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Who Rules America ?

A slightly skeptical view on the US political establishment and foreign policy

If Ronald Reagan was America's neo-Julius Caesar, his adopted son was the first George Bush (just as J.C. adopted Augustus). And look what THAT progeny wrought. I fully expect that over the next century, no fewer than seven Bushes will have run or become president (mimicking the Roman Caesarian line). Goodbye, American Republic.

From review of Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia by Gore Vidal

Skepticism -> Political Skeptic

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Russiagate -- a color revolution against Trump Fake News scare and US NeoMcCartyism Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Iron Law of Oligarchy Elite Theory Cold War II Pathological Russophobia of the US elite
"Fuck the EU": neocons show EU its real place The Deep State Strzok-gate Neo-conservatism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Two Party System as Polyarchy Neoliberal war on reality or the importance of controlling the narrative
Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak DNC emails leak Anti Trump Hysteria Trump vs. Deep State Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Ukraine: From EuroMaydan to EuroAnschluss Civil war in Ukraine Syria civil war Russian Ukrainian Gas Wars Color revolutions Demonization of Putin
Fifth Column of Neoliberal Globalization Anti-globalization movement Neoliberal corruption Neoliberalism and Christianity Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization Disaster capitalism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Corporatism New American Militarism Ethno-linguistic Nationalism American Exceptionalism Predator state Obama: a yet another Neocon
Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17? In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Corruption of Regulators Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult  Neo-Theocracy as a drive to simpler society American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
MSM Sochi Bashing Rampage Groupthink Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite Deception as an art form Mayberry Machiavellians Immigration, wage depression and free movement of workers War and Peace Quotes
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Overcomplexity of society Paleoconservatism Non-Interventionism Key Myths of Neoliberalism Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

FDR. speech after the election (1936)

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

Skepticism is a useful quality that some people naturally possess and other can develop. but it not a panacea.  As such any "Skeptical" or even "Slightly skeptical" paged by definition suffer from "confirmation bias". They postulate that only information that doe snot correlate well with official position is worth presenting.  the reality is more complex than that. This consideration probably should be kept in mind when reading those pages. While they are an excellent tool for destroying propaganda stereotypes it is your own task to integrate your new understanding under some new paradigm. The  central for those pages is the idea that we live in neoliberal society and will continue to live in it for some type despite the crisis it experience now, because there is no viable alternative on the horizon and resurrection of New Deal capitalism is not possible as the countervailing  forces that existed to keep financial oligarchy in check dissipated, and part of them joined the former enemy.  That means  that we live in an unstable society prone to unleashing wars and falling in major crisis (aka Minsky moments). In this sense Financial crisis of 2008 can be called using Churchill's quote  "This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.

"Neoliberalism -- the current social system in the USA and most European countries, Japan, Russia and China (with some minor variations) -- is a very interesting ideology, one that does not dare to speak its name ;-). After a triumphal march of neoliberalism in late 80th and early 90th (with the collapse of the USSR as the high point).

The crescendo of Triumphal march of neoliberalism which stated in 1980th was the collapse of the USSR, which happened in 1991, when Soviet elite switched  sides and  preferred to became "entrepreneurs" like their Western counterparts, privatizing  and looting their own country. Communists proved to be very corruptible folk, especially at Nomenklatura level and they like dollars more then their country. 

But neoliberalism entered the major crisis in 2008. The net result was so called Secular Stagnation. The "end of cheap oil" is another factor that guarantee the continuation of Secular Stagnation.  See Peak Cheap Energy.  

This site is slightly skeptical as for long-term viability of Neoliberalism as a social system. At the same time as bad as neoliberal as a social system was/is in comparison with New Deal Capitalism, that does not  mean the coming successor can't be worse.  If there is a way out of this neoliberal mess that was pushed on us since late 70th, I can't see it.

Right now Neoliberalism  is seriously sick and remind me Bolshevism after WWII. Bolshevism lasted almost 50 years after 1945, and do not see why neoliberalism can't last even longer then that as currently there is no viable alternatives'. For example, Russia which neocons try to paint as ne "Great Satan" is a yet another neoliberal state. Just with a different flavor of neoliberalism which reminds Trumps "national neoliberalism".  After the "triumphal march" of neoliberalism over the globe in the late seventies and 80th with the collapse of the USSR. BTW the collapse of Soviet Union was not what neoliberal propaganda teaches us. In essence Soviet elite (aka nomenklatura)  simply changed sides. The collapse of Bolshevism both as an ideology and the society paralleled the collapse of New Deal capitalism in the USA. Like large part of the USA management elite, Soviet nomenklatura became turncoats. And it was the alliance of management elite and trade unions that was at the core of New Deal capitalism. As soon as it collapsed the New Deal capitalism was replaced with neoliberalism.

 But neoliberalism proved to be not a sustainable social system,. It lost traction after 2000 and slides in deep crisis in 2008, the crisis which undermined the neoliberal ideology. That means that after 2008 neoliberalism entered zombie state, much like Soviet communism after WWII.  

Due to neoliberalism the USA is no longer a politically stable country. Political animosity after election of Trump reminds a soft civil war, racial hostility is growing, standards of majority of population are either stagnant or fall, neoliberal globalization (with off shoring and outsourcing) as well as automation leave the young unemployed. Epidemic of narco addiction in the USA (which claims 70K victims a year) remind epidemic of alcoholism in the USSR. Both were caused by desperation of people, who can't get a meaningful well paying job and see no future for themselves and their children. Wealth was redistributed to the few and the level of inequality became dangerously high. The working class falls into drugs and anomie. The wars for sustaining and expanding the neoliberal empire and crushing dissenters from neoliberal dogma never end. Meanwhile infrastructure ages and falls behind that of more advanced nations. Anger grows. As the pie shrinks, someone will have to get less pie. And it is not financial oligarchy, or MIC.

Who would thought that 30 years later the winner of the Cold War will enter the phase of decline which in may respects remind many observers  the decline of the USSR.

I would like to repeat again that this decline started  after the crisis of 2008 (the point at which neoliberal ideology collapsed and was discredited, much like communist ideology was after WWII. Trump election and Brexit were two historical events, after which we can attest that neoliberalism is past its prime and entered the phase of decline.  And this decline  created polarization of the society in which ruling neoliberal elite lost legitimacy in the eyes of common people. This is the problem  which  neoliberal elite tried to hide after 2016 Presidential elections under  the smoke screen of Russiagate (which is essence is a color revolution with the goal of deposing Trump)

The neoliberal ideology  which is, essentially, can  be called "market fundamentalism" was discredited earlier, after global financial crisis of 2008.  Much like communism was after WWII when it became clear that it can't secure the standard of living for its population superior to the standard of living of common people in Western European countries (and even most of the East European countries), which remained under the capitalism.

Paradoxically golden days of capitalism in Western Europe and the USA (which lasted till 79th) were possible only because communist states such as USSR existed, as it served as a powerful deterrent against the restoration of power of financial oligarchy. So it's not surprising that the New Deal Capitalism was dismantled after the USSR collapse. Moor did its duty, moor can go ;-). In other words, the mere existence of the USSR, while was not threat to the Western countries social system,  served as a powerful inhibitor of cannibalistic instincts of the elite in the USA and Western countries. It was communism that helped to secured the dominance of the New Deal capitalism till early 80th.

From this point the standard of living of poor and lower middle class in the West started to slide. The first 20 years, till probably 2000 (dot com crisis) the slide was masked by tremendous technological progress in computers and communications. Still outside top 10-20% of population, the slide of the standard of living and the income is a fact.  Outsourcing and offshoring killed many meaningful, well paying jobs. The new level of automation, possible with modern computers, killed some more. The possibility of cheap transcontinental communications also killed IT jobs and helpdesk type which jobs migrated to India and other countries with cheap and qualified labor force.  so loss of manufacturing jobs was amplified by loss of some segments of white color jobs as well.

While neoliberal think tanks and powerful MSM propaganda machine (in which the word neoliberalism is still a taboo) now try to contain damage, the fatal flaws of neoliberal ideology after 2008 financial collapse are apparent and can't be hidden. The key neoliberal country and the key enforcer of neoliberalism over the globe -- the USA -- entered "secular stagnation" period in economics. It is also is trying to fend off the challenge that China economic growth presents to its world dominance.

Brexit and the election of Trump mean that the protest against neoliberal globalization entered  the political mainstream in the USA in 2016:  Hillary Clinton suffered her electoral fiasco because she was the proponent of neoliberal status quo, the proponent  of neoliberal globalization and the wars for expansion of neoliberal empire, the candidate who promised to kick the neoliberal can down the road. 

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

  Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

From the Chance for Peace address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953. (Regarded as one of the finest speeches of Eisenhower's presidency.)

 

Trump should probably be viewed as a new stage of this decline of American republic (which for a long time is neither democracy not a republic, but a warmongering empire, a new social system of "inverted totalitarism" as Sheldon Wolin called it ). Some trapping of previous "New Deal style" democracy remained, but most of New  deal achievement  such as using trade unions as countervailing social force to check the greed of capital owners was perverted. During elections Trump used to have anti-globalization inclinations -- anathema to neoliberals -- and that's why he was so viciously attacked after he has won; but those inclinations almost completely disappeared after the election. Trumpism which sometimes is defined as "economic nationalism" includes the following (partially intersecting) elements which are anathema to classic neoliberalism:

  1. Rejection of neoliberal globalization. Use of tariffs to protect domestic manufacturing.
  2. Rejection of unrestricted immigration. Vigorous persecution and deportation of illegal immigrants and measures to block their entry (Mexican wall, etc) 
  3. Fight against suppression of wages by multinationals via cheap imported labor. Rejection of the idea of global labor market and unrestricted outsourcing of labor to foreign countries. Legal measures against multinationals who tried to offload major part of workforce abroad. 
  4. Fight against the elimination of meaningful, well-paying jobs in the USA via outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing (which is the essence of neoliberal globalization). Attempts to reverse this trend.
  5. Rejection of wars for enlargement and sustaining of neoliberal empire, especially NATO role as global policemen and wars for Washington client Israel in the Middle East;
  6. Détente with Russia;
  7. More pragmatic relations with Israel and suppression of Israeli agents of influence in congress and government (AIPAC and so called dual citizens problem;
  8. Attempt to reverse the offshoring of manufacturing and labor to China and India, as well as addressing the problem of trade deficit;
  9. Rejection of total surveillance on all citizens;
  10. The cut of military expenses to one third or less of the current level and concentrating on revival on national infrastructure, education, and science.
  11. Abandonment of maintenance of the "sole superpower" status and global neoliberal empire for more practical and less costly "semi-isolationist" foreign policy;
  12. Closing of unnecessary foreign military bases and cutting aid to the current clients.

Of course, the notion of "Trumpism" is fuzzy and different people might include some additional issues and disagree with some listed here, but the core probably remains. Please note that Trump was emasculated by the "deep state" and turned into neocon in foreign policy just three-four months into his presidency.

Still the fact remains: in 2016 financial oligarchy not only failed to put the desired puppet into White House, and was forced to unleash a color revolution against new POTUS ( Russiagate witch hunt is only the tip of the iceberg in this sense) to put him into compliance, or depose him. Neoliberals and neocons also failed with their color revolution as Brennan machinations (As Professor Stephen Cohen noted Russiagate should be renamed to Intelgate) with Steele dossier backfired that they got under fire from Trump supporters.  And both Brennan and FBI Mayberry Machiavellians suddenly from predators became a pray.  Neoliberal Democrats (Clinton wing of Democratic Party, of DemoRats) while managed to preserve political power over the party of suppress Sunders supporters, overplayed their hand with Russiagate and neo-McCarthyism campaign (which was designed to rally nation around the flag) and might face consequences during midterm elections.  Their only hope is help from the Grand Inquisitor, appointed as a part of coup d'état against Trump launched by intelligence agencies (the core of the "deep state"), Mr. Mueller.

This is not the first time the "deep state" tried to depose elected president. JFK was probably the first, Nixon the second and now Trump might be the third. What is new is disappearance of anti-war left and the total conversion under Hillary of Democratic Party into another War Party, the party of militant globalists (which can be a perfect new home for neocons).  Clinton wing of the Democratic Party doesn't want to admit she lost the election because neoliberalism became unpopular among the US electorate.  At the same time "the fifth branch of government" -- the intelligence services proved to be a formidable political force on the US political arena, able to block any attempts to stop feeding and care of military industrial complex. And for this particular reason block any even feeble attempts of rapprochement or cooperation with Russia.

The  country now resembles military camp with war propaganda on all major TV channel and newspapers broadcasted 24 x7.  But the cost of "guns instead of butter" policies are growing: the cost of post 9/11 War project  approaches  $5.6 trillion.  Stolen from ordinary Americans under false pretences (As President Eisenhower noted "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." If even small part of those funds were invested within the country we would have high speed tail between all major cities, or at lease might not be having such frequent deadly crashes of Amtrak trains. Among other useful things like better roads, bridges and airports.

Nostalgia for New Deal Capitalism

While I am openly nostalgic for the New Deal capitalism, I understand perfectly well that currently, there is no viable new alternative to neoliberalism. First of all because as in late 70th "managerial class" became yet another turncoat and allied with capital owners, against workers and middle class.

Still the New Deal remain the most humane form of capitalism invented and our analysis of neoliberalism has distinct New Deal capitalism bias. But we need to understand that the restoration of the New Deal capitalism looks impossible because the social base of it -- the alliance of corporate management and trade union leaders, was destroyed due to the defection of corporate managers to the side of capital owners. This realignment of political power makes possible the restoration of the rule of the financial oligarchy, which happened in late 1980th.

The new coalition of anti-globalization forces that emerged during Trump election campaign is still pretty amorphic political force and is unable to force changes in the society, as easy emasculation of President Trump by the deep state proved to all of us.  but hopefully it will grow and became better organized politically whether within the Republican Party of outside of it.

Neoliberal regime as the social system under which we live

And yes, my friends, like Molière's play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme character, who was surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it, all of us are living under neoliberal regime at least since 1980, most probably without knowing it.  Current events are much easier to analyze if you use the framework of analyzing neoliberalism as a social system proposed in those pages.  Neoliberalism as a social system replaced the notion of Political party with the collection of neoliberal think tanks, a new class of "professional revolutionaries" who are mercenary political army that fight for the victory of neoliberalism and comprise kind of global Neoliberal International. On interesting nuance is that the idea of "professional revolutionaries" was one of the key innovations  of Bolsheviks and Trotskyites. And we can view neoliberalism as some kind of "Trotskyism for rich." In this  sense this social system is almost as far from real democracy as the USSR one party system. It is something Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". In certain aspects it is even more anti-democratic than the capitalism of the Gilded Age with which it has some uncanny similarities (enforcement of the "Law of Jungles" in labor market by suppression of trade unions and "atomization" of individuals as agent who sells themselves on some kind of marketplace, not as human being) .   As Pope Francis noted neoliberalism in anti-Christian system that despise and demonize poor blaming them as incapable to provide "value" to the marketplace, and ignoring their value as a human beings:

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

Another interesting aspect of neoliberalism is the existence of so-called "neoliberal rationality" (compare with the "proletarian mindset" of Bolshevism ). As well as the extent of brainwashing of population into this rationality, especially at the university level (via neoclassical economics). As well as  the level and the sophistication of the use of propaganda which includes a set of neoliberal myths very similar to what were created by Bolshevism. For example, the neoliberal myths of "Free trade", "free market" (why not "fair" in both cases?) , "labor market", "human capital", etc.  In reality, the key idea behind this Potemkin Village-style ideological facade is the redistribution of wealth up toward top 1%  (or even more to the top 0.01%).  Exactly like was the case with Bolshevism, which while proclaiming the false facade of "dictatorship of proletariat" mercilessly suppressed unions and kept 90% of population at the standard of living much lower than in Western and even Eastern Europe. Although not close to starvation which is the ideal of neoliberal "plantation economy" (implemented, for example, by Wal-Mart, with its below subsistence wages), with atomized and isolated from each other "debt slaves."

In other words, there are some striking similarities between Soviet nomenklatura and neoliberal oligarchy, similarities that no objective scholar studying neoliberalism  can ignore. See also Two-Party System as Polyarchy -- "the first after the post system" proved to be ideal for neoliberal regime as it allows financial oligarchy preselect  candidates from both Parties. Effectively  turning the election into expensive staged event -- a grandiose political spectacle, if you wish. but with predicted outcome as stage directors who perform casting are members of a close circle of neoliberal elite -- mostly financial oligarchy.  It could have been adopted by Soviet nomenklatura as well, as it very effectively prevents any real challenges to the existing political regime by pre-selection of two candidates running to the given position and two parties, which are essentially a "soft" and "hard" factions of a single party of financial oligarchy. 

The level of "synchronicity" in coverage of foreign events by neoliberal MSM also reminds me the level typical for Soviet Union. With all MSM repeating the State Department talking points and in general going out their skin be politically correct stooges of the neoliberal regime.

Yet another very interesting aspect of neoliberal regime is the level of public apathy, limited  public discourse and even vocabulary (try to find the word "neoliberal" in WaPo ;-)  as well as epidemic of narco-addition (especially in Rust Belt, which is more severely hit by neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing). Which is not that dissimilar to the epidemic of alcoholism under Bolshevism. When common people see no future for themselves and their children they tend to engage in self-destructing behaviour.   Sheldon Wolin called this approach to suppressing of dissent "inverted totalitarism."

What is really interesting is that the term "neoliberalism"  has the status of a semi-taboo in the USA, and seldom can be found in articles published by the USA MSM, due to some kind of "silence" pact ;-). the intent of this set of pages intent is to fight this trend and present a "slightly skeptical" view of this important social phenomenon.  

It is also important to understand that the level of hostility to Trump by the "deep state" is directly connected with three main (and very quickly betrayed) promises that Trump made during elections:

  1. No more neoliberal globalization with its offshoring and outsourcing of jobs and industries;
  2. No more wars for expansion of neoliberal empire;
  3. Jobs for all Americans

All three were the direct revision of neoliberal ideology postulates, as well as departure from the "neoliberal rationality".  That's why the counter-attack of both the "Deep State" and neoliberal MSM on Trump was so vicious, with well coordinated set of leaks, appointment of Special Prosecutor (on fake pretext), re-launch of McCarthyism, and campaign of demonization of Trump and his administration in media.  In the level of outrage that writers of Pravda during Stalin "Show Trials" would find  completely in line with their own writings -- they so vividly resembles the attacks on "revisionists" in the USSR during Stalinism, that you may wish to revisit books devoted to those trials  ;-).

Most people do not understand that putsch against Trump is actually tried and true color revolution -- the  first color revolution launched within the USA

What is new in putsch of intelligence services and neoliberal establishment against Trump is presence of classic elements of color revolutions technology. Which were for the first time used within the USA by "neoliberal nomenklatura" to preserve power. Some people call it Purple revolution. The ultimate goal is to remove Trump from power, and if this is not possible to emasculate his for the next four years. Some elements of this technology were previously used probably to depose Nixon. Watergate also involved intelligence agencies (the core of the Deep State) activities directed at the removal of the sitting President. And going back JFK was probably the first President removed by intelligence services.  

Initially color revolution technologies were designed  to topple "unfriendly" to neoliberalism regimes in xUSSR space and "resource nationalists" in the Middle East (as well as against China in Hong Cong). That suggests that after the election of 2016 neoliberals felt a real threat from Trump "revisionism".

Deployment of those technologies does not spell well with the social stability because delegitimization of elected government has lasting negative effects. Just look at Ukraine which was the victim of the most recent "color revolution" experiment. They have now two breakaway regions and the drop of the standard of living of population around 200% or more.  The country also now is a debt slave. In other words when the gin of color revolution is out of the bottle it is not that easy to put it back and the events can turn in the direction not anticipated by the originators of such a color revolution.

See also Neoliberalism


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