mission Viejo, CA

The root cause of the problem isn't so much the parties themselves, though they most certainly are an important part of it.

The real problem is that some very wealthy individuals and corporations discovered that, with money, a plan, and perspicacity, they can just buy themselves the Federal government by financing political parties and their candidates. Since the 80's, some of the most perspicacious individuals have patiently, doggedly, and methodically overseen changes to laws that have made it possible to spend almost any sum of money in return for influence over our every aspect of our politics and economics.

President Obama's election came just as the job was nearly done. The consequence of voting in a choice unsanctioned by the oligarchs has come in the form of unrelenting obstruction by the party they are most in control of, and the unrelenting punishment of the electorate ever since through obstructionist policies of austerity at a time when investment is most needed.

So, the political parties didn't start this. Our oligarchs did and the cure for what ails us isn't so much the strengthening the political parties as it is convincing the voters, all of them, that what's needed is their dogged, perspicacious, vigilant engagement in order to restore our democracy.

That's not to say that there aren't problems within both parties. There are, but that's a separate set of issues.

[Oct 07, 2014] Ron Paul: Republican Majority in US Senate Would Not Make Much Difference by Adam Dick

October 2, 2014 | ronpaulinstitute.org

While Washington, DC politicians and pundits are prattling about whether the Democrats or Republicans will control the United States Senate after the November election, Ron Paul is throwing cold water on the whole brouhaha. Paul, speaking Wednesday on the Alan Colmes Show, explains that, “generally speaking, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference” which party controls the Senate.

Paul, the chairman and founder of the Ron Paul Institute, proceeds to comment that Senate and US House of Representatives leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are “bipartisan on the wicked things” such as supporting military interventions overseas.

Listen to the complete interview here:

[Sep 02, 2014] The End of Democracy as we Knew it by Bernd Hamm

Sep 02, 2014 | informationclearinghouse.info

This paper starts with summarizing the major theoretical elements in the definition of a global ruling class. It then examines how neoconservatives in the US took power and used regime change to install US-friendly governments in other regions. A strategy of tension is used to press the population into conformity. But the real revolution is to what extent factual politics escape any attempt to democratic control. Three case studies show how far the Deep State already goes. Democracy is on the brink of survival.

1. Theory

In an earlier paper (Hamm, B. 2010) I suggested an analytical framework for the study of power as it relates to the future of global society. This outline specifically addressed four questions:

  1. How is the global ruling class structured internally?
  2. Is it theoretically correct to use the term class for the ruling elite?
  3. What are the major instruments of power?
  4. How do these analytical insights impact on the probable future of human society?

Drawing on C. Wright Mills’ seminal work on The Power Elite (1956), recent power structure research suggests an ideal-type model of four concentric circles:

It appears that the degree of internationalization of the powerful correlates with their status on the ring hierarchy. The two inner circles have always been international. The third and fourth rings, however, tend to be much more nationally bound (by ownership and by elections) than the first and the second. The inner circle is not static but relatively solid. It builds on financial and social capital often accumulated by former generations (steel industry, banking, weapons, or oil barons). The major source of power is being borne to a family of the inner circle (for example, the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Morgans, the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, the Agnellis, the Thyssens, and the Krupps, to mention a few) [1].

