Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nihilism Stands At The Door - The New American Pessimism




“Nihilism stands at the door,” wrote Nietzsche. 
“Whence comes this uncanniest of all guests?”
There has been nothing like the Trump campaign in American political history and perhaps not in history, period, which means that everything that happens is unexplored territory. As those of us with a degree of reason try to understand whence this whirlwind of self destruction comes from, where it leads, and why it exists at all, we may be focused on the wrong parameter. We look to the individual psychology of Donald Trump, which I suggest is a thick  narcissistic morass of opaque self aggrandizement and little else...a  deeply uninteresting phenomenon.
There is almost literally nothing there. Though Trump has a public persona, he has no personality. Any theory we come up with looking at Trump himself is doomed to fail because there is nothing there to observe. His persona exists only in terms of a larger field of observation...  the contemporary American disorder of which Trump is but one especially acrimonious and disgraceful manifestation.

Donald Trump is behaving very much like a megalomaniacal billionaire with no qualifications would be expected to behave if he wanted to be elected president. (It's doubtful he wants to actually be president, but he wants to be elected. There is a difference. Perhaps not so subtle). He's an opportunist, tapping into a vast angry and fearful audience.  Does he believe a word of his rhetoric?
I doubt it, I'm not sure there is any evidence that he remembers his own rhetoric from day to day...he feeds the beast whatever the beast has an appetite for.

Maybe the question we should ask is why he’s doing such a nonsensical thing at all? Or why he has been so successful with this essentially suicidal rhetoric? How large is the segment of the population that is hell bent on self destruction anyway? 



The emergence of Trump as the inexplicable champion of working class white men, evangelical bible bangers, and retirees who watch way too much Rupert Murdoch programming on TV tells us less about him than about the country whose bowels he came from.  Trump is riding the crest of a wave of nihilistic rampage, acting out a deep-seated national desire for self-destruction that runs parallel to America’s more optimistic self-image and interacts with it sporadically. He is trafficking in pseudo-uplifting nostrums about "making America great again" and how much “we” will “win” once he is president. But he has never offered any specific ideas or policy proposals, only incoherent fantasies that combine unilateralism with a police state and total war against amorphous enemies in a great game of nuclear wack-a-mole.
He just released an economic agenda...surprise angry workers! Same old trickle down bullshit that benefits Trump's income bracket and no one else.  But his supporters won't really care.
They are hell bent on destruction. The rhetoric of which isn't important.
I have never believed that even his most vocal supporters take his proposals about the bazillion-dollar border wall, the deportation of all undocumented immigrants, or the exclusion of all Muslims seriously...this is pure fantasy.  Those things represent a yearning toward the imaginary and the impossible. It's a nihilistic rejection of all reality. No candidate who proposes such things — or who asks why we can’t use nuclear weapons, since we have them — is actually selling hope or optimism of any kind.
No way, no how, my friends.

I don't believe Donald Trump’s suicide mission is a personal one. He wants to be president but doesn’t know why really, and he's got no idea whatsoever what he would do with the office should he actually win it.
Trump wishes only for his own glorification; he isn’t intelligent enough or complicated enough to yearn for his own destruction. It's a uniquely American sort of Nihilism.

In practice, is there a desire to lose the election, with the side benefit of endangering democracy by claiming that the system is corrupt and the results were rigged?  I'd say that is a good guess.  Trump’s suicide mission is ultimately about something much larger than his own presidential campaign, and also much larger than demographic clichés about the declining white majority. It's a disturbing self destructive penchant and it's not going away anytime soon.




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sowing The Wind

The prevalent understanding of history is a compendium of more or less unrelated events.
We view it as an annal of wars, battles, and murders. A chronicle of the deeds and misdeeds of a pantheon of kings, despots, villains and heroes. It is a scrapbook of spectacles where the more conspicuous and dramatic occurrences are given a skewed, distorted, and hyperbolized prominence. Little, if any attention is given to either their underlying causes or to their ultimate effects.

"Those Who Don't Know History Are Doomed To Repeat It"

    We have all heard these words. Yet "knowing" history as it is commonly perceived is simply not enough. History is littered with loud-mouthed authoritarian ego-maniacal "leaders" who dupe nations into following them on a conquest of ruin. The cup of history, my friends; "runneth over" with despots who scapegoat  foreigners of any stripe, intellectuals, or any other group who may seem "different" to the local normalcy.  Everyone knows this history, yet still the lackeys come.
Still the followers gather and kill each other in foxholes for one local tyrant or tyrant's ideological propaganda or another.
Knowing the chronology of events in history has little value.
Clearly, analysis of the causes and effects of these events is what matters.

Perspective...It Matters

If you understand the concept of perspective, you know that this woman isn't exactly holding the sun is she?
    We need a clear view of the underlying mechanics and implications of events rather than merely an account of their occurrences. In chaos there is actually order (ask any game theorist or chaos theorist). And it can be understood.  In an unmortgaged view of history, the importance of wars and battles diminishes. The glory of kings, messiahs, and assorted heroes & fools fades away like morning mist when seen in their true light as the pawns of circumstances pimped out in a bit of tinsel. Events, actually are far from being unrelated, but are an ordered sequence interlinked into a vast chain of causation. The great panorama unfolds showing us the human race in its progress from the stinking primordial swamps of the past towards the receding veil of the future. The key to unlocking this honest perspective is most often overlooked or ignored even by historians. It is a lens that brings the whole into focus. It is the lens of  the evolution of human society.  Ever since mankind began to cooperate with others for mutual benefit, we formed societies and they have not been static but have grown and changed over time.
    We are in error to view society now as it ever was, as it has always been, and is now; in a process of growth, the universal law of evolution dictates that it moves from the simple to the complex.   The beginnings of our present society must be traced to each preceding phase unraveling the previous forms back to the earliest tribal communities. If one sketches this out, history takes on a clear and consistent form. In a very real sense, you do need to understand where you are coming from to reach a destination. And you do need to choose a destination...or someone will be choosing it for you. This is one of the great lessons to be gleaned from history.

The Pre-Slavery Period

     The period of human development previous to the appearance of slavery is so far removed in the dim past that it has left little historic trace beyond the scattered remains of primitive handiwork that we unearth from time to time. There isn't a lot that we can ascertain, but there is one characteristic that marks the ante-slavery period (as well as cultures in existence today that managed to develop on their own due to their remoteness)...and that is the non-existence of property in the true sense of the word. Oh they had personal possessions of course, such as his weapons and personal dwellings, but the resources of the earth, were and are of free of access to all, these resources are the property of none. Property is not so much the assertion of the claim of the individual as it's owner as it is a denial of claim of all others to ownership.


The Slavery Period And The Transition To Barbarism

     The tools of this time were simple and crude, and so too were the economics. Human activity and thus production under savagery differs from that of today as everything was a matter of  hand production instead of machine, products were created for individual use instead of social consumption. That is to say, each article produced is completed by one individual instead of being, as it is today, the result of the toil of a whole army of workers, each one doing a little to it. Furthermore, under "savagery", articles are produced for use; whereas in more recent times articles are produced for individual profit. What we can observe about this time, is that if we eliminated the social production, the machinery, and profit we'd see economics reduced to it's lowest common denominator. Its simplest form. In the pre-civilization and early civilization days, exchanges were carried on mostly on whim, but the more civilized we became, the more exchanges became based on the labor required to fashion things. An "uncivilized man" wishing to barter, say, ornaments for weapons, would exchange them upon the basis of the labor it would cost him to produce either. He would know how long it took him to make the ornaments, and he would have a pretty good idea how many of the weapons he could make in the same time, and would therefore insist on just so many in exchange for his ornaments. To accept any less would be foolish, as he would be better off to make them himself. This standard of value has endured through all the succeeding changes in the methods of production and exchange until the introduction of machines and profit. Then we allowed foolishness to prevail. In those times, the earth's resources had no economic value in themselves, they are simply there and accessible to all.They were no one's property. No one claimed to own the water, the sky, or the land upon which one treads. It was understood that only when the hand of labor is applied to those natural resources to convert them into articles of use by mankind, that anything of value is created. Something we have allowed to be obscured in the industrial age.

The primitive's way of life was predatory. It involved hunting and fishing, and relied upon wild fruits and roots. Such a method of life is precarious and becomes more so with the increase of population. There would necessarily be  consequent restrictions of the tribal hunting grounds etc. and as time goes on the people would be driven to domesticate animals and to cultivate the soil in order that this means of life may be more certain. Once this becomes generalized, the door to slavery is opened.
     The primitive kills his enemies on the battlefield – maybe he even eats them. There is no incentive to make them captive, as it would only mean more mouths to feed. He cannot even compel them to maintain themselves by sending them to hunt, as obviously, they would just escape. But with the cultivation of the soil it becomes possible for an individual to produce more than is necessary for his own keep. It then becomes practical to make captives. They now can be compelled to toil in the fields and produce for their masters; their escape can be prevented by armed guards.
    So property, the slave and the soldier make their advent upon the scene of human events together. Through our clear lens of historic causation, we can see this was not an accident and these events are definitely related.  To sum this era up: the savage came upon the scene endowed with power to labor, which he applied to the natural resources, and produced for himself wealth – articles of use to him. Later, the chattel slave was owned by a master, who compelled him to apply his labor power to the natural resources, and then took the wealth he produced.

The Rise Of The Slave Empires

Uncomfortable as it may be, it is noticeable that where slavery of one sort or another did not exist, the societies did not advance much in the arts and sciences. This would indicate that slavery was essential to human progress, and this is actually the case. Why? When man lived by fishing, gathering and hunting he had little leisure for the pursuit of knowledge. His time was taken up with the economic problem – how to provide for his wants. When, however, the agricultural stage was reached, and it became possible for an individual to live upon the fruits of another’s labor, society became divided into two classes, the slaves and their masters, the working class and the leisured class. This master class then had leisure to turn its attention to other things besides its immediate necessities. It was in fact upon this foundation, that the civilizations of the ancient world were built. Upon the labor of slaves Babylon upraised her temples and gardens, Egypt her pyramids and tombs, Greece her colonnades and statuary; the armies of Xerxes and Hannibal, the mighty empire of Rome, were all maintained out of the surplus product of vast armies of chattel slaves. And so upon the backs of toiling millions, empire after empire arose, attained its zenith and crumbled to decay, some of them leaving scarcely a trace to mark their existence in history. The course of each one was in many respects similar. Because they were all slave civilizations, and because they all commenced as bands of rude conquerors  subjugating their neighbors until having overcome rivals, the masters degenerated into a horde of parasites living upon the ever-increasing product of their slaves.

We can readily observe that  in all these cases, wealth accumulated into the hands of the already most wealthy, and, as the wealthy class became fewer, the slaves became more numerous until the disproportion becomes so great that the wealthy few, with all their luxurious extravagance and wastefulness, were no longer able to consume the volume of wealth, and there were more slaves than employment could be found for. As the slave's value declined,  his condition became more and more precarious and miserable. Society was no longer able to provide for the wants or needs of the useful portion of it, and, there was no possibility, at the time, of any new form of society to take its place. So the slave civilization perishes, its extinction generally being hastened by the inroads of some younger and more virile empire. The fall of the last of these ancient chattel slave empires, the decadent Roman empire, marked the dawn of a new era. For thousands of years chattel slavery had been the only form of slavery. An endless rotation of civilizations had been founded on that basis, they had succeeded one another, but conditions were ripe for a change, for which these cycles of chattel slavery had been merely a preparation.

The Institution of Feudalism

Western Europe, formerly one great forest, had now become populous. The incoming races amalgamated with the former inhabitants who had, under Roman rule, been reduced to some semblance of order. Conditions became so settled that it was no longer easy for a slave to escape. It was no longer necessary to own and guard him. Therefore, gradually, a new system of slavery evolved. The slave was attached to the land he toiled; he became a serf.
His master was now the owner of the land – the lord. The serf toiled on his lord’s land, producing wealth for him, in return for which he was permitted to toil on his own behalf upon a piece of land set apart for that purpose. The wealth he thus produced was just sufficient to meet his necessities so that he might continue to live and produce more wealth for his lord.   The difference between the chattel slave and the serf is one of form rather than of reality. Each produced the wealth that maintained both himself and his master. The serf received of that wealth only subsistence...sufficient, at the best, to maintain him in a good enough working condition. While the chattel slave, being generally bought, represented so much cash laid out, and was therefore worth taking a certain amount of care of, the personal welfare of the serf was a matter of little or no concern to the lord beyond that it was to the lord’s interest to protect him from other robbers in order that he himself might get the full benefit of  robbing the serf himself. The reason serfdom displaced chattel slavery was that it was a more economical and less troublesome method of exploiting workers. The point most worthy of remembrance in the feudal system is that the serf worked a part of the time for himself and the rest of his time for his lord, much as the worker today works a part of his working day producing his own wages and the rest of the time producing profit for his employer. We have not yet left the shackles of serfdom in a sense. A particularly nasty irresponsible form of slavery.


The Rise Of Capitalism
It had taken several thousands of years of chattel slavery to prepare the way for serfdom. And it took several centuries of feudalism to prepare the way for a new form of exploitation – capitalism – the kernel of which already existed in the feudal society.
While the agricultural districts were under the sway of the nobility, the towns and cities of the Middle Ages were, to some degree, free from their domination. The merchants, artisans and craftsmen gathered in these places. Their interests were at all times antagonistic to those of the land-barons, who naturally sought to place restrictions on the manufacture and marketing of the city products. This antagonism was accentuated by the discovery of America and of the southwest passage to the Orient, and the consequent expansion of trade. As the wealth and power of the townsmen increased, that of the nobility decreased. The invention of gunpowder sealed the fate of the mail-clad knights and their chivalry. The nobleman became a mere parasite upon society; feudalism ran its course as other forms of  slave society had done. It was dying when the steam engine gave it a death-blow.

That invention threw wide the doors of opportunity to society’s new masters, the townsmen or bourgeoisie. The production of articles of commerce had been carried on by hand until this point. The town worker was a craftsman who learned his trade by a long apprenticeship, who, when he became a journeyman, worked by the side of a master, and had reasonable hopes of becoming a master himself. The tools of production were yet so primitive as to be within the purchasing power of the thrifty workman. Land alone was the sacred property of the ruling class. The coming of the steam-driven engine changed all this. The hand tool grew step by step into the gigantic set of machines we know today. Ownership of these tools became more and more an impossibility for the worker. The master workman left the bench for the office; the foreman took his place. The factory called for more labor – cheaper labor. The new capitalist turned his profit-hungry eyes on the brawn of the agricultural districts. Serfdom stood in the way, so serfdom was abolished. The serf was freed from his bondage to the land that he might take on a heavier yoke, that of the factory. The factory had no use for brains, but “hands”. The hands of the country yokel, of his wife, and of his children, would serve equally as well as those of the skilled craftsman to operate machines. No apprenticeship was needed, no training. Only “hands” with hungry stomachs attached. The serf was not freed from the land, rather, he was driven off it by the closing in of the commons and by other measures. The freeing of the serfs was no humanitarian measure. Greed – and greed alone – was its inspiring motive. This was a power struggle...the new capitalists rose up to take the reins the lords had accumulated.


