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Fascism Watch: Representational democracy on the brink, 1-11-19
Donald Trump is likely hours, if not minutes, away from declaring a national emergency over a nonexistent crisis. By doing so, he will be creating a precedent that he need not assent to congressional control of anything. Anything. Because Trump’s “border crisis” isn’t real. It’s a non-event. By breaking the government over this point, Trump—and the Republicans abetting his action—are making dead certain that it is broken. And almost as certain that it stays that way.
At this point, two years into Trump’s fact-free maelstrom, it’s become easy to treat concerns about American democracy as passé. After all, didn’t Democrats just win a resounding victory at the polls? They did. Didn’t Americans just deliver a strong message that they do not support Trump? Do not support the direction he has been taking the nation? Do not believe in his dark vision of nationalism and autocracy?
By Peter Koenig October 31, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - Latin America is re-converting into Washington’s backyard and as a sideline is returning to fascist rule, similar but worse than the sixties seventies and eighties, which stood under the spell of the CIA-led Operation or Plan Condor. Many call the current right-wing trend Operation Condor II which is probably as close to the truth as can be. It is all Washington / CIA fabricated, just with more rigor and more sophistication than Plan Condor of 40 and 50 years ago. As much as it hurts to say, after all the glory and laurels sent out to Latin America – with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Lula, the Kirchners, José Mujica, Michelle Bachelet – more than 80% of the population of Latin America were living for some 15 to 20 years under democratically elected mostly left-leaning governments, really progressive. – Within no time, in less than 3 years the wheels have turned.
Latin America was for about 20 years the only western part of the world, that was fully detached from the fangs of the empire. It has succumbed again to the forces of evil, to the forces of money, the forces of utter corruption and greed. The people of Latin America have betrayed their own principles. They did it again. Humans remain reduced as in ancient times, to the unfailing powers of reproduction and ego cum greed. It seems in the end, ego and greed always win over the forces of light, of good, peace and harmony.
That’s why even the World Bank calls corruption the single most hindrance to development. They mean economic development; I mean conscientious development. This time the trick is false and fraudulent election campaigns; bought elections; Washington induced parliamentary coups – which in Brazil brought unelected President Temer to power, a prelude to much worse to come, the fascist, misogynist, racist, and self-styled military man, Jair Bolsonaro.
The 2015 presidential election in Argentina brought a cleverly Washington manufactured win for Mauricio Macri, a friend and one-time business associate of Donald Trump’s, as it were. The election was manipulated by the by now well-known Machiavellian Cambridge Analytica method of cheating the voters by individualized messages spread throughout the social media into believing all sorts of lies about the candidates. Voters were, thus, hit on the head by surprise, as Macri’s opponent, the left-leaning Daniel Scioli of the Peronist Victory Front, the leader in the polls, was defeated.
Today Macri has adopted a fascist economic agenda, indebted the country with IMF austerity packages, increased unemployment and poverty from12% before his election in 2015 to close to 40 % in 2018. He is leading Argentina towards a déjà-vu scenario of the 80s and especially 1990’s when under pressure from the US, IMF and World Bank, the country was to adopt the US dollar as their local currency, or to be exact, Argentina was allowed to keep their peso, but had to commit to a one-to-one parity with the US dollar. The official explanation for this, in economic terms, criminal move (to impose the use of the currency of one country for the economy of another country is not only insane, its outright criminal), was to stop skyrocketing inflation – which temporarily it did, but to the detriment of the working class, for whom common staple and goods became unaffordable.
In Chile on 9/11 of 1973 a democratically elected socialist, Salvador Allende, a was overthrown under the guidance of the CIA and a brutal military dictator, Augusto Pinochet installed for almost 30 years. After a brief spring of center and left-leaning governments, Chile, in December 2017, has returned to right-wing, neoliberal politics with Sebastian Piñera, a former associate of Pinochet’s. With the surroundings of his neoliberal friends and close accomplices in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and even Ecuador, to be sure, he will move to extreme right, neo-fascist economic rules and, thus, please Washington’s banks and their instruments, the IMF and the World Bank.
Fascism is on the march. And this despite the fact that 99.99% of the population, not just in Latin America, worldwide, want nothing to do with fascism – so where is the fraud? Why is nobody investigating the scam and swindle in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia? – and then putting the results up for everyone to see?
In the meantime, we have learned about Cambridge / Oxford Analytica (CA & OA). How they operate and cheat the electorate. They themselves have finally admitted to the methods within which they operate and influence voters with lies – and with data stealing or buying from social media, mainly facebook; millions and millions of personal data to target electronically special groups of people – bombarding them with lies to promote or denigrate the one or the other candidate.
And precisely this happened in Brazil. A week before the run-off election that took place this past Sunday, 28 October, Fernando Haddad, (PT), launched a criminal investigation precisely for that reason against Bolsonaro’s campaign. Of course, nothing happened. All the judges, courts and lawyers are under control of the unelected corrupt right-wing Temer Government – which came to power by a foreign directed ruthless parliamentary coup, impeaching under totally false pretenses democratically elected Dilma Rousseff.
From day One, the US firmly counts on Bolsonaro to encircle Venezuela, together with Colombia. President Trump has already expressed his expectations to work ‘closely together’ with the new Bolsonaro Government in “matters of trade, military – and earthing else.” Bolsonaro has already met with Mike Pompeo, the US Foreign Secretary, who told him that the situation in Venezuela is a “priority’ for Brazil. There you go; Washington dictates foreign leaders their priorities. Bolsonaro will oblige, for sure.
Wake up – LEFT! – not just in Latin America, but around the world.
Today, it’s the mainstream media which have learned the tricks and cheats, and they have perfected the Cambridge and Oxford Analyticas; they are doing it non-stop. They have all the fake and fiat money in the world to pay for these false and deceit-campaigns – they are owned by the corporate military and financial elite, by the CIA, MI6/5, Mossad – they are owned and directed by the western all-overarching neoliberalism cum fascism. The rich elite groups have free access to the fake and fiat money supply – its government supplied in the US as well as in Europe; debt is no problem for them, as long as they ‘behave’.
Yes. The accent is on behaving. Dictatorial trends are also omni-present in the EU, and especially in the non-elected European Commission (EC) which calls the shots on all important matters. Italy’s Fife-Star Eurosceptic Government presented its 2019 budget to Brussels. Not only was the government scolded and reprimanded for overstretching its accounts with a deficit exceeding the 3% EU imposed debt margin, but the government had to present a new budget within 3 weeks. That is how a not-so-well behaving EU government is treated. What a stretch of authoritarian EU rule vis-à-vis a sovereign government. And ‘sovereignty’ is – the EU boasts – the key to a coherent European Union.
On the other hand, France has for years been infringing on the (in)famous 3% rule. And again, for the 2019 budget. However, the French government received a friendly drafted note saying, would you please reconsider your budget deficit for the next year. No scolding. One does not reprimand a Rothchild Child. Double standards, corruption, nepotism, are among the attributes of fascism. It’s growing fast, everywhere in the west.
It has taken on a life of itself. And the military is prepared. Everywhere. – If only they, the military, would wake up and stand with the people instead of the ruling elite that treats them like their peons. Yet, they are part of the people; they belong to the most common of the people. In the end, they get the same shaft treatment as the people – they are tortured and shot when they are no longer needed, or if they don’t behave as the neocon-fascists want.
So, Dear Military Men and Women – why not pre-empt such risks and stand with the people from the very beginning? – The entire fake and criminal system would collapse if it wouldn’t have the protection of the police and the military. You, dear Men and Women form the Police and Military, you have the power and the moral obligation to stand by the people, not defending the ruthless, brutal elitist and criminal rulers – à la Macri, Bolsonaro, Piñera, Duque, Macron, May and Merkel. And there are many more of the same blood.
One of the first signs for what was to happen throughout Latin America and spreading through the western world, was the “fake election” of Macri, in 2015 in Argentina. Some of us saw it coming and wrote about it. We were ignored, even laughed at. We were told – we didn’t understand the democratic process. Yes, right. In the meantime, the trend towards the right, towards a permanent state of Emergency, a de facto Martial Rule has become irreversible. France has incorporated the permanent state of emergency in her Constitution. Armed police and military are a steady presence throughout Paris and France’s major cities.
There are only a few, very few exceptions left in Latin America, indeed in the western world.
And let’s do whatever we can to save them from the bulldozer of fascism.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites.
This Is Your Brain on Money: Why America’s Rich Think Differently Than the Rest of Us Economist Chris Dillow cites research by Cameron Anderson and Sebastien Brion, showing that overconfident individuals are seen by others as more competent. He argues that, “overconfident people are more likely to be promoted. And this could have positive feedback effects. Higher status will itself breed even more overconfidence. (E.g. “I got the job so I must be good.”) And if bosses employ like-minded subordinates, the result could be entire layers of management which are both over-confident and engaged in groupthink.” Many other studies cited.
seven years after he fled the ascendant Nazism of Europe.
The Austrian émigré writer Stefan Zweig composed the first draft of his memoir, “The World of Yesterday,” in a feverish rapture during the summer of 1941, as headlines gave every indication that civilization was being swallowed in darkness.