There are also the nouveaux riches. Names like George Soros, William Gates, Warren Buffet, Marc Zuckerberg, Sheldon Adelson, or the Koch brothers come to mind (Smith, Y. 2013), and the Bush-Clan might also be mentioned here (Bowles, W. 2005); Russian or Eastern European oligarchs like Alisher Usmanov, Mikhail Chodorkowski, Boris Beresowski, Mikhail Fridman, Rinat Ahmetov, Leonid Mikhelson, Viktor Vekselberg, Andrej Melnichenko, Roman Abramovich; then there are Carlos Slim Helu, Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani, Jorge Paulo Lemann, Iris Fontbona or Aliko Dangote from the so-called less developed countries. These parvenus tend to be politically more active, at least on the front stage, than the old rich families: George Soros with his Open Society Foundation and his permanent warnings of the evils of unregulated capitalism is the best known for his liberal leanings, while the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson or Robert Murdoch are aggressively right-wing (Heath, T. 2014; Snyder, M. 2013; Webster, S.C. 2013). The oligarchs of the former Soviet block have almost all grabbed their fortunes during the presidency of Boris Yeltzin who, pathological alcoholic as he was, made room for large scale privatization of state corporations and raw materials after the collapse of the socialist regime. Shock therapy was pushed through under the influence of Western advisors, especially the Harvard privatization program with Jeffrey Sachs as the leading figure, as well the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Jegor Gajdar, Anatoli Tschubais (an oligarch himself) and Alfred Koch [2] were their local executives in Russia (Vaclav Klaus in Czecholovakia, Leszek Balcerowicz in Poland, etc.).

The strategy for the creation of oligarchs and social polarization is easy to understand since it has been practiced by the IMF time and again to this very day as part of their structural adjustment policy (later cynically referred to as “poverty reduction strategy”). What it amounts to is the abolition of all price controls and public subsidies, laying-off civil servants, limiting wages, devaluing currencies, and privatizing public corporations and infrastructure (the so-called Washington Consensus). Widespread poverty is the immediate result, and the other side of the coin is extremely concentrated wealth in just a few hands. If the number of victims multiplied by the gravity of damages done to each of them is used as an indicator, the IMF is certainly the most criminal organization on earth (Chossudovsky, M. 2001).

[Sep 02, 2014] Thoughts on Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism by Hugh

08/19/2012 | Corrente

I got to thinking today about how neocon and neoliberal are becoming interchangeable terms. They did not start out that way. My understanding is they are ways of rationalizing breaks with traditional conservatism and liberalism. Standard conservatism was fairly isolationist. Conservatism's embrace of the Cold War put it at odds with this tendency. This was partially resolved by accepting the Cold War as a military necessity despite its international commitments but limiting civilian programs like foreign aid outside this context and rejecting the concept of nation building altogether.

With the end of the Cold War conservative internationalism needed a new rationale, and this was supplied by the neoconservatives. They advocated the adoption of conservatism's Cold War military centered internationalism as the model for America's post-Cold War international relations. After all, why drop a winning strategy? America had won the Cold War against a much more formidable opponent than any left on the planet. What could go wrong?

America's ability not simply to project but its willingness to use military power was equated with its power more generally. If America did not do this, it was weak and in decline. However, the frequent use of military power showed that America was great and remained the world's hegemon. In particular, the neocons focused on the Middle East. This sales pitch gained them the backing of both supporters of Israel (because neoconservatism was unabashedly pro-Israel) and the oil companies. The military industrial complex was also on board because the neocon agenda effectively countered calls to reduce military spending. But neoconservatism was not just confined to these groups. It appealed to both believers in American exceptionalism and backers of humanitarian interventions (of which I once was one).

As neoconservatism developed, that is with Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons even came to embrace nation building which had always been anathema to traditional conservatism. Neocons sold this primarily by casting nation building in military terms, the creation and training of police and security forces in the target country.

9/11 too was critical. It vastly increased the scope of the neocon project in spawning the Global War on Terror. It increased the stage of neocon operations to the entire planet. It effectively erased the distinction between the use of military force against countries and individuals. Individuals more than countries became targets for military, not police, action. And unlike traditional wars or the Cold War itself, this one would never be over. Neoconservatism now had a permanent raison d'être.

Politically, neoconservatism has become the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. Democrats are every bit as neocon in their views as Republicans. Only a few libertarians on the right and progressives on the left reject it.

Neoliberalism, for its part, came about to address the concern of liberals, especially Democrats, that they were too anti-business and too pro-union, and that this was hurting them at the polls. It was sold to the rubiat has pragmatism.

The roots of neoliberalism are the roots of kleptocracy. Both begin under Carter. Neoliberalism also known at various times and places as the Washington Consensus (under Clinton) and the Chicago School is the political expression for public consumption of the kleptocratic economic philosophy, just as libertarian and neoclassical economics (both fresh and salt water varieties) are its academic and governmental face. The central tenets of neoliberalism are deregulation, free markets, and free trade. If neoliberalism had a prophet or a patron saint, it was Milton Friedman.

Again just as neoconservatism and kleptocracy or bipartisan so too is neoliberalism. There really is no daylight between Reaganism/supply side economics/trickledown on the Republican side and Clinton's Washington Consensus or Team Obama on the other.

And just as we saw with neoconservatism, neoliberalism expanded from its core premises and effortlessly transitioned into globalization, which can also be understood as global kleptocracy.

The distinctions between neoconservatism and neoliberalism are being increasingly lost, perhaps because most of our political classes are practitioners of both. But initially at least neoconservatism was focused on foreign policy and neoliberalism on domestic economic policy. As the War on Terror expanded, however, neoconservatism came back home with the creation and expansion of the surveillance state.

At the same time, neoliberalism went from domestic to global, and here I am not just thinking about neoliberal experiments, like Pinochet's Chile or post-Soviet Russia, but the financialization of the world economy and the adoption of kleptocracy as the world economic model.

jest on

I'm now under the opinion that you can't talk about any of the "neo-isms" without talking about the corporate state.

That's really the tie that binds the two things you are speaking of.

With neocons, it manifests itself through the military-industrial complex (Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), and with neolibs it manifests itself through finance and industrial policy.

For example, you need the US gov't to bomb Iraq (Raytheon) in order to secure oil (Halliburton), which is priced & financed in US dollars (Goldman Sachs). It's like a 3-legged stool; if you remove one of these legs, the whole thing comes down. But each leg has two components, a statist component and a corporate component.

The entity that enables all of this is the corporate state.

It also explains why economic/financial interests (neolib) are now considered national security interests (neocon). The viability of the state is now tied to the viability of the corporation.

lambert on

Corporate/statist (not sure "corporate" captures the looting/rentier aspect though). We see it everywhere, for example in the revolving door.

I think the stool has more legs and is also more dynamic; more like Ikea furniture. For example, the press is surely critical in organizing the war.

But the yin/yang of neo-lib/neo-con is nice: It's as if the neo-cons handle the kinetic aspects (guns, torture) and the neo-libs handle the mental aspects (money, mindfuckery) but both merge (like Negronponte being on the board of Americans Select) over time as margins fall and decorative aspects like democratic institutions and academic freedom get stripped away. The state and the corporation have always been tied to each other but now the ties are open and visible (for example, fines are just a cost of doing business, a rent on open corruption.)

And then there's the concept of "human resource," that abstracts all aspects of humanity away except those that are exploitable.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

jest on

I like the term much better than Fascist, as it is 1) more accurate, 2) avoids the Godwin's law issue, and 3) makes them sound totalitarianist.

Yes, I would agree that additional legs make sense. The media aspect is essential, as it neutralizes the freedom of the press, without changing the constitution. It dovetails pretty well with the notion of Inverted Totalitarianism.

I think you could also make the argument that Obama is perhaps the most ideal combination of neolib & neocon. The two sides of him flow together so seamlessly, no one seems to notice. But that's in part because he is so corporate.

Lex on

Actually, neoliberalism is an economic term. An economic liberal in the UK and EU is for open markets, capitalism, etc. You're right that neoliberalism comes heavily from the University of Chicago, but it has little to do with American political liberalism.

A reading of the classical liberal economists puts some breaks on the markets, corporations, etc. Neoliberalism goes to the illogical extremes of market theory and iirc, has some influence from the Austrian school ... which gives up on any pretense of scientific exposition of economics or rationality at the micro level, assuming that irrationality will magically become rational behavior in aggregate.

Therefore, US conservatives post Eisenhower but especially post Reagan are almost certainly economic neoliberals. Since Clinton, liberals/Democrats have been too (at least the elected ones). You nailed neoconservative and both parties are in foreign policy since at least Clinton ... though here lets not forget to go back as far as JFK and his extreme anti-Communism that led to all sorts of covert operations, The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember, the Soviets put the missiles in Cuba because we put missiles in Turkey and they backed down from Cuba because we agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey; Nikita was nice enough not to talk about that so that Kennedy didn't lose face.

“Don’t believe them, don’t fear them, don’t ask anything of them” - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Hugh on

I agree that neoconservatism and neoliberalism are two facets of corporatism/kleptocracy. I like the kinetic vs. white collar distinction.

The roots of neoliberalism go back to the 1940s and the Austrians, but in the US it really only comes into currency with Clinton as a deliberate shift of the Democratic/liberal platform away from labor and ordinary Americans to make it more accommodating to big business and big money. I had never heard of neoliberalism before Bill Clinton but it is easy to see how those tendencies were at work under Carter, but not under Johnson.

This was a rough and ready sketch. I guess I should also have mentioned PNAC or the Project to Find a New Mission for the MIC.

Hugh on

I have never understood this love of Clinton that some Democrats have just as I have never understood the attraction of Reagan for Republicans. There is no Clinton faction. There is no Obama faction. Hillary Clinton is Obama's frigging Secretary of State. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, both of whom served as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, were Obama's top financial and economic advisors. Timothy Geithner was their protégé. Leon Panetta Obama's Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense was Clinton's Director of OMB and then Chief of Staff.

The Democrats as a party are neoconservative and neoliberal as are Obama and the Clintons. As are Republicans.

What does corporations need regulation mean? It is rather like saying that the best way to deal with cancer is to find a cure for it. Sounds nice but there is no content to it. Worse in the real world, the rich own the corporations, the politicians, and the regulators. So even if you come up with good ideas for regulation they aren't going to happen.

What you are suggesting looks a whole lot another iteration of lesser evilism meets Einstein's definition of insanity. How is it any different from any other instance of Democratic tribalism?

Lex on

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the Clintons became fabulously wealthy just after Bill left office, mostly on the strength of his speaking engagements for the financial sector that he'd just deregulated. Both he and Hillary hew to a pretty damned neoconservative foreign policy ... with that dash of "humanitarian interventionism" that makes war palatable to liberals.

But your deeper point is that there isn't enough of a difference between Obama and Bill Clinton to really draw a distinction, not in terms of ideology. What a theoretical Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like is irrelevant, because both Bill and Obama talked a lot different than they walked. Any projection of a Hillary Clinton administration is just that and requires arguing that it would have been different than Bill's administration and policies.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that at that level of politics, the levers of money and power work equally well on both party's nomenklatura. They flock to it like moths to porch light.

That the money chose Obama over Clinton doesn't say all that much, because there's no evidence suggesting that the money didn't like Clinton or that it would have chosen McCain over Clinton. It's not as if Clinton's campaign was driven into the ground by lack of funds.

Regardless, that to be a Democrat i would kind of have to chose between two factions that are utterly distasteful to me just proves that i have no business being a Democrat. And since i wouldn't vote for either of those names, i guess i'll just stick to third parties and exit the political tribalism loop for good.

“Don’t believe them, don’t fear them, don’t ask anything of them” - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

[Aug 13, 2014] America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds by Cheryl K. Chumley

April 21, 2014 | Washington Times

America is no longer a democracy — never mind the democratic republic envisioned by Founding Fathers.

Rather, it has taken a turn down elitist lane and become a country led by a small dominant class comprised of powerful members who exert total control over the general population — an oligarchy, said a new study jointly conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities.

One finding in the study: The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen, United Press International reported.

In the study, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens,” researchers compared 1,800 different U.S. policies that were put in place by politicians between 1981 and 2002 to the type of policies preferred by the average and wealthy American, or special interest groups.

Researchers then concluded that U.S. policies are formed more by special interest groups than by politicians properly representing the will of the general people, including the lower-income class.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” the study found.

The study also found: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.

Larry -> Scott Richie81

Stop sending billions to Wall Street and the banks. They don't like us either

Richie81 -> optimistic4thefuture

Gangsters in suits

Shari Peterson -> Richie81

What's the difference? Corporatism is still prevalent, war culture, big brother, militarization of our nation, siding with big pharma/big biotech with ridiculous protections, aligning with oil/gas industries. And so on.

Nothing ever changes. Voting doesn't change anything; if it did they wouldn't allow it.

Sarah Goodwich -> Richie81

Neither, the empire fools them into thinking they have power, when they have none. It's called "keeping the people enslaved by making them think they're free."

Rope_Necktie -> adplatt126

The Tea Party certainly accomplished getting you to bad-mouth them, so they must be doing something right.

adplatt126 -> Rope_Necktie

I didn't badmouth the Tea Party here. And I supported some of its initiatives, particularly early on. I was even at the March on Washington. I'm just acknowledging reality, cold, hard reality. The Tea Party changed nothing. That's not bad-mouthing it. That's just a fair assessment.

I understand that there are honest people out there, all over the country, who banded together and believed in America and believed they could change something. But they can't and they didn't. The corporate owned media will crush any true dissent by whatever nefarious means at their disposal. I knew that from the outset.

What the Tea Party fails to acknowledge as of yet, because they are still wedded to misguided notions of American greatness and fail to see the ways in which business can corrupt many thing from honest governance to functioning democracy, all the way down to basic sense and ethics, is that it isn't big government that is the enemy of ordinary Americans, but the entire government and power structure in America. It's our own government that is the real enemy of America and indeed our primary threat.

That should be pretty obvious to anyone not watching cable television. And if anything good about America is to be preserved, the government must go. It's time for Tea Partiers to accept that whatever country they grew up in, well that country is gone, and it's high time to dismantle this totalitarian nightmare once and for all. I'm talking the whole empire. Anyone still harping on R and D, left and right, is behind the times.

A lot like still debating phlogiston. Reality has moved on. It's time for Americans to move on from their conceptions of "America" as well, because this nation has no governmental or for that matter civilizational connection to the America of the past.

The social Marxist value system of the elite class and now the bulk of the citizenry is much closer to that of the Soviet Union than anything America traditionally has been. These are revolutionary times pal.

gobnait -> adplatt126

How could they when they met opposition from their own party, Einstein?

adplatt126 -> gobnait

"From their own party"? You mean the banks, banksters, multi-nationals and criminal thugs that own the country and most of both parties? I thought that was my point. This is tyranny. There's no choice.

adplatt126 -> Dennis

No, many of the prescriptions are BS. But their message is not entirely wrong. This power structure is beyond criminal and this government is beyond tyrannical. It should be immediately dissolved for the good of everyone in the country. They're not wrong that Americans have no say. That's not BS. This paper virtually proves this truth.

Dennis -> adplatt126

"It should be immediately dissolved for the good of everyone in the country" And be replaced by what??? This form of Govt is still the best ,flawed, still the best ..... Fix the problem term limits ,don't allow the politicians to gain wealth while in office, no retirement.... etc

adplatt126 -> Dennis

Nope, not the best. Not even functioning. No democracy remaining really. This government is literally mandating by law social decline on a historic scale. It should be replaced by autonomous, ideally demilitarized regions. An extreme form of federalism perhaps. The key component is that power, military and monetary is completely decentralized. The best way to achieve that is to dissolve the government and permit new currencies and districts to arise organically and by market processes. Local elections need to be instituted so that government can actually be managed instead of doing literally all of the managing, which it's currently doing, and there should be both proportional representation and public referenda to veto dangerous criminal legislation. I could go on, but at the end of the day, the end of the Republic is the beginning of something better. Because it can't get any worse than this government. This government is systemically corrupt. The U.S. is better than nothing. It's a banana republic with tremendous military power and a citizenry as deluded as the perfectly controlled totalitarian nations of old. Which makes it a very scary banana republic. It should be dismantled post haste. It's already turning its weapons and its tactics on its own citizens through paramilitary campaigns and massive psychological operations, not to mention mass surveillance. Dismantle it and do it now.

Dennis -> adplatt126

Dude you might as well go to a far off wilderness and stay off the grid .... as they say Aint happenin...the direction this country is going will change...But all this info of big corporations in control ,which I dont believe, is no different than the 1800-early 1900's when the Hurst. getty's and the tycoon's of that age had influence

adplatt126 -> Dennis

Nonsense. Did Hearst set up a surveillance state rivalling perhaps only the Nazi state apparatus? Did Rockefeller contrive a massive system of thought and speech control like Political Correctness for ensuring everyone accept at all times and completely Lysenkoist propaganda? Did Carnegie let the whole third world flood into the nation and then prevent states from defending themselves from a foreign invasion? Did a mere 17 percent of the American population of the early 20th century believe the Federal Government ruled with the consent of the people?

Over 1100 fat cats went to prison for their role in the crash of '29. In this most recent crash, only one man, one (who turned himself in and confessed ironically) was sentenced. One. The country will not change.

It will only get worse until the power structure that is perpetuating this totalitarian system and insulating itself from its own crimes, is dismantled. Even if it's held up by wealth and historic advantages for a bit, its utter criminality is no less criminal. Nor should anyone for any moment claim that those who speak out against it are merely speaking to themselves or doing so futilely. Besides, it's only futile on television. And the primary purpose of those on television is to deceive the people into thinking an illegitimate government is legitimate, and that any noble resistance to it is madness, silly, insane, hopeless etc.

The pundits serve first the state and its tyrannical designs. In private circles on the other hand, everyone with a head knows something is terribly amiss. They're gradually figuring out how amiss but they don't know what to do about it. I'm providing a rational solution. Secede, resist, dissolve. Do not bow. Do not comply.

Dennis -> adplatt126

you confuse the 2 subjects I said......"But all this info of big corporations in control ,which I don't believe, is no different than the 1800-early 1900's when the Hurst. Getty's and the tycoon's of that age that had influence"...... pertaining to the story. No I dont like what the feds are doing conserning to ILLEGALS and to PC correctness....but again I see the pendulum swinging the other way...... AND from what i read there was no one that went to prison for the 29 crash......"Did anyone go to jail for precipitating the 1929 collapse?

No. The rampant speculation and eventual crash of 1929 weren't caused by fraud or illegality, but by unreasonable optimism and loose financial regulation. Federal prosecutors eventually brought charges against a couple of the era's most important and aggressive bankers, but the lack of pre-existing rules undermined the government's efforts". so it seems that the last crash was from illegal means BUT it was started by the demorats demanding that banks loan to people with bad credit

Richie81 -> Dennis

If you don't believe it than get your head out the sand and pop your lil bubble as well. 6 companies own every single thing you read in a news paper, see on the news and on the web. There is a reason for that. Don't be naive.

Dennis -> Richie81

Again it is no different that before and no one person/group controlled the USA ....... The news agencies have been filled with one type of mindset ,they have refused to hold "their" guy to the standards that was once there ....... No one is digging into the mess that is there like they did with Watergate,,,, Which at that time was really not that big of a story..... until it exploded

Richie81 -> Dennis

Watergate is nothing compared to the things Bush and Obama have done. Read this if you still dont think so.http://www.newscientist.com/ar...

Dennis -> Richie81

Ooh please Bush never harassed the Libs with the IRS he NEVER sold guns to the Cartels ......I'll give you the part of the NDAA.....

Richie81 -> Dennis

Which had nothing to do with terrorist or 9/11 and that war killed 1 million innocent woman and children. The economy also did crash on his watch. One is not better than the other. At the top they are all the same and have the same policies. Thats why Obama has nearly doubled down on all Bush's FAILED policies.

Dennis -> Richie81

I knew that if you talked long enough I would see where you were coming from..... Iraq had wmd's even clinton said so.... the democrats also voted to go into Iraq after hearing the same thing..... 1 million that's BS with a capital ..... you are starting to sound like the Liberal BS talking points.... why don't go further and say that 9-11 was done by Bush ..you know you want to

Richie81 -> Dennis

So because Clintom said so its true? There were no WMD's found in Iraq and that id a fact? If there were please tell me whem and where they were found??? Yes the democrats did too, that should show you right there that at the top Dems and Reps are for the same major policies when it comes to banking, wars and spying.

1 milliom is another fact. It had to do with the sanctions as well. Before you argue you should really do some research. There is a video of a reporter asking Madeline Albright if the killing of these woman and children were worth it and she says yes.

I will tell you this about 9-11, I dont know what happened but I definitely dont believe the official story. Your telling me a guy (OBL) who drove around in trucks with AK47s strapped to the top of them and lives in a bunker in a mountain was able to bypass the greatest military to ever exist and bypasd the most guarded airspace on earth? Now that's a conspiracy if I ever heard one. Don't forget the guys with box cutters too.

Dennis -> Richie81

because "they" didn't find them..... so it means Saddam never had them ...... Great logic..."Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming,” Sada said. “They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.".....you go one believing what you want.... I dont believe in conspiracies....I know OBL did try what 2-3 times to damage the WTC ...he finally found the way to do it ....remember that hijacking and ramming planes into buildings had NEVER been done like that before...... The enemy are the extreme Muslims ...But I have said that ANY muslim will become extreme.....they just need to become a radical believer

Richie81 -> Dennis

He did invade Iraq after 9/11 off of false pretenses.

Richie81 -> Dennis

Flawed??? Are you kidding? It's a disgrace to what this country was founded on. There is a reason the founding fathers had so many quotes about times like these. There is also a reason why they are not taught in schools. They'd rather you pledge allegiance blindly.

Dennis -> Richie81

So what would you replace instead of this Constitution and this form of Government??

Richie81 -> Dennis

I wouldnt replace the constitution. I would re-enforce it line by line. The reason we are in this mess is because we are getting away from what our founding princioles were. To big to fail is fascism not capitalism. Corporations arent people and should not be able to bribe politicians. We should have more choices than just two (Dem&Rep). We need term limits on ALL politicians.

lihartke -> adplatt126

Like ANY NEW political party you will NEVER win every race. Trying to beat out powerful incumbents with the full force of the establishment against you is not an easy task. If you think there are MIRACLE candidates out there you are mistaken. One by one there will be a wedge put in this gov't until they are forced to do the will of the people. Democrats shoved healthcare down our throats when we clearly said no. A leader who is supposed to be representing the people but votes against them should be HUNG. GOD BLESS THE TEA PARTY. You go ahead and be enamored by your party and I will sit and laugh at you as you are told to sit down and shut up while they steal us blind and tell us to eat cake. Enjoy the Empire we have built for them -FOOL.

contrarian35 -> adplatt126

Well, in fairness, the Tea Party had no prayer of meaningful legislation because they held a minority. But they sure did block a lot. I actually believe that the conservatively minded are our last bastion of hope, and hope that they clean sweep the Senate with this election. But believe fundamentally that Soros has a firm rig on the elections, so I am not holding my breath.

And even if they do sweep in, there will still be GOP establishment fighting for big business, so either way, you're looking at a fight. It is not all lost, though, until they have our guns too. And that is not going to be a fight won easily. Of this, I am absolutely sure.

Sarah Goodwich -> Jimtaryon

It makes no difference which despot holds power, it's still despotism.

The USA has been an oligarchy ever since Lincoln, since that's when the People lost their consent to government; and now government holds all the power, since their elected officials aren't bound to obey them; and the People can't do a thing about it other than elect someone ELSE who's not bound to obey them.

But no one will dare fault Lincoln, so we're screwed.

AceTrace -> Sonshine

And look no further than our diabolical Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for that. He's corrupt down to his bone marrow, amassing wealth & power for himself, his family and his cronies. The rest of us be damned.

Richie81 -> AceTrace

All of them are corrupt at the top. From Bush to Obama, they are all the same. It don't matter though, because most American are to naive and will just continue to fight each other over political parties while be screwed and laughed at by both.

Edward98 -> AceTrace

Both parties are in this together.

Richie81 -> Edward98

Yes they both are and its sad to see the left and right bickering at each other instead of their own parties who are actually responsible for all this.

AceTrace -> AceTrace

From the article: "One concluding finding in the study: The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen, United Press International reported."

RightWingFoamControl -> Sonshine

Money is being used to undermine all American citizens political power. Congress has gathered so much power that it no longer cares about what the American people want.

Larry Scott -> Sonshine

CONGRESS? your mean that bunch of sycophants on sale to the highest bidder? Neither the right or left can trust them. Maybe if Putin invaded Long Island they could get together long enough to vote something for the USA as they did for Ukrainians. Billions of dollars for them while we taxpayers can't get them to do anything but call each other names.

[Jan 22, 2014] Apocalypse Again The Boom-and-Bust Cycle of Bipartisan Politics

The great irony is that the man who ran on the campaign slogan of Change failed to deliver it in any meaningful way
Truthdig

The Democratic Party has the bad habit of coming on to voters like the neighborhood mafia extortion team. The Democrats have the incurably bad breath of reliably broken promises. They collar and corner us with mobster charm, they pick our pockets while pretending to pick our brains.

Then as the big election day draws near, they lean heavily upon us and whisper an almost romantic confession: “Sure, we spit in your faces and ask you to pretend it’s rain. But the other guy is a real brute and would also break your arms.”

[Jan 12, 2014] Congress is a Millionaires' Club. Why that Matters...

William of Ockham:

John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

George Washington:
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.
Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

Thomas Jefferson
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories."

Thomas Paine
"Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."

Andrew Jackson
"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes."

Thomas Jefferson
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

William of Ockham -> William of Ockham...
When private sector money is allowed to influence government at any level you have a tremendous potential for corruption.

Patriots who loves their country must to rise to end this dispicable realtionship between the private sector and government. If the Government refuses to end this dispicable practice then the goverment must be defeated and a new one appointed of the people, by the people and for the people.

Amen

plus.google.com/102534266379291948922:

Back in the 70's, my father (twice) attempted to run for Congress. We were living in Scranton, Pa....

NEITHER party apparatus (R or D) would even entertain him running against the well-entrenched Joseph McDade. After all, my dad was just a modestly successful business man and had few political connections.

He ran as an independent (I), garnering less than 2% of the vote after spending nearly $50k of his own money (no small amount for our family, I assure you). Not only that, business suffered for a few years afterward. Lesson learned.

Many have said this: "We sure do E-lect our leaders but we don't get to SE-lect our leaders."

Larry Signor:

What is unexpected about Nicholas Carnes study? Political power breeds wealth, wealth enhances political power. The cumulative effect is a lack of political and economic representation for a plurality of Americans. This dovetails into most of our economic stories today: SNAP, UI, the attack on SS, the minimum wage, immigration, EITC and block grants, etc.

Next Poliarchy Bulletin, 2013

Recommended Links

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Oligarchy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Iron law of oligarchy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Recommended Books

The Myth of the Rational Voter Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (New Edition) (9780691138732) Bryan Caplan Books

polyarchy participation and opposition - Robert Alan Dahl - Google Books

Promoting polyarchy Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge Studies in International Relations) by William I. Robinson Also at Google Books.

by

polyarchy Participation and Opposition Robert A. Dahl Amazon.com Books




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