    The capitalist class had humble enough beginnings. Its progenitors were the townsmen of the Middle Ages. They were a part of the feudal society and yet, in a way, apart from it. They were neither nobles nor serfs, but a species of lackeys to the nobility. Sycophants. From them the noble obtained his clothing and the gay trappings of his horse; they forged his weapons and his armor, built his castles, loaned him money. He stood to them in the relation of a consumer, and, as a consumer, he legislated, defining their markets, prohibiting them from enhancing prices, enacting that wages should not exceed certain figures, insisting that goods should be of such and such a quality and texture, and be sold at certain fixed prices.  Naturally these restrictions were not pleasing to the townsmen.  As trade and commerce increased they found these conditions less and less tolerable. As they grew in wealth and influence they became less and less inclined to tolerate them. In England they had joined with the nobles to weaken the king, and with the king to weaken the nobles. Finally they broke the power of both. In the false name of freedom they crushed feudalism. But the freedom they sought was a freedom that would allow them to adulterate goods, that would allow the workers to leave the land and move where the factories needed them, their wives, and their children. While in other lands the course of the bourgeois revolution was somewhat different to that in England, the result was the same. In France, for instance, the revolution was pent up for so long a period that when it burst forth it deluged the land in blood, through which the people waded, bearing banners inscribed “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.

The Industrial Age And Beyond
 
Once freed from feudalism the onward march of capitalism became a mad, headlong rush. Everywhere mills, factories, and furnaces sprang up. Their smoke and fumes turned fields once fertile and populous into desolate, uninhabitable wastes; their refuse poisoned and polluted the rivers until they stank to hell. Earth’s bowels were riven for her mineral hoards. Green flourishing forests became acres of charred hideous stumps. Commerce pierced all mountains, fathomed all seas, explored all lands, disturbing the age-long sleep of hermit peoples that they might buy her wares. Capital spread its ever expanding tentacles over the entire world. Everywhere its voice was heard, crying “Work, work, work”, to all the workers; “Buy, buy, buy”, to all the peoples.

The New Slavery
    The essence of enslavement is that one man should be compelled to work for others, and surrender to them the product of his or her toil. Wage-slavery, the present form of servitude, fulfills this condition every bit as much as did chattel slavery or serfdom. The workers of today have no claim upon the wealth they produce.  And while they may not actually be compelled to work for any given master, they must work for some master. They are therefore slaves in the proper sense of the word. They are exploited for more wealth – that is to say, the masters obtain from their labor greater returns than did the masters of the past. Sadly, if this were not so, the other forms would still be widespread. But no feudal serf or chattel slave can compete with the modern wage slave at slaving. Where the masters of old were, to a certain extent, interested in the welfare of their slaves, having, directly or indirectly, a property interest in them. The modern slaver, on the other hand, has no such interest in his slaves. He neither purchases nor owns them. He merely buys so much labor-power – physical energy– just as he buys electric power for his plant. The worker represents to him merely a machine capable of developing a given quantity of labor-power. When he does not need labor-power he simply refrains from buying any. The human....can go to hell. He could care less.
The ages of chattel slavery broke the ground for feudalism. Centuries of feudalism prepared the way for capitalism. In a few decades capitalism has brought us to the threshold of ruin.
     Capitalism has done remarkable work for itself, and done it thoroughly.
It found workers, for the most part, an ignorant, voiceless peasant horde.It found them working individually and with little co-ordination; it has made them work collectively and scientifically. It has abolished their individuality and reduced their labor to a social average, leveling their differences, until today the humble ploughman is a skilled laborer by comparison with the mere human automata that toils at meaningless tasks.
It found the means and methods of production crude, scattered and ill-ordered, the private property of individuals – very often of individuals who themselves took part in production; it leaves them practically one gigantic machine of wealth production, orderly, highly productive, economical of labor, closely inter-related – the collective property of a class, and of a class wholly unnecessary to production, a class whose sudden extinction would not affect the speed of one wheel or the heat of one furnace.   It found the earth large, with communications difficult, divided into nations knowing little or nothing of one another, with prairies unpopulated, forests untrod, mountains unscaled. It has brought the ends of the earth within speaking distances of one another, has ploughed the prairies, hewed down the forests, emptied the mountains, explored all regions, exploited all resources; it has largely broken down all boundaries, except on maps; it has given us an international capitalist class with designs on all lands and nations.  Aristotle, with something akin to prophetic vision, laid down the axiom that slavery was necessary until the forces of Nature were harnessed to the uses of Man. This has been accomplished and the necessity for slavery is past. Armed with the modern machinery of production and technology, the workers, a small fraction of society, can produce more than all society can possibly use or waste – so much more, that periodically the very wheels of production are clogged with the super-abundance of wealth of 1%ers. We see at the pinnacle of prosperity, industry suddenly become disjointed; the wheels all come to a standstill. Furnaces cool off; smoke ceases to belch forth to the skies; the belts stay their eternal round over the pulleys. The workers, from being worked to the limit of their endurance, find themselves unexpectedly without work at all, and soon without means of subsistence having committed their lives to serving faceless corporate overlords who have no interest in their personal survival....one dead peasant, "no problem another will come along and I'll cheat them even more!"  Everywhere where capitalism rules, from all quarters comes the same sad tales. Famine-stricken where food is plenty; ill clad where clothing is plentiful; shelterless among hordes of empty houses; shivering by mountains of fuel. There is no promise of alleviation, but rather portents of worse to come.   So it is imperative that humanity learn from it's history. It is time to end all slavery. It is time to create a society that does not tolerate the greed of capitalism. One that does not tolerate the poverty of the many. One that refuses to let any human being go to bed hungry when there is plenty of food. One that does not deny health care when there is plenty of medicine.  The economic problems, whose solution laid in the advent of slavery, have long been solved. Humanity must step forth free at last from its aeons of bondage. There is no reason we shall not be the master of our own destiny. Our technology and machines have enabled us with little effort to produce all that we need. And with ample leisure to enjoy the fruits of our work, and the legacies of time. The time has come to rethink what the next human society should be. What it should embrace....and what it should reject. The title of this article comes from a 1914 socialist pamphlet...."They have sown the wind – they are reaping the whirlwind."
 The slave of old toiled in his master’s fields and the fruits of his toil belonged to his master; the worker of today toils in his master’s office, factory or farm, and the fruits of his toil belong to the master. The former received for his toil enough for his own subsistence, just what the latter today receives at the best. The slave was bought and sold bodily and, being so much invested wealth, was more or less well cared for whether he worked or not. The worker of today sells himself from day to day, and being a “freeman” and nobody’s property, nobody is under any obligation to care for him or to feed him when there is no work for him to do. The slave was generally an unwilling slave, but the worker votes for a continuance of his servitude.
His freedom lies in his own hands, but he refuses to be free. Which is the baser slave?
What next fellow humans? Why do we continue this charade? It is not necessary.
What sort of world do we really want? One that values human dignity? One that values resources?
One that transcends the shackles of the slaver? Or not?  It is time to move forward.
Going to the moon was hard. Rejecting the "need' for servants isn't.  We really can do this.
No...we must. For the future generations of humans. We must.




Friday, April 15, 2016

The Grapes Of Wrath - Ready For The Harvest



“and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.
In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling
and growing heavy,
growing heavy for the vintage.”

~John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath


    John Steinbeck's brilliant novel "The Grapes Of Wrath" was published on April 14th  in 1939.
He documents how society is divided into the dominant  and the dominated and how people in the dominant roles in a society act viciously to preserve their dominance. The novel identifies that division as the primary source of evil and suffering in the world.

So Where Is Tom Joad Today?

   “And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on.”~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes Of Wrath

   What have we learned? Where are we today in terms of combating the obvious evil that arises when any group of people assemble themselves as a force to dominate others? Whether it is politically or economically, the lesson history teaches us is ignored time and again.
Indeed what is the true nature of capitalism in today's world?
 Is it some grand national adventure, as politicians and textbooks preached when I was growing up? Is it some benign system in which markets provide framework for amiable competition, from which emerges the greatest good for the greatest number of people? Or is it merely the domain of class struggle, a “global class war,” as Jeff Faux’s book of the same title would have it, in which the “party of Davos” outmaneuvers the remnants of the organized working class and beats them down?

The doctrines of the “law and economics” movement, now ascendant in our courts ["law & economics" is the theoretical analysis of law focusing on efficiency. Basically a legal situation is said to be efficient if a right is given to the party who would be willing to pay the most for it.],  suggest that firms will adhere on their own to honorable conduct. That any public presence in the economy undermines this. Even insurance—whether deposit insurance or Social Security—is perverse in this belief system, for it encourages irresponsible risk taking. Banks will lend to bad clients, companies will speculate with their pension funds, etc. This movement has even argued that seat belts foster reckless driving. To adherents insurance creates a “moral hazard” for which “market discipline” is the cure-all.  It’s a strange vision, and if we weren’t governed by people like John Roberts and Sam Alito, who pretend to believe it, it would hardly be worth wasting our attention on.

“ Class struggle is the history of all hitherto existing society”-~ Karl Marx

  The idea of class struggle goes back a long way; it really is “the history of all hitherto existing society,” as Marx and Engels had declared. But if the world is ruled by a handful of monied elite, What role does the middle-class working citizen have today in the global society, or even in his or her own nation state?   None. It's a shell game, a hoax.  The political decline of the left flows in part from rhetoric that no longer matches experience; generally speaking, people in the developed nations do not feel they are living on the edge of a Malthusian catastrophe. Dollars mostly, but Euros and Pounds as well, command most of the world's goods...rupees not so much. So workers, as members in the "dollar" economy have been assimilated and in  today's world; are made complicit in sustaining and ever expanding the influence of the capitalist class.



 I grew up in the mixed-economy America. Yes, there existed a post-capitalist, post-Marxian vision of middle-class identity and indeed pride. It consisted of shared burdens, assets and entitlements.
The cornerstone of which was public education. Along with access to college, decent housing, full employment at living wages, Medicare, and Social Security.
    These programs, were publicly provided, financed, or guaranteed, and had softened the sharp edges of Great Depression capitalism, rewarding the sacrifices that won the Second World War. They also showcased America, demonstrating to those behind the Iron Curtain that regulated capitalism could yield prosperity far beyond the capacities of state planning. (This, and not the arms race, are what really ended the Soviet empire.) These middle-class institutions survive in America today, but they are weakened, diluted, frayed and tattered from constant attack. The division between those included and those excluded is large and growing larger exponentially with each year. This is frightfully obvious.

   The main feature today of modern American capitalism is certainly neither benign competition, nor class struggle, nor an inclusive middle-class utopia. No the main feature is predation. It has become a system where the rich come to feast on decaying systems built for the middle class.
I concede of course, that the predatory class is not the whole of the wealthy; it may be opposed by many others of similar wealth. But it is sadly the defining feature and the leading force in today's world. The agents of this bloodfeast are in full control of the governments under which we live.
Our rulers deliver favors to their clients.They have no interest in representing us, there's not enough cash in that. In the U.S. the predators range from Native American casino operators, to Appalachian coal companies, to 3rd world sweatshop operators, to the oil field operators of Iraq. They include the misanthropes who led the campaign to abolish the estate tax; Charles Schwab, who suggested the dividend tax cut of 2003; the “Benedict Arnold” companies who move their taxable income offshore; and the financial institutions behind the crash of 2007. Everywhere you look in the U.S or the U.K., you find public decisions yield gains to very specific private entities. We have become a predatory regime, and nothing is done for public reasons ever. Those in charge do not recognize that “public purposes” even exist at all. They have friends, and enemies, and as for the rest—we’re simply their prey.
    Remember what happened in New Orleans? Hurricane Katrina illustrated this perfectly, as Halliburton scooped up contracts and Bush hamstrung Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic governor of Louisiana. He stuck a guy who had organized a dog show in charge of the relief and rescue operations. The population of New Orleans was, at best, an afterthought; and once dispersed, it was quickly forgotten. In this predator-prey model, growth among the prey stimulates predation.
The two populations grow together at first, but when the balance of power shifts toward the predators
they swoop in and take everything they prey has accumulated. They have all sorts of tools for doing this; rising interest rates, utility rates, oil prices, crashing home prices by flooding the market with worthless mortgages, buying off the government, or outright embezzlement to name a few).
When any catastrophe occurs, from the 9-11 attacks to Hurricane Sandy,  the predators swoop in and use the catastrophe to enrich themselves. Yes, the Iraq war was nothing more than just that, vulture capitalism at it's worst, an excuse to loot the treasury and funnel money to the capitalist class. No one in government had concern for the suffering of the 1st responders, who sought to have their medical bills paid...14 years later the few who hadn't died from cancers as a result of exposure to toxins in the burning buildings they walked into on that day to save as many lives as they could, were still begging congress for a bill that would help with their medical bills. Gov. Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani like to cite the attacks as some sort of personal badge of honor, but politically they forgot entirely about the actual people who suffered loss and or disease in those attacks, they were largely discarded except for the occasional photo op. Christie thanks the first responders by not funding the states portion of their pensions, and has sought to bust the public employees unions, roll back healthcare & pay for them. 9-11 was little more than a cash cow to the predators. An excuse to undo the Magna Carta, to stick their bloated friends in cushy 'homeland security' positions, and to loot Iraqi oil fields.
Everything that happens is an excuse to prey.
Predator Capitalism Is The Enemy 
Of Honest Business As Well As Workers
    In a world where the "winners" are all connected, it’s not only the prey who lose out. It’s everyone who hasn’t licked the required boots. Predatory regimes are nothing more than protection rackets. They may be powerful and feared, but never loved nor respected. They do not enjoy a broad political base. In a predatory economy, the rules imagined by the law and economics crowd don’t apply. There’s no market discipline. Predators compete not by following the rules but by breaking them. They take the business-school view of law: Rules are not designed to guide behavior but laid down to define the limits of unpunished conduct. Once one gets close to the line, stepping over it is easy. A predatory economy fosters and rewards criminal behavior.


The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is To Own One
    Remember the Savings and Loan and Keating Five scandals?
  obvious examples where the leader of an organization uses his company as a “weapon” of fraud and a “shield” against prosecution.  Look at Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom, The Neil Bush S&L looting.  All examples of controlled fraud which was protected by clean audits from respected accountants. The large frauds were nearly all committed in institutions taken over for that purpose by criminal networks, often by big players like Charles Keating, Michael Milken,Bernie Madoff, and Don Dixon. There’s another reason people need to be concerned about predatory institutions. They invariably fail in the end. They fail because they are meant to fail. Predators suck the life from the businesses they command, concealing the fact for as long as possible behind fraudulent accounting and hugely complex transactions; and that’s the looter’s point.

     We have governments run by people rooted in this culture.
To expect that they should not also be predatory is lunacy.
The link between George H.W. Bush, who led the deregulation of the S&Ls, his son Neil, who ran a corrupt S&L, and Neil’s brother George, for whom Ken Lay sent thugs to Florida in 2000 on the Enron plane, could hardly be any closer. But aside from occasional references to “kleptocracy” in other countries, economic opinion has been slow to recognize this. Thinking wistfully, we assume that government wants to do good, and its failure to do so is a matter of incompetence.
This is not so. You can't complain if your wine is sour when you choose a liar to select the brew he pours you.

    One would think if our governments are also predatory, or at least controlled by predators, then they too will fail: not merely politically, but in every substantial way. Government will not cope with global warming, or Hurricane Katrina, or Iraq—not because it is incompetent but because it is willfully indifferent to the problem of competence.
    What mechanisms survive for calling the predators to account?
Unfortunately, at the highest levels, one cannot rely on the justice system, thanks to the power of the pardon. It’s politics or nothing, recognizing that in a world of predators, all established parties are corrupted in at least part.  So, how can the political system reform itself? How can we reestablish checks, balances, countervailing power, and a sense of public purpose? How can we get modern economic predation back under control, restoring the possibilities not only for progressive social action but also—just as important—for honest private economic activity? Until we can answer those questions, the predators will continue to rape and pillage. We can say Steinbeck's powerful observations are just as true today as in 1939. All the gains of our father's generation, and ours as well are now being looted.  Being taken back.  The question is, what will we do about it?
What has happened in the past when peoples are made necessitous?
When they hunger?
When they have been robbed?

“Whenever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Whenever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there . . . . I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'-I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build-why, I'll be there." 
~Tom Joad in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath"

John Steinbeck

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Good Economic Policy vs. Bad Economic Policy



I see myself as an F.D.R. Democrat and since the 1980s I've watched the Democratic party leadership morph from progressive classic liberal policies into what we now call "New Democrats" which essentially is a wing of neoliberalism. New Democrats signed on to the "Washington Consensus"which was (and is) the doctrine of globalization. A creed of faith in unregulated markets operating in an ethical and efficient manner if the state does not interfere.
A misguided faith in believing the poor and the rich have no conflicting interests.
That privatization, deregulation, and open capital markets promote fairness & economic development for all, that governments should balance budgets and fight inflation and do didly squat beyond that.
We all have observed this is complete bullshit.
The Washington Consensus is clearly just another Trojan horse "gift" that attacks the middle class. Not unlike Trickle Down economics.
(Take from the poor and give to the rich). The absurdity of believing unrestrained capitalism, if allowed to do what it will, free from any oversight or regulation, free from the shackles of environmental protection or labor laws, somehow will behave ethically and benefit everyone is simply beyond the pale. But many people buy it.
We know why it's sold...but consumer beware...this doctrine is toxic, it is a cancer.
Conservatives of course embrace this sort of thinking, and neither you nor I should be the least bit surprised by that. After all the main premise of conservatism is to maintain or increase the existing social hierarchy.
The truth is that people with power and wealth very often believe that alone gives them "divine" rights to control or dominate  society.

  When politicians who claim to be acting on behalf of social or economic fairness embrace this toxic policy; we should not only be surprised, but outraged. This is the problem, largely created as a result of the huge importance of money in politics. The larger the role of money in political campaigns & the general machinery of the state; the more policy is defaced to resemble what those who supply the money want it to be. This is not anything like Democracy. It is Fascism, or Oligarchy. But it is not Democracy.
Look, as a nation, as a people, the bottom line of economics is that people need to eat and be sheltered every day. This is a constant. As the brilliant economist Jamie Galbraith has said "Policies that guarantee that they can do so{eat & afford shelter}, and with steadily improving diets and housing and health and other material conditions of life over long time spans, are good policies. Policies that foster instability directly or indirectly, that prevent people from eating in the name of efficiency or liberalism or even in the name of freedom, are not good policies. And it is possible to distinguish policies that meet this minimum standard from policies that do not."


Let's take four major financial securities: stocks, bonds, derivatives, and foreign currency purchases (forex). A European study a few years ago involving just 11 countries, whose collective economies are about two-thirds the size of the U.S. economy, concluded that a miniscule financial tax of 0.1 percent on stocks and bonds plus a virtually negligible 0.01 percent tax on derivatives results in an annual tax revenue of US$47 billion. In an equivalent size U.S economy that would be about US$70 billion in revenue a year.
Wealthy investors buying of stocks and bonds is essentially no different than average folks buying food, clothing or other real "goods and services." Why shouldn't investors pay a sales tax on financial securities purchases? In the U.S., average households pay a sales tax of 5 percent to 10 percent for retail purchases of goods and many services. (Many of which are necessities for existence).
So why shouldn't wealthy investors pay a similar sales tax rate for their retail financial securities' purchases? Why not indeed?
(The answer is simple, it's because they have bought influence to insure very favorable tax treatment compared to everyone else).

Now imagine for a second, a 10 percent "sales tax" on stock and bond buying and a 1 percent tax on derivatives. This would generate 100x larger tax revenue than estimated by the European study. This  tax yields US$7 trillion in tax revenue with a 10 percent and 1 percent tax on stocks and bonds and derivatives in the U.S.
Remarkable. 
Well some may argue that wealthy stock and bond buyers should not have to pay that much. It would stifle raising capital for companies. Okay. So let's lower that to half the amount, to  a meager 5 percent tax on stocks and bonds and 0.5 percent on derivatives. That reduces the US$7 trillion tax revenue to a still humongous US$3.5 trillion annually!
China is about to propose a tax on currency trading (Forex). If the U.S. imposed such a tax. on currency, or forex, trades which is about US$400 billion each day! (Not all trading is U.S. currency trading, of course. However, the U.S. dollar is involved in 87 percent of the trading.)  A meager 1 percent tax on U.S. currency trades conservatively yields approximately US$3 billion a day. Assuming a conservative 220 trading days in a year, US$3 billion a day produces US$660 billion in financial tax revenue from U.S. currency financial transactions in a single year.

Nearly every civilized country in the world except the U.S. provides a version of single payer medical care for it's citizens. (it costs about half as much as the private insurance we require in the U.S. for the same coverage). Ask yourself how much of this US $3.5666 trillion a year tax revenue would be needed to fund a single payer-Medicare for All program in the U.S.?
 No country has higher health care costs than the U.S.
The U.K. spends 9 percent of  it's GDP, Japan about 10 percent, France and Germany 11 percent, for example. The U.S., in contrast, pays 17 percent plus of its GDP on health care.
The most recent U.S. GDP is about US$18 trillion a year, 17 percent of US$18 trillion equals just over US$3 trillion a year.
If the U.S. spent, like other advanced economies with single payer, about 10 percent of its GDP a year on health care, it would cost US$1.8 trillion instead of US$3 trillion a year. The U.S. citizens would save US$1.2 trillion dollars.
Where does that  US$1.2 trillion go in the current system?  Not for health services for its citizens. It goes to health insurance companies and other "middlemen," who don't deliver one iota of health care services. They are the "paper pushers" who skim off US$1.2 trillion a year in profits that average returns of 20 percent a year and more. They are frankly just. irrelevant economic parasites. What economists refer to as "rentier capitalists".

What are rentier capitalists? 
People who don't produce anything but suck profits and wages from those who do actually produce something.
A true financial transactions tax, that is still quite reasonable at tax rates of 0.25 percent to 2.5 percent, can pay for all of a single-payer health care program in the U.S. and still have hundreds of billions left over -- US$641 billion to be exact (US$2.41 minus US$1.8 trillion).
That US$641 billion residual could then be used to better fund current Medicare programs. It could eliminate the current 20 percent charge for Medicare Part B physicians services and provide totally free Part D prescription drugs for everyone over 65 years. The savings for seniors over 65 years from this, and the tens of thousands of dollars saved every year by working families who now have to pay that amount for private company health insurance, would now be freed up with a single payer system, to be spent on other real goods and services. Everyone, literally everyone would be far better off.
(Except the renteirs themselves, who would be forced to find more honest work).
A financial transaction tax and single payer program would consequently have the added positive effect of creating the greatest boost in real wages and household income, and therefore consumption, in U.S. economic history.

More consumer demand would ultimately mean more real investment.
Everyone would enjoy some degree of prosperity.

Yes, there would be naysayers claiming  the wealth speculating in stocks, bonds, derivatives, forex and other financial securities would decline if the profits were taxed. . But so what? If rich and wealthy investors don't like that, well as Marie Antoinette allegedly said :  "Let them eat cake"  (or some other four letter word).
This is good policy. It would, in the long run benefit everyone. Even those 1%ers who don't want their securities purchases taxed, it would benefit them too because more capital in the hands of the consumers means higher demands. The capital would flow to them eventually anyway, it just would pass through a lot of hands along the way.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Trump's Movement: Make Fascism Great Again?

     Lo, behold the mighty army crossing the vast wasteland of the American Nightmare, armed and ready to do Der Trump's bidding. Yea, in their Right hand they wield a great sword inscribed with the word "Ignorance".  In their left hand they grasp desperately at weapons of bigotry and rage carefully forged in the foundry fires of  Fox News and Hate Radio. We beheld how the multinational corporate headed beast machine gunned facts, science, and revised history with propaganda!  Verily the bizarre  coalition of the powerful, wealthy, privileged, bigots, war mongers, corporatists, theocrats, hagiarchs,  robber barons, ignoramuses, poltroons & other dunces had been ever so carefully and cunningly assembled and glued together by the wealthiest artisans the Beltway could offer. Yea, we saw how the beast  trained them to deflect any payload of reality or reason  regardless of how sturdily constructed.  The beast mightily smashed down any criticism or appeals to reason. It slayed the general dumbfounded numbness of the utter bullshit they believed, just as they had been taught to do by endless parades of mind numbing right wing propaganda.  Then along comes Mr. Trump, and he simply co-opts the entire structure the Kochs, Rupert Murdoch, and many others; who thought they could act as puppeteers controlling the ignorant mobs they created and exploited.  
     Trump rose from the slimy filth of the fertile breeding ground the Republican party has spent the last half century composting with fear, force feeding on hate, and priming with money.  Even as the lavishly paid con men that the ruling class employs to spin their fairy tales of  trickle down unicorns, Burke and Lazy Fairy markets; the pilfered army Trump took from them only grows and strengthens.
       Perhaps we should all thank Mr. Trump for tearing away the curtains and stage props that the powerful have used to hide behind when accused of dumbing down the discourse, of altering history to their liking, of  blatant lies and propaganda,  of fear mongering,  or fanning flames of  hatred and bigotry.  They managed to design some scenario and argument that at least in their own minds created a plausible deniability.
Trump isn't saying anything the former leaders of this fascist movement weren't also saying to incite them and earn their loyalty, he's just saying it louder and clearer with no possible plausible deniability. No dog whistles.
It's merely the fact that the other elite power brokers on the right who have been acting as puppeteers do not control Trump that is fracturing the GOP. He's taken half the coalition they created from them.
And he's turned them against their former masters. (As well as most everyone else).
Trump reveals himself as a fascist thug....something the former puppet masters denied.
But it's the same bullshit, it's just on a different channel.



Take a breath, notice the odor of the talking heads saturated with the stink of fear and schadenfreude.  Isn't it odd to people like David Brooks begging for someone to come along and save his sorry ass from the beast he has been feeding for the last 20 years.
"Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all."
  This beast he promised time and time again to the small cartel of wealthy men who underwrite his buffoonery and protect him was thoroughly saddle-broken and ready to be ridden right into the Oval Office. A beast that has now kicked the barn door off its hinges and is currently stomping their carefully laid plans for oligarchy to bits. For so many years Brooks and the whole conservative craposphere have insisted THEIR Republican party was not really just a festering cesspit of paranoia and bigotry and fury now reveal that the left has in fact been correct all along...they were and they are. The entire Whig Fan Fiction Factory is exposed for the horseshit it is, and always was.

Brooks and his fellow sycophants throughout corporate media and the conservative echo chamber are apologizing to their employers across the nation for "failing to report accurately". This is obviously a poor attempt at humor because these people don't "report accurately", and never attempted to. They are paid liars and shills. Not journalists investigating issues.  Their lies are not as violent as Trump's perhaps, but they are all basically in the same racket.  Brooks occupation is trafficking in fairy tales about "the real America" that comfort and flatter the thousands of Beltway insiders and  plutocrat rubes, while Trump is paving a path to the White House by telling millions of low-information rubes the flattering, reassuring lies that they want to hear. It is the same scam. Just different chumps, except Trump's chumps are ecstatic, rage-drunk and armed with mighty weapons which you helped to forge, while your chumps are pissing their pants and terrified because their Plutocratic vision of America is being overrun by hordes of rage-drunk, invincibly-armored Mongols and Visigoths you've been telling them did not exist.

The point is not that Brooks or the plutocrats he and all the other right wing fairy tale spinners cosset are wrong. It's that they are ALWAYS wrong. They have gotten nothing right for many decades.
It's easily documented simply by reading older pieces, they get it wrong week after week, year after year, decade after decade. Do not check back more than a week on what conservative rhetoric is touted...it is forbidden. No one wants you to see just how absolutely wrong they are and have always been... about everything.





 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fascism and Nazism in the GOP Presidential Field

    In modern times in the U.S.A. the Republican Party is little more than an ongoing revolt against the United States itself.  This "revolution" could not continue without the billions of dollars pumped into the party by the Koch brothers and other GOP donor-class oppressors and exploiters of the American people.  The Republican Party could easily go the way of the Federalists, the Know-nothings, and the Whigs.  Sure, it has something of a mass base even today in the evangelical churches of the South and rural America, and in the country clubs. It has some Washington think tanks and lots of gerrymandered bogus powers. But the contradictions between the Republican warmongers, holy rollers, bigots, and legions of the greed worshipers, could easily be used to tear this party to pieces. And good riddance! The current presidential field has revealed the maleficent pernicious nature of the elemental intrinsic character of what this political party has become. While the fascist rhetoric of Trump and Cruz could not be more obvious, the history of union busting, oligarchy, and austerity is common cause to most all modern republican candidates.

     The Democratic Party could have, and chose not to really take the Koch party down simply by denouncing their policies and candidates for what they actually are instead of pretending they and their policies were actually some sort of reasonable discourse in polite debate... which is absolute rubbish.  This may be a moot point, because right now we seeing the GOP destroyed from the inside.   
     Donald Trump, who has been compared by conventional republican power brokers both to a wrecking ball, and to Samson bringing down the temple of the Philistines on the heads of the tenants has made it all too apparent what the Republican base is all about in reality. Out and out Fascism.

    By rights, the GOP ought to be a regional party in the deep South, rural America, and the sparsely populated intermountain West. They must never, ever, be allowed to elect another president again. As such an election would certainly lead to a packed Supreme Court, the busting all remaining unions, impose suicidal budget cuts, and set up a permanent austerity dictatorship in which the right to vote of any possible opponent constituencies would be severely limited.
      This is the golden ticket promised by Trump’s outrageous demagogy. The Republican Party today stands as a roadblock on every avenue of American national progress. The very existence of this party is frankly intolerable, and a threat to everyone’s lives, and those of their children and grandchildren.

   Frankly, if the Republican Party could undergo even a partial collapse, the political climate of the United States would revert to a more normal ideological pattern.
If the Republican Party were to dwindle into a gaggle of regional racists and bigots, the Wall Street faction of the Democratic Party would soon find itself in increasing conflict with the residual but still quite present New Deal or pro-labor Democrats. If the two factions which are latent but observable inside the Democratic Party today were to break apart, this would be the easiest and most elegant way to get the United States back on track to having a functional economy and a just social-political structure.

Most any observer can see that Trump's atrocious characterizations of Mexicans, saying that he wants to shut down mosques and other Muslim religious centers, that he would create a registry of all Muslims in the United States and would ban all Muslims from entry to the country can be easily compared to Hitler’s Krystalnacht of 1938 and the Nuremberg racist laws. (Regarding Trump’s absurd demand to bar entry to all Muslims. How could this ever be enforced? By a new Spanish Inquisition? Trump's program could only be enforced by a suffocating fascist police state that would oppress all Americans.)

     The understanding that most Americans have of Hitler and Nazism tends to be rather reductionist, in the sense that it focuses almost exclusively on Hitler’s genocidal policies against Jews. However there is no shortage of other victims (Russian prisoners of war, communists and social democrats, intellectuals, teachers, trade unionists, Gypsies, homosexuals, and all political opponents in general). In reality, Fascism and Nazism represent a total world outlook, with atrocious implications for virtually every sphere of human activity.  In any case, shortly after the middle of November, many Americans were beginning to understand that Trump actually was at least a fascist, and most probably a Nazi. It is important to stress that the American people, despite their many flaws, have one of the best anti-fascist records in the world. During the 1930s, most countries in Europe, from Portugal to Romania, fell under fascist governments. Historically it's a good record. Even the Russians, who did the lions share of fighting the Nazis, as well as England & France had appeasement policies regarding Hitler at first. Though our record of fighting fascism is a good one, I question if we can discern fascism when it's rhetoric & symbols are adapted to appeal to American sensibilities. Which is why I feel compelled to write this. I'd like to think most of us do recognize fascism when we see it. Yet hope as Mr. Trump has said is for losers...he may be right in a sense on that count. Hope, in itself is a fine thing but it may not be enough in itself to accomplish anything...it takes some sort of action as well.

     Other aspects of  Fascism and Nazism  that many people are not aware of include a terrorist dictatorship of banking concerns and financiers. In a representative democracy where there is a Congress or Parliament, the question of fascism has arisen when the demands by the bankers for genocidal austerity against working people have become unbearable and intolerable, leading to forms of political resistance like mass strikes. In Italy, the financiers of the bourgeoisie, were terrified that the Italian Army had gone on strike and refused to fight at Caporetto in 1917, and became even more frightened when Italian workers occupied most of the industrial factories in the country in 1920, leading to a two-year working-class upsurge. So in 1919, the bankers and factory owners recruited desperate and demoralized war veterans (the squadristi) to work as scabs and strikebreakers, and also to attack the party offices and the publications of political rivals. In Germany the Nazis recruited similar goons, calling them the brownshirts, storm troopers, or Sturmabteilungen. We needn't stretch our facilities very hard to see similarities in the Trump campaign,  with many documented instances of protesters at his rallies getting beaten up by Trump’s fanatical backers. It is undeniable that Trump explicitly endorsed the violence from his bombastic podium.  In the case of Ted Cruz, we have a candidate who eagerly accepts endorsements and support from anti-abortion groups with track records of violence and even murder against physicians working at women’s health clinics, in particular Planned Parenthood. The summer of 2016 is shaping up to become an unprecedented festival of political violence in the U.S.

     Nazis, and fascists are also aware of the advantages of pretending to act within the confines of laws. Mussolini became Prime Minister with a March on Rome in October 1922, which had undeniable terrorist potential. It took the Duce several years to consolidate his dictatorship, a time punctuated by numerous political murders like that of Giacomo Matteotti who openly spoke in the Italian Parliament alleging the Fascists committed fraud in the recently held elections, and denounced the violence they used to gain votes.  It is often said that Hitler became Chancellor and was given dictatorial power by legal means. This is not accurate, since the vote on setting up a dictatorship had been preceded by the expulsion of the communist (KPD) members of the parliament. In France, the fascist Marshal Petain was elected dictator and the French Republic abolished by the vote of a few hundred senators and deputies in a theater in the resort town of Vichy in the summer of 1941, but there was never the necessary quorum. Mainly, Petain could lean on the German Army which had conquered France in six weeks. The appearance of legitimacy...to a degree.

    Fascist Economics- Mussolini and Hitler both did everything possible to drive down the real wages of workers and of the middle class.  This corresponds to a policy of primitive accumulation among the wealthiest and extreme austerity which loots and asset strips living standards and the real economy in order to generate monetary profits to prop up masses of insolvent debt. (Not unlike the toxic derivatives and junk bonds of modern Wall Street Investment Banks). For more information about Fascist economics, read about Hitler's economic adviser; Hjalmar Schacht.  Along with the reduction in real wages, fascism attempts to destroy labor unions, trade unions, craft unions, industrial unions, and any other organization attempting to protect working people. The early Italian fascists sought to wipe out every existing organization, including sports clubs, book clubs, ladies’ sewing circles, and all others, forcing their members into a gigantic fascist corporation. (Corporation in this sense does not mean the modern American concept of a joint stock company, but rather a medieval guild with master, journeyman, and apprentices all locked together in organic unity, denying any underlying class tensions.) We can say that just about all the Republican candidates are fascists in terms of their intention of driving down real wages and destroying the labor movement. The most aggressive in this regard are the fanatics of the Libertarian Austrian school.

    Fascism promotes xenophobia, the hatred of foreigners, and real or imagined territorial claims against other countries.  When Fascist promises of economic success don't pan out,  they generate enthusiasm through war hysteria. In today’s world, fascism anywhere risks becoming a path to a 3rd World War. Irrationality and the rejection of reason  is another tell tale trait of  fascism. Hitler relied on the myth that the Germans were  a race of supermen and  needed to exterminate competing races of subhuman individuals bent on the destruction of the superior species. Hitler told Germans to turn away from reason and think with their blood. Demagogy and hysteria based on these themes are found everywhere in fascism. Closely related to this, is the scapegoating ethnic groups in the wake of national disasters. Hitler’s original agitation at the beginning of his political career was focused on the myth of "the stab in the back",  which was a claim that the German army had never been militarily defeated on the field of battle, but rather only betrayed by cliques of liberals, communists, Jews, socialists, and defeatists in Berlin. This was called the Dolchstoßlegende, and it was the staple Nazi argument of the 1920s. Of course the German army had indeed been defeated in the field, specifically by the American Expeditionary Force in the battles of St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne.  Trump’s stab in the back story is based on his invented account of Muslims in Jersey City cheering when the twin towers came down. This pseudo-incident allows Trump to argue that Muslims have received American hospitality and responded with treachery. This thought process is identical to that of Hitler.

    Fascists tend to be superstitious and invoke mythological ideas, ghosts, and spirits, they are inclined towards mysticism. (These aspects of fascist irrationality unfortunately find receptive ears among many Americans who are fooled by waving flags and the mention of popular deities.)  Fascism overall has an anti-intellectual tendency. Mussolini once told a journalist that he held educational programs in contempt, and did not want to have one, since the only guarantee of effective government was the power and determination of the individuals involved. Hitler made sure that the Nazi party program remained a neglected relic, and always tried to prevent it from being updated. For the Nazis, there was no difference between propaganda and university teaching.
You can see modern versions of this when Texas removes Thomas Jefferson from it's history text books, demands for creation myths to be taught in the science classroom are made, or the Koch brothers are allowed to choose political science professors at Florida Universities in return for making donations.

 
     Misogyny – fascists of all kinds hate and fear women.  Psychologists can spend entire careers on Fascist Dictators and their innumerable "issues". Trump may be the obvious misogynist, with unfiltered insults flowing daily about females in all walks of life, but most all republican rhetors promote the same inequality, maybe not quite as blatantly.

    Fascism also appears as the negation of parliaments and legislative processes. Mussolini called the Italian Parliament a cattle pen and pigsty. This is once again like Hitler, who never accepted the Constitution of the Weimar Republic, and got himself appointed dictator as soon as he seized power in January 1933. The way the US legislators have ignored the presidential authority of Barack Obama, pretending it is somehow illegitimate (despite being elected twice by significant margins in uncontested elections...I mean it's not like he lost the popular vote and was appointed by the Supreme Court!  :P ) smacks of fascism. Many of the promises of Trump and other Republican presidential candidates are outside constitutional authority. They either are willing to spit on the constitution...or at least the parts they don't like, or have no knowledge of it.


Libertarians-Fascists? A Strange Alliance.


First off we have to understand that Libertarianism was invented by the decadent Viennese Frederich von Hayek and von Mises in the service of greedy landlords and other bloodsucking exploiters.
(Neither of them ever seem to have held a single academic appointment that didn't involve a corporate sponsor). .Libertarianism was further developed at the London School of Economics by Sir Lionel Robinson. This toxic doctrine was brought to the United States under the auspices of David Rockefeller, who was so stupid that he needed to hire Von Hayek to pass at the London School of Economics. Von Mises was brought over later.
The peculiarity of libertarianism is that, while it is formally distinct from fascism and Nazism, libertarianism, practiced on a sufficient scale eventually destroys a society to such a point that the door opens wide for Fascism and Nazism...they become much easier to impose. The classic example is the German Chancellor Heinrich Bruening, whose austerity policies destroyed the German economic and political system between 1930 and 1932, leaving the country just a few months away from Hitler’s seizure of power when Bruening left office. There is unquestionably an affinity between fascism and libertarianism as seen in this example. Libertarians create the vacuum that sucks in fascism. We are seeing an appalling capitulation to Trump by leading members of the so-called libertarian movement. Republican operatives like Matt Drudge and Roger Stone are evidently attempting to incorporate large parts of the libertarian/conspiracy/fear porn/paranoia alternative media community into a kind of a cheering section for the fascist Trump. But many of that audience have been duped a number of times already, and might now decide to assert a different perspective. Let's hope so.
Is Trump a statesman? Is he the George Washington of our time? Certainly not. Is Ronald Reagan our greatest president? In no way. One would have thought that a libertarian might have come up with something a little more believable than "the Gipper" to usher in Trickle Down & Free Market Trojan Horses, but alas people fell for it . The political landscape is now filled with libertarian orphans who don’t want to go down with Rand Paul, and who may be eyeing the fascism of demagogue Trump.

After all this negativity about Trump, I must confess that I don't think he is any more dangerous than a Ted Cruz. Maybe less. However he is more obvious. He makes no effort to disguise it.



Sources-
The Nazi Hydra in America ... political science text by Glen Yeadon

how-the-money-power-created-libertarianism-and-austrian-economics/
  The Rise Of Fascism And Nazism
-http://www.academia.edu/11022950/The_Rise_of_Fascism_and_Nazism
Venice’s War Against Western Civilization
Appeared in Fidelio, Summer 1995









Saturday, March 12, 2016

Verity, Verity, I say unto you...(Or Maloderous Maxims of Mystery)

Demographics would suggest that most non-voters would likely not support GOP candidates if they did vote. Reality may be altogether different though.
We all have truths, or beliefs at least that we adhere to.
I'd like to think that personally, when presented with new information; I would be inclined to adjust my beliefs to take this new information into account.  It would seem that I've had an epiphany of late regarding a long held belief that does not seem to stand in light of observable reality. This belief is a common one, especially among folks with liberal political sensibilities. It has a reasonable theory behind it...it is the postulation that most non-voters would benefit from Democratic policies, so if turnout were increased it would help get more Democrats in office. It's a common belief among conservatives too, as great effort has been put into suppressing the vote by the right. But let's have a closer look at what we know about these "non voters".  Empirical reality may be very different than the way we perceive it.

     As we can ascertain from the Pew Research Center data in the chart above, demographically speaking we might say that these were likely Democratic voters. However there are basically 2 kinds of non-voter. There are those who are the "meh" type, who don't care or know much about policies or how it effects them. And there are those who feel disengaged from the process for various reasons.
These reasons range from historical oppression, to viewing refraining from voting is a protest of some sort.  As we look a little closer at non-voters, this belief I (and many others ) hold about getting them to vote making a big difference in the outcome of elections may be entirely erroneous.

Eligible non voters numbered 80,632,506 in the 2008 election, a larger number than people who voted for either party. (59,934,814 voted for the Republican candidate, 69,456,897 voted for the Democratic candidate).


     Before digging deeper I apologize for focusing on American politics here, but the data I'm talking about is gathered about the U.S.  We can't assume it applies internationally, but it may or at least some of it may. You'll have to form your own view on that. 
     In 2014, research was conducted on political beliefs of non voters by PEW and they found that despite big differences in demographics, (most non voters are under 30, have incomes below 31K annually, and are  non-Caucasian), there wasn't a significant difference in the makeup of their political views from the actual voters. 



As you can see, the non voter's views on the president, and on both political parties seem to be divided about the same as the views of voters.





On most matters, the opinions are divided similarly among non voters compared to voters, or the general population. Except it seems we make assumptions that may not be so. We assume that these people would vote based on their stated positions. In truth one area they do tend to show a divert from the voting public on is actually knowing what is going on. (68% of likely voters have given some thought to the election, while only 13% of non voters have given any thought to it. 77% of likely voters follow public affairs while only 13% of non-voters do).
 

     Yes, I know that is rather disillusioning, and contrary to intuition.  I think we can all agree that many voters don’t fully understand the effects of the policies proposed  by various candidates or political parties. For instance in conversations I have had with the public at large, Bernie Sanders is often perceived as an extravagant spender while the republican candidates are considered fiscal conservatives, even though the republican tax plans expand revenue shortfalls, create deficits, and widen the income gap. (Historical fact)
     While Sanders’ proposed spending programs are demonstrably affordable and can mostly be covered by simply eliminating ludicrous wasteful tax loopholes

    Yet generally the  voter who primarily is concerned with balancing budgets is far more likely to support republicans than they are Bernie Sanders. They’re making this judgement on "folklore"   instead of doing the research necessary for a well-informed opinion. There are many issues similar to this where people’s stated policy preferences are not actually reflected in their votes.
Among women and black voters for instance, Hillary Clinton is leading Sanders although Sanders has a more vigorous concrete record of supporting policies that aid these groups, especially on the economic front.   If "voters" can be profoundly uninformed about which candidates and policies will actually accomplish their objectives, non-voters are absolutely less informed by their own descriptions of themselves in this research. This is reflected currently in the reality that non-voters are far more likely to support Donald Trump.



    So what does all this mean? Simply that it may be a complete canard that getting more people to vote would be helpful. because the assumption that non-voters would vote rationally does not seem to be true.
So what would be helpful? Better information, or better informed voters.
How is that accomplished?
Well, I think an independent press would be a good start.
It does not bode well for the "4th Estate" when it is primarily in the hands of only 4 or 5 corporate owners, all with socioeconomic and political agendas contrary to public interest.

It may be that the downfall of democracy and the advent of corporate oligarchy is not the fault of the non voter, but rather the fault of uninformed, misinformed, or under-informed voters.


All charts and figures are from the Pew Research site.
For further reading...
http://www.people-press.org/2006/10/18/who-votes-who-doesnt-and-why/

http://www.people-press.org/2014/10/31/the-party-of-nonvoters-2/
 











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