Zweig’s beloved France had fallen to the Nazis the previous year. The Blitz had reached a peak in May, with almost fifteen hundred Londoners dying in a single night. Operation Barbarossa, the colossal invasion of the Soviet Union by the Axis powers, in which nearly a million people would die, had launched in June. Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing squads, roared along just behind the Army, massacring Jews and other vilified groups--often with the help of local police and ordinary citizens.
Zweig himself had fled Austria preëmptively, in 1934. During the country’s brief, bloody civil war that February, when Engelbert Dollfuss, the country’s Clerico-Fascist Chancellor, had destroyed the Socialist opposition, Zweig’s Salzburg home had been searched for secret arms to supply the left-wing militias. Zweig at the time was regarded as one of Europe’s most prominent humanist-pacifists, and the absurd crudity of the police action so outraged him that he began packing his things that night.
From Austria, Zweig and his second wife, Lotte, went to England, then to the New World, where New York City became his base, despite his aversion to its crowds and abrasive competitiveness. In June of 1941, longing for some respite from the needs of the exiles in Manhattan beseeching him for help with money, work, and connections, the couple rented a modest, rather grim bungalow in Ossining, New York, a mile uphill from Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
There, Zweig set to furious work on his autobiography—laboring like “seven devils without a single walk,” as he put it. Some four hundred pages poured out of him in a matter of weeks. His productivity reflected his sense of urgency: the book was conceived as a kind of message to the future.
It is a law of history, he wrote, “that contemporaries are denied a recognition of the early beginnings of the great movements which determine their times.” For the benefit of subsequent generations, who would be tasked with rebuilding society from the ruins, he was determined to trace how the Nazis’ reign of terror had become possible, and how he and so many others had been blind to its beginnings.
Zweig noted that he could not remember when he first heard Hitler’s name. It was an era of confusion, filled with ugly agitators. During the early years of Hitler’s rise, Zweig was at the height of his career, and a renowned champion of causes that sought to promote solidarity among European nations. He called for the founding of an international university with branches in all the major European capitals, with a rotating exchange program intended to expose young people to other communities, ethnicities, and religions.
He was only too aware that the nationalistic passions expressed in the First World War had been compounded by new racist ideologies in the intervening years. The economic hardship and sense of humiliation that the German citizenry experienced as a consequence of the Versailles Treaty had created a pervasive resentment that could be enlisted to fuel any number of radical, bloodthirsty projects.
Zweig did take notice of the discipline and financial resources on display at the rallies of the National Socialists—their eerily synchronized drilling and spanking-new uniforms, and the remarkable fleets of automobiles, motorcycles, and trucks they paraded. Zweig often travelled across the German border to the little resort town of Berchtesgaden, where he saw “small but ever-growing squads of young fellows in riding boots and brown shirts, each with a loud-colored swastika on his sleeve."
These young men were clearly trained for attack, Zweig recalled. But after the crushing of Hitler’s attempted putsch, in 1923, Zweig seems hardly to have given the National Socialists another thought until the elections of 1930, when support for the Party exploded—from under a million votes two years earlier to more than six million. At that point, still oblivious to what this popular affirmation might portend, Zweig applauded the enthusiastic passion expressed in the elections. He blamed the stuffiness of the country’s old-fashioned democrats for the Nazi victory, calling the results at the time “a perhaps unwise but fundamentally sound and approvable revolt of youth against the slowness and irresolution of ‘high politics.’ ”
In his memoir, Zweig did not excuse himself or his intellectual peers for failing early on to reckon with Hitler’s significance. “The few among writers who had taken the trouble to read Hitler’s book, ridiculed the bombast of his stilted prose instead of occupying themselves with his program,” he wrote. They took him neither seriously nor literally. Even into the nineteen-thirties, “the big democratic newspapers, instead of warning their readers, reassured them day by day, that the movement . . . would inevitably collapse in no time.”
Prideful of their own higher learning and cultivation, the intellectual classes could not absorb the idea that, thanks to “invisible wire-pullers”—the self-interested groups and individuals who believed they could manipulate the charismatic maverick for their own gain—this uneducated “beer-hall agitator” had already amassed vast support. After all, Germany was a state where the law rested on a firm foundation, where a majority in parliament was opposed to Hitler, and where every citizen believed that “his liberty and equal rights were secured by the solemnly affirmed constitution.”
Zweig recognized that propaganda had played a crucial role in eroding the conscience of the world. He described how, as the tide of propaganda rose during the First World War, saturating newspapers, magazines, and radio, the sensibilities of readers became deadened. Eventually, even well-meaning journalists and intellectuals became guilty of what he called “the ‘doping’ of excitement”—an artificial incitement of emotion that culminated, inevitably, in mass hatred and fear.
Describing the healthy uproar that ensued after one artist’s eloquent outcry against the war in the autumn of 1914, Zweig observed that, at that point, “the word still had power. It had not yet been done to death by the organization of lies, by ‘propaganda.’ ” But Hitler “elevated lying to a matter of course,” Zweig wrote, just as he turned “anti-humanitarianism to law.” By 1939, he observed, “Not a single pronouncement by any writer had the slightest effect . . . no book, pamphlet, essay, or poem” could inspire the masses to resist Hitler’s push to war.
Propaganda both whipped up Hitler’s base and provided cover for his regime’s most brutal aggressions. It also allowed truth seeking to blur into wishful thinking, as Europeans’ yearning for a benign resolution to the global crisis trumped all rational skepticism. “Hitler merely had to utter the word ‘peace’ in a speech to arouse the newspapers to enthusiasm, to make them forget all his past deeds, and desist from asking why, after all, Germany was arming so madly,” Zweig wrote. Even as one heard rumors about the construction of special internment camps, and of secret chambers where innocent people were eliminated without trial, Zweig recounted, people refused to believe that the new reality could persist.
“This could only be an eruption of an initial, senseless rage, one told oneself. That sort of thing could not last in the twentieth century.” In one of the most affecting scenes in his autobiography, Zweig describes seeing the first refugees from Germany climbing over the Salzburg mountains and fording the streams into Austria shortly after Hitler’s appointment to the Chancellorship. “Starved, shabby, agitated . . . they were the leaders in the panicked flight from inhumanity which was to spread over the whole earth. But even then I did not suspect when I looked at those fugitives that I ought to perceive in those pale faces, as in a mirror, my own life, and that we all, we all, we all would become victims of the lust for power of this one man.”
Zweig was miserable in the United States. Americans seemed indifferent to the suffering of émigrés; Europe, he said repeatedly, was committing suicide. He told one friend that he felt as if he were living a “posthumous” existence. In a desperate effort to renew his will to live, he travelled to Brazil in August of 1941, where, on previous visits, the country’s people had treated him as a superstar, and where the visible intermixing of the races had struck Zweig as the only way forward for humanity. In letters from the time he sounds chronically wistful, as if he has travelled back to before the world of yesterday. And yet, for all his fondness for the Brazilian people and appreciation of the country’s natural beauty, his loneliness grew more and more acute.
Many of his closest friends were dead. The others were thousands of miles away. His dream of a borderless, tolerant Europe (always his true, spiritual homeland) had been destroyed. He wrote to the author Jules Romains, “My inner crisis consists in that I am not able to identify myself with the me of passport, the self of exile.”
In February of 1942, together with Lotte, Zweig took an overdose of sleeping pills. In the formal suicide message he left behind, Zweig wrote that it seemed better to withdraw with dignity while he still could, having lived “a life in which intellectual labor meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on earth.”
I wonder how far along the scale of moral degeneration Zweig would judge America to be in its current state. We have a magnetic leader, one who lies continually and remorselessly—not pathologically but strategically, to placate his opponents, to inflame the furies of his core constituency, and to foment chaos. The American people are confused and benumbed by a flood of fake news and misinformation. Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament.
Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”
And still Zweig might have noted that, as of today, President Trump and his sinister “wire-pullers” have not yet locked the protocols for their exercise of power into place. One tragic lesson offered by “The World of Yesterday” is that, even in a culture where misinformation has become omnipresent, where an angry base, supported by disparate, well-heeled interests, feels empowered by the relentless lying of a charismatic leader, the center might still hold.
In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin–an arson attack Hitler blamed on the Communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population.
That fateful conflagration took place less than thirty days after Hitler became Chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.
Thom Hartmann: How the GOP Used a Two Santa Clauses Tactic to Con America for Nearly 40 Years This scam has been killing wages and enriching billionaires for decades.
The Republican Party has been running a long con on America since Reagan’s inauguration, and somehow our nation’s media has missed it – even though it was announced in The Wall Street Journal in the 1970s and the GOP has clung tenaciously to it ever since.
In fact, Republican strategist Jude Wanniski’s 1974 “Two Santa Clauses Theory” has been the main reason why the GOP has succeeded in producing our last two Republican presidents, Bush and Trump (despite losing the popular vote both times). It’s also why Reagan’s economy seemed to be “good.”
Here’s how it works, laid it out in simple summary:
First, when Republicans control the federal government, and particularly the White House, spend money like a drunken sailor and run up the US debt as far and as fast as possible. This produces three results – it stimulates the economy thus making people think that the GOP can produce a good economy, it raises the debt dramatically, and it makes people think that Republicans are the “tax-cut Santa Claus.”
Second, when a Democrat is in the White House, scream about the national debt as loudly and frantically as possible, freaking out about how “our children will have to pay for it!” and “we have to cut spending to solve the crisis!” This will force the Democrats in power to cut their own social safety net programs, thus shooting their welfare-of-the-American-people Santa Claus.
Think back to Ronald Reagan, who more than tripled the US debt from a mere $800 billion to $2.6 trillion in his 8 years. That spending produced a massive stimulus to the economy, and the biggest non-wartime increase in the debt in history. Nary a peep from Republicans about that 218% increase in our debt; they were just fine with it.
And then along came Bill Clinton. The screams and squeals from the GOP about the “unsustainable debt” of nearly $3 trillion were loud, constant, and echoed incessantly by media from CBS to NPR. Newt Gingrich rode the wave of “unsustainable debt” hysteria into power, as the GOP took control of the House for the first time lasting more than a term since 1930, even though the increase in our national debt under Clinton was only about 37%.
The GOP “debt freakout” was so widely and effectively amplified by the media that Clinton himself bought into it and began to cut spending, taking the axe to numerous welfare programs (“It’s the end of welfare as we know it” he famously said, and “The era of big government is over”). Clinton also did something no Republican has 'e in our lifetimes: he supported several balanced budgets and handed a budget surplus to George W. Bush.
When George W. Bush was given the White House by the Supreme Court (Gore won the popular vote by over a half-million votes) he reverted to Reagan’s strategy and again nearly doubled the national debt, adding a trillion in borrowed money to pay for his tax cut for GOP-funding billionaires, and tossing in two unfunded wars for good measure, which also added at least (long term) another $5 to $7 trillion.
There was not a peep about the debt from any high-profile in-the-know Republicans then; in fact, Dick Cheney famously said, essentially ratifying Wanniski’s strategy, “Reagan proved deficits ''t matter. We won the midterms [because of those tax cuts]. This is our due.” Bush and Cheney raised the debt by 86% to over $10 trillion (although the war debt wasn’t put on the books until Obama entered office).
Then comes Democratic President Barack Obama, and suddenly the GOP is hysterical about the debt again. So much so that they convinced a sitting Democratic president to propose a cut to Social Security (the “chained CPI”). Obama nearly shot the Democrats biggest Santa Claus program. And, Republican squeals notwithstanding, Obama only raised the debt by 34%.
Now we’re back to a Republican president, and once again deficits be damned. Between their tax cut and the nearly-trillion dollar spending increase passed on February 8th, in the first year-and-a-month of Trump’s administration they’ve spent more stimulating the economy (and driving up debt by more than $2 trillion, when you include interest) than the entire Obama presidency.
Consider the amazing story of where this strategy came from, and how the GOP has successfully kept their strategy from getting into the news; even generally well-informed writers for media like the Times and the Post – and producers, pundits and reporters for TV news – '’t know the history of what’s been happening right in front of us all for 37 years.
Wanniski was tired of the GOP failing to win elections. And, he reasoned, it was happening because the Democrats had been viewed since the New Deal as the Santa Claus party (taking care of people’s needs and the General Welfare), while the GOP, opposing everything from Social Security to Medicare to unemployment insurance, was widely seen as the party of Scrooge.
The Democrats, he noted, got to play Santa Claus when they passed out Social Security and Unemployment checks – both programs of the New Deal – as well as when their "big government" projects like roads, bridges, and highways were built, giving a healthy union paycheck to construction workers and making our country shine.
Democrats kept raising taxes on businesses and rich people to pay for things, which didn't seem to have much effect at all on working people (wages were steadily going up, in fact), and that added to the perception that the Democrats were a party of Robin Hoods, taking from the rich to fund programs for the poor and the working class.
Americans loved the Democrats back then. And every time Republicans railed against these programs, they lost elections.
Wanniski decided that the GOP had to become a Santa Claus party, too. But because the Republicans hated the idea of helping working people, they had to figure out a way to convince people that they, too, could have the Santa spirit. But what?
“Tax cuts!” said Wanniski.
To make this work, the Republicans would first have to turn the classical world of economics – which had operated on a simple demand-driven equation for seven thousand years – on its head. (Everybody understood that demand – aka “wages” – drove economies because working people spent most of their money in the marketplace, producing demand for factory output and services.)
In 1974 Wanniski invented a new phrase – "supply side economics" – and suggested that the reason economies grew wasn't because people had money and wanted to buy things with it but, instead, because things were available for sale, thus tantalizing people to part with their money.
The more things there were, he said, the faster the economy would grow. And the more money we gave rich people and their corporations (via tax cuts) the more stuff they’d generously produce for us to think about buying.
At a glance, this move by the Republicans seems irrational, cynical and counterproductive. It certainly defies classic understandings of economics. But if you consider Jude Wanniski’s playbook, it makes complete sense.
To help, Arthur Laffer took that equation a step further with his famous napkin scribble. Not only was supply-side a rational concept, Laffer suggested, but as taxes went down, revenue to the government would go up! Neither concept made any sense – and time has proven both to be colossal idiocies – but together they offered the Republican Party a way out of the wilderness.
Ronald Reagan was the first national Republican politician to fully embrace the Two Santa Clauses strategy. He said straight out that if he could cut taxes on rich people and businesses, those tax cuts would cause them to take their surplus money and build factories, and that the more stuff there was supplying the economy the faster it would grow.
There was no way, Wanniski said, that the Democrats could ever win again. They'd be forced into the role of Santa-killers by raising taxes, or anti-Santas by cutting spending. Either one would lose them elections.
When Reagan rolled out Supply Side Economics in the early 80s, dramatically cutting taxes while exploding spending, there was a moment when it seemed to Wanniski and Laffer that all was lost. The budget deficit exploded and the country fell into a deep recession – the worst since the Great Depression – and Republicans nationwide held their collective breath.
But David Stockman came up with a great new theory about what was going on – they were "starving the beast" of government by running up such huge deficits that Democrats would never, ever in the future be able to talk again about national health care or improving Social Security.
And this so pleased Alan Greenspan, the Fed Chairman, that he opened the spigots of the Fed, dropping interest rates and buying government bonds, producing a nice, healthy goose to the economy.
Greenspan further counseled Reagan to dramatically increase taxes on people earning under $37,800 a year by doubling the Social Security (FICA/payroll) tax, and then let the government borrow those newfound hundreds of billions of dollars off-the-books to make the deficit look better than it was.
Reagan, Greenspan, Winniski, and Laffer took the federal budget deficit from under a trillion dollars in 1980 to almost three trillion by 1988, and back then a dollar could buy far more than it buys today. They and George HW Bush ran up more debt in eight years than every president in history, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter, combined.
Surely this would both starve the beast and force the Democrats to make the politically suicidal move of becoming deficit hawks. And that's just how it turned out.
Bill Clinton, who had run on an FDR-like platform of a "New Covenant" with the American people that would strengthen the institutions of the New Deal, strengthen labor, and institute a national health care system, found himself in a box.
A few weeks before his inauguration, Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin sat him down and told him the facts of life: he was going to have to raise taxes and cut the size of government. Clinton took their advice to heart, raised taxes, balanced the budget, and cut numerous programs, declaring an "end to welfare as we know it" and, in his second inaugural address, an "end to the era of big government."
Clinton was the anti-Santa Claus, and the result was an explosion of Republican wins across the country as Republican politicians campaigned on a platform of supply-side tax cuts and pork-rich spending increases. State after state turned red, and the Republican Party rose to take over, ultimately, every single lever of power in the federal government, from the Supreme Court to the White House.
Looking at the wreckage of the Democratic Party all around Clinton by 1999, Winniski wrote a gloating memo that said, in part: "We of course should be indebted to Art Laffer for all time for his Curve... But as the primary political theoretician of the supply-side camp, I began arguing for the 'Two Santa Claus Theory' in 1974. If the Democrats are going to play Santa Claus by promoting more spending, the Republicans can never beat them by promoting less spending. They have to promise tax cuts..."
In reality, his tax cuts did what they have always 'e over the past 100 years – they initiated a bubble economy that would let the very rich skim the cream off the top just before the ceiling crashed in on working people. Just like today.
The Republicans got what they wanted from Wanniski's work. They held power for thirty years, made themselves trillions of dollars, and cut organized labor's representation in the workplace from around 25 percent when Reagan came into office to around 6 of the non-governmental workforce today.
Over time, and without raising the cap, Social Security will face an easily-solved crisis, and the GOP’s plan is for force Democrats to become the anti-Santa, yet again. If the GOP-controlled Congress continues to refuse to require rich people to pay into Social Security (any income over $128,000 is SS-tax-free), either benefits will be cut or the retirement age will have to be raised to over 70.
The GOP plan is to use this unnecessary, manufactured crisis as an opening to “reform” Social Security - translated: cut and privatize. Thus, forcing Democrats to become the Social Security anti-Santa a different way.
When this happens, Democrats must remember Jude Wanniski, and accept neither the cut to disability payments nor the entree to Social Security “reform.” They must demand the “cap” be raised, as Bernie Sanders proposed and the Democratic Party adopted in its 2016 platform.
And, hopefully, some of our media will begin to call the GOP out on the Two Santa Clauses program. It’s about time that Americans realized the details of the scam that’s been killing wages and enriching billionaires for nearly four decades.
Slavehood 2017 By Peter Koenig [an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America.] May 04, 2017 "Information Clearing House"
When in the 18th and 19th Century African slaves did not ‘behave’, they were cruelly beaten sometimes to death as a deterrent for others. They were deprived of food for their families. Their women were raped. They were traded to even harsher white masters. Their lives were worth only what their labor could produce. They were treated as subjects, devoid of human warmth.
Today we have become all slaves; slaves to the powers of mafia bankster of finance; slaves to the western lie-propaganda; to the lobbies and their giant all dominating corporations – to the war-industry, because we happily believe what we are told about ever-increasing terrorism that needs to be fought with eternal wars; slaves to the environment-destructive hydrocarbon industry; to the pharma-industry; to the Monsanto-ized agroindustry; to senseless consumerism – and foremost – and summing it all up: to greed, endless greed that drives endless growth, nurturing endless competition fomenting adversity, destroying solidarity, instead of amical cooperation for a harmonious human cohabitation.
As people of western nations, we are enslaved to an all-engulfing neoliberal fascism – to a predatory economy. Corporate lie propaganda drip-feds our brains. We haven’t even noticed it. We are enslaved to so-called ‘leaders’, put in office by obscure foreign masters of deceit – the ever-stronger corporate controlled propaganda machine – the six all controlling Zion-Anglo media, whom we believe whatever lie they vomit – because it is more comfortable to believe a lie than to confront the truth – that’s self-imposed slavehood.
That’s how far we have gone. Because we are clearly on an almost irreversible downward track – sliding and running towards our own demise – into darkness – the darkness of chaos and bloody wars, endless wars against self-invented terrorism; wars that keeps our western economy running – and our armchair politics alive. Wars that kill and slaughter millions and millions – but all in ‘far-away’ lands. We are told we are protected. Our police and military watch over us. The new gods – money and military.
Although ‘pride’ was never an appropriate term to integrate our soul and minds, as we the western powers – have for centuries enslaved, raped, exploited and slaughtered the indigenous people, those who have for millennia, for history of mankind survived and passed on our human genes from one murderous civilization to another, always in the hope that the new one would see the light.
We can only hope that the patience of these native people, the survivors, our saviors – will prevail, that before we disappear in darkness, in the void of a manmade blackhole, we will awake, open our eyes and seek the light – become finally human, the term we have fraudulently applied to ourselves – the western civilization.
Independent thinking has become a crime, as it impedes the advancement of slavehood. Education is designed to kill individual thinking and the wide range of inventiveness – because it’s dangerous – for those who enslave and control us. ‘New-speak’ education has to make us thinking what the system wants us to think. That’s what western education has become in the last 50 years – a farce to keep us as non-thinking idiots.
Idiots are easily enslaved and exploited and sent to wars – to steal foreign resources to satisfy the greed of a few. We love to be cannon fodder, as we were told – enslaved – to believe that good patriots love to die for their country. We are blinded and avoid seeing that we are dying fighting to satisfy puppet leaders’ greed for power and money – whose power is nothing more than that allowed them by the Masters who control the world and who pull the strings on their marionettes.
"If there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
"Fascism is capitalism plus murder." - Upton Sinclair
"I mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism...
[In fascist regimes] "The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc." Dr. Lawrence Britt
"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . ." - Milton Mayer - They Thought They Were Free - The Germans, 1933-45 -http://is.gd/KLLkPQ
"It is true that the use of force and the scapegoating of fringe groups are part of every fascism. But there was also an economic dimension of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," which was an essential ingredient of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s tyrannies. So-called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a model by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe...
"Mussolini in 1934, praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled the money rather than those who earned it...
"...so many Americans and Europeans viewed economic fascism as the wave of the future during the 1930s...
"In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy — those concerned with individual rights and freedoms — as anti-American. That was 69 years ago....
"So it is important for us to recognize that, as an economic system, fascism was widely accepted in the 1920s and '30s, and nearly worshiped by some powerful American industrialists. And fascism has always, and explicitly, been opposed to liberalism of all kinds...
14 characteristics of fascism:
"...it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism...
"Still another way to understand fascism is as a kind of colonization. A simple definition of “colonization” is that it takes people’s stories away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower others at their expense. When you are taxed to support a government that uses you as a means to serve the ends of others, you are — ironically — in a state of taxation without representation. That’s where this country started, and it’s where we are now" (By Rev. Davidson Loehr, First Unitarian Church of Austin. "SERMON: Living Under Fascism." Source: UUA News and Events. http://www.therightiswrong.us/fascism.htm).
"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
"The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us." - Michel Foucault
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?" - Mahatma Gandhi
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power" - Benito Mussolini
"As Primo Levi warned, "Every age has its Fascism"... Democracy, Levi pointed out, can be undermined by "Withholding or manipulating information, polluting the judicial system, and paralyzing the school system, by encouraging in many subtle ways nostalgia for a world in which order reigns supreme"" (Frederika Randall. "The Irresistible Rise of Berlusconi." The Nation, June 21, 2004: 25).
Person A: "Whoah. Listen to this definition of fascism I found in the American Heritage Dictionary."
Person A: ""A system of government that exercises a dictatorship fo the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
Person B: "Why, that sounds sort of like what we have in America today, what with the one-party extreme right wing government where most of the departments are headed by corporate lobbyists and ex-CEOs of large corporations and all -- and everyone's all super-patriotic and everything, always mocking Europe and the UN" (Darrin Bell. "Candorville" cartoon.)
Concerning the Nazi youth movement, "Stargardt observes that "with their dichotomy between good and evil, their appeal to feeling and their demand for mortal commitment, Nazi values could have been designed for adolescence"" (Nicholas Stargardt. "High price of survival." Guardian Weekly, May 26, 2005: 27).
Best Definition of Fascism
Yesterday, I sat down over coffee to write an essay about an organized bombing campaign by a right wing extremist targeting the political opposition. But by the time I’d finished a gunman radicalized by the delusional, paranoid propaganda of an authoritarian movement had committed a mass murder at a synagogue. What a tragedy, what a loss. One of those killed was a holocaust survivor.
That, my friends, is an extreme pace of social collapse?—?one that should leave you profoundly unsettled. And yet while I’ve long had had the uncomfortable suspicion that fascism would rise in America during my lifetime?—?across the world in fact?—?I’ve also suspected that would be because Americans, many of them, enough of them, even especially the good ones were never really taught what fascism is.
What is fascism? This wave of violence, my friends, is fascism coming to life. Now I suspect when I say this, you feel conflicted. One part of you probably says, “I know that, you idiot!!”?—?while another one, trying to be reasonable, says “but this isn’t really, you know, fascism fascism.” How curious. Am I right? Do you have something like this unconscious inner dialogue going on? I’d bet that you do. But why?
The reason is that Americans have been badly miseducated about fascism. They have been told a terrible and stupid lie, that I will come to. That part of you that objects, “but this isn’t fascism fascism,” does so because somewhere, probably in grade school, and then all over again in college, you were taught the definition that every American is taught. Fascism is the “concentration of state and economic power.”
Now, let’s think about this for a second. If this is fascism, then Britain’s NHS, France’s retirement system, and Germany’s high speed rail network meet this definition, too--and all those kind folks working in them are…fascists. Lol. In fact, they are the precise opposite of fascism--goods designed explicitly to make everyone better off, regardless of their position in society, their caste, creed, place?—?which is why we call them “public” goods. And yet this definition--“the concentration of state and economic power,” or those like it?—?has no racial or ethnic component, nor one of violence, whatsoever. Isn’t that, well, strangely, bafflingly ignorant? After all, isn’t fascism at its core about exactly that?
I want you to see the point. The definition of fascism Americans have been taught is tragically and funnily backwards. So much so that it quite literally makes no sense at all?—?it falls apart on the merest examination. What is it really defining, if it’s not defining fascism?
Americans have been taught that socialism is fascism. Not even totalist communism, a la Soviet Russia?—?even lightweight social democracy. Quite literally, under the terms of this bizarre definition--“the concentration of state and economic power”--Americans are left badly, deeply, and profoundly confused.
But wait! If we build that high speed rail line, or give people healthcare--isn’t that a step on the road to fascism? LOL--of course not: it is an inoculation against taking that step. I’ll come back to exactly why. Do you see how convoluted our logic grows, how dim our reason becomes, when our definitions begin from a backwards place? When we suppose fascism is a thing without a politics begin with, when we have reduced it to a ghost, a shell--then what are we to fight against?
Now. The interesting question is: why?
Why were Americans taught that socialism is fascism--when in fact the diametrical opposite is true?
The reason is quite simple, but to really understand it?—?and you will not like the explanation--we need to consider America’s gruesome, weird, and terrible history.
Fascism is best seen this way. A person who believes that there is a hierarchy of personhood--that some people are more human than others, and some fall below the threshold of being people entirely--and furthermore, that that hierarchy should be institutionalized, is a fascist.
A movement composed of such people is a fascist movement. A government managing such a project is a fascist government. (The natural moral logic of such a hierarchy is that violence must be done to the weak by the strong, since they are not human beings at all, but parasites and predators.)
But that creates a very big problem for America. If that definition is true--you are welcome to think about whether it is--then America was a fascist country for a very long time, and many Americans have always been welcoming to fascist ideas, because the central organizing principle of American life was just such a hierarchy of personhood--and its institutionalization. Slavery and segregation, after all, was exactly all this, wasn’t it?
So now we come to a difficult truth?—?one that is perhaps too difficult for America to ever really face, and that is why it is where it is now.
Occupy Wall Street should come to mind, not the GOP."
You see, the problem is that fascism was an American creation. The Nazis didn’t begin by being America’s enemies. They were its great admirers. They openly studied America’s long history of slavery and segregation to model their own race laws upon. Now, Americans, quite naturally, wanting to disown this legacy, were left calling fascism “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” and so on. But these are inaccurate, sanitizing terms, which only hide a bitter and grim reality--and leave us unable to ever really improve upon it much, either.
(Hence, I don’t say any of this to condemn, blame, or judge you, by the way. No nation has a virgin birth. I say these difficult things for the sake of democracy. As hard as that might be to swallow, or even accept. I wish only the best for you, really?—?which is the attitude democracy demands of us, I think, but I digress.)
Americans were taught that socialism is fascism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.
Their echoes, ideals of supremacy and nationalism and so on, were something repellent, maybe, but also to be tolerated, in the “market” or “battle” of “ideas”. That legacy, that history of failed ideas, of poor thinking, is what made America ever more vulnerable to today’s fascist collapse. Because when one doesn’t know what is seeing, one is just as blind as if one cannot see at all.
Let’s consider the question now--is what we see today really fascism? You know, fascism fascism, the real thing, as our unconscious minds probably object--now that we have some criteria we can use. If fascism is just the concentration of state and economic power--then it is Europe who is fascist, not America.
But it isn’t Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain in which mass political violence against Jews, refugees, and immigrants is breaking out--and their heads of state and governments are not applauding, cheering, and promoting it.
But if fascism is the institutionalization of a hierarchy of personhood, well, then, America is obviously the one who is well on the way to becoming fascist. But becoming is the wrong term. The right term is “reverting”--because that is what America was always built upon. Perhaps in the end history will sum America up this way, if Americans make the wrong choice in about ten days: it had just fifty short years of democracy between dark centuries of fascism.
(Now, there are qualifications and objections we can make--they go like this. One: fascism is a modern phenomenon, it’s sometimes said, because the machinery of the state is used bureaucratically to control and subjugate people, with accounting and ledgers and all the techniques of modern management. But these aren’t convincing ones, to me. Because precisely the same thing happened to black American slaves, and native Americans who face genocide--they were counted, tracked, parcelled, sorted, and valued by managers and underlings and administrators, too...
Two: fascism is an organized campaign of genocide, and America has never done any such thing, and therefore it is not fascist. My friend, if you tell yourself this, you badly misunderstand what “genocide” is. When the child was sold, and the mother kept, or the family broken up, that too was genocide--because it is simply limiting the reproductive destiny of a group. It would be a foolish kind of ignorance to suppose America’s centuries of slavery were not one long, slow genocide--one of history’s greatest.)
And that brings us back to that very uncomfortable place--at least if we are American. Because now we are face to face with a shattering truth. We are backwards people, thinking backwards thoughts--and among these, one of the most backwards is that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t.
I don’t want to mince words, on this eve of a massacre. It is believing lies like these that have made us history’s great fools--easy, gullible marks for the worst among us, who never went anywhere at all. Where would they go? After all, we were taught that socialism was the idea never to be tolerated--but not supremacy, not violence, hierarchies of personhood. Those are ingrained in us as deep as our very pores. “Hey--maybe that billionaire really is just smarter, tougher, better!” Ah, I suppose that means, too, then, that the slave wasn’t. I suppose maybe we should arm the teachers--not take away the guns. Do you see my point?
Let me make that even sharper. Slavery and segregation were seminal, pioneering forms of fascism--but Americans have not yet understood that yet. Yet without understanding that, they are impotent to know what it is to truly be, and also stay, a democracy.
What distinguishes fascism from “white supremacy”? Fascism is the superset of supremacies--it’s best to think about it that way.
So in America, it might be whites who aspire to be supreme, and in Asia, castes or tribes of some kind, and so forth. Supremacies are just different forms of the category fascism. And the only real difference between them is the desire, appetite, and will to institutionalize such a hierarchy of the weak and the strong--but what supremacist doesn’t want to do that, really? Yet that is precisely what America did, for far, far longer than it has undone.
So Americans struggle to understand fascism because they have been taught to think about it not just poorly--but in a fatally backwards from the very beginning. They’ve been taught the stupid, foolish, lie that socialism is fascism, but supremacy, slavery, and segregation weren’t. Therefore, today, the echoes of the expressions of the idea that some people are more human than others, are quite alright (hey, I hear people talking about dirty, filthy lower kinds on Faux News all the time, what’s the big deal?) But a little bit of public healthcare, education, media, or retirement--my God, that way lies the abyss!
Do you see the setup for tragedy occurring here? It made it almost inevitable that America would fail at really becoming a modern democracy--and collapse right back into the fascism it had pioneered. Socialism, in the way of public goods, is the one thing that, by equalizing societies, prevents and mitigates fascism, just as it has done in Europe, where, of course, thanks to global economic stagnation, it has risen too, but has been much, much more successfully fended off. Nobody in London, Paris, or Berlin is killing people at synagogues and sending bombs to the opposition, inspired by a demagogue, who preaches hate in the open, after all.
So what was likely to happen when fascism began to rear its ugly head again in America--driven by a sense of frustration, the very first time after the end of segregation that the economy stagnated? People were likely not to see it as a monster at all. They’d been taught that “fascism” was socialism, not the echoes of slavery and segregation, supremacy, the notion that ethnic and racial hierarchies should order societies, all of which might be repellent but were to be tolerated as “free speech” and the “debate of ideas” and so on, expressed openly, everywhere. Over and over again, American received one message: socialism equals fascism, but INSTITUTIONALIZED SUPREMACY does not.
So, quite naturally, when the classical sequence of fascist collapse began--comically textbook style, no less--demagogue, demonization, scapegoating, camps, trials, mass violence--neither intellectuals nor populace could quite anticipate, comprehend, or prevent any of it. Instead, they were shocked, every single day, more or less. “How can this be happening to us?” They cried. “We are better than this!” they shouted--even as the mass killings began.
But we were the ones who invented fascism to begin with, and, in perpetual denial of that terrible fact, remained altogether too comfortable with its expressions, ideals, and component thoughts. We had to tell ourselves it was the one thing it had never been at all--but that made it altogether too easy to stay just that thing. That’s always the price of denial, isn’t it?
So funnily, ironically, tragically, the sequence of fascist collapse began, picked up steam, and soon enough had wrecked the nation’s norms, values, institutions, rules, codes, expectations--and all this was because America, trying to run away from the ugly truth, made itself impotent to slow it, stop it, reverse it, too. If you think socialism is fascism, after all--you will fight socialism, but let fascism flourish.
And that is exactly what America’s politicians, intellectuals, thinkers, and pundits did, at the crucial moment, upon the election of a demagogue. “The real threat to us is Medicare for all! And what about Hillary’s emails? Who cares if he calls some dirty, filthy Mexicans names? Grow up!!”
promised to solve capitalism’s problems
Society had been constructed by now on a terrible and stupid lie. Socialism was fascism, but supremacy never had been. Therefore, hate, spite, and violence, built to enforce hierarchies of personhood, were never really rooted out of society, torn up, and turned into dust for history to spread over the ocean. Soon enough, the hierarchies demanded the violence they always did. “The intruders and the subhumans”, cried the bomber and the gunman, “are taking what is ours!! We must put them back in their place, with the fist, the knife, the bullet!” The sad truth is that could just as easily have been settlers and slavers talking about the native American or the black, too.
Fascism didn’t come to America. It didn’t even come back to America. It was born here, nourished here with centuries of slavery and segregation--hence, the Nazis learned it from us--and only slumbered a few short decades, while Americans told themselves proudly that the real monsters were not the people they had once been, but the people they did not want to be.
It’s hard to face the truth of yourself. The guilt and shame and fear that come with it. Is this really who I am? And yet until and unless you do--you will stay just that person. If you ask me, that is what the lie that fascism is socialism, but slavery and segregation weren’t, has done to America. Made it incapable of ever really changing very much.
Fascism? It’s this, my friends. The rule of violence, committed to establish hierarchies of personhood, with the intent of institutionalizing them, with a little bit more intimidation and fear every day. The lie that fascism isn’t this, but socialism, is what the phase of turmoil America is collapsing into now, day by day, a little more explosively, almost inevitable. And I wonder--and you should too--whether we have learned anything yet.
Fascism (/'fæ??z?m/) is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. -Wikipedia
I’m going to use the last 24 hours to illustrate a few simple truths about fascism. Truths which we seem to have forgotten, and so history is repeating itself in eerie and exacting echoes of the 1930s?—?from a stagnant economy, to a rising extremist movement, to a broken social contract, to failed institutions (whether media, political, or economic), to authoritarianism, to pundits and intellectuals and leaders who are perpetually surprised by its swiftness and fury, baffled, paralyzed, unable to ever really respond.
Fascism counts on your exceptionalism, too--not just theirs. The Supreme Court upheld the ban on a certain ethnic group. Now, I cannot think of a society in human history that has banned an ethnic group, which has not then fallen down a slippery slope?—?first segregation, then expropriation, and finally, cleansing and atrocity.
Not one. Even today, the cycle repeats itself: see the plight of the Rohingya. And yet, American intellectuals and leaders have at every step dismissed this great lesson of history, and that is precisely why history is repeating itself in America.
So: fascism counts on your exceptionalism. Not just the tyrant’s version--“we will be pure and great again!”--but also on the version of the story that wise men tell: “ah, this will never happen to us. It will stop itself, fix itself, slow down and go away. It will never happen here!” Both are the same conceit: that one is exceptional, special, thus above the inevitabilities of history, time, destiny. But history writes laws made of steel, not clay--and to think one can mold them is hubris, whose hand writes stories of tragedy. And the greatest of those laws is the slippery slope of tribal violence, which has plagued humankind all its day long.
Fascism stuns us with fresher and larger outrages, that make yesterday’s seem irrelevant, winnowing away our decency.
Now, what was truly striking was that when the ban was announced, the response was furious. And yet yesterday, when the Supreme Court upheld it, the response was less than muted--it was almost nonexistent. I didn’t see a single prominent leader, intellectual, pundit, journalist really raising a hue and cry about it. Why not? They were too busy being stunned by everything else: pedophiles, stings, tax bills, and so on. It’s too much. Today, it’s “are Jews people?”, tomorrow it’s “So what if he’s a pedophile?” Whose senses stay intact under such an assault?
Fascism stuns us, just as if we have been morally tasered: it winnows away our sense of basic decency, by committing larger, fresher outrages, until yesterday’s come to seem mere nuisances. In this way, reality itself comes to be distorted: the bar for indecency is set higher and higher, until at last the grotesque becomes the merely commonplace, for one cannot pay attention to it all, unless we are diligently vigilant, and so all the norms and bonds which hold a society together begin to erode--such as that of never discriminating against an ethnic group or religion.
ordinary Londoners and fascists is still significant
Fascism makes it more and more costly to be your better self. This shock-and-awe strategy of moral violation was an explicit goal of the Nazis--Hitler called it the Big Lie technique, to every day tell a bigger lie, and yesterday’s would soon be forgotten.— and it’s also one the Russians use today: to overwhelm us, until we are left numb and paralyzed by the sheer scale and scope of all these transgressions against civilization, wondering which outrage to speak out against first, and thus, we weary of morality itself. What is its effect? It raises the cost of being your better self.
Caring about every day’s fresher, bigger, more numerous violations becomes more and more difficult, exacting a higher moral and social toll, and so the price of truth, decency, and wisdom soon rise. The number of things to be concerned about has risen sharply, but the supply of what we can be concerned about, our attention and empathy and acceptance, stays fixed in us. And our true challenge is, even though we are stunned, ever increasing that supply. Too often, though, weary, we do the opposite: better to avoid those who are controversial. Better to stay away out of the fray. Every corner, there is some lie, some half-truth, some lie, some disgrace. Just let it go. Just walk away.
The Russians call it the “firehose”, and of course, today’s Nazis use it too: every day presents a fresh horror, doesn’t it? It’s not a bug, it’s the plan. The purpose of all these moral outrages is to erode your moral agency, to stun you, and thus make your better self rise in price, more difficult to be, enact, give to me, and me to give mine to you. And in the last 24 hours, we have seen it work spectacularly. Ban? Who cares? Imagine piranhas nibbling on a human soul, until it flees in horror: that is what fascism does to us.
Fascism depends on despair about now replacing a vision for a better society.
Now what is the effect of all this, of stunning people until they lose their better selves? Well, it is to create a great sense of despair. Paralyzed, numb, stuck, while every day, things seem to collapse a little more, one comes to feel hopeless. And yet the solution is always hidden in plain sight.
It is for the center, left, and what is left of the sane right to get together, and author a plan for a working society again--for fascism only ever rises in broken ones, that lack a vision. That is why the demagogue earns such undying devotion from his flock--because he is the only one presenting such a vision for a working society. Of course, it is a poor one, a broken one itself--but at least it is one.
And so though everday now we hear demagoguery denounced, still, there is not just no real “plan” to “fight it”--there is no plan to offer a better social contract and stop it dead in its tracks, which is what is this battle is always all about. The mistake that the Germans really made in the 1930s wasn’t merely “allowing fascism to rise”--what does that mean, anyways?--it was never responding to it in kind, not just with anger and despair, but with optimism, courage, pragmatism, and vision.
Fascism proceed[s] through a series of authoritarian collapses, each one a little more severe than the last.
How did Hitler come to power? Was he elected? Nope. He frightened German leaders so, with intimidation tactics, that they gave him “extraordinary powers”. And that was the turning point which seared atrocity and ruin into the hearts of millions. Now, let us think about today. Already in America we have seen a genuine authoritarian moment this weekend: Congress ramming a tax bill through like a bulldozer--allowing no time for debate, deliberation, or even reading. That is democracy being eroded before your very eyes.
But it is still only a small authoritarian collapse, as worrying as it seems. If a parliament can subvert democracy in this way, then how far away is it, really, from giving a leader “extraordinary powers”? What is to prevent it from doing so? The opposition which cannot oppose? The intellectuals who cannot learn from history? The people overwhelmed by every day’s fresh outrages?
And that is the lesson of a day in the life of fascism. Let me draw it out.
Fascism is just like an epidemic of a lethal virus.
It spreads faster and quicker and harder and more lethally than we ever imagine--even while it spreads. For that very reason, it is difficult, if not impossible to stop, only with quarantines, treatments of the symptoms, by shunning the sick, and avoiding the vulnerable--which is what we are doing to one another now, and hoping it goes away. History teaches us we are wrong.
Like an epidemic, it is stopped either by burning itself out--and ruining all those it touches--or with the antidote. And the antidote is something that is in too short a supply now, because its price has grown dear: truth, courage, vision, grace, wisdom, memory--whether in renewed visions for society, in better institutions, in our lives, or in simply remembering the lessons of history. All that is the stuff our better selves are made of, whose prices rise every day, until, at last, they are unattainable things, ghosts, and we are only lesser monsters prowling in the same night.
So you see my point. I am deeply worried at this point in history. Not just about America--for the truth is that I think America is already past the point of no return. Whether it turns into 1930s Germany or 1990s Russia remains to be seen--but I do not really think it can avoid a fate that falls somewhere in this spectrum of failure, from tyranny to kleptocracy. My worry is for the world, now, which holds its breath, waiting for Americans to come to their senses. Because if you really understand all the above, the conclusion is: they just might not be able to.
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession With National Security
8. Religion and government are intertwined.
9. Corporate power is protected.
10. Labor power is suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession With Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections
It’s become something of a global urban legend. People in other countries ask me often, aghast, curious: “Do Americans really sometimes have to choose between medicine and food and shelter? I can’t believe it! Is it true?” I nod, having had acquaintances who’ve made just that choice. But now we know a hard number--42% of Americans who get cancer will go bankrupt as a result. A shocking, bizarre, and horrific fact of daily American life--yet somehow also totally unsurprising.
About half of Americans will face the gruesome choice--your money, or your life. If that reminds you of being mugged for your life savings at gunpoint, you’re not wrong. And yet it’s just one grim daily reality among many, all of which can be summed up this way.
If it feels like capitalism’s killing you--that’s because it is. (No, you’re not alone.) Now, I don’t mean mom-and-pop soda shoppe capitalism, I set up a small scale business hoping to earn a decent living doing something interesting and fun--I mean mega-scale Walmart Wall St capitalism: the predatory kind. Instead of telling the story with statistics--which in the present case, hide more than they reveal, since those statistics were designed to tell us how ultra-rich capitalists are getting, whether or not the average person’s life, democracy, the planet, the old, and the young all burst into roaring flames--I’ll tell it a different, and to me at least, a truer way.
ultra-rich capitalists are getting, whether or not the average person’s life, democracy, the planet, the old, and the young all burst into roaring flames
Maybe, in depression, or despair, or disability, he went to the doctor, who prescribed him opioids--capitalism again. Maybe he went to rehab, now big business. Maybe he ended up in a private prison. Probably, he lost his family, home, belongings, what little savings he had along the way. Perhaps you think I’m overstating it. Good--I am, deliberately, a little bit.
Let’s imagine none of that happened at all--instead, he just got cancer. Bang! He has an even chance of ending up in exactly the same place. Do you see the moral of my story? Let me make it clearer. No exit. All roads lead more or less to the same destination for the average American now--nowhere. But what happens to a life that goes nowhere?
Do you think all these things don’t affect us severely and negatively if they are re-experienced every day--dramatically shrinking the quantity and quality of our lives? That they don’t alter our bodies and minds in profound and lasting ways? People can survive all the above, sure--some of them, at least. But that is the point. Many simply won’t--and now aren’t. Which ones? I’ll come back to that, too.
The question isn’t: how is capitalism killing us--the question is how ISN’T it? Perhaps you think I exaggerate. Then why is life expectancy plummeting— something that isn’t even happening in the world’s poorest countries? Why is the suicide rate skyrocketing?
Was there a plague, a meteor strike, the long-feared communist invasion (LOL)? Of course not. Capitalism is what’s killing Americans, my friends. (Ironically, funnily, sadly, though, many Americans are more wedded to capitalism than their very own lives, let alone those of loved ones, let alone those of their neighbours and peers--a point I’ll return to, when we discuss how fascism rises.)
Marx called all this immiseration--just think of all the forms of human misery. Aren’t they what capitalism really produces, by now, in America? It’s (objectively) not, after all, producing happiness, trust, kindness, riches, longevity, truth--but the very opposite: trauma, despair, fear, hopelessness, powerlessness, panic, stress, poverty, and the consequent rage, anger, and cruelty they ignite.
How many ways, just in my little example above, is capitalism killing Americans? It is killing them with fear and stress--will my kids survive at school today? It is killing them with overwork--and underpay (at a job, usually, in which they have no autonomy or are assigned no worth, whose only purpose is making the ultra rich ultra richer.)
It is killing them with the relentless, bone-crushing pressure of endless competition.
With the trauma of never quite being able to make ends meet, and going deeper into debt every year. With never being able to retire.
Through eviscerating the social bonds in their towns and communities--where once there was a high street, now there’s a Walmart at the edge of town. By giving them cheap thrills or addictive escapes to numb away all the above with--Fox News, or worse yet, perhaps, Facebook and Fentanyl. Wham! That is what immiseration--all the forms of human misery--really means.
(Think about immiseration as capitalism’s great dilemma. You are exploited ruthlessly and relentlessly if you’re fortunate enough to have a job, and abandoned, neglected, and preyed upon, if you don’t. Either way, you will have a life of trauma, which, of course, shatters you. It’s capitalism’s dilemma writ large?—?your money, or your life.
You are exploited ruthlessly and relentlessly if you’re fortunate enough to have a job
The point is this. America is something like history’s greatest experiment, that much is true. But not really in freedom, justice, or bravery--come now, it was a segregated country until 1971.
America was an experiment in capitalism--what would happen if we built the world’s most capitalist society, ever, one where everything from healthcare to education to energy to media was privatized by the bucketload, concerned only with profit, whose shares were traded by hedge funds relentlessly by the nanosecond to maximize it, not a moment’s peace, sanity, or reflection allowed? The results are in, and they’re grim. Capitalism’s a spectacular failure--or an equally spectacular success, depending. What do I mean by that?
Capitalism is doing to Americans exactly and precisely what it promised to do--act as history’s great Darwinian engine of natural selection. It is winnowing the weak out ruthlessly, mercilessly, constantly, relentlessly. Every nanosecond of every day of the year. Watching, tracking, counting, judging.
What is really happening in America today? Any kind of infirmity is punished with increasingly absurd severity--to the point that by now, getting sick, or losing your job, might just very well end up costing you your money, or your life, and maybe both.
Capitalism institutionalizes the idea that only the strong should survive.
But it’s mechanism of selection isn’t by any means natural--it’s artificial. “Strength”, in capitalist terms, means the most selfish, greedy, ruthless, cunning, violent, narrow-minded, short-term, and crude--the most predatory, in other words.
And so what we are seeing in America today is that capitalism is working spectacularly well at doing what it promised--to make sure only the strong survive. Now, the problem is that being “strong” in this warped and stunted way, this predatory fashion, is inimical to everything that a sensible person should value more than money: democracy, love, truth, meaning, purpose, goodness. If there seems to be a shortage of those things around today, it’s not a coincidence--capitalism killed them, too, because to it, they are all forms of weakness to be eradicated.
So capitalism’s success is also society’s failure. And that is why America is imploding violently into neo fascism. Let me make the link clearer.
When people who have been indoctrinated all their lives long to believe that only the strong should survive, that weakness is a crime, that this law of the jungle is the only correct and just moral law, and therefore basis for a political economy--and yet they seem to be the ones getting selected out, what are they likely to do?
Human beings do not give up on their cherished beliefs easily, do they? And so people who have been told, over and over again, that only the strong should survive, when capitalism appears to be failing them, will quite naturally turn to fascism.
Fascism also promises that only the strong should survive?—?and the weak should perish. Only it does it a little more explicitly?—?but do you see how closely aligned these two ideologies are, fascism and capitalism, already? It is no great leap from to the other, then?—?because one does not have to give up one’s fundamental beliefs at all, but only redouble them. That is much easier, because it does not require any real thinking, examination, it does not ask one to change one’s mind.
So there is the American--or some of them, perhaps enough of them, anyways. Capitalism has failed him spectacularly--he is immiserated, living a day to day existence in which the fundamental principle is: your money, or your life. But only the strong should survive. Maybe if he finds someone weaker, someone to abuse, hurt, harm, someone to prey upon himself--then he will survive, too.
Do you see how easily the mental leap from capitalism to fascism is made? Bang! It happens in the blink of an eye, precisely because there is a natural path from one to the other. Both say that the strong should prey on the weak, and that way, everyone is better off--and so all the frustrated, exploited prole has to do is have the epiphany that if he begins to see himself as a predator, rather than a loser, the world is restored to moral order. Now he can do what is right--which is to cause the weak to perish, and that way, be one of the strong, who survives.
But now society is imploding. A vicious spiral has begun, from which there may be no unravelling. As the immiserated prole becomes a predator, as a way out of a meaningless, pointless life of pressure, stress, despair, pain, and fear, he is just doing what he has been taught--only the strong should survive! The weak must perish! But with that one small step also go democracy, civilization, and freedom.
All that is what the sad, funny, strange story of America teaches us. Capitalism left to its own devices implodes naturally into fascism, because, just like in America, it doesn’t care if people live or die, which is to say, it’s quite happy killing them?--ence, people in a rich nation who get cancer end up bankrupt, or send their kids to school wearing bulletproof backpacks.
And yet it also teaches them that law of ruthlessness, greed, and cruelty is what is moral, just, fair, and noble--and what is immoral is gentleness, humility, selflessness, and equality--because only the strong should survive.
But if only the strong should survive?—?and you are the weak one?—?then maybe if you prey on someone weaker, a little more abusively than you have been preyed on yourself, you will be a strong one, too.
Capitalism is trying to kill you. Maybe, to prove you are strong, you should try to hurt, abuse, harm, kill someone more powerless than yourself. Bang! That is the fascist moment. (It continues like this. Dehumanize them…scapegoat them…ban them…expropriate them…eliminate them.)
If it feels like capitalism’s killing you--that’s because it is. The problem is that human beings, the funny and foolish things that they are, do not often do what is commonsensical. If capitalism’s killing you--it’s probably also killing everyone else, too. So maybe the answer is to choose an ideology which does not believe in killing anyone at all. One where everyone is a genuine equal, so no one needs to destroy anyone else in order to rise higher in the first place.
Such a system is made of public goods--things like public healthcare systems, which we can all use, without me having to exclude and deny you--and we often call it social democracy, to put things simply.
And yet the problem is, for Americans at least, making that leap would require changing their cherished fundamental beliefs--the very ones capitalism has taught them. “But wait--that would mean only the strong don’t survive, and the weak don’t perish. And if that happens, then everything falls apart! The weak will overwhelm society, and there will be no strong ones left to fight them! We can’t allow that to happen. Or at least I can’t!” LOL--you laugh, perhaps.
And yet, so seems to go the thinking of many Americans. So much so that they are willing, quite literally, to sacrifice their lives for capitalism. But capitalism is just an ideology. Or is it a god now? It’s hard to tell, sometimes. Still, that makes America something more like the Soviet Union before it. Americans are now happy, willing martyrs for capitalism. The question is how many of them know it.
6-21-18, Umair Haque, Eudaimonia
It’s the greatest con game of modern history, it’s happening right under your nose, and you’re the mark. It goes like this.They’ve convinced you that using the machinery of the state to kidnap little kids and put them in concentration camps isn’t any of the following: Nazism, fascism, authoritarianism. They are men in suits, and men in suits do not do such things. Do they? Those are scary words! Ah, you see--you are afraid already. And you must be for a con to work.
Maybe these people are so dumb they’ll settle for mere kleptocracy. Let’s intimidate them into it. OK! We’re sorry! We’ll only put families in camps--not little kids by themselves. Phew, you say, relieved. Everything’s better now, isn’t it? Such horrors make the kleptocrat’s game--selling favours, selling elections, clientelism, transferring control of a nation’s assets to cronies, selling off little bits of democracy, piece by piece, to the lowest bidder--look tame, timid, harmless, like a relief. Hey, what’s a little kleptocracy--when the alternative is concentration camps? Phew--let’s settle for that.
That, my friends, is abuser logic. The abuser places you in a terrible dilemma--and it’s your fault. At least I’m not hurting you. You didn’t make me--good. But note how our perceptions of relative good and bad shift: by not committing the hardest of abuse, we see the abuser as more decent and kind than of course he is, if we are in the cycle--and we are the bad ones, whether, consciously, we know it or not. Our whole worldview has been skewed and twisted. We have been manipulated into believing that pretty terrible is decent, normal, and reasonable, because the alternative is unthinkable. And that is the first part of the con game being played on you, too.
Now consider the other alternative. Maybe these people really are dumb enough to fall all the way into institutionalized supremacy. That’s the best business on earth, my friends. Privately built and run concentration camps net you a huge profit--and when you can fill them up with people working for free, then you are something like a king. Running vast bureaucracies of secret and not-so-secret police whose job is to repress and subjugate people--all that costs titanic sums of money, to the state--but that means that titanic sums of money are earned by those who can provide all that. And so on.
Supremacy is a much better business than mere kleptocracy. More profitable, longer lasting, and, frankly, easier to control. The kleptocrat is something like an auctioneer: he sells off a bunch of existing assets, from parks to energy grids to schools to hospitals, that were once called “democracy.” It’s a shaky business--at any time, buyers can renege. And eventually, he runs out of things to sell, though--and so he must move on to new countries to raid and deplete. That is why kleptocracy, though it is a good business, is not the best one of all, for a predator.
Supremacy is. The supremacist is not just selling off existing assets, though there is plenty of that to be done. He is building whole new assets to profit from, and profit richly. Camps. Police forces. Armed forces (Space Force!!). Paramilitaries. Government institutions, like Departments of Racial Purity. All these are whole new profit centers?
Do you know why the good German loved Hitler? It wasn’t just because he delivered fervently nationalist speeches. It was because their lives actually got better. But they did not want to know why. Their lives were getting better because other people were being expropriated, dispossessed, and put to work--Jews, Roma, minorities. The wages of those people--if there were any left--crashed--and so the average German’s income, for the first time in a decade, began to rise. He had barely been able to afford to feed his kids--and now he had enough money to vacation. He hadn’t been able to afford a new home--but now that the homes of Jews and minorities stood empty, prices suddenly seemed much, much cheaper. His standard of living rose explosively, finally.
Who were the people that had saved him? What had they really done? They had set the wheels of ruin in motion. Because a nation cannot grow for long in such predatory ways. It is eating the seedcorn of its own civilization. It can only regress--from democracy into barbarism, savagery, war, and atrocity. And so all that is exactly what happened next.
Why the World Imploded Into Fascism: How a Perfect Storm of Technology and Capitalism Tore Democracy and Freedom ApartEudaimonia 10-30-18 Umair Haque
An earthquake is rippling across the globe, toppling nations like dominos. You don’t look very hard, or very far, these days, to see a grim truth. The world is collapsing into fascism. There’s Brazil, electing a man who cheers torture and mass killing. There’s America, so far down the spiral that neo-fascist violence is now becoming normalized. There’s Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and so on. Even in Western Europe, neofascists are rising--barely kept at bay, with varying degrees of success (or failure).
What happened to the world? There many reasons fascism rose?—?but to my mind, two forces stand out in particular, which combined to create something like a perfect storm.
Let me start with the most visible one. Technology--and social media in particular. Now, it’s obvious to say that Jack and Zuck seem never to have met a fascist they didn’t seem to secretly want to be BFFs with. What’s less obvious--and what I think we’ve done a poor job of understanding--is just how dangerous social media is to democracy, how corrosive it is to the project of civilization. Let me explain.
What happens when we spend time on social media--a place we are at most of the day, in this era? Well, we see caricatures of people, which mostly reflect our own fears, biases, and prejudices. Where there is a living, breathing human being, social media flattens them, and reduces them to a husk, a shell, a target. In this flatland, there are no people--there are just profiles, numbers, likes, and shares. There are allies and enemies, rivals in ideology, adversaries for attention. Do you see what I’m trying to say? The problem isn’t just “filter bubbles”--people seeking reinforcing information. It’s much, much worse than that.
There is no greater mechanism for dehumanization that has been yet devised than social media. Fascism is exploding today because the more time that we spend on social media, the more capable we are of vicious, terrible forms of dehumanization.
And then we become radicalized--or some of us do. We go from rhetorical violence to real world violence. We go from feeling frustrated and disappointed, to believing in delusional propaganda, to demonizing and scapegoating those below us, to imagining they are monster we must destroy before they destroy us--to laughing and celebrating when they are hurt, harmed, or maybe even killed.
You can see it very clearly, if you look--just take the examples of the recent wave of right-wing terrorists, all radicalized by social media. But it isn’t just them we should be worried by--it’s the average person, who’s on the same path. What happens when a whole society--or enough of it--becomes radicalized? That is what social media is doing to us, my friends. It is radicalizing enough of us that societies already destabilized by capitalism are imploding at light speed into fascism.
There is no faster vehicle to spread propaganda.
There is no better way to make the delusional seem credible, by creating the illusion people already believe in it. There is no better way to hide behind a GIF, and goad, taunt, mock, and preen--modelling the behaviour of a demagogue. There is no more efficient way to imagine that those dirty, filthy beings are, just like the demagogue says, your enemies, fearsome monsters, vicious predators, and bloodsucking parasites--not human beings at all.
In other words, if you want me to put in economic terms, social media is wreaking havoc on democracy. It drops the economic cost of propaganda to zero. It drops the social cost of abuse and victimization to less than zero--now your fascist friends will cheer you on, whereas on the street, people might stop you when you abused strangers. It drops the psychological cost of paranoid delusion to zero--the lies soothe and mollify your rage and frustration. And it drops the cost of demagoguery to zero, too--now the aspiring tyrant can just send out a few tweets to tell a Big Lie.
It is the most efficient mechanism of dehumanization ever made.
But there is an added catch, too--which amplifies all the above: social media is a drug. It’s deeply, fundamentally, and inescapably addictive. We compulsively check our phones for updates, like lab rats conditioned to seek a reward--that’s not an analogy, that’s an explanation. Tap, click, whoosh! There comes the dopamine rush. Another like, fan, friend--maybe you complimented someone. But you can earn that, too, from abusing and hating someone?—?because now we feel a sense of status, power, and control. Which one is it more likely to be--scorn and spite, or kindness and gentleness, fuelling this dopamine addiction?
Since social media dehumanizes inherently, rather than humanizes, we are much more likely to choose scorn, abuse, and hate over intimacy, understanding, and connection.
So social media is addictive--that much you know. What you don’t, maybe, is that it has addicted many of us to hate. We live in a time of systems crashing and collapsing, when people feel powerless, helpless, thwarted, frustrated, failed--a point I’ll return to--for now, just imagine the sense of power, the pleasure, the intense dopamine rush, that comes from having someone to blame, attack, vilify, demonize, scapegoat.
Do you see the problem here? People feeling an intense sense of dread and rage at failing systems find an addictive technology that rewards them with a dopamine hit every time they dehumanize someone. A magical machine that delivers pleasure, and only asks that they pull the lever of hate. Can a democracy survive that? The psychological dynamics, I think, are much the same, I think, as the pleasure of the good German beating people up on the street, or seeing Jews wear yellow stars, or shouting at dirty, filthy immigrants, in the 1930s.
Social media is grooming people, if you ask me--it is creating social, cultural, and psychological structures and systems of dehumanization. Grooming people for what? To become fascists. And by that I don’t just mean the obvious candidates, but people who probably wouldn’t have become what we think of today as neofascists otherwise. How many people wouldn’t be part of this wave of demagogues and hate if they didn’t spend hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, and Snap? I’d bet the answer is: more than enough to have stopped it.
Now. What is feeding the hate machine of social media? Why do people need to feel such a sense of dominance, control, and power that they seek it compulsively the way lab rats press levers for cocaine? After all, such a burning need implies that they feel helpless, powerless, and thwarted. The answer is failed economies. Fascism is always an economic phenomenon--as much as American intellectuals want to imagine the opposite. They have been wrong all along--so why pay much attention to them at this grim juncture? I don’t.
There is not a single example in history of fascism striking prosperous societies.
Instead, fascism is the implosion at the end of capitalism’s natural tendency to collapse. And today, that is exactly what is happening--fascism is rising worst and fastest and hardest in societies which are plagued by combinations of ills like spiking inequality, shrinking middle classes, stagnant incomes, absent savings, and poor social support systems--lives lived at the edge, if you like. Why is that? The reason is subtler than you think.
Fascism is a middle class, or a lower middle class, phenomenon. We don’t often see those at the very bottom of the social hierarchy turning fascist--instead, it’s the downwardly mobile ones. In Marxist terms, it is the frustrated, aspirational prole [public], whom capitalism has promised a bourgeois lifestyle--riches, power, status.
What is capitalism really promising the prole who aspires to upwards mobility--rather than solidarity? That one day, he will have someone to exploit, too, just as the capitalist exploits him. That is the dream capitalism gives the prole--at least the one foolish enough to believe in capitalism.
The problem is that capitalism has no intention of ever giving the aspirational prole anything but subsistence wages--less money, for more work, with less security, and a destroyed social contract, to boot.
Why would capital take any of its income and share it with labour? And so, in America, for example, it didn’t: over the last fifty years, labour’s income share has fallen, while capital’s income share has exploded. Wham! A classic setup for a fascist collapse. (How sad, then, that American economists don’t seem to know their subject well, or at all, really.) Why?
Because the prole was promised a glittering dream of exploitation--being above someone else, being better than someone else, living off someone else’s labour, all the very same things the capitalist does to him. But precisely because capitalism promises what it can’t deliver, it implodes into fascism. Given enough stagnation, the prole’s thwarted aspiration simmers in a cauldron of resentment, and then boils over into rage.
Now along comes a demagogue. The demagogue says: “They are the reason you don’t have the money, power, and status you were promised! Those dirty, filthy subhumans!” See how neatly this all works?
The prole does not have to change his expectations, beliefs, dreams, ideals, or values. He has been seeking someone to exploit--to abuse, just as capitalism abuses him--and now the demagogue offers him just such a target. It is the one who is even more powerless than him--the one at the bottom of the social hierarchy. The immigrant, refugee, Mexican, Jew, and so on. Bang! This is the spark of collapse.
Now, instead of challenging capitalism upwards, reforming their society so it’s genuinely more prosperous, free, just, and stable, the frustrated, aspirational middle class begins to punch downwards. They demonize and scapegoat those lower than them. They avenge their imaginary wrongs at their hands, perhaps by murdering them in broad daylight.
Do you see how all these things are linked? