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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Neoliberalism as a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism

Neoliberalism = Casino Capitalism = "Transnational elites, Unite!"
(It is a neoTrotskyism with the word "proletarians" substituted by the word "elites"
 in famous "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" slogan
and "Color revolutions" instead of Communist  "Permanent revolution"  )

Version 6.0

Skepticism and Pseudoscience  > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News An introduction to Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Definitions of neoliberalism Alternatives to Neoliberalism Anti-globalization movement
Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Brexit Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Casino Capitalism Neoliberal Brainwashing Neoclassical Pseudo Theories Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult
Key Myths of Neoliberalism Neoliberalism and Christianity Zombie state of neoliberalism and coming collapse of neoliberalism Alternatives to Neo-liberalism Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization Ronald Reagan: modern prophet of profligacy Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neocons New American Militarism Anti-globalization movement Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People Inverted Totalitarism
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism Neoliberal corruption Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Corruption of Regulators In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom'
Elite Theory The Iron Law of Oligarchy Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions Gangster Capitalism Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure
If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime
Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump The Deep State Predator state Disaster capitalism Harvard Mafia Small government smoke screen Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
The Great Transformation Monetarism fiasco Two Party System as polyarchy Republican Economic Policy      
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few In Foreign Events Coverage Guardian Presstitutes Slip Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment History of neoliberalism Humor Etc


Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

- New York Times

Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists

May '68 and its Afterlives [Review]

GB: once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans

The Kremlin Stooge

Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page --  Neoliberalism: an Introduction


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(Research materials to the paper Neoliberalism: an Introduction)

Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2016 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2015 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2014 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2013 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2011 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2009 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2008

[Sep 25, 2016] Popular Acceptance of Inequality Due to Brute Luck

Notable quotes:
"... By Matthew Weinzierl, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. Originally published at VoxEU ..."
"... The trick or con being played by the elite is to convince enough of us that the game of life is being played fair. And when that fails, the con or lie becomes that its the fault of (insert target minority group). ..."
"... From two complementary sociological points of view -- conflict theory and symbolic interactionism -- this article is naive -or a red herring- in the ways you suggest. ..."
"... Indeed, the issue is about people accepting a "definition of the situation" that is in fact detrimental to their material interests (Pierre Bourdieu terms this "misrecognition"). Erving Goffman, who was trained as an interactionist, studied con artists to describe how they successfully created a definition of situation -- which means a version of social reality -- that their marks would internalize as reality itself. A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy. ..."
"... Control over arguments regarding political economy in the public sphere have to be wrested from economists, so that we can start to talk about what actually matters. Sanders' popularity, despite his numerous problems, lay in how he took control of the argument and laid bare the absurdities of those who benefit from the status quo. ..."
"... I say we boycott economists. Sure some of them are not terrible, but in the main the discipline needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. ..."
"... Many economists function as members of the courtier class, justifying what the rich and powerful want to occur. Most citizens already boycott economists in that they don't use their services except when required to attend an Econ class at school. ..."
"... But economists do influence average citizens lives via their justification of tax policy, land use policy, labor policy, trade policy and law implementation. ..."
"... Economic education has been a failure of the left. Everyone needs to know how money and finance works. Only then can that power be put to various uses. It is not that you don't need economists, you need economists working in your interest. ..."
"... I could get behind this. And I would have to agree that harping against the evils of capitalism, which are very real, often comes from those who don't really understand how it works. ..."
"... The post indicates this guy is Assistant Professor of Business Administration - at Harvard Business School - so I'm not sure I would give him even so much regard as I might give an economist. I wonder how he and his will regard the fairness of luck while they wait in line to be serviced at the guillotine they're building - much as Scrooge crafted his chain and weights for his afterlife. ..."
"... Interesting reference to Scrooge -- the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated. As I get older, it seems to me that the capitalism system debases everything it touches. Anything of real value will be found outside this system. It has become the box that confines us all. ..."
"... It's also worth noting how his examples are still a function of the neoliberal canard that privilege is simply a boost on the ladder of meritocracy. The game is still implicitly understood to be fair. ..."
"... Yet, it's not clear to me what Alice Walton, for instance, has done to justify being a multi-billionaire. People who are born not just with spoons but entire silver foundries in their mouths could redistribute 90% of the wealth they acquired by virtue of being someone's baby and still be absurdly rich. ..."
"... Learning must be for its own sake. Like you, I spent many hours in the library. BUT it was to scratch an itch I have not been able to quell - even in these many years since I was in that library. ..."
"... "The putative "father of the Euro", economist Robert Mundell is reported to have explained to one of his university of Chicago students, Greg Palast: "the Euro is the easy way in which Congresses and Parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy. Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system" Michael Hudson "Killing the Host" ..."
"... The neoclassical economists didn't have a clue as the Minsky Moment was approaching. ..."
Sep 24, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This article argues that people don't mind inequality due to "brute luck"…but is one man's brute luck another man's rigged system?

By Matthew Weinzierl, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. Originally published at VoxEU

Tax policy to correct inequality assumes that nobody is entitled to advantages due to luck alone. But the public largely rejects complete equalisation of 'brute luck' inequality. This column argues that there is near universal public support for an alternative, benefit-based theory of taxation. Treating optimal tax policy as an empirical matter may help us to close the gap between theory and reality.

... .... ...

In this case, the optimal tax policy aggressively offsets inequality. Only the need to retain incentives to work and the desire to reward extra effort justify allowing inequality to persist.

... ... ...

Brute Luck and Economic Inequality

What explains the gap between scholarly and popular views of the moral status of pre-tax income? A clue might be our attitude to luck.

The view that individuals have no moral claim to their pre-tax incomes relies on the ethical assumption that nobody is entitled to advantages due to factors outside his or her control. Philosophers such as Cohen (2011) call this 'brute luck'. Given the importance of brute luck (for example, natural ability, childhood home environment, and early schooling) to a person's economic status, this assumption directly leads to a rejection of moral claims to pre-tax income.

... ... ...

The 2016 US presidential campaign's attention to inequality fits these findings. Some candidates complain of a 'rigged system' and rich individuals and corporations who do not pay their 'fair' share. Critically, gains due to a rigged system or tax avoidance are due to unjust actions, not brute luck. They are due to the toss of a loaded coin, not a fair one.

... ... ...

These are early steps in developing a new approach to tax theory that I have called 'positive optimal taxation'. This approach modifies the standard optimal tax analysis by treating the objective for taxation as an empirical matter. It uses a variety of sources – including opinion surveys, political rhetoric, and analysis of robust policy features – to highlight gaps between the standard theory and prevailing reality of tax policy. It also identifies and incorporates into the theory alternative goals – and the philosophical principles behind them – that better describe the public's views on policy.

.... .... ...

Robert Hahl September 24, 2016 at 6:13 am

"I stole it fair and square" is not a form of brute luck, but I saw no recognition of that fact while skimming the article. Sorry if I missed it.

Adam1 September 24, 2016 at 6:17 am

One piece of logic missing from the research analysis is accounting for the game itself. If I agree to play a game of chance that is fairly played I am by default also agreeing that I accept the possibility that the outcomes will not be equal, otherwise why would I play. It shouldn't be a surprise that in the end people are willing to maintain that inequality because they originally agreed to it by the fact that they agreed to play.

As Yves points out, if you change the scenario where one of the players was allowed to collude with the person executing the game and the other player was informed of this you might get a very different answer. You might even get a punishing answer.

The trick or con being played by the elite is to convince enough of us that the game of life is being played fair. And when that fails, the con or lie becomes that its the fault of (insert target minority group).

DanB September 24, 2016 at 7:34 am

From two complementary sociological points of view -- conflict theory and symbolic interactionism -- this article is naive -or a red herring- in the ways you suggest.

Indeed, the issue is about people accepting a "definition of the situation" that is in fact detrimental to their material interests (Pierre Bourdieu terms this "misrecognition"). Erving Goffman, who was trained as an interactionist, studied con artists to describe how they successfully created a definition of situation -- which means a version of social reality -- that their marks would internalize as reality itself. A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 9:21 am

A sociologist would not begin a discussion of socioeconomic inequality with tax policy.

But an economist would, and therein lies the problem. Control over arguments regarding political economy in the public sphere have to be wrested from economists, so that we can start to talk about what actually matters. Sanders' popularity, despite his numerous problems, lay in how he took control of the argument and laid bare the absurdities of those who benefit from the status quo.

I say we boycott economists. Sure some of them are not terrible, but in the main the discipline needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

John Wright September 24, 2016 at 10:06 am

Many economists function as members of the courtier class, justifying what the rich and powerful want to occur. Most citizens already boycott economists in that they don't use their services except when required to attend an Econ class at school.

But economists do influence average citizens lives via their justification of tax policy, land use policy, labor policy, trade policy and law implementation.

Even if we tore down the profession, it could likely regrow to provide the same functionality.

The profession provides a valuable service, as it is valued by the class with power and money throughout the world.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

Economic education has been a failure of the left. Everyone needs to know how money and finance works. Only then can that power be put to various uses. It is not that you don't need economists, you need economists working in your interest.

All knowledge and technology works this way. It is the purposeful use of information that matters, not the information itself. The left wastes time, effort, and resources trying to convince people to change their minds. Instead, they need to focus on building things in the real world, using all the economic tools at their disposal.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 11:02 am

I could get behind this. And I would have to agree that harping against the evils of capitalism, which are very real, often comes from those who don't really understand how it works.

Maybe the solution is more co-ops and less rhetoric.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 11:50 am

Using the power of the boycott is another. The powerless need to rediscover what power they truly wield in this system. That was the other failure of the left. Yes, they were actively crushed by corporate power, but the ideas live on. They can only be exterminated through lack of use.

A new ideology needs to be born of the ashes. If the predictions of climate disruption are anywhere near accurate, a proactive, and positive direction can be undertaken. My experience is that caring, healthy people are driven to help others in times of adversity. Well, those times are coming. We are once again going to have to face the choice between choosing abject fear or rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work making everyones lives better.

You don't need corporate sponsorship to do that. They need us more than we need them. In the end, I have a feeling that the current system will come down very quickly. Being prepared for that outcome is what should be driving the actions of those not vested in keeping the status quo going.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:42 am

The post indicates this guy is Assistant Professor of Business Administration - at Harvard Business School - so I'm not sure I would give him even so much regard as I might give an economist. I wonder how he and his will regard the fairness of luck while they wait in line to be serviced at the guillotine they're building - much as Scrooge crafted his chain and weights for his afterlife.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm

For a historian, making connections between past and present situations is the root of their insight. As in all walks of life, your efforts can gain value to your fellow citizens or they can be used as a tool for your own self interest- whatever that might be. How interesting are these repeating cycles in the human drama.

Interesting reference to Scrooge -- the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated. As I get older, it seems to me that the capitalism system debases everything it touches. Anything of real value will be found outside this system. It has become the box that confines us all.

When your viewpoint of the world and your relationship to it shrink to only seeking profits, the depravity of that situation is hidden from view unless shocked back to awareness.

As Peter Gabriel would say- Shock the Monkey

Shock the monkey to life
Shock the monkey to life

Cover me when I run
Cover me through the fire
Something knocked me out' the trees
Now I'm on my knees
Cover me darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Fox the fox
Rat on the rat
You can ape the ape
I know about that
There is one thing you must be sure of
I can't take any more
Darling, don't you monkey with the monkey
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Wheels keep turning
Something's burning
Don't like it but I guess I'm learning

Shock! – watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Cover me, when I sleep
Cover me, when I breathe
You throw your pearls before the swine
Make the monkey blind
Cover me, darling please
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don't you know you're going to shock the monkey

Too much at stake
Ground beneath me shake
And the news is breaking

Shock! – watch the monkey get hurt, monkey

Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey
Shock the monkey to life

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

This is tangential to topic of this thread:
I was particularly struck by your comment about art: "the power of art to enlighten the human condition cannot be underestimated." I recall a similar assertion made in one of Howard Zinn's speeches - sorry I can't recall the exact phrasing of his statement or its context.

I'm retired and found a strange calling to make art - a calling I never listened to when I had to worry about supporting a household. I find it difficult to make art that isn't political, satirical or in some way didactic. Whether anyone else would regard my works as art I don't know and in a way I don't care. Art has become a way in which I must express something inside me I don't understand but whose direction I must follow. I suppose similar feeling drive many expressions of art. Perhaps that explains something of the power of art you refer to.

Spencer September 24, 2016 at 7:12 am

For the erosion in income inequality to be fixed, economic policies need fixed. The disparity between income quintiles will continue to widen. Social unrest will continue to proliferate. This situation will simply never get corrected until the commercial banks are driven out of the savings business (however bizarre one might think that solution is).

Vladimir Lenin, leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution said: "The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency." Not so. The best way to destroy capitalists is the deregulation of deposit caps for saver-holders' accounts in the commercial banking system. This policy error simply increased the bank's costs with no increase in their income. Bottling up savings, is first observed by the decline in money velocity, then by a decline in AD (secular stagnation), and when the Fed attempts to offset this decline, by an increase in stagflation.

Moneta September 24, 2016 at 7:43 am

The beliefs come first, then the system reflects these. Creeping individualism and the belief in the self made man will do the trick.

Alejandro September 24, 2016 at 10:52 am

""[V]elocity" is just a dummy variable to "balance" any given equation – a tautology, not an analytic tool."

http://michael-hudson.com/2012/05/paul-krugmans-economic-blinders/

How can the "code" be modified to restrain usurious AND sociopathic behaviour?

Spencer September 24, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Vi is contrived. Vt is money actually exchanging counterparties. But since Ed Fry discontinued the G.6 debit and demand deposit turnover release in Sept. 1996, the Fed has no rudder or anchor.

Required reserves are a surrogate, though the underweight Vt. But RRs are based on payments (money turning over). And 95 percent of all demand drafts clear thru transaction based accounts.

The "code" you speak of relates to the volume of financial transactions consummated. Financial transactions are not random. Financial speculation is a function of money flows. The volume of bank debits during the housing crisis would have stood out like a sore thumb (as it captured both new and existing real-estate transactions).

Only price increases generated by demand, irrespective of changes in supply, provide evidence of inflation. There must be an increase in aggregate demand which can come about only as a consequence of an increase in the volume and/or transactions velocity of money. The volume of domestic money flows must expand sufficiently to push prices up, irrespective of the volume of financial transactions, the exchange value of the U.S. dollar, and the flow of goods and services into the market economy.

The "administered" prices would not be the "asked" prices, were they not "validated" by (M*Vt), i.e., "validated" by the world's Central Banks.

- Michel de Nostredame

Alejandro September 24, 2016 at 10:28 pm

I'm not sure that what you just spewed even makes sense to you, or that you even bothered to read the link provided…but the "code" is about concurrent monetary AND fiscal policy to serve a purpose other than making the rich richer and the poor poorer…

Moneta September 24, 2016 at 7:40 am

If someone gets the waterfront property just because he/she was born first so got there first, he better do something positive for the next generation… The next generation will understand the luck factor as not everyone can be standing in the same spot at the same time, but it will not accept the scrooge.

HotFlash September 24, 2016 at 7:53 am

Prof Weinzieri says

If people are entitled, even in part, to their pre-tax incomes, the optimal tax policy would no longer offset inequality as aggressively. Taxes would, instead, be focused on raising funds for government activities in a way that tries to respect those entitlements.

which seems fair-ish, but also

Given the importance of brute luck (for example, natural ability, childhood home environment, and early schooling)

Oh my! Childhood home environment and (gasp!) early schooling are matters of luck? Oh those Haaahvaahd guys! No, professor, winning the lottery is a matter of luck, and can happen to anyone at any point in their life. Being born in poverty, into a class 15% of whose male population is incarcerated or having to go to a crappy school are *systemic* results of deliberate social structures, the elites just prefer to call it "bad luck". Thus we see how the Ivies serve the elites.

Eclair September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

Yes, HotFlash. And these 'deliberate social structures,' the 'red-lining' policies, the wildly unequal sentences for crack versus cocaine, the casual brutality of the prison system (over 200,000 male rapes per year), the laws preventing people who have served their sentence for a felony from voting, public housing, scholarship aid, welfare .. in other words, from living and improving their lives .. are structural violence. And then we are 'surprised' when people who have lived their lives under a regime of these subtle but unrelenting acts of economic, social and spiritual violence, finally hit back.

Uahsenaa September 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

It's also worth noting how his examples are still a function of the neoliberal canard that privilege is simply a boost on the ladder of meritocracy. The game is still implicitly understood to be fair.

Yet, it's not clear to me what Alice Walton, for instance, has done to justify being a multi-billionaire. People who are born not just with spoons but entire silver foundries in their mouths could redistribute 90% of the wealth they acquired by virtue of being someone's baby and still be absurdly rich.

Banana Breakfast September 24, 2016 at 9:49 am

The paper seems totally oblivious to the fact that in the scenario presented, all the gains enjoyed by both players are due to luck. Player B is getting a windfall either way, so there's no sense of real unfairness. The perception would be quite different if it was only the difference between A and B that was assigned randomly, while each had to earn some baseline.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL September 24, 2016 at 5:28 pm

And I think the "popular acceptance" part is given a huge boost when the young, black, nominally-Democrat president keeps insisting everything is awesome and anyone who says otherwise is "peddling fiction".

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:45 pm

I think this paper goes to great lengths to build a question around the ideas of the fairness behind progressive taxation. This post hardly seems to pose a question worthy of study. Our tax systems so much favor Corporations and the wealthy that considerations of "fairness" are at best comical - and I'm not laughing.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell September 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

The most important problem in economics is the widening Gap between the rich and the rest. A solution is: https://mythfighter.com/2014/11/09/a-brief-reference-what-you-need-to-know-when-discussing-economics/

kgw September 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

As William Godwin says, if people actually knew who they were, all would be peaceable…

https://www.amazon.com/Enquiry-Concerning-Political-Justice-Influence-ebook/dp/0140400303/ref=la_B000APJ4OS_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474727648&sr=1-5

From Cold Mountain September 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

Yes, the outcome of self awareness will always be Anarchism. I came be an advocate, not through economics or politics, but thought Buddhism and Daoism. It is a story older than humanity that we are just starting to remember.

So here I am sitting, watching, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:48 pm

What kind of self-knowledge did Hitler find in his imprisonment? It didn't lead to anything I would call peaceable. Was there some inner Hitler he didn't reach in his prison contemplations?

Ivy September 24, 2016 at 10:56 am

If I had only known it was luck, I would not have spent so many late nights in the library during undergrad and grad schools. However, I enjoyed those nights and was enriched by them. Is that taxable?

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Learning must be for its own sake. Like you, I spent many hours in the library. BUT it was to scratch an itch I have not been able to quell - even in these many years since I was in that library.

Norb September 24, 2016 at 11:24 am

Will future generations, if there are any, be able to look back and reflect," what were these people thinking?"

There is no justification for the levels of inequality and environmental destruction we are experiencing. Period. We can all consider ourselves fools, even for entertaining debating these issues much longer. We need to be discussing concrete actions, not theoretical justifications.

Everyone must face the randomness of the universe every day. The only certainty know is the one WE create as human beings- one and together. Why is it do you think that the elite never break ranks. They are creating their own certainty in an uncertain world. Heads I win, tails you loose. TBTF. Race to the bottom. The new normal. Political capture using the revolving door techniques.

Human evolution is racing toward a crisis point. Ending inequality and world conflict are at the focal point of this outcome. Leaders that continue to use the outdated modes of social control will either drive us over the cliff to destruction, or will loose the ability to control outcomes as their numbers dwindle. The day the revelation is made that the elite are full of crap, is the day change becomes possible.

It seems large social structures will always come crashing down. The weakness in human nature and flaws in our social structures lead to eventual failure. Greed and selfish action is seldom tolerated is smaller structures.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I think there will always be inequality between people on many many dimensions. I am constantly humbled by how much I don't know that other people know, people less well educated and I suspect less intelligent - whatever that means - than I am. I celebrate this inequality and sincerely hope this larger knowledge shared with mine and the knowledge of many others will suffice to address the great challenges we face in the all too near future.

HOWEVER - inequality as a matter of power relations - that is different matter. If I were my great great grandson I could never forgive what I have allowed through my cowardice and intent to have a surviving great great grandson - or granddaughter.

sd September 24, 2016 at 11:32 am

I am not sure I really understand the intention of this paper. The example used, that 20% of $90,000 income must be paid in taxes, and then taking surveys of how that distribution should work seems to ignore whether or not the respondents actually understand basic math.

Why do I say this?

The "easy" answer is that Person A pays $15,000 and person B pays $3,000 which is the equivalent of a flat tax. And yet, that's not how most responded. Only 5% selected the easy answer. Which makes me wonder if the targets of the survey even understand basic math.

So I guess I am questioning the questioning….

Vatch September 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Actually the easiest answer is for person A to pay the whole $18,000. He's the one who is getting more money before taxes, and if he pays the $18,000, he's still getting $12,000 more than person B. The "flat tax" is probably the second easiest answer. However, since neither person is doing any tangible work to receive the money, the fairest result is for both to get the same after "taxes". If person A pays $24,000, $18,000 will go to the "state", and $6,000 will go to person B, and both A and B will each get $36,000. Person B can force person A to agree to this, because if they don't agree, then person A only gets $600 and person B gets $300.

If we want to get complicated, then the result should be such that the difference between person A's portion and person B's portion is $300, whether they agree or not. So if they agree, person A would pay $23,850 ($18,000 to the "state" and $5,850 to person B), and person A would get $36,150. In that case, person B would get $35,850. The difference between person A's income and person B's income is $300, just as it would have been if they had not agreed.

Vatch September 24, 2016 at 9:52 pm

The "easy" answer is that Person A pays $15,000 and person B pays $3,000 which is the equivalent of a flat tax.

Wait a minute. 20% of $60,000 is $12,000, and 20% of $30,000 is $6,000. Not $15,000 and $3,000.

Anyhow, I still like my solution where person A pays $23,850.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Why not question the $90K - of income? - instead.

In terms of the money and wealth of the people who run our government and economy, and control and direct our lives and the lives of millions of others - $90K barely registers.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:19 pm

I read this post as questioning the basis for progressive taxation - a rationale for taxation we sorely lack.

knowbuddhau September 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I have little faith in studies like these. My first question is always, "What's a respondent?" Define Person, please.

Notice how they're treated as entirely substitutable standardized parts. That is, as if people were molecules or atoms. But try as it might, social science ain't physics. You can't just grab the nearest few people, sit them down at a keyboard to play your game (for credit? for fun? on assignment?) and then substitute their behavior for the behavior of all people everywhere.

Which people, where, under what conditions, and how many? Was the sample representative? Did the author go to prisons, ghettos, farm fields, etc. and ask them? Or was it proximity and ease of access that defined it?

It's the old "college sophomores in the lab" problem. As an undergrad psych student, I saw time and time again how people gamed the system, yet PhD candidates and professors took the data as gospel. It's only too often more a demonstration of ability to work the method, to play the academic game, than testing hypotheses.

Or I guess as coders say, GIGO.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:23 pm

Also you might ask what meaning to attribute to a questionable measure of human opinions about a concept like "what is fair" in an environment completely dominated by promotion of ideas of fairness which to my mind are quite unfair.

So I agree with you and wonder why you don't pres further.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

This post frames inequality in terms of "fairness" and luck/pluck and treats money as some form of prize in an economic "game". I suppose this way of looking at things works up to a point as long as we look to those below us and congratulate our merit while accepting some greater luck of those above us which help rationalize our merit. But any concepts of fairness or the justice things rapidly fractures if we look past those in our own neighborhood. Riding a bubble through the slums here and elsewhere in the world it becomes very difficult to rationalize justice and merit. Looking in the other direction toward the high rises and gated estates and manifestations of wealth I can't even imagine and the fragments of the fairness or justice of things evaporates completely. The "findings" of this post do not scale - at all.

Aside from the living standard which money/wealth affords the notions of "fairness" "merit" and "luck" this post contemplates there is no discussion of other aspects of money/wealth conveniently passed over and ignored.

In our society our money-culture money/wealth is equated with merit. It packages demand for automatic respect and deference. This pecuniary one-size-fits all measure for character, intellect, excellence, creativity, leadership, even physical attractiveness undermines all these values reducing them to commodities of the marketplace.

But the ability of money/wealth to control and command the lives of others and the collective resources of society is far more pernicious. What concept of "fairness" or "justice" can justify this aspect of inequality?

Emma September 24, 2016 at 9:47 pm

JG – Rogge covers this in his book: "World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Poverty_and_Human_Rights ) using the perfect example of the acquisition and management of natural resources.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Your comment to mine leaves me quizzical. Though I value any comments to mine given my wondering how far I am from what is reasonable - global poverty is far beyond the complexity of anything I might address in my comments. I grant global poverty is not a problem beyond solution - but first we need to address the problems of economic philosophy used to justify and enable the gross inequalities of our world.

I have not read Rogge's book. There are far too many books I have not read and of the books i have read there are far too many I have not really understood. I am also concerned by how little this post seems to have stimulated our commentariat - an entity I have come to greatly respect.

Please elaborate on what you mean. I am concerned by this post's lack of consideration of the political power money/wealth confers - something beyond and to some degree outside considerations of poverty and the suffering inequality fosters - even celebrates.

Adar September 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

My poor non-economist head reels at this article. OK, it's a mind exercise to determine attitudes toward taxation. But it's completely made up – Fig. 1 Tossing a fair coin, doesn't scan for me, it's like a crap game. At the random flip of a coin, A gets twice as much as B, but where did the $18k penalty come from? Is it arbitrary? Why "could" one have to pay more, and who decides? And where did the $24k figure come from? Seems obvious to me A got twice as much, and so should pay 2 out of 3 parts of the penalty. So, re brute luck and tax policy, if inherited wealth or investment income (i.e. rent) vs. wage income is really what's meant here, please say so.

Jeremy Grimm September 24, 2016 at 11:06 pm

I view this post - at least in part - as questioning the basis for a progressive tax rate based on attitudes toward what is "fair" in turn based on a - sorry - hokey experiment to test attitudes about what is fair. To me the problem is a problem of scale. If we're talking about my place opposed to that of the fellow in the house on the hill or the house down the street - I might - on a good day - buy-in to this post's notions about "fairness". Those notions do NOT scale and they don't give any consideration to the powers of control and command which great wealth confers.

What I can accept in the way of inequality between myself and the guy on the hill does NOT scale when the guy on the hill doesn't live on the hill and only owns the house on the hill as a reminder of his lowly beginnings. He lives in a multi-million dollar 10,000 sq. ft. condominium high in New York City and a similar flat in London, and in Tai Pei and Shanghai and Paris and … and lives in none of them really. And I cannot accept the poverty and oppression found in Camden, New Jersey, Southside Chicago, … in Brazilian favelas or the slums of Seoul.

Doug September 25, 2016 at 6:46 am

Perhaps the failure to scale arises from the compounded flaws that, first, this post is all about "I" and speaks not at all to "we"; and, second, as your comments point out, uses money in typical fashion as the lowest common denominator determining utility and fairness when, 'we' demands a focus on the highest not lowest common denominator (and that's not mathematically or logically convenient).
Further, 'we' must be something more meaningful than a mere agglomeration of "I's". Those are at best 'thin we's' easily seduced into theoretical constructs that, in fact, have nothing to do with the actual experience of 'we' in any meaningful way.

Real, 'thick' we's comprised of actual people who persistently interact and truly know they share some to a lot of their shared fates respond to questions of brute luck, fairness and inequality together (whether democratically or otherwise or blends of ways). They don't determine their shared fates with an eye on abstract individualism grounded in lowest common denominators of 'utility'. They actually care about 'what makes most sense for us together' and balk at devices, questions - indeed swindles - aimed at tearing apart the fabric of 'we'.

Sound of the Suburbs September 25, 2016 at 3:47 am

Milton Freidman, the man that wrecked the world with bad economics.

Milton Freidman's charm, energy and charisma seduced his students and global elites alike into believing he had come up with an economics that could transform the world. His students loved the idea of transforming the world through economics as it made them feel so important. Global elites loved his economics as it worked so well for them and gave a scientific backing for a world that was one that they had always wanted.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of problems with his economics that are making themselves felt today.

His economics was missing:

1) The work of the Classical Economists
2) The true nature of money and debt
3) The work of Irving Fischer in the 1930s

The Classical Economists were the first economists to look at and analyse the world around them, a world of small state, raw capitalism.

They noted how the moneyed classes were always rent seeking and looking to maintain themselves in luxury and leisure, through rent and interest. This sucked money out of the productive side of the economy, reducing the purchasing power within the nation.

They noted how the cost of living must be kept low, to keep the basic minimum wage low, so nations could be competitive in the international arena.

This knowledge is missing today.

The UK dream is to live like the idle, rich rentier, with a BTL portfolio extracting "unearned" rental income from the "earned" income of generation rent.

In the US they removed all the things that kept the cost of living down, not realising these costs would have to be covered by wages. The US now has a very high minimum wage due to soaring costs of housing, healthcare and student loans and US businesses are squealing.

The true nature of money and debt were understood in the 1930s when the Chicago Plan was put forward after a thorough investigation into the 1929 bust.

Money and debt are opposite sides of the same coin.
If there is no debt there is no money.
Money is created by loans and destroyed by repayments of those loans.

This knowledge is missing today.

Today's ubiquitous housing boom is like a printing press creating more and more money as the new mortgage debt comes into existence.

The money supply expands and pours into the real economy making everything look really good.

The only thing that is really happening is the inflation of the price of things that exist already, houses. All the debt being created is not productive investment.

The cost of living goes up and more and more money gets sucked into mortgage and rent payments sucking purchasing power out of the economy. The increasing cost of living, raises the basic minimum wage pricing labour out of international labour markets.

Irving Fisher also looked into the 1929 bust and developed a theory of economic crises called debt-deflation, which attributed the crises to the bursting of a credit bubble.

Irving Fisher looked into debt inflated asset bubbles and realised the huge danger they pose to the whole economy. This knowledge is missing today. The ubiquitous housing boom is a debt inflated asset bubble, with huge amounts of debt spread through the whole economy, when it bursts there is hell to pay.

This was first seen in Japan in 1989, its economy has never recovered.

It was repeated in the US and leveraged up with derivatives leading to 2008.

Ireland and Spain have also wrecked their economies with housing bubbles.

There are housing bubbles around the world, ready to burst and pull that nation into debt deflation.

Milton Freidman, the man that wrecked the world with bad economics.

Sound of the Suburbs September 25, 2016 at 5:20 am

Milton Freidman worked at the Chicago School of Economics and was the global ambassador for his dire economics. This dire economics and the University of Chicago were also behind the design of the Euro, no wonder it doesn't work.

"The putative "father of the Euro", economist Robert Mundell is reported to have explained to one of his university of Chicago students, Greg Palast: "the Euro is the easy way in which Congresses and Parliaments can be stripped of all power over monetary and fiscal policy. Bothersome democracy is removed from the economic system" Michael Hudson "Killing the Host"

Their dire economics predicts the Euro-zone economies will converge into a stable equilibrium.

The reality – the economies are diverging and the poorer nations are going under. It's bad. 2008 – How did that happen?

The neoclassical economists didn't have a clue as the Minsky Moment was approaching.

Two people who did see 2008 coming (there aren't many).

Steve Keen – A whole book "Debunking Economics" on this dire neoclassical economics and the problems of not using realistic assumptions on money and debt.

Michael Hudson – Calls it "junk" economics and has written a whole book on the problems of forgetting the world of Classical Economics – Killing the Host.

Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine" goes into the brutality of the Chicago Boys and Berkeley Mafia in implementing their economic vision. A right wing "Khmer Rouge" that descended on developing nations to wipe away left wing thinking.

It's bad and Milton Freidman was behind it.

Skippy September 25, 2016 at 6:20 am

Goes a bit deeper than just the Chicago boys imo…

Marginalist economics tends to be characterised primarily by a couple of distinct axioms that operate 'under the surface' to produce its key results. these are simplistically characterise as: the axiom of methodological individualism; the axiom of methodological instrumentalism; and the axiom of methodological equilibration, where models derived from them have ex-ante predictive power.

This is historically Epicurean philosophy, example, Epicurus wrote,

"The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain. When such pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together."

Which is a reflection of its materialistic atomism which is basically identical with the marginalist focus on atomistic individuals and makes it an atomistic doctrine. Thorstein Veblen where he wrote in his Why is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?:

"The hedonistic conception of man is that of a lightning calculator of pleasure and pains, who oscillates like a homogeneous globule of desire of happiness under the impulse of stimuli that shift him about the area, but leave him intact. He has neither antecedent nor consequent. He is an isolated definitive human datum."

Which in turn is just Epicurean ontology where everything becomes objects and not subjects where Epicurean ethics involves individuals maximising pleasure and minimising pain - or, as the marginalists would put it, maximising utility and minimising disutility - it simply follows from the basic ontological position that is put forward.

Just to put a more modern perspective on it – see: Note that the patient suffering from schizophrenia tends not to answer the questions directed at him but rather responds with complete non-sequiturs.

"In his book, King lays out how economists have tried to establish supposedly disaggregated "microfoundations" with which to rest their macroeconomics upon. The idea here is that Keynesian macroeconomics generally deals with large aggregates of individuals – usually entire national economies – and draws conclusions from these while largely ignoring the actions of individual agents. As King shows in the book, however, the idea that a macro-level analysis requires such microfoundations is itself entirely without foundation. Unfortunately though, since mainstream economists are committed to methodological individualism – that is, they try to explain the world with reference to what they think to be the rules of individual behaviour – they tend to pursue this quest across the board and those who proclaim scepticism about the need for microfoundations can rarely articulate this scepticism as they too are generally wedded to the notion that aggregative behaviour can only be explained with reference to supposedly disaggregated behaviour."

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/philip-pilkington-of-madness-and-microfoundationsm-rational-agents-schizophrenia-and-a-noble-attempt-by-one-noah-smith-to-break-through-the-mirror.html

You might also like – Le Bon, Gustave. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, you can get it free online.

Additionally – The Myth of the Rational Market: Wall Street's Impossible Quest for Predictable Markets – by Justin Fox

Chronicling the rise and fall of the efficient market theory and the century-long making of the modern financial industry, Justin Fox's "The Myth of the Rational Market" is as much an intellectual whodunit as a cultural history of the perils and possibilities of risk. The book brings to life the people and ideas that forged modern finance and investing, from the formative days of Wall Street through the Great Depression and into the financial calamity of today. It's a tale that features professors who made and lost fortunes, battled fiercely over ideas, beat the house in blackjack, wrote bestselling books, and played major roles on the world stage. It's also a tale of Wall Street's evolution, the power of the market to generate wealth and wreak havoc, and free market capitalism's war with itself.

The efficient market hypothesis -- long part of academic folklore but codified in the 1960s at the University of Chicago -- has evolved into a powerful myth. It has been the maker and loser of fortunes, the driver of trillions of dollars, the inspiration for index funds and vast new derivatives markets, and the guidepost for thousands of careers. The theory holds that the market is always right, and that the decisions of millions of rational investors, all acting on information to outsmart one another, always provide the best judge of a stock's value. That myth is crumbling.

Disheveled Marsupial…. Main stream econnomics is an extenuation of much deeper metaphysical and resultant ideological beliefs….

[Sep 24, 2016] Backlash Against Trade Deals: The End of U.S.-Led Economic Globalisation?

Notable quotes:
"... By Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics and Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Originally published at The Frontline ..."
"... President Obama has been a fervent supporter of both these deals, with the explicit aim of enhancing and securing US power. "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy. We should do it today while our economy is in the position of global strength. …We've got to harness it on our terms. If we don't write the rules for trade around the world – guess what? China will!", he famously said in a speech to workers in a Nike factory in Oregon, USA in May 2015. But even though he has made the case for the TPP plainly enough, his only chance of pushing even the TPP through is in the "lame duck" session of Congress just before the November Presidential election in the US. ..."
"... The official US version, expressed on the website of the US Trade Representative, is that the TPP "writes the rules for global trade-rules that will help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class." This is mainly supposed to occur because of the tariff cuts over 18,000 items that have been written into the agreement, which in turn are supposed to lead to significant expansion of trade volumes and values. ..."
"... But this is accepted by fewer and fewer people in the US. Across the country, workers view such trade deals with great suspicion as causing shifts in employment to lower paid workers, mostly in the Global South. ..."
"... But in fact the TPP and the TTIP are not really about trade liberalisation so much as other regulatory changes, so in any case it is hardly surprising that the positive effects on trade are likely to be so limited. What is more surprising is how the entire discussion around these agreements is still framed around the issues relating to trade liberalisation, when these are in fact the less important parts of these agreements, and it is the other elements that are likely to have more negative and even devastating effects on people living in the countries that sign up to them. ..."
"... Three aspects of these agreements are particularly worrying: the intellectual property provisions, the restrictions on regulatory practices and the investor-state dispute settlement provisions ..."
"... All of these would result in significant strengthening of the bargaining power of corporations vis-à-vis workers and citizens, would reduce the power of governments to bring in policies and regulations that affect the profits or curb the power of such corporations ..."
"... So if such features of US-led globalisation are indeed under threat, that is probably a good thing for the people of the US and for people in their trading partners who had signed up for such deals. ..."
"... The question arises: is Trump evil? Or merely awful? If Trump is merely awful, then we are not faced with voting for the Lesser Evil or otherwise voting Third Party in protest. If we are faced with a choice between Evil and Awful, perhaps a vote for Awful is a vote against Evil just by itself. ..."
"... Trump has backpedaled and frontpedaled on virtually everything, but on trade, he's got Sanders-level consistency. He's been preaching the same sanity since the 90s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZpMJeynBeg ..."
"... While I do not disagree with your comments, they must be placed in proper context: there is no substantive difference between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, and the people who staff the campaigns of Trump and Clinton are essentially the same. (Fundamentally a replay of the 2000 election: Cheney/Bush vs. Lieberman/Gore.) ..."
"... Great Comment. Important to knock down the meme that "this is the most significant or important election of our time" - this is a carbon copy of what we have seen half a dozen times since WW2 alone and that's exactly how our elite handlers want it. Limit the choices, stoke fear, win by dividing the plebes. ..."
"... Let's face it, trade without the iron fist of capitalism will benefit us schlobs greatly and not the 1%. I'm all for being against it (TPP etc) and will vote that way. ..."
"... We'd also have put in enough puppet dictators in resource rich countries that we'd be able to get raw materials cheaply. The low labor/raw material cost will provide a significant advantage for exports but alas, our 99% won't be able to afford our own products. ..."
"... the TPP will completely outlaw any possibility of a "Buy America" clause in the future! ..."
"... The cynic in me wonders if under say NAFTA it would be possible for a multinational to sue for lost profits via isds if TPP fails to pass. That the failure to enact trade "liberalizing" legislation could be construed as an active step against trade. the way these things are so ambiguously worded, I wonder. ..."
"... Here's Obama's actual speech at the Nike headquarters (not factory). http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/barackobama/barackobamatradenike.htm ..."
"... It should be noted that the Oregon Democrats who were free traitors and supported fast track authority were called out that day: Bonamici, Blumenauer, Schrader and Wyden. The only Oregon Ds that opposed: Sen. Merkley and Congressman DeFazio. ..."
"... The Market Realist is far more realistic about Oregon's free traitors' votes. http://marketrealist.com/2015/05/trans-pacific-partnership-affects-footwear-firms/ "US tariffs on footwear imported from Vietnam can range from 5% to 40%, according to OTEXA (Office of Textiles and Apparel). Ratification of the TPP will likely result in lower tariffs and higher profitability for Nike." ..."
"... So what's the incentive for Oregon's free traitors to support the TPP now? ..."
"... Perhaps they still need to show loyalty to their corporate owners and to the principle of "free trade". ..."
"... Obama: "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy." ..."
"... Thank you, Mr. President, for resolving any doubts that the American project is an imperialist project! ..."
"... Yes, and I would add a jingoistic one as well. Manifest destiny, the Monroe doctrine, etc. are not just history lessons but are alive and well in the neoliberal mindset. The empire must keep expanding into every nook and cranny of the world, turning them into good consumerist slaves. ..."
"... Funny how little things change over the centuries. ..."
"... The West Is The Best, Subhuman Are All The Rest. The perpetual mantra of the Uebermensch since Columbus first made landfall. Hitler merely sought to apply the same to some Europeans. ..."
"... "How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism", 2015, Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nisancioglu. ..."
"... The Dem candidate's husband made it appallingly clear what the purpose of the TPP is: "It's to make sure the future of the Asia-Pacific region is not dominated by China". ..."
"... Bill Clinton doesn't even care about "the rise of China". That's just a red herring he sets up to accuse opponents of TPP of soft-on-China treasonism. It's just fabricating a stick to beat the TPP-opponents with. Clinton's support for MFN for China shows what he really thinks about the "rise of China". ..."
"... Clinton's real motivation is the same as the TPP's real reason, to reduce America to colonial possession status of the anti-national corporations and the Global OverClass natural persons who shelter behind and within them. ..."
"... Obama. Liar or stupid? When Elizabeth Warren spoke out about the secrecy of the TPP, Obama, uncharacteristically, ran to the cameras to state that the TPP was not secret and that the charge being leveled by Warren was false. Obama's statement was that Warren had access to a copy so how dare she say it was secret. ..."
"... Obama (and Holder) effectively immunized every financial criminal involved in the great fraud and recession without bothering to run for a camera, and to this day has refused and avoided any elaboration on the subject, but he wasted no time trying to bury Warren publicly. The TPP is a continuation of Obama's give-away to corporations, or more specifically, the very important men who run them who Obama works for. And he is going to pull out all stops to deliver to the men he respects. ..."
"... It's a virtual "black market" of "money laundering" (sterilization). In foreign trade, IMPORTS decrease (-) the money stock of the importing country (and are a subtraction to domestic gDp figures), while EXPORTS increase (+) the money stock and domestic gDp (earnings repatriated to the U.S), and the potential money supply, of the exporting country. ..."
"... I don't WANT the US writing the rules of trade any longer. We know what US-written rules do: plunge worker wages into slave labor territory, guts all advanced country's manufacturing capability, sends all high tech manufacturing to 3rd world nations ..."
"... Time to toss the rules and re-write them for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of NON-wealthy and for the benefit of the planet/ecosystems, NOT for benefit of Wall St. ..."
Sep 22, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics and Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Originally published at The Frontline

There is much angst in the Northern financial media about how the era of globalisation led actively by the United States may well be coming to an end. This is said to be exemplified in the changed political attitudes to mega regional trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that was signed (but has not yet been ratified) by the US and 11 other countries in Latin America, Asia and Oceania; and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) still being negotiated by the US and the European Union.

President Obama has been a fervent supporter of both these deals, with the explicit aim of enhancing and securing US power. "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy. We should do it today while our economy is in the position of global strength. …We've got to harness it on our terms. If we don't write the rules for trade around the world – guess what? China will!", he famously said in a speech to workers in a Nike factory in Oregon, USA in May 2015. But even though he has made the case for the TPP plainly enough, his only chance of pushing even the TPP through is in the "lame duck" session of Congress just before the November Presidential election in the US.

However, the changing political currents in the US are making that ever more unlikely. Hardly anyone who is a candidate in the coming elections, whether for the Presidency, the Senate or the House of Representatives, is willing to stick their necks out to back the deal.

Both Presidential candidates in the US (Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton) have openly come out against the TPP. In Clinton's case this is a complete reversal of her earlier position when she had referred to the TPP as "the gold standard of trade deals" – and it has clearly been forced upon her by the insurgent movement in the Democratic Party led by Bernie Sanders. She is already being pushed by her rival candidate for not coming out more clearly in terms of a complete rejection of this deal. Given the significant trust deficit that she still has to deal with across a large swathe of US voters, it will be hard if not impossible for her to backtrack on this once again (as her husband did earlier with NAFTA) even if she does achieve the Presidency.

The official US version, expressed on the website of the US Trade Representative, is that the TPP "writes the rules for global trade-rules that will help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class." This is mainly supposed to occur because of the tariff cuts over 18,000 items that have been written into the agreement, which in turn are supposed to lead to significant expansion of trade volumes and values.

But this is accepted by fewer and fewer people in the US. Across the country, workers view such trade deals with great suspicion as causing shifts in employment to lower paid workers, mostly in the Global South. Even the only US government study of the TPP's likely impacts, by the International Trade Commission, could project at best only 1 per cent increase in exports due to the agreement up to 2032. A study by Jeronim Capaldo and Alex Izurieta with Jomo Kwame Sundaram ("Trading down: Unemployment, inequality and other risks of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement", Working Paper 16-01, Global Development and Environment Institute, January 2016) was even less optimistic, even for the US. It found that the benefits to exports and economic growth were likely to be relatively small for all member countries, and would be negative in the US and Japan because of losses to employment and increases in inequality. Wage shares of national income would decline in all the member countries.

But in fact the TPP and the TTIP are not really about trade liberalisation so much as other regulatory changes, so in any case it is hardly surprising that the positive effects on trade are likely to be so limited. What is more surprising is how the entire discussion around these agreements is still framed around the issues relating to trade liberalisation, when these are in fact the less important parts of these agreements, and it is the other elements that are likely to have more negative and even devastating effects on people living in the countries that sign up to them.

Three aspects of these agreements are particularly worrying:

  1. the intellectual property provisions,
  2. the restrictions on regulatory practices
  3. the investor-state dispute settlement provisions.
Three aspects of these agreements are particularly worrying: the intellectual property provisions, the restrictions on regulatory practices and the investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

All of these would result in significant strengthening of the bargaining power of corporations vis-à-vis workers and citizens, would reduce the power of governments to bring in policies and regulations that affect the profits or curb the power of such corporations

For example, the TPP (and the TTIP) require more stringent enforcement requirements of intellectual property rights: reducing exemptions (e.g. allowing compulsory licensing only for emergencies); preventing parallel imports; extending IPRs to areas like life forms, counterfeiting and piracy; extending exclusive rights to test data (e.g. in pharmaceuticals); making IPR provisions more detailed and prescriptive. The scope of drug patents is extended to include minor changes to existing medications (a practice commonly employed by drug companies, known as "evergreening"). Patent linkages would make it more difficult for many generic drugs to enter markets.

This would strengthen, lengthen and broaden pharmaceutical monopolies on cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS drugs, and in general make even life-saving drugs more expensive and inaccessible in all the member countries. It would require further transformation of countries' laws on patents and medical test data. It would reduce the scope of exemption in use of medical formulations through public procurement for public purposes. All this is likely to lead to reductions in access to drugs and medical procedures because of rising prices, and also impede innovation rather than encouraging it, across member countries.

There are also very restrictive copyright protection rules, that would also affect internet usage as Internet Service Providers are to be forced to adhere to them. There are further restrictions on branding that would reinforce the market power of established players.

The TPP and TTIP also contain restrictions on regulatory practices that greatly increase the power of corporations relative to states and can even prevent states from engaging in countercyclical measures designed to boost domestic demand. It has been pointed out by consumer groups in the USA that the powers of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate products that affect health of citizens could be constrained and curtailed by this agreement. Similarly, macroeconomic stimulus packages that focus on boosting domestic demand for local production would be explicitly prohibited by such agreements.

All these are matters for concern because these agreements enable corporations to litigate against governments that are perceived to be flouting these provisions because of their own policy goals or to protect the rights of their citizens. The Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism enabled by these agreements is seen to be one of their most deadly features. Such litigation is then subject to supranational tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards and which do not see the rights of citizen as in any way superior to the "rights" of corporations to their profits. These courts can conduct closed and secret hearings with secret evidence. They do not just interpret the rules but contribute to them through case law because of the relatively vague wording of the text, which can then be subject to different interpretations, and therefore are settled by case law. The experience thus far with such tribunals has been problematic. Since they are legally based on "equal" treatment of legal persons with no primacy for human rights, they have become known for their pro-investor bias, partly due to the incentive structure for arbitrators, and partly because the system is designed to provide supplementary guarantees to investors, rather than making them respect host countries laws and regulations.

If all these features of the TPP and the TTIP were more widely known, it is likely that there would be even greater public resistance to them in the US and in other countries. Even as it is, there is growing antagonism to the trade liberalisation that is seen to bring benefits to corporations rather than to workers, at a period in history when secure employment is seen to be the biggest prize of all.

So if such features of US-led globalisation are indeed under threat, that is probably a good thing for the people of the US and for people in their trading partners who had signed up for such deals.

human , September 22, 2016 at 10:14 am

… his only chance of pushing even the TPP through is in the "lame duck" session of Congress just before the November Presidential election in the US.

"just _after_ the November Presidential election"

Uahsenaa , September 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

I was watching a speech Premier Li gave at the Economic Club of NY last night, and it was interesting to see how all his (vetted, pre-selected) questions revolved around anxieties having to do with resistance to global trade deals. Li made a few pandering comments about how much the Chinese love American beef (stop it! you're killing me! har har) meant to diffuse those anxieties, but it became clear that the fear among TPTB of people's dissatisfaction with the current economic is palpable. Let's keep it up!

allan , September 22, 2016 at 11:30 am

On a related note:

U.S. Court Throws Out Price-Fixing Judgment Against Chinese Vitamin C Makers [WSJ]

A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out a $147 million civil price fixing judgment against Chinese manufacturers of vitamin C, ruling the companies weren't liable in U.S. courts because they were acting under the direction of Chinese authorities.

The case raised thorny questions of how courts should treat foreign companies accused of violating U.S. antitrust law when they are following mandates of a foreign government. …

"I was only following orders" might not have worked in Nuremberg, but it's a-ok in international trade.

different clue , September 22, 2016 at 3:14 pm

The question arises: is Trump evil? Or merely awful? If Trump is merely awful, then we are not faced with voting for the Lesser Evil or otherwise voting Third Party in protest. If we are faced with a choice between Evil and Awful, perhaps a vote for Awful is a vote against Evil just by itself.

Wellstone's Ghost , September 22, 2016 at 11:22 am

Trump has already back peddaled on his TPP stance. He now says he wants to renegotiate the TTP and other trade deals. Whatever that means. Besides, Trump is a distraction, its Mike Pence you should be keeping your eye on. He's American Taliban pure and simple.

RPDC , September 22, 2016 at 2:27 pm

This is simply false. Trump has backpedaled and frontpedaled on virtually everything, but on trade, he's got Sanders-level consistency. He's been preaching the same sanity since the 90s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZpMJeynBeg

Hillary wants to start a war with Russia and pass the trade trifecta of TPP/TTIP/TiSA.

sgt_doom , September 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm

While I do not disagree with your comments, they must be placed in proper context: there is no substantive difference between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, and the people who staff the campaigns of Trump and Clinton are essentially the same. (Fundamentally a replay of the 2000 election: Cheney/Bush vs. Lieberman/Gore.)

Trump was run to make Hillary look good, but that has turned out to be Mission Real Impossible!

We are seeing the absolute specious political theater at its worst, attempting to differentiate between Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Trumpster – – – the only major difference is that Clinton has far more real blood on her and Bill's hands.

Nope, there is no lesser of evils this time around . . .

Quanka , September 23, 2016 at 8:25 am

Great Comment. Important to knock down the meme that "this is the most significant or important election of our time" - this is a carbon copy of what we have seen half a dozen times since WW2 alone and that's exactly how our elite handlers want it. Limit the choices, stoke fear, win by dividing the plebes.

different clue , September 24, 2016 at 1:00 am

Really? Well . . . might as well vote for Clinton then.

First Woman President!
Feminism!
Liberation!

TedWa , September 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Let's face it, trade without the iron fist of capitalism will benefit us schlobs greatly and not the 1%. I'm all for being against it (TPP etc) and will vote that way.

a different chris , September 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm

>only 1 per cent increase in exports due to the agreement up to 2032.

At that point American's wages will have dropped near enough to Chinese levels that we can compete in selling to First World countries…. assuming there are any left.

oh , September 22, 2016 at 4:19 pm

We'd also have put in enough puppet dictators in resource rich countries that we'd be able to get raw materials cheaply. The low labor/raw material cost will provide a significant advantage for exports but alas, our 99% won't be able to afford our own products.

sgt_doom , September 22, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Naaah, never been about competition, since nobody is actually vetted when they offshore those jobs or replace American workers with foreign visa workers.

But to sum it up as succinctly as possible: the TPP is about the destruction of workers' rights; the destruction of local and small businesses; and the loss of sovereignty. Few Americans are cognizant of just how many businesses are foreign owned today in America; their local energy utility or state energy utility, their traffic enforcement company which was privatized, their insurance company (GEICO, etc.).

I remember when a political action group back in the '00s thought they had stumbled on a big deal when someone had hacked into the system of the Bretton Woods Committee (the lobbyist group for the international super-rich which ONLY communicates with the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader, and who shares the same lobbyist and D.C. office space as the Group of Thirty, the lobbyist group for the central bankers [Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Mario Draghi, Ernesto Zedillo, Bill Dudley, etc., etc.]) and placed online their demand of the senate and the congress to kill the "Buy America" clause in the federal stimulus program of a few years back (it was watered down greatly, and many exemptions were signed by then Commerce Secretary Gary Locke), but such information went completely unnoticed or ignored, and of course, the TPP will completely outlaw any possibility of a "Buy America" clause in the future!

http://www.brettonwoods.org
http://www.group30.org

Arthur J , September 22, 2016 at 12:32 pm

The cynic in me wonders if under say NAFTA it would be possible for a multinational to sue for lost profits via isds if TPP fails to pass. That the failure to enact trade "liberalizing" legislation could be construed as an active step against trade. the way these things are so ambiguously worded, I wonder.

Carla , September 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm

In June 2016, "[TransCanada] filed an arbitration claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over President Obama's rejection of the pipeline, making good on its January threat to take legal action against the US decision.

According to the official request for arbitration, the $15 billion tab is supposed to help the company recover costs and damages that it suffered "as a result of the US administration's breach of its NAFTA obligations." NAFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico that went into effect in January 1, 1994. Under the agreement, businesses can challenge governments over investment disputes.

In addition, the company filed a suit in US Federal Court in Houston, Texas in January asserting that the Obama Administration exceeded the power granted by the US Constitution in denying the project."

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/transcanada_complains_nafta_sues_us_15_bn_keystone_xl_rejection/

Six states have since joined that federal law suit.

Kris Alman , September 22, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Here's Obama's actual speech at the Nike headquarters (not factory). http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/barackobama/barackobamatradenike.htm

It should be noted that the Oregon Democrats who were free traitors and supported fast track authority were called out that day: Bonamici, Blumenauer, Schrader and Wyden. The only Oregon Ds that opposed: Sen. Merkley and Congressman DeFazio.

Obama's rhetoric May 5, 2015 at the Nike campus was all about how small businesses would prosper. Congresswoman Bonamici clings to this rationale in her refusal to tell angry constituents at town halls whether she supports the TPP.

The Market Realist is far more realistic about Oregon's free traitors' votes. http://marketrealist.com/2015/05/trans-pacific-partnership-affects-footwear-firms/
"US tariffs on footwear imported from Vietnam can range from 5% to 40%, according to OTEXA (Office of Textiles and Apparel). Ratification of the TPP will likely result in lower tariffs and higher profitability for Nike."

That appeals to the other big athletic corporations that cluster in the Portland metro: Columbia Sportswear and Under Armour.

A plot twist!

Vietnam will not include ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the agenda for its next parliament session. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/1087705/vietnam-delays-tpp-vote So what's the incentive for Oregon's free traitors to support the TPP now?

Vatch , September 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

So what's the incentive for Oregon's free traitors to support the TPP now?

Perhaps they still need to show loyalty to their corporate owners and to the principle of "free trade".

hemeantwell , September 22, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Obama: "We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy."

Thank you, Mr. President, for resolving any doubts that the American project is an imperialist project!

ChrisFromGeorgia , September 22, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Yes, and I would add a jingoistic one as well. Manifest destiny, the Monroe doctrine, etc. are not just history lessons but are alive and well in the neoliberal mindset. The empire must keep expanding into every nook and cranny of the world, turning them into good consumerist slaves.

Funny how little things change over the centuries.

Brad , September 22, 2016 at 9:39 pm

The West Is The Best, Subhuman Are All The Rest. The perpetual mantra of the Uebermensch since Columbus first made landfall. Hitler merely sought to apply the same to some Europeans.

"How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism", 2015, Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nisancioglu.

Minnie Mouse , September 22, 2016 at 3:58 pm

When America writes the rules of the global economy the global economy destroys America.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , September 22, 2016 at 7:44 pm

The Dem candidate's husband made it appallingly clear what the purpose of the TPP is: "It's to make sure the future of the Asia-Pacific region is not dominated by China".

Would be nice if they had even a passing thought for those people in a certain North American region located in between Canada and Mexico.

different clue , September 23, 2016 at 1:40 am

Bill Clinton doesn't even care about "the rise of China". That's just a red herring he sets up to accuse opponents of TPP of soft-on-China treasonism. It's just fabricating a stick to beat the TPP-opponents with. Clinton's support for MFN for China shows what he really thinks about the "rise of China".

Clinton's real motivation is the same as the TPP's real reason, to reduce America to colonial possession status of the anti-national corporations and the Global OverClass natural persons who shelter behind and within them.

different clue , September 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

If calling the International Free Trade Conspiracy "American" is enough to get it killed and destroyed, then I don't mind having a bunch of foreigners calling the Free Trade Conspiracy "American". Just as long as they are really against it, and can really get Free Trade killed and destroyed.

Chauncey Gardiner , September 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Excellent post. Thank you. Should these so called "trade agreements" be approved, perhaps Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS arbitration) futures can be created by Wall Street and made the next speculative "Play-of-the-day" so that everyone has a chance to participate in the looting. … Btw, can you loot your own house?

KYrocky , September 22, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Obama. Liar or stupid? When Elizabeth Warren spoke out about the secrecy of the TPP, Obama, uncharacteristically, ran to the cameras to state that the TPP was not secret and that the charge being leveled by Warren was false. Obama's statement was that Warren had access to a copy so how dare she say it was secret.

At the time he made that statement Warren could go to an offsite location to read the TPP in the presence of a member of the Trade Commission, could not have staff with her, could not take notes, and could not discuss anything she read with anyone else after she left. Or face criminal charges.

Yeah. Nothing secret about that.

Obama (and Holder) effectively immunized every financial criminal involved in the great fraud and recession without bothering to run for a camera, and to this day has refused and avoided any elaboration on the subject, but he wasted no time trying to bury Warren publicly. The TPP is a continuation of Obama's give-away to corporations, or more specifically, the very important men who run them who Obama works for. And he is going to pull out all stops to deliver to the men he respects.

sgt_doom , September 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm

And add to that everything from David Dayen's book (" Chain of Title ") on Covington & Burling and Eric Holder and President Obama, and Thomas Frank's book ("Listen, Liberals") and people will have the full picture!

Spencer , September 22, 2016 at 9:50 pm

It's a virtual "black market" of "money laundering" (sterilization). In foreign trade, IMPORTS decrease (-) the money stock of the importing country (and are a subtraction to domestic gDp figures), while EXPORTS increase (+) the money stock and domestic gDp (earnings repatriated to the U.S), and the potential money supply, of the exporting country.

So, there's a financial incentive (to maximize profits), not to repatriate foreign income (pushes up our exchange rate, currency conversion costs, if domestic re-investment alternatives are considered more circumscribed, plus taxes, etc.).

In spite of the surfeit of $s, and E-$ credits, and unlike the days in which world-trade required a Marshall Plan jump start, trade surpluses increasingly depend on the Asian Tiger's convertibility issues.

Praedor , September 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

I don't WANT the US writing the rules of trade any longer. We know what US-written rules do: plunge worker wages into slave labor territory, guts all advanced country's manufacturing capability, sends all high tech manufacturing to 3rd world nations or even (potential) unfriendlies like China (who can easily put trojan spyware hard code or other vulnerabilities into critical microchips…the way WE were told the US could/would when it was leading on this tech when I was serving in the 90s). We already know that US-written rules is simply a way for mega corporations to extend patents into the ever-more-distant future, a set of rules that hands more control of arts over to the MPAA, rules that gut environmental laws, etc. Who needs the US-written agreements when this is the result?

Time to toss the rules and re-write them for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of NON-wealthy and for the benefit of the planet/ecosystems, NOT for benefit of Wall St.

[Sep 24, 2016] Obama, Our Peace President Turns Out to Be Rather War-Happy

Notable quotes:
"... That Makes Me Mad!, ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... You must be kidding! ..."
"... Thanks for writing this article; it corroborates everything I've been saying about Obama's lust for war and destabilization. You could have mentioned the Pentagon currently has JSOC kill teams in 147 countries, per Noam Chomsky. You also could have mentioned the US is the most feared force on the global stage, feared, that is, by actual citizens, not so much by their leaders. ..."
"... Years ago Glen Ford of "Black Agenda Report" correctly referred to this shameless sellout as "the more effective evil". The implication was that the perception created by his propagandists that Obama is a committed Democrat who is just trying to do his best against a obstructionist Congress and right-wing media is false. ..."
"... Barry the Liar is an enthusiastic member of the MIC, Wall Street, and the oligarchs. He has actually expanded the powers of the President and the National Security State that we live in and even claims the right to kill an American citizen without trial! When George Carlin said - "I don't believe anything my government tells me" he could have been talking about this shill for the TPB. ..."
"... Yes, why isn't anyone in the mass media picking up on this obvious hypocrisy? For the same reasons it never picks up on anything else of importance - it's controlled. ..."
"... Obama has been one of the most hypocritical presidents ever elected. ..."
"... Obama got his start in politics with money from the family that owns Grumman, and he's been dancing to their tune ever since. ..."
"... Obama sold out on the left. In reality, he was paid from day one to do exactly that. He was literally the ultimate snake oil salesman. Campaign on a platform of change and govern like Bush won 2 more terms. ..."
"... If Obama is the best the Democrats can come up with, then it is high time the left en masse left the Democratic Party. It's one big reason why I cannot support Clinton, who will be even more pro-war. It's a vote for more of the same. ..."
"... And, Hillary Clump was the biggest war monger in his misadministration. As for the nukes, I recently drove by a minuteman nuclear missile silo in Wyoming, you can see the damn thing right there by the road. ..."
Sep 23, 2016 | www.alternet.org/TomDispatch

Recently, sorting through a pile of old children's books, I came across a volume, That Makes Me Mad!, which brought back memories. Written by Steve Kroll, a long-dead friend, it focused on the eternally frustrating everyday adventures of Nina, a little girl whose life regularly meets commonplace roadblocks, at which point she always says... well, you can guess from the title! Vivid parental memories of another age instantly flooded back-of my daughter (now reading such books to her own son) sitting beside me at age five and hitting that repeated line with such mind-blowing, ear-crushing gusto that you knew it spoke to the everyday frustrations of her life, to what made her mad.

Three decades later, in an almost unimaginably different America, on picking up that book I suddenly realized that, whenever I follow the news online, on TV, or-and forgive me for this but I'm 72 and still trapped in another era-on paper, I have a similarly Nina-esque urge. Only the line I've come up with for it is (with a tip of the hat to Steve Kroll) " You must be kidding! "

Here are a few recent examples from the world of American-style war and peace. Consider these as random illustrations, given that, in the age of Trump, just about everything that happens is out-of-this-world absurd and would serve perfectly well. If you're in the mood, feel free to shout out that line with me as we go.

Nuking the Planet: I'm sure you remember Barack Obama, the guy who entered the Oval Office pledging to work toward "a nuclear-free world." You know, the president who traveled to Prague in 2009 to say stirringly : "So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons... To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same." That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize largely for what he might still do, particularly in the nuclear realm. Of course, that was all so 2009!

Almost two terms in the Oval Office later, our peace president, the only one who has ever called for nuclear "abolition"-and whose administration has retired fewer weapons in our nuclear arsenal than any other in the post-Cold War era-is now presiding over the early stages of a trillion-dollar modernization of that very arsenal. (And that trillion-dollar price tag comes, of course, before the inevitable cost overruns even begin.) It includes full-scale work on the creation of a "precision-guided" nuclear weapon with a "dial-back" lower yield option. Such a weapon would potentially bring nukes to the battlefield in a first-use way, something the U.S. is proudly pioneering .

And that brings me to the September 6th front-page story in the New York Times that caught my eye. Think of it as the icing on the Obama era nuclear cake. Its headline : "Obama Unlikely to Vow No First Use of Nuclear Weapons." Admittedly, if made, such a vow could be reversed by any future president. Still, reportedly for fear that a pledge not to initiate a nuclear war would "undermine allies and embolden Russia and China... while Russia is running practice bombing runs over Europe and China is expanding its reach in the South China Sea," the president has backed down on issuing such a vow. In translation: the only country that has ever used such weaponry will remain on the record as ready and willing to do so again without nuclear provocation, an act that, it is now believed in Washington, would create a calmer planet.

You must be kidding!

Plain Old Bombing: Recall that in October 2001, when the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. was bombing no other largely Islamic country. In fact, it was bombing no other country at all. Afghanistan was quickly "liberated," the Taliban crushed, al-Qaeda put to flight, and that was that , or so it then seemed.

On September 8th, almost 15 years later, the Washington Post reported that, over a single weekend and in a "flurry" of activity, the U.S. had dropped bombs on, or fired missiles at, six largely Islamic countries: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. (And it might have been seven if the CIA hadn't grown a little rusty when it comes to the drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal borderlands that it's launched repeatedly throughout these years.) In the same spirit, the president who swore he would end the U.S. war in Iraq and, by the time he left office, do the same in Afghanistan, is now overseeing American bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria which are loosing close to 25,000 weapons a year on those countries. Only recently, in order to facilitate the further prosecution of the longest war in our history, the president who announced that his country had ended its "combat mission" in Afghanistan in 2014, has once again deployed the U.S. military in a combat role and has done the same with the U.S. Air Force . For that, B-52s (of Vietnam infamy) were returned to action there, as well as in Iraq and Syria , after a decade of retirement. In the Pentagon, military figures are now talking about " generational " war in Afghanistan-well into the 2020s.

Meanwhile, President Obama has personally helped pioneer a new form of warfare that will not long remain a largely American possession. It involves missile-armed drones, high-tech weapons that promise a world of no-casualty-conflict (for the American military and the CIA), and adds up to a permanent global killing machine for taking out terror leaders, "lieutenants," and "militants." Well beyond official American war zones, U.S. drones regularly cross borders, infringing on national sovereignty throughout the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, to assassinate anyone the president and his colleagues decide needs to die, American citizen or otherwise (plus, of course, anyone who happens to be in the vicinity ). With its White House "kill list" and its "terror Tuesday" meetings, the drone program, promising "surgical" hunting-and-killing action, has blurred the line between war and peace, while being normalized in these years. A president is now not just commander-in-chief but assassin-in-chief , a role that no imaginable future president is likely to reject. Assassination, previously an illegal act, has become the heart and soul of Washington's way of life and of a way of war that only seems to spread conflict further.

You must be kidding!

The Well-Oiled Machinery of Privatized War: And speaking of drones, as the New York Times reported on September 5th, the U.S. drone program does have one problem: a lack of pilots. It has ramped up quickly in these years and, in the process, the pressures on its pilots and other personnel have only grown, including post-traumatic stress over killing civilians thousands of miles away via computer screen. As a result, the Air Force has been losing those pilots fast. Fortunately, a solution is on the horizon. That service has begun filling its pilot gap by going the route of the rest of the military in these years-turning to private contractors for help. Such pilots and other personnel are, however, paid higher salaries and cost more money. The contractors, in turn, have been hiring the only available personnel around, the ones trained by... yep, you guessed it, the Air Force. The result may be an even greater drain on Air Force drone pilots eager for increased pay for grim work and... well, I think you can see just how the well-oiled machinery of privatized war is likely to work here and who's going to pay for it.

You must be kidding!

Selling Arms As If There Were No Tomorrow: In a recent report for the Center for International Policy, arms expert William Hartung offered a stunning figure on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. "Since taking office in January 2009," he wrote , "the Obama administration has offered over $115 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia in 42 separate deals, more than any U.S. administration in the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The majority of this equipment is still in the pipeline, and could tie the United States to the Saudi military for years to come." Think about that for a moment: $115 billion for everything from small arms to tanks, combat aircraft, cluster bombs , and air-to-ground missiles (weaponry now being used to slaughter civilians in neighboring Yemen).

Of course, how else can the U.S. keep its near monopoly on the global arms trade and ensure that two sets of products-Hollywood movies and U.S. weaponry-will dominate the world's business in things that go boom in the night? It's a record to be proud of, especially since putting every advanced weapon imaginable in the hands of the Saudis will obviously help bring peace to a roiled region of the planet. (And if you arm the Saudis, you better do no less for the Israelis, hence the mind-boggling $38 billion in military aid the Obama administration recently signed on to for the next decade, the most Washington has ever offered any country, ensuring that arms will be flying into the Middle East, literally and figuratively, for years to come.)

Blessed indeed are the peacemakers-and of course you know that by "peacemaker" I mean the classic revolver that "won the West."

Put another way...

You must be kidding!

.... .... ....

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture . He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com . His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World .
Selected commnets (117 COMMENTS)
Papachuck111 2 hours ago
I've spelled his name "Obomba" after his second year in office. Bush had "Shock and Awe"... Obomba has "Stealth and Wealth"... The American economy has been a WAR ECONOMY for a long time. But hey, we're freeeeeeeeee… freedom isn't free, and all that other bullshit.
RadioUranus 2 hours ago
It's been all downhill since "Brer Rabbit" Bush got into it with the Middle East "tar baby."
Palimpsestuous 2 hours ago
Aw shucks, Tom, you been reading my posts? Thanks for writing this article; it corroborates everything I've been saying about Obama's lust for war and destabilization. You could have mentioned the Pentagon currently has JSOC kill teams in 147 countries, per Noam Chomsky. You also could have mentioned the US is the most feared force on the global stage, feared, that is, by actual citizens, not so much by their leaders.

President Obama's 58% approval tells me the American public are largely bloodthirsty savages led by a psychopath in pursuit of global tyranny. Either that, or 58% of Americans would rather play Goldilocks and the Three Bears with their political attention than accept responsibility for their part in destroying human civilization.

"Thanks. I'll take the tall, smiling psychopath, second from the right. He looks presidential."

The end of our democracy coincides with the end of our being an informed public. Who could have ever anticipated such a coincidence, but everyone with a passing awareness of history.

southvalley Palimpsestuous an hour ago
Nah, the American people have really no idea what's going on as we try to survive this BS. Most still think we actually have a Constitution. Remember, we wanted an "outsider" in '08 too a new face and he turned out to be silly putty in they're hands. Oh, I just heard Jennifer Flowers is coming to the debates to support Trump. Wonder how much they paid that POS liar
Bill 2 hours ago
No one who has the common sense to say he'll work for a nuclear weapons-free world changes his mind. He either never meant what he said, or he's been compromised by those who control all things political and otherwise in this country. I'm betting on the latter.
Palimpsestuous Bill 2 hours ago
I'll take that bet, even if there's no way to verify who wins. I think Obama's been a duplicitous scumbag from the get go. He's demonstrated a consistently strong dedication to fucking the public while protecting the professional class of mobsters in suits.

And I voted for this asshole, twice. Options, options. Are there any options?

AC3 3 hours ago
These types of articles are why I used to value AlterNet as a source of information. Thank you - it was informative and had a human touch. Your overt trying to manipulate and sway an election with bias overload is tiresome. The HRC/3rd party candidate blackout and 24/7 turbo train of anti-Trump is insulting our intelligence and not effective. You're preaching to the choir, we get it, Trump is psycho, but so is Clinton in her own awful & well established way - just like Obama was, and Bush before that, and Clinton before him, and Bush before... If you want to be 'Alter'native, tell the truth about ALL the candidates and report on the machinations behind the Plutocracy + how we can create an alternative is helpful, enough with the Huffpo-Salon DNC propaganda headquarters.

kyushuphil AC3 2 hours ago

America pushes war on the world through its materialism hegemon.

It's a long-running, vicious war. Tens of millions alone forced from their traditional cultures in Asia, Africa, and Latin America -- simply by a heavily-subsidized U.S. Industrial Ag which underprices commodity crops and kills those local cultures.

Then the big finance boys with their shopping malls, nukes, franchise fast food, and millions upon millions of cars choking the land, poisoning the skies.
U.S. corporate academe could provide alternatives to the mindless materialism. Could keep the humanities central enough in all departments to keep some wider consciences among Americans who for years have been blissfully blind and narcissistic about its war on the world.

The tenured classes will have none of it. They abhor the humanities. They want no perspectives on their specializations.

And so liberals, ever blind to their corporate academe, pop up occasionally "shocked, shocked" at what the U.S. pushes on the world. But the complicity goes on. The blindness goes on.

Don't you think there's something funny about this, as Kate asked her boy Cal in "East of Eden" -- funny how our dear, smug, tenured, dehumanized purists live so totally in their "purity"?

nuanced 3 hours ago
If only Obama had Trump's magic wand for getting things done.
brucebennett 3 hours ago
Years ago Glen Ford of "Black Agenda Report" correctly referred to this shameless sellout as "the more effective evil". The implication was that the perception created by his propagandists that Obama is a committed Democrat who is just trying to do his best against a obstructionist Congress and right-wing media is false.

We have seen repeatedly that the truth is quite different. Barry the Liar is an enthusiastic member of the MIC, Wall Street, and the oligarchs. He has actually expanded the powers of the President and the National Security State that we live in and even claims the right to kill an American citizen without trial! When George Carlin said - "I don't believe anything my government tells me" he could have been talking about this shill for the TPB.

When Mr. Nobel Peace Prize creates even more war and also tells you that President Hillary Clinton would be "continuity you can believe in" I am having none of it. For at least 30 years this Republican Lite party have devolved into the sorry state they are now. I will not assist them to go even further and wreck what is left of the American Dream.
Stein 2016!

Bill denton310 2 hours ago
Yes, why isn't anyone in the mass media picking up on this obvious hypocrisy? For the same reasons it never picks up on anything else of importance - it's controlled.

Now explain why anyone should pay attention to any more articles about what Trump or Clinton just came out with. It just doesn't matter any more.

For_Alternet 4 hours ago
Obama has been one of the most hypocritical presidents ever elected.
tio che 200YearOldJuniper 3 hours ago
Murder is murder, obomber is as guilty as bush/cheney and their lackeys, rice and killary, of terrorist crimes against humanity!
H. M. 4 hours ago
Just think, this is the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama; now, just imagine the neoliberal neocon Hillary at the helm of the war machine!

I'm afraid it will be check-mate for Humanity as we know it!

MYR 5 hours ago
The so-called "peace President" should return his Nobel Prize award immediately, so as not to slander the good intentions of Alfred Nobel.
Promoting wars, supporting war hawks, deploying drones to kill people in sovereign states, selling weapons to tyrannical governments are destructive ideas that Alfred Nobel had sought to counteract.

Sid Samsara 5 hours ago

Oh no, this isn't true. Obama has been playing 11th dimensional chess as policy for the last eight years and let me tell you, folks inhabiting the11th dimension are pretty dam happy with their universal health care, peaceful foreign policy and prosperous for all economy.
DHFabian 6 hours ago
I've personally drifted between "Seriously?" and knowing that there's really not much left to say. Deep into the longest, most expensive war in US history, we don't exactly see massive anti-war protests, people filling the mall in DC to call for peace, churches organizing prayer rallies in the name of the Prince of Peace. Walter Cronkite is gone, and the horrors of war doesn't come into our living rooms each evening. The war is distant, sterile, tidy.

Which decisions are made by Congress, which are made by the president, and in the end, does it matter? America does war. We can no longer afford to do much else, and more importantly, there appears to be little will to change course. Americans can look at the federal budget, see that the lion's share goes into maintaining war, then demand that Congress cut food stamps. (Indeed, in 2015, Congress cut food stamps to the elderly poor and the disabled from $115 per month to $10.)

Budgets stand as a statement about American priorities. There is an endless strream of money for war, but none for the survival of our poor. The progressive discussion of the last eight years can be summed up as an ongoing pep rally for the middle class, with an occasional "BLM!" thrown in for good measure. A revolution to stay the course.

Redacted 8 hours ago
Obama got his start in politics with money from the family that owns Grumman, and he's been dancing to their tune ever since.

Clump, OTOH, takes money from every single MIC source, neocon source, billionaire nutty Israeli warmonger, Saudi warmonger, Central American dictator, even down to lowly death squad commendates, etc etc -and she's extremely well connected to all of them by now I imagine.

This is a person who wants both direct involvement in killing, has already done so from her phone, and enjoys the power of being a merchant of death, I predict she will be the among the most war like and worst presidents ever selected- if not the worst one ever.

tio che Redacted 5 hours ago
Dark days ahead for imperialist amerika; and sadly for the rest of the World; as the empire's death dealing is global!
Christie 8 hours ago
If you think Obama was war happy, you do not want to see war hawk Hillary in action as President.

The debate should be about issues-Hillary would apparently rather talk about sexism that her war hawk record. Trump wants to emphasis tending to America's needs and says we should stop empire building.

"Lies (in which Clinton was deeply complicit) led to the U.S.-led destruction of Iraq and Libya. Lies underlie U.S. policy on Syria. Some of the biggest liars in past efforts to hoodwink the people into supporting more war (Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz) are backing Hillary, whose Washington Post Pinocchio count is "sky-high," for president.

The US Election: an Exercise in Mendacity (untruthfulness) http://www.counterpunch.org/20...
*****************
The Clintons do not want anyone to even mention their corrupt involvement in Haiti:

"The Clinton exploitation of Haiti will eventually go up in flames, and when the smoke settles an emotional and fiscal disaster of enormous proportions will finally be visible to the world. It will be difficult to sift through the ashes to find truth, but the truth is there. Follow the money, follow the pandering, follow the emails, and follow the favors traded for gold.

"The story ends in more pain, suffering, and abuse for the Haitian people as women are sexually harassed and verbally abused by Korean managers in the sweatshops of Caracol, while a former Gap Inc. executive is at the helm of USAID garment industry agreements with Haiti. If the Clinton connections to Wall Street leave Americans yawning, the systematic exploitation of Haitian workers with a wink and a nod from the Clinton Foundation should at the very least create outrage. But then again, this is Haiti, and Haitian lives do not seem to matter.

Recently Leaked Documents Confirm Clinton Haitian Gold Scheme | OpEdNews
http://www.opednews.com/articl...

NoldorElf 8 hours ago
Obama sold out on the left. In reality, he was paid from day one to do exactly that. He was literally the ultimate snake oil salesman. Campaign on a platform of change and govern like Bush won 2 more terms.

The wars went on, the bankers got bailed out and didn't go jail, inequality rose, along with a total failure to address any of the real problems facing society.

If Obama is the best the Democrats can come up with, then it is high time the left en masse left the Democratic Party. It's one big reason why I cannot support Clinton, who will be even more pro-war. It's a vote for more of the same.

DHFabian NoldorElf 5 hours ago
What left? Seriously. We've only heard from liberals who Stand in Solidarity to preserve the advantages of the middle class. They so strongly believe in the success of our corporate state that they think everyone is able to work, and there are jobs for all. If we had a left, they would have been shining a spotlight on our poverty crisis as the proof that our deregulated capitalism is a dismal failure.

The "inequality" discussion has been particularly interesting. Pay attention to what is said. Today's liberal media have narrowed the inequality discussion to the gap between workers and the rich, disappearing all those who are far worse off.

kyushuphil DHFabian 2 hours ago
True, so onerously true what you say, DH.

Does it happen by accident, when our tenured classes have stripped away the humanities from all, guaranteeing what you term narrow discussion?

Redacted 8 hours ago
And, Hillary Clump was the biggest war monger in his misadministration. As for the nukes, I recently drove by a minuteman nuclear missile silo in Wyoming, you can see the damn thing right there by the road.

Very sad that instead of reducing these as he promised to, this idiot modernized them and added more.

Lord Dude Redacted 8 hours ago
Clinton and Kerry voted to invade Iraq and Obama rewards them with the Sec State jobs.
DHFabian Lord Dude 5 hours ago
And the media marketed to liberals began going all out in 2015, before she launched her campaign, to try to sell Clinton as a "bold progressive." This, with her decades-long record of support for the right wing agenda.

Oh well, don't worry about it. As Big Bill so carefully explained, all that any American needs to keep in mind is, "Get up every morning, work hard, and play by all the rules." Don't look around, don't ask questions, don't think.

Redacted Lord Dude 8 hours ago
And now she will be rewarded by the MIC and neocons with the ultimate prize - the white house.
Lord Dude Redacted 8 hours ago
She lacked the courage to filibuster the Iraq Resolution and tell the truth to the American people that they were being lied into a needless war that would waste trillions of their money. And now she's being rewarded. SMH.

Redacted Lord Dude 7 hours ago

She had no wish to filibuster this anymore than the Trojan horse Bernie Sanders wanted to filibuster her drone attacks later on.
Lord Dude 8 hours ago
He will be the first president to have been at war for two complete terms.

And he went into Syria and Libya without permission of Congress. Not even W did that.

taosword 8 hours ago
Many say that Obama's hands are tied in all these matters, and that he cannot get anything past the Congress. I am not sure about that. I would like to see more of a public fighter in him to show us all that he is consistently trying to get us out of the Mideast and not modernize nuclear weapons and not be willing to use them first, and stop this insane, immoral, illegal CIA drone assassination program. Show me strong consistent public statements to this effect for the last 7 years and I may believe it. Otherwise he is like president Johnson who while doing good civil rights things at home was trying to get me killed in Vietnam.
avelna 9 hours ago
Or, to put it more succinctly...We're f**cked. The whole world.
southvalley 9 hours ago
Classic "We must destroy the world in order to save it"
nineteen50 9 hours ago
Vote Hillary for more of the same only "muscled up"
Hometalk222 10 hours ago
How did an article about Obama and nuclear weapons , turn into a hit piece on D Trump??? Oh yeah, this is Alternet.
smkngman3 10 hours ago
Obama learned from the Clintons on how to get those "Foundation" checks rolling in.
David Shaw Jr 10 hours ago
His "peace prize" should be repossessed.

[Sep 24, 2016] Americas Deadliest Export Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else

Notable quotes:
"... "If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State." ..."
Amazon.com

Gary Corseri

William Blum's "Cri de Coeur", February 9, 2013

William Blum's Cri de Coeur
A review of "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy" by William Blum (Zed Books, London/New York, 2013.)

(As it has appeared at DissidentVoice, OpEdNews, etc.):

In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring:

"If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State."

Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:

"If I were... president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize... to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions... have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but... a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. ... That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."

Unfortunately, Blum never made it to the White House! But, fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.

America's Deadliest... is divided into 21 chapters and an introduction--and there's something to underline or memorize on every page! Sometimes it's just one of Blum's irrepressible quips, and sometimes it's a matter of searing American foreign or domestic policiy that clarifies that Bushwhackian question of yore: "Why do they hate us?"

Reading this scrupulously documented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!

Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest ... is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.

Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:

  1. Why they hate us;
  2. America means well;
  3. We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
  4. We will use whatever means necessary--including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.

Along the way, we get glimpses of Blum's experientially rich life. A note "About the Author" tells us that, "He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital."

In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."

America's Deadliest... is a book of wisdom and wit that ponders "how this world became so unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid?" In a pointillistic approach, sowing aphoristic seeds for thought, Blum enumerates instances of that cruelty, often with wry, pained commentary. "War can be seen as America's religion," he tells us. Reflecting on Obama's octupling Bush's number of drones used to assassinate, collaterally kill and terrorize, he affirms:

"Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left." And, he avers, "Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." And then turns around and reminds us--lest we forget--how the mass media have invaded our lives, with memes about patriotism, democracy, God, the "good life": "Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America's young people to fight a foreign war to defend `capitalism'?" he wonders.

"The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved references now are to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise."

Cynthia McKinney writes that the book is "corruscating, eye-opening, and essential." Oliver Stone calls it a "fireball of terse information."
Like Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Cindy Sheehan and Bradley Manning, Blum is committed to setting the historical record straight. His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable "truths" one has taken for granted--often since childhood--are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed. One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: "`We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly,'" Powell said. "`We must have a brute demonstration of power.'

Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! ... Stay strong! ... Kill them! ... We are going to wipe them out!'"

Blum's intellectual resources are as keen as anyone's writing today. He also adds an ample measure of humanity to his trenchant critiques. He juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of our professed values with the mordant facts of our deeds. The cognitive dissonance makes for a memorable, very unpretty picture of how an immensely privileged people lost themselves, while gorging on junk food, junk politics, junk economics, junk education, junk media. Like an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, he lambastes his own--us!--flaying layers of hypocrisy and betrayals while seeking to reveal the core values of human dignity, empathy and moral rectitude.

Gary Corseri has published and posted prose, poetry and dramas at hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide, including CommonDreams, Countercurrents, BraveNewWorld.in, OpEdNews, CounterPunch, Outlook India, The New York Times, Dissident Voice. He has published novels, poetry collections and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been presented on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. He has taught in US public schools and prisons, and at American and Japanese universities. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

[Sep 24, 2016] Down With Western Democracy !

Notable quotes:
"... German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'. ..."
"... And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom. ..."
"... This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language. ..."
Aug 02, 2014 | CounterPunch

A specter is haunting Europe and Western world - it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.

As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.

By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one's motherland was and is a sign of extremism.

German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as 'democratic', and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as 'democracies'.

And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing 'rebellious' states into the ground. All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom.

An unelected monster, as it has done for centuries, is playing with the world, torturing some, and plundering others, or both.

The West, in a final act of arrogance, has somehow confused itself with its own concept of God. It has decided that it has the full right to shape the planet, to punish and to reward, to destroy and rebuild as it wishes.

This horrible wave of terror unleashed against our planet, is justified by an increasingly meaningless but fanatically defended dogma, symbolized by a box (made of card or wood, usually), and masses of people sticking pieces of paper into the opening on the top of that box.

This is the altar of Western ideological fundamentalism. This is a supreme idiocy that cannot be questioned, as it guarantees the status quo for ruling elites and business interests, an absurdity that justifies all crimes, all lies and all madness.

This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language.

***

In our latest book, "On Western Terrorism – from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare", Noam Chomsky commented on the 'democratic' process in the Western world:

"The goal of elections now is to undermine democracy. They are run by the public relations industry and they're certainly not trying to create informed voters who'll make rational choices. They are trying to delude people into making irrational choices. The same techniques that are used to undermine markets are used to undermine democracy. It's one of the major industries in the country and its basic workings are invisible."

But what is it that really signifies this 'sacred' word, this almost religious term, and this pinnacle of Western demagogy? We hear it everywhere. We are ready to sacrifice millions of lives (not ours of course, at least not yet, but definitely lives of the others) in the name of it.

Democracy!

All those grand slogans and propaganda! Last year I visited Pyongyang, but I have to testify that North Koreans are not as good at slogans as the Western propagandists are.

"In the name of freedom and democracy!" Hundreds of millions tons of bombs fell from the sky on the Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside… bodies were burned by napalm, mutilated by spectacular explosions.

"Defending democracy!" Children were raped in front of their parents in Central America, men and women machine-gunned down by death squads that had been trained in military bases in the United States of America.

"Civilizing the world and spreading democracy!" That has always been a European slogan, their 'stuff to do', and a way of showing their great civilization to others. Amputating hands of Congolese people, murdering around ten million of them, and many more in Namibia, East Africa, West Africa and Algiers; gassing people of the Middle East ( "I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes", to borrow from the colorful lexicon of (Sir) Winston Churchill).

So what is it really? Who is it, that strange lady with an axe in her hand and with a covered face – the lady whose name is Democracy?

***

It is all very simple, actually. The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people". Then and now, it was supposed to be in direct contrast to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), that means "rule of an elite".

'Rule of the people'… Let us just visit a few examples of the 'rule of the people'.

People spoke, they ruled, they voted 'democratically' in Chile, bringing in the mild and socialist government of 'Popular Unity' of Salvador Allende.

Sure, the Chilean education system was so brilliant, its political and social system so wonderful, that it inspired not only many countries in Latin America, but also those in far away Mediterranean Europe.

That could not be tolerated, because, as we all know, it is only white Europe and North America that can be allowed to supply the world with the blueprint for any society, anywhere on this planet. It was decided that "Chile has to scream", that its economy had to be ruined and the "Popular Unity" government kicked out of power.

Henry Kissinger, belonging, obviously, to a much higher race and country of a much higher grade, made a straightforward and in a way very 'honest' statement, clearly defining the North American stand towards global democracy: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."

And so Chile was ravaged. Thousands of people were murdered and 'our son-of-a-bitch' was brought to power. General Pinochet was not elected: he bombed the Presidential palace in Santiago, he savagely tortured the men and women who were elected by the Chilean people, and he "disappeared" thousands.

But that was fine, because democracy, as it is seen from Washington, London or Paris, is nothing more and nothing less than what the white man needs in order to control this planet, unopposed and preferably never criticized.

Of course Chile was not the only place where 'democracy' was 'redefined'. And it was not the most brutal scenario either, although it was brutal enough. But it was a very symbolic 'case', because here, there could be absolutely no dispute: an extremely well educated, middle class country, voted in transparent elections, just to have its government murdered, tortured and exiled, simply because it was too democratic and too involved in improving the lives of its people.

There were countless instances of open spite coming from the North, towards the 'rule of the people' in Latin America. For centuries, there have been limitless examples. Every country 'south of the border' in the Western Hemisphere, became a victim.

After all, the self-imposed Monroe Doctrine gave North Americans 'unquestionable rights' to intervene and 'correct' any 'irresponsible' democratic moves made by the lower races inhabiting Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.

There were many different scenarios of real ingenuity, in how to torture countries that embarked on building decent homes for their people, although soon there was evidence of repetitiveness and predictability.

The US has been either sponsoring extremely brutal coups (like the one in Guatemala in 1954), or simply occupying the countries in order to overthrow their democratically elected governments. Justifications for such interventions have varied: it was done in order to 'restore order', to 'restore freedom and democracy', or to prevent the emergence of 'another Cuba'.

From the Dominican Republic in 1965 to Grenada in 1983, countries were 'saved from themselves' through the introduction (by orders from mainly the Protestant North American elites with clearly pathological superiority complexes) of death squads that administered torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. People were killed because their democratic decisions were seen as 'irresponsible' and therefore unacceptable.

While there has been open racism in every aspect of how the Empire controlled its colonies, 'political correctness' was skillfully introduced, effectively reducing to a bare minimum any serious critiques of the societies that were forced into submission.

In Indonesia, between 1 and 3 million people were murdered in the years1965/66, in a US -sponsored coup, because there too, was a 'great danger' that the people would rule and decide to vote 'irresponsibly', bringing the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), at that time the third most numerous Communist Party anywhere in the world, to power.

The democratically elected President of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered in 1961, by the joint efforts of the United States and Europe, simply because he was determined to use the vast natural resources of his country to feed his own people; and because he dared to criticize Western colonialism and imperialism openly and passionately.

East Timor lost a third of its population simply because its people, after gaining independence from Portugal, dared to vote the left-leaning FRETILIN into power. "We are not going to tolerate another Cuba next to our shores", protested the Indonesian fascist dictator Suharto, and the US and Australia strongly agreed. The torture, and extermination of East Timorese people by the Indonesian military, was considered irrelevant and not even worth reporting in the mass media.

The people of Iran could of course not be trusted with 'democracy'. Iran is one of the oldest and greatest cultures on earth, but its people wanted to use the revenues from its oil to improve their lives, not to feed foreign multi-nationals. That has always been considered a crime by Western powers – a crime punishable by death.

The people of Iran decided to rule; they voted, they said that they want to have all their oil industry nationalized. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, was ready to implement what his people demanded. But his government was overthrown in a coup d'état, orchestrated by the British MI6 and North American CIA, and what followed was the murderous dictatorship of the deranged Western puppet – Reza Pahlavi. As in Latin America and Indonesia, instead of schools, hospitals and housing projects, people got death squads, torture chambers and fear. Is that what they wanted? Is that what they voted for?

There were literally dozens of countries, all over the world, which had to be 'saved', by the West, from their own 'irresponsible citizens and voters'. Brazil recently 'celebrated' the 50th anniversary of the US-backed military coup d'état, which began a horrendous 20 year long military dictatorship. The US supported two coups in Iraq, in 1963 and 1968 that brought Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party to power. The list is endless. These are only some random examples.

On closer examination, the West has overthrown, or made attempts to overthrow, almost any democratically elected governments, on all continents attempting to serve their own people, by providing them with decent standards of living and social services. That is quite an achievement, and some stamina!

Could it be then that the West only respects 'Democracy' when 'people are forced to rule' against their own interests? And when they are 'defending' what they are ordered to defend by local elites that are subservient to North American and European interests?… and also when they are defending the interests of foreign multi-national companies and Western governments that are dependent on those companies?

***

Can anything be done? If a country is too weak to defend itself by military means, against some mighty Western aggressor, could it approach any international democratic institutions, hoping for protection?

Unthinkable!

A good example is Nicaragua, which had been literally terrorized by the United States, for no other reason than for being socialist. Its government went to court.

The case was called: The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America.

It was a 1986 case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua.

The judgment was long, consisting of 291 points. Among them that the United States had been involved in the "unlawful use of force." The alleged violations included attacks on Nicaraguan facilities and naval vessels, the mining of Nicaraguan ports, the invasion of Nicaraguan air space, and the training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying of forces (the "Contras") and seeking to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

Judgment was passed, and so were UN votes and resolutions. The UN resolution from 1986 called for the full and immediate compliance with the Judgment. Only Thailand, France and the UK abstained. The US showed total spite towards the court, and it vetoed all UN resolutions.

It continued its terror campaign against Nicaragua. In the end, the ruined and exhausted country voted in 1990. It was soon clear that it was not voting for or against Sandinista government, but whether to endure more violence from the North, or to simply accept depressing defeat. The Sandinista government lost. It lost because the voters had a North American gun pointing at their heads.

This is how 'democracy' works.

I covered the Nicaraguan elections of 1996 and I was told by voters, by a great majority of them, that they were going to vote for the right-wing candidate (Aleman), only because the US was threatening to unleash another wave of terror in case the Sandinista government came back to power, democratically.

The Sandinistas are now back. But only because most of Latin America has changed, and there is unity and determination to fight, if necessary.

***

While the Europeans are clearly benefiting from neo-colonialism and the plunder that goes on all over the world, it would be ridiculous to claim that they themselves are 'enjoying the fruits of democracy'.

In a dazzling novel "Seeing", written by Jose Saramago, a laureate for the Nobel Prize for literature, some 83% of voters in an unidentified country (most likely Saramago's native Portugal), decide to cast blank ballots, expressing clear spite towards the Western representative election system.

This state, which prided itself as a 'democratic one', responded by unleashing an orgy of terror against its own citizens. It soon became obvious that people are allowed to make democratic choices only when the result serves the interests of the regime.

Ursula K Le Guin, reviewing the novel in the pages of The Guardian, on 15 April 2006, admitted:

Turning in a blank ballot is a signal unfamiliar to most Britons and Americans, who aren't yet used to living under a government that has made voting meaningless. In a functioning democracy, one can consider not voting a lazy protest liable to play into the hands of the party in power (as when low Labour turn-out allowed Margaret Thatcher's re-elections, and Democratic apathy secured both elections of George W Bush). It comes hard to me to admit that a vote is not in itself an act of power, and I was at first blind to the point Saramago's non-voting voters are making.

She should not have been. Even in Europe itself, terror had been unleashed, on many occasions, against the people who decided to vote 'incorrectly'.

Perhaps the most brutal instance was in the post WWII period, when the Communist Parties were clearly heading for spectacular victories in France, Italy and West Germany. Such 'irresponsible behavior' had to be, of course, stopped. Both US and UK intelligence forces made a tremendous effort to 'save democracy' in Europe, employing Nazis to break, intimidate, even murder members of progressive movements and parties.

These Nazi cadres were later allowed, even encouraged, to leave Europe for South America, some carrying huge booty from the victims who vanished in concentration camps. This booty included gold teeth.

Later on, in the 1990's, I spoke to some of them, and also to their children, in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. They were proud of their deeds, unrepentant, and as Nazi as ever.

Many of those European Nazis later actively participated in Operation Condor, so enthusiastically supported by the Paraguayan fascist and pro-Western dictator, Alfredo Strössner. Mr Strössner was a dear friend and asylum-giver to many WWII war criminals, including people like Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the "Angel of Death", who performed genetic experiments on children during the WWII.

So, after destroying that 'irresponsible democratic process' in Europe (the post-war Western Empire), many European Nazis that were now loyally serving their new master, were asked to continue with what they knew how to do best. Therefore they helped to assassinate some 60,000 left-wing South American men, women and their children, who were guilty of building egalitarian and just societies in their home countries. Many of these Nazis took part, directly, in Operacion Condor, under the direct supervision of the United States and Europe.

As Naomi Klein writes in her book, Shock Doctrine:

"Operación Cóndor, also known as Plan Cóndor, Portuguese: Operação Condor) was a campaign of political repression and terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. The program was intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas, and to suppress active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments."

In Chile, German Nazis rolled up their sleeves and went to work directly: by interrogating, liquidating and savagely torturing members of the democratically elected government and its supporters. They also performed countless medical experiments on people, at the so-called Colonia Dirnidad, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, whose rule was manufactured and sustained by Dr. Kissinger and his clique.

But back to Europe: in Greece, after WWII, both the UK and US got heavily involved in the civil war between the Communists and the extreme right-wing forces.

In 1967, just one month before the elections in which the Greek left-wing was expected to win democratically (the Indonesian scenario of 1965), the US and its 'Greek colonels' staged a coup, which marked the beginning of a 7 year savage dictatorship.

What happened in Yugoslavia, some 30 years later is, of course clear. A successful Communist country could not be allowed to survive, and definitely not in Europe. As bombs fell on Belgrade, many of those inquisitive and critically thinking people that had any illusions left about the Western regime and its 'democratic principles', lost them rapidly.

But by then, the majority of Europe already consisted of indoctrinated masses, some of the worst informed and most monolithic (in their thinking) on earth.

Europe and its voters… It is that constantly complaining multitude, which wants more and more money, and delivers the same and extremely predictable electoral results every four, five or six years. It lives and votes mechanically. It has totally lost its ability to imagine a different world, to fight for humanist principles, and even to dream.

It is turning into an extremely scary place, a museum at best, and a cemetery of human vision at the worst.

***

As Noam Chomsky pointed out:

Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, "That's politics." But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics.
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.

Arundhati Roy, commented in her "Is there life after democracy?"

The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?

***

After all that brutality, and spite for people all over the world, the West is now teaching the planet about democracy. It is lecturing Asians and Africans, people from Middle East and Sub-Continent, on how to make their countries more 'democratic'. It is actually hard to believe, it should be one of the most hilarious things on earth, but it is happening, and everyone is silent about it.

Those who are listening without bursting into laughter are actually well paid.

There are seminars; even foreign aid projects related to 'good governance', sponsored by the European Union, and the United States. The EU is actually much more active in this field. Like the Italian mafia, it sends covert but unmistakable messages to the world: "You do as we say, or we break your legs… But if you obey, come to us and we will teach you how to be a good aide to Cosa Nostra! And we will give you some pasta and wine while you are learning."

Because there is plenty of money, so called 'funding'… members of the elite, the academia, media and non-government organizations, from countries that have been plundered by the West – countries like Indonesia, Philippines, DR Congo, Honduras, or Colombia –send armies of people to get voluntarily indoctrinated, (sorry, to be 'enlightened') to learn about democracy from the greatest assassins of genuine 'people's power'; from the West.

Violating democracy is an enormous business. To hush it up is part of that business. To learn how to be idle and not to intervene against the external forces destroying democracy in your own country, while pretending to be 'engaged and active', is actually the best business, much better than building bridges or educating children (from a mercantilist point of view).

Once, at the University of Indonesia where I was invited to speak, a student asked me 'what is the way forward', to make his country more democratic? I replied, looking at several members of the professorial staff:

"Demand that your teachers stop going to Europe on fully funded trips. Demand that they stop being trained in how to brainwash you. Do not go there yourself, to study. Go there to see, to understand and to learn, but not to study… Europe had robbed you of everything. They are still looting your country. What do you think you will learn there? Do you really think they will teach you how to save your nation?"

Students began laughing. The professors were fuming. I was never invited back. I am sure that the professors knew exactly what I was talking about. The students did not. They were thinking that I made a very good joke. But I was not trying to be funny.

***

As I write these words, the Thai military junta has taken over the country. The West is silent: the Thai military is an extremely close ally. Democracy at work…

And as I write these words, the fascist government in Kiev is chasing, kidnapping and "disappearing" people in the east and south of Ukraine. By some insane twist of logic, the Western corporate media is managing to blame Russia. And only a few people are rolling around on the floor, laughing.

As I write these words, a big part of Africa is in flames, totally destroyed by the US, UK, France and other colonial powers.

Client states like the Philippines are now literally being paid to get antagonistic with China.

Japanese neo-fascist adventurism fully supported by the Unites States can easily trigger WWIII. So can Western greed and fascist practices in Ukraine.

Democracy! People's power!

If the West had sat on its ass, where it belongs, in Europe and in North America, after WWII, the world would have hardly any problems now. People like Lumumba, Allende, Sukarno, Mosaddeq, would have led their nations and continents. They would have communicated with their own people, interacted with them. They would have built their own styles of 'democracy'.

But all that came from the Bandung Conference of 1955, from the ideals of the Non-Aligned movement, was ruined and bathed in blood. The true hopes of the people of the world cut to pieces, urinated on, and then thrown into gutter.

But no more time should be wasted by just analyzing, and by crying over spilt milk. Time to move on!

The world has been tortured by Europe and the United States, for decades and centuries. It has been tortured in the name of democracy… but it has all been one great lie. The world has been tortured simply because of greed, and because of racism. Just look back at history. Europe and the United States have only stopped calling people "niggers", but they do not have any more respect for them than before. And they are willing, same as before, to sacrifice millions of human lives.

Let us stop worshiping their box, and those meaningless pieces of paper that they want us to stick in there. There is no power of people in this. Look at the United States itself – where is our democracy? It is a one-party regime fully controlled by market fundamentalists. Look at our press, and propaganda…

Rule of the people by the people, true democracy, can be achieved. We the people had been derailed, intellectually, so we have not been thinking how, for so many decades.

Now we, many of us, know what is wrong, but we are still not sure what is right.

Let us think and let us search, let us experiment. And also, let us reject their fascism first. Let them stick their papers wherever they want! Let them pretend that they are not slaves to some vendors and swindlers. Let them do whatever they want – there, where they belong.

Democracy is more than a box. It is more than a multitude of political parties. It is when people can truly choose, decide and build a society that they dream about. Democracy is the lack of fear of having napalm and bombs murdering our dreams. Democracy is when people speak and from those words grow their own nation. Democracy is when millions of hands join together and from that brilliant union, new trains begin to run, new schools begin to teach, and new hospitals begin to heal. All this by the people, for the people! All this created by proud and free humans as gift to all – to their nation.

Yes, let the slave masters stick their pieces of paper into a box, or somewhere else. They can call it democracy. Let us call democracy something else – rule of the people, a great exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams. Let our taking control over our lives and over our nations be called 'democracy'!

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called "Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear". He has just completed the feature documentary, "Rwanda Gambit" about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

[Sep 24, 2016] A Foreign Enemy is a Tyrants Best Friend

Notable quotes:
"... This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks. ..."
"... Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime. ..."
"... The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners. ..."
Jul 28, 2015 | Antiwar.com

Cold wars freeze despotism in place, and thaws in foreign relations melt it away

The recent Iran nuclear deal represents a thaw in the American cold war against that country. It is a welcome sequel to the Obama administration's partial normalization with Cuba announced late last year.

Hardliners denounce these policies as "going soft" on theocracy and communism. Yet, it is such critics' own hardline, hawkish policies that have done the most to ossify and strengthen such regimes.

That is because war, including cold war, is the health of the state. Antagonistic imperial policies - economic warfare, saber-rattling, clandestine interventions, and full-blown attacks - make the citizens of targeted "rogue states" feel under siege.

This activates what Randolph Bourne called their "herd mind," inducing them to rally around their governments in a militaristic stampede so as to create the national unity of purpose deemed necessary to defend the homeland against the foreign menace. When you lay siege to an entire country, don't be surprised when it starts to look and act like a barracks.

Rogue state governments eagerly amplify and exploit this siege effect through propaganda, taking on the mantle of foremost defender of the nation against the "Yankee Imperialist" or "Great Satan." Amid the atmosphere of crisis, public resistance against domestic oppression by the now indispensable "guardian class" goes by the board. "Quit your complaining. Don't you know there's a cold war on? Don't you know we're under siege?"

Moreover, cold wars make it easy for rogue state governments to shift the blame for domestic troubles away from their own misrule, and onto the foreign bogeyman/scapegoat ("bogeygoat?") instead. This is especially easy for being to some extent correct, especially with regard to economic blockades and other crippling sanctions, like those Washington has imposed on Cuba, Iran, etc.

Imperial governments like to pretend that affairs are quite the reverse, adopting the essentially terrorist rationale that waging war against the civilian populace of a rogue state will pressure them to blame and turn against their governments. In reality, it only tends to bolster public support for the regime.

The imperial "bogeygoat" is an essential prop for the power of petty tyrants, just as rogue state bogeymen are essential props for the power of grand tyrants like our own. Thus, it should be no surprise that the staunchest opponents to the Iran nuclear deal include both American and Iranian hardliners. Just as there is a "symbiosis of savagery" between imperial hawks and anti-imperial terrorists (as I explain here), there is a similar symbiotic relationship between imperial and rogue state hardliners.

The last thing hardliners want is the loss of their cherished bogeygoat. Once an emergency foreign threat recedes, and the fog of war hysteria lifts, people are then more capable of clearly seeing their "guardians" as the domestic threat that they are, and more likely to feel that they can afford to address that threat without exposing themselves to foreign danger. This tends to impel governments to become less oppressive, and may even lead to their loss of power.

Thus after Nixon normalized with communist China and belatedly ended the war on communist Vietnam, both of those countries greatly liberalized and became more prosperous. Even Soviet reforms and the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union only arose following American detente.

Simultaneously, as the American cold wars against communist Cuba and communist North Korea continued without stint for decades, providing the Castros and Kims the ultimate bogeygoat to feature in their propaganda, the impoverishing authoritarian grip of those regimes on their besieged people only strengthened.

Similarly, ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the puppet dictator that the CIA had installed over Iran in a 1953 coup, the Ayatollahs have been able to exploit ongoing hostility from the American "Great Satan" to retain and consolidate their repressive theocratic power.

All this is an object lesson for US relations with Putin's Russia, Chavista Venezuela, and beyond. Disastrously, it is being unheeded.

Even while thawing relations with Iran, the Obama administration has triggered a new cold war with Russia over Ukraine. This has only made Russian President Vladimir Putin more domestically popular than ever.

And even while normalizing relations with Cuba, Obama recently declared Venezuela a national security threat, imposing new sanctions. As journalist Alexandra Ulmer argued, these sanctions "may be godsend for struggling Venezuelan leader," President Nicolas Maduro. As Ulmer wrote in Reuters:

"Suddenly, the unpopular leader has an excuse to crank up the revolutionary rhetoric and try to fire up supporters, copying a tactic used skillfully for more than a decade by his mentor and predecessor, the late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez.

A new fight with the enemy to the north may also help unite disparate ruling Socialist Party factions and distract Venezuelans from relentless and depressing talk about their day-to-day economic problems."

[Sep 22, 2016] Much-disputed Iranian nuclear bomb

An interesting warning about possible return of neocons in Hillary administration. Looks like not much changed in Washington from 2005 and Obama more and more looks like Bush III. Both Hillary and Trump are jingoistic toward Iran. Paradoxically Trump is even more jingoistic then Hillary.
Notable quotes:
"... That no one yet claims actually exists, has begun. Once again we seem to be heading down a highway marked "counterproliferation war." What makes this bizarre is that the Middle East today, for all its catastrophic problems, is actually a nuclear-free zone except for one country, Israel, which has a staggeringly outsized, semi-secret nuclear arsenal. ..."
"... And not much has changed since. I recommend as well a piece written even earlier by Ira Chernus on a graphic about the Israeli nuclear arsenal tucked away at the MSNBC website (and still viewable ). ..."
"... Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and one of the founders of the group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, considers the Iranian and Israeli bombs, and Bush administration policy in relation to both below in a piece that, he writes, emerged from "an informal colloquium which has sprung up in the Washington, DC area involving people with experience at senior policy levels of government, others who examine foreign policy and defense issues primarily out of a faith perspective, and still others with a foot in each camp. We are trying to deal directly with the moral -- as well as the practical -- implications of various policy alternatives. One of our group recently was invited to talk with senior staffers in the House of Representatives about Iran, its nuclear plans, its support for terrorists, and U.S. military options. Toward the end of that conversation, a House staffer was emboldened to ask, 'What would be a moral solution?' This question gave new energy to our colloquium, generating a number of informal papers, including this one. I am grateful to my colloquium colleagues for their insights and suggestions." ..."
"... What about post-attack "Day Two?" Not to worry. Well-briefed pundits are telling us about a wellspring of Western-oriented I find myself thinking: Right; just like all those Iraqis who welcomed invading American and British troops with open arms and cut flowers. ..."
"... In 2001, the new President Bush brought the neocons back and put them in top policymaking positions. Even former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, convicted in October 1991 of lying to Congress and then pardoned by George H. W. Bush, was called back and put in charge of Middle East policy in the White House. In January, he was promoted to the influential post (once occupied by Robert Gates) of deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. From that senior position Abrams will once again be dealing closely with John Negroponte, an old colleague from rogue-elephant Contra War days, who has now been picked to be the first director of national intelligence. ..."
"... Those of us who -- like Colin Powell -- had front-row seats during the 1980s are far too concerned to dismiss the re-emergence of the neocons as a simple case of déjà vu . They are much more dangerous now. Unlike in the eighties, they are the ones crafting the adventurous policies our sons and daughters are being called on to implement. ..."
"... So why would Iran think it has to acquire nuclear weapons? Sen. Richard Lugar, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked this on a Sunday talk show a few months ago. Apparently having a senior moment, he failed to give the normal answer. Instead, he replied, "Well, you know, Israel has..." At that point, he caught himself and abruptly stopped. ..."
Sep 22, 2005 | www.washingtonpost.com
That no one yet claims actually exists, has begun. Once again we seem to be heading down a highway marked "counterproliferation war." What makes this bizarre is that the Middle East today, for all its catastrophic problems, is actually a nuclear-free zone except for one country, Israel, which has a staggeringly outsized, semi-secret nuclear arsenal.

As Los Angeles Times reporter Douglas Frantz wrote at one point, "Though Israel is a democracy, debating the nuclear program is taboo… A military censor guards Israel's nuclear secrets." And this "taboo" has largely extended to American reporting on the subject. Imagine, to offer a very partial analogy, if we all had had to consider the Cold War nuclear issue with the Soviet, but almost never the American nuclear arsenal, in the news. Of course, that would have been absurd and yet it's the case in the Middle East today, making most strategic discussions of the region exercises in absurdity.

I wrote about this subject under the title, Nuclear Israel , back in October 2003, because of a brief break, thanks to Frantz, in the media blackout on the subject. I began then, "Nuclear North Korea, nuclear Iraq, nuclear Iran - of these our media has been full for the last year or more, though they either don't exist or hardly yet exist. North Korea now probably has a couple of crude nuclear weapons, which it may still be incapable of delivering. But nuclear Israel, little endangered Israel? It's hard even to get your head around the concept, though that country has either the fifth or sixth largest nuclear arsenal in the world." And not much has changed since. I recommend as well a piece written even earlier by Ira Chernus on a graphic about the Israeli nuclear arsenal tucked away at the MSNBC website (and still viewable ).

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and one of the founders of the group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, considers the Iranian and Israeli bombs, and Bush administration policy in relation to both below in a piece that, he writes, emerged from "an informal colloquium which has sprung up in the Washington, DC area involving people with experience at senior policy levels of government, others who examine foreign policy and defense issues primarily out of a faith perspective, and still others with a foot in each camp. We are trying to deal directly with the moral -- as well as the practical -- implications of various policy alternatives. One of our group recently was invited to talk with senior staffers in the House of Representatives about Iran, its nuclear plans, its support for terrorists, and U.S. military options. Toward the end of that conversation, a House staffer was emboldened to ask, 'What would be a moral solution?' This question gave new energy to our colloquium, generating a number of informal papers, including this one. I am grateful to my colloquium colleagues for their insights and suggestions." Now, read on. ~ Tom

Attacking Iran: I Know It Sounds Crazy, But...

By Ray McGovern

"'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.'

"(Short pause)

"'And having said that, all options are on the table.'

"Even the White House stenographers felt obliged to note the result: '(Laughter).'"

( The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin on George Bush's February 22 press conference)

For a host of good reasons -- the huge and draining commitment of U.S. forces to Iraq and Iran's ability to stir the Iraqi pot to boiling, for starters -- the notion that the Bush administration would mount a "preemptive" air attack on Iran seems insane. And still more insane if the objective includes overthrowing Iran's government again, as in 1953 -- this time under the rubric of "regime change."

But Bush administration policy toward the Middle East is being run by men -- yes, only men -- who were routinely referred to in high circles in Washington during the 1980s as "the crazies." I can attest to that personally, but one need not take my word for it.

According to James Naughtie, author of The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency , former Secretary of State Colin Powell added an old soldier's adjective to the "crazies" sobriquet in referring to the same officials. Powell, who was military aide to Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger in the early eighties, was overheard calling them "the f---ing crazies" during a phone call with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw before the war in Iraq. At the time, Powell was reportedly deeply concerned over their determination to attack -- with or without UN approval. Small wonder that they got rid of Powell after the election, as soon as they had no more use for him.

If further proof of insanity were needed, one could simply look at the unnecessary carnage in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003. That unprovoked attack was, in my view, the most fateful foreign policy blunder in our nation's history...so far.

It Can Get Worse

"The crazies" are not finished. And we do well not to let their ultimate folly obscure their current ambition, and the further trouble that ambition is bound to bring in the four years ahead. In an immediate sense, with U.S. military power unrivaled, they can be seen as "crazy like a fox," with a value system in which "might makes right." Operating out of that value system, and now sporting the more respectable misnomer/moniker "neoconservative," they are convinced that they know exactly what they are doing. They have a clear ideology and a geopolitical strategy, which leap from papers they put out at the Project for the New American Century over recent years.

The very same men who, acting out of that paradigm, brought us the war in Iraq are now focusing on Iran, which they view as the only remaining obstacle to American domination of the entire oil-rich Middle East. They calculate that, with a docile, corporate-owned press, a co-opted mainstream church, and a still-trusting populace, the United States and/or the Israelis can launch a successful air offensive to disrupt any Iranian nuclear weapons programs -- with the added bonus of possibly causing the regime in power in Iran to crumble.

But why now? After all, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency has just told Congress that Iran is not likely to have a nuclear weapon until "early in the next decade?" The answer, according to some defense experts, is that several of the Iranian facilities are still under construction and there is only a narrow "window of opportunity" to destroy them without causing huge environmental problems. That window, they say, will begin to close this year.

Other analysts attribute the sense of urgency to worry in Washington that the Iranians may have secretly gained access to technology that would facilitate a leap forward into the nuclear club much sooner than now anticipated. And it is, of course, neoconservative doctrine that it is best to nip -- the word in current fashion is "preempt" -- any conceivable threats in the bud. One reason the Israelis are pressing hard for early action may simply be out of a desire to ensure that George W. Bush will have a few more years as president after an attack on Iran, so that they will have him to stand with Israel when bedlam breaks out in the Middle East.

What about post-attack "Day Two?" Not to worry. Well-briefed pundits are telling us about a wellspring of Western-oriented I find myself thinking: Right; just like all those Iraqis who welcomed invading American and British troops with open arms and cut flowers. For me, this evokes a painful flashback to the early eighties when "intelligence," pointing to "moderates" within the Iranian leadership, was conjured up to help justify the imaginative but illegal arms-for-hostages-and-proceeds-to-Nicaraguan-Contras caper. The fact that the conjurer-in-chief of that spurious "evidence" on Iranian "moderates," former chief CIA analyst, later director Robert Gates, was recently offered the newly created position of director of national intelligence makes the flashback more eerie -- and alarming.

George H. W. Bush Saw Through "The Crazies"

During his term in office, George H. W. Bush, with the practical advice of his national security adviser Gen. Brent Scowcroft and Secretary of State James Baker, was able to keep "the crazies" at arms length, preventing them from getting the country into serious trouble. They were kept well below the level of "principal" -- that is, below the level of secretary of state or defense.

Even so, heady in the afterglow of victory in the Gulf War of 1990, "the crazies" stirred up considerable controversy when they articulated their radical views. Their vision, for instance, became the centerpiece of the draft "Defense Planning Guidance" that Paul Wolfowitz, de facto dean of the neoconservatives, prepared in 1992 for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. It dismissed deterrence as an outdated relic of the Cold War and argued that the United States must maintain military strength beyond conceivable challenge -- and use it in preemptive ways in dealing with those who might acquire "weapons of mass destruction." Sound familiar?

Aghast at this radical imperial strategy for the post-Cold War world, someone with access to the draft leaked it to the New York Times , forcing President George H. W. Bush either to endorse or disavow it. Disavow it he did -- and quickly, on the cooler-head recommendations of Scowcroft and Baker, who proved themselves a bulwark against the hubris and megalomania of "the crazies." Unfortunately, their vision did not die. No less unfortunately, there is method to their madness -- even if it threatens to spell eventual disaster for our country. Empires always overreach and fall.

The Return of the Neocons

In 2001, the new President Bush brought the neocons back and put them in top policymaking positions. Even former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, convicted in October 1991 of lying to Congress and then pardoned by George H. W. Bush, was called back and put in charge of Middle East policy in the White House. In January, he was promoted to the influential post (once occupied by Robert Gates) of deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. From that senior position Abrams will once again be dealing closely with John Negroponte, an old colleague from rogue-elephant Contra War days, who has now been picked to be the first director of national intelligence.

Those of us who -- like Colin Powell -- had front-row seats during the 1980s are far too concerned to dismiss the re-emergence of the neocons as a simple case of déjà vu . They are much more dangerous now. Unlike in the eighties, they are the ones crafting the adventurous policies our sons and daughters are being called on to implement.

Why dwell on this? Because it is second in importance only to the portentous reality that the earth is running out of readily accessible oil – something of which they are all too aware. Not surprisingly then, disguised beneath the weapons-of-mass-destruction smokescreen they laid down as they prepared to invade Iraq lay an unspoken but bedrock reason for the war -- oil. In any case, the neocons seem to believe that, in the wake of the November election, they now have a carte-blanche "mandate." And with the president's new "capital to spend," they appear determined to spend it, sooner rather than later.

Next Stop, Iran

When a Special Forces platoon leader just back from Iraq matter-of-factly tells a close friend of mine, as happened last week, that he and his unit are now training their sights (literally) on Iran, we need to take that seriously. It provides us with a glimpse of reality as seen at ground level. For me, it brought to mind an unsolicited email I received from the father of a young soldier training at Fort Benning in the spring of 2002, soon after I wrote an op-ed discussing the timing of George W. Bush's decision to make war on Iraq. The father informed me that, during the spring of 2002, his son kept writing home saying his unit was training to go into Iraq. No, said the father; you mean Afghanistan... that's where the war is, not Iraq. In his next email, the son said, "No, Dad, they keep saying Iraq. I asked them and that's what they mean."

Now, apparently, they keep saying Iran ; and that appears to be what they mean.

Anecdotal evidence like this is hardly conclusive. Put it together with administration rhetoric and a preponderance of other "dots," though, and everything points in the direction of an air attack on Iran, possibly also involving some ground forces. Indeed, from the New Yorker reports of Seymour Hersh to Washington Post articles , accounts of small-scale American intrusions on the ground as well as into Iranian airspace are appearing with increasing frequency. In a speech given on February 18, former UN arms inspector and Marine officer Scott Ritter (who was totally on target before the Iraq War on that country's lack of weapons of mass destruction) claimed that the president has already "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June in order to destroy its alleged nuclear weapons program and eventually bring about "regime change." This does not necessarily mean an automatic green light for a large attack in June, but it may signal the president's seriousness about this option.

So, again, against the background of what we have witnessed over the past four years, and the troubling fact that the circle of second-term presidential advisers has become even tighter, we do well to inject a strong note of urgency into any discussion of the "Iranian option."

Why Would Iran Want Nukes?

So why would Iran think it has to acquire nuclear weapons? Sen. Richard Lugar, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked this on a Sunday talk show a few months ago. Apparently having a senior moment, he failed to give the normal answer. Instead, he replied, "Well, you know, Israel has..." At that point, he caught himself and abruptly stopped.

Recovering quickly and realizing that he could not just leave the word "Israel" hanging there, Lugar began again: "Well, Israel is alleged to have a nuclear capability."

Is alleged to have…? Lugar is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and yet he doesn't know that Israel has, by most estimates, a major nuclear arsenal, consisting of several hundred nuclear weapons? (Mainstream newspapers are allergic to dwelling on this topic, but it is mentioned every now and then, usually buried in obscurity on an inside page.)

Just imagine how the Iranians and Syrians would react to Lugar's disingenuousness. Small wonder our highest officials and lawmakers -- and Lugar, remember, is one of the most decent among them -- are widely seen abroad as hypocritical. Our media, of course, ignore the hypocrisy. This is standard operating procedure when the word "Israel" is spoken in this or other unflattering contexts. And the objections of those appealing for a more balanced approach are quashed.

If the truth be told, Iran fears Israel at least as much as Israel fears the internal security threat posed by the thugs supported by Tehran. Iran's apprehension is partly fear that Israel (with at least tacit support from the Bush administration) will send its aircraft to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, just as American-built Israeli bombers destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. As part of the current war of nerves, recent statements by the president and vice president can be read as giving a green light to Israel to do just that; while Israeli Air Force commander Major General Eliezer Shakedi told reporters on February 21 that Israel must be prepared for an air strike on Iran "in light of its nuclear activity."

US-Israel Nexus

The Iranians also remember how Israel was able to acquire and keep its nuclear technology. Much of it was stolen from the United States by spies for Israel. As early as the late-1950s, Washington knew Israel was building the bomb and could have aborted the project. Instead, American officials decided to turn a blind eye and let the Israelis go ahead. Now Israel's nuclear capability is truly formidable. Still, it is a fact of strategic life that a formidable nuclear arsenal can be deterred by a far more modest one, if an adversary has the means to deliver it. (Look at North Korea's success with, at best, a few nuclear weapons and questionable means of delivery in deterring the "sole remaining superpower in the world.") And Iran already has missiles with the range to hit Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has for some time appeared eager to enlist Washington's support for an early "pre-emptive" strike on Iran. Indeed, American defense officials have told reporters that visiting Israeli officials have been pressing the issue for the past year and a half. And the Israelis are now claiming publicly that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within six months -- years earlier than the Defense Intelligence Agency estimate mentioned above.

In the past, President Bush has chosen to dismiss unwelcome intelligence estimates as "guesses" -- especially when they threatened to complicate decisions to implement the neoconservative agenda. It is worth noting that several of the leading neocons – Richard Perle, chair of the Defense Policy Board (2001-03); Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and David Wurmser, Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney -- actually wrote policy papers for the Israeli government during the 1990s. They have consistently had great difficulty distinguishing between the strategic interests of Israel and those of the US -- at least as they imagine them.

As for President Bush, over the past four years he has amply demonstrated his preference for the counsel of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who, as Gen. Scowcroft said publicly , has the president "wrapped around his little finger." (As Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board until he was unceremoniously removed at the turn of the year, Scowcroft was in a position to know.) If Scowcroft is correct in also saying that the president has been "mesmerized" by Sharon, it seems possible that the Israelis already have successfully argued for an attack on Iran.

When "Regime Change" Meant Overthrow For Oil

To remember why the United States is no favorite in Tehran, one needs to go back at least to 1953 when the U.S. and Great Britain overthrew Iran's democratically elected Premier Mohammad Mossadeq as part of a plan to insure access to Iranian oil. They then emplaced the young Shah in power who, with his notorious secret police, proved second to none in cruelty. The Shah ruled from 1953 to 1979. Much resentment can build up over a whole generation. His regime fell like a house of cards, when supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini rose up to do some regime change of their own.

Iranians also remember Washington's strong support for Saddam Hussein's Iraq after it decided to make war on Iran in 1980. U.S. support for Iraq (which included crucial intelligence support for the war and an implicit condoning of Saddam's use of chemical weapons) was perhaps the crucial factor in staving off an Iranian victory. Imagine then, the threat Iranians see, should the Bush administration succeed in establishing up to 14 permanent military bases in neighboring Iraq. Any Iranian can look at a map of the Middle East (including occupied Iraq) and conclude that this administration might indeed be willing to pay the necessary price in blood and treasure to influence what happens to the black gold under Iranian as well as Iraqi sands. And with four more years to play with, a lot can be done along those lines. The obvious question is: How to deter it? Well, once again, Iran can hardly be blind to the fact that a small nation like North Korea has so far deterred U.S. action by producing, or at least claiming to have produced, nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Is the Nub

The nuclear issue is indeed paramount, and we would do well to imagine and craft fresh approaches to the nub of the problem. As a start, I'll bet if you made a survey, only 20% of Americans would answer "yes" to the question, "Does Israel have nuclear weapons?" That is key, it seems to me, because at their core Americans are still fair-minded people.

On the other hand, I'll bet that 95% of the Iranian population would answer, "Of course Israel has nuclear weapons; that's why we Iranians need them" -- which was, of course, the unmentionable calculation that Senator Lugar almost conceded. "And we also need them," many Iranians would probably say, "in order to deter 'the crazies' in Washington. It seems to be working for the North Koreans, who, after all, are the other remaining point on President Bush's 'axis of evil.'"

The ideal approach would, of course, be to destroy all nuclear weapons in the world and ban them for the future, with a very intrusive global inspection regime to verify compliance. A total ban is worth holding up as an ideal, and I think we must. But this approach seems unlikely to bear fruit over the next four years. So what then?

A Nuclear-Free Middle East

How about a nuclear-free Middle East? Could the US make that happen? We could if we had moral clarity -- the underpinning necessary to bring it about. Each time this proposal is raised, the Syrians, for example, clap their hands in feigned joyful anticipation, saying, "Of course such a pact would include Israel, right?" The issue is then dropped from all discussion by U.S. policymakers. Required: not only moral clarity but also what Thomas Aquinas labeled the precondition for all virtue, courage. In this context, courage would include a refusal to be intimidated by inevitable charges of anti-Semitism.

The reality is that, except for Israel, the Middle East is nuclear free. But the discussion cannot stop there. It is not difficult to understand why the first leaders of Israel, with the Holocaust experience written indelibly on their hearts and minds, and feeling surrounded by perceived threats to the fledgling state's existence, wanted the bomb. And so, before the Syrians or Iranians, for example, get carried away with self-serving applause for the nuclear-free Middle East proposal, they will have to understand that for any such negotiation to succeed it must have as a concomitant aim the guarantee of an Israel able to live in peace and protect itself behind secure borders. That guarantee has got to be part of the deal.

That the obstacles to any such agreement are formidable is no excuse not trying. But the approach would have to be new and everything would have to be on the table. Persisting in a state of denial about Israel's nuclear weapons is dangerously shortsighted; it does nothing but aggravate fears among the Arabs and create further incentive for them to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.

A sensible approach would also have to include a willingness to engage the Iranians directly, attempt to understand their perspective, and discern what the United States and Israel could do to alleviate their concerns.

Preaching to Iran and others about not acquiring nuclear weapons is, indeed, like the village drunk preaching sobriety -- the more so as our government keeps developing new genres of nuclear weapons and keeps looking the other way as Israel enhances its own nuclear arsenal. Not a pretty moral picture, that. Indeed, it reminds me of the Scripture passage about taking the plank out of your own eye before insisting that the speck be removed from another's.

Lessons from the Past...Like Mutual Deterrence

Has everyone forgotten that deterrence worked for some 40 years, while for most of those years the U.S. and the USSR had not by any means lost their lust for ever-enhanced nuclear weapons? The point is simply that, while engaging the Iranians bilaterally and searching for more imaginative nuclear-free proposals, the U.S. might adopt a more patient interim attitude regarding the striving of other nation states to acquire nuclear weapons -- bearing in mind that the Bush administration's policies of "preemption" and "regime change" themselves create powerful incentives for exactly such striving. As was the case with Iraq two years ago, there is no imminent Iranian strategic threat to Americans -- or, in reality, to anyone. Even if Iran acquired a nuclear capability, there is no reason to believe that it would risk a suicidal first strike on Israel. That, after all, is what mutual deterrence is all about; it works both ways.

It is nonetheless clear that the Israelis' sense of insecurity -- however exaggerated it may seem to those of us thousands of miles away -- is not synthetic but real. The Sharon government appears to regard its nuclear monopoly in the region as the only effective "deterrence insurance" it can buy. It is determined to prevent its neighbors from acquiring the kind of capability that could infringe on the freedom it now enjoys to carry out military and other actions in the area. Government officials have said that Israel will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon; it would be folly to dismiss this as bravado. The Israelis have laid down a marker and mean to follow through -- unless the Bush administration assumes the attitude that "preemption" is an acceptable course for the United States but not for Israel. It seems unlikely that the neoconservatives would take that line. Rather…

"Israel Is Our Ally."

Or so said our president before the cameras on February 17, 2005. But I didn't think we had a treaty of alliance with Israel; I don't remember the Senate approving one. Did I miss something?

Clearly, the longstanding U.S.-Israeli friendship and the ideals we share dictate continuing support for Israel's defense and security. It is quite another thing, though, to suggest the existence of formal treaty obligations that our country does not have. To all intents and purposes, our policymakers -- from the president on down -- seem to speak and behave on the assumption that we do have such obligations toward Israel. A former colleague CIA analyst, Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris , has put it this way: "The Israelis have succeeded in lacing tight the ropes binding the American Gulliver to Israel and its policies."

An earlier American warned:

"A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation facilitates the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, infuses into one the enmities of the other, and betrays the former into participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.... It also gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, who devote themselves to the favorite nation, facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country." ( George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796 )

In my view, our first president's words apply only too aptly to this administration's lash-up with the Sharon government. As responsible citizens we need to overcome our timidity about addressing this issue, lest our fellow Americans continue to be denied important information neglected or distorted in our domesticated media.

Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years -- from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. During the early 1980s, he was one of the writers/editors of the President's Daily Brief and briefed it one-on-one to the president's most senior advisers. He also chaired National Intelligence Estimates. In January 2003, he and four former colleagues founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Copyright 2005 Ray McGovern

[Sep 22, 2016] Academic Penury Adjunct Faculty as the New Precariat naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... the true rate of pay is often around the minimum wage. ..."
"... i was an adjunct professor of urban studies at new york university for 12 years. the entire academic department was staffed by adjuncts and part-time instructors except for the chairman, who was ironically a tenured professor of labor history. ..."
"... Having come up through the academic process and seeing the handwriting on the wall deciding to opt out of trying for an academic career, I think I can comment a bit. ..."
"... First, no one is forcing these folks to be adjuncts. It's their choice. ..."
"... The real issue is one of information and honesty or at least reality over hopeful expectations. When I was an undergrad my professors encouraged me to go to grad school and were pleased when I decided to pursue a Ph.D. They all implied, if not said, that I would be able to then get an academic job. I think they really believed this, but the reality was far different even at that time. By the time I graduated, unemployment in my field was at an all time high. The reality was that only 20-25% of graduates would get "potentially permanent" positions in either academia or research. So, when I finally graduated I posted a letter for the undergraduates informing them of the future in the field. Needless to say the faculty were taken aback, but when they checked they found that my data was correct. ..."
"... Yes, their choice. They can abandon the academic pursuit and choose another career. Most people with advanced degrees do just that. ..."
"... I agree that their are way too many grad students and they become the adjuncts that are desperate for full time jobs. But grad students serve an important purpose as cheap labor, particularly in research universities. ..."
"... What if the point of a review process was to improve teaching methods and get feedback from students about what works and what doesn't? ..."
"... We are looking at the decades long pursuit of making higher education "more like business". The mantra of privatization and that attitude that segments of our society which served the public: schools, universities, hospitals, departments of governments at all levels, etc., would all be better if they were run as businesses has been proven false a million times over. ..."
"... University Boards have, for decades, been stacked with advocates of market based systems which have been imposed on institutions which formerly served their students and the public. Students are no longer viewed as students but as revenue streams. Public funding for higher education has similarly declined as the cult of the marketplace including that institutions serving a public purpose needed to be more self funding. Because forcing them to have more skin in the game would force them to trim the fat and innovate. You know, like Walmart. ..."
"... This is a false hope–especially in higher education. The University, the large corporation, the particular governmental agency, are now beyond internal reform and we all know this in our bones. ..."
"... Somehow we must individually and collectively find the courage and creativity to move, maneuver and survive outside of these institutions–trading in the fear and anxiety of trying to succeed in dying institutions for the fear and anxiety which comes with creating new institutions. ..."
Sep 22, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"The work is there," Wangerin tells me, "they just don't want to pay."

A one-time adjunct and contract lecturer myself, I decide to look into the matter more deeply. Are Wangerin's contentions particular to her own experience or are they more widely shared across the United States? And if they are, what does this mean for higher education?

Information, as it turns out, isn't hard to come by. I write one message to a long-time Twitter contact who also happens to be a contingent faculty member and my inbox explodes. As I sort through my e-mails a picture of higher education begins to emerge and, far removed from the conventional image of pipe-smoking professors in book-lined studies, it is largely one of exploitation and control.

"I am currently teaching one class, and in all honesty, unemployment benefits pay double that," a community college lecturer who wished to remain anonymous told me, "I would be better off not teaching at all."

An art professor from Ohio writes in to tell me that she's just thrown in the towel after more than a decade of work: "My class was canceled two weeks before classes start and I decided to get my Alternative Educator License and teach at the high school level."

I hear of a lecturer whose courses were allocated to someone else after he spoke out about a contract clause that demanded access to his DNA; about an adjunct who could not afford to pay property taxes on the family home after 20 years of teaching; and of someone who was fired after a student complaint that he was a "black racist." "Whatever that means," the adjunct reporting the incident grumbles.

... ... ...

"Education claims to ameliorate class stratification, but it actually reinforces it," says Alex Kudera, who has taught college writing and literature off the tenure track for over twenty years.

It's not hard to see what he means. The average adjunct lecturer receives only $2700 per course taught. While that amount is sometimes portrayed as easy money, in addition to time spent in class lecturers must also prepare course content, create exams and assignments, grade, advise students, and, of course, travel from campus to campus. When academics are employed on a casual basis, such activity is not compensated, meaning that the true rate of pay is often around the minimum wage.

Jim Haygood , September 21, 2016 at 6:36 am

'Academics may enjoy more intellectual freedom than many workers, but they also have a duty that does not generally fall on others: to research and to publish the results of that research regardless of how unpopular it may be.'

Proposal for a joint Econ/Law paper

Thesis : US academia is a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization

Synopsis : using de facto antitrust immunity garnered by its politically connected administrators, academia relentlessly hikes tuitions as well as its intake of governmental funding.

Via false and deceptive marketing, students are promised nonexistent benefits from earning a degree, then subjected to a loan sharking racket which indebts them for life, at inflated cartelized prices, without informing them of the non-dischargeability of those debts.

Systemic marketing fraud is further enabled by glossy alumni magazines touting the achievements of tenured faculty, without divulging that a majority of classes are taught by adjuncts.

Recommendations : RICO the entire industry; consolidate it; convict the managers; reopen it under new leadership (former politicians banned for life), under new legislation prohibiting marketing fraud and loan sharking.

Norb , September 21, 2016 at 9:02 am

Seems like the logical solution and the only way to avoid actual collapse of the institutions. This higher education scam can only continue until parental funds are tapped out, which is this current generation of collage age families. New entrants into the workforce, on whole, will not be able to save enough, or have job security to even consider college for their children.

The social contract that the elite are forging ahead with is the bond and willingness to be scammed. It is amazing to see their disbelieving expressions when any form of resistance is encountered. The rational response would be to ease up on the exploitation, but doesn't seem to be happening. Other forces will have to be brought to bear.

ProNewerDeal , September 21, 2016 at 6:48 am

"non-tenure track teaching staff – commonly referred to as adjuncts and contingent faculty – now make up approximately 70% of all teaching staff in American higher education. This means that roughly three out of every four courses a student takes are taught by someone without job security who is working on minimal pay."

Is this actually true? If say some adjuncts are full-time other job & teach only 1 course, some adjuncts are perma-temp FT & teach ~4 courses, & tenure-track teach ~4 courses; then you could have a situation where say
1 portion of teachers that are adjuncts. The article mentioned 70% of ANY teachers teaching at least 1 course in a given semester at Universities are adjuncts

2 portion of courses taught that are taught by adjuncts: A lower number, say 40% of the courses taught at Univs are taught by adjuncts, due to having tenure-track Profs teaching ~4 courses & adjuncts teaching ~1 course each.

The author seems to make a logic error assuming that metric #2 is the same as #1. It may happen to be, but doesn't necessarily need to be.

What actually is the metric #2 number?

I have empathy for the perma-temp FT adjuncts, IMHO it is no different than perma-temp FT workers in other occupations, despite the prestige of Unviersities perhaps somewhat masking its practice.

diptherio , September 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

You're right that we don't have enough info to know #2 from the article, but I also don't know that you've got it quite right.

If full time instructors are half-and-half tenure/tenure-track and adjunct (for instance), that would mean that 30% of profs are tenure and 30% are full time adjuncts. That would leave another 40% of the total that are less-than-full time adjuncts. So you'd have a majority of classes being taught by adjuncts. But, of course, we need more info to figure it out for sure, but it seems more likely to me, based on my experience (~ half my classes were taught by adjuncts during my college days, which were in the late nineties-early aughties) that adjuncts represent a firm majority of both personnel and classroom hours.

MooCows , September 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm

I'm not an adjunct but I'm a non-tenure track faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at a very large university. I teach 8 technical courses a year (3/3/2) while the tenured faculty teach 3 or 4 (2/1/0). We also have adjuncts who typically teach one course a semester.

I bring this up because it could be that, from the author's perspective, I still fall into the adjunct category because my contract must be renewed yearly and the administration can choose not to renew without cause. I would say that non-tenure track faculty are responsible for about 50% of the courses in this department but, being in engineering, our department is small relative to something in the College of Liberal Arts.

upstater , September 21, 2016 at 8:02 am

This fits in, sort of, to this posting… the dean of the B-school, with a $500K salary, a supposed expert on "risk management" at Syracuse University, busted in a prostitution sting:

SU dean arrested in prostitution bust told students: 'Nothing is worth your integrity'

I guess he'll have to hire out at Goldman - aren't they the ones with the running tab at a NYC escort service?

Plenty of adjuncts at Syracuse University, where the tuition is $55K/year.

PlutoniumKun , September 21, 2016 at 8:03 am

More of a question here, as I see the author teaches in Ireland. If Dr. Fuller comes below the line I'd be interested to hear her thoughts on whether the same process is infecting Irish and other European universities. I know if at least one college administrator in Itelamd who loudly proclaims the superiority if the US system. One can only wonder why…

Anon , September 21, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Superior in what way? Science? Technical research? Economic research?

For the US undergad, adjunct instructors is the norm. (My local community college has 70% adjunct instructors.). My local University has slightly less, but uses more experienced gad students to guide less experienced grad students. In any event, the product/experience has been cheapened.

tony , September 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.

Report: First two years of college show small gains

Morris Berman has pointed out that US college has become a social rather than a learning experience. I suspect this cultural shift has made academics themselves replaceable. Does it really matter who babysits these four-year party retreats?

Robert Dannin , September 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

i was an adjunct professor of urban studies at new york university for 12 years. the entire academic department was staffed by adjuncts and part-time instructors except for the chairman, who was ironically a tenured professor of labor history.

my classes were always bursting to seams, we studied contemporary issues and were focusing on the sub-prime crisis back in 1995. one class toward the end of my lecture, i wrote the math for my salary on the blackboard. it came down to twenty-five cents per student per class, a tiny fraction of their per semester tuition. a student from the business school remarked that i could probably make more panhandling the same hours outside in washington square park. everyone laughed. by the time i got back to the department less than 20 minutes later, the chair invited me into his office. "don't talk about salary issues with your students. GOT IT!" someone had ratted me out. guess i spoiled their day. easier to discuss poor people in the outer boroughs than someone on your doorstep. in the following years i spent my spare time organizing the first adjunct faculty union. door-to-door, button-holing adjuncts on the sidewalk or in the hallways. the less experience they had, the more reluctant they were to get involved for fear of ruining their chances for a F/T tenure track position. they wouldn't listen, when i explained, once an adjunct, always an adjunct. after five more years, they began to see the light and wanted union. then the uaw swooped in, demanding my lists and fealty. they knew nothing about activism on an urban campus and didn't want to listen. when i tried to participate in meetings, i was accused of disrespecting the regional organizer who commuted to the union hqtrs. from her home in litchfield, ct. at one meeting they told us who our "friends" were on campus. yep, heading the list was my dept chair, the good-old red-diaper baby himself. finally, there was a vote, the union won a shitty package that deliberately excluded any new hires. end of the semester the dept chair sends me an email, you're fired! meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

SpringTexan , September 21, 2016 at 10:46 am

Thanks. Wish every adjunct would teach this if this is appropriate to the class. (and mention it in passing if it's not)

Uahsenaa , September 21, 2016 at 11:07 am

I do this with my students as well, noting that about 10% of their tuition goes to me, while the rest goes to the University.

I also like to point out that they pay six six times the tuition compared to what the people running the university did, and that's before you take into consideration that they didn't have to pay an extra 1K in "fees."

If they simply cut me a check for the percentage of their tuition that goes to the class, I'd make upwards of 300K a year.

ProNewerDeal , September 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Robert,

Thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear that you were fired, apparently for exercising you human & Constitutional right to labor-organize.

The fact that your boss was "a labor history Prof" is worst-tier hypocrisy & irony. Reminds me of Constitutional Law Prof 0bama, who continually defecates on the Constitution with his assasination of US citizens overseas program, NSA bulk spying, etc.

I hope you found an alternative job that had better working conditions & a fairer boss.

flora , September 21, 2016 at 10:20 am

This essay is spot-on in every respect. Thanks for posting.

NoBrick , September 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, We're finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio." CSNY

It seems the "social unrest" stemmed from the collective consciousness permitted by
unrestrained objectivity. The master-client relationship was overwhelmed by repeated
gestures that breached the ordained demeandor of prostrate obedience.

The balance between confusion and illumination (consciousness) must be modified!
After all, successful marketing/propaganda begins where consciousness ends…

Benedict@Large , September 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

I was fortunate enough (a long time ago) to attend an Ivy League university, with my brother attending the same two class years ahead of me. I became frustrated at one point, finding my courses to always be a number of degrees more abstract in what they were teaching than I had anticipated, and sought my brother's advice. "Brown," he said, "doesn't make engineers; they make graduate students." As I would later come to say, we were not taught to be mathematicians or chemists or historian; we were taught to think like them. I can't tell you how valuable that approach to education has turn out to be for me, both professionally and personally, as I've made my way through life. These are things you don't unlearn.

I think about this whenever I read articles (like this one) about the direction of education today, especially but not limited to the college level. These experiences are being lost as we turn our schools into trade schools and our students into mere mechanics; OK at any situation for which they have been specifically trained, but kind of useless for those when that has not been the case. Our elites tell us that this is what the market wants, but I never see any of them actually asking the students, and when I check back at the Ivy, I find that the elites still teach their own the way I was taught. The answer is clear. we are deliberately being divided by education into a world where the children of the elites, whether they have earned it or not, will find no intellectual competition from the classes below them. The Poors really will be stupid, but it will be intentional, and built in to the Nature and Nurture the elites have allowed them to have.

beans , September 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Excellent comment, Benedict. The art of teaching people how to think instead of what to think – the educator who can do this is invaluable, now more than ever.

Punxsutawney , September 21, 2016 at 10:33 am

I might add as well, that many of these adjuncts came out of industry, having lost well paying jobs as operations were moved overseas.

Now working part-time for less than 1/2 of what they were making, if they are lucky!

Bitman , September 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

Few points to add to this excellent article:

1. The shift needed to understand the modern University is to think of it not as an institution of higher learning, but as a processing plant – it produces "students" and "graduates, and adjuncts are the staff assigned the role of processors. The model is industrial. Elite institutions of all sorts have conspired with the University to require professional credentials for more and more of the occupations they staff, in order to assure large flows of people pass through. This also means that larger populations are drawn into the debt system and thereby depoliticized.

2. The most important role an adjunct can play is to bring the issues associated with the industrializing of the university into the classroom. Make students aware of the labor situation, and what they're buying. Explain to them that adjuncts, like nurses in hospitals, are expected to overperform, and that their overperformance is what props up a diseased, corrupt institution. It's very, very important for adjuncts not to get caught up in the official institutional morality that guilts them into overperformance (hospitals are probably the leader in this respect). How much overperformance you indulge in is a personal decision, in my view, but it should never be taken on uncritically.

My own individualized response to this system has been to take on as many classes as I humanly can, so that a) my wages actually compare to those of my tenured colleagues, and b) to demonstrate to students by so doing that the University does not give a shit about their education. No one pays attention to how many courses I teach or how prepared I am to teach them. I've taught hundreds of courses (no exaggeration) and no one ever supervises me or even checks in (It's happened twice in 25 years) .Fact is, I happen to be prepared, but I stress that that is not at all a concern of the University. I've been asked to teach courses in subjects where I have absolutely no expertise, but since I'm teaching undergrads, know how to read, construct a syllabus, and make compelling arguments, I get by, sometimes even comfortably. Many get by this way. But it shouldn't be confused with providing student a good education. And I'm getting too old to maintain the pace, as we all do.

According to the evaluation numbers I'm somehow still providing students with an above-average experience in their courses, but I do so full in the knowledge that I WILL NOT overperform without making the students aware that that is what unfairly is expected of me, even though I'm given none of the resources tenured faculty are given. I cancel classes sometimes, for the express purpose of the fact I need a break (I don;t get sabbaticals). They almost invariably understand. They also are sometimes infuriated that this state of affairs persists, though like adjuncts they fear making waves.

3. Tenured faculty are the enemy (unfortunately) or PT faculty. Eevn the labor activists among them have different class interests than PT faculty at most large universities. Full-time faculty are dominated by the administration and feel themselves to be under siege, but one response to this is that they dominate PT faculty as a means of freeing themselves as much as possible from the industrial-style teaching of large University life. As a rule, they are not willing to equitably share the burdens PT faculty face, and there's no getting around that.

David , September 21, 2016 at 11:51 am

Having come up through the academic process and seeing the handwriting on the wall deciding to opt out of trying for an academic career, I think I can comment a bit.

First, no one is forcing these folks to be adjuncts. It's their choice.

The real issue is one of information and honesty or at least reality over hopeful expectations. When I was an undergrad my professors encouraged me to go to grad school and were pleased when I decided to pursue a Ph.D. They all implied, if not said, that I would be able to then get an academic job. I think they really believed this, but the reality was far different even at that time. By the time I graduated, unemployment in my field was at an all time high. The reality was that only 20-25% of graduates would get "potentially permanent" positions in either academia or research. So, when I finally graduated I posted a letter for the undergraduates informing them of the future in the field. Needless to say the faculty were taken aback, but when they checked they found that my data was correct.

Do these adjuncts believe that a "potentially permanent" position awaits them if they keep going on their present path? Are they being told that by the universities? If so, then they are being deceived. Or, is this just a case of blind optimism and not wanting to give up their dream? In this case, it goes back to being their choice. Or do they want a career as a serial adjunct, and just want the job to be better? The this is just typical employer/employee bargaining and back to their choice.

So, they can agitate for more money, security, authority, etc. which is what they appear to be doing, or they can leave the field for one that is more lucrative, which is what the vast majority of us have done.

http://canonicalthoughts.blogspot.com

reslez , September 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm

It's their "choice" to be an adjunct. Really? If there was a true choice wouldn't the vast majority "choose" to be full-time faculty with benefits and equivalent pay? Free marketeers keep using the word "choice", but the choice they offer is usually one where you get to "choose" between homelessness and and marginal survival at $11 an hour. A mighty impressive choice!

Do they "believe" they're going to get a full-time position, because realistic career expectations wouldn't help universities get cheap grad student labor?

Or maybe they end up in grad school like a lot of people I know - because the job market was so terrible that the idea of staying in school for another couple of years was their best "choice" at that point in time? Since the media constantly tells us education is always good, and those who don't have it will fall behind, the idea that more education isn't always better comes as a foreign idea to a lot of 22 year olds. An assembly line of cheap grad student labor then gets funneled into adjunct teaching.

David , September 21, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Yes, their choice. They can abandon the academic pursuit and choose another career. Most people with advanced degrees do just that.

I agree that their are way too many grad students and they become the adjuncts that are desperate for full time jobs. But grad students serve an important purpose as cheap labor, particularly in research universities. Why would they want to give that up? Again, this is an issue of information, which is why I posted my letter. If undergrads knew the actual prospects for grad students after they graduate perhaps they would choose a different path. But, grad school and academia are extremely attractive pursuits for many people so they readily put up with all the impediments in the hope of making it as a professor. The reality is that academia has become an avocation, a hobby, rather than a vocation for most people.

diptherio , September 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

Here's a thought: maybe if our education system weren't built around fear, we'd be able to present a more united front.

Consider: instructors are tasked with judging students and, if they grade on the curve, punishing some of them regardless of their skill or effort…and often enough this sorting is accomplished through BS methods like high-stakes, time-limited testing. So yeah, sometimes students get resentful of the instructors who get seen as the enemy. And so, they take it out be leaving a bad review.

The reviews, just like the tests and grading systems, are being used to sort and punish profs. Bad reviews from students can be devastating financially and career-wise, as detailed in the article. So profs get scared and therefore fail to ask much of the students, so as to come off as a "nice guy/gal." The students live in fear and don't learn, and the teachers live in fear and don't teach. But what if we did things differently?

What if the point of a review process was to improve teaching methods and get feedback from students about what works and what doesn't? What if reviews were done in a way aimed at supporting instructors, rather than censuring them? And what if students were treated the same way. What if, instead of a reprimand and a shaming, students were given support and encouragement (more like Evergreen and Sarah Lawrence)?

Maybe then we'd stop being afraid of each other and be able to support eachother as we demand an answer to the question of how it is that tuitions keep going up while faculty pay keeps going down. Demand in no uncertain terms that the top Admins take major pay cuts or step down so their secretary can take over for them (with a hefty pay raise, of course, but something reasonable ).

That's my two sense.

KYrocky , September 21, 2016 at 1:15 pm

We are looking at the decades long pursuit of making higher education "more like business". The mantra of privatization and that attitude that segments of our society which served the public: schools, universities, hospitals, departments of governments at all levels, etc., would all be better if they were run as businesses has been proven false a million times over.

University Boards have, for decades, been stacked with advocates of market based systems which have been imposed on institutions which formerly served their students and the public. Students are no longer viewed as students but as revenue streams. Public funding for higher education has similarly declined as the cult of the marketplace including that institutions serving a public purpose needed to be more self funding. Because forcing them to have more skin in the game would force them to trim the fat and innovate. You know, like Walmart.

For decades, political contributions bought politicians who in turn mandated that federal student loans had to be administered by banks, thereby siphoning off billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars that could have otherwise gone to students and universities. The politicians also permit these banks to gouge students on interest rates, to pass laws making it harder or impossible to discharge loan debt through bankruptcy, or to refinance their loans. None of these abuses of students served a public interest. All of these abuses exemplify our current model for how to apply business practices to higher education.

In the business sense, the only concern a University has for its product is its relationship to the revenue stream. A little like the charter school model. Universities have a need for instructors, and in applying the methods of successful business as it is defined today they will seek to fill that labor need at the absolute lowest cost achievable. Those who long for the past are out of luck; universities are never going back. Faculty pay will keep going down as long there are new warm bodies to take the place of those who don't like it, and adjuncts will be squeezed for all that can be wrung from them.

Adjuncts are nameless, faceless, and entirely forgettable as far the University administration is concerned. The administration will blow as much smoke up adjunct's asses as needed to keep their slots filled. Adjuncts are in an abusive relationship, whether they understand it or not. The abuse is never going to end, as the obstacles are not just the administration and the university Board, but the politicians, the big donors, and the attitudes of our society at large.

templar555510 , September 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

What you have so precisely described is yet another Ponzi scheme. Of course it is because that is what post capitalist Capitalism is .

Think of it like this : there is approximately 7 billion of us living on planet Earth and between us we can and do produce enough food, clothing and could produce enough housing ( that's another matter ) for all 7 billion.

So the problem for the capitalist is how do I create the illusion of scarcity upon which Capitalism works. Answer : grab by any and every means possible – legal and illegal , it's all the same thing – the lions share of what already exists ; in other words steal it . That's the 1 % .

And then con the 99% into believing resources are scarce etc, etc and bending to the will of the 1 %.

Jim , September 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Most of us continue to hope that we will eventually find a secure/meaningful position somewhere in one of the major institutions that make-up our society.

This is a false hope–especially in higher education. The University, the large corporation, the particular governmental agency, are now beyond internal reform and we all know this in our bones.

Somehow we must individually and collectively find the courage and creativity to move, maneuver and survive outside of these institutions–trading in the fear and anxiety of trying to succeed in dying institutions for the fear and anxiety which comes with creating new institutions.

[Sep 21, 2016] An interesting view on Russian intelligencia by the scientist and writer Zinoviev expressed during perestroika in 1991

The intelligentsia (Latin: intellegentia, Polish: inteligencja, Russian: интеллигенция; IPA: [ɪntʲɪlʲɪˈɡʲentsɨjə]) is a social class of people engaged in complex mental labor aimed at guiding or critiquing, or otherwise playing a leadership role in shaping a society's culture and politics.[1] This therefore might include everyone from artists to school teachers, as well as academics, writers, journalists, and other hommes de lettres (men of letters) more usually thought of as being the main constituents of the intelligentsia.
Intelligentsia is the subject of active polemics concerning its own role in the development of modern society not always positive historically, often contributing to higher degree of progress, but also to its backward movement.[2]... In pre-revolutionary Russia the term was first used to describe people possessing cultural and political initiative.[3] It was commonly used by those individuals themselves to create an apparent distance from the masses, and generally retained that narrow self-definition. [citation needed]
en.wikipedia.org

If intellectuals replace the current professional politicians as the leaders of society the situation would become much worse. Because they have neither the sense of reality, nor common sense. For them, the words and speeches are more important than the actual social laws and the dominant trends, the dominant social dynamics of the society. The psychological principle of the intellectuals is that we could organize everything much better, but we are not allowed to do it.

But the actual situation is as following: they could organize the life of society as they wish and plan, in the way they view is the best only if under conditions that are not present now are not feasible in the future. Therefore they are not able to act even at the level of current leaders of the society, which they despise. The actual leaders are influenced by social pressures, by the current social situation, but at least they doing something. Intellectuals are unhappy that the real stream of life they are living in. They consider it wrong. that makes them very dangerous, because they look really smart, while in reality being sophisticated professional idiots.

[Sep 18, 2016] We Have to Deal With Putin

Notable quotes:
"... Moscow did indeed support secessionist pro-Russia rebels in East Ukraine. But did not the U.S. launch a 78-day bombing campaign on tiny Serbia to effect a secession of its cradle province of Kosovo? ..."
"... Russia is reportedly hacking into our political institutions. If so, it ought to stop. But have not our own CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, and NGOs meddled in Russia's internal affairs for years? ..."
"... Scores of the world's 190-odd nations are today ruled by autocrats. How does it advance our interests or diplomacy to have congressional leaders yapping "thug" at the ruler of a nation with hundreds of nuclear warheads? ..."
"... Very good article indeed. Knee-jerk reaction of american politicians and journalists looks extremely strange. As a matter of fact they look like idiots or puppets. ..."
"... Rubio and Graham are reflexively ready to push US influence everywhere, all the time, with military force always on the agenda, and McCain seems to be in a state of constant agitation ..."
"... Very sensible article. And as the EU falls further into disarray and possible disintegration, due to migration and other catastrophically mishandled problems, a working partnership with Russia will become even more important. Right now, we treat Russia as an enemy and Saudi Arabia as a friend. That makes no sense at all. ..."
"... As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room". ..."
"... I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context. ..."
"... The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing. ..."
"... P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage. ..."
"... Anyway, what Buchanan is saying is, "We have to deal with him," not "favor him." The two terms should not be confused. ..."
"... There are a lot of "allies" of questionable usefulness that the US should stop "favoring," and a lot of competitors (and potential allies in the true sense) out there the US should begin "dealing" with. ..."
"... Everything the Western elite does is about dollar hegemony and control of energy. ..."
"... As long as Russia is not a puppet of the globalist banking cartel they will be presented as an "enemy". Standing in the way of energy imperialism was the last straw for the all out hybrid war being launched on Russia now. ..."
"... If the Western public wasn't so lazy and stupid we would remove the globalists controlling us. Instead people, especially liberals, get in bed with the globalists plans against Russia bc they can't stand Russia is Christian and supports the family. ..."
"... Every word about Russia allowed in the Western establishment are lies funded and molded by people like Soros and warmongers. This is the reality. Nobody who will speak honestly or positively about Russia is allowed any voice. And scumbag neoliberal globalists like Kasperov are presented as "Russians" while real Russian people are given zero voice. ..."
"... What the Western elite is doing right now in Ukraine and Syria is reprehensible and its all our fault for letting these people control us. ..."
Sep 16, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

...Arriving on Capitol Hill to repair ties between Trump and party elites, Gov. Mike Pence was taken straight to the woodshed.

What causes the Republican Party to lose it whenever the name of Vladimir Putin is raised?

Putin is no Stalin, whom FDR and Harry Truman called "Good old Joe" and "Uncle Joe." Unlike Nikita Khrushchev, he never drowned a Hungarian Revolution in blood. He did crush the Chechen secession. But what did he do there that General Sherman did not do to Atlanta when Georgia seceded from Mr. Lincoln's Union?

Putin supported the U.S. in Afghanistan, backed our nuclear deal with Iran, and signed on to John Kerry's plan have us ensure a cease fire in Syria and go hunting together for ISIS and al-Qaida terrorists.

Still, Putin committed "aggression" in Ukraine, we are told. But was that really aggression, or reflexive strategic reaction? We helped dump over a pro-Putin democratically elected regime in Kiev, and Putin acted to secure his Black Sea naval base by re-annexing Crimea, a peninsula that has belonged to Russia from Catherine the Great to Khrushchev. Great powers do such things.

When the Castros pulled Cuba out of America's orbit, we decided to keep Guantanamo, and dismiss Havana's protests?

Moscow did indeed support secessionist pro-Russia rebels in East Ukraine. But did not the U.S. launch a 78-day bombing campaign on tiny Serbia to effect a secession of its cradle province of Kosovo?

... ... ...

Russia is reportedly hacking into our political institutions. If so, it ought to stop. But have not our own CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, and NGOs meddled in Russia's internal affairs for years?

... ... ...

Is Putin's Russia more repressive than Xi Jinping's China? Yet, Republicans rarely use "thug" when speaking about Xi. During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea. Cold War necessity required it.

Scores of the world's 190-odd nations are today ruled by autocrats. How does it advance our interests or diplomacy to have congressional leaders yapping "thug" at the ruler of a nation with hundreds of nuclear warheads?

... ... ...

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority

Tiktaalik , says: September 16, 2016 at 2:41 am

  • >>During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea
  • buttressed could be even more pertinent)
  • Very good article indeed. Knee-jerk reaction of american politicians and journalists looks extremely strange. As a matter of fact they look like idiots or puppets.
  • bacon , says: September 16, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Rubio and Graham are reflexively ready to push US influence everywhere, all the time, with military force always on the agenda, and McCain seems to be in a state of constant agitation whenever US forces are not actively engaged in combat somewhere. They are loud voices, yes, but irrational voices, too.

    Skeptic , says: September 16, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Very sensible article. And as the EU falls further into disarray and possible disintegration, due to migration and other catastrophically mishandled problems, a working partnership with Russia will become even more important. Right now, we treat Russia as an enemy and Saudi Arabia as a friend. That makes no sense at all.

    John Blade Wiederspan , says: September 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

    "Just" states the starvation of the Ukraine is a western lie. The Harvest of Sorrow by Robert Conquest refutes this dangerous falsehood. Perhaps "Just" believes The Great Leap Forward did not lead to starvation of tens of millions in China. After all, this could be another "western lie". So to could be the Armenian genocide in Turkey or slaughter of Communists in Indonesia.

    SteveM , says: September 16, 2016 at 10:23 am

    As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room".

    I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context.

    The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing.

    And so the U.S. – Russia relationship is wrecked by the "smartest person in the room".

    P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage.

    blimbax , says: September 16, 2016 at 11:29 am

    John asks, "We also have to deal with our current allies. Whom would Mr. Buchanan like to favor?"

    Well, we could redouble our commitment to our democracy and peace loving friends in Saudi Arabia, we could deepen our ties to those gentle folk in Egypt, and maybe for a change give some meaningful support to Israel. Oh, and our defensive alliances will be becoming so much stronger with Montenegro as a member, we will need to pour more resources into that country.

    Anyway, what Buchanan is saying is, "We have to deal with him," not "favor him." The two terms should not be confused.

    There are a lot of "allies" of questionable usefulness that the US should stop "favoring," and a lot of competitors (and potential allies in the true sense) out there the US should begin "dealing" with.

    Joe the Plutocrat , says: September 16, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    "During the Cold War, we partnered with such autocrats as the Shah of Iran and General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila, and Park Chung-Hee of South Korea. Cold War necessity required it (funny, you failed to mention Laos, South Vietnam, Nicaragua, Noriega/Panama, and everyone's favorite 9/11 co-conspirator and WMD developer, Saddam Hussein). either way how did these "alliances" work out for the US? really doesn't matter, does it? it is early 21st century, not mid 20th century. there is a school of thought in the worlds of counter-terrorism/intelligence operations, which suggests if you want to be successful, you have to partner with some pretty nasty folks. Trump is being "handled" by an experienced, ruthless (that's a compliment), and focused "operator". unless, of course, Trump is actually the superior operator, in which case, this would be the greatest black op of all time.

    Clint , says: September 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    "From Russia With Money - Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset and Cronyism,"

    "Of the 28 US, European and Russian companies that participated in Skolkovo, 17 of them were Clinton Foundation donors" or sponsored speeches by former President Bill Clinton, Schweizer told The Post.

    http://nypost.com/2016/07/31/report-raises-questions-about-clinton-cash-from-russians-during-reset/

    WakeUp , says: September 16, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Everything the Western elite does is about dollar hegemony and control of energy. Once you understand that then the (evil)actions of the Western elite make sense. Anyone who stands in the way of those things is an "enemy". This is how they determine an "enemy".

    As long as Russia is not a puppet of the globalist banking cartel they will be presented as an "enemy". Standing in the way of energy imperialism was the last straw for the all out hybrid war being launched on Russia now.

    If the Western public wasn't so lazy and stupid we would remove the globalists controlling us. Instead people, especially liberals, get in bed with the globalists plans against Russia bc they can't stand Russia is Christian and supports the family.

    Every word about Russia allowed in the Western establishment are lies funded and molded by people like Soros and warmongers. This is the reality. Nobody who will speak honestly or positively about Russia is allowed any voice. And scumbag neoliberal globalists like Kasperov are presented as "Russians" while real Russian people are given zero voice.

    What the Western elite is doing right now in Ukraine and Syria is reprehensible and its all our fault for letting these people control us.

    [Sep 18, 2016] Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesnt play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the smartest person in the room

    Notable quotes:
    "... As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room". ..."
    "... I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context. ..."
    "... The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing. ..."
    "... P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage. ..."
    Sep 16, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com
    SteveM , says: September 16, 2016 at 10:23 am

    As I've stated many times, Obama the narcissist hates Putin because Putin doesn't play the sycophantic lapdog yapping about how good it is to interact with the "smartest person in the room".

    I'm serious. Obama craves sources of narcissistic supply and has visceral contempt for sources of narcissistic injury. I.e., people who may reveal the mediocrity that he actually is. Obama considers Putin a threat in that context.

    The downside for the U.S. is that Obama has extended hating Putin to hating Russia. And yes, Washington is flooded with sources of sycophantic narcissistic supply for Obama including the MSM. And they are happy to massage his twisted ego by enthusiastically playing along with the Putin/Russia fear-monger bashing.

    And so the U.S. – Russia relationship is wrecked by the "smartest person in the room".

    P.S. too bad Hillary is saturated with her own psychopathology that portends more Global Cop wreckage.

    [Sep 18, 2016] Protesting Youth in the Age of Neoliberal Cruelty

    Notable quotes:
    "... Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions. ..."
    "... - Eduardo Galeano ..."
    "... Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." ..."
    "... One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. ..."
    "... As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital ..."
    "... As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy ..."
    "... Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. ..."
    "... The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena. ..."
    "... They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military. ..."
    "... dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. ..."
    "... Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2). ..."
    "... In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. ..."
    "... What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization. ..."
    "... London Review of Books ..."
    "... This is not a diary ..."
    "... Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment ..."
    "... Against the terror of neoliberalism ..."
    "... Against the violence of organized forgetting: beyond America's disimagination machine ..."
    "... Debt: The First 5,000 Years ..."
    "... The democracy project: a history, a crisis, a movement ..."
    "... 5th assessment report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change ..."
    "... Unlearning With Hannah Arendt ..."
    "... Agnonistics: thinking the world politically ..."
    "... Capital in the twenty-first century ..."
    www.truth-out.org

    Reality always has this power to surprise. It surprises you with an answer that it gives to questions never asked - and which are most tempting. A great stimulus to life is there, in the capacity to divine possible unasked questions.

    - Eduardo Galeano

    Neoliberalism's Assault on Democracy

    Fred Jameson has argued that "that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." He goes on to say that "We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world" (Jameson 2003). One way of understanding Jameson's comment is that within the ideological and affective spaces in which the neoliberal subject is produced and market-driven ideologies are normalized, there are new waves of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is driven by a kind of mad violence and form of self-sabotage, and that if it does not come to an end, what we will experience, in all probability, is the destruction of human life and the planet itself. Certainly, more recent scientific reports on the threat of ecological disaster from researchers at the University of Washington, NASA, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforce this dystopian possibility. [1]

    To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

    As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014). As a political project, it includes "the deregulation of finance, privatization of public services, elimination and curtailment of social welfare programs, open attacks on unions, and routine violations of labor laws" (Yates 2013). As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy, consuming as the only operable form of citizenship, and upholds the irrational belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations. As a mode of governance, it produces identities, subjects, and ways of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual, and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power removed from matters of ethics and social costs. As a policy and political project, it is wedded to the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the endless marketization and commodification of society.

    Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one's individual needs and self-interests. Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence. One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society - now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

    That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls "a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies" under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

    The Rise of Disposable Youth

    What is particularly distinctive about the current historical conjuncture is the way in which young people, particularly low-income and poor minority youth across the globe, have been increasingly denied any place in an already weakened social order and the degree to which they are no longer seen as central to how a number of countries across the globe define their future. The plight of youth as disposable populations is evident in the fact that millions of them in countries such as England, Greece, and the United States have been unemployed and denied long term benefits. The unemployment rate for young people in many countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece hovers between 40 and 50 per cent. To make matters worse, those with college degrees either cannot find work or are working at low-skill jobs that pay paltry wages. In the United States, young adjunct faculty constitute one of the fastest growing populations on food stamps. Suffering under huge debts, a jobs crisis, state violence, a growing surveillance state, and the prospect that they would inherit a standard of living far below that enjoyed by their parents, many young people have exhibited a rage that seems to deepen their resignation, despair, and withdrawal from the political arena.

    This is the first generation, as sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues, in which the "plight of the outcast may stretch to embrace a whole generation." (Bauman 2012a; 2012b; 2012c) He rightly insists that today's youth have been "cast in a condition of liminal drift, with no way of knowing whether it is transitory or permanent" (Bauman 2004:76). Youth no longer occupy the hope of a privileged place that was offered to previous generations. They now inhabit a neoliberal notion of temporality marked by a loss of faith in progress along with the emergence of apocalyptic narratives in which the future appears indeterminate, bleak, and insecure. Heightened expectations and progressive visions pale and are smashed next to the normalization of market-driven government policies that wipe out pensions, eliminate quality health care, raise college tuition, and produce a harsh world of joblessness, while giving millions to banks and the military.

    Students, in particular, found themselves in a world in which unrealized aspirations have been replaced by dashed hopes and a world of onerous debt (Fraser 2013; On the history of debt, see Graeber 2012).

    The Revival of the Radical Imagination

    Within the various regimes of neoliberalism that have emerged particularly in North since the late 1970s, the ethical grammars that drew attention to the violence and suffering withered or, as in the United States, seemed to disappear altogether, while dispossessed youth continued to lose their dignity, bodies, and material goods to the machineries of disposability. The fear of losing everything, the horror of an engulfing and crippling precarity, the quest to merely survive, the rise of the punishing state and police violence, along with the impending reality of social and civil death, became a way of life for the 99 percent in the United States and other countries. Under such circumstances, youth were no longer the place where society reveals its dreams, but increasingly hid its nightmares. Against the ravaging policies of austerity and disposability, "zones of abandonment appeared in which the domestic machinery of violence, suffering, cruelty, and punishment replaced the values of compassion, social responsibility, and civic courage" (Biehl 2005:2).

    In opposition to such conditions, a belief in the power of collective resistance and politics emerged once again in 2010, as global youth protests embraced the possibility of deepening and expanding democracy, rather than rejecting it. Such movements produced a new understanding of politics based on horizontal forms of collaboration and political participation. In doing so, they resurrected revitalized and much needed questions about class power, inequality, financial corruption, and the shredding of the democratic process. They also explored as well as what it meant to create new communities of mutual support, democratic modes of exchange and governance, and public spheres in which critical dialogue and exchanges could take place (For an excellent analysis on neoliberal-induced financial corruption, see Anderson 2004).

    A wave of youth protests starting in 2010 in Tunisia, and spreading across the globe to the United States and Europe, eventually posed a direct challenge to neoliberal modes of domination and the corruption of politics, if not democracy itself (Hardt & Negri 2012). The legitimating, debilitating, and depoliticizing notion that politics could only be challenged within established methods of reform and existing relations of power was rejected outright by students and other young people across the globe. For a couple of years, young people transformed basic assumptions about what politics is and how the radical imagination could be mobilized to challenge the basic beliefs of neoliberalism and other modes of authoritarianism. They also challenged dominant discourses ranging from deficit reduction and taxing the poor to important issues that included poverty, joblessness, the growing unmanageable levels of student debt, and the massive spread of corporate corruption. As Jonathan Schell argued, youth across the globe were enormously successfully in unleashing "a new spirit of action", an expression of outrage fueled less by policy demands than by a cry of collective moral and political indignation whose message was

    'Enough!' to a corrupt political, economic and media establishment that hijacked the world's wealth for itself… sabotaging the rule of law, waging interminable savage and futile wars, plundering the world's finite resources, and lying about all this to the public [while] threatening Earth's life forms into the bargain. (Schell 2011)

    Yet, some theorists have recently argued that little has changed since 2011, in spite of this expression of collective rage and accompanying demonstrations by youth groups across the globe.

    The Collapse or Reconfiguration of Youthful Protests?

    Costas Lapavitsas and Alex Politaki, writing in The Guardian, argue that as the "economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013", youth in Greece, France, Portugal, and Spain have largely been absent from "politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). Yet, at the same time, they insist that more and more young people have been "attracted to nihilistic ends of the political spectrum, including varieties of anarchism and fascism" (Lapavitsas & Politaki 2014). This indicates that young people have hardly been absent from politics. On the contrary, those youth moving to the right are being mobilized around needs that simply promise the swindle of fulfillment. This does not suggest youth are becoming invisible. On the contrary, the move on the part of students and others to the right implies that the economic crisis has not been matched by a crisis of ideas, one that would propel young people towards left political parties or social formations that effectively articulate a critical understanding of the present economic and political crisis. Missing here is also a strategy to create and sustain a radical democratic political movement that avoids cooptation of the prevailing economic and political systems of oppression now dominating the United States, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, France, and England, among other countries.

    This critique of youthful protesters as a suspect generation is repeated in greater detail by Andrew R. Myers in Student Pulse (Myers 2012). He argues that deteriorating economic and educational conditions for youth all over Europe have created not only a profound sense of political pessimism among young people, but also a dangerous, if not cynical, distrust towards established politics. Regrettably, Myers seems less concerned about the conditions that have written young people out of jobs, a decent education, imposed a massive debt on them, and offers up a future of despair and dashed hopes than the alleged unfortunate willingness of young people to turn their back on traditional parties. Myers argues rightly that globalization is the enemy of young people and is undermining democracy, but he wrongly insists that traditional social democratic parties are the only vehicles and hope left for real reform. As such, Myers argues that youth who exhibit distrust towards established governments and call for the construction of another world symbolize political defeat, if not cynicism itself. Unfortunately, with his lament about how little youth are protesting today and about their lack of engagement in the traditional forms of politics, he endorses, in the end, a defense of those left/liberal parties that embrace social democracy and the new labor policies of centrist-left coalitions. His rebuke borders on bad faith, given his criticism of young people for not engaging in electoral politics and joining with unions, both of which, for many youth, rightfully represent elements of a reformist politics they reject.

    It is ironic that both of these critiques of the alleged passivity of youth and the failure of their politics have nothing to say about the generations of adults that failed these young people - that is, what disappears in these narratives is the fact that an older generation accepted the "realization that one generation no longer holds out a hand to the next" (Knott 2011:ix). What is lacking here is any critical sense regarding the historical conditions and dismal lack of political and moral responsibility of an adult generation who shamefully bought into and reproduced, at least since the 1970s, governments and social orders wedded to war, greed, political corruption, xenophobia, and willing acceptance of the dictates of a ruthless form of neoliberal globalization.

    In fact, what was distinctive about the protesting youth across the globe was their rejection to the injustices of neoliberalism and their attempts to redefine the meaning of politics and democracy, while fashioning new forms of revolt (Hardt & Negri 2012; Graeber 2013). Among their many criticisms, youthful protesters argued vehemently that traditional social democratic, left, and liberal parties suffered from an "extremism of the center" that made them complicitous with the corporate and ruling political elites, resulting in their embrace of the inequities of a form of casino capitalism which assumed that the market should govern the entirety of social life, not just the economic realm (Hardt & Negri 2012:88).

    ... ... ...

    References:

    Related Stories

    Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include: Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), America's Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), and The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America's Disimagination Machine (City Lights, 2014). The Toronto Star named Henry Giroux one of the twelve Canadians changing the way we think! Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.

    [Sep 18, 2016] Benedict Option FAQ

    Notable quotes:
    "... The "Benedict Option" refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, ..."
    "... Benedict wrote his famous Rule , which became the guiding constitution of most monasteries in western Europe in the Middle Ages. The monasteries were incubators of Christian and classical culture, and outposts of evangelization in the barbarian kingdoms ..."
    Sep 18, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    The "Benedict Option" refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, and who therefore are keen to construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance against what the empire represents.

    Put less grandly, the Benedict Option - or "Ben Op" - is an umbrella term for Christians who accept MacIntyre's critique of modernity, and who also recognize that forming Christians who live out Christianity according to Great Tradition requires embedding within communities and institutions dedicated to that formation.

    ... ... ...

    For one, the it awakened many small-o orthodox Christians to something that ought to have been clear to them a long, long time ago: the West is truly a post-Christian civilization, and we had better come up with new ways of living if we are going to hold on to the faith in this new dark age. The reason gay rights were so quickly embraced by the American public is because the same public had already jettisoned traditional Christian teaching on the meaning of sex, of marriage, and even a Christian anthropology. Same-sex marriage is only the fulfillment of a radical change that had already taken place in Western culture.

    ... ... ...

    Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-537) was an educated young Christian who left Rome, the city of the recently fallen Empire, out of disgust with its decadence. He went south, into the forest near Subiaco, to live as a hermit and to pray. Eventually, he gathered around him some like-minded men, and formed monasteries. Benedict wrote his famous Rule , which became the guiding constitution of most monasteries in western Europe in the Middle Ages. The monasteries were incubators of Christian and classical culture, and outposts of evangelization in the barbarian kingdoms. As Cardinal Newman wrote:

    St Benedict found the world, physical and social, in ruins, and his mission was to restore it in the way not of science, but of nature, not as if setting about to do it [the caveat], not professing to do it by any set time, or by any rare specific, or by any series of strokes, but so quietly, patiently, gradually, that often till the work was done, it was not known to be doing. It was a restoration rather than a visitation, correction or conversion.

    The new work which he helped to create was a growth rather than a structure . Silent men were observed about the country, or discovered in the forest, digging, clearing and building; and other silent men, not seen, were sitting in the cold cloister, tiring their eyes and keeping their attention on the stretch, while they painfully copied and recopied the manuscripts which they had saved.

    There was no one who contended or cried out, or drew attention to what was going on, but by degrees the woody swamp became a hermitage, a religious house, a farm, an abbey, a village, a seminary, a school of learning and a city.

    ... ... ...

    Here are some basic Benedictine principles that we might think of as tools for living the Christian life:

    1. Order. Benedict described the monastery as a "school for the service of the Lord." The entire way of life of the monastic community was ordered by this telos , or end. The primary purpose of Christian community life is to form Christians. The Benedict Option must teach us to make every other goal in our lives secondary to serving God. Christianity is not simply a "worldview" or an add-on to our lives, as it is in modernity; it must be our lives, or it is something less than Christianity.

    2. Prayer and work. Life as a Christian requires both contemplation and action. Both depend on the other. There is a reason Jesus retired to the desert after teaching the crowds. Work is as sacred as prayer. Ordinary life can and should be hallowed.

    3. Stability. The Rule ordinarily requires monks to stay put in the monastery where they professed their vows. The idea is that moving around constantly, following our own desires, prevents us from becoming faithful to our calling. True, we must be prepared to follow God's calling, even if He leads us away from home. But the far greater challenge for us in the 21st century is learning how to stay put - literally and metaphorically - and to bind ourselves to a place, a tradition, a people. Only within the limits of stability can we find true freedom.

    4. Community. It really does take a village to raise a child. That is, we learn who we are and who we are called to be in large part through our communities and their institutions. We Americans have to unlearn some of the ways of individualism that we absorb uncritically, and must relearn the craft of community living.

    Not every community is equally capable of forming Christians. Communities must have boundaries, and must build these metaphorical walls because, as the New Monastic pioneer Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes, "we cannot become the gift to others we are called to be until we embrace the limits that are necessary to our vocation." In other words, we must withdraw behind some communal boundaries not for the sake of our own purity, but so we can first become who God wants us to be, precisely for the sake of the world. Beliefs and practices that are antithetical to achieving the community's telos must be excluded.

    5. Hospitality. That said, we must be open to outsiders, and receive them "as Christ," according to the Rule. For Benedictine monks, this had a specific meaning, with regard to welcoming visitors to the monastery. For modern laypersons, this will likely have to do with their relationship to people outside the community. The Benedictines are instructed to welcome outsiders so long as they don't interrupt communal life. It should be that way with us, too. We should always be open to others, in charity, to share what we have with them, including our faith.

    6. Balance. The Rule of St. Benedict is marked by a sense of balance, of common sense. As Ben Oppers experiment with building and/or reforming communities and institutions in a more intentional way, we must be vigilant against the temptations to fall intorigid legalism, cults of personality, and other distortions that have been the ruin of intentional communities. There must be workable forms of accountability for leadership, and the cultivation of an anti-utopian sensibility among the faithful. A community that is too lax will dissolve, or at least be ineffective, but one that is too strict will also produce disorder. A Benedict Option community must be joyful and confident, not dour and fearful.

    Can you point to any contemporary examples of Ben Op communities?

    Yes. There is a Catholic agrarian community around Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in eastern Oklahoma. The lay community gathered around St. John Orthodox cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska, is another. Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia , is working towards incorporating a version of the Rule of St. Benedict within its congregational life. Rutba House, a New Monastic community in Durham, North Carolina, and its School for Conversion , is still another. I recently met a couple in Waco, Texas - Baylor philosophy professor Scott Moore and his wife Andrea - who bought a property near Crawford, Texas, and who are rehabilitating it into a family home and a Christian retreat called Benedict Farm. There is the Bruderhof.

    I think schools can be a form of the Benedict Option. Consider St. Jerome's, a classical school in the Catholic tradition , in Hyattsville, Maryland, or the Scuola G.K. Chesterton in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, which is run by Catholics for Catholic children, following the vision of the late Stratford Caldecott (see his essay, "A Question of Purpose" ). Homeschool groups can be motivated by the Ben Op.

    I am certain that there is no such thing as a perfect Ben Op community, and that each and every one of them will have struggled with similar problems. In working on the Benedict Option book, I intend to visit as many of these communities as I can, to find out what they are doing right, what they wish they did better, and what we can all learn from them. The Benedict Option has to be something that ordinary people can do in their own circumstances.

    Do you really think you can just run away from the world and live off in a compound somewhere? Get real!

    No, I don't think that at all. While I wouldn't necessarily fault people who sought geographical isolation, that will be neither possible nor desirable for most of us. The early Church lived in cities, and formed its distinct life there. Most of the Ben Op communities that come to mind today are not radically isolated, in geography or otherwise, from the broader community. It's simply nonsense to say that Ben Oppers want to hide from the world and live in some sort of fundamentalist enclave. Some do, and it's not hard to find examples of how this sort of thing has gone bad. But that is not what we should aim for. In fact, I think it's all too easy for people to paint the Benedict Option as utopian escapism so they can safely wall it off and not have to think about it.

    Isn't this a violation of the Great Commission? How can we preach the Gospel to the nations when we're living in these neo-monastic communities?

    Well, what is evangelizing? Is it merely dispersing information? Or is there something more to it. The Benedict Option is about discipleship , which is itself an indirect form of evangelism. Pagans converted to the early Church not simply because of the words the first Christians spoke, but because of the witness of the kinds of lives they lived. It has to be that way with us too.

    Pope Benedict XVI said something important in this respect. He said that the best apologetic arguments for the truth of the Christian faith are the art that the Church has produced as a form of witness, and the lives of its saints:

    Yet, the beauty of Christian life is even more effective than art and imagery in the communication of the Gospel message. In the end, love alone is worthy of faith, and proves credible. The lives of the saints and martyrs demonstrate a singular beauty which fascinates and attracts, because a Christian life lived in fullness speaks without words. We need men and women whose lives are eloquent, and who know how to proclaim the Gospel with clarity and courage, with transparency of action, and with the joyful passion of charity.

    The Benedict Option is about forming communities that teach us and help us to live in such a way that our entire lives are witnesses to the transforming power of the Gospel.

    It sounds like you are simply asking for the Church to be the Church. Why do you need to brand it "the Benedict Option"?

    That's a great point, actually. If all the churches did what they were supposed to do, we wouldn't need the Ben Op. Thing is, they don't. The term "Benedict Option" symbolizes a historically conscious, antimodernist return to roots, an undertaking that occurs with the awareness that Christians have to cultivate a sense of separation, of living as what Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon call "resident aliens" in a "Christian colony," in order to be faithful to our calling. And, "Benedict Option" calls to mind monastic disciplines that we can appropriate in our own time.

    It also draws attention to the centrality of practices in shaping our Christian lives. The Reformed theologian James K.A. Smith, in his great books Imagining the Kingdom and Desiring the Kingdom , speaks of these things. A recent secular book by Matthew B. Crawford, The World Beyond Your Head , talks about the critical importance of practice as a way of knowledge. Here is Crawford writing about tradition and organ making:

    When the sovereignty of the self requires that the inheritance of the past be disqualified as a guide to action and meaning, we confine ourselves in an eternal present. If subjectivism works against the coalescing of communities and traditions in which genuine individuals can arise, does the opposite follow? Do communities that look to established forms for the meanings of things somehow cultivate individuality?

    … [C]onsider that when you go deep into some particular skill or art, it trains your powers of concentration and perception. You become more discerning about the objects you are dealing with and, if all goes well, begin to care viscerally about quality, because you have been initiated into an ethic of caring about what you are doing. Usually this happens by the example of some particular person, a mentor, who exemplifies that spirit of craftsmanship. You hear disgust in his voice, or see pleasure on his face, in response to some detail that would be literally invisible to someone not initiated. In this way, judgment develops alongside emotional involvement, unified in what Polanyi calls personal knowledge. Technical training in such a setting, though narrow in its immediate application, may be understood as part of education in the broadest sense: intellectual and moral formation.

    … What emerged in my conversations at Taylor and Boody [a traditional organ-making shop] is that the historical inheritance of a long tradition of organ making seems not to burden these craftspeople, but rather to energize their efforts in innovation. They intend for their organs still be be in use four hundred years from now, and this orientation toward the future requires a critical engagement with the designs and building methods of the past. They learn from past masters, interrogate their wisdom, and push the conversation further in an ongoing dialectic of reverence and rebellion. Their own progress in skill and understanding is thus a contribution to something larger; their earned independence of judgment represents a deepening of the craft itself. This is a story about the progressive possibilities of tradition, then.

    The Benedict Option is about how to rightly order the practices in our Christian lives, in light of tradition, for the sake of intellectual and moral formation in the way of Christ. You might even say that it's a story about the progressive possibilities of tradition, and a return to roots in defiance of a rootless age.

    [Sep 18, 2016] What is "Globalization" and "Free Trade" really?

    Notable quotes:
    "... What is "Globalization" and "Free Trade" really?… Does it encompass the slave trade, trading in narcotics, deforestation and export of a nation's tropical hardwood forests, environmentally damaging transnational oil pipelines or coal ports, fisheries depletion, laying off millions of workers and replacing them and the products they make with workers and products made in a foreign country, trading with an enemy, investing capital in a foreign country through a subsidiary or supplier that abuses its workers to the point that some commit suicide, no limits on or regulation of financial derivatives and transnational financial intermediaries?… the list is endless. ..."
    "... As always, the questions are "Cui bono?"… "Who benefits"?… How and Why they benefit?… Who selects the short-term "Winners" and "Losers"? And WRT those questions, the final sentence of this post hints at its purpose. ..."
    "... Yeah, how is European colonialism - starting in, what, like the 15th century, or something - not "globalisation"? What about the Roman and Persian and Selucid empires? Wasn't that globalisation? I think we've pretty much always lived in a globalised world, one way or another (if "globalised world" even makes sense). ..."
    "... Bring back the broader, and more meaningful conception of Political Economy and some actual understanding can be gained. The study of economics cannot be separated from the political dimension of society. Politics being defined as who gets what in social interactions. ..."
    "... The neoliberal experiment has run its course. Milton Friedman and his tribe had their alternative plan ready to go and implemented it when they could- to their great success. The best looting system developed-ever. This system only works with the availability of abundant resources and the mental justifications to support that gross exploitation. Both of which are reaching limits. ..."
    "... If only the Milton Friedman tribe had interested itself in sports instead of economics. They could have argued that referees and umpires should be removed from the game for greater efficiency of play, and that sports teams would follow game rules by self-regulation. ..."
    "... Wouldn't the whole thing just work out more efficiently if you leave traffic lights and rules out of it? Just let everyone figure it out at each light, survival of the fittest. ..."
    "... With increasingly free movement of people as tourists whose spending impacts nations GDP, where does it fit in to discussions on globalization and trade? ..."
    www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Chauncey Gardiner

    What is "Globalization" and "Free Trade" really?… Does it encompass the slave trade, trading in narcotics, deforestation and export of a nation's tropical hardwood forests, environmentally damaging transnational oil pipelines or coal ports, fisheries depletion, laying off millions of workers and replacing them and the products they make with workers and products made in a foreign country, trading with an enemy, investing capital in a foreign country through a subsidiary or supplier that abuses its workers to the point that some commit suicide, no limits on or regulation of financial derivatives and transnational financial intermediaries?… the list is endless.

    As always, the questions are "Cui bono?"… "Who benefits"?… How and Why they benefit?… Who selects the short-term "Winners" and "Losers"? And WRT those questions, the final sentence of this post hints at its purpose.

    diptherio

    Yeah, how is European colonialism - starting in, what, like the 15th century, or something - not "globalisation"? What about the Roman and Persian and Selucid empires? Wasn't that globalisation? I think we've pretty much always lived in a globalised world, one way or another (if "globalised world" even makes sense).

    Norb

    Bring back the broader, and more meaningful conception of Political Economy and some actual understanding can be gained. The study of economics cannot be separated from the political dimension of society. Politics being defined as who gets what in social interactions.

    What folly. All this complexity and strident study of minutia to bring about what end? Human history on this planet has been about how societies form, develop, then recede form prominence. This flow being determined by how well the society provided for its members or could support their worldview. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

    The neoliberal experiment has run its course. Milton Friedman and his tribe had their alternative plan ready to go and implemented it when they could- to their great success. The best looting system developed-ever. This system only works with the availability of abundant resources and the mental justifications to support that gross exploitation. Both of which are reaching limits.

    Only by thinking, and communicating in the broader terms of political economy can we hope to understand our current conditions. Until then, change will be difficult to enact. Hard landings for all indeed.

    flora

    If only the Milton Friedman tribe had interested itself in sports instead of economics. They could have argued that referees and umpires should be removed from the game for greater efficiency of play, and that sports teams would follow game rules by self-regulation.

    LA Mike September 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    While in traffic, I was thinking about that today. For some time now, I've viewed the traffic intersection as being a good example of the social contract. We all agree on its benefits. But today, I thought about it in terms of the Friedman Neoliberals.

    Why should they have to stop at red lights. Wouldn't the whole thing just work out more efficiently if you leave traffic lights and rules out of it? Just let everyone figure it out at each light, survival of the fittest.

    sd

    Something I have wondered for some time, how does tourism fit into trade? With increasingly free movement of people as tourists whose spending impacts nations GDP, where does it fit in to discussions on globalization and trade?

    I Have Strange Dreams

    Other things to consider:
    – negative effects of immigration (skilled workers leave developing countries where they are most needed)
    – environmental pollution
    – destruction of cultures/habitats
    – importation of western diet leading to decreased health
    – spread of disease (black death, hiv, ebola, bird flu)
    – resource wars
    – drugs
    – happiness
    How are these "externalities" calculated?

    [Sep 18, 2016] Some animals are more equal than others.

    Sep 18, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com
    hedgeless_horseman BuddyEffed Sep 17, 2016 10:58 AM

    Kirby declined to answer whether Israel should face the same treatment
    as Iran and North Korea – both of which have been sanctioned for alleged
    or actual violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Some animals are more equal than others.

    ROZETKA - Результаты поиска телефон mini-SIM Поиск

    [Sep 18, 2016] Neoliberalism has grown decadent and corrupt. It is a secular religion: a massive systemic force that some can manipulate for their own gain, but as a society we've lost the will or ability to control it's macro forces which have the power grind up whole demographics, communities, or crash the whole economy.

    Notable quotes:
    "... Something along the lines of Sweden, or maybe Germany: the means of production is left in private hands and the owning class is welcome to get rich (there are the equivalent of billionaires in both countries) but there are strict limits as to how much they can screw their workers, cheat their customers or damage the environment. ..."
    "... Also, basic social welfare matters (healthcare, child care etc.) are publicly provided, or at least publicly backstopped. The model may not be perfect but it appears to work quite well all in all. ..."
    "... Sweden has no taxes on inheritance or residential property, and its 22 percent corporate income tax rate is far lower than America's 35 percent." ..."
    "... I do not think that drag queens reading stories, Lionel Shriver's speech and backlash, or the latest Clinton scandal mean civilizational death. They are outliers, but serve to remind the vast majority of the country that there is plenty of room in America for eccentrics of every description to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ..."
    "... HRC is not really unthinkable. She is just not preferable. A vote for HRC is an acquiescence to the status quo of corrupt, big money politics. Voting for the status quo is unthinkable only if you think the apocalypse is around the next bend. Let's be serious. ..."
    "... "we are at the mercy of systematic forces, difficult to name, which can be manipulated by the powerful but not governed by them, and that our problems are unsolvable" ..."
    "... I would argue that the "system" is capitalism grown decadent and corrupt. It is a secular religion that we've given ourselves over to and is exactly as he describes: a massive systemic force that some can manipulate for their own gain, but as a society we've lost the will or ability to control it's macro forces which have the power grind up whole demographics, communities, or crash the whole economy. ..."
    "... The reaction and fall out from the financial crisis amounted to everyone shrugging and declaring innocence and ignorance. They seemed to say, how could anyone see such a thing coming or do anything about it? How could anyone control such a huge system? ..."
    "... I'm always struck by these posts detailing how everything is coming apart in America. I look around and frankly, life looks pretty good. Maybe it's because I'm a minority female, who grew up poor and now has a solidly middle class life. My mother, God rest her soul, was smarter and worked harder than I ever will but did not have one-quarter of the opportunities (education, housing) I've had. My sons have travelled the globe, and have decent jobs and good friends. I am grateful. ..."
    "... I wouldn't say that [neo] Liberalism is "spent" as a force, rather that its credibility is. As a cultural force (covering both politics and the economy, among other things), its strength is and remains vast. It is Leviathan. For all intents and purposes, it defines the culture, and thus dictates the imperatives and methods, of our governing and economic elites. ..."
    "... Bush proved that electing an imbecile to the Presidency has real consequences for our standing in the world. ..."
    "... Trump starts speaking without knowing how his sentence will end, and then he will go to down fighting to defend whatever it was he said even though he never really meant it in the first place. That mix of arrogance and stupidity is more dangerous than Bush. ..."
    "... Totally unconvincing. It couldn't be more obvious that Hillary stands for rule by globalists whereas Trump intends to return control of the federal government to We the People. ..."
    "... Which candidate is traveling to Louisiana? Flint? Detroit? Mexico (on behalf of America)? Which candidate calls tens of millions of Americans irredeemable and thus it would be justified in exterminating them? ..."
    "... What makes Mr. Cosimano so sure that what America is passing into is anything like a "civilization" at all? We could simple pass into barbarism. Can anyone name the leaders who hope to build any kind of civilization at all? ..."
    "... For 70+ years, other than while working on a university degree in history, I never gave a thought to civilizational collapse, so I would have been a poor choice to ask for a definition of the term. But after a few years of reading TAC I think I have a handle on it. It's a situation in which someone or some group sees broad social change they don't like. So probably civilizational collapse is constant and ongoing. ..."
    "... I would only point out that there is no clear path to economic safety for working Americans, whether they are white are black. Training and hard work will only take you so far in our demand-constrained economy. Whether black optimism or white pessimism turns out to be empirically justified is far from certain. We are constructing the future as we speak, and our actions will determine the answer to this question. ..."
    "... As the WikiLeaks dox show, it wasn't "barrel bombs" or "chemical warfare against his own people" that made the elites hungry to overthrow the government there, it was the 2009 decision by Syria not to allow an oil pipeline through from Qatar to Turkey, whereupon the CIA was directed to start funding jihadists and regime change. ..."
    "... I'd note that Popes going back to Leo XIII have written on the destructive effects of capitalism or rather the unmitigated pursuit of wealth. Both Benedict and Francis have eloquently expressed the need for a spiritual conversion to solve the world's problems. A conversion which recognizes our solidarity with one another as well as our obligation to the health of Creation. I rather doubt we will find the impetus for this conversion among our politicians. ..."
    "... The problem is not civilization-level, Mr. Dreher. The problem is species -level. Humanity as a whole is discovering that it cannot handle too high a level of technology without losing its ability to get feedback from its environment. Without that feedback, its elite classes drift off into literal insanity. The rest of the society soon follows. ..."
    "... James Parker in The Atlantic comes to a similar conclusion from a very different starting place ..."
    "... "For Trump to be revealed as a salvational figure, the conditions around him must be dire. Trumpism-like fascism, like a certain kind of smash-it-up punk rock-begins in apprehensions of apocalypse." ..."
    "... Classical [neo]liberalism presents itself not as a tentative theory of how society might be organized but as a theory of nature. It claims to lay out the forces of nature and to make these a model for social order. Thus free-market fundamentalism, letting the market function "as nature intended". It's an absurd position when applied dogmatically, and no more "natural" than other economic arrangements humans might come up with. ..."
    "... Further, as I suggest, our two camps "left" and "right" are no longer distinctly left and right in any traditional sense. The market forces and self-marketing that lead to the fetishization of identity by the left are the same market forces championed by the capitalist right. In America today, both left and right are merely different bourgeois cults of Self. ..."
    "... "Pope Francis (and to a slighly lesser degree, his two predecessors) has spoken frequently about unbridled capitalism as a source of the world ills. But his message hasn't been that well received among American conservatives." ..."
    Sep 17, 2016 | john-uebersax.com

    Andrew E. says: September 16, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Will she be inviting them in from parallel universes? Because we do not have 40 million illegals. The number is closer to eleven million.

    Wrong, see Adios America

    JonF says: September 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm
    Re: we have yet to hear a cogent description of what "bridled" capitalism is/looks like

    Something along the lines of Sweden, or maybe Germany: the means of production is left in private hands and the owning class is welcome to get rich (there are the equivalent of billionaires in both countries) but there are strict limits as to how much they can screw their workers, cheat their customers or damage the environment.

    Also, basic social welfare matters (healthcare, child care etc.) are publicly provided, or at least publicly backstopped. The model may not be perfect but it appears to work quite well all in all.

    CatherineNY says: September 16, 2016 at 6:28 pm
    Re: Sweden as an example of "bridled capitalism," here is an article about how many billionaires Sweden has (short answer: lots) http://www.slate.com/articles/business/billion_to_one/2013/10/sweden_s_billionaires_they_have_more_per_capita_than_the_united_states.html "The Swedish tax code was substantially reformed in 1990 to be friendlier toward capital accumulation, with a flat rate on investment income. Sweden has no taxes on inheritance or residential property, and its 22 percent corporate income tax rate is far lower than America's 35 percent."

    I think a lot of American capitalists would welcome those bridles. As for Hanby's critique of the liberal order that (thankfully) prevails in the West, it is only because of that liberal order that we are freely discussing these matters here, that we can talk about a Benedict Option in which we can create an economy within the economy, because in the non-liberal orders that prevailed through most of history, and that still prevail in a lot of places, we'd be under threat from the state for free discussion, and we would have little or no choice of education or jobs, because we'd be serfs or slaves or forced by government to go into a certain line of work (like my husband's Mandarin teacher, a scientist who was forced into the countryside during the Cultural Revolution and then told that she had to become a language teacher.)

    I'd be interested to know what kind of system Hanby would like to see replace our liberal order. Presumably one where he would be in charge.

    Harvey says: September 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm
    [neo]Liberalism is exhausted? What does that even mean, except as a high-brow insult?

    If there is one statistic that disproves this claim, it's that religious attendance is plummeting and the number of people who are "nones" are rising rapidly.

    What's exhausted is religion as a necessary component of social life. Since that is indisputably true, I guess the only thing that is left is for the remaining stalwarts resisting the tide to project this idea of exhaustion onto the other side.

    [NFR: You don't understand his point. He's not talking about liberalism as the philosophy of the Democratic Party. He's talking about liberalism as the political culture and system of the West. - RD]

    Clint says: September 15, 2016 at 3:38 pm
    "There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic."

    Could be that Trump is God's Hot Foot Angel With The Dirty Face waking Americans up to the increasingly Godless Agenda of The Washington Establishment and The Corporate Media.

    Elijah says: September 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm
    Talk about cynical. There's a lot to take exception to here, but let's start with this:

    "In other words, the fact that we are in civilizational crisis is becoming unavoidably apparent, though there is obviously little agreement as to what this crisis consists in or what its causes are and little interest from the omnipresent media beyond how perceptions of crisis affect voter behavior."

    Possibly because he's one of the relatively few people who think we're in such a crisis. A lot of us – Republican and Democrat – still believe ideas and ideals are important and we support them (and their torchbearers, however flawed) with all the vigor we can muster.

    I do not think that drag queens reading stories, Lionel Shriver's speech and backlash, or the latest Clinton scandal mean civilizational death. They are outliers, but serve to remind the vast majority of the country that there is plenty of room in America for eccentrics of every description to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I will admit to thinking this kind of thing much more important on college campuses, where it can affect the quality of an education.

    "We would not see it as a crisis of soul, but a crisis of management…"

    Probably true: I'm not so sure that our founding principles really envision our civilization as having a soul rather than virtues. And the idea of a national government mucking around with the souls of the people gives me the heebie-jeebies much as Putin's alliance with the Orthodox church does you. And if there's anything we can take from the current election, I think it's that Americans have had enough sociologists, economists, lawyers, and other "experts" tell them what to do to last a lifetime. It's part and parcel of the distrust you just posted about.

    And I'm not at all sure that Americans are generally despairing, though it's pretty clear they think our country is on the wrong track. Hillary ought to be running away with this thing – why isn't she? Because she's seen as more of the same. Sanders offered the hope of something new, something transformative: the same thing people see in Trump. Their hope MAY be misplaced but time will tell. This election cycle ought to make people a little less confident in their predictions.

    "Hope is hard, I admit. But my response is that it is not the pessimist about liberalism who lacks hope, but the optimist who cannot see beyond its horizons."

    Hope is hard if you're investing in our institutions to carry us through. They aren't designed to. Our hope is in Christ, Our Redeemer, and that His will "be done on earth as it is in Heaven." And I will gladly admit to not being able to see beyond liberalism's horizons – again, the predictions of experts and philosophers haven't held up too well over time.

    I can say that blithely because my hope is not in liberalism, ultimately. Do I think some semblance of liberalism can and will survive? Yes, but the cultural struggles we are going through are part and parcel of the system. Do I like that? No.

    And as much as we need to reinforce communities (through the BenOp) we also need to recognize that our job isn't always to understand and prepare. As Christians, it is to obey. It means we repent, fast, and pray. It means we take the Great Commission seriously even when it's uncomfortable.

    I'm sorry to rip your friend here, I just don't find his piece compelling at all.

    allaround says: September 15, 2016 at 4:13 pm
    HRC is not really unthinkable. She is just not preferable. A vote for HRC is an acquiescence to the status quo of corrupt, big money politics. Voting for the status quo is unthinkable only if you think the apocalypse is around the next bend. Let's be serious.

    Voting for Trump is unthinkable because he is totally clueless about seemingly he talks about. His arrogance is only surpassed by his ignorance. Gary Johnson was excoriated because he did not know what Aleppo is. I bet a paycheck Trump couldn't point to Syria on a map. Trump get's no serious criticism for insistence that we steal Iraq's oil, his confusion about why Iran wasn't buying our airplanes, his assertion that Iran is North Koreas largest trading partner, that South Korea and Japan ought to have nukes, his threats to extort our NATO allies. There are dozens of gems like these, but you get the picture. One only needs to read transcripts from his interviews to understand the limits of his intellect. Voting for such a profound ignoramus is truly unthinkable.

    Gary says: September 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm
    Not (at least directly) related, but Rod thought this might give you some hope today (albeit it's from the <a href=" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3790614/They-don-t-like-drugs-gay-marriage-HATE-tattoos-Generation-Z-conservative-WW2.html"Daily Mail but I found it interesting):

    Teenagers born after 2000 – the so-called 'Generation Z' – are the most socially conservative generation since the Second World War, a new study has found.

    The youngsters surveyed had more conservative views on gay marriage, transgender rights and drugs than Baby Boomers, Generation X or Millennials.

    The questioned were more prudent than Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers but not quite as cash-savvy as those born in 1945 or before.

    Only 14 and 15-year-olds were surveyed, by brand consultancy The Gild, as they were classed as being able to form credible opinions by that age.

    When asked to comment on same-sex marriage, transgender rights and cannabis legislation, 59 per cent of Generation X teenagers said they had conservative views.

    Around 85 per cent of Millennials and those in Generation X had a 'quite' or 'very liberal' stance overall.

    When asked for their specific view on each topic only the Silent Generation was more conservative that Generation Z.

    One in seven – 14% – of the 14 and 15-year-olds took a 'quite conservative' approach, while only two per cent of Millennials and one per cent of Generation X.

    The Silent Generation had a 'quite conservative' rating of 34 per cent.

    I think this was done in Britain but as we know, social trends in the rest of the West tend to spill over into the States.

    Are we looking at another Alex P. Keaton generation? Kids likely to rebel against the liberalism of their parents?

    Adamant says: September 15, 2016 at 4:43 pm
    I can never quite understand the tension between these two concepts: enlightenment liberalism as a spent force, enervated, listless, barely able to stir itself even in its own defense, and simultaneously weaponized SJWism, modern day Jacobins, an army of clenched-jawed fanatics who will stop at nothing to destroy its enemies.

    It seems that one of these perspectives must be less true than the other.

    [NFR: SJWs are a betrayal of classical liberalism. - RD]

    The Other Sands says: September 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm
    I realize that I only comment here when something sets me off, and not when I agree with you (which is after all why I keep reading you).

    So here I am agreeing with this post.

    "we are at the mercy of systematic forces, difficult to name, which can be manipulated by the powerful but not governed by them, and that our problems are unsolvable"

    I would argue that the "system" is capitalism grown decadent and corrupt. It is a secular religion that we've given ourselves over to and is exactly as he describes: a massive systemic force that some can manipulate for their own gain, but as a society we've lost the will or ability to control it's macro forces which have the power grind up whole demographics, communities, or crash the whole economy.

    The reaction and fall out from the financial crisis amounted to everyone shrugging and declaring innocence and ignorance. They seemed to say, how could anyone see such a thing coming or do anything about it? How could anyone control such a huge system?

    As your friend says, even if we want to exert more control over this system (which we can with the will), this would end up being a technocratic project, not a spiritual one. Sad because a spiritual argument against the excesses of capitalism might actually gain more traction at this point, than tired liberal arguments.

    xrdsmom says: September 15, 2016 at 5:15 pm
    I'm always struck by these posts detailing how everything is coming apart in America. I look around and frankly, life looks pretty good. Maybe it's because I'm a minority female, who grew up poor and now has a solidly middle class life. My mother, God rest her soul, was smarter and worked harder than I ever will but did not have one-quarter of the opportunities (education, housing) I've had. My sons have travelled the globe, and have decent jobs and good friends. I am grateful.

    My friends and I went out the other night in Austin, and there were families, very diverse, walking in the outdoor mall, standing in line to buy $5 scoops of ice cream for their children. Not hipsters, or God forbid the elite, just regular middle class folk enjoying an evening out. The truth is, life has improved immeasurably for many Americans. Do we have serious problems? Of course, but can we have just a wee bit of perspective?

    Will Harrington says: September 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm
    The Other Sands

    You may be right about the problem, but not its nature. Capitalism is not an impersonal force that can't be controlled, it's what people do economically if they are left alone to do it. The problem comes when people are not, simply put, virtuous. When people seek a return on investment that is not simply reasonable, but rather the most they can possibly get. We have had a capitalist system for long enough that some people who are both good at manipulating it and, often, unethical enough to not care what impact their choices have on others, have accumulated vast amounts of wealth while others, over generations, have made choices that have not been profitable, have lost wealth.

    There used to be mechanisms for preventing these trends to continue to their logical conclusion, as they are here. Judea had Jubilee. The Byzantine Empire had an Emperor whose interests were served by a prosperous landed middle class to populate the Thematic armies and who would occasionally step in and return the land his part time soldiers had lost through bad loans from aristocrats. We have no such mechanism for a farmer to regain land lost due to foreclosure.

    We should not redistribute wealth in such a way that a person has no incentive to work, but we should never allow a person's means of earning a livelihood to be taken from them.

    C. L. H. Daniels says: September 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm
    I wouldn't say that [neo] Liberalism is "spent" as a force, rather that its credibility is. As a cultural force (covering both politics and the economy, among other things), its strength is and remains vast. It is Leviathan. For all intents and purposes, it defines the culture, and thus dictates the imperatives and methods, of our governing and economic elites. The crisis of Western political legitimacy that is manifest in the nomination of Trump, Brexit and numerous other movements and incidents is a sign that the legitimacy of this order has been undermined and is dissolving within the societies it effectively governs; in some unspoken sense, the unwashed masses of the West (those not part of the so-called "New Class") have come to understand that they have been betrayed by the Liberal order, that it has not lived up to its promises, even that it is becoming or has become a force destructive of their communities and their ability to thrive as human beings.

    The ever-increasing autonomy promised by the Liberal order has turned out to be a poisoned chalice for many. As it has dissolved the bonds of families and communities, it has atomized people into individuals without traditional social supports in an increasingly cutthroat and uncaring world. People cannot help but understand that they have lost something or are missing something, even if they are not able to articulate or identify that loss. It is a sickness of the soul, in the sense that the ailment is somewhere close to the heart of what it means to be human. We are what we are, and the Liberal order is pushing us into opposition to our own natures, as if we can choose to be something other than what we are.

    Anne says: September 15, 2016 at 5:32 pm
    This idea that Democrats hate Hillary in the same way Republicans despise Trump is way off base in my opinion. This attempt at equivalency, like so many others, is false. I voted for Sanders because I liked him better, but I am not holding my nose to vote for Hillary Clinton. There are several things I actually admire about her, including her attention to detail and tenacity. I'll always remember how she sat before Congress as First Lady, no paper or crib sheet in sight, and presented her detailed and compelling case for national health care . I thought that was awesome then, and still do.

    Still, as I've noted many times, I never liked the Clintons that much, mainly because I hated a lot of what Bill Clinton stood for and what he did. Aside from his embarrassing sexual escapades, most of that pertained to positions that seemed more Republican than Democratic (on welfare mothers, mental patients, deregulation of the broadcast industry, etc.) I also didn't like their position on abortion nor the way their people treated Gov. Casey at the party convention, nor the dialing back on Jimmy Carter's uncompromising stand for human rights in the third world. Some of Hillary's hawkish positions are still a concern, but what she stands for in general is far and away more humane and within my understanding of what's good for the country and the world at large than anything Republicans represent. Their ideas hurt people on too many fronts to justify voting for them just because I may agree with them on principle when it comes to matters such abortion. Trump just adds insult to injury in every regard.

    Adamant says: September 15, 2016 at 6:22 pm
    xrdsmom says:
    September 15, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Very well said. What accounts for the relative optimism of minorities vs. whites?
    State of the economy, personal situation, optimism that your kids future will be better than yours, etc. In all of these surveys, it is the pessimism of whites, untethered from empirical reality, that stands out as the outlier.

    Oakinhou says: September 15, 2016 at 6:22 pm
    The Other Sands:

    "Sad because a spiritual argument against the excesses of capitalism might actually gain more traction at this point, than tired liberal arguments."

    It would gain more traction, and it would be better focused at what is much larger cause of the current social, economic, and family problems of the working classes.

    But the argument won't be made, because the majority of those that believe in a societal crisis have pinned the origin of this crisis on feminism, the sexual revolution, and SJW, and have bought in full the bootstraps language of the radical capitalism. Even the majority crunchy cons, that would be sympathetic to the arguments against capitalism, would rather try to solve the ills of the world via cultural instead of economic ways.

    Pope Francis (and to a slighly lesser degree, his two predecessors) has spoken frequently about unbridled capitalism as a source of the world ills. But his message hasn't been that well received among American conservatives

    [NFR: Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict said the same thing. - RD]

    allaround says: September 15, 2016 at 6:38 pm
    @redfish

    Bush proved that electing an imbecile to the Presidency has real consequences for our standing in the world. Trump is just as stupid, but he is far more dangerous. At least Bush wasn't a egomaniac. Trump starts speaking without knowing how his sentence will end, and then he will go to down fighting to defend whatever it was he said even though he never really meant it in the first place. That mix of arrogance and stupidity is more dangerous than Bush.

    Charles Cosimano says: September 15, 2016 at 6:46 pm
    "In fact, I doubt we any longer possess enough of a 'civilization' to understand what a 'civilizational crisis' would really mean."

    I think someone has no idea what "civilization" means. None of his definitions apply.

    What we are seeing is the radical change in Western Civilization from the old Graeco-Roman/Christian model to a yet undefined American model. (Which is why Islam in Europe is not very important. Europe is no longer very important.) No one guards the "glory that was Greece" any more. We've moved out of that. The debate will be when did the transition occur. Did it begin in the 19th Century with the Age of Invention? Did it occur in the flash of gunpowder that was WW1? Was it the blasting to rubble of Monte Cassino when the weapons of the new blew the symbol of the old to ruin? Was it the moment men stood upon the Moon and nothing the bronze age pilers of rocks had to say was of any value any more?

    The key to understanding the change is that the old values are dead and we are in the process of creating new ones. No one knows where that is going to go. It is all too new.

    Hanby is wrong. We have a civilization, but it is leaving his in the dust.

    Andrew E. says: September 15, 2016 at 6:53 pm
    Totally unconvincing. It couldn't be more obvious that Hillary stands for rule by globalists whereas Trump intends to return control of the federal government to We the People.

    Which candidate is traveling to Louisiana? Flint? Detroit? Mexico (on behalf of America)? Which candidate calls tens of millions of Americans irredeemable and thus it would be justified in exterminating them?

    Seriously, only one of these two appears interested in leading the nation.

    Jon Swerens says: September 15, 2016 at 6:56 pm
    Harvey said:

    "What's exhausted is religion as a necessary component of social life."

    This is so hilariously untrue, but also very sad that the secular Left cannot see its own idols or even read its own headlines.

    What does he think is happening in the United States besides the rise of a revolutionary moral order, ruled by fickle tastemakers who believe that their own emotions and thoughts have creative power? How else would history have a "side"? How else could "gender" be entirely unmoored from sex and any other scientific fact? Progressivism even has "climate change" as its chosen apocalypse which will visit destruction if not enough fealty is granted to an ever-more-omnipotent and omniscient central government? Does he not see how over and over again, this week's progressive leaders attacks last week's? Amy Schumer, anyone?

    Once a culture abolishes the One True God, as ours has, then that culture begins to find other sources for the attributes of God and for the definitions of virtues and vices.

    Jon Swerens says: September 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm
    What makes Mr. Cosimano so sure that what America is passing into is anything like a "civilization" at all? We could simple pass into barbarism. Can anyone name the leaders who hope to build any kind of civilization at all?
    Andrew E. says: September 15, 2016 at 7:03 pm
    Never forget that there is a real and clear choice before us.

    Clinton will deliver amnesty to 40 million illegals. Continue the 1 million legal immigrants per yer all from the Third World. She will radically upsize the Muslim refugee influx to hundreds of thousands per year. All terrible things.

    Trump will do the opposite. This will make a massive difference to the future of the country - Trump, good…Clinton, bad - and is what this election is about.

    bacon says: September 15, 2016 at 7:08 pm
    For 70+ years, other than while working on a university degree in history, I never gave a thought to civilizational collapse, so I would have been a poor choice to ask for a definition of the term. But after a few years of reading TAC I think I have a handle on it. It's a situation in which someone or some group sees broad social change they don't like. So probably civilizational collapse is constant and ongoing.

    As for me, I'm outside somewhere every day and so far not even a tiny piece of the sky has fallen on me.

    Richard McGee says: September 15, 2016 at 7:19 pm
    @xrdsmom
    Empirical reality depends on where you stand. Younote that your prospects have improved relative to your mom's. For the working class whites working at low paying jobs, they have declined. Is their anger simply a response to loss of white privilege? In the sense that this privilege consisted of access to well-paying jobs out of high school, the answer is yes.

    I would only point out that there is no clear path to economic safety for working Americans, whether they are white are black. Training and hard work will only take you so far in our demand-constrained economy. Whether black optimism or white pessimism turns out to be empirically justified is far from certain. We are constructing the future as we speak, and our actions will determine the answer to this question.

    Fran Macadam says: September 15, 2016 at 7:55 pm
    It's true a lot of people couldn't point to Syria; because that's how important it is to most people. So why are we now involved in a full scale war there, when the American people clearly stated they didn't want another war?

    As the WikiLeaks dox show, it wasn't "barrel bombs" or "chemical warfare against his own people" that made the elites hungry to overthrow the government there, it was the 2009 decision by Syria not to allow an oil pipeline through from Qatar to Turkey, whereupon the CIA was directed to start funding jihadists and regime change.

    Alan says: September 15, 2016 at 7:57 pm
    @ xrdsmom…..nice try….but I'm not buying it. You said Austin, and then tried to say these aren't elites. LOL.

    Drive through the back counties of Kentucky and then report back to me that everything is fine.

    cecelia says: September 15, 2016 at 8:23 pm
    Hillary is not as corrupt as some think nor is Trump likely to be able to enact much of his agenda(most of which he has no commitment to – it is all a performance). So I do not see either as end times candidates.

    However – a civilization must assure certain things – order, cohesion, safety from invasion and occupation. It also must assure that the resources we secure from the earth are available – good soil, clean water, sustainable management of energy sources etc. This is where our civilization is failing – if you doubt this – spend a moment looking up soil erosion on Google. Or dead zones Mississippi and Nile deltas. Depletion of fish stocks. Loss of arable land and potable water all over the planet. Is this calamitous failure a function of liberalism or capitalism run amok? Perhaps the two go hand in hand?

    I'd note that Popes going back to Leo XIII have written on the destructive effects of capitalism or rather the unmitigated pursuit of wealth. Both Benedict and Francis have eloquently expressed the need for a spiritual conversion to solve the world's problems. A conversion which recognizes our solidarity with one another as well as our obligation to the health of Creation. I rather doubt we will find the impetus for this conversion among our politicians.

    But there are certainly all over the earth groups of people who have experienced this conversion and are seeking to build civilizations which are just and sustainable. Rod has written about some – his friends in Italy as an example.

    Hope is God's glory revealed in ourselves.

    Lord Karth says: September 15, 2016 at 10:55 pm
    The problem is not civilization-level, Mr. Dreher. The problem is species -level. Humanity as a whole is discovering that it cannot handle too high a level of technology without losing its ability to get feedback from its environment. Without that feedback, its elite classes drift off into literal insanity. The rest of the society soon follows.

    The trick is going to be recovering our connection with the Realities of existence without bringing technological civilization down or re-engineering Humanity into something we would not recognize.

    Color me less than optimistic about our prospects.

    Your servant,

    Lord Karth

    Kit Stolz says: September 16, 2016 at 3:30 am
    The Catholic philosopher writes:

    "I really think there is a pervasive, but unarticulated sense that liberalism is exhausted, that we are at the mercy of systematic forces, difficult to name, which can be manipulated by the powerful but not governed by them, and that our problems are unsolvable. The reasons for this anxiety are manifold and cannot be reduced to politics or economics…"

    Agree! For once. For reasons more civil than spiritual, but never mind. James Parker in The Atlantic comes to a similar conclusion from a very different starting place (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/10/donald-trump-sex-pistol/497528/)

    "For Trump to be revealed as a salvational figure, the conditions around him must be dire. Trumpism-like fascism, like a certain kind of smash-it-up punk rock-begins in apprehensions of apocalypse."

    Eric Mader says: September 16, 2016 at 3:55 am
    Hanky's diagnosis is brilliant. Yes, thanks for posting, Rod.

    One of our fundamental problems, along with the conceptual horizons imposed by liberalism, is the obsolete language of "left" and "right" that we continue to apply when weighing our options. This too is part of why we can't construct a politics of hope, and in my reading it explains the decline of the left into identity politics (our Democratic Party is not any more "the left" in any meaningful way) and of the right into "movement conservatism" or Trumpian nationalism.

    Classical [neo]liberalism presents itself not as a tentative theory of how society might be organized but as a theory of nature. It claims to lay out the forces of nature and to make these a model for social order. Thus free-market fundamentalism, letting the market function "as nature intended". It's an absurd position when applied dogmatically, and no more "natural" than other economic arrangements humans might come up with.

    The only truly rock solid aspect of classical liberalism in my mind is its theory of individual dignity, the permanent and nonnegotiable value of each individual in essence and before the law. The left has taken this and run with it and turned it into a divination of individual desire and self-definition, which is something different. The capitalist right has taken it and turned it into a theory of individual responsibility for one's economic fate, which is helpful in ways, but not decisive or even fully explanatory as to why people end up where they are. And a lot of people are not in a good place thanks to the free trade enthusiasts who believe what they're up to somehow reflects the eternal forces of nature.

    Further, as I suggest, our two camps "left" and "right" are no longer distinctly left and right in any traditional sense. The market forces and self-marketing that lead to the fetishization of identity by the left are the same market forces championed by the capitalist right. In America today, both left and right are merely different bourgeois cults of Self.

    It should be no surprise that the inalienable dignity of the individual, that rock solid core of liberal thinking, grew directly from the Christian soil of Paul's assertion of the equality of all–men, women, Greek, Jew, freed, slave–in Christ. (Galatians 3:28) The world's current thinking on "human rights" is merely a universalized version of Paul's thought, hatched in a Christian Europe by philosophes who didn't recognize just how Christian they were.

    After all the utopian dusts settle, whether the dust of Adam Smith or the dust of PC Non-Discrimination, we must see that the one thing holding us together is this recognition that the political order must respect human rights. The core issue at present is thus that we legislate in ways that reflect a realistic understanding of these rights. As for "movement conservatism" or PC progressivism, they each represent pipe dreams that don't address the economic or legal challenges in coherent ways, and they each sacrifice true rights at one altar or another.

    The obsolete language of "left" and "right" keeps us unwilling to grapple with the real economic and legal challenges, if only because we're too busy cheerleading either one version of the capitalist cult or the other.

    I'm looking forward to The Benedict Option mainly as providing some answers as to how the remnant of faithful Christians in this mayhem might both hold their faith intact while perhaps simultaneously developing less utopian modes of thinking about community. The neoliberal order may very well be shaping up to be for us something like the pagan Roman Empire was to the early church. We finally have to face that, politically speaking, we are in the world but not of it.

    JonF says: September 16, 2016 at 6:09 am
    Re: Clinton will deliver amnesty to 40 million illegals.

    Will she be inviting them in from parallel universes? Because we do not have 40 million illegals. The number is closer to eleven million.

    Also the president can't do this on his/her own. Congress has to act. The House will remain GOP. The Senate may too, or will flip back to GOP after 2018. As I mentioned Clinton's hands will be tied as much as Obama's have been since 2010. That includes Supreme Court appointments. Only the most boring of moderates will get through– sure, they won't overturn Roe or Oberfell, but they won't rubber stamp much new either.

    Elijah says: September 16, 2016 at 7:38 am
    "Pope Francis (and to a slighly lesser degree, his two predecessors) has spoken frequently about unbridled capitalism as a source of the world ills. But his message hasn't been that well received among American conservatives."

    [NFR: Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict said the same thing. - RD]"

    It doesn't sit well for two reasons: (a) we have yet to hear a cogent description of what "bridled" capitalism is/looks like and (b) capitalism has its faults, but it has raised far more boats than it has swamped.

    Until we hear an admission of (b) and an explanation of (a), their statements will continue to fall on deaf ears. Particularly from Pope Francis, whose grip on economic ideas seems tenuous at best.

    [Sep 17, 2016] How the Obsession With American Leadership Warps Foreign Policy Analysis The American Conservative

    Notable quotes:
    "... Seems a dangerous practice to rely on one's size to shield them from consequences of ineffectual decisions. I think we are already stretched thin, but our size buffers the stumbles. ..."
    "... Like the runner on pain killers, who keeps running despite a shattered knee caps. Sometimes we press through our pain. Sometimes we need to slow down. Sometimes we need to stop. But unless we experience the pain – we simply don't know. ..."
    "... It all starts with that ridiculous belief in "American Exceptionalism". The belief that we are the one country, the only country, who is going to save the world, again and again. ..."
    "... Once you've adopted this frame of reference, what happens anywhere in the world for any Reason is America's fault and responsibility. And once you put on those exceptionally colored glasses it's not possible to have a rational view of other countries and their actions; because they can never be seen as anything other than an affirmation or rejection of our exceptionalism. Another effect of this is, being exceptional, whatever America does is just and pure and right. ..."
    "... It blinds us to our own stupidity and errors, it gets us sucked into other peoples troubles and it makes it easy for other countries to manipulate us to their ends. ..."
    Sep 17, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    Ben Denison criticizes a familiar flaw in foreign policy commentary:

    When a surprising event occurs that threatens U.S. interests, many are quick to blame Washington's lack of leadership and deride the administration for failing to anticipate and prevent the crisis. Recent examples from the continuing conflict in Syria, Russia's intervention in Ukraine, Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and even the attempted coup in Turkey, all illustrate how this is a regular impulse for the foreign policy punditry class. This impulse, while comforting to some, fails to consider the interests and agency of the other countries involved in the crisis. Instead of turning to detailed analysis and tracing the international context of a crisis, often we are bombarded with an abundance of concerns about a lack of American leadership.

    The inability or unwillingness to acknowledge and take into account the agency and interests of other political actors around the world is one of the more serious flaws in the way many Americans think and talk about these issues. This not only fails to consider how other actors are likely to respond to a proposed U.S. action, but it credits the U.S. with far more control over other parts of the world and much more competence in handling any given issue than any government has ever possessed or ever will. Because the U.S. is the preeminent major power in the world, there is a tendency to treat any undesirable event as something that our government has "allowed" to happen through carelessness, misplaced priorities, or some other mistake. Many foreign policy pundits recoil from the idea that there are events beyond our government's ability to "shape" or that there are actors that cannot be compelled to behave as we wish (provided we simply have enough "resolve"), because it means that there are many problems around the world that the U.S. cannot and shouldn't attempt to fix.

    When a protest movement takes to the streets in another country and is then brutally suppressed, many people, especially hawkish pundits, decry our government's "failure" to "support" the movement, as if it were the lack of U.S. support and not internal political factors that produced the outcome. When the overthrow of a foreign government by a protest movement leads to an intervention by a neighboring major power, the U.S. is again faulted for "failing" to stop the intervention, as if it could have done so short of risking great power conflict. Even more absurdly, the same intervention is sometimes blamed on a U.S. decision not to attack a third country in another part of the world unrelated to the crisis in question. In order to claim all these things, one not only has to fail to take account of the interests and agency of other states, but one also has to believe that the rest of the world revolves around us and every action others take can ultimately be traced back to what our government does (or doesn't do). That's not just shoddy analysis, but a serious delusion about how people all around the world behave. At the same time, there is a remarkable eagerness on the part of many of the same people to overlook the consequences of things that the U.S. has actually done, so that many of our pundits ignore our own government's agency when it suits them.

    EliteCommInc. , says: September 16, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    "At the same time, there is a remarkable eagerness on the part of many of the same people to overlook the consequences of things that the U.S. has actually done, so that many of our pundits ignore our own government's agency when it suits them."

    It is the failure of the after party assessment. Regardless of success or failure (however defined) the tend not to have an after action report by the political class is why there's little movement in this area.

    Seems a dangerous practice to rely on one's size to shield them from consequences of ineffectual decisions. I think we are already stretched thin, but our size buffers the stumbles.

    Like the runner on pain killers, who keeps running despite a shattered knee caps. Sometimes we press through our pain. Sometimes we need to slow down. Sometimes we need to stop. But unless we experience the pain – we simply don't know.

    bt , says: September 16, 2016 at 6:16 pm
    It all starts with that ridiculous belief in "American Exceptionalism". The belief that we are the one country, the only country, who is going to save the world, again and again.

    Once you've adopted this frame of reference, what happens anywhere in the world for any Reason is America's fault and responsibility. And once you put on those exceptionally colored glasses it's not possible to have a rational view of other countries and their actions; because they can never be seen as anything other than an affirmation or rejection of our exceptionalism. Another effect of this is, being exceptional, whatever America does is just and pure and right.

    It blinds us to our own stupidity and errors, it gets us sucked into other peoples troubles and it makes it easy for other countries to manipulate us to their ends.

    let johnny come marching home , says: September 16, 2016 at 7:54 pm
    "one also has to believe that the rest of the world revolves around us and every action others take can ultimately be traced back to what our government does (or doesn't do). That's not just shoddy analysis, but a serious delusion about how people all around the world behave."

    It also overlooks the quality of those we send to do the meddling and intervening.

    We don't have enough intelligent, educated, competent people.

    The imperial Brits had their own problems, Lord knows, But the general level of British competence, intelligence, and education in the Raj and other colonies was far higher than that of our own congeries of corrupt, half-educated hacks and incompetents.

    [Sep 16, 2016] University of California's Outsourcing Is Wrong, Says US Lawmaker

    Sep 16, 2016 | news.slashdot.org
    (computerworld.com) 338 Posted by manishs on Friday September 09, 2016 @01:14PM from the big-questions dept. Earlier this week, University of California hired India-based IT company HCL to outsource some of its work offshore . As part of the announcement, it announced that it was laying off 17 percent of UCSF's total IT staff. The U.S. lawmaker, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA find the outsourcing job "wrong." dcblogs writes: A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA. "How are they [the university] going to tell students to go into STEM fields when they are doing as much as they can to do a number on the engineers in their employment?" said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif). Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing "is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs." The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services. The affected employees will leave their jobs in February, after they train their contractor replacements.

    University of California Hires India-Based IT Outsourcer, Lays Off Tech Workers (computerworld.com) 618

    Posted by BeauHD on Wednesday September 07, 2016 @11:30PM from the outsourced dept.
    dcblogs writes from a report via Computerworld: The University of California is laying off a group of IT workers at its San Francisco campus as part of a plan to move work offshore. Laying off IT workers as part of a shift to offshore is somewhere between rare and unheard-of in the public sector. The layoffs will happen at the end of February, but before the final day arrives the IT employees expect to train foreign replacements from India-based IT services firm HCL. The firm is working under a university contract valued at $50 million over five years. This layoff affects 17% of UCSF's total IT staff, broken down this way: 49 IT permanent employees will lose their jobs, along with 12 contract employees and 18 vendor contractors. This number also includes 18 vacant IT positions that won't be filled, according to the university. Governments and publicly supported institutions, such as UC, have contracted with offshore outsourcers, but usually it's for new IT work or to supplement an existing project. The HCL contract with UCSF can be used by other UC campuses, which means the layoffs may expand across its 10 campuses. HCL is a top user of H-1B visa workers.

    [Sep 16, 2016] ITT Tech Is Officially Closing

    Sep 16, 2016 | news.slashdot.org
    (gizmodo.com) 419 Posted by manishs on Tuesday September 06, 2016 @12:40PM from the goodbye dept. Reader Joe_Dragon shares a Gizmodo report: ITT Technical Institute is officially closing all of its campuses following federal sanctions imposed against the company. The for-profit college announced the changes in a statement: "It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service . With what we believe is a complete disregard by the U.S. Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected."
    ITT Tech announced it was closing all of its campuses just one week after it stopped enrolling students following a federal crackdown on for-profit colleges. ITT Tech and other higher education companies like it have been widely criticized for accepting billions of dollars in government grants and loans while failing to provide adequate job training for its students. Last year, ITT Tech received an estimated $580 million in federal money (aka taxpayer dollars), according to the Department of Education.

    [Sep 16, 2016] We Need to Move on from Existing Theories of the Economy

    Notable quotes:
    "... [Dave Elder-Vass accepted my invitation to write a response to my discussion of his recent book, ..."
    "... Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy ..."
    "... ). Elder-Vass is Reader in sociology at Loughborough University and author as well of ..."
    "... The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency ..."
    "... The Reality of Social Construction ..."
    "... , discussed ..."
    "... . Dave has emerged as a leading voice in the philosophy of social science, especially in the context of continuing developments in the theory of critical realism. Thanks, Dave!] ..."
    "... Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy ..."
    "... Financial Times ..."
    "... the argument for Pareto optimality of real market systems is patently false, but it continues to be trotted out constantly. ..."
    Sep 16, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
    by Dave Elder-Vass at Understanding Society: September 15, 2016
    Guest post by Dave Elder-Vass : [Dave Elder-Vass accepted my invitation to write a response to my discussion of his recent book, Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy ( link ). Elder-Vass is Reader in sociology at Loughborough University and author as well of The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency and The Reality of Social Construction , discussed here and here . Dave has emerged as a leading voice in the philosophy of social science, especially in the context of continuing developments in the theory of critical realism. Thanks, Dave!]

    We need to move on from existing theories of the economy

    Let me begin by thanking Dan Little for his very perceptive review of my book Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy . As he rightly says, it's more ambitious than the title might suggest, proposing that we should see our economy not simply as a capitalist market system but as a collection of "many distinct but interconnected practices". Neither the traditional economist's focus on firms in markets nor the Marxist political economist's focus on exploitation of wage labour by capital is a viable way of understanding the real economy, and the book takes some steps towards an alternative view.

    Both of those perspectives have come to narrow our view of the economy in multiple dimensions. Our very concept of the economy has been derived from the tradition that began as political economy with Ricardo and Smith then divided into the Marxist and neoclassical traditions (of course there are also others, but they are less influential). Although these conflict radically in some respects they also share some problematic assumptions, and in particular the assumption that the contemporary economy is essentially a capitalist market economy, characterised by the production of commodities for sale by businesses employing labour and capital. As Gibson-Graham argued brilliantly in their book The End Of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy , ideas seep into the ways in which we frame the world, and when the dominant ideas and the main challengers agree on a particular framing of the world it is particularly difficult for us to think outside of the resulting box. In this case, the consequence is that even critics find it difficult to avoid thinking of the economy in market-saturated terms.

    The most striking problem that results from this (and one that Gibson-Graham also identified) is that we come to think that only this form of economy is really viable in our present circumstances. Alternatives are pie in the sky, utopian fantasies, which could never work, and so we must be content with some version of capitalism – until we become so disillusioned that we call for its complete overthrow, and assume that some vague label for a better system can be made real and worthwhile by whoever leads the charge on the Bastille. But we need not go down either of these paths once we recognise that the dominant discourses are wrong about the economy we already have.

    To see that, we need to start defining the economy in functional terms: economic practices are those that produce and transfer things that people need, whether or not they are bought and sold. As soon as we do that, it becomes apparent that we are surrounded by non-market economic practices already. The book highlights digital gifts – all those web pages that we load without payment, Wikipedia's free encyclopaedia pages, and open source software, for example. But in some respects these pale into insignificance next to the household and family economy, in which we constantly produce things for each other and transfer them without payment. Charities, volunteering and in many jurisdictions the donation of blood and organs are other examples.

    If we are already surrounded by such practices, and if they are proliferating in the most dynamic new areas of our economy, the idea that they are unworkably utopian becomes rather ridiculous. We can then start to ask questions about what forms of organising are more desirable ethically. Here the dominant traditions are equally warped. Each has a standard argument that is trotted out at every opportunity to answer ethical questions, but in reality both standard arguments operate as means of suppressing ethical discussions about economic questions. And both are derived from an extraordinarily narrow theory of how the economy works.

    For the mainstream tradition, there is one central mechanism in the economy: price equilibration in the markets, a process in which prices rise and fall to bring demand and supply into balance. If we add on an enormous list of tenuous assumptions (which economists generally admit are unjustified, and then continue to use anyway), this leads to the theory of Pareto optimality of market outcomes: the argument that if we used some other system for allocating economic benefits some people would necessarily be worse off. This in turn becomes the central justification for leaving allocation to the market (and eliminating 'interference' with the market).

    There are many reasons why this argument is flawed. Let me mention just one. If even one market is not perfectly competitive, but instead is dominated by a monopolist or partial monopolist, then even by the standards of economists a market system does not deliver Pareto optimality, and an alternative system might be more efficient. And in practice capitalists constantly strive to create monopolies, and frequently succeed! Even the Financial Times recognises this: in today's issue (Sep 15 2016) Philip Stevens argues, "Once in a while capitalism has to be rescued from the depredations of, well, capitalists. Unconstrained, enterprise curdles into monopoly, innovation into rent-seeking. Today's swashbuckling "disrupters" set up tomorrow's cosy cartels. Capitalism works when someone enforces competition; and successful capitalists do not much like competition".

    So the argument for Pareto optimality of real market systems is patently false, but it continues to be trotted out constantly. It is presented as if it provides an ethical justification for the market economy, but its real function is to suppress discussion of economic ethics: if the market is inherently good for everyone then, it seems, we don't need to worry about the ethics of who gets what any more.

    The Marxist tradition likewise sees one central mechanism in the economy: the extraction of surplus from wage labour by capitalists. Their analysis of this mechanism depends on the labour theory of value, which is no more tenable that mainstream theories of Pareto optimality (for reasons I discuss in the book). Marxists consistently argue as if any such extraction is ethically reprehensible. Marx himself never provides an ethical justification for such a view. On the contrary, he claims that this is a scientific argument and disowns any ethical intent. Yet it functions in just the same way as the argument for Pareto optimality: instead of encouraging ethical debate about who should get what in the economy, Marxists reduce economic ethics to the single question of the need to prevent exploitation (narrowly conceived) of productive workers.

    We need to sweep away both of these apologetics, and recognise that questions of who gets what are ethical issues that are fundamental to justice, legitimacy, and political progress in contemporary societies. And that they are questions that don't have easy 'one argument fits all' answers. To make progress on them we will have to make arguments about what people need and deserve that recognise the complexity of their social situations. But it doesn't take a great deal of ethical sophistication to recognise that the 1% have too much when many in the lower deciles are seriously impoverished, and that the forms of impoverishment extend well beyond underpaying for productive labour.

    I'm afraid that I have written much more than I intended to, and still said very little about the steps I've taken in the book towards a more open and plausible way of theorising how the economy works. I hope that I've at least added some more depth to the reasons Dan picked out for attempting that task.

    Peter K. : , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 01:37 PM
    "This in turn becomes the central justification for leaving allocation to the market (and eliminating 'interference' with the market)."

    Krugman is a neoliberal, although a softer, kinder neoliberal much better than Mankiw, Cowen or the Republicans.

    "pgl -> Peter K....

    Please find me a Krugman discussion where he says nothing can be done about income inequality. This is so straw man that the winds have blown this stupid lie away.

    Reply Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 12:59 PM"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/opinion/wisdom-courage-and-the-economy.html

    Wisdom, Courage and the Economy
    by Paul Krugman
    AUG. 15, 2016

    It's fantasy football time in political punditry, as commentators try to dismiss Hillary Clinton's dominance in the polls - yes, Clinton Derangement Syndrome is alive and well - by insisting that she would be losing badly if only the G.O.P. had nominated someone else. We will, of course, never know. But one thing we do know is that none of Donald Trump's actual rivals for the nomination bore any resemblance to their imaginary candidate, a sensible, moderate conservative with good ideas.

    Let's not forget, for example, what Marco Rubio was doing in the memorized sentence he famously couldn't stop repeating: namely, insinuating that President Obama is deliberately undermining America. It wasn't all that different from Donald Trump's claim that Mr. Obama founded ISIS. And let's also not forget that Jeb Bush, the ultimate establishment candidate, began his campaign with the ludicrous assertion that his policies would double the American economy's growth rate.

    Which brings me to my main subject: Mrs. Clinton's economic vision, which she summarized last week. It's very much a center-left vision: incremental but fairly large increases in high-income tax rates, further tightening of financial regulation, further strengthening of the social safety net.

    It's also a vision notable for its lack of outlandish assumptions. Unlike just about everyone on the Republican side, she isn't justifying her proposals with claims that they would cause a radical quickening of the U.S. economy. As the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center put it, she's "a politician who would pay for what she promises."

    So here's my question: Is the modesty of the Clinton economic agenda too much of a good thing? Should accelerating U.S. economic growth be a bigger priority?

    For while the U.S. has done reasonably well at recovering from the 2007-2009 financial crisis, longer-term economic growth is looking very disappointing. Some of this is just demography, as baby boomers retire and growth in the working-age population slows down. But there has also been a somewhat mysterious decline in labor force participation among prime-age adults and a sharp drop in productivity growth.

    The result, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is that the growth rate of potential G.D.P. - what the economy could produce at full employment - has declined from around 3.5 percent per year in the late 1990s to around 1.5 percent now. And some people I respect believe that trying to get that rate back up should be a big goal of policy.

    But as I was trying to think this through, I realized that I had Reinhold Niebuhr's famous Serenity Prayer running through my head: "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." I know, it's somewhat sacrilegious applied to economic policy, but still.

    After all, what do we actually know how to do when it comes to economic policy? We do, in fact, know how to provide essential health care to everyone; most advanced countries do it. We know how to provide basic security in retirement. We know quite a lot about how to raise the incomes of low-paid workers.

    I'd also argue that we know how to fight financial crises and recessions, although political gridlock and deficit obsession has gotten in the way of using that knowledge.

    On the other hand, what do we know about accelerating long-run growth? According to the budget office, potential growth was pretty stable from 1970 to 2000, with nothing either Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton did making much obvious difference. The subsequent slide began under George W. Bush and continued under Mr. Obama. This history suggests no easy way to change the trend.

    Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't try. I'd argue, in particular, for substantially more infrastructure spending than Mrs. Clinton is currently proposing, and more borrowing to pay for it. This might significantly boost growth. But it would be unwise to count on it.

    Meanwhile, I don't think enough people appreciate the courage involved in focusing on things we actually know how to do, as opposed to happy talk about wondrous growth.

    When conservatives promise fantastic growth if we give them another chance at Bushonomics, one main reason is that they don't want to admit how much they would have to cut popular programs to pay for their tax cuts. When centrists urge us to look away from questions of distribution and fairness and focus on growth instead, all too often they're basically running away from the real issues that divide us politically.

    So it's actually quite brave to say: "Here are the things I want to do, and here is how I'll pay for them. Sorry, some of you will have to pay higher taxes." Wouldn't it be great if that kind of policy honesty became the norm?

    Peter K. -> Peter K.... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 01:39 PM
    "For while the U.S. has done reasonably well at recovering from the 2007-2009 financial crisis,"

    Reasonably well?

    "Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't try. I'd argue, in particular, for substantially more infrastructure spending than Mrs. Clinton is currently proposing, and more borrowing to pay for it. "

    Then why was he for Hillary over Bernie Sanders who did campaign on substantially more infrastructure spending?

    Instead Krugman argues that we need to lower our hopes and expectations.

    "According to the budget office, potential growth was pretty stable from 1970 to 2000, with nothing either Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton did making much obvious difference. "

    So the market price mechanism rules and we government can't do much?

    Neoliberal.

    Peter K. -> Peter K.... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 01:41 PM
    No queue PGL to tell us that Krugman was saying something that he obviously wasn't.

    What is Hillary going to try to do about inequality and distributional issues?

    Family leave? Raise taxes on the rich?

    Anything else besides minor tweaks and tax incentives?

    A public option for health care?

    Peter K. -> Peter K.... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 01:44 PM
    "So here's my question: Is the modesty of the Clinton economic agenda too much of a good thing? Should accelerating U.S. economic growth be a bigger priority?"

    Her agenda is unambitious. It is "center-left" as Krugman puts it which is partly why her poll numbers are in the dumps.

    " It's very much a center-left vision: incremental but fairly large increases in high-income tax rates, further tightening of financial regulation, further strengthening of the social safety net."

    Point me to a blog post where Krugman spells out exactly where he explains how Clinton proposes to do things.

    He doesn't.

    Far East Famine017 said in reply to Peter K.... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 01:46 PM

    Raise taxes on the rich?

    Anything else besides minor tweaks and tax
    "

    President Trump has proposed a $25000 standard deduction for each of us, but $50,000 for married couples who prove that they have consummated. Hey! IRS Agents like to watch.

    Peter K. -> Far East Famine017... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 01:54 PM
    How does one prove consummation? Video? Pelvic exams? Bedsheets?
    Far East Famine017 said in reply to Peter K.... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 06:24 PM

    Tell them what you are about to tell them!

    Tell them!

    Tell them what you have told them!

    But first you have to get their attention. Sorry about the consummation voyeur rib, but getting folks to listen is one of the primary concerns here.

    An attention

    getting
    device
    !

    anne -> Far East Famine017... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 02:54 PM
    Crazy gibberish encourages more of the same and is destructive. The name alone is destructive. The content is mean nonsense. Enough.
    Far East Famine017 said in reply to anne... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 06:16 PM

    a $25000 standard deduction
    "

    Can you see how this minimum federal standard-deduction is de-fang-ed by lower state-standard-deduction? Tell me something!

    When state minimum wage is $5 / hour but federal minimum wage is $9 / hour, does employer hiring in same state have to pay $5 or $9? Do you see how that works?

    State's rights are dissolved by the federal statute.

    This dissolution of state's rights means that Congress could as easily pass a law to establish minimum standard-deduction for all state's income tax collection. Tell me something else!

    Would such a minimum standard deduction on all state income tax collection cause any unemployment? Would it bankrupt any small businesses?

    Of course not! By contrast, the federal minimum wage regulation does cause unemployment, does close down some employers of entry level workers, a danger to employment and poverty.

    Economics is all about opportunity costs. The opportunity cost of federal minimum wage is the possibility of federal minimum standard deduction, a more harmless subsidy.

    Get
    it
    !

    anne -> Far East Famine017... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 06:25 PM
    State's rights are dissolved by the federal statute.

    This dissolution of state's rights means that Congress could as easily pass a law to establish minimum standard-deduction for all state's income tax collection. Tell me something else!

    Would such a minimum standard deduction on all state income tax collection cause any unemployment? Would it bankrupt any small businesses?

    Of course not! By contrast, the federal minimum wage regulation does cause unemployment, does close down some employers of entry level workers, a danger to employment and poverty.

    [ Ah, understood. A clever and important argument that I am thinking through. Like the rational for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. ]

    I am grateful. ]

    anne -> Far East Famine017... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 06:27 PM
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_income_tax_credit

    The United States federal earned income tax credit or earned income credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children. The amount of EITC benefit depends on a recipient's income and number of children. For a person or couple to claim one or more persons as their qualifying child, requirements such as relationship, age, and shared residency must be met. In the 2013 tax year, working families, if they have children, with annual incomes below $37,870 to $51,567 (depending on the number of dependent children) may be eligible for the federal EITC. Childless workers who have incomes below about $14,340 ($19,680 for a married couple) can receive a very small EITC benefit.

    Ben Groves -> Peter K.... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 02:26 PM
    Growth is a fixed investment. The investments have been made. Especially older societies, consumption and leisure become more important the nature of purchases change.

    I see Space Exploration as the only thing that will change that narrative. That would probably create another computer revolution, industrial revolution kind of change. People just aren't into it thought. People are happy with the dopamine economy and just want to get high.

    Peter K. : , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 01:52 PM
    Krugman:

    "Second, less relevant to Sims but very relevant to other helicopter people, a deficit ultimately financed by inflation is just as much of a burden on households as one ultimately financed by ordinary taxes, because inflation is a kind of tax on money holders. From a Ricardian point of view, there's no difference.

    So I'm trying to figure out exactly what Sims is saying. What, ahem, is his model?"

    Inflation hits people with savings who don't have debt.

    Inflation helps people with debt by eating away at the principle. Inflation signals tight job markets with growing incomes as well. That's why you have price pressures. That's why low inflation and loose job markets can be just as bad as deflation.

    Who taxes hit depends on how the government has set up its tax system. Some people and corporations like Apple, Mitt Romney and presumably Trump pay little in taxes.

    Krugman the neoliberal.

    Ben Groves : , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 02:21 PM
    Capitalism was invented by Sephardic Jews who immigrated to Iberia in the 15th and 16th century. They eventually invented market based economy.

    By 1600's they had a swirling business sector located in Amsterdam and William the Orange spread it into England during the latter 17th century, creating the Bank of England in 1694 and became the worlds central bank via commodity money.

    There is nothing to see here people. It is ponzi scheme and nothing more. Capitalism has only made it because of liberalism. You have to be open to market expansion and have the resources to make it work. It is why "konservatism" is a farce. One, the konservatives were the ones that pushed the decaying "feudal" aristocracy to merge with the merchant caste in the first place and create the bourgeois, despite the aristocracy being the birth place of most of the technology we have now. This morphed into what we call capitalism. Basically the Jews are the Parasites(Finance), "Whites"(the capitalists, which has a abnormal % of homosexuals) the Host and the non-whites the cattle(mass famines and genocide during the 19th and 20th century are what really powered the manpower behind anti-capitalism. Aka the British Empire led to 150 million deaths globally. All global fraternities and organizations like the Skull in Bones to the Council of Foreign relations are a conservative institutions. Yet, those cons won't admit it. As Butler said about his Pacific "campaigns" is is all about spreading capitalism. It is indeed a racket.

    These same forces are what created "Protestantism" and "Mormanism", which were a global financed movement. First led by Catholic turncoat Martin Luther, who was financed by the Jews, then run by Jewish John Cohen(Calvin) who spread the judeo-christian revolution globally. This also led to the farce of "sovereignty" nonsense Mormons have tried to use in the last 40 years to push a plutocracy. Then the other bible thumpers caught on. Destroy the nation, bring on the market totalitarianism. Dumb sheep.

    anne -> Ben Groves... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 02:41 PM
    Do you understand that this writing is crazily, horridly, violently prejudiced, madly anti-Semitic? Do you understand just how clinically mad this is?

    This writing reflects a need for professional help. Such help is available and should immediately be sought.

    This prejudice reflects a dangerous illness. Do seek assistance.

    Do not write like this ever again.

    cm -> anne... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 10:48 PM
    This is what we have long been used to from Mr. Groves. Ramblings in this style pretty much comment on their own merit and don't need to be graced with rebuttals, as that implies an acknowledgement that at some level a sort of identifiable argument was made.
    BenIsNotYoda : , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 03:49 PM
    Harvard Study pooh poohs the recovery:

    https://www.scribd.com/document/324137454/Harvard-Study-on-US-Economy-Under-Obama#from_embed

    Choice excerpts:

    "America's economic performance peaked in the late 1990s, and erosion in crucial economic indicators such as the rate of economic growth, productivity growth, job growth, and investment began well before the Great Recession.

    Workforce participation, the proportion of Americans in the productive workforce, peaked in 1997. With fewer working-age men and women in the workforce, per-capita income for the U.S. is reduced.

    Median real household income has declined since 1999, with incomes stagnating across virtually all income levels. Despite a welcome jump in 2015, median household income remains below the peak attained in 1999, 17 years ago. Moreover, stagnating income and limited job prospects have disproportionately affected lower-income and lower-skilled Americans, leading inequality to rise."

    and something I have been going hoarse saying:

    "The U.S. lacks an economic strategy, especially at the federal level. The implicit strategy has been to trust the Federal Reserve to solve our problems through monetary policy."

    the charts alone are worth the effort to check out this excellent study.

    Paine : , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 06:09 PM
    I really like this


    " Neither the traditional economist's focus on firms in markets nor the Marxist political economist's focus on exploitation of wage labour by capital is a viable way of understanding the real economy, and the book takes some steps towards an alternative view. "


    It is the quintessence of heterodox ambitions

    Publius : , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 07:58 PM
    Why did East Asia become Star Trek instead of the US? Why didn't the hopeful visions of mid-1960's America become reality for the Americans? Read Ha Joon Chang if you want to know why East Asia is on track to be as rich as the US/USSR portrayed in 2001 Space Odyssey. Western provincialism, or perhaps the corruption of economists by looting banks (as documented by Charles Ferguson) has led Western economists to offer really, really terrible advice to their own governments: free trade forever, don't worry about massive deindustrialization, there will be new jobs, there's no chance the US ends up like Mali.
    kaleberg : , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 08:45 PM
    One of the big problems of economics is how little of our society it explains. Exactly how many people of either sex actually sit down and decide to have children based on a return on investment calculation? How many people spend time with their friends and families based on some kind of maximization function? When you visit a dying friend or family member at the hospital is this the result of some gift exchange calculus? What about the time one spends listening to music, watching a baseball game or browsing Facebook?

    It might help to start with anthropology and think about human societies and their organization. Start with something like the Lynds' Middletown books to get away from the implicit exoticism that the term anthropology invokes. Societies have certain basic functions: raising children, caring for those who cannot care for themselves, earning a living, spending free time, recognizing one's place in the universe, participating in civil society and so on. Economics only looks at a tiny piece of this, just part of the earning a living section. It's as if chemists never studied anything except hydrogen molecules.

    Economics really does need some new thinking. Starting with Pareto optimality is simply the argument that we live in the best of all possible worlds. It is so transparently bogus that it is hard to believe that anyone ever took it seriously. Oil lamps were hard on torch makers and the automobile destroyed the buggy whip business. We need an economic system to regulate the production and allocation of goods and services, but we also need child custody laws and burial customs.

    I'm a capitalist at heart, but I view capitalism as I view fire. There is nothing quite like fire for cooking food, lighting the dark, scaring wild animals, firing pottery and so on, but fire also needs to be carefully controlled, constantly monitored and subject to societal sanction.

    cm -> kaleberg ... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 11:02 PM
    Economics fashions itself (or is being fashioned) as a science, and as such has to restrict itself to measurable, identifiable, and (in principle) predictable phenomena.

    What you are describing is more in the realm of philosophy, psychology, and moral judgement.

    The problem starts when the economics profession and related occupations (business media, etc.) pretend to have identified "market mechanisms" as the unifying theory of society and world, including "explaining" social dynamics in terms of "objective/rational" market transactions and motivations.

    But the desire for grand unified theories and "whole truths" is ever strong, lending credence and support to such efforts.

    reason : , -1
    Now is the time to push for my leisure theory of value. All goods and services traded in the economy are intermediate goods, and value is actually created during leisure time!

    [Sep 16, 2016] Glamorisation of the rich as alpha males under neoliberalism and randism

    Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
    Dec 31, 2015 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 10:51 am

    As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."

    Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).

    MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

    "Go with the winner."

    That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla)…for most followers anyway.

    Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.

    Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.

    Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.

    Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.

    Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different–not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

    Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

    "Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

    Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
    Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
    This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

    Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
    Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

    Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasnt about Fitzgerald and wasnt even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right

    craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.

    There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!

    giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:

    "The rich are different"… The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

    http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

    Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.

    "They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

    Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.

    "He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."

    [Sep 15, 2016] Satyajit Das The Business of Politics naked capitalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics. ..."
    "... "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." ..."
    "... Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income. ..."
    "... Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same. ..."
    "... There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services. ..."
    "... "The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
    "... Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business. ..."
    "... "…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives. ..."
    "... The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations. ..."
    "... "The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia ..."
    "... Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary ..."
    "... Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world. ..."
    "... Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure. ..."
    "... Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy. ..."
    "... Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it. ..."
    "... "Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it. ..."
    "... This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors." ..."
    "... Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must"). ..."
    "... Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all. ..."
    Sep 15, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    By Satyajit Das, a former banker. His latest book is 'A Banquet of Consequences ' (published in North America as The Age of Stagnation to avoid confusion as a cookbook). He is also the author of Extreme Money and Traders, Guns & Money

    Electorates believe that business leaders are qualified for and likely to be effective in politics. Yet, with some notable exceptions, business people have rarely had successful political careers.

    The assumption is that corporate vision, leadership skills, administrative skills and a proven record of wealth creation will translate into political success. It presupposes personal qualities such drive, ambition and ruthlessness. The allure is also grounded in the romantic belief that outsiders can fix all that is wrong with the political process. The faith is misplaced.

    First, the required skills are different.

    Successful business leaders generally serve a technical apprenticeship in the business, industry or a related profession giving them familiarity with the firm's activities. Political success requires party fealty, calculating partisanship, managing coalitions and networking. It requires a capacity to engage in the retail electoral process, such as inspirational public speaking and an easy familiarity with voters in a wide variety of settings. It requires formidable powers of fund raising to finance campaigns. Where individuals shift from business to politics in mid or later life, he or she is at a significant disadvantage to career political operatives who have had years to build the necessary relationships and organisation to support political aspirations.

    Second, the scope of the task is different. A nation is typically larger than a business. The range of issues is broader, encompassing economics, finance, welfare, health, social policy as well as defence and international relations. Few chief executives will, during a single day, have to consider budgetary or economic issues, health policy, gender matters, privacy concerns, manage involvement in a foreign conflict in between meeting and greeting a range of visitors varying from schoolchildren to foreign dignitaries as well as attending to party political matters.

    Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors. They must take into account the effect of decisions on a wide range of constituencies including many implacably opposed to their positions.

    Third, business objectives, such as profit maximisation, are narrow, well defined and constant. Political objectives are amorphous and ideological. The emphasis is on living standards, security and social justice. Priorities between conflicting objectives shift constantly. The benefits of decisions by governments in infrastructure, education and welfare are frequently difficult to measure and frequently will not emerge for a long time.

    Business decisions rarely focus on the societal impact. Firms can reduce workforce, shift production overseas, seek subsidies or legally minimise taxes. Politicians must deal with the side effects of individual profit maximisation decisions such as closed factories, reduced employment, welfare and retraining costs, security implications as well as social breakdown and inequality or exclusion.

    Fourth, the operating environment is different. Businesses usually operate within relatively defined product-market structures. In contrast, governments operate in a complex environment shaped by domestic and foreign factors, many of which they do not control or influence. Government actions require co-operation across different layers of government or countries. Businesses can withdraw from certain activities, while government do not have the same option.

    Fifth, within boundaries set by laws and regulations, business leaders enjoy great freedom and power to implement their policies. Boards of directors and shareholders exercise limited control, usually setting broad financial parameters. They do not intervene in individual decisions. Most important government actions require legislative or parliamentary support. Unlike commercial operations, government face restrictions, such as separation of powers, restraints on executive or governmental action and international obligations.

    Business leaders have unrivalled authority over their organisation based on threats (termination) or rewards (remuneration or promotion). Political leaders cannot fire legislators. They face significant barriers in rewarding or replacing public servants. Policy implementation requires negotiations and consensus. It requires overcoming opposition from opposing politicians, factions within one's own party, supporters, funders and the bureaucracy. It requires overcoming passively resistance from legislators and public servants who can simply outlast the current incumbent, whose tenure is likely to be shorter than their own.

    The lack of clear goals, unrivalled authority and multiple and shifting power centres means that political power is more limited than assumed Many Presidents of the United States, regarded as the most powerful position on earth, have found that they had little ability to implement their agendas.

    Sixth, unless they choose to be, business leaders are rarely public figures outside business circles. Politicians cannot avoid constant public attention. Modern political debate and discourse has become increasingly tabloid in tone, with unprecedented levels of invective and ridicule. There is no separation of the public and the personal. Business leaders frequently find the focus on personal matters as well as the tone of criticism discomforting.

    There are commonalities. Both fields attract a particular type of individual. In addition, paraphrasing John Ruskin, successful political and business leaders not only know what must be done but actually do what must be done and do it when it must be done. A further commonality is the ultimate fate of leaders generally. Enoch Powell, himself a long-serving Member of the British Parliament, once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders.

    PlutoniumKun, September 15, 2016 at 4:27 am

    I think the key difference between successful politicians and business people is patience. When you look at the careers of successful politicians, you can often see many years of pure relentless grind going into a few years of glory in a senior position. Endless committee meetings, rubber chicken dinners, being nice to people you loath, the inevitable humiliation of losing elections. Most business leaders simply lose patience after a few years after they go into politics.

    Much the same seems to apply to military leaders, although off the top of my head I can think of more successful examples of the latter than of business people (Eisenhower and De Gaulle come to mind). Berlusconi comes to mind as a 'successful' politician and businessman, but then Italy does seem to be an outlier in some respects.

    One key difference I think between 'good' politicians and 'good' businesspeople is in making decisions. Good businesspeople are decisive. Good politicians never make a decision until they absolutely have to.

    PhilU, September 15, 2016 at 4:40 am

    This is clearly a consequence of 'The government is like a household' misinformation campaign, which I think is really conceptualized as 'government is like a small business.' So why not get a businessman to run the thing?

    Yves Smith Post author, September 15, 2016 at 5:03 am

    Interesting point. It also comes out of 30+ years of demonization of government as being less well run than business, when IMHO the problems of government are 1. the result of scale (think of how well run GM and Citigroup were in the mid 200s…and both are better now that they have downsized and shaped up) and 2. inevitable given that you do not want government employees making stuff as they go, i.e., overruling the legislature and courts. The latter point is that some rigidity is part of how government works, and it's necessary to protect citizens.

    Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Adam Smith on the businessmen you shouldn't trust:

    "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it."

    What they knew in the 18th century, we have forgotten today, but nothing has changed.

    He wouldn't like today's lobbyists.

    Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:09 am

    Neoclassical economics hid the work of the Classical Economists and the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income.

    Once you hide this it is easy to make it look as though the interests of business and the wealthy are the same.

    We lowered taxes on the wealthy to remove free and subsidised services for those at the bottom. These costs now have to be covered by business through wages. All known and thoroughly studied in the 18th and 19th Centuries, they even came up with solutions.

    There should not really be any tax on "earned" income, all tax should fall on "unearned" income to subside the productive side of the economy with low cost housing and services.

    This allows lower wages and an internationally competitive economy.

    Adam Smith:

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

    Adam Smith saw landlords, usurers (bankers) and Government taxes as equally parasitic, all raising the cost of doing business.

    He sees the lazy people at the top living off "unearned" income from their land and capital.

    He sees the trickle up of Capitalism:
    1) Those with excess capital collect rent and interest.
    2) Those with insufficient capital pay rent and interest.

    He differentiates between "earned" and "unearned" income.

    The UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

    KYrocky , September 15, 2016 at 8:28 am

    "…who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." Adam Smith just described the modern Republican Party and movement Conservatives.

    Sound of the Suburbs , September 15, 2016 at 6:14 am

    We have seen left wing revolutions before; we are now dealing with a right wing revolution.

    Left wing revolutions usually involve much violence and eventually lead to tyranny, as any means are deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology. Pol Pot was the most extreme example where he decided to return to year zero by wiping out the bourgeoisie in Cambodia. When the dust has settled the revolution just leads to a new elite who maintain their ideology with force and brutality.

    When Francis Fukuyama talked of the end of history, a new year zero was envisaged, this one based on a right wing ideology. A right wing revolution that could take place globally and was not confined to individual nations like left wing revolutions.

    Its theories had already been tested in South America and Indonesia where extreme brutality was employed to implement their one true solution and the new ideology. The children of the US elite were the storm troopers of this ideology and they headed out from their elite US universities to bring this new ideology to developing nations.

    "The Chicago Boys" headed out from the University of Chicago to bring the new way to South American nations and "The Berkley Mafia" headed out from the University of Berkeley, California to bring the new way to Indonesia.

    Any means were deemed acceptable to implement the one true solution and the new ideology, e.g. torture, terror, death squads, snatching people off the streets and making them disappear permanently. Any left wing resistance had to be quashed by whatever means necessary.

    Their revolutions always massively increased inequality, a few at the top became fabulously wealthy and extreme and widespread poverty became prevalent at the bottom. Mixing with the people at the top, the elite US storm troopers deemed their revolutions a huge success. This ideology was ready to roll out across the world.

    Under this new ideology, the UK dream is to emulate the idle, rich rentier with a BTL portfolio, living off "unearned" income extracted from the "earned" income of generation rent, whilst doing as little as possible and enjoying a life of luxury and leisure.

    Norb , September 15, 2016 at 7:27 am

    Obfuscating the relationship between free markets and the role of government is coming to an end. So much failure and misdirection cannot hide forever. The cognitive dissonance set up in society is unsustainable- people don't like to feel or experience crazy.

    Markets are stronger and healthier when backed by functioning government. Defining what good government is and demanding it is required today. That is the revolutionary force, finally turning back the negative campaign against government and demanding good government- fighting for it.

    Fighting fraud and corruption follows these same lines. Reading about the various forms of fraud and corruption here at NC daily provides the framework to address the problem. The real work begins convincing fellow citizens to not accept the criminality- the new normal. It is sometimes distressing seeing the reaction of fellow citizens to these crimes not as outrage, but more along the lines of begrudging admiration for the criminals. The subtile conditioning of the population to accept criminality needs a countervailing force.

    Modern mass media projects a false picture of the world. The meme they push is that violence and corruption are so pervasive in the world, vast resources must be expended addressing the problem, and when these efforts fail, settle for apathy and avoidance. The creation of the Businessman/Politician is the perfect vehicle to move this agenda forward.

    Politics controlling and driving business decisions must be reestablished, not the other way around- business driving politics and society. That truly is the distinction between authoritarianism and democracy. Small authoritarians are tolerable in society- large ones not so much.

    KPL , September 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Bang on. Especially being a political leader in a democracy is too tough and I am surprised that people want the job given the landmine they have to navigate and the compromises you have to make on a daily basis. Similarity is closest when you compare a benevolent dictator and a successful businessman, something like how Lee Kuan Yew ran Singapore.

    Robert Hahl , September 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

    "Enoch Powell…once remarked that all political lives end in failure. It is also true of most business leaders." But that is also what they say about love. No good end can come of it.

    RobC , September 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    There is a mistaken assumption here that business people are responsible for their own or their organization's success. Or even that they're qualified as business people. The higher up the business ladder you go, the more it is other people making the important decisions, even deciding what you think, do and say.

    In this way it's similar to politics. It's likely that neither the successful business person nor the politician is qualified for their roles, that nobody can be. Also their roles are essentially to be authorities, and likewise nobody is truly qualified nor has the justification or legitimacy for authority.

    shinola , September 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    This bit of convenient fiction caught my eye: "Political leaders must also manage for the entire population rather than the narrow interest of investors."

    Perhaps political leaders should do this but, as has been recently shown, there is no basis in reality that this is any kind of requirement (as in "must").

    Robert Coutinho , September 15, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Perhaps his use of "must" in this case is talking about the intrinsic requirement. In other words, even if they are managing negatively for some and positively for others, they are managing for all.

    [Sep 15, 2016] Mark Blyth On Neoliberalism, Brexit, and the Global Revolt Against the One Percent and their Unelected

    Jun 28, 2016 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
    "...a full 95% of the cash that went to Greece ran a trip through Greece and went straight back to creditors which in plain English is banks. So, public taxpayers money was pushed through Greece to basically bail out banks...So austerity becomes a side effect of a general policy of bank bailouts that nobody wants to own. That's really what happened, ok?

    Why are we peddling nonsense? Nobody wants to own up to a gigantic bailout of the entire European banking system that took six years. Austerity was a cover.

    If the EU at the end of the day and the Euro is not actually improving the lives of the majority of the people, what is it for? That's the question that they've brought no answer to.

    ...the Hamptons is not a defensible position. The Hamptons is a very rich area on Long Island that lies on low lying beaches. Very hard to defend a low lying beach. Eventually people are going to come for you.

    What's clear is that every social democratic party in Europe needs to find a new reason to exist. Because as I said earlier over the past 20 years they have sold their core constituency down the line for a bunch of floaters in the middle who don't protect them or really don't particularly care for them. Because the only offers on the agenda are basically austerity and tax cuts for those who already have, versus austerity, apologies, and a minimum wage."

    Mark Blyth

    Although I may not agree with every particular that Mark Blyth may say, directionally he is exactly correct in diagnosing the problems in Europe.

    And yes, I am aware that the subtitles are at times in error, and sometimes outrageously so. Many of the errors were picked up and corrected in the comments.

    No stimulus, no plans, no official actions, no monetary theories can be sustainably effective in revitalizing an economy that is as bent as these have become without serious reform at the first.

    This was the lesson that was given by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. There will be no lasting recovery without it; it is a sine qua non . One cannot turn their economy around when the political and business structures are systemically corrupt, and the elites are preoccupied with looting it, and hiding their spoils offshore.

    [Sep 15, 2016] The globalization of the technocratic paradigm

    Jun 23, 2015 | EconoSpeak

    From Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' of the Holy Father Francis, On Care For Our Common Home:

    The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth's goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that "an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed"

    "The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life. The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. Some circles maintain that current economics and technology will solve all environmental problems, and argue, in popular and non-technical terms, that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth. They are less concerned with certain economic theories which today scarcely anybody dares defend, than with their actual operation in the functioning of the economy. They may not affirm such theories with words, but nonetheless support them with their deeds by showing no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behavior shows that for them maximizing profits is enough. Yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion. At the same time, we have "a sort of 'superdevelopment' of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the ongoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation", while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth."

    [Sep 15, 2016] The end of capitalism has begun

    Notable quotes:
    "... Like Greece is finding out now, if you have to import virtually all your energy and can't export high energy finished products like Germany and Japan, then you are in trouble. ..."
    "... Except the problem we have today is NOT Capitalism. Far from it in fact! We are in Neo-Corporatism and have left Capitalism in the past! ..."
    "... Conventional oil peaked in 2005. Well, okay, effectively plateaued. We'll probably see the ultimate peak this year. We haven't reached peak debt…yet. What happens when we reach peak energy and peak debt? What happens when we reach Peak Everything? ..."
    "... 40 years ago the Limits to Growth study was published, based on a systems dynamics model of the world's population, economic production, resources and pollution, and how they would interact. It forecast the sort of trouble we are now seeing, and its "business-as-usual" scenario predicted system collapse in the mid-21st Century. Governments and society leaders should have taken note back then, but they didn't, and their behaviour shows how poorly "capitalism" does rise to the challenge of global problems - it obfuscates, it denies, it defers, and it goes on doing its own thing regardless in the face of all evidence that it is on a path to destruction. Now we are left with a world that is consuming the equivalent of one and a half planets a year, and still, many are in denial. ..."
    "... It sounds hopeful that economists are questioning the assumptions of neoliberalism, but if, as I suggested, the real change is less ideological and more to do with elites preferring to be elite even if in poorly functioning economies and dysfunctional societies, these criticisms may be ignored. Anyway, if we get Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, perhaps then we'll see! But it's up to everyone to keep making and refining the arguments, and to get them across. I think even the most indoctrinated people can change their views very quickly when they encounter good sense. ..."
    Jun 20, 2015 | The Guardian

    hitandrun 20 Jul 2015 05:58

    Spectacularly woolly waffle, much like the Gladwell, but its information value -- if I were pressed to put a price on it -- is that it provides a certain kind of gentleman with late-night bar talk who would otherwise have nothing at all to say for himself, or go on about chaos theory. That's got to be a few quid.

    Eduardo Martinez -> JezJez 20 Jul 2015 05:55

    You are correct, Capitalism is more efficient than all the other 'isms' in maximising resource and energy extraction. Unfortunately fossil energy is a finite, as we are going to find out shortly. Castles made in sand ......

    Eduardo Martinez -> denise2933 20 Jul 2015 05:36

    You got it in one, even though your comment was intended to be sarcastic. The UK will not support a population of 64 million without fossil energy. North Sea oil extraction peaked in 2000, World conventional oil extraction plateaued in 2006. These are facts not opinion.

    Like Greece is finding out now, if you have to import virtually all your energy and can't export high energy finished products like Germany and Japan, then you are in trouble.
    You can no longer afford a first world standard of living.

    REALITY is such a bitch.

    schauffler -> NadiaJohanisova 20 Jul 2015 05:32

    This is an excellent response to what looks like, unfortunately, another boosterish celebration of the "liberating" qualities of a technological regime which is produced by, and dependent upon, the most aggressive, concentrated and uncontrollable form of capitalism pure and simple. The endless iteration of the word "information", as if this denoted something uniform, powerful, desirable or even identifiable, suggests that the author has only a sketchy idea even of his own theory, nor does he deign to discuss -- in the excerpt printed above -- the mechanics of the concentration of capital and the dynamics of perpetual accumulation. As Ms. Johanisova rightly points out, there is no mention made of the gigantic forces manifest in the production and distribution of our information networks and the (ever-increasing) amounts of energy they require to be sustained. Nor are we given any clear idea how "information" will liberate us from dependence on these forces. Does the author think that Samsung, Exxonmobil, Unilever, Maersk Sealand and Koch Industries will somehow be replaced by global co-ops that eschew profit?

    malachimalagrowther -> Urgelt 20 Jul 2015 04:52

    This was a sane, well-informed and percipient comment. "I have seen the future, and it is bleak." If the past is any guide, the current accumulation of everything in the hands of a very few will be solved neither by information nor wishing it. The inequalities of, for example, the Belle Epoque, were reduced only by war. That is hardly to be wished for, hardly to be avoided anyway. We cannot count on a peaceful extrapolation of trends.


    NadiaJohanisova 20 Jul 2015 04:44

    I would agree with the main thrust of the argument: that one way out of the current system (or part of it) is via localised and democratically governed systems of mutual support, services and production. I like some of the insights (eg austerity as the first step of the race to the bottom)and feel close to the general values espoused b the author. But I am worried about the authors´s linear Eurocentric evolutionary model of the world, his over-emphasis on technology as driving this change,his naive view of information technology as costless and without power-imbalances and most of all his ignorance of environmental aspects and dimensions of what he discusses.

    "Postcapitalism" - Paul Mason should perhaps acknowledge that he has not coined this term (see eg the book JK Gibson-Graham: A post capitalist politics.).
    "The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above." The article is Northern-Europe-centered. As far as I know the revolutionary ideals are still very much alive in may parts of the world incl. Southern Europe. Also, it is I think counter-productive to delete government policies from the equation of whatever needs to be done to reach sustainable and equitable societies. The capitalist machine, the growth imperative, the race to the bottom will not go away if we stick our hands in the sand. Nb. Nationalising banks does not = destruction of market.

    "Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all". I am not sure of this. It has changed the character of work, contributed to the race to the bottom and while many are unemployed, many are working harder than ever du to the growing power of capital to relocate and thus weaken any legislation . The relationship between work and wages has always been loose (as eg Petr Jehlička has been pointing out in his papers). The idea that we will need no more work is based on not integrating environmental issues into the picture. Like André Gorz in the 1970s, the author does not realise that automation is built on fossil fuels, with all the accompanying problems (global warming, oil peak, imbalance between losers and winners of the race for the last fossil fuels remaining (Alaska, Amazonia...fracking...). Even information technology rests on high energy consumption and large electronic servers made from "stuff".

    "The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free." But it does not operate for free, it is supported by volunteer donations. The problem also is that these volunteers are still dependent on jobs in presumably capitalist enterprises. This is why it is so important for the new "commons" and "peer production" to link up with the old "cooperative movement" to create real livelihoods for these people. I have an interesting report on this from a conference in 2014 where they actually did try to link up.

    "Yet information is abundant. Information goods are freely replicable. Once a thing is made, it can be copied/pasted infinitely. A music track or the giant database you use to build an airliner has a production cost; but its cost of reproduction falls towards zero. Therefore, if the normal price mechanism of capitalism prevails over time, its price will fall towards zero, too....We are surrounded by machines that cost nothing and could, if we wanted them to, last forever." I am worried that this is the old Western economic sin of discounting the "material" again: old wine in new bottles. Information can reproduce indefinitely, true. But all clicking on the internet, all playing of tunes via computer etc. has a material/energy cost: production costs of producing the computers, i-pads, mobiles etc. plus the giant servers, energy costs of operating them, cost to the earth of the waste. Tin, tungstam, tantalum for mobiles are mined forcibly by near-slaves in Easten Congo in militia-held territory, illustrating a wider and deeper issue of North-South imbalance.

    "There are, of course, the parallel and urgent tasks of decarbonising the world and dealing with demographic and fiscal timebombs." This cannot be done - and thought - "in parallell": Unfortunately (because it is so difficult), the task is to synthesise our insights from all these spheres of we want to build a credible utopia. Environmental issues and "trashing the earth" cannot be relegated to a footnote.


    Arthur Robey -> Harry Callahan 20 Jul 2015 01:55

    Thank you for your reply Harry, your position is becoming clearer to me.

    I am of the opinion that there can never be enough per capita wealth. If we drive this argument to extremes then everyone born will have everything they want and never have to lift a finger. What then the wonders of Calvinistic industry?

    I see that you expound the virtues of the lessons of history. But that is precisely what is being argued against. Our predicament has no precedent. History can teach us nothing about the way forward from here. Life sets the exam and then produces the lesson.

    An infinitely expanding economy on a finite planet is a mathematical impossibly. Therefore the problem becomes "How many doublings of the economy are enough? " Because any constantly growing function will have a doubling time. If this is not clear to you, may I recommend Professor Bartlett's excellent youtube video on exponential growth and it's inevitable consequences.

    The only satisfactory solution to a problem of infinities are other infinities. I won't insult your intelligence by spelling out the obvious conclusion. The results are so clear and so improbable that the only way to convince you will be to allow you to find them for yourself.
    And it requires no redistribution of whatever passes for wealth on this poor benighted planet at this moment in time.


    Deanna St oriflamme 20 Jul 2015 01:39

    "To produce people's control over information, you have to have extremely well-informed and well-educated people, motivated by something more than their own isolated or tribal immediate gratification."

    Like Julian Assange you mean?

    I agree, most of the comments above state clearly that lots of people read the article so superficially and instantly felt compelled to rewrite-it in their comments almost as long as Mason's without even reflecting at it one moment longer

    You don't sound "uneducated, mindless, self-gratifying, isolated narcissists, overwhelmed by corporate-managed information who, when not simply pressing buttons for gratification, take out the failure of videogames and the like to gratify them on others by committing random acts of self-immortalizing violence" so are you sure this is what is happening...? :)

    Because during the Crusades the people you describe existed already (minus the buttons and the videogames)


    John Muthukat 20 Jul 2015 01:32

    WE ARE ENTERING THE POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY

    What we are witnessing is not just the beginning of the end of capitalism, but the beginning of the end of Industrial Civilization itself. From many unmistakable omens, it can surely be concluded that industrial civilisation is headed for irreversible collapse; the latest Greek crisis is only just an overflowing syndrome.

    Today there is a deep groundswell towards a strong and cynic awareness that the world is fast heading towards a no-win-situation from which it simply has no escape. Many see it as having already started the end without even knowing it. It is on account of a number of symptoms, not just one. They seem to convey the message that the world is un-savable, and that the worst is yet to come. The top votaries on these lines of thinking constitute the top corporate technocrats among others. It is only that they consider it as an open secret and an opportunity to plunder the 'sinking ship', as is evident from the desperate bailout operations by an already bankrupt global economy.

    Recently a new study has concluded that industrial civilisation is headed for irreversible collapse? According to a report in The Guardian dated 14 March, 2014, a new study partly sponsored by NASA-funded Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. The study finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilizations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation.

    For more on this, please read the essay: The Birth Of Machine And The Death Of Man: http://www.humanfirst.in/


    Urgelt 20 Jul 2015 00:24

    A comment cannot be an article, so with that restriction understood, I'll try to keep my remarks relatively brief.

    The author misses a few very important points.

    1. Information can be fenced, and it is being fenced. While this fencing runs counter to a human impulse to share ideas freely, it can be enforced. With guns. And it is being enforced. With guns. In other words, we see not only wealth concentration, but rising information concentration and control, as with increasingly draconian intellectual property regimes and enforcement, national security apparatuses, and criminalizing the possession of information which 'authorities' may possess, but not citizens. Did I mention that the defenders of the status quo have guns? Big ones.

    2. Endlessly rising productivity due to advancing technology is driving wealth concentration on a scale never before seen. Jobs, the primary mechanism under capitalism for distributing wealth downward, are increasingly impotent to perform that task - because every year it takes fewer people to do the work required to keep civilization going. The number of people who are 'excess to capitalism's requirements' is rising, and they are being shoved out onto the margins. No-one has proposed a path towards replacing jobs as a mechanism for downward wealth distribution. The world's economists are notoriously silent on this subject, which is perhaps understandable when you realize that most of them are serving the 1%'s ongoing wealth concentration; that's their day job. Speaking vaguely of Wikipedia and cooperative kindergartens and cryptocurrencies does not identify a replacement mechanism for downward wealth distribution.

    3. The world population is being radicalized, both in response to overpopulation and in response to wealth concentration (and the increasingly vigorous defense of wealth concentration). The result is growing instability. The trend is uneven, but it is proceeding nearly everywhere. Refugee populations are surging, with no end in sight. Both the defenders of the status quo and radicals are becoming more brutal.

    4. The richest among us are consolidating their grips on governments wherever they can to serve their interests. It's really quite pointless to speak of governments acting to encourage the free exchange of information; they are coming down hard on the side of curbing information availability, restricting it to the wealthy and their global security servants.

    5. The author thinks the sharing economy will quietly supercede capitalism. That isn't how I see this playing out. Instead, capitalism will shrink as demand is concentrated where the wealth is. We already have enclaves for the wealthy. Soon they will be 'retreats.' 'Fortresses.' The have-nots will be treated with increasing brutality by those protecting their fenced preserves of information and wealth.

    6. The worst mistake the author makes is in failing to see how these trends will lead us to inconceivable violence. Endlessly rising productivity, concentration of wealth and increasing radicalization and brutality will shake the stability of our entire civilization. It's not obvious that it will not fall.

    7. The last mistake the author makes is in defining a too-rigid equation between information and resources. Factually, resources do have limits, no matter what you know. For example, marine biologists are predicting that by 2050, give or take a few years, there will no longer be any commercially significant populations of edible fish in the world's oceans. A few decades further on, we'll have harvested all edible biomass; all that will be left are inedible species like jellyfish. Species extinctions on land are rising, too, also posing problems for ecosystem productivity and human food production. No information-sharing scheme can put a halt to this advancing resource crunch. Combined with rising population, rising wealth concentration, rising radicalization and brutality, we're in big, big trouble, and I haven't even mentioned what climate change will do to us. Starting up a free kindergarten makes not even a tiny dent in that problem.

    Conclusion: at this juncture in human history, it's ridiculous to be talking about utopian visions. We should instead be talking about preventing a Malthusian die-back.


    WeeWally wiz99doz 19 Jul 2015 23:29

    Capitalism finished a long time ago; if it ever existed. The use of capitalism as a synonym for greedy business is a sad commentary on the lack of language of our day. Capitalism is about capital formation and nothing to do with the ripping off of the masses. That's the role of religions and politicians who encourage everyone to work harder and accept their lot.

    Capitalism is an idea born out of Protestantism. If I forgo pleasure today I will have more resources and therefore I can have more pleasure tomorrow.
    Business is a simple matter. Find something you love to do and help as many people as possible. They will then throw money at you. Today's businesses, particularly financially based businesses and miners, do not seem to understand this principle and are hell-bent on destroying society and the planet so that they can be the richest survivors. They become rich, briefly in most cases, but never wealthy. Wealthy people do not spend their lives accumulating the riches of the world at the expense of others and there is never enough for the rich but non-wealthy. e.g. How much money does a man need to have before he shows his mother or father, "What a good boy am I?" Wealthy people share their wealth uplifting others and making themselves happy through their good hearts.

    No country that has raised itself from under-developed to developed country status, has done so without the exploitatuion of others. We are seeing this process copied once again in Russia, India and China. India is the most disappointing because their peoples claim to understand norality. Accumulation of capital in developing countries is chiefly through corruption which is why The Party turned a blind eye to it for so long. Now that most of the Princeling families are rich they will prevent others following their methods. It's also a great way to get rid of rivals.

    Britains think that the Industrial Revolution made them rich but the capital was obtained through slave trading and narcotic sales. The Yanks are so stupid they believe that their revolution was about taxes and not ripping off Native Lands. Capital was further acumulated by the Robber Barons. Australians similarly stole the land and the Chinese have stolen from their own people and now everyone else who is naive enough to trust them. Russia developed at the expense of desperate and innocent workers who gave up their share certificates to devouring oligarchs.

    Britain refinanced the world by buying supplies from the Carpetbaggers and ending the Depression in the US. At the end of the war the US had the only factories still standing so used its financial power to enslave much of the world and create two empires: Their own and Stalin's. Britain has only recently escaped its clutches which makes one wonder how it got conned into Middle Eastern adventures. The US has more standing armies than Rome ever dreamed of but has sold its soul to the Chinese for a few pieces of silver. Coincidently the UK also sold out to the Chinese for silver in exchange for opium. The recovery of Hong Kong by the Party had nothing to do with land and was all about silver and face.
    Long live capitalism; the real kind.


    Steve Craton 19 Jul 2015 23:26

    I just graduated with my BA ARCH and B ARCH from architecture school which (mine was, anyway) a hotbed of progressiveness in the name of sustainability and the fact that somebody is going to have to figure out where and how all these humans who won't stop having babies are going to live in a future Earth that may make the movie Mad Max look like a bedtime story. I'm also a card-carrying Democrat with the occasional Libertarian tendencies - for example, I think banning legal firearms will be as effective as the current ban on recreational crack and heroin use, so I disagree with my gun-control pals on the issue.

    All that being said; there's never been true capitalism - or true communism or socialism, for that matter. What's bandied about as the "free market" by so-called pundits (usually on a global corporation's payroll) is more the machinations of a bunch of international Zaibatsu. I'm formerly military who went to school after service and did a stint in the private sector, viz, I'm not a starry-eyed kid anymore - but I decided that not only will I use my education and skills to do the kind of small economy things the author discusses, I will also pull a reverse John Gault and let the sociopathic corporations do their thing without me.


    Raytrek Raytrek 19 Jul 2015 23:01

    Communism has a Capitalist economy, the difference is in how it is regulated as to where wealth and advantage is distributed, that is a matter of enforced law and standards on Leadership, Capitalism existed long before Adam Smith, he just observed the nature of an economy, he even made recommendations that were not entirely adopted by the Aristocratic authority of his time, to our current detriment.


    Jim Ballard 19 Jul 2015 22:06

    Header :

    "The end of capitalism has begun"

    Long overdue. But technology lending equal access to prosperity for all on the horizon ? Think again.

    This article is loaded with wishful thinking and non sequiturs.

    "...capitalism's replacement by postcapitalism will be accelerated by external shocks and shaped by the emergence of a new kind of human being"

    Not quite human, I'm afraid.

    "First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages."

    Yes it has. I for one preached the mantra of "Less work, more money !" back in the late 80s. But there will be a price to pay by someone else. Always.

    "Second, information is corroding the market's ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant..."

    Yes. Products that really are scarce are being cheapened further by a transient collective of shallow speculators who really do not understand the product. That will change when "quick sale" solutions are made foolish. This is really nothing new. Just more prevalent.

    "Third, we're seeing the spontaneous rise of collaborative production:...The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free, abolishing the encyclopedia business and depriving the advertising industry of an estimated $3bn a year in revenue."

    ...But "information" does not equal "knowledge", and any attempt to assign the same power strategies to both is premature and silly. "Wiki" still has a very long path to "knowledge".

    "New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the "sharing economy". Buzzwords such as the "commons" and "peer-production" are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself."

    I'm concerned less what it means to "capitalism" that I am concerned with the eager constraints on both the human imagination and the displacement of the individual.

    "(2008 crash) produced, in the west, a depression phase longer than in 1929-33, and even now, amid a pallid recovery, has left mainstream economists terrified about the prospect of long-term stagnation. The aftershocks in Europe are tearing the continent apart."

    No. The '29 Depression lasted much longer...Up until the war, in fact. A "coincidence" not unnoticed by all.

    "...the retirement age is being hiked to 70...Services are being dismantled and infrastructure projects put on hold."

    There is only one reason "retirement" is being hiked to "70". Trillions of tax dollars are being dumped into the war machine. The government is slowing weaning itself off its obligations to both SS and infrastructure for that one fact alone. Period.

    "Information is a machine for grinding the price of things lower and slashing the work time needed to support life on the planet."

    A little hyperbole can go a long way I suppose, but doesn't address all the reasons for price deflation while the dollar remains severely inflated.

    "Something is broken in the logic we use to value the most important thing in the modern world."

    Yes. We are broken.

    "The great technological advance of the early 21st century consists not only of new objects and processes, but of old ones made intelligent. The knowledge content of products is becoming more valuable than the physical things that are used to produce them"

    This article would be more coherent if there was less word salad :

    "Intellectual"..."knowledge"..."data"..."information"..."imagination"...all mixed, conjoined, exchanged...trumping any reference to real definition. Typical econo-speak.

    "This will be more than just an economic transition. There are, of course, the parallel and urgent tasks of decarbonising the world and dealing with demographic and fiscal timebombs"

    How far do we take "decarbonizing ? Effects of climate change notwithstanding, silicon based intelligence(s) will soon recognize that carbon-based humans are toxic in themselves, and the utilization of such "wasted" matter and energy can serve a better end by furthering the survival of silicon-based new species.

    [ continued ]...

    Jock Campbell -> Says Aye 19 Jul 2015 20:26

    Except the problem we have today is NOT Capitalism. Far from it in fact! We are in Neo-Corporatism and have left Capitalism in the past!

    We need to get BACK to Capitalism, as it was a mechanism for spreading CAPITAL throughout the system, a method of facilitation from grass roots up! Today, the capital is held among too few corporate institutions, organisations and individuals and the net effect is the strangling of the free market economy... as there's no

    Angelo GG 19 Jul 2015 19:39

    Post-capitalism, State Capitalism, Kleptocracy, Corporotocracy....

    All different words describing the same thing: a bastardization of the concept of 'capitalism' whereby dictators/tyrants take-over a system of government in order to transfer power from the many to the few.

    It doesn't matter how many fancy economic models and theories are put forward. There is only one reality in which the powers at be ARE NOT interested in creating world prosperity, improving standards of living and finding peace etc etc....

    All of that is smokescreen - the real goal is chaos, disease, injustice and servitude for the masses.

    A good article covering all of the above is here: http://georgui.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-disfigured-past-and-ominous-future.html

    IlCarbonetto 19 Jul 2015 16:15

    Postcapitalism, or The Rise of the People of Middle Earth.

    You can't see them, but you can ear them digging the network of tunnels under the citadel of power (of value creation) that eventually will collapse the city walls and come to life in the day light. Well, except that I'm not convinced that the elements Paul Mason is putting on the table are sufficient to push society over the threshold of class formation, of a new hegemonic class based on an alternative way of production, of value creation. The intuition is there, and I'm prepared to suspend judgment till I read the all book. In the meantime:

    1) It seems to me that in history, the 'dominated' classes never managed to acquire a sustainable level of control to implement a radical change of the system. The serfs did not overcome the aristocracy; what toppled it was the ascent of a radically new class, the merchant/capitalist, brought about by linear cumulative changes that reached at a certain point a critical level or threshold. The Russian Revolution did not bring about the hegemony of the working class, but merely an alternative state capitalistic class of bureaucrats. So, no system change there, I'm afraid; which is the deep reason behind that failed revolution.

    2) In order to start up and curry on real radical social and economic change, it seems that the political struggle between the dominant and the dominated classes is almost irrelevant. What changes history, economic systems and social order is something more profound, cumulative, and very much 'out of control', unplannable: class formation, that is, the formation of a new 'third excluded' social class, brought about usually by demographic, technological and other changes in the ways of production, that gradually transforms the economic system, the modes of production, the creation of value, engendering a completely new (previously not existent) class with the hegemonic clout and power to substitute the previous dominant class and reshaping the relations with the dominated classes.

    3) The Gramscian 'classi subalterne' do not do radical change nor lasting revolutions. They cannot topple the dominant class, nor can create a new way of production from scratch. I think Marx went against his own analysis and, by introducing platonistic elements, hoped that social and political struggle would have eventually created a new way of production and social relations; even according to his analysis, in this fundamental aspect of his tought, he got this story upside down: it is the economy, stupid!

    4) So, yes, Paul Mason is, according to my watch, on something interesting, but the mix, the cocktail elements he has presented so far are not original and are not promising. Lets see...


    SuperfluousMan 19 Jul 2015 15:51

    The capitalist system is not fighting with the sharing economy - no free market economist wants to shut down Wikipedia because it doesn't generate profit. I am very much pro capitalism and I'm very much pro Wikipedia - I am also pro being able to watch thousands of hours of lectures from the likes of Harvard University on Youtube. The fact that Google make a tiny profit from the data I produce whilst educating myself for free does not bother me at all. It seems to elude some people though that the primary driver for the social good that is free educational videos on Youtube is profit (Youtube was created for profit, it was sold to Google for a huge profit) - and there's nothing wrong with making profit.

    I think the author is right about a few things, like how our economy will move towards smaller and smaller margins as competition and technology drives ever more efficient production lines, leading to more and more abundance of everyday goods - but it is capitalism that is driving these efficiency gains, not some form of neo-Marxism...

    SuperfluousMan durable13 19 Jul 2015 15:40

    I run a smallish website which gets about 20,000 visitors per day. I save various analytics from the site in my own database and externally. I use the information to generate a small amount of profit from advertising. I own that information - the actual benefits of it are transferred to my bank account every month - I'm really not delusional.

    alturium 19 Jul 2015 15:23

    It's hard to see the walls of the bubble when you are inside the bubble…

    We talk as if we have a society that reduces work by the increase of information technology. That the direction of progress points to a heavily automated society where no one works and the biggest social issue is the fair distribution of the fruits of mechanical labor.

    The virtual reality has become far removed the physical reality. The physical reality is the limitation of the resources that can grow, sustain, or maintain our lifestyle. There are limits to growth and we live in a world of diminishing returns.

    We are living in one of the greatest bubbles of all times, the Great Industrial Bubble economy based on cheap fossil energy and cheap debt. Actually, there are many little bubbles such as the Finanicialization bubble since 1980, but the Great Industrial Bubble is the big one. I rank the bubbles by size: Industrial, Cheap Debt (since WWII), and Financialization.

    Two hundred years ago about 95% of us would have been farmers. Today that is less than 5%. Is that because of our liberal democracies? No. Is that because of capitalism? Not really. The real basis for our complex societies is cheap fossil fuels.

    Our society builds complexity based on the leftover energy surplus of cheap fossil fuels. We have jobs that are far less menial and far less physical thanks to this one-time gift. Our economy fits within the natural world, not the other way around.

    When Mason says,
    "Once you understand that information is physical, and that software is a machine, and that storage, bandwidth and processing power are collapsing in price at exponential rates, the value of Marx's thinking becomes clear. We are surrounded by machines that cost nothing and could, if we wanted them to, last forever."

    He is deluded. It is a delusion that increasing automation (read: complexity) can be supported without an increase of energy. He doesn't understand entropy or the 2nd of Thermodynamics. The illusion of automation is concealing the fact that our economy is based on cheap energy.

    It appears that you can copy music track and play it for "free". But the reality is that a lot of energy went into building your iPhone. Cheap coal and cheap labor in China built that iPhone so that you could listen to that music track. It is not free.

    Conventional oil peaked in 2005. Well, okay, effectively plateaued. We'll probably see the ultimate peak this year. We haven't reached peak debt…yet. What happens when we reach peak energy and peak debt? What happens when we reach Peak Everything?

    I really don't know. But the past growth and collapse of so many civilizations that overshot their ecological foundations is not comforting. We are headed for big trouble.


    GeoffroydeCharny 19 Jul 2015 13:42

    Welcome to the new Feudalism. The new ages wealth gap and its continued acceleration will ensure the cementing of the new serf class. The next big step is their elimination through malnutrition and disease. This will leave our little blue planet in the hands of a few million well to do and their robot servants. The environment will recover and the future will be secured.


    Bruce Joseph 19 Jul 2015 12:58

    Ambrose Bierce Devil's dictionary sald, "Liberty, n, One of imaginations most precious possessions The rising people hot and outof breath, roared round the palace " liberty or death", If death will do the King said, let me reign, you'll have I'm sure no reason to complain "


    Richard Alan nolovehere 19 Jul 2015 12:35

    Some system has to provide or allocate the basic resources e.g Electricity, raw materials, foods, land. In addition, law enforcement will be necessary to stop free riders destroying the system. The people running the system will always have power over those who don't.

    Whether or not people can share information freely, or there is a circular renewable economy is moot. On this planet; land is finite. Raw materials are finite. Arable space is finite.

    My point relating to Saudi Arabia or the Gulf economies is simple. Labour is the great bargaining chip of the masses. If you can't provide that or it isn't necessary, but you take up land, material and food; you will be viewed by the power-holders at best like the average Venezuelan, UAE or Saudi Arabian citizen. At worst you will be viewed like Native Americans or Aborigines 'wasting' space.

    And I strongly recommend Michael Manning's 'Spider Garden'.


    Rex Newborn 19 Jul 2015 11:50

    Every living organism on earth, including humans, competes with others of its kind, and against forces in its environment for survival. Humans have the ability to modify nature to some extent, but can they ever really control it, especially their own nature? Capitalism has been in existence since the first IOU was created, and will continue in some form unless there is a quantum leap in the evolution of human nature. Capitalism is the essence of human competition, as territoriality is among mammals.

    Equality does not exist in nature. The only way that humans could ever possibly be anything approaching equal would be for all humans to be alike and to think alike. Mass cooperation among humans only happens in dire emergencies, such as wars, riots, epidemics, natural disasters, etc.; or, by force from some form of heavy-handed leadership, mass political indoctrination, forced religious adherence, marshal law, etc.

    Overpopulation threatens a dire emergency on a global scale. If we are to have a redistribution of wealth and an environment where umpteen billion of us can survive, we will probably have to have a socialist government. A dictatorial, tyrannical, socialist, world government that ruthlessly forces everyone to share equally, at least as long as there is anything to share. Those that rank higher in this government, possibly the top 1%, can expect to be a lot more equal than the plebeians, of course. Those in the top 5% of government can expect to be somewhat more equal, and so on.


    ID8598806 luizribeiro 19 Jul 2015 11:45

    Brilliant, seductive ...but devoid of realism ... Neither the plutocrats, nor the digital monopolies nor the meritocratic dictatorships (let alone the kleptocracies) will fade away. The logic of collective action decisively proves that the well endowed, well organized few invariably control the many. Local initiatives facilitated by the new information technologies will be tolerated in order to let off steam...but only up to a point. The powers that be will remain ruthless in controlling access to these technologies and in suppressing any challenge to their control of the commanding heights. Thus rather than post capitalism we are at the threshold of Capitalism 3.0
    Bob


    Lawrie Griffith 19 Jul 2015 10:41

    It seems to me there is one important factor that has been overlooked in this article. The link between economic growth and population growth.
    Current economics appears to be sustained by growth. Growth in consumption, growth in money, growth in debt, growth in productivity by lowering wages and living standards, growth through speculation, growth in asset inflation. It's a long list.

    This is all underpinned by growth in population.

    But in many regions of the world this is slowing, or has even stopped. For now migration from poorer countries to these regions is maintaining growth and demand, along with cheap labour.

    However, advances in education and local access to knowledge through modern communication is working in tandem with increased health to empower women. This reduces birth rates, as having fewer children becomes a better form of security and opportunity than having large families, because more women are able to regulate their own fertility.

    Continued growth through post-capitalist information wealth, which expands in cyberspace, is a pathway forward as the author suggests. However, neoliberal capitalism requires steady growth in consumer spending to maintain stability.

    As population growth slows old style capitalism will come under strain.

    The knee-jerk response is to impose Austerity on the main population to maintain the growth in wealth flows to those at the top. Everything we see in the world today suggests that the big institutions of the finance sector will will do everything in their power to maintain capital and liquidity churn and flows in the money markets.

    As population growth slows and environmental change undermines economies and wages fall, the bottom, as they say, will drop out of the neoliberal consumer market.

    So I ask: is the author suggesting that the rapid expansion of non-comodified, free, networked information can replace the coming stagnation in consumer demand, which is transacted in money? I like the idea, but if so: how?


    Elinor Hurst ABCgdn 19 Jul 2015 10:26

    No, the freedom to own stuff if you happen to have enough money to have that freedom, does not mean that those with that money and hence power will have the intelligence, understanding and foresight to take steps to address environmental problems. This is partly for the reasons StefB1 has mentioned, that very few people seem to see the joined-up picture in this highly complex world of myriad specialisations that we live in. It's also because there are so many interactions in the global socioeconomic-ecological system that it's not necessarily intuitive and easy to predict what will happen, even if your eyes are open about environmental risks. And then, why would someone invest money in solving an environmental problem that isn't costing them money in the here and now? The impact of production is so often geographically distant, diffuse, and not immediately obvious - sometimes it takes many years of science to prove a connection - and by then the original investors are long gone or pass the buck to someone else, often leaving governments to regulate and invest in scientific research to fix it.

    40 years ago the Limits to Growth study was published, based on a systems dynamics model of the world's population, economic production, resources and pollution, and how they would interact. It forecast the sort of trouble we are now seeing, and its "business-as-usual" scenario predicted system collapse in the mid-21st Century. Governments and society leaders should have taken note back then, but they didn't, and their behaviour shows how poorly "capitalism" does rise to the challenge of global problems - it obfuscates, it denies, it defers, and it goes on doing its own thing regardless in the face of all evidence that it is on a path to destruction. Now we are left with a world that is consuming the equivalent of one and a half planets a year, and still, many are in denial.

    Those of you who have infinite faith in technology and capitalism's ingenuity to save us don't get it - the scale of the problem is just getting too big, and the amount of time, effort and resources needed to be thrown at it in the time needed to prevent runaway climate change and ecosystem collapse is too short to let entrepreneurial tinkerings meander their way along to bit by bit solutions.


    Cafael Spoonface 19 Jul 2015 07:15

    But taking the long view, I think there may be no neo-liberalism or even free-market capitalism; these are narratives to sweeten the reality of elites re-establishing dominance after a long period of change and of the physical expansion of industrialised society - power consolidation, after limits or barriers to that quasi-colonial expansion is reached, leading to reduced opportunity and re-emerging aristocracies.

    Progress can no longer be seen as inevitable; an active political choice must be made to establish consistently humane principles. So far, attempts such as the American Constitution, the unwritten ethos of the post-war settlement and the E.U. have been successful but gradually undermined, in part because they were not sufficiently internationalist or understood by the people in terms of relevance to daily life.

    Political participation and broad political education is essential; I am amazed, for example, that schools don't teach the form and history of our political system as a foundational aspect of citizenship.

    It sounds hopeful that economists are questioning the assumptions of neoliberalism, but if, as I suggested, the real change is less ideological and more to do with elites preferring to be elite even if in poorly functioning economies and dysfunctional societies, these criticisms may be ignored.

    Anyway, if we get Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, perhaps then we'll see! But it's up to everyone to keep making and refining the arguments, and to get them across. I think even the most indoctrinated people can change their views very quickly when they encounter good sense.


    Cafael Spoonface 19 Jul 2015 06:46

    But what they fail to notice is that neoliberalism is itself an imposed vision.

    Yes, that has always been a difficulty in politics and indeed thought: those who were born in the sea don't know that there is such a thing as dry land, or even such as thing as the sea.

    They are just as reductionist as communists were in defining humanity, as you say, 'economic man', and ordering society to fit that definition rather than allowing that definition to be fluid and continuously empirical, revising and transcending expectations.

    Yes, the slave trade and colonialism in general killed more, and destroyed entire ethnic groups. Capitalism often boasts that it kills fewer of its own, for all that is worth.


    Spoonface Cafael 19 Jul 2015 06:00

    In fact, if we consider the arguments of neoliberal thinkers, they consistently speak and act against any kind of imposed vision, partly due to their belief in the nature of the market and partly because of the violence and upheaval that fabricated and imposed ideologies have caused

    But what they fail to notice is that neoliberalism is itself an imposed vision. As an economic stance it ultimately rests on neoclassical economic ideas, and through those a set of philosophical assumptions; and neoliberal economists, being poor philosophers, are loath to investigate these assumptions. There is now a growing raft of critique - some actually from pro-market economists - criticising the assumption of 'economic man' as a being with perfect information, perfect rationality and perfect freedom. This construct is the concept of human personhood which underlies neoliberalism. From a philosophical standpoint it seems bizarre that these assumptions need questioning; they're so far from the truth it beggars belief that anyone with a functioning mind would entertain them.

    Neoliberals also tend to ignore the violence of capitalism; the slave trade killed more people than any planned economy.


    Althnaharra 19 Jul 2015 02:09

    Scrolling through this thread, Steinbeck's quip comes to mind; that "America is a nation of millionaires who are temporarily down on their luck". This is why libertarianism has such an appeal to the under fifty crowd and why so often the commentary surrounding these issues must be glib. It has become gosch to be concerned about assembly line workers and others who don't or can't live beyond their means, buying labels they can't afford, throwing huge wads of cash at repairing their older BMW, or going for the pricey bike and skis. Social media has accelerated what has become a miasma of pretense, that reinforces illusions and protects from harsh realities, a uniquely insular social gathering place, incubated in academia and now expanded into mega jerk with 401K.


    entropy_is_a_hoax 19 Jul 2015 00:26

    A point not made is that a lot of the information is worthless or worse. Exabytes of cat and dog videos. People oblivious to the real world, wandering around looking at and listening to their iWhatevers, exchanging inconsequential trivia with their eFriends, with no interest in what is happening to our society. Unlike the current war on us by the Neo-liberal elite, social media was not a conspiracy but has arrived at a perfect time for the elite. A distracted and apathetic population who will do the elite's bidding as long as they can afford the latest iWhatever and designer clothing. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Anglophone world when KR Murdoch dies, his control of information has greatly facilitated the Neo-liberal elite's ascent.


    permaguy alturium 18 Jul 2015 23:03

    Dissipative systems are also far from equilibrium. Neo-classical economics was theorized that the economy was in equilibrium, whereby the system would lead eventually to equality. Of course, exactly the opposite has happened; the system has lead to inequality, because the economy isn't based on physics, it's based on a story we've been telling ourselves, Alan Greenspan's post-bailout testimony to the U.S. Congress is telling. Humans are also not so rational, we think in metaphors and frames all the time. By seeing everything through a machine metaphor, we have created a machine over nature, which is not sustainable.


    lturium NadNavillus 18 Jul 2015 22:58

    Lol, sorry for sounding so "doomish" :-)

    Your right about leaving out climate change (or AGW), I subscribe to the view that most of the reminder of the fossil fuels will remain in the ground as un-economical to retrieve...post collapse.

    Our response to climate change is pretty frightening. Gail Tverberg just had an excellent article showing the vast increase in coal by China after the Kyoto Protocol 1997 (and inclusion to WTO in 2001). 70% of China's energy comes from coal. Isn't that ironic that a treaty to reduce CO2 actually increased it? We have effectively offloaded pollution for producing our iPhones and Solar PVs to China...

    Okay, now is a good time for a Matrix quote:

    The Architect: You are here because Zion is about to be destroyed. Its every living inhabitant terminated, its entire existence eradicated.

    Neo: Bullshit.

    [the monitors respond the same]

    The Architect: Denial is the most predictable of all human responses. But, rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have destroyed it, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.


    Here is the link: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2015/06/23/bp-data-suggests-we-are-reaching-peak-energy-demand/


    Pete Piper Sohan Calebephratah 18 Jul 2015 21:28

    No, government did not "get in the way". Rather the opposite, it got OUT of the way and let wealth became the dominant power. Then wealth self-regulated by buying our politics and politicians and rigged the game for the elite. Neo-Liberalism and Libertarian thinking took control of the US and then invaded Britain and the EU. Even Finland is starting to sound like US Republicans.


    Tornike ID7751075 18 Jul 2015 21:19

    On the contrary, my points are what the Left are learning today and what is a working alternative (see Mondragon for instance) unlike playing political games with the neoliberals with horrible results we see year after year, the most recent just concluding a week ago in Europe.


    alturium 18 Jul 2015 20:24

    Ironically, your ideas presented here are dangerous to our future, even if your intent is sincere.

    Instead of creating a new human society of work, leisure, and wealth, you are laying down the intellectual foundations for neo-feudalism. I can imagine the future and the difficult transformation ahead for all peoples, but I would like to avoid a return to the feudalistic or slave-based societies of the past.

    Those repressive societies existed because of the lack of cheap energy. Athens may be the birthplace of democracy, but 90% of its peoples were slaves. On the contrary, it is the largesse of cheap fossil energy that has enabled our modern society with all of its external frailties. Add on exponential cheap debt (money/energy from the future), exponential population growth, diminishing returns, pollution, etc. and we have quite the cocktail for tomorrow's total and final global collapse.

    Your article is a carefully crafted statement of more control by the government by establishing a religion of ideas, very similar to the communism. Communism subsisted on convincing the people of high order ideals that were carefully cultivated by elite. By controlling the perception of morality, they were able to take advantage of people's natural herding instincts. All human societies are based on a social hierarchical system.

    We must, instead, come to understand why we are violent and why we form societies that exploit and why we subjugate the weak. To understand those answers will require a deep introspective examination of our genetic and biological foundations. Such an examination is not possible today, not in a life where each of us is supported by 100 to 300 energy slaves. It would be like a Roman Caesar sitting down to contemplate the life of a plebeian. In grand irony, the traits that make societies successful are the same ones that bring about final and total collapse.

    It will be the task of future generations to ponder such deep questions amid the ruins of a post-industrial society. Most likely, there will not be another grand and complex industrial society because we will have exhausted the most wonderful energy source, fossil fuels, within a short time period. That is, in the timespan of approximately 300 years we have economically exhausted what took 300 million years of sunshine to create.


    Tornike 18 Jul 2015 15:35

    If I am right, the logical focus for supporters of postcapitalism is to build alternatives within the system

    Exactly the point I was making in conversation with two of my friends last night during a techno event in a club (yes, I know). The new Left idea needs to involve beginning with creating alternatives (worker owned co-ops, etc) that will inspire people to continue the chain of the transformation in their workplaces, families, etc. Political campaigning and competition in a system that is built for and benefits conservative/neoliberal structure of discussion, media and lawmaking is just not fit for the purpose.


    Iwasjustgoingtosay 18 Jul 2015 15:19

    Capitalism as we've known it is surely going down the pan. That's not news. But what will replace it? It seems like we're already entering what will turn out to be a rather long, painful period of something akin to neofeudalism. It's gonna be a long way down before capitalism finally hits the skids, and the oligarchs aren't going to throw in the towel just like that. And once we get there, it's going to look more like 'Riddley Walker' than Bartering Bliss.


    Kyllein MacKellerann 18 Jul 2015 13:45

    Where Post Capitalism seems to consider that we are entering a Utopian age, the sad fact is that NO Utopian system has ever worked without systematic oppression. Communism is an example most people are familiar with: yes, it works provided that a secret police is available to deal with those who won't play the game.
    What we have here is an Economic system that, like Communism, is trying to be either a Social system or a Political system. Never mind that there has never been a successful conversion of any Economic Systems into Political Systems, not one.

    Socialism is at heart a Political system, hence it works to a degree, but only to a degree. For that matter, Capitalism only works to a degree (actually about as well as Socialism).

    One of the prices of political freedom is inequality, you can't get away from it. Some people will by chance or by nature do better than others. We see this in the wildings, animals who are generally indifferent to political systems: some do better than others. Enforced equality necessitates the demise of freedom, since freedom will engender inequality. Reference to North Korea: a state with enforced equality (that fails miserably).

    Politics is an outgrowth of human nature. Understand this (and the author plainly doesn't), and you have a chance of developing a political system that will work for a while. Ignore the fact it looks a very great deal like Capitalism, please.


    Michael Katsak -> MarsPLuto23 18 Jul 2015 11:19

    While it might be true that people rarely ever give up power, you should consider that people very frequently LOSE it. The article mentions that the only model we have for transitioning between world systems is the death of the Feudal system. Absolute monarchs, religious oligarchs, and merchant guilds all LOST power every bit as real and substantial as the ruling class of neoliberal capitalism. Whatever future we are able to realize, make no mistake that we ARE in the midst of a profound change.


    Vijay Raghavan VanishingMediator 18 Jul 2015 11:04

    The goals of India,china,russia or other Asian countries is motivated by Nationalistic agenda,with rapid deglobalization & self reliance.

    They consider Brain drain as evil....as the productive populace which they lost should have paid taxes in their home country & built their capability & contributed to more social cohesion.So if you read a little bit of History you know they discouraged intercourse with others.

    All those communism,capitalism,socialism,leftism,rightism are not things which they understand .They understand only one thing what is right for my Nation & my Nation's friend that alone should guide our intercourse in our dealings. Overtime they know their Nations are 6000 years old & their greatness was only briefly interrupted by circumstances. Self sacrifice is the most important quality they demand from their citizens & not economic glory but glory of their Nation.


    RobertLlDavies snootyelites 18 Jul 2015 11:02

    So the selfless efforts of millions of communists around the world in defence of workers, women, students, national liberation, democratic rights - from Iraq, Iran, Chile and South Africa to France, Swaziland, Egypt and India - is "mass murder"? There has been much more to the communist movement across the world than the the major crimes of the Stalin period in the Soviet Union. According to this childish level of argument, I could argue that the goal of capitalism is slavery and the slave trade, colonialism, fascism and death squads. Grow up if you want to take part in adult discussion and debate.


    demandflow MarsPLuto23 18 Jul 2015 10:48

    MarsPluto23, what happened to that great British concept "the presumption of innocence?" This Golden Thread of Jurisprudence was carried across the Pond to America. I learned this phrase from the television series "Rumpole of the Bailey".

    A "despicable way of life" is an interesting phrase. Who decides what is despicable and how or if it should be punished. Will the term change with the weather?
    As far as the bankers and leaders are concerned, it is OUR fault that they are able to do what they do. What politicians and bankers do you prefer?


    ramous ID5955768 18 Jul 2015 10:04

    The point I have been making is that religious fundamentalists like neo-liberals can't see anything but their own dogma. You are an being an example that dogma.


    Vijay Raghavan 18 Jul 2015 10:03

    It means driving the wages, social wages and living standards in the west down for decades until they meet those of the middle class in China and India on the way up.

    To answer question of wages what caused western wages to grow up more than China/India.When did the western wages go up & what caused that rise in their wages.This also has to be answered when the Ambassador of west went first to India in 16th century he was dismissed saying you come from a small pond what are you going to offer to my kingdom those words of Jahangir was repeated even by the chinese emeperor to them in 17th century.

    The rise of wages in a economy is dependent on Gross value ADD in manufacturing.At the moment east asian economies have 32%,India 17%,West,Japan between 12%-22%.In 18th to middle of 19th century the gross value ADD of western economy was about 40%++.

    What drives gross value ADD is Process industries,technology,brand,scale of market,etc etc.Process industries which makes up 40% capacity like steel,aluminium,coal,mining,petro,refining,fertilizer they all need capital,operational efficiency which east Asia built it up,India also is building it slowly.That is where european edge went off in Manufacturing.They have to rely on exceptional technology,design,brand,perception to lever up their Nation to get share.The european cos play there is getting shrunk since US,Japan,Korea,China have all ramped up.

    One nation can't drive down the wages of another Nation,only when you lever up ability of a Nation to give a product to entire world will the wages of Nation goes up.Like UK has banking industry since the entire world wants to route their banking transaction,commodity buying,investments etc etc through that route.So the wages in Banking will be 5x than India/China.If china builds scale in Banking the world routes their trade in Hongkong,Singapore,Beijing there will drop in volumes in London with corresponding wages loss.So overtime china will acquire the capability in product,brand,reputation,legal,all other skills.

    The west if it wants to drive up its wages it has to model a perfect mathamatics of determining what is %age of population to be deployed for each of the industries in Manufacturing,Services,Agriculture to get the right equation of wage growth & living standards.

    If they go to do that ....their experience has been bad of being in dark ages of 1000 years or like how Jahangir/chinese emperor treated them you are not important for me.

    European wages will hinge upon how much market access both china/India/Asean/US/Russia or other nations keep giving to them.But the accusation of wage depression because of them will lead to more trade problems for west.

    If the political/media equation of west with those countries improve they will rather than depressing your wages will keep levering more wages for west.


    Francisco Güemes 18 Jul 2015 09:07

    Wow what a piece of Marxist, collectivist, new age/New World Order piece of article!! Bravoooooo!!! As the marxists failed with their Russian experiment in the XX century, now they want to bring us their "post-capitalist" concept based on what is going to happen after neoliberalism (which is as collectivist as marxism-lenninism) fail. Well there are going to be many of us..ready to fight the new world order!


    Kuttappan Vijayachandran 18 Jul 2015 08:59

    The article and the ongoing discussion reminds of the great Soviet poet Mayakovsky, and his classic play, The Bedbug, written for the first anniversary the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, described as landmark in the history of Soviet theater, and staged numerous times within and outside of USSR, during the Stalin era. Mayokovsky created in this play, a prototype of what is known, today, as social media network, in order to debate and condemn the Bedbug and the exploitative character of the species. nullhttp://www.wordpress.kvijaya40/


    dutchview Fabio Venuti 18 Jul 2015 08:54

    But current Capitalism is really about creating artificial scarcity so that you can then push the price up and rip off the "customer".

    The article is interesting, in the early 1980's I was one of the first in my international company with a PC on my desk, it had 128kbt total memory and was rubbish and a total waste of time. But today in the western world workplace we are surrounded by all manner of clever integrated devices with multi Gbt of memory, plus oodles of extra Tbt up in the cloud. Has my life got easier? Have I got more free time? Have we made progress? Well the answers are No, No and not much, or may be we have actually gone backwards.

    In the last 30+ years mankind has totally wasted the benefits of the "digital revolution" and done untold damage to the planet to boot. It is certainly time to change to a new chapter in the book and more of the same is not the answer. The 1% can not continue to get richer.


    Eric Grey 18 Jul 2015 08:46

    Did Ted Kyzinski write this from prison? Did anyone else read this entire exercise in circular reasoning? Invent a term, "post capitalism," label some current phenomena as post capitalist and therefore not capitalist (by definition of course), and then use it as evidence that capitalism is on the fall.

    Information can become as abundant as ever, but resources will be as scarce as we overuse them. Markets are going to mediate the exchange, whether that's with money or utility (volunteering is not decidedly anti-capitalist).

    Greece's coops and informal market systems prove capitalism exists even in toxic government environments that choke traditional business off. If you make it impossible for anyone to keep a market open because they can't get capital, they're going to create coops. That's proof of capitalism, not evidence against it.

    When people write stuff like this article, they demonstrate they have next to no idea how ridiculously complicated and heavily invested our modern economy is. You're not going to get a $14b oil refinery or nuclear plant or drug manufactory from a coop or peer to peer relationships, and governments regularly demonstrate they are terrible at this stuff.

    And monopolies don't get formed "as a defense mechanism for capitalism". Capitalism isn't a person. What utter garbage. People form monopolies out of profit motive, not to defend a system. If anything, capitalism destroys monopolies because higher prices from them form competition and substitutes.


    Locus 18 Jul 2015 08:41

    Somewhat disappointed in this analysis, Paul. After the demolition of organised labour and, currently, the co-opting of most media, the state is the last bastion of collective bargaining power and regulation that the non-elite can utilise. The "sharing economy" still consists of fringe activities built on the foundation of standard economic processes.
    As for automation, in my own direct experience this merely means that what 5 people did, one person has to do for the same wage. The hope it has brought has consistently resulted in any benefit being sucked upwards and safely tucked away in bank vaults with the vast majority of those with "freed-up" time and more to offer but not slotted in to corporate structures, being despised or existing precariously.


    Michael Q -> britishinjustice 18 Jul 2015 08:08

    As Bevan once said about the NHS, that it will go on as long as there is someone who cares enough to save it, the same applies to capitalism. I really can't see all the political powers that support it giving up just yet, in fact if capitalism is ever killed off, it will not be because those who support it gave up or surrendered. The other factor in my conclusion is that there is not yet enough of a revolt against capitalism from the people.

    Some good points made. For a real change to happen it is true it needs to come from the masses, and there needs to be a desire and hunger for change. Once this happens it will be reflected in the rise of left-wing and revolutionary governments to enact changes to legislation / referenda on constitutional reform / redistribution of wealth etc.

    The good news there is massive change currently going on in Latin America, with the construction of socialism and a post-capitalist society now under way in Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and Cuba just to name a few (although Cuba is at a different stage than the others, due to the economic embargo against it from the US). Whilst those countries (and many others) are unique, with different situations and resources, they are united in the common goal against neoliberalism and capitalism. This is reflected in new institutions that have been developed including ALBA, CELAC, Petrocaribe, Unasur and Mercosur.

    Best of luck with your new group - and it may help by linking up with the left wing groups in Greece, Spain, Ireland and in the Latin American countries I mentioned.
    Cheers.


    richardmuu 18 Jul 2015 08:00

    Motivated by disgust, I studied U.S. mass media for decades so I appreciate the Utopian motivation that drives writing and talk of free information, the digital commons and the internet of things. Offered the chance to think about a better future vs. a dismal present, who of right mind would choose the latter?

    Yet there is more to consider in the present than has been grasped by the new Utopians. I offer that not as a criticism because I still believe in the wisdom of the Book of Genesis--we must struggle to know, and whatever we know will be flawed because we are not gods. There is a flaw in the thinking of the Utopians but it did not begin with them. It began instead during industrial capitalism and, so far, continues to operate: Information is nothing if no one notices it, pays attention to it. When I read this essay and considered commenting on it, I noticed that it had already accumulated 2456 comments. I likely will not read more than a dozen or so, and it's likely that many other who read this article will behave in the same way. Yes, the production of information is evolving in the direction of zero marginal cost, but human attention is not. We have to take care of the limited amount of attention we have each day, and even with the best of care we still need to go to bed each night and fall into a deep enough sleep to become unconscious. That sleep replenishes the body but it mostly replenishes our capacity to pay attention to our world the next day.

    What's the big deal here? Only that industrial capitalism commodified attention and during this period of the emerging digital commons, the practice grows. The gathering and sale of attention drove the culture industry and has supported not a little of the innovative work we now see by free-floating professionals in the digital commons. Many of the technologies of information distribution and storage would not have happened if great wealth was not promised to the innovators who would find new ways to capture and sell even more human attention. Today, the internet is dominated by Google, Facebook and YouTube, platforms that focus the attention of millions on increasingly common contents.

    What this means is Utopia for some and continued dystopia for the rest, with capital in a position to wait before it acts next, taking comfort in its ability to mobilized enough of the rest to keep the Utopians boxed into their intellectual ghettos, there to innovate in ways that will help capitalists reduce their marginal costs. Should the Utopians threaten to break out, to realize amplify the commons in ways that threaten capital accumulation, then other industrial capital cultural forms, particularly fascism, are still available as tools of social control.

    "Millions of people are beginning to realise they have been sold a dream at odds with what reality can deliver. Their response is anger – and retreat towards national forms of capitalism that can only tear the world apart."

    There is a lot of anger outside the intellectual ghettos. Who will direct that anger, and what will its target be?


    s1syphus 18 Jul 2015 07:46

    This is simply a repacking of the "cognitive capitalism" thesis from Hardt and Negri's Empire, Multitude, and Commonwealth. It is worth noting that a number of people, including Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, Alberto Toscano, and David Camfield (the list goes on) have demonstrated why this is wrong in various ways.

    I read a comment below on how Mason is acting like any entrepreneur in a capitalist society: building his brand, producing commodities that satisfy needs, etc. Given my own view that myths like these do play a useful role in the production of forms of anti-hegemonic resistance, but also that the quality of these particular tropes - essentially that the end of capitalism is on its way, all we have to do is wait for it - is incredibly damaging to the movements that Mason purports to support, because it encourages people to do restrict their activities to the periphery of the struggle. Read a few books, click a few links, but still go to work every day, revel in the communicative possibilities that your job offers you but give no thought as to how the character of your exploitation actually makes capital more enduring, albeit less stable.


    ramous -> Andrew Howard 18 Jul 2015 07:05

    Neoliberal fundamentalism its called, it's a perversion of liberalism as is ISIL is to Islam. They have been waging financial war across the world on countries that do not adopt there fundamentalist view. Greece just ran into the pointy end of that stick they have been beating everyone with.


    ramous ID5955768 18 Jul 2015 06:50

    You mean communism not socialism. Socialist countries like the northern European model were doing very well until the neo-liberals started finacial wars and targeted any country that didn't abide there new fundamentalist crusade of wage and worker oppression. Most of the gains that have been attributed to so call capitalism was in the middle of last century. I think there are plenty of graphs to show once the thatcherite neo-liberal fundamentalists took over we have been push into more and more debt and wages have been decimated.


    barrybethel 18 Jul 2015 06:21

    Nicolas Nassim Taleb in his last book, Antifragile, talks of neomania - the fetishising of the new - and offers by counterpoint the rule-of-thumb that that which is not living is likely to persist for at least as long as it has already been around - the game of chess, for example.

    Add capitalism to that, which even a quick glance at Wikipedia reveals has been around for some centuries. So is this the end of capitalism? Unlikely, on that basis.


    RoscoBoyle 18 Jul 2015 05:32

    Somewhere in my reading, back in the day, I dimly recall the word 'intelligentsia'. Dim as the recollection is I think the intelligentsia constituted a class. Jumping forward to this excerpt from Mr Mason's book I wonder why I am reminded of the word 'intelligentsia'?

    Could it be that only those persons who can discount the cost of access to information consider that information is 'free', or becoming free? When I read that Mr Mason's paradigm/book is being published by Allen Lane on July 30 should I presume that I can wander into any bookshop and walk out without paying for it? And that only because I put fuel in a vehicle I have bought, taxed and insured to get me to the bookshop - the equivalent of buying the equipment and paying my ISP in order to purchase the 'book' dematerialised into data that my pc/tablet/e-reader/mobile phone can reconstitute.

    Mr Mason's error, it seems to me, is to confuse the proliferation and ubiquity of vectors for information with freedom of access to that information. His historical analysis of capitalism presumes a progress beyond neoliberalism. What we are living through is, rather, a regression to neofeudalism with the state regulating and enforcing citizens' obligations to the seigneurial class.


    poplartree1 -> Annette Schneider 18 Jul 2015 05:08

    It has ended. And just a few are noticing it and doing what is needed to deal with the aftermath of the mess created by the neo-liberal thinking...You will remember the writer and his prediction. One example of this was when the USSR stopped giving support to Cuba, which was under incredible economic stress after the fall of the USSR.
    I followed the process and I can tell you it survived. Greece will survive too and so will all of us once we learn that sharing, cooperation and being part of the community by contributing to it in a positive manner, is all what it takes to make the community better.
    This is what John F. Nash proved. They talk about game theory lol...it is cooperation theory. He debunked capitalism individualism big time.


    naurdiagreader 18 Jul 2015 03:54


    It's true that the information-based system is starting to make money irrelevant and therefore redundant. It still has a long way to go however and those of us who don't have much money are acutely aware of the need for it to buy the essentials of life.

    We have seen a huge fightback since 2008 in particular from the wealthy elite to claw back wealth from those at the bottom in particular, and austerity has been a tool to do just that. Some countries such as the USA have had Keynesian injections of investment to counter the downswing but on the other hand we have had catastrophic failure in the financial system at the same time. The motivation behind the bailout is clear, but that of the Lehmans failure is less so. Lehmans was a choice, let us remember, it failed because of a decision not because of some force of nature. A 'cui bono' exercise on that decision indicates that the losers in macro economic terms from that bank folding would be the general public of America and beyond as the economy faltered, but also that the winners could be corporations benefitting from the low wages generated by the crash as workers became more desperate for work in a depressed economy. So why should the financial elite have paid out their good money on a failed bank when it presented them with a nice opportunity to reap more on their investments elsewhere?

    Hopefully we are now far away from feudalism, but the oppressive economics of Neo-Liberalism which oddly politicians of all mainstream parties now seem fixated on (why is that, by the way?) is having a darned good try at pulling us back to that position which is far from optimal either in wealth creation or wealth distribution. My hope is that this struggle will ultimately prove illusory for those wishing to hoard wealth, although there will probably always be a rich elite even in the most equal of circumstances. Meanwhile, we have pointless austerity in the UK, and outright oppression very sadly in Greece. Concentration of money in one place will make trade fail. This was recognised after WW2, and was a major driver of establishing the IMF to counter the fact that no-one other than the USA had any money. We obviously aren't at that pass, global trade isn't dependent on just one country, but it is being generally suppressed by the economics which tends to suppress both wages and economic activity. If the people who decided on Lehmans are still in charge, I don't see a change of heart coming any time soon to revive the global economy. Life is indeed better with information technology, but many are still feeling the need of scarce money for everyday living.


    PhilPharLap pogomutt 18 Jul 2015 03:24

    I think you need to see how the present spoilt privileged group have been dealing with the problem

    They have used the methods of the slave era - accommodation has become increasingly unavailable everywhere and the demands of a landlord class have ensured that so much of a man's wage is taken up merely providing housing and food there is little left to realise his potential as a human being - That is why so many clubs and restaurants are empty. People cannot even afford moderate leisure - they are slaves of a low paid work ethic

    People are saddled with debt - one sees in Greece a whole nation raped through the use of loans, which are stolen by the rich and left to ordinary people to repay.

    During Feudal Times many were idle because the Lords simply did not care if they worked or not - lived or starved to death. Just so long as they were hung or decapitated if they rebelled or even protested

    Most work is totally pointless and is there to keep people off the streets. Sure there is big problems coming but war and genocide will fix it. It starts with neo Fascism

    And it has started already


    davebut 18 Jul 2015 03:13

    For over 40 years there has been a gradual transition from the dominant neo-liberal economic paradigm where economics is king and the environment is managed for the benefit of today's humans to a more holistic sustainable development paradigm in which humans are part of a complex interdependent Earth system.


    Annette Schneider 18 Jul 2015 03:01

    Project Zero is definitely more plausible than the continuation of capitalism and perhaps it wil emerge from the shock which is coming to us all, but I fear that if it emerges it will only be from the ruins of a post-capitalist neo-feudalism. Like renewable technology and climate change mitigation, it really should be here already. There are too many of us and we have done such great damage to the biosphere that we will be hard pressed to even survive.

    "on the ground in places such as Greece, resistance to austerity and the creation of "networks you can't default on" – as one activist put it to me – go hand in hand. Above all, postcapitalism as a concept is about new forms of human behaviour that conventional economics would hardly recognise as relevant."

    I have seen a taste of our possible future at Camp Wando, ( http://frontlineaction.org/ ) with the disparate groups involved in the Leard Alliance. I agree with Paul Mason that,

    "It is the elites – cut off in their dark-limo world – whose project looks as forlorn as that of the millennial sects of the 19th century. The democracy of riot squads, corrupt politicians, magnate-controlled newspapers and the surveillance state looks as phoney and fragile as East Germany did 30 years ago."

    but still I despair of such Mason's rosy prediction given what I can see is the utter resistance to reason and the lack of effort required for change.

    I fear that the words of Alice Friedeman, 2006 http://energyskeptic.com/preservation-of-knowledge/ are a truer guide to the future,

    "Preservation of knowledge needs to start immediately, while nations are still stable and wealthy. Now is the time to consider how to preserve knowledge with a material that won't decay, rust, mold, or shatter easily. We should leave our descendents knowledge they can use and be amazed by, information to fuel the next Renaissance."

    I believe that the next Renaissance will only be after a period of time to rival the dark ages rather than through the smooth transition envisaged by Mason. The quicker we can give up fossil fuel, particularly coal, tar sands and fracking the less time it will take for peace and stability to emerge, because despite our wonderful technology, there are no shortcuts in dealing with climate catastrophe and we are in for a very rough ride.


    bemusedbyitall Sammykins 18 Jul 2015 02:57

    By the Australian Liberals I take it you mean the ALP and the Liberals - after all they are all devout neo-liberal fantasists


    AtraHasis Dani123 18 Jul 2015 00:45

    Who is this 'nutty left', and why do you think they 'dream of economical (sic) collapse'?

    Are you getting your information from wot some bloke in der pub finks?

    As for 'success', ever notice that continual bailout of large corporate entities leads to inevitable recession and depression? And that the military-industrial complex requires tension and war to keep it relevant? And that R&D, financed by the public, but profit being retained in a corporate sense somehow creates permanent and rising deficit?

    Sorry to burst your neoliberal feudalistic little bubble there, but some of us are thinking beyond slogans like 'dose lefteez iz stoopid'.

    [Sep 15, 2016] Elizabeth Warren on Thursday requested a formal investigation into why the Obama administration did not bring criminal charges individuals and corporation involved in the 2008 financial crisis

    www.nakedcapitalism.com
    L

    "Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Thursday requested a formal investigation into why the Obama administration did not bring criminal charges individuals and corporation involved in the 2007-2008 financial crisis" [International Business Times]. Why now? Liz edging her hat toward the ring if Clinton comes up lame?

    I can see two possible interpretations for this.

    First, as much as I hate to draw the analogy, she could be positioning herself to take the reigns after a loss in the way that Richard Nixon, Paul Ryan, and later Bill Clinton did. Richard Nixon sat back and concentrated on building up credibility as Barry Goldwater melted down and then quietly stepped in to take over the party after the loss to set up his eventual run. Paul Ryan quietly permitted or perhaps aided the coup against Boehner. And Bill Clinton, through the DLC teed up his control of the party after Dukakis lost.

    Second, with Wells-Fargo and bank fraud once again in the news she could be working to keep prior decisions current both to force better action this time or to nudge the Clinton and Trump into making promises of stronger action in the future.

    Lambert Strether Post author

    It seems to me that both those objectives would be served by continuing to hammer on Wells Fargo, so the question "Why now?" isn't really answered in your comment.

    But if you wanted to take out an option on running a full-throated populist campaign - and throwing bankers in jail would be wildly popular across the entire political spectrum (except Clinton's 10%-ers on up) - in the unhappy event that the party's candidate came up lame, then calling for an account of regulatory decision making in 2009 would be one way to signal that. Note also that would call Obama's "legacy" into question, too; the whole "stand between you and the pitchforks" thing. This is a big deal.

    [Sep 15, 2016] American Antitrust Is Having a Moment: Some Reactions to Commissioner Ohlhausen's Recent Views

    Sep 15, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
    Chris Sagers at ProMarket:
    American Antitrust Is Having a Moment: Some Reactions to Commissioner Ohlhausen's Recent Views : Over the summer, Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen took me and several others to task in a speech , subsequently published as a journal article ... The theme we'd all written about is whether we in the United States have a "monopoly problem," and whether federal policy should try to do something about it. ...

    Commissioner Ohlhausen had some pretty strong words. ... Specifically, she implies a very strong presumption against public interference in private markets, as indicated by her argument that there is not yet sufficient evidence that we have a monopoly problem. The argument seems to be that we must wait until we are very, very sure, beyond any reasonable econometric doubt, apparently, that there's something wrong before we step in. ...

    She is mistaken, and she ignores roughly a library-full of well-known..., sophisticated empirical work. ...
    In the end, the irony of these remarks is captured in this point: Commissioner Ohlhausen is pretty witheringly dismissive of a certain kind of evidence of market power, and implies that it would not support increased enforcement unless it can overcome a high methodological bar. But for her own countervailing evidence that in fact American markets are "fierce[ly] competiti[ve]," she says this: "Consider the new economy, which is a hotbed of technological innovation. That environment does not strike me as one lacking competition."
    In other words, the presumption against antitrust is so strong that evidence of harm must meet the most exacting standards of social science. To prove that markets are in fact competitive, however, needs nothing more than seat-of-the-pants anecdotes. Again, I mean no disrespect, and I think we have an honest difference of opinion. But this stance is not social science, and it is not good, empirically founded public policy. It is just ideology. ...
    It's definitely true that the agencies have brought a bunch of challenges to a bunch of nasty mergers, and perhaps total enforcement numbers have gone up a bit. But that is because we are in the midst of a merger wave in which parties have been proposing breathtakingly massive, overwhelmingly consolidating horizontal deals. While there is a track record to be proud of in the administration's enforcement, especially, as the commissioner observes, in the Commission's campaign against hospital mergers, reverse-payment deals, SEP problems, and patent trolls, and who knows how many other matters, the fact remains that by and large the administration has mostly not taken action that any administration would not have taken, including the Reagan and both Bush administrations. ...

    Posted by Mark Thoma on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 10:44 AM in Economics , Market Failure , Regulation | Permalink Comments (25)

    !-- View blog reactions

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    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post. DrDick :
    , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:13 AM
    If we were actually serious about antitrust, which we very much should be, we would not only block most of these mergers, but break up many of existing behemoths (like the big banks, the media giants, Comcast, and many others).
    pgl -> DrDick... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:18 AM
    I'm all for breaking up the behemoths when they are indeed stifling competition. The Reagan Revolution to anti-trust was based on a contention that some mergers were about efficiency effects. I think this argument is sometimes overblown but it is not per se false. I do object (see below) to the weak evidence that goes like this. Collective shareholder value rose so ergo the merger is about efficiency effects. Anyone who argues that (see Don Luskin and the premium ice cream proposed merger) is not very bright.
    DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:49 AM
    Exactly. Corporations being able to suck more profit out of the costumers (and as a result share prices rising) is the proof that anti-trust has failed. In a fully functional competitive market companies do not make much profit.
    pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:07 PM
    Accounting profits? Maybe you should read that paper by the commissioner as she makes a very clear statement about what accounting profit would look like in a competitive market. And it is not zero. Return to capital? Hello?
    DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:30 PM
    No if it was zero the whole thing breaks down. However, a small return on capital is an indication that companies are forced to cut prices because of competition- and that is a healthy market. So yes there is (some but) not much profit in a fully functional competitive market.
    pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:36 PM
    Let's define "small return". Standard financial economics puts this at the risk-free rate plus a premium for bearing systematic risk. OK - the risk-free return now is quite small. Say 2%. But if the risk premium is say 4%, then we are talking about a 6% expected return to assets. If that is what you mean by small - cool.

    Of course I have seen a lot of "professionals" argue for much higher returns. Of course these professionals would flunk a Finance 101 class.

    DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:49 PM
    I don't think the risk premium needs to be more than about 2% unless/until the economy enter a phase where demand outstrips supply (and more investment money needs to be attracted). If there is a glut of investment money then the price of it (=risk free returns) should go down.
    pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 02:05 PM
    This is the kind of thinking that got Hassett and Glassman to tell us about DOW 36000. Some people overestimate the risk premium but 2% is what a regulated utility or a leasing company gets. And neither bears commercial risk. Dude - you can make up whatever number your heart desires but there is market evidence on these things.
    DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 06:25 PM
    Exactly - even those are hugely overcompensated for this supposed risk.
    Gibbon1 -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 04:14 PM
    Ability to better suck profit out of a captive base of customers is an efficiency of a sort. Instead of investing in risky new business processes or technologies one merely has to buy out your competitors. This is practically risk free.
    pgl : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:15 AM
    A comment about this:

    "Though she says that "[e]fficiencies are real"-citing no evidence for it in a speech critical of everyone else for failure to supply evidence-there is in fact no meaningful proof that consolidation generates social benefits. Especially in the case of mergers, a large and sophisticated empirical literature has been hunting for decades for evidence that mergers produce "efficiencies" or other benefits. The evidence has not been found. At least with respect to deals among publicly traded firms, the evidence tends to suggest that mergers do no good on average for shareholders of either acquiring or target firms, and if there were some efficiencies or larger social benefits, they should be measurable as benefits to shareholders. The empirical evidence has therefore confirmed the popular wisdom shared on Wall Street for years-that all this activity is not serving any good social purpose, though it might be helping executives and their bankers quite a lot."

    The conservative (Reagan) approach to anti-trust did indeed ask DOJ and FTC to consider whether the merger was about beneficial efficiency effects v. anti-competitive effects. But let's suppose two firms merged and their collective value did rise benefiting shareholders. That does not prove the efficiency effects dominate. No – mergers that lead to less competition will often raise shareholder value even if there are no efficiency effects. Those mergers should be disallowed.

    kurt : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:21 AM
    Proof of Monopoly Power - Verizon and ATT's pricing and apparent lack of any interest in maintaining or even knowing where their physical plant is installed. Also - see directTV's recent price increases.
    pgl -> kurt... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:07 PM
    Can you hear me now? Oh wait - the Verizon dude now works for Sprint.
    El Epicúreo Del Taco : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:26 AM
    American markets are "fierce[ly] competiti[ve]," she says this: "Consider the new economy, which is a hotbed of technological innovation. That environment does not strike me as one lacking competition."

    In other words, the presumption against antitrust is so strong
    "

    You are assumed properly competing until proved monopoly-based. The burden of proof is on the victims. Tell me something!

    Does the government always appear as crystal clear as the mirror of Alice? When we look at local, county, state, and federal rulers, do we always see ourselves? Our own bias? Our own agenda? The government apes its voters.

    Do you see how today's polity is begging for less competition? Less free trade from our trading partners? Do you see how we want to make a monopoly out of America? Build a fence around it so that nobody is allowed to buy anything from anyone other than our monopoly?

    "
    We have identified the enemy, ourselves.
    "
    ~~Pogo~

    DeDude : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:46 AM
    Yes you need at least a dozen independent businesses delivering the same (substitutable) products to ensure that there is indeed a competitive market that will not be gamed against the consumers. This is not just needed to ensure that consumers will be offered a fair price, but also to ensure that companies will be forced to continue to innovate and offer better and better products. The oversight of mergers has been a scandal and needs to be tightened by new laws. Obviously we have to make the "dozen rule" a law rather than just common sense guidance.
    pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:10 PM
    The dozen rule? Where did that come from? Depends on the market but I would hope we have more than 12 suppliers of beer. BTW - it would be nice to have 12 health insurance companies but we could break up this oligopoly with such one more - the government aka the public option.
    DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:34 PM
    Yes some products can benefit from more variation, but at least with 12 suppliers you would not have anybody able to corner the market. The dozen rule is mine, that is how I get my eggs. If Ohlhausen can just make it up - so can I.
    pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:37 PM
    Do you remember the 1970's? Something called OPEC? But yea - I buy my eggs by the dozen too.
    pgl -> DeDude... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:39 PM
    Speaking of breakfast, consider the maple syrup cartel:

    http://fortune.com/2016/02/26/maple-syrup-cartel

    DeDude -> pgl... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:52 PM
    Yes cartels (regardless of number of members) also have to be broken up - for markets and capitalism to work properly.
    Tom aka Rusty : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:59 PM
    The FTC has ignored a many major health care mergers but has gone litigation guns a blazin' into small mergers in such less-than-major metro centers as Moscow Idaho and Toledo Ohio.

    Is there a "too big to litigate" standard?

    pgl -> Tom aka Rusty... , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 02:06 PM
    Rusty calling for rational regulation as in the FTC doing its job. Stop the presses!
    Tom aka Rusty said in reply to pgl... , Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 04:53 AM
    I'm just asking for coherent policy, something often missing from the Obama administration.
    Anon : , Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 08:30 PM
    The sad fact is that the right-wing Law and Economics scholars have literally been trained to believe that the only correct null hypothesis is "free markets are good". When the null is not rejected with a 95% confidence interval, they actually think they've won the argument, while you're sitting there scratching your head saying, but when the null hypothesis is "free markets are bad", we can't reject that either. I've never seen logic get much traction with this crowd, because they are literally willing to tell you that economics demonstrates that "free markets are good", so that's the correct null.

    It's very sad, but also very common when talking to lawyers. In fact, I often wonder whether the right-wing didn't create the "Law and Economics" movement in order to slow the exposure of the legal profession to the actual tools of modern economic analysis.

    reason : , -1
    It would be a start if we would simply stop seeing hostile takeovers as something positive (you know ex-ante efficiency improvements) and start seeing them for the interference in natural selection that they actually are (no 40-40 foresight exists).

    [Sep 15, 2016] Washington Center for Equitable Growth

    Sep 15, 2016 | equitablegrowth.org
    ]. "The researchers use data collected from a national sample of hourly retail workers at eight brick-and-morter companies, all of which are among the largest 15 retail employers in the United States." Readers will remember our recent post on sleep here .

    [Sep 15, 2016] The Dysfunctionality of Slavery and Neoliberalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... Despite the neoliberal obsession with wage suppression, history suggests that such a policy is self-destructive. Periods of high wages are associated with rapid technological change. ..."
    "... On the ideological front, the South adopted a shallow, but rigid libertarian perspective which resembled modern neoliberalism. Samuel Johnson may have been the first person to see through the hypocrisy of the hollowness of southern libertarianism. ..."
    "... the famous Powell Memo helped to spark a well-financed movement of well-finance right-wing political activism which morphed into right-wing political extremism both in economics and politics. ..."
    "... In short, neoliberalism was surging ahead and the economy of high wages was now beyond the pale. These new conditions gave new force to the southern "yelps of liberty." The social safety net was taken down and reconstructed as the flag of neoliberalism. The one difference between the rhetoric of the slaveholders and that of the modern neoliberals was that entrepreneurial superiority replaced racial superiority as their battle cry. ..."
    May 18, 2015 | michaelperelman.wordpress.com

    Despite the neoliberal obsession with wage suppression, history suggests that such a policy is self-destructive. Periods of high wages are associated with rapid technological change.

    ... ... ...

    On the ideological front, the South adopted a shallow, but rigid libertarian perspective which resembled modern neoliberalism. Samuel Johnson may have been the first person to see through the hypocrisy of the hollowness of southern libertarianism. Responding to the colonists' complaint that taxation by the British was a form of tyranny, Samuel Johnson published his 1775 tract, "Taxation No Tyranny: An answer to the Resolutions and Address of the American Congress," asking the obvious question, "how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?" In The Works of Samuel Johnson, LL. D.: Political Tracts. Political Essays. Miscellaneous Essays (London: J. Buckland, 1787): pp. 60-146, p. 142.

    ... ... ...

    By the late 19th century, David A Wells, an industrial technician who later became the chief economic expert in the federal government, by virtue of his position of overseeing federal taxes. After a trip to Europe, Wells reconsidered his strong support for protectionism. Rather than comparing the dynamism of the northern states with the technological backward of their southern counterparts, he was responding to the fear that American industry could not compete with the cheap "pauper" labor of Europe. Instead, he insisted that the United States had little to fear from, the competition from cheap labor, because the relatively high cost of American labor would ensure rapid technological change, which, indeed, was more rapid in the United States than anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of Germany. Both countries were about to rapidly surpass England's industrial prowess.

    The now-forgotten Wells was so highly regarded that the prize for the best economics dissertation at Harvard is still known as the David A Wells prize. His efforts gave rise to a very powerful idea in economic theory at the time, known as "the economy of high wages," which insisted that high wages drove economic prosperity. With his emphasis on technical change, driven by the strong competitive pressures from high wages, Wells anticipated Schumpeter's idea of creative destruction, except that for him, high wages rather than entrepreneurial genius drove this process.

    Although the economy of high wages remained highly influential through the 1920s, the extensive growth of government powers during World War I reignited the antipathy for big government. Laissez-faire economics began come back into vogue with the election of Calvin Coolidge, while the once-powerful progressive movement was becoming excluded from the ranks of reputable economics.

    ... ... ...

    With Barry Goldwater's humiliating defeat in his presidential campaign, the famous Powell Memo helped to spark a well-financed movement of well-finance right-wing political activism which morphed into right-wing political extremism both in economics and politics. Symbolic of the narrowness of this new mindset among economists, Milton Friedman's close associate, George Stigler, said in 1976 that "one evidence of professional integrity of the economist is the fact that it is not possible to enlist good economists to defend minimum wage laws." Stigler, G. J. 1982. The Economist as Preacher and Other Essays (Chicago: University of Chicago Press): p. 60.

    In short, neoliberalism was surging ahead and the economy of high wages was now beyond the pale. These new conditions gave new force to the southern "yelps of liberty." The social safety net was taken down and reconstructed as the flag of neoliberalism. The one difference between the rhetoric of the slaveholders and that of the modern neoliberals was that entrepreneurial superiority replaced racial superiority as their battle cry.

    One final irony: evangelical Christians were at the forefront of the abolitionist movement. Today, some of them are providing the firepower for the epidemic of neoliberalism.

    [Sep 15, 2016] Declarations of Dependence A New e-Book on the Neoliberal Nation-Subjugating Trade Deals

    Notable quotes:
    "... Declarations of Dependence: Trade Tyranny, Sovereignty, and Democracy, ..."
    Jul 27, 2015 | naked capitalism
    By Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI's CKIM Certificate program. He taught political science as the graduate and undergraduate level and blogs regularly at Corrente, Firedoglake and New Economic Perspectives. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives

    The trade agreements currently being negotiated by the Obama Administration are potentially enormously important in their possible impact on the United States. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated by 12 Asian-Pacific nations, and, if agreed to by Congress could be expanded in membership later on under the President's sole authority. The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will encompass 29 nations, including the United States. And the third agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), perhaps the most dangerous of the three, will likely encompass 52 nations, if agreed to by all.

    These agreements would bind the United States to multilateral terms with much of the world with some notable exceptions, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Uruguay, and Indonesia. In other words, their scope is unprecedented and their provisions are not yet public. Based on leaks of drafts of the agreements, the book discusses many possible implications of the likely content of these agreements.

    By far the most important are the potential effects of the agreements on the consent of the governed, the sovereignty, the monetary sovereignty, the separation of powers, the Federalism, if any, and the democracies, of the participating states. In short, the agreements provide for the governments of the participating states to be subject to external private authorities beholden to multinational corporations, which, in Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) proceedings, can subject nations to fines in unlimited amounts in response to complaints from corporations at the discretion of three-judge tribunals having no accountability to the parties to the agreements. The agreements are, in effect, declarations of dependence!

    Most disturbing about the potential effects of the agreements, is the likely constraint on the policy space of participating nations, including the United States, they would produce in relation to legislation and regulations affecting the profits or expectations of profits of multinational corporations. It is the policies of all levels of government: national, state, and local that make it possible for societies to adapt to changes when they meet new challenges. With severely constrained policy spaces they cannot try new policy innovations, nor even use old policy expedients that have been effective at other times in the past to meet particular problems.

    It is folly to disarm the governments of nations, and with it their political systems, so they cannot do their jobs in helping peoples and societies to adjust to such changes. That way lies repression, chaos, human suffering, violence, bloodshed, extreme conflict, and loss of life. Ossified and paralyzed political systems have spawned all of the major bloody political and social revolutions we have seen in the history of man. And we are asking for all of that if we stop or hinder national governments from following adaptive policies that solve various problems of change, and that produce social and economic justice. Yet these three trade agreements are likely to do exactly that.

    In this new Kindle e-book, entitIed Declarations of Dependence: Trade Tyranny, Sovereignty, and Democracy, I discuss a range of issues and use a critical approach to consideration of the trade agreements, and especially the recently passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), and the TPP. I come back again and again to the likely governmental impacts of the agreements. What I also do in this book is to review the fast-track legislative process and politics, up to the present, consider the question of how to get around "fast-track" legislation, which I consider a ruse and a fraud, and also consider a variety of justifications for the TPP and other trade deals, while challenging the very fundamentals of their "free trade"-based justifications, with a more comprehensive perspective on trade agreements as instruments of public purpose. Finally, I place the trade deals in the broader context of the multi-decade conflict between democracy and neoliberalism, and locate the trade agreements as part of this struggle and the continuing efforts of neoliberalism to master and rule over political democracy.

    The result is a book intended to fuel popular resistance efforts to defeat the trade deals in the coming months and years, if necessary. Of course, whether it does that or not depends on how the book is received and used by you, my readers.

    Mike Norman, Matt Franko, and myself had a conversation about the book and related matters on Mike's Talkshoe podcast today, July 24. The podcast is also below.

    Mbuna

    July 27, 2015 at 10:41 am


    "It is folly to disarm the governments of nations, and with it their political systems, so they cannot do their jobs in helping peoples and societies to adjust to such changes. That way lies repression, chaos, human suffering, violence, bloodshed, extreme conflict, and loss of life."

    It is not folly to do this if your intention is to eventually morph current political systems into proxy rule by corporate power. By doing so, corporate power is shielded just enough to continue to say that human bloodshed is not on their hands, and don't you know- it's not personal, it's just business…

    Reply ↓

    Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

    July 27, 2015 at 11:08 am


    Depends on where you're sitting, of course. From the point of view of any strict view of "the national interest" of the United States, it is certainly "folly." But, as you say from the multinational corporate point of view it makes perfect sense until the reckoning comes.

    Reply ↓

    Spring Texan

    July 27, 2015 at 10:47 am


    Some of us just hate reading e-books. I bought one book I really wanted to read months ago that is only available in that format and still have read only a small bit, so I've learned not to do that. It is not that expensive to self-publish a book that can be obtained as either an e-book or a printed book, nowadays. Just saying.

    But I don't need your book to be against these nefarious agreements, the impact on drug prices alone has my adrenalin flowing . . . however, others who also prefer printed books might be influenced, so just suggesting that it is not that big a deal to get a book that can be sold in print form (my sister has done that).

    Reply ↓

    Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

    July 27, 2015 at 11:12 am


    Thanks for the comment. I'll think about it. But my initial reaction is that I don't want to take the time away from writing my next e-book.

    [Sep 15, 2016] The utter disregard of the winners towards the losers under neoliberalims helps to bring about the popularity of people like Trump

    Notable quotes:
    "... If those who have not lost to trade think Hillary might help them..... I just wasted* 2+ hours with a bunch of Hilbots.... all I heard is Trump is so evil and his supports are so dumb or racist or anti Planned Parenthood. Not a word to defend Killary except she could not be evil she is watched so much. And Obama called off the DoJ. ..."
    "... It is not only disregard, but active mockery and defamation - accusing the "losers" of hedonism, entitlement thinking, irresposibility, lack of virtue, merit, striving, intelligence, etc. ..."
    "... I.e. reverse puritanism of sorts - lack of success is always to be explained in terms of lack in virtue and striving. ..."
    "... Yes. This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too Their support for the tax and transfer system Humanist noblesse " oblige". ..."
    "... . "This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too" ..."
    "... This is where the "limousine liberal" meme comes from (or more precisely gets it support and success from). ..."
    "... Of course all the claimed demerits exist plenty among the people so accused (as well as among the winners) - though they always did, but I'm under the impression that before Globalization_blowback/technology supported loss of leverage and thus prestige, it wasn't a *public* narrative (in private circles there has always been "if you don't make an effort in school you will end up sweeping the streets", and looking down on the "unskilled", etc. - with the hindsight irony that even street sweeping has been automated). ..."
    Aug 29, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

    Patricia Shannon said... Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    The disregard of the winners towards the losers helps to bring about the popularity of people like Trump. I am not at all surprised at the level of his popularity, even though I personally despise him.
    pgl said in reply to Patricia Shannon
    Agreed. If those who lost from trade think Trump will help them - I have a bridge to sell them. Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    ilsm said in reply to pgl... Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 04:13 PM

    If those who have not lost to trade think Hillary might help them..... I just wasted* 2+ hours with a bunch of Hilbots.... all I heard is Trump is so evil and his supports are so dumb or racist or anti Planned Parenthood. Not a word to defend Killary except she could not be evil she is watched so much. And Obama called off the DoJ.

    A room full of cognitive dissonance and brainwashed.

    *horts du orvees was okay!

    cm said in reply to Patricia Shannon, Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:10 PM

    It is not only disregard, but active mockery and defamation - accusing the "losers" of hedonism, entitlement thinking, irresposibility, lack of virtue, merit, striving, intelligence, etc.
    cm said in reply to cm..., Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:12 PM

    I.e. reverse puritanism of sorts - lack of success is always to be explained in terms of lack in virtue and striving.

    Paine said in reply to cm... Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:57 PM

    Yes. This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too Their support for the tax and transfer system Humanist noblesse " oblige".

    In their opinion the system of merit rewards is largely firm but fair

    cm said in reply to Paine...
    "This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too"

    This is where the "limousine liberal" meme comes from (or more precisely gets it support and success from).

    Of course all the claimed demerits exist plenty among the people so accused (as well as among the winners) - though they always did, but I'm under the impression that before Globalization_blowback/technology supported loss of leverage and thus prestige, it wasn't a *public* narrative (in private circles there has always been "if you don't make an effort in school you will end up sweeping the streets", and looking down on the "unskilled", etc. - with the hindsight irony that even street sweeping has been automated).

    [Sep 15, 2016] The Voluntarism Fantasy

    economistsview.typepad.com
    This is part of the introduction to an essay by Mike Konczal on how to "insure people against the hardships of life..., accident, illness, old age, and loss of a job." Should we rely mostly upon government social insurance programs such as Medicare and Social Security, or would a system that relies upon private charity be better? History provides a very clear answer:
    The Voluntarism Fantasy: Ideology is as much about understanding the past as shaping the future. And conservatives tell themselves a story, a fairy tale really, about the past, about the way the world was and can be again under Republican policies. This story is about the way people were able to insure themselves against the risks inherent in modern life. Back before the Great Society, before the New Deal, and even before the Progressive Era, things were better. Before government took on the role of providing social insurance, individuals and private charity did everything needed to insure people against the hardships of life; given the chance, they could do it again.
    This vision has always been implicit in the conservative ascendancy. It existed in the 1980s, when President Reagan announced, "The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern," and called for voluntarism to fill in the yawning gaps in the social safety net. It was made explicit in the 1990s, notably through Marvin Olasky's The Tragedy of American Compassion, a treatise hailed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and William Bennett, which argued that a purely private nineteenth-century system of charitable and voluntary organizations did a better job providing for the common good than the twentieth-century welfare state. This idea is also the basis of Paul Ryan's budget, which seeks to devolve and shrink the federal government at a rapid pace, lest the safety net turn "into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives." It's what Utah Senator Mike Lee references when he says that the "alternative to big government is not small government" but instead "a voluntary civil society." As conservatives face the possibility of a permanent Democratic majority fueled by changing demographics, they understand that time is running out on their cherished project to dismantle the federal welfare state.
    But this conservative vision of social insurance is wrong. It's incorrect as a matter of history; it ignores the complex interaction between public and private social insurance that has always existed in the United States. It completely misses why the old system collapsed and why a new one was put in its place. It fails to understand how the Great Recession displayed the welfare state at its most necessary and that a voluntary system would have failed under the same circumstances. Most importantly, it points us in the wrong direction. The last 30 years have seen effort after effort to try and push the policy agenda away from the state's capabilities and toward private mechanisms for mitigating the risks we face in the world. This effort is exhausted, and future endeavors will require a greater, not lesser, role for the public. ...
    The state does many things, but this essay will focus specifically on its role in providing social insurance against the risks we face. Specifically, we'll look at what the progressive economist and actuary I.M. Rubinow described in 1934 as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: "accident, illness, old age, loss of a job. These are the four horsemen that ride roughshod over lives and fortunes of millions of wage workers of every modern industrial community." These were the same evils that Truman singled out in his speech. And these are the ills that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food assistance, and our other public systems of social insurance set out to combat in the New Deal and Great Society.
    Over the past 30 years the public role in social insurance has taken a backseat to the idea that private institutions will expand to cover these risks. Yet our current system of workplace private insurance is rapidly falling apart. In its wake, we'll need to make a choice between an expanded role for the state or a fantasy of voluntary protection instead. We need to understand why this voluntary system didn't work in the first place to make the case for the state's role in fighting the Four Horsemen. ...

    [Sep 15, 2016] Marxists and Conservatives Have More in Common than Either Side Would Like to Admit

    Notable quotes:
    "... That was the sad tragedy of Marx and Marxism. Instead of focusing on a practical agenda for achieving and sustaining a democratically administered state in an imperfect human world, a state based on a more equal distribution of capital, a workable balance between private and public ownership of capital, and a regulatory framework and rule of law designed to sustain this balance in the face of social and economic forces that will *always* be acting to disrupt it, Marx veered off into the fantasy lands ..."
    "... In this utopian future, every single person is intelligent, relaxed, cooperative, and preternaturally enlightened. There are no thieves, psychopaths, predators, raiders or uncooperative deadbeats and spongers. Since there is no law, there is no government; and since there is no government; there are no elections or other ways of forming government. There is also no division of labor, because somehow human beings have passed beyond the "realm of necessity" into the "realm of freedom." ..."
    "... Marx himself was one of these underminers, pissing all over the very progressive Gotha program and the very idea of a well-governed state in the name of his dreamy "communist society." ..."
    "... In the end, Marx had a very unrealistic view of human nature and history. His analytic and scientific powers were betrayed by an infantile romanticism that both weakened his social theory and crippled much of left progressive politics for a century. The problem is still floating around with the insipid anarcho-libertarian silliness of much of the late 20th and early 21st century left. ..."
    "... The key value of Marxism is that it gave a solid platform for analyzing capitalism as politico-economic system. All those utopian ideas about proletariat as a future ruling class of an ideal society that is not based on private property belong to the garbage damp of history, although the very idea of countervailing forces for capitalists is not. ..."
    "... In this sense the very existence of the USSR was critical for the health of the US capitalism as it limited self-destructive instincts of the ruling class. Not so good for people of the USSR, it was definitely a blessing for the US population. ..."
    "... Now we have neoliberal garbage and TINA as a state religion, which at least in the level in their religious fervor are not that different from Marxism. ..."
    "... Republicans (US 'capitalism' salespersons) believe that "liberty", the right of property, is necessary for "freedom". State is necessary for property despite what the Hobbits (libertarians) preach. Communism is as far from Marxism as the US billionaire empire is from capitalism. Marx was a fair labor economist. ..."
    "... {Marx stressed that ... the labour market is an arena in which power is unbalanced...} ..."
    "... Thus, capitalism is an integral and key part of the market-economy since it provides the means by which the other major input-component is labor. Capital is an investment input to the process, for which there is a Return-on-Investment largely accepted as bonafide criteria of any market-economy. ..."
    Aug 15, 2015 | Economist's View

    Chris Dillow on common ground between Marxists and Conservatives:

    Fairness, decentralization & capitalism: Marxists and Conservatives have more in common than either side would like to admit. This thought occurred to me whilst reading a superb piece by Andrew Lilico.

    He describes the Brams-Taylor procedure for cutting a cake in a fair way - in the sense of ensuring envy-freeness - and says that this shows that a central agency such as the state is unnecessary to achieve fairness:...

    The appropriate mechanism here is one in which there is a balance of power, such that no individual can say: "take it or leave it."

    This is where Marxism enters. Marxists claim that, under capitalism, the appropriate mechanism is absent. Marx stressed that ... the labour market is an arena in which power is unbalanced...

    Nor do Marxists expect the state to correct this, because the state is captured by capitalists - it is "a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie."...

    Instead, Marx thought that fairness can only be achieved by abolishing both capitalism and the state - something which is only feasible at a high level of economic development - and replacing it with some forms of decentralized decision-making. ...

    In this sense, Marxists agree with Andrew: people can find fair allocations themselves without a central agency. ...

    Posted by Mark Thoma on Saturday, August 15, 2015 at 09:10 AM in Economics, Income Distribution, Unions | Permalink Comments (10)

    Otto Maddox:

    How silly. Marxism and its centralization of power will attract the hyper control freak who are not likely to ever give up power. Disingenuous utopianism.

    Dan Kervick:

    That was the sad tragedy of Marx and Marxism. Instead of focusing on a practical agenda for achieving and sustaining a democratically administered state in an imperfect human world, a state based on a more equal distribution of capital, a workable balance between private and public ownership of capital, and a regulatory framework and rule of law designed to sustain this balance in the face of social and economic forces that will *always* be acting to disrupt it, Marx veered off into the fantasy lands of his hectoring anarchist critics and adversaries, and came up with a social pseudo-science positing a millennarian heaven on earth where somehow perfect voluntariness and perfect equality magically come together. The Marxists are still twisted up in that foolishness, perpetually incapable of formulating practical political plans and agendas because they have some "crisis theory" telling them that the current messes are the harbingers of a revolution that are going to actualize that kingdom of heaven.

    Peter K. -> pgl...

    yes Kervick again provides a fact-free rant. The Communist Manifesto demanded many reforms that came pass:

    "The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands - among them a progressive income tax; abolition of inheritances; free public education etc.-the implementation of which would be a precursor to a stateless and classless society."

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

    Dan Kervick -> Peter K....

    "Short-term demands" as you say: Marx and Engels saw such socialist measures as merely a transitional stage on the way via the dictatorship of the proletariat to a classless and stateless society in which even the rule of law would not exist, since human beings would somehow manage to coordinate all of the economic functions of a complex society through 100% non-coercive means.

    In this utopian future, every single person is intelligent, relaxed, cooperative, and preternaturally enlightened. There are no thieves, psychopaths, predators, raiders or uncooperative deadbeats and spongers. Since there is no law, there is no government; and since there is no government; there are no elections or other ways of forming government. There is also no division of labor, because somehow human beings have passed beyond the "realm of necessity" into the "realm of freedom."

    Real-world possibilities for democratic socialist alternatives under a practical and egalitarian rule of law have frequently been thwarted and undermined by Marxian communists drunk on these infantile millenarian fantasies, and the Marxian pseudo-sciences of underlying dialectical laws of social evolution directing history toward this fantastical telos.

    Marx himself was one of these underminers, pissing all over the very progressive Gotha program and the very idea of a well-governed state in the name of his dreamy "communist society."

    Guess what guys. Maybe I have actually read some of this stuff.

    likbez -> Dan Kervick...

    Marxism has two district faces. A very sharp analysis of capitalist society and utopian vision of the future.

    === quote ===
    Marx himself was one of these underminers, pissing all over the very progressive Gotha program and the very idea of a well-governed state in the name of his dreamy "communist society."
    === end of quote ===

    Very true. Authors of Gotha programs were nicknamed "revisionists" by Orthodox Marxists.

    mulp:

    "He describes the Brams-Taylor procedure for cutting a cake in a fair way - in the sense of ensuring envy-freeness - and says that this shows that a central agency such as the state is unnecessary to achieve fairness:..."

    That is exactly the description of "authoritarian elite intellectual technocrats dictating how society works."

    Conservatives would never accept that solution because they would immediately argue that not everyone deserves an equal portion, and that the liberal elites are dictating from on high.

    Marx would simply point out that conservatives would never accept that based on their denial of equality as a principle and would require evolution of man, or too few or too many resources to care about dividing. But that would never satisfy conservatives....

    Barkley Rosser:

    Obviously actually existing socialist nations ruled by Communist parties have always featured highly centralized authoritarian non-democratic systems (although China is somewhat of an exception regarding the matter of centralization, with its provinces having a lot of power, but then, it is the world's largest nation in population).

    As it was, Marx (and Engels) had a practical side. One can see it in the "platform" put forward at the end of the Communist Manifesto. Several of the items there have been nearly universally adopted by modern capitalist democracies, such as a progressive income tax and universal state-supported education. Others are standard items for more or less socialist nations, such as nationalizing the leading sectors of the economy.

    Only one looks at all utopian, their call for ending the division between the city and the country, although this dream has inspired such things as the New Town movement, not to mention arguably the suburbs.

    It was only in the Critique of the Gotha Program that Marx at one point suggested that eventually in the "higher stage of socialism" there would be a "withering away of the state." Curiously most nations ruled by Communist parties never claimed to have achieved true communism because they were aware of this statement and generally referred to themselves as being "in transition" towards true communism without having gotten there. Later most would turn around have transitions back towards market capitalism.

    DrDick -> Barkley Rosser...

    All existing and former communist countries are Leninist and not Marxist, with a large influence from whatever the prior local autocratic system was.

    Dan Kervick -> Barkley Rosser...

    "It was only in the Critique of the Gotha Program that Marx at one point suggested that eventually in the "higher stage of socialism" there would be a "withering away of the state.""

    That's what I meant by the tragedy of Marxism. In the end, Marx had a very unrealistic view of human nature and history. His analytic and scientific powers were betrayed by an infantile romanticism that both weakened his social theory and crippled much of left progressive politics for a century. The problem is still floating around with the insipid anarcho-libertarian silliness of much of the late 20th and early 21st century left.

    likbez:

    Actually Marxism was the source of social-democratic parties programs. Which definitely made capitalism more bearable.

    The key value of Marxism is that it gave a solid platform for analyzing capitalism as politico-economic system. All those utopian ideas about proletariat as a future ruling class of an ideal society that is not based on private property belong to the garbage damp of history, although the very idea of countervailing forces for capitalists is not.

    In this sense the very existence of the USSR was critical for the health of the US capitalism as it limited self-destructive instincts of the ruling class. Not so good for people of the USSR, it was definitely a blessing for the US population.

    Now we have neoliberal garbage and TINA as a state religion, which at least in the level in their religious fervor are not that different from Marxism.

    And neocons are actually very close, almost undistinguishable from to Trotskyites, as for their "permanent revolution" (aka "permanent democratization") drive.

    Ben Groves -> likbez...

    You obviously think it wasn't that good for the USSR people, yet don't understand the Tsarist wreck that Russia itself had turned into. With the Soviet, they became strong at the expense of what they considered colonies.

    The true origin of Bolshevism isn't Lenin or Trotsky, but the anti-ashkenazi anti-European movement. Stalin joined them in 1904 for this very reason and blasted the Menhs as jews. Thus the program had to cleanse out people who still insisted Russia be European and instead, push a Asiatic program they believed they really were.

    kthomas:

    Though I do love seeing this argument being made, I'm not sure we can derive any real benefits from having it anymore. Ideology is one thing. If we are discussing Power, and how it attracts the Power Hungry, that is a separate argument, one largely covered by Machiavelli.

    As for Marx, I do not ever recall him advising on the abolishment of the State. He was not an Anarchist.

    Ben Groves:

    The state can't be abolished. It simply changes by what part of nature controls it.

    Only the anarchists thinks the state can be abolished. The state is eternal. Whether it is the Imperial State (the true conservative organic ideal) City State, the Nation State, the Market State, the Workers State, the Propertarian State. There will always be rule.

    DrDick -> Ben Groves...

    The state is far from eternal. It is in fact a very recent development in humanity's 3.5 million year history, having arisen about 5500 years ago. States can and do collapse and disappear, as has happened in Somalia.

    likbez:

    I think the discussion deviated from the key thesis "Marxists and Conservatives Have More in Common than Either Side Would Like to Admit"

    This thesis has the right for existence. Still Marxism remains miles ahead of conservatives in understanding the capitalism "as is" with all its warts.

    Neoliberalism is probably the most obvious branch of conservatism which adopted considerable part of Marxism doctrine. From this point of view it is a stunning utopia with the level of economic determinism even more ambitious than that of Marx...

    http://www.softpanorama.net/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/neoliberalism_as_trotskyism_for_the_rich.shtml

    === start of quote ===

    The simplest way to understand the power of neoliberalism as an ideology, is to view it as Trotskyism refashioned for elite. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have slogan "neoliberal elites of all countries unite". Instead of permanent revolution we have permanent democratization via color revolutions.

    Instead of revolt of proletariat which Marxists expected we got the revolt of financial oligarchy. And this revolt led to forming powerful Transnational Elite International (with Congresses in Basel) instead of Communist International (with Congresses in Moscow). Marx probably is rolling in his grave seeing such turn of events and such a wicked mutation of his political theories.

    Like Trotskyism neoliberalism has a totalitarian vision for a world-encompassing monolithic state governed by an ideologically charged "vanguard". One single state (Soviet Russia) in case of Trotskyism, and the USA in case of neoliberalism is assigned the place of "holy country" and the leader of this country has special privileges not unlike Rome Pope in Catholicism.

    The pseudoscientific 'free-market' theory which replaces Marxist political economy and provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and poverty endemic to the system, and the main beneficiaries are the global mega-corporations and major western powers (G7).

    Like Marxism in general neoliberalism on the one hand this reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance, on the other like was in the USSR, it places the control of the economy in comparatively few hands; and that might be neoliberalism's Achilles heel which we say in action in 2008.

    The role of propaganda machine and journalists, writers, etc as the solders of the party that should advance its interests. Compete, blatant disregard of truth to the extent that Pravda journalists can be viewed as paragons of objectivity (Fox news)

    == end of quote ==

    ilsm:

    Republicans (US 'capitalism' salespersons) believe that "liberty", the right of property, is necessary for "freedom". State is necessary for property despite what the Hobbits (libertarians) preach. Communism is as far from Marxism as the US billionaire empire is from capitalism. Marx was a fair labor economist.

    Lafayette:

    MARKET ECONOMY CRITERIA

    {Marx stressed that ... the labour market is an arena in which power is unbalanced...}

    Which has nothing whatsoever to do with "capitalism", which is fundamentally this:

    An economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

    Which was common up to and including the latter decades of the last century. Wherein, some countries adopted state-enterprises to have either entire monopolies or substantial presence in some sectors of the market-economy. The ownership of the means of production were owned by the state and management/workforce were state employees.

    This applies to any entity the object of which is provide to a market goods and services. One can therefore say the defense of the nation is a service provided by a state-owned entity called the Dept. of Defense (in the US and similarly elsewhere).

    Moreover that practice can be modified to other areas of public need, for instance health-care and education. Where the "means of production" of the service are owned once again by the state, but this time the management and workers are independent and work for themselves. (In which case they may or may not be represented by organizations some of which are called "unions".)

    The above variations are all well known in European "capitalist" countries - which employ capital as central financial mechanism. Capital is "any form of wealth employed or capable of being employed in the production of more wealth."

    Thus, capitalism is an integral and key part of the market-economy since it provides the means by which the other major input-component is labor. Capital is an investment input to the process, for which there is a Return-on-Investment largely accepted as bonafide criteria of any market-economy.

    Likewise, there should therefore be accounted a Return on Labor, and that return should be paid to all who work in a company - not all equally but all equitably. A Return-on-Labor is also a bonafide criteria of any market-economy.

    There is no real reason why the RoI should be the sole criteria for investment purposes, except that of common usage historically. RoC should also have its place as a bonafide criteria for investment purposes - and probably one that determines which "services" are better performed by government-owned agencies and which not.

    How much is the RoC of Defense worth to you and our family? How much is HealthCare? How much Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education?

    Q E D

    [Sep 15, 2016] On Views Of The War On Syria

    A pretty devious scheme -- creating difficulty for the government neoliberal wanted to depose by pushing neoliberal reforms via IMF and such. They channeling the discontent into uprising against the legitimate government. Similar process happened with Yanukovich in Ukraine.
    Notable quotes:
    "... the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians ..."
    "... it doesn't make President Assad virtuous of himself and neither does it reflect the reality that when push came to shove Assad put his position ahead of the people of Syria and kissed neoliberal butt. ..."
    "... President Assad revealed his stupidity when he didn't pay attention to what happens to a leader who has previously been featured as a 'tyrant' in western media if he lets the neoliberals in: They fawn & scrape all the while developing connections to undermine him/her. If the undermining is ineffective there is no backing off. The next option is war. The instances are legion from President Noriega of Panama to President Hussein of Iraq to Colonel Ghaddaffi of Libya - that one really hurts as the Colonel was a genuinely committed and astute man. Assad is just another hack in comparison. ..."
    "... Syrian leaders are politicians, they suffer the same flaws of politicians across the world. They are power seekers who inevitably come to regard the welfare of their population as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. ..."
    "... No one denies that the opposition have been used and abused by FUKUSi, but that of itself does not invalidate the very real issues that persuaded them to resist an austerity imposed from above by assholes who weren't practicing what they preached. ..."
    "... According to the European model of diplomacy imposed upon the globe, countries have interests not friends. ..."
    "... A solution which reduces numbers of humans killed is worth attempting. ..."
    "... Just because someone chooses an option that you disagree with does not make them evil or headchoppers or Islamofacist. ..."
    "... On balance I would rather see Assad continue as leader of Syria but I'm not so naive as to believe he is capable of finding a long term resolution, or that there are not a good number of self interested murderous sadists in his crew. ..."
    "... This war is about destroying real history, civilization, culture and replacing with fake. The war in Yemen is the same. Who in that region wants to replace real history with fake. Think about it. Most Islamic,Christian, Assyrian history is systematically being destroyed. ..."
    "... you make some good points concerning Assad flirting with neoliberalism however, i don't know how you call an opposition 'moderate' when its toting firearms. ..."
    "... The protests against Assad were moderate, and to his credit Assad was willing to meet them halfway. However, this situation was exploited by (((foreign powers))) ..."
    "... This is not about "good or evil", this is about TOW missiles made in USA against T-55, Saudi money for mercenaries, Israeli regional ambitions and so on. Syria is another country that the US wants to destroy. Six years ago Syria was a peaceful country. ..."
    "... Allegedly president Assad is a bad guy but Erdogan, Netanyhu and bin Saud are noble and good men. Who believes in such nonsense? The US has become similar to Israel and this is the reason why "Assad must go". Sick countries do sick things. ..."
    "... no, because one side is so simplistically evi l(armed to the fucking teeth and resolved to violent insurrection!!!), if Assad didn't have the backing of the vast majority of his people and of his overreached army it would have ended a long time ago and Syria would be a failed state flailing away in the grip of anarchy. perhaps your Syrian 'friends' should meditate on this naked truth. ..."
    "... when that shitty little country called Israel was squeezed onto the map in 1948, Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees with open arms by the hundreds of thousands. no, they didn't grant them citizenship, but prettty much all other rights. ..."
    "... This whole nightmare was dreamed up from within the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006. Bashir al Assad was too popular in the country and the region for America's liking, so they plotted to get rid of him. Near all the organ eating, child killing, head chopping "moderate" opposition are from other countries, those that are Syrian, as was the case in Iraq, mostly live outside the country and are not in touch with main stream opinion, but very in touch with US, Saudi etc $$$s. ..."
    "... I consider Bashar al-Assad the legitimate Syrian President and attempts to remove him by external interests as grounds for charges of crimes against humanity, crimes of war. ..."
    "... As one of the bloggers rightly stated Wesley Clarke spilled the whole beans and revealed their true ilk. 7 countries in 5 years. How coincidental post 9/11. ..."
    "... If you say "Assad was flirting with Neo Liberalism" then this is actually a compliment to Assad. Why? Because he wanted to win time. He wanted to prevent the same happening to Syria that has happened to Iraq. At that time there was no other protective power around. Russia was still busy recovering. ..."
    "... As demeter said Posted by: Demeter @14, the flirrting with neoliberalism bought them time as neocons were slavering for a new target. It also made the inner circle a ridiculous amount of money. Drought made life terrible for many rural syrians. When the conflict started, if you read this website you'd notice people wondering what was going on and as facts unfolded. realizing that Assad was the lesser of two evils, and as the war has gone on, look like an angel in comparison to the opposition. ..."
    "... Salafism is Racism. It de-egitimizes the entire anti Assad revolution. ..."
    "... Wesley Clark's "seven countries in five years" transcript for anyone who has forgotten: http://genius.com/General-wesley-clark-seven-countries-in-five-years-annotated ..."
    "... the armed conflict originated with scheming by foreign governments to use extremists as a weapon. ..."
    "... Furthermore, Debsisdead sets up the same "binary division" that he says he opposes by tarnishing those who oppose using extremists as a weapon of state as Assad loving racists. The plot was described by Sy Hersh in 2007 in "The Redirection" . ..."
    "... The fight IS "binary". You support Assad and his fighters, the true rebels, or you don't. Calling Assad a "hack" is a slander of a veritable hero. Watch his interviews. Assad presides over a multi-cultural, multi-confessional, diverse, secular state, PRECISELY what the Reptilians claim they cherish. ..."
    "... "the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians." - on that we can agree. ..."
    "... It continues to annoy me that the primary trigger for the civil war in Syria has been totally censored from the press. The government deliberately ignited a population explosion, making the sale or possession of condoms or birth control pills illegal and propagandizing that it was every woman's patriotic duty to have six kids. The population doubled every 18 years, from 5 million to 10 million to 20 million and then at 22 the water ran out and things fells apart. Syria is a small country mostly arid plateau, in principle it could be developed to support even more people just not in that amount of time and with the resources that the Syrians actually had. ..."
    "... It doesn't mean he's a saint that Assad is leading the very popular 'secular/multi-confessional Syria' resistance against an extremely well-funded army primarily of non-Syrians who are mainly 'headchoppers' who will stop at nothing to impose Saudi-style religious dictatorship on Syria. ..."
    "... The 'moderate' opposition to Assad has largely disappeared (back into the loyal opposition that does NOT want a Saudi-style state imposed on Syria), but those who remain in armed rebellion surely must know that they are a powerless, very small portion of what is in fact mercenary army completely subservient to the needs and directives of its primary funders/enablers, the US and Saudi Arabia. So whatever their original noble intentions, they've become part of the Saudi/US imperial problem. ..."
    "... All that land, all that resource...and a unifying language. Amazing. If only the Arab world could unite for the collective good of the region we might witness a rogue state in an abrupt and full decline. A sad tactic of colonial powers over the years, setting the native tribes upon each other. We've not evolved here. ..."
    "... t in recent history the foreign policy of powerful nations is aimed at sponsoring social disintegration within the borders of targeted countries. ..."
    "... Ethnic cleansing means destruction of culture, of historical memory, the forced disappearance of communities that were rooted in a place. ..."
    "... Compare President Assad's leadership to that of the western, or Saudi, sponsors of terror; or measure his decisions against those of the hodgepodge of rebels and mercenaries, with their endless internal squabbles and infighting. Assad is so much more of a spokesman for the rights of sovereignty, and his words carry more weight and outshine the banalities that spring from the mouths of those who are paying the bills, and supplying weapons, and giving all kinds of diplomatic comfort to the enemies of the Syrian government. ..."
    "... There is no need for sorting things into absolutes of good and evil. But there is a condition under which fewer, a lot fewer, humans would have died in Syria, Without foreign interference--money, weapons, and training--Assad's government would have won this war quite a while ago. ..."
    "... And as for "Islamic Fundamentalism", it is this abnormal form of Islam that is purely based on racism and not the other way around. Islamic fundamentalists call everybody, and I mean everybody, who is not living according to their rule a non-believer, a Takfiri, who does not deserver to live. ..."
    "... Fundamentalism is never satisfied until it can become a tyranny over the mind. Racism and fundamentalism are as American as apple pie. You have to take a close look at who is pouring oil on this fire! ..."
    "... I disagree with you in that neoliberalism is seriously not difficult to define. It boils down to belief that public programs are bad/'inefficient' and that society would be better served by privatizing many things(or even everything) and opening services up to 'competition'. It's mainly just cover for parasites to come in and get rich off of the masses misery. The 'neoliberalism is just a snarl word' meme is incredibly stupid, since plenty of books and articles have been written explicitly defining it. ..."
    "... American economic hegemony is inherently neoliberal, and has been for decades. The IMF is essentially an international loan shark that gives countries money on the condition that they dismantle their public spending apparatus and let the market run things. ..."
    "... The situation is different now. One Syrian lady, who came to see me in April, who lives in California, told me that her father, who was a big pre-war oppositionist, now just wants to return to Syria to die. There's no question. if you want peace in Syria, Asad is the only choice. The jihadis, who dominate the opposition, don't offer an alternative. ..."
    "... The lesson of Viet Nam was to keep the dead and wounded off the six o'clock news. ..."
    "... The jackals are going in. Another coup. Syria was on the list. Remap the Middle East. Make it like Disney World. Israel as Mad King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein. ..."
    "... I don't think anyone who comments here regularly ever assumed that Bashar al Assad was a knight in white shining armour. Most of us are aware of how he came to be President and that his father did rule the country from 1971 to 2000 with an iron fist. Some if not most also know that initially when Bashar al Assad succeeded to the Presidency, he did have a reformist agenda in mind. How well or not he succeeded in putting that across, what compromises he had to make, who or what opposed him, how he negotiated his way between and among various and opposed power structures in Syrian politics we do not know. ..."
    "... Yes, I have trouble reconciling the fact that Bashar al Assad's government did allow CIA renditioning with his reformist agenda in my own head. That is something he will have to come to terms with in the future. I don't know if Assad was naive, under pressure or willing, even eager in agreeing to cooperate with the CIA, or trying to buy time to prepare for invasion once Iraq was down. Whether Assad also realises that he was duped by the IMF and World Bank in following their advice on economic "reforms" (such as privatising Syria's water) is another thing as well. ..."
    "... I don't see why you call the problem "Islamic fundamentalism" when in fact it is Sunni fundamentalism. ..."
    "... Manifest Destiny is fundamentalism. ..."
    "... "Full Spectrum Dominance" and other US Military doctrines are fundamentalist in nature. ..."
    "... I have no doubt that Assad was little more than a crude Arab strongman/dictator prince back in the 2011 when the uprising started. Since then, he has evolved into a committed, engaged defender of his country against multilateral foreign aggression, willingly leaving his balls in the vice and all. ..."
    "... He could have fled the sinking ship many times so far. Instead, he decided to stay and fight the Takfiri river flowing in through the crack, and risk going down with the ship he inherited. The majority of the Syrians know this very well. ..."
    "... Bashar of 2016 (not so much the one of 5 1/2 years ago) would not only win the next free elections, but destroy any opposition. The aggressors know that as a fact. ..."
    "... if Syria had control over its borders with Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Iraq would the war have ended a long time ago ? Answer honestly. ..."
    "... If yes, then the so-called "opposition" of the union of headchoppers does not represent a significant portion of the Syrian people. Were it otherwise Assad wouldnt be able to survive a single year, let alone 5. With or without foreign help. ..."
    "... OK here is an interesting article from 2011 on Abdallah Dardari, the fellow who persuaded Bashar al Assad to adopt the disastrous neoliberal economic reforms that not only ruined Syria's economy and the country's agriculture in particular but also created an underclass who resented the reforms and who initially joined the "rebels". http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2097 ..."
    "... And where is Dardari now? He jumped ship in 2011 and went to Beirut to work for the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). He seems like someone to keep a watchful eye on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Dardari ..."
    "... of COURSE assad flirted with the west. between housing cia rendition houses and the less-than-flattering aspects of the wikileaks "syria files", assad and/or his handlers (family and/or military) have tried a little too hard to "assimilate" to western ideals (or the lack thereof). ..."
    "... i seriously doubt they will make that mistake again. they saw what happened to al-qaddafi after he tried to play nice and mistook western politicians for human beings. they've learned their lesson and become more ruthless but they were always machiavellians because they have to be. not an endorsement, just an acceptance of how the region is. ..."
    "... also: israel, the saudis (along with qatar and the other GCC psychopaths in supporting capacity) and the US are the main actors and throwing european "powers" into the circle of actual power does them an undue favor by ignoring their status as pathetic vassal states. "FrUkDeUSZiowhatever" isn't necessary. ..."
    "... Look I know the MSM is utterly controlled - but the extent of that control still shocks at times. It is simply not possible to be "informed" by any normal definition of the word anymore without the alternative media - and for that reason this site serves a valuable purpose and I once again thank the host and contributors. ..."
    "... The irony is, Assad is 10x smarter and bigger person than Debs. Yes, he made some mistakes, but if not "flirting with neoliberalism", war against Syria would have started many years earlier, when Resistance wasnt ready one bit (neither Russia, nor Iran, while on the other hand US was more powerful). ..."
    "... Support for rebel groups was misguided at best at the beginning of the war. One could conceivably not appreciate the capacity of the KSA/USA/Quatar/Israel to influence and control and create these groups. Jesus it's hard for me to think of a single local opposition group that isnt drenched in fanaticism besides the Kurds. ..."
    "... There's no way to a solution for the Syrian people, the population not imported that is, if these groups win. I hate to be so binary but its so naive in my eyes to think anything good will come from the long arm of the gulf countries and the USA taking control. ..."
    "... As I've said repeatedly, the GOAL of the Syria crisis for the Western elites, Israel and the ME dictatorships is to take Syria OUT by any means necessary in order to get to IRAN. Nothing else matters to these people. In the same vein, nothing else matters to ninety percent of the CURRENT insurgents than to establish some Salafist state, exterminate the Shia, etc., etc. ..."
    "... So, yes, right NOW the whole story is about US elites, Zionist "evil", corrupt monarchs, and scumbag fanatics, etc., etc. Until THAT is resolved, nothing about how Syria is being run is going to matter. ..."
    "... Copeland @60: No, I don't think the problem is fundamentalism. It's the warring crusade method of spreading a belief's 'empire' that is the problem. This is a problem uniquely of the Saudi 'do whatever it takes' crusade to convert the entire 'Arab and Muslim world' to their worst, most misogynist form of Islam. ..."
    "... Just want to mention that from the beginning there were people who took up arms against the government. This is why the situation went out of control. People ambushed groups of young soldiers. Snipers of unknown origin fired on police and civilians. ..."
    "... I rather like Assad. I won't lie. But, he is not the reason for the insurrection in Syria ~ well, except for his alliances with Russia and Iran and his pipeline decisions and his support for Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. What happened in Syria is happening all over the globe because the nation with the most resources in the world, the self-declared exceptionalist state thinks this is the way to rule the world. . . . because they want to rule and they don't care how much destruction it takes to do so. And lucky for us there is no one big enough and bad enough to do it to us - except for our own government. ..."
    "... There were a lot of people posting how Bashar al Assad was doing full neoliberalism. And at was true. ..."
    "... So Assad was hit by a Tri-horror: global warming, dwindling cash FF resources, and IMF-type pressure, leaving out the trad. enemies, KSA, pipelines , etc. MSM prefer to cover up serious issues with 'ethnic strife' (sunni, shia, black lives matter, etc.) ..."
    Sep 15, 2016 | www.moonofalabama.org

    lifted from a comment

    It is sad to see so many are so locked into their particular views that they see any offering of an alternative as 'neoliberal' or laughable or - if it weren't so serious - Zionist.

    1/ I do not see the Syrian civil war as racist or race based, I do believe however that the rejection of all Islamic fundamentalism as being entirely comprised of 'headchoppers' is racist down to its core. It is that same old same old whitefella bullshit which refuses to consider other points of view on their own terms but considers everything through the lens of 'western' culture which it then declares wanting and discards.

    2/ Noirette comes close to identifying one of the issues that kicked off the conflict, that the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians. I realize many have quite foolishly IMO, adopted President Assad as some sort of model of virtue - mostly because he is seen to be standing up to American imperialism. That is a virtuous position but it doesn't make President Assad virtuous of himself and neither does it reflect the reality that when push came to shove Assad put his position ahead of the people of Syria and kissed neoliberal butt.

    3/ President Assad revealed his stupidity when he didn't pay attention to what happens to a leader who has previously been featured as a 'tyrant' in western media if he lets the neoliberals in: They fawn & scrape all the while developing connections to undermine him/her. If the undermining is ineffective there is no backing off. The next option is war. The instances are legion from President Noriega of Panama to President Hussein of Iraq to Colonel Ghaddaffi of Libya - that one really hurts as the Colonel was a genuinely committed and astute man. Assad is just another hack in comparison.

    4/ These Syrian leaders are politicians, they suffer the same flaws of politicians across the world. They are power seekers who inevitably come to regard the welfare of their population as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

    5/ My Syrians friends are an interesting bunch drawn from a range of people currently living inside and outside of Syria. Some longer term readers might recall that I'm not American, don't live in America and nowadays don't visit much at all. The first of the 'refugee' Syrians I got to know, although refugee is a misnomer since my friend came here on a migrant's visa because his skills are in demand, is the grandchild of Palestinian refugees - so maybe he is a refugee but not in the usual sense. Without going into too many specifics as this is his story not mine, he was born and lived in a refugee camp which was essentially just another Damascus suburb. As he puts it, although a Palestinian at heart, he was born in Syria and when he thinks of home it is/was Damascus. All sides in the conflict claimed to support Palestinian liberation, yet he and his family were starved out of their homes by both Syrian government militias and the FSA.

    When he left he was initially a stateless person because even though he was born in Syria he wasn't entitled to Syrian citizenship. He bears no particular grudge against the government there but he told me once he does wish they were a lot smarter.

    On the other hand he also understands why the people fighting the government are doing so. I'm not talking about the leadership of course (see above - pols are pols) but the Syrians who just couldn't take the fading future and the petty oppression by assholes any longer.

    6/ No one denies that the opposition have been used and abused by FUKUSi, but that of itself does not invalidate the very real issues that persuaded them to resist an austerity imposed from above by assholes who weren't practicing what they preached.

    I really despair at the mindset which reduces everything to a binary division - if group A are the people I support they must all be wonderful humans and group B those who are fighting Group A are all evil assholes.

    If group A claim to support Palestinian self determination (even though they have done sweet fuck all to actually advance that cause) then everyone in Group B must be pro-Zionist even though I don't know what they say about it (the leadership of the various resistance groups are ME politicians and therefore most claim to also support Palestinian independence). Yes assholes in the opposition have done sleazy deals with Israel over Golan but the Ba'ath administration has done similar opportunist sell outs over the 40 years when the situation demanded it.

    I fucking hate that as much as anyone else who despises the ersatz state of Israel, but the reality is that just about every ME leader has put expedience ahead of principle with regard to Palestine. Colonel Ghadaffi would be the only leader I'm aware of who didn't. Why do they? That is what all pols and diplomats do not just Arab ones. According to the European model of diplomacy imposed upon the globe, countries have interests not friends.

    As yet no alternative to that model has succeeded since any attempt to do so has been rejected with great violence. The use of hostages offered by each party to guarantee a treaty was once an honorable solution, the hostages were well treated and the security they afforded reduced conflict - if Oblamblam had to put up one of his daughters to guarantee a deal does anyone think he would break it as easily as he currently does? Yet the very notion of hostages is considered 'terrorism' in the west. But I digress.

    The only points I wanted to make was the same as those I have already made:

    If you want to call me a Zionist lackey of the imperialists or whatever it was go right ahead - it is only yourself who you tarnish, I'm secure in the knowledge of my own work against imperialism, corporate domination and Zionism but perhaps you, who have a need to throw aspersions are not?

    Posted by b on September 12, 2016 at 03:33 AM | Permalink

    papa | Sep 12, 2016 3:51:57 AM | 1
    Plus one more - it is humorous and saddening to see people throw senseless name-calling into the mix. It is the method preferred by those who are too stupid and ill informed to develop a logical point of view.

    why you think your article is different from others senseless name-calling, i see exactly the same.

    This war is about destroying real history, civilization, culture and replacing with fake. The war in Yemen is the same. Who in that region wants to replace real history with fake. Think about it. Most Islamic,Christian, Assyrian history is systematically being destroyed.

    lemur | Sep 12, 2016 4:30:41 AM | 2
    you make some good points concerning Assad flirting with neoliberalism however, i don't know how you call an opposition 'moderate' when its toting firearms.

    The protests against Assad were moderate, and to his credit Assad was willing to meet them halfway. However, this situation was exploited by (((foreign powers)))

    ash123 | Sep 12, 2016 5:43:53 AM | 3
    If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago.
    This is not about "good or evil", this is about TOW missiles made in USA against T-55, Saudi money for mercenaries, Israeli regional ambitions and so on. Syria is another country that the US wants to destroy. Six years ago Syria was a peaceful country.

    Allegedly president Assad is a bad guy but Erdogan, Netanyhu and bin Saud are noble and good men. Who believes in such nonsense? The US has become similar to Israel and this is the reason why "Assad must go". Sick countries do sick things.

    john | Sep 12, 2016 5:47:26 AM | 4

    Debsisdead says:

    If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago

    no, because one side is so simplistically evi l(armed to the fucking teeth and resolved to violent insurrection!!!), if Assad didn't have the backing of the vast majority of his people and of his overreached army it would have ended a long time ago and Syria would be a failed state flailing away in the grip of anarchy. perhaps your Syrian 'friends' should meditate on this naked truth.

    If group A claim to support Palestinian self determination (even though they have done sweet fuck all to actually advance that cause)...

    when that shitty little country called Israel was squeezed onto the map in 1948, Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees with open arms by the hundreds of thousands. no, they didn't grant them citizenship, but prettty much all other rights.

    so thanks, b, for headlining this obfuscatory drivel. thus, for posterity.

    Felicity | Sep 12, 2016 6:04:27 AM | 5
    This whole nightmare was dreamed up from within the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006. Bashir al Assad was too popular in the country and the region for America's liking, so they plotted to get rid of him. Near all the organ eating, child killing, head chopping "moderate" opposition are from other countries, those that are Syrian, as was the case in Iraq, mostly live outside the country and are not in touch with main stream opinion, but very in touch with US, Saudi etc $$$s.

    Here again is the reality of where this all started, article from 2012 (below.). And never forget Wesley Clark's Pentagon informant after 9/11 of attacking "seven countries in five years." Those in chaos through US attacks or attempted "liberation" were on the list, a few more to go and they are a bit behind schedule. All responsible for this Armageddon should be answering for their actions in shackles and yellow jump suits in The Hague.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-and-conspiracy-theories-it-is-a-conspiracy/29596

    Formerly T-Bear | Sep 12, 2016 6:23:51 AM | 6
    |~b~ Thank you for putting Debsisdead's comment @ 135 prior post into readable form. Failing eyesight made the original in its extended format difficult to read.

    Reference Debsisdead comment:

    Your definition of neoliberal would be nice to have. Usually it is used as ephemerally as a mirage, to appear in uncountable numbers of meaning.

    Having determined your definition of neoliberal, are you sure it WAS neoliberal rather than a hegemonic entity? Neoliberal seems best used as the reactionary faux historic liberalism as applied to economic agendas (neocon is the political twin for neoliberal, libertarian had been previously been co-opted).

    Instead of F•UK•US•i, maybe a F•UK•UZoP would suffice (France•United Kingdom•United Zionist occupied Palestine) given the spheres of influence involved.

    Agree with your observations about the limited mentality of dualism; manichaeism is a crutch for disabled minds unaware and blind to subtle distinctions that comprise spectrums.

    Though not paying close attention to Syrian history, it was Hafez al-Assad who became master of the Syrian Ba'athist coup d'état and politically stabilised Syria under Ba'athist hegemony. In the midst of the 'Arab-spring' zeitgeist, an incident involving a child with security forces led to a genuine public outcry being suppressed by state security forces. This incident, quickly settled became cause célèbre for a subsequent revolt, initially by SAA dissidents but soon thereafter by external interests having the motive of regime overthrow of Syrian Ba'athists and their leadership. Other narratives generally make little sense though may contain some factors involved; the waters have been sufficiently muddied as to obscure many original factors - possibly Bashar al-Assad's awareness of his security forces involvement in US rendition and torture as to compromise his immediately assuming command of his security forces in the original public protest over the child. Those things are now well concealed under the fogs of conflict and are future historians to sort.

    I consider Bashar al-Assad the legitimate Syrian President and attempts to remove him by external interests as grounds for charges of crimes against humanity, crimes of war.

    The opinions expressed are my own.

    falcemartello | Sep 12, 2016 6:41:48 AM | 7
    Classic western sheeple disconnect. As one of the bloggers rightly stated Wesley Clarke spilled the whole beans and revealed their true ilk. 7 countries in 5 years. How coincidental post 9/11. This total disconnect with global realities is a massive problem in the west cause the 86000 elite /oligarchs r pushing for a war with both the bears/ Russian and Chinese along with Iran. These countries have blatantly stated they will not be extorted by fascism. All western countries r all living a Corporate state. Just look all around every facet of our society is financialised. Health ,education , public services.
    Wake up cause if we dont we will be extinct Nuclear winter
    Mikael | Sep 12, 2016 6:41:56 AM | 8
    I am of syrian origin, born in Beirut Lebanon. My family lived a happy life there, but shortly after I was born, Israel invaded Lebanon, and my family fled and emigrated to Europe, I was 1 year old. I call major bullshit on your piece.
    Demeter | Sep 12, 2016 8:00:26 AM | 9
    If you say "Assad was flirting with Neo Liberalism" then this is actually a compliment to Assad. Why? Because he wanted to win time. He wanted to prevent the same happening to Syria that has happened to Iraq. At that time there was no other protective power around. Russia was still busy recovering.

    What do you think would have happened had Assad not pretended he would go along? Syria would have been bombed to pieces right then. Why did Assad change his mind later and refused to cooperate with Qatar, Saudi and US? Because the balance of power was about to change. Iran and Russia were rising powers (mainly in the military field).

    I could say so much more. I stopped reading your post when you mentioned that your Palestinian friend ( I know the neighbourhood in Damascus, it is called Yarmouk and it is indeed a very nice suburb) does not have Syrian citizenship. Do you know why Palaestinians don't get Syrian citizenship? Because they are supposed to return to their homeland Palestine.

    And they can only do that as Palestinians and not as Syrians. That is why.

    And that so many (not all!) Palestinians chose to backstab the country that has hosted them and fed them and gave them a life for so many years, and fought side by side with islamist terrorists and so called Free Syrian Army traitors is a human error, is based on false promises, is lack of character and honour and understanding of the broader context and interests. How will some of these fools and misguided young men feel when they realise that they have played right into the hand of their biggest enemy, the Zionists.

    I would like to remind some of you who might have forgotten that famous incident described by Robert Fisk years ago, when a Syrian Officer told him upon the capture of some of these "freedom fighters' on Syrian soil, one of them said: "I did not know that Palestine was so beautiful", not realising that he was not fighting in Palestine but in Syria.

    And as for "Islamic Fundamentalism", it is this abnormal form of Islam that is purely based on racism and not the other way around. Islamic fundamentalists call everybody, and I mean everybody, who is not living according to their rule a non-believer, a Takfiri, who does not deserver to live.

    Here is racism for you debsisdead.

    AtaBrit | Sep 12, 2016 8:00:59 AM | 10
    Though reluctant to get involved in what seems to be for some a personal spat, I would like to point out one fundemental point that renders the above published and counter arguments difficult to comprehend which is that they lack a time frame.
    The 'Syrian opposition' or what ever you wish to call it is not now what it was 6 years ago. Thus, for me, at least, it is not possible to discuss the make up of the opposition unless there are some time frames applied.

    An example is a Syrian who was an officer in the FSA but fled to Canada last year. He fled the Syrian conflict over 3 years ago to Turkey -which is how I know him - where he did not continue ties with any group. He simply put his head down and worked slavishly living at his place of work most of the time to escape to Canada - he feared remaining in Istanbul. He claimed that he and others had all been taken in by promises and that the conflict had been usurped by extremists. He was not a headchopper, he was not the beheader of 12 year old children. He was and is a devout Muslim. He was a citizen of Aleppo city. I know him and of him through other local Syrians in Istanbul and believe his testimony. I mention him only to highlight that the conflict is not what it was, not what some intended it to be ... Nor is it what some paint it to be. There are many who fight whomever attacks their community be they pro / anti Government. - Arabs especially have extended village communities/ tribes and pragmatically they 'agree' to be occupied as long as they are allowed to continue their lives in peace. If conflict breaks out they fight whomever is necessary.

    DebIsDead makes some very excellent points in his/her comments. They deserve appraisal and respectful response. It is also clear thar he/she is writing defensively in some parts and those detract from what is actually being said.

    Cresty | Sep 12, 2016 8:41:04 AM | 12
    The piece suffers from several errors. As demeter said Posted by: Demeter @14, the flirrting with neoliberalism bought them time as neocons were slavering for a new target. It also made the inner circle a ridiculous amount of money. Drought made life terrible for many rural syrians. When the conflict started, if you read this website you'd notice people wondering what was going on and as facts unfolded. realizing that Assad was the lesser of two evils, and as the war has gone on, look like an angel in comparison to the opposition.

    You can't change the fact that it took less than 2 years for the opposition to be dominated by both foreign and domestic takfiris who wanted to impose saudi style culture on an open relatively prosperous cosmopolitan country. They've succeeded in smashing it to pieces. Snuff your balanced account and your bold anti racism

    Northern Observer | Sep 12, 2016 8:52:18 AM | 14
    Salafism is Racism. It de-egitimizes the entire anti Assad revolution.
    Felicity | Sep 12, 2016 9:22:01 AM | 15
    Wesley Clark's "seven countries in five years" transcript for anyone who has forgotten: http://genius.com/General-wesley-clark-seven-countries-in-five-years-annotated
    Jackrabbit | Sep 12, 2016 10:06:55 AM | 17
    Debsisdead sets up a strawman - racism against Islamic fundamentalists and validity of opposition against Assad - and uses this to sidestep that the armed conflict originated with scheming by foreign governments to use extremists as a weapon.

    Furthermore, Debsisdead sets up the same "binary division" that he says he opposes by tarnishing those who oppose using extremists as a weapon of state as Assad loving racists. The plot was described by Sy Hersh in 2007 in "The Redirection" .

    ruralito | Sep 12, 2016 10:10:18 AM | 18
    "If you want to call me a Zionist lackey of the imperialists or whatever it was go right ahead - it is only yourself who you tarnish, I'm secure in the knowledge of my own work against imperialism, corporate domination and Zionism but perhaps you, who have a need to throw aspersions are not?" Passive-aggressive much?

    The fight IS "binary". You support Assad and his fighters, the true rebels, or you don't. Calling Assad a "hack" is a slander of a veritable hero. Watch his interviews. Assad presides over a multi-cultural, multi-confessional, diverse, secular state, PRECISELY what the Reptilians claim they cherish.

    TG | Sep 12, 2016 10:22:59 AM | 20
    "the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians." - on that we can agree.

    It continues to annoy me that the primary trigger for the civil war in Syria has been totally censored from the press. The government deliberately ignited a population explosion, making the sale or possession of condoms or birth control pills illegal and propagandizing that it was every woman's patriotic duty to have six kids. The population doubled every 18 years, from 5 million to 10 million to 20 million and then at 22 the water ran out and things fells apart. Syria is a small country mostly arid plateau, in principle it could be developed to support even more people just not in that amount of time and with the resources that the Syrians actually had.

    No the issue was not 'climate change'. The aquifers in Syria had been falling for years, even when rainfall was above normal. Don't blame the weather.

    "The more the merrier" - tell me exactly how people having more children than they can support creates wealth? It doesn't and it never has.

    Whenever governments treat their people as if they were cattle, demanding that they breed the 'correct' number of children rather than making the decision based on their own desires and judgement of how many they can support, the result is always bad.

    Assad treated the people of Syria as if they were cattle. Surely this deserves mention?

    Diana | Sep 12, 2016 10:23:43 AM | 21
    Cultural "left" bullshit at its best. Cultural "leftists" don't need to know any hostory or have any understanding of a political issue: it's sufficient to pull out a few details from the NATO press and apply their grad school "oppression" analysis.
    juliania | Sep 12, 2016 10:26:32 AM | 22
    Thanks to b for posting the comment of Debs is Dead. The point I would take issue with is where he states "I realize many have quite foolishly IMO, adopted President Assad as some sort of model of virtue. . ."

    I don't believe this is a correct realization. I think the many to whom he refers know very well that any person in leadership of a country can be found to have flaws, major and minor, and even to have more of such than the average mortal. The crucial counterpoint, however, which used to be raised fairly often, is that it is the acceptance of the majority of the people governed by such leaders that ought to be the international norm for diplomatic relations.

    I respect the knowledge DiD has gained from his Syrian friends and contacts. But I also remember a man called Chilabi and am very leery of destabilization attempts this country has been engaged in lo these many generations, using such displaced persons as surrogates. And rather than properly mourn the 9/11 victims and brave firemen and rescuers of that terrible day, I find myself mourning the larger tragedy of unnecessary wars launched as a consequence of our collective horror at that critical moment in our history.

    Can we please stop doing this?

    Wizzy | Sep 12, 2016 10:35:49 AM | 23
    After making sound point about black-and-white worldview being unrealistic, the guy goes full retard. Position towards Palestinians as the one and only criteria to judge ME developments... C'mon, it's not even funny.

    And while started from a "My Syrian friends" then he goes on reasoning on behalf of one single ex-Palestinian ex-Syrian guy...
    Looks like self-revelation of a kind. Some guy, sitting in Israel, or whatever, waging informational warfare for the Mossad/CIA/NGO who pays his rent.

    ruralito | Sep 12, 2016 10:38:01 AM | 24
    "The government deliberately ignited a population explosion, making the sale or possession of condoms or birth control pills illegal and propagandizing that it was every woman's patriotic duty to have six kids."

    Cite?

    fairleft | Sep 12, 2016 10:58:51 AM | 25
    DiD: "I realize many have quite foolishly IMO, adopted President Assad as some sort of model of virtue. . ." The big reveal is that DiD can't name a single contributor here who has written that Assad is "some sort of model of virtue."

    It doesn't mean he's a saint that Assad is leading the very popular 'secular/multi-confessional Syria' resistance against an extremely well-funded army primarily of non-Syrians who are mainly 'headchoppers' who will stop at nothing to impose Saudi-style religious dictatorship on Syria.

    The 'moderate' opposition to Assad has largely disappeared (back into the loyal opposition that does NOT want a Saudi-style state imposed on Syria), but those who remain in armed rebellion surely must know that they are a powerless, very small portion of what is in fact mercenary army completely subservient to the needs and directives of its primary funders/enablers, the US and Saudi Arabia. So whatever their original noble intentions, they've become part of the Saudi/US imperial problem.

    Krollchem | Sep 12, 2016 11:35:06 AM | 28
    @ rg the lg 33

    Thanks for addressing the problem of angry comments by some posters who just want to throw verbal grenades is unacceptable. I hope this site continues to be a great source for sharing information and ideas.

    paul | Sep 12, 2016 11:40:49 AM | 29
    Why in God's name was this pointless comment by Debs is Dead promoted this way?!!! The only point being made, that I can see, is that the war in Syria does have some legitimate issues at its root. WELL OF COURSE IT DOES. The Hegemon rarely to never makes up civil unrest in countries it wants to overthrow out of whole cloth. They take some dispute that is already there and ramp it up; this process escalates until it turns into some form of a proxy war or coup. In other words, the domestic political process is DISTORTED until it is no longer remotely recognizable as a domestic process.

    So sure, if the US and its allies had not stoked political factionism in Syria into a global proxy war, we could discuss the fine details of the Syrian domestic process very usefully. At this point, though, IT IS IRRELEVANT.

    I do agree on one point: Assad joins the horrendous list of overlords who thought they could make a deal with the Hegemon on their own terms. Assad will pay for that mistake with his life very soon I would guess and I think that Putin will too, though that might take a little longer. If they had chosen to stand on principle as Chavez did, maybe they would be dead as Chavez is (possibly done in, who knows), but they'd be remembered with honor as Chavez is.

    MadMax2 | Sep 12, 2016 12:16:07 PM | 33
    It is a shame no one stood up for Libya, for a surviving Gaddafi would have emerged considerably stronger - as Assad eventually will.

    Whatever genuine opposition there was has long been hijacked by opportunistic takfiris, wahabbists and there various paymasters. And so as ruralito says @25: "The fight IS "binary...". The fight is indeed binary, the enemy is plural. Assad versus the many appearances of both the first and fourth kind.

    Appearances to the mind are of four kinds.
    Things either are what they appear to be;
    or they neither are, nor appear to be;
    or they are, and do not appear to be;
    or they are not, and yet appear to be.
    Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task.

    ~Epictetus

    Where there is obfuscation lay the enemy, hence Russia's long game of identification.

    FecklessLeft | Sep 12, 2016 12:54:18 PM | 36
    Does anyone remember the essay posted on this site a while back titled "The Feckless Left?" I don't believe B posted it, but if memory serves it's posted front and centre on the navigation bar beside this piece?

    It really hammers those people like Tariq Ali, who while surely having legitimate grievances against the Assad govt, opened the door for legitimation of foreign sponsored war. They thought that funneling millions of dollars worth of training, weapons and mercs would open the door for another secular govt, but this time much 'better.' Surely.

    No one thinks Assad is great. I really have trouble understanding where that notion comes from. It's just that the alternative is surely much worse. Lots of people didn't like Ghaddafi but jesus, I'm sure most Libyans would wish they could turn back the clock (at the risk of putting words in their mouths). It's not binary, no one sees this as good vs evil, its just that its become so painfully obvious at this point that if the opposition wins Syria will be so fucked in every which way. Those with real, tangible grievances are never going to have their voices heard. It will become the next Libya, except the US and it's clients will actually have a say in what's left of the political body in the country if you could even label it that at that point (which is quite frightenening in my eyes. Libya is already a shit show and they don't have much of a foothold there besides airstrikes and that little coastal base for the GNA to have their photo ops).

    I find it ironic that when criticisms are levelled at Assad from the left they usually point out things that had he done more of, and worse of, he probably would be free of this situation and still firmly in power. If he had bowed down to Qatar and the KSA/USA I wonder if the 'armed opposition' would still have their problems with him? That's the ultimate irony to me. If he had accepted the pipelines, the privatization regimes, etc. would they still be hollering his name? It's very sad that even with the balancing act he did his country has been destroyed. Even if the SAA is able to come out on top at this point, the country is wholly destroyed. What's even the point of a having a 'legitimate' or 'illegitimate' opposition when they're essentially fighting over scraps now. I'd be surprised if they could rebuild the country in 120 years. Libya in my eyes will never be what it once was. It'll never have the same standards of living after being hit with a sledgehammer.

    I don't mean to be ironic or pessimistic, its just a sad state of affairs all around and everyday it seems more and more unlikely that any halfway decent solution for the POPULATION OF SYRIA, not Assad, will come out of this.. It's like, I'm no nationalist, but in many countries I kind of would rather that than the alternative. Ghaddafi wasn't great but his people could've been a lot worse of - and ARE a lot worse of now. I'm no Assad fan, but my god look what the alternative is here. If it wasnt 95% foreign sponsored maybe id see your point.

    Read the essay posted on the left there. "Syria, the Feckless Left" IIRC. I thought that summed up my thoughts well enough.

    And guys, even if you agree with me please refrain from the name calling. It makes those of you with a legitimate rebuttal seem silly and wrong. I've always thought MoA was so refreshing because it was (somewhat) free of that. At least B is generating discussion. I kind of appreciate that. It's nice to hear ither views, even if they are a little unrealistic and pro violent and anti democratic.

    FecklessLeft | Sep 12, 2016 1:01:58 PM | 37
    QUICK DOUBLE POST

    An example of an armed opposition with legitimate grievances that is far from perfect but still very sympathetic (in my eyes) is hizbollah. They have real problems to deal with. While they recieve foreign sponsorship they aren't a foreign group the way the Syrian opposition is. And they will be all but destroyed when their supply lines from Syria are cut off. I wonder how that fits in with OPs post.

    Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 12, 2016 1:02:25 PM | 38
    What makes Debs is Dead's turgid comment so irrational is that it endorses Regime Change in Syria as an ongoing, but necessary and inevitable, "good". But in doing so it tip-toes around the fact that it doesn't matter how Evil an elected President is, or is not, it's up to the the people who elected him to decide when they've had enough. It most certainly is NOT Neoconned AmeriKKKa's concern.

    Debs also 'forgot' to justify totally wrecking yet another of many ME countries because of perceived and imaginary character flaws in a single individual.

    It does not compute; but then neither does "Israel's" 70 year (and counting) hate crime, The Perpetual Palestinian Holohoax.

    ruralito | Sep 12, 2016 1:07:59 PM | 39
    @Shh, since you're so conveniently ensconced above the fray, perhaps you can see something we "nattering fuck wits" can't. Do tell.
    Stillnottheonly1 | Sep 12, 2016 1:47:35 PM | 40
    Whatever happened to the age old expression that one has to walk in someone else's shoes to understand their walk in life?

    In an all too obvious fashion, another arm chair expert is blessing the world with his/her drivel.

    To make it as concise as possible:

    What would you have done in Assad's position? The U.S. is trying to annex Syria since 1948 and never gave up on the plan to convert it to what the neo-fascists turned Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and the Republic of Yugoslavia - whereas Yemen is still in the making, together with Ukraine, Turkey and Africa as a whole.

    In the light of U.S. 'foreign policy', the piece reeks of the stench of obfuscation.

    MadMax2 | Sep 12, 2016 2:02:43 PM | 41
    @47 Hoarsewhisperer

    Debs also 'forgot' to justify totally wrecking yet another of many ME countries because of perceived and imaginary character flaws in a single individual.

    We shouldn't be surprised. Even a basic pragmatic approach to this conflict has been lost by many in the one sided, over the top shower of faeces that is the western MSM.

    It does not compute; but then neither does "Israel's" 70 year (and counting) hate crime, The Perpetual Palestinian Holohoax.

    All that land, all that resource...and a unifying language. Amazing. If only the Arab world could unite for the collective good of the region we might witness a rogue state in an abrupt and full decline. A sad tactic of colonial powers over the years, setting the native tribes upon each other. We've not evolved here.

    Copeland | Sep 12, 2016 3:26:34 PM | 43
    It is impossible for any one of us to possess the whole picture, which is why we pool our experience, and benefit from these discussions. The thing I see at the root of the Syrian war is the process of ethnic cleansing. In many cases that involve murderous prejudice, it erupts as civil war; but in recent history the foreign policy of powerful nations is aimed at sponsoring social disintegration within the borders of targeted countries.

    Ethnic cleansing means destruction of culture, of historical memory, the forced disappearance of communities that were rooted in a place.

    The objectives of the perpetrators have nothing to do with the convictions of the fundamentalists who do the dirty work; and the sectarian and mercenary troops are merely the tools of those who are creating hell on earth.

    I agree with what papa wrote at the top of this thread:

    why you think your article is different from others senseless name-calling,[?] i see exactly the same. This war is about destroying real history, civilization, culture and replacing with fake. The war in Yemen is the same. Who in that region wants to replace real history with fake. Think about it. Most Islamic,Christian, Assyrian history is systematically being destroyed.
    Compare President Assad's leadership to that of the western, or Saudi, sponsors of terror; or measure his decisions against those of the hodgepodge of rebels and mercenaries, with their endless internal squabbles and infighting. Assad is so much more of a spokesman for the rights of sovereignty, and his words carry more weight and outshine the banalities that spring from the mouths of those who are paying the bills, and supplying weapons, and giving all kinds of diplomatic comfort to the enemies of the Syrian government.

    Debsisdead has always brought much food for thought to this watering hole. I have always respected him, and I think he has a fine mind. Nonetheless, despite the valuable contribution of this piece as a beginning place, in which we might reevaluate some of our presumptions, I maintain there are a few errors which stand out, and ought to be discussed.

    I call into question these two points:

    (1) Just because someone chooses an option that you disagree with does not make them evil or headchoppers or Islamofacist.
    Up thread @14, we were reminded of Robert Fisk's report about misdirected, misinformed "freedom fighters" naively wandering around in Syria, while thinking that they were fighting in Palestine. In this ruin of Syria, where the well-intentioned are captured, or co-opted into evil acts against the civilian population, --is it really incumbent upon us, --from where we sit, to agonize over the motives of those who are committing the actual atrocities against the defenseless? What is the point?
    (2) On balance I would rather see Assad continue as leader of Syria but I'm not so naive as to believe he is capable of finding a long term resolution, or that there are not a good number of self interested murderous sadists in his crew. By the same token I don't believe all of those resisting the Ba'athist administration are headchopping jihadists or foreign mercenaries. This war is about 5 years old. If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago.

    There is no need for sorting things into absolutes of good and evil. But there is a condition under which fewer, a lot fewer, humans would have died in Syria, Without foreign interference--money, weapons, and training--Assad's government would have won this war quite a while ago.

    Copeland | Sep 12, 2016 4:01:33 PM | 46
    I very much agree with what Demeter wrote @ 14:
    And as for "Islamic Fundamentalism", it is this abnormal form of Islam that is purely based on racism and not the other way around. Islamic fundamentalists call everybody, and I mean everybody, who is not living according to their rule a non-believer, a Takfiri, who does not deserver to live.
    Fundamentalism is never satisfied until it can become a tyranny over the mind. Racism and fundamentalism are as American as apple pie. You have to take a close look at who is pouring oil on this fire!
    Kuma | Sep 12, 2016 4:05:35 PM | 47
    @9
    I disagree with you in that neoliberalism is seriously not difficult to define. It boils down to belief that public programs are bad/'inefficient' and that society would be better served by privatizing many things(or even everything) and opening services up to 'competition'. It's mainly just cover for parasites to come in and get rich off of the masses misery. The 'neoliberalism is just a snarl word' meme is incredibly stupid, since plenty of books and articles have been written explicitly defining it.

    "Having determined your definition of neoliberal, are you sure it WAS neoliberal rather than a hegemonic entity?"

    American economic hegemony is inherently neoliberal, and has been for decades. The IMF is essentially an international loan shark that gives countries money on the condition that they dismantle their public spending apparatus and let the market run things.

    Laguerre | Sep 12, 2016 4:11:58 PM | 48
    I usually enjoy DiD's rants (rant in the nice sense), but in this case he is wrong. His remarks are out of date.

    No doubt he has Syrian friends in NZ, including the Syro-Palestinian he mentions. They will have been living their past vision of Syria for some time. Yes, back in 2011, there was a big vision of a future democratic Syria among the intellectuals. However those who fight for the rebellion are not middle class (who left) but rural Islamist Sunnis, who have a primitive al-Qa'ida style view.

    The Syrian civil war is quite like the Spanish civil war. It started with noble republicans, including foreigners like Orwell, fighting against nasty Franco, but finished with Stalin's communists fighting against Nazi-supported fascists.

    The situation is different now. One Syrian lady, who came to see me in April, who lives in California, told me that her father, who was a big pre-war oppositionist, now just wants to return to Syria to die. There's no question. if you want peace in Syria, Asad is the only choice. The jihadis, who dominate the opposition, don't offer an alternative.

    john | Sep 12, 2016 4:18:12 PM | 50
    james says:

    must be a '''slow''' news day...

    yeah, did you read that the American Imperium bombed 6 Muslim countries last Saturday?

    Laguerre | Sep 12, 2016 4:51:42 PM | 51
    Noirette comes close to identifying one of the issues that kicked off the conflict, that the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians.
    The Ba'thist regime is a mafia of the family, not a dictatorship of Bashshar. Evidently their own interest plays a premier role, but otherwise why not in favour of the Syrian people? There's lot of evidence in favour of Syrian peace.
    fast freddy | Sep 12, 2016 4:53:30 PM | 52
    The lesson of Viet Nam was to keep the dead and wounded off the six o'clock news.

    The jackals are going in. Another coup. Syria was on the list. Remap the Middle East. Make it like Disney World. Israel as Mad King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein.

    Islam and its backward dictates, and Christianity with its backward dictates and Manifest Destiny are problematic.

    Curtis | Sep 12, 2016 7:22:18 PM | 55
    I may be white and I may be a fella but don't believe I'm in the fold as described. Fundamentalists of any sort are free to believe as they will but when they force it on others via gun, govt, societal pressures, violence there's trouble. I've seen comparisons to the extremes from Christianity's past with the excuse of Islam as being in its early years. No excuses. Fundies out. But we don't see that in places like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Facts on the ground rule. Iran had a bit more moderation but only under the tyrant Shah. A majority may have voted for the Islamic Republic and all that entails but what of the minority?
    BTW, where are the stories (links) that show Bashar has embraced neoliberalism? In the end, DiD reduced to pointing to two evils (with multi-facets) and it looks like Assad is the lesser. But who can come up with a solution for a country so divided and so infiltrated by outsiders? And here in the US, look at the choice of future leaders that so many do not want. Where is the one who will lead the US out of its BS? And who will vote for him/her?
    Jen | Sep 12, 2016 7:39:57 PM | 57
    Thanks to B for republishing the comment from Debsisdead. The comment raises some issues about how people generally see the war in Syria, if they know of it, as some sort of real-life video game substitute for bashing one side or another.

    I am not sure though that Debsisdead realises the full import of what s/he has said and that much criticism s/he makes about comments in MoA comments forums could apply equally to what s/he says and has said in the past.

    I don't think anyone who comments here regularly ever assumed that Bashar al Assad was a knight in white shining armour. Most of us are aware of how he came to be President and that his father did rule the country from 1971 to 2000 with an iron fist. Some if not most also know that initially when Bashar al Assad succeeded to the Presidency, he did have a reformist agenda in mind. How well or not he succeeded in putting that across, what compromises he had to make, who or what opposed him, how he negotiated his way between and among various and opposed power structures in Syrian politics we do not know.

    Yes, I have trouble reconciling the fact that Bashar al Assad's government did allow CIA renditioning with his reformist agenda in my own head. That is something he will have to come to terms with in the future. I don't know if Assad was naive, under pressure or willing, even eager in agreeing to cooperate with the CIA, or trying to buy time to prepare for invasion once Iraq was down. Whether Assad also realises that he was duped by the IMF and World Bank in following their advice on economic "reforms" (such as privatising Syria's water) is another thing as well.

    But one thing that Debsisdead has overlooked is the fact that Bashar al Assad is popular among the Syrian public, who returned him as President in multi-candidate direct elections held in June 2014 with at least 88% of the vote (with a turnout of 73%, better than some Western countries) and who confirmed his popularity in parliamentary elections held in April 2016 with his Ba'ath Party-led coalition winning roughly two-thirds of seats.

    The fact that Syrians themselves hold Assad in such high regard must say something about his leadership that has endeared him to them. If as Debsisdead suggests, Assad practises self-interested "realpolitik" like so many other Middle Eastern politicians, even to the extent of offering reconciliation to jihadis who lay down their weapons and surrender, how has he managed to survive and how did Syria manage to hold off the jihadis and US-Turkish intervention and supply before requesting Russian help?

    fairleft | Sep 12, 2016 8:03:18 PM | 59
    Copeland @58: I don't see why you call the problem "Islamic fundamentalism" when in fact it is Sunni fundamentalism. Admittedly it's tough to 'name' the problem. I'm sure I speak for most here that the problem isn't fundamentalism but 'warring imperialist fundamentalist and misogynist Sunni Islam' that is the problem.

    It'd be nice to have a brief and accurate way of saying what this is: 'Saudi Arabia violently exporting its worst form of Islam'.

    Copeland | Sep 12, 2016 8:28:41 PM | 60
    fairleft, @75

    When people refer to Christian fundamentalism they use the broad term as well. Nothing is otherwise wrong with denominational belief, if past a certain point it is not fundamentalist. You say the problem is not fundamentalism, but something else. Indeed, the problem is fundamentalism.

    Manifest Destiny is fundamentalism. There are even atheist fundamentalists. "Full Spectrum Dominance" and other US Military doctrines are fundamentalist in nature. We are awash in fundamentalism, consumerist fundamentalism, capitalist fundamentalism. If we are unlucky and don't succeed in changing the path we are on; then we will understand too late the inscription that appeared in the Temple of Apollo: "Nothing too much".

    Kalen | Sep 12, 2016 8:31:13 PM | 61
    They say that the first casualty of war is truth and from what I read in comments such a mental state prevails among readers, they see Assad, quite reasonably, as the only one who can end this horrible war and the only one who is really interested in doing so while US and even seemingly Russia seems to treat this conflict as a instrument of global geopolitical struggle instigated by US imperial delusions.

    But of course one cannot escape conclusion that although provoked by the CIA operation Bashir Assad failed years befor 2011 exactly because, living in London, did not see neoliberalism as an existential threat ad his father did but a system that has its benefits and can be dealt with, so for a short while Saddam, Gaddafi and Mubarak thought while they were pampered by western elites.

    Now Assad is the only choice I'd Syrians want to keep what would resemble unified Syrian state since nobody else seems to care.

    Another interesting element that was touched upon is attitude to Israel and its US perceived role, but for that one needs deeper background starting from before 1948.
    https://contrarianopinion.wordpress.com/history-revisited/

    Quadriad | Sep 12, 2016 8:42:29 PM | 62
    I have no doubt that Assad was little more than a crude Arab strongman/dictator prince back in the 2011 when the uprising started. Since then, he has evolved into a committed, engaged defender of his country against multilateral foreign aggression, willingly leaving his balls in the vice and all.

    He could have fled the sinking ship many times so far. Instead, he decided to stay and fight the Takfiri river flowing in through the crack, and risk going down with the ship he inherited. The majority of the Syrians know this very well.

    Bashar of 2016 (not so much the one of 5 1/2 years ago) would not only win the next free elections, but destroy any opposition. The aggressors know that as a fact.

    Which is precisely why he "must go" prior to any such elections. He would be invincible.

    redrooster | Sep 12, 2016 9:01:21 PM | 63
    Dear Debs is Dead,

    you wrote:

    "This war is about 5 years old. If either side were so simplistically good or evil it would have ended a long time ago."

    Question to you:

    if Syria had control over its borders with Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Iraq would the war have ended a long time ago ? Answer honestly.

    If yes, then the so-called "opposition" of the union of headchoppers does not represent a significant portion of the Syrian people. Were it otherwise Assad wouldnt be able to survive a single year, let alone 5. With or without foreign help.

    Quadriad | Sep 12, 2016 10:00:23 PM | 65
    #46 FecklessLeft

    And that, my friend, may be the biggest oft ignored cui bono of the entire Syrian war.

    If Assad goes:

    1. Syria falls apart. Western Golan has no more debtor nation to be returned to as far as the UN go. It immediately becomes fee simple property of the occupying entity, for as long as the occupier shall exist (and, with Western Golan included, that might be a bit longer perchance...).
    2. Hizbullah loses both its best supply line and all the strategic depth it might have as well as the only ally anywhere close enough to help. It becomes a military non-entity. Who benefits?

    I think this cui bono (and a double one at that!) is a $100 difficulty level question, although it feels like a $64k one.

    Bill Hicks | Sep 12, 2016 10:31:21 PM | 66
    Best opinion post I've yet read on this site. "Binary division," also very much affects the U.S. election. If you hate Hillary, you must just LOVE Trump, even though many of the best reasons to hate her--her arrogance, her incompetence, her phoniness, her lies, her and Bill's relentless acquisition of great wealth, etc.--are also reasons to hate Trump. Assad is a bastard, Putin is a bastard, Saddam was a bastard--but so are Obama, Netanyahu, Hollande, etc. Is it REALLY that hard to figure out?
    james | Sep 12, 2016 11:09:45 PM | 67
    @ 62 john... we'll have to wait for debs to explain how all that (in your link) adds up, so long as no one calls him any name/s.... i'd like to say 'the anticipation of debs commenting again is killing me', but regardless, killing innocent people in faraway lands thanks usa foreign policy is ongoing..
    Jen | Sep 13, 2016 1:17:04 AM | 71
    OK here is an interesting article from 2011 on Abdallah Dardari, the fellow who persuaded Bashar al Assad to adopt the disastrous neoliberal economic reforms that not only ruined Syria's economy and the country's agriculture in particular but also created an underclass who resented the reforms and who initially joined the "rebels".
    http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2097

    And where is Dardari now? He jumped ship in 2011 and went to Beirut to work for the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). He seems like someone to keep a watchful eye on.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Dardari

    the pair | Sep 13, 2016 2:12:09 AM | 72
    not even sure where to begin...this article is barely worthy of a random facebook post and contains a roughly even mix of straw men and stuff most people already know and don't need dictated to them by random internet folks.

    of COURSE assad flirted with the west. between housing cia rendition houses and the less-than-flattering aspects of the wikileaks "syria files", assad and/or his handlers (family and/or military) have tried a little too hard to "assimilate" to western ideals (or the lack thereof).

    i seriously doubt they will make that mistake again. they saw what happened to al-qaddafi after he tried to play nice and mistook western politicians for human beings. they've learned their lesson and become more ruthless but they were always machiavellians because they have to be. not an endorsement, just an acceptance of how the region is.

    and then there's "just about every ME leader has put expedience ahead of principle with regard to Palestine. Colonel Ghadaffi would be the only leader I'm aware of who didn't". that might be a surprise to nasrallah and a fair share of iran's power base. i'd also say "expedience" is an odd way to describe the simple choice of avoiding israeli/saudi/US aggression in the short term since the alternative would be what we're seeing in syria and libya as we speak. again, not an endorsment of their relative cowardice. just saying i understand the urge to avoid salfist proxy wars.

    [also: israel, the saudis (along with qatar and the other GCC psychopaths in supporting capacity) and the US are the main actors and throwing european "powers" into the circle of actual power does them an undue favor by ignoring their status as pathetic vassal states. "FrUkDeUSZiowhatever" isn't necessary.]

    as for "calling all islamic fundamentalism" "headchopping" being "racist", be sure not to smoke around all those straw men. never mind the inanity of pretending that all islamic "fundamentalism" is the same. never mind conflating religion with ethnicity. outside of typical western sites that lean to the right and are open about it few people would say anything like that. maybe you meant to post this on glenn beck's site?

    whatever. hopefully there won't be more guest posts in the future.

    bigmango | Sep 13, 2016 2:20:54 AM | 73
    I read this site regularly and give thanks to the numerous intelligent posters who share their knowledge of the middle east and Syria in particular. Still, I do try to read alternative views to understand opposition perspectives no matter how biased or damaging these might they appear to the readers of this blog. So in the wake of recent agreements, I try find out what the mainstream media is saying about the Ahrar al-Sham refusal to recognize the US/Russia sponsored peace plan....and type that into google.......and crickets. All that comes up is a single Al-Masdar report.

    Look I know the MSM is utterly controlled - but the extent of that control still shocks at times. It is simply not possible to be "informed" by any normal definition of the word anymore without the alternative media - and for that reason this site serves a valuable purpose and I once again thank the host and contributors.

    Harry | Sep 13, 2016 2:28:44 AM | 74
    The irony is, Assad is 10x smarter and bigger person than Debs. Yes, he made some mistakes, but if not "flirting with neoliberalism", war against Syria would have started many years earlier, when Resistance wasnt ready one bit (neither Russia, nor Iran, while on the other hand US was more powerful).

    The other ironic point, Debs is guilty of many things he blames other for, hence comments about his hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness.

    FecklessLeft | Sep 13, 2016 3:11:57 AM | 77
    The essay I refered to earlier at 45/46 from this site I'll post below. I think it has a lot of bearing on what DiD is implying here. It's DEFINITELY worth a read and is probably the reason why I started appreciating this site in the first place.

    Support for rebel groups was misguided at best at the beginning of the war. One could conceivably not appreciate the capacity of the KSA/USA/Quatar/Israel to influence and control and create these groups. Jesus it's hard for me to think of a single local opposition group that isnt drenched in fanaticism besides the Kurds. But now that we understand the makeup and texture of these groups much more and to continue support, even just in the most minor of ways, is really disheartening.

    There's no way to a solution for the Syrian people, the population not imported that is, if these groups win. I hate to be so binary but its so naive in my eyes to think anything good will come from the long arm of the gulf countries and the USA taking control.

    WORTH A READ. ONE OF THE BEST THINGS EVER POSTED ON MoA.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2013/05/syria-the-feckless-left-.html

    Richard Steven Hack | Sep 13, 2016 3:38:32 AM | 79
    The problem with this post is simple: all this might have been true back when the insurgency STARTED. TODAY it is UTTERLY IRRELEVANT.

    As I've said repeatedly, the GOAL of the Syria crisis for the Western elites, Israel and the ME dictatorships is to take Syria OUT by any means necessary in order to get to IRAN. Nothing else matters to these people. In the same vein, nothing else matters to ninety percent of the CURRENT insurgents than to establish some Salafist state, exterminate the Shia, etc., etc.

    So, yes, right NOW the whole story is about US elites, Zionist "evil", corrupt monarchs, and scumbag fanatics, etc., etc. Until THAT is resolved, nothing about how Syria is being run is going to matter.

    I don't know and have never read ANYONE who is a serious commenter on this issue - and by that I mean NOT the trolls that infest every comment thread on every blog - who seriously thinks Assad is a "decent ruler". At this point it does not matter. He personally does not matter. What matters is that Syria is not destroyed, so that Hizballah is not destroyed, so that Iran is not destroyed, so that Israel rules a fragmented Middle East and eventually destroys the Palestinians and that the US gets all the oil for free. This is what Russia is trying to defend, not Assad.

    And if this leaves a certain percentage of Syrian citizens screwed over by Assad, well, they should have figured that out as much as Assad should have figured out that he never should have tried to get along with the US.

    Frankly, this is a pointless post which is WAY out of date.

    somebody | Sep 13, 2016 5:07:06 AM | 80
    Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Sep 13, 2016 3:38:32 AM | 79

    In the same vein, nothing else matters to ninety percent of the CURRENT insurgents than to establish some Salafist state, exterminate the Shia, etc., etc.

    This obviously is not the case. A recent take of the BBC with some real information on the realities of the war .

    "We had to be fighters," he said, "because we didn't find any other job. If you want to stay inside you need to be a part of the FSA [Free Syrian Army, the group that has closest relations with the West]. Everything is very expensive. They pay us $100 a month but it is not enough.

    "All this war is a lie. We had good lives before the revolution. Anyway this is not a revolution. They lied to us in the name of religion.

    "I don't want to go on fighting but I need to find a job, a house. Everything I have is here in Muadhamiya."

    Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 13, 2016 5:18:29 AM | 81
    ...
    .. who seriously thinks Assad is a "decent ruler". At this point it does not matter. He personally does not matter.
    ...
    Frankly, this is a pointless post which is WAY out of date.
    Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Sep 13, 2016 3:38:32 AM | 79

    Well, according to RSH, who specialises in being wrong...

    Assad does matter because he is the ELECTED leader chosen by the People of Syria in MORE THAN ONE election.
    Did you forget?
    Did you not know?
    Or doesn't any of that "democracy" stuff matter either?

    AtaBrit | Sep 13, 2016 5:24:44 AM | 82
    @TG | 20

    "It continues to annoy me that the primary trigger ..."
    And yet you fail to mention the Muslim Brotherhood or the Turkish water wars ...

    okie farmer | Sep 13, 2016 6:34:41 AM | 84
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-syria-idUSKCN11J0EY

    Israel said its aircraft attacked a Syrian army position on Tuesday after a stray mortar bomb struck the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, and it denied a Syrian statement that a warplane and drone were shot down.

    The air strike was a now-routine Israeli response to the occasional spillover from fighting in a five-year-old civil war, and across Syria a ceasefire was holding at the start of its second day.

    Syria's army command said in a statement that Israeli warplanes had attacked an army position at 1 a.m. on Tuesday (2200 GMT, Monday) in the countryside of Quneitra province.

    The Israeli military said its aircraft attacked targets in Syria hours after the mortar bomb from fighting among factions in Syria struck the Golan Heights. Israel captured the plateau from Syria in a 1967 war.

    The Syrian army said it had shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone after the Israeli attack.

    Denying any of its aircraft had been lost, the Israeli military said in a statement: "Overnight two surface-to-air missiles were launched from Syria after the mission to target Syrian artillery positions. At no point was the safety of (Israeli) aircraft compromised."

    The seven-day truce in Syria, brokered by Russia and the United States, is their second attempt this year by to halt the bloodshed.

    fairleft | Sep 13, 2016 9:33:38 AM | 89
    Copeland @60: No, I don't think the problem is fundamentalism. It's the warring crusade method of spreading a belief's 'empire' that is the problem. This is a problem uniquely of the Saudi 'do whatever it takes' crusade to convert the entire 'Arab and Muslim world' to their worst, most misogynist form of Islam. T

    here are of course many fundamentalists (the Amish and some Mennonites are examples from Christianity) that are not evangelical, or put severe (no violence, no manipulation, no kidnapping, stop pushing if the person says 'no') limits on their evangelism.

    Only the Saudis, or pushers of their version of Islam, seem to put no limits at all on their sect's crusade.

    brian | Sep 13, 2016 9:55:45 AM | 90
    president Assad is a 'decent ruler' and thats the view of most syrians
    papillonweb | Sep 13, 2016 10:01:56 AM | 92
    Just want to mention that from the beginning there were people who took up arms against the government. This is why the situation went out of control. People ambushed groups of young soldiers. Snipers of unknown origin fired on police and civilians.

    There are plenty of people in the United States right now who are just as oppressed - I would wager more so - than anyone in Syria. Immigrants from the south are treated horribly here. There are still black enclaves in large cities where young men are shot by the police on a daily basis for suspicious behavior and minor driving infractions. And then there are the disenfranchised white folks in the Teaparty who belong to the NRA and insist on 'open carry' of their weapons on the street and train in the back woods for a coming war. Tell me what would happen if there were a guarantor these people found believable who promised them that if they took up arms against the government (and anyone else in the country they felt threatened by) they would be guaranteed to win and become the government of a 'New America'. What if that foreign guarantor were to pay them and improve their armaments while providing political cover.

    I rather like Assad. I won't lie. But, he is not the reason for the insurrection in Syria ~ well, except for his alliances with Russia and Iran and his pipeline decisions and his support for Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. What happened in Syria is happening all over the globe because the nation with the most resources in the world, the self-declared exceptionalist state thinks this is the way to rule the world. . . . because they want to rule and they don't care how much destruction it takes to do so. And lucky for us there is no one big enough and bad enough to do it to us - except for our own government.

    TheRealDonald | Sep 13, 2016 10:08:27 AM | 93
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/un-condemns-assad-syria-abuse_us_57d7c49ce4b0fbd4b7bb50d8?section=&

    Now look what you've done, Debs.

    On to Sebastopol for the One Party!

    fairleft | Sep 13, 2016 10:25:10 AM | 94
    OT, but that was an interesting Sunni Islam conference in Grozny , because it excluded and then 'excommunicated' Salafism and Wahabbism. Amazing!

    "All of the petrodollars Saudi Arabia spends to advance this claim of leadership and the monopolistic use of Islam's greatest holy sites to manufacture a claim of entitlement to Muslim leadership were shattered by this collective revolt from leading Sunni Muslim scholars and institutions who refused to allow extremism, takfir, and terror ideology to be legitimized in their name by a fringe they decided that it is even not part of their community. This is the beginning of a new era of Muslim awakening the Wahhabis spared no efforts and no precious resources to ensure it will never arrive."

    okie farmer | Sep 13, 2016 11:04:04 AM | 96
    Josh Landis Syria Comment
    There were a lot of people posting how Bashar al Assad was doing full neoliberalism. And at was true.
    Noirette | Sep 13, 2016 12:25:52 PM | 99
    Assad (=> group in power), whose stated aim was to pass from a 'socialist' to a 'market' economy. Notes.
    • *decreased public sector employment.* -- was about 30%, went far lower (1) - was a staple: one 'smart' graduate in the family guaranteed a good Gvmt job, could support many.
    • *cut subsidies* (energy, water, housing, food, etc.) drought (2005>) plus these moves threw millions into cities with no jobs.. pre-drought about 20% agri empl. cuts to agri subsidies created the most disruption.
    • …imho was spurred by the sharply declining oil revenues (peak oil..) which accounted for ?, 15% GDP in 2002 for ex to a few slim points edging to nil in 2012, consequences:

    > a. unemployment rose 'n rose (to 35-40% youth? xyz overall?), and social stability was affected by family/extended f/ district etc. organisation being smashed. education health care in poor regions suffered (2)

    > b. small biz of various types went under becos loss of subs, competition from outsiders (free market policy), lack of bank loans it is said by some but idk, and loss of clients as these became impoverished. Syria does not have a national (afaik) unemployment scheme. Assad to his credit set up a cash-transfer thingie to poor families, but that is not a subsitute for 'growing employment..'

    *opened up the country's banking system* (can't treat the details..)

    So Assad was hit by a Tri-horror: global warming, dwindling cash FF resources, and IMF-type pressure, leaving out the trad. enemies, KSA, pipelines , etc. MSM prefer to cover up serious issues with 'ethnic strife' (sunni, shia, black lives matter, etc.)

    1. all nos off the top of my head.

    2. Acceptance of a massive refugee pop. (Pals in the past, Kurds, but numerically important now, Iraqis) plus the high birth rate

    2011> 10 year plan syria in arabic (which i can't read) but look at images and 'supporters' etc.

    http://www.planning.gov.sy/index.php?page=show&ex=2&dir=docs&lang=2&ser=2&cat=172&

    [Sep 14, 2016] The higher level of exploitation of workforce is a staple item of neoliberalism.

    It can not be hidden. Redistribution of wealth up is all the neoliberalism is about.

    So forms of brutal exploitation when people work 12 hours a day (as contractors now, so labor laws do not apply) or when even bathroom breaks are regulated now are more common. In a way, we returned to the brutality of the beginning of XX century on a new level characterized by much higher level of instability of employment. This is true even for neoliberal stooges in economic departments of major universities ;-)

    As interesting question arise: "What form the backlash might take, if any ?"

    I think it is an observable fact that the elite is now somewhat discredited: such personalities as Trump and Sanders first of all signify the level of discreditation of the neoliberal elite. Does this mean the beginning of the crisis of neoliberal governance, the crisis which creates condition for increased social protest? I do not know. The efficiency with which Occupy Wall Street movement was neutered means that the national security state is still pretty effective in suppressing of dissent.

    Atomization of workforce and establishment of national security state after 9/11 so far prevented large organized collective actions (recent riots were not organized, and with the current technical capabilities of the three letter agencies any organization is difficult or impossible). I think that conversion of the state into national security state was the key factor that saved a couple of the most notorious neoliberals from being hanged on the electrical posts in 2008 although I remember slogan "Jump suckers" on the corner of Wall Street.

    While there was some level of harassment, individual beatings of banksters in 2008 were non-existent.

    [Sep 14, 2016] The Global Economic Crisis and the Future of Neoliberal Globalization Rupture Versus Continuity by Ali Burak Güven, Ziya Öni

    papers.ssrn.com

    This article outlines the main elements of rupture and continuity in the global political economy since the global economic crisis of 2008-2009. While the current calamity poses a more systemic challenge to neoliberal globalization than genetically similar turbulences in the semi-periphery during the 1990s, we find that evidence for its transformative significance remains mixed. Efforts to reform the distressed capitalist models in the North encounter severe resistance, and the broadened multilateralism of the G-20 is yet to provide effective global economic governance. Overall, neoliberal globalization looks set to survive, but in more heterodox and multipolar fashion. Without tighter coordination between old and emerging powers, this new synthesis is unlikely to inspire lasting solutions to pressing global problems such as an unsustainable international financial architecture and the pending environmental catastrophe, and may even fail to preserve some modest democratic and developmental gains of the recent past.

    [Sep 14, 2016] Noam Chomsky WikiLeaks Cables Reveal Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Amy Goodman

    Notable quotes:
    "... Perhaps the most dramatic revelation, or mention, is the bitter hatred of democracy that is revealed both by the U.S. Government -- Hillary Clinton, others -- and also by the diplomatic service. ..."
    "... How representative this is of what they say, we don't know, because we do not know what the filtering is. But that's a minor point. But the major point is that the population is irrelevant. ..."
    "... The Tea Party movement itself is, maybe 15% or 20% of the electorate. It's relatively affluent, white, nativist, you know, it has rather traditional nativist streaks to it. But what is much more important, I think, is the outrage. Over half the population says they more or less supported it, or support its message. What people are thinking is extremely interesting. I mean, overwhelmingly polls reveal that people are extremely bitter, angry, hostile, opposed to everything. ..."
    "... The primary cause undoubtedly is the economic disaster. It's not just the financial catastrophe, it's an economic disaster. I mean, in the manufacturing industry, for example, unemployment levels are at the level of the Great Depression. And unlike the Great Depression, those jobs are not coming back. U.S. owners and managers have long ago made the decision that they can make more profit with complicated financial deals than by production. So finance -- this goes back to the 1970s, mainly Reagan escalated it, and onward -- Clinton, too. The economy has been financialized. ..."
    "... Financial institutions have grown enormously in their share of corporate profits. It may be something like a third, or something like that today. At the same time, correspondingly, production has been exported. So you buy some electronic device from China. China is an assembly plant for a Northeast Asian production center. The parts and components come from the more advanced countries and from the United States, and the technology . So yes, that's a cheap place to assemble things and sell them back here. Rather similar in Mexico, now Vietnam, and so on. That is the way to make profits. ..."
    "... The antagonism to everyone is extremely high -- actually antagonism -- the population doesn't like Democrats, but they hate Republicans even more. They're against big business. They're against government. They're against Congress. ..."
    www.chomsky.info
    AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Noam Chomsky, world-renowned dissident, author of more than 100 books, speaking to us from Boston. Noam, you wrote a piece after the midterm elections called Outrage Misguided. I want to read for you now what Sarah Palin tweeted Ð the former Alaskan governor, of course, and Republication vice presidential nominee. This is what she tweeted about WikiLeaks. Rather, she put it on Facebook. She said, "First and foremost, what steps were taken to stop WikiLeaks' director Julian Assange from distributing this highly-sensitive classified material, especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months? Assange is not a journalist any more than the editor of the Al Qaeda's new English-language magazine ÒInspire,Ó is a journalist. He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders? Noam Chomsky, your response?

    NOAM CHOMSKY: That's pretty much what I would expect Sarah Palin to say. I don't know how much she understands, but I think we should pay attention to what we learn from the leaks. What we learned, for example, is kinds of things I've said. Perhaps the most dramatic revelation, or mention, is the bitter hatred of democracy that is revealed both by the U.S. Government -- Hillary Clinton, others -- and also by the diplomatic service.

    To tell the world well, they're talking to each other -- to pretend to each other that the Arab world regards Iran as the major threat and wants the U.S. to bomb Iran, is extremely revealing, when they know that approximately 80% of Arab opinion regards the U.S. and Israel as the major threat, 10% regard Iran as the major threat, and a majority, 57%, think the region would be better off with Iranian nuclear weapons as a kind of deterrent. That is does not even enter. All that enters is what they claim has been said by Arab dictators -- brutal Arab dictators. That is what counts.

    How representative this is of what they say, we don't know, because we do not know what the filtering is. But that's a minor point. But the major point is that the population is irrelevant. All that matters is the opinions of the dictators that we support. If they were to back us, that is the Arab world. That is a very revealing picture of the mentality of U.S. political leadership and, presumably, the lead opinion, judging by the commentary that's appeared here, that's the way it has been presented in the press as well. It does not matter with the Arabs believe.

    AMY GOODMAN: Your piece, Outrage Misguided. Back to the midterm elections and what we're going to see now. Can you talk about the tea party movement?

    NOAM CHOMSKY: The Tea Party movement itself is, maybe 15% or 20% of the electorate. It's relatively affluent, white, nativist, you know, it has rather traditional nativist streaks to it. But what is much more important, I think, is the outrage. Over half the population says they more or less supported it, or support its message. What people are thinking is extremely interesting. I mean, overwhelmingly polls reveal that people are extremely bitter, angry, hostile, opposed to everything.

    The primary cause undoubtedly is the economic disaster. It's not just the financial catastrophe, it's an economic disaster. I mean, in the manufacturing industry, for example, unemployment levels are at the level of the Great Depression. And unlike the Great Depression, those jobs are not coming back. U.S. owners and managers have long ago made the decision that they can make more profit with complicated financial deals than by production. So finance -- this goes back to the 1970s, mainly Reagan escalated it, and onward -- Clinton, too. The economy has been financialized.

    Financial institutions have grown enormously in their share of corporate profits. It may be something like a third, or something like that today. At the same time, correspondingly, production has been exported. So you buy some electronic device from China. China is an assembly plant for a Northeast Asian production center. The parts and components come from the more advanced countries and from the United States, and the technology . So yes, that's a cheap place to assemble things and sell them back here. Rather similar in Mexico, now Vietnam, and so on. That is the way to make profits.

    It destroys the society here, but that's not the concern of the ownership class and the managerial class. Their concern is profit. That is what drives the economy. The rest of it is a fallout. People are extremely bitter about it, but don't seem to understand it. So the same people who are a majority, who say that Wall Street is to blame for the current crisis, are voting Republican. Both parties are deep in the pockets of Wall Street, but the Republicans much more so than the Democrats.

    The same is true on issue after issue. The antagonism to everyone is extremely high -- actually antagonism -- the population doesn't like Democrats, but they hate Republicans even more. They're against big business. They're against government. They're against Congress. They're against science

    [Sep 14, 2016] Laudato si (24 May 2015)

    w2.vatican.va
    In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as "a tragic consequence" of unchecked human activity: "Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation".[2] He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an "ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization", and stressed "the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity", inasmuch as "the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man".[3]

    5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem "to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption".[4] Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion.[5] At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to "safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology".[6] The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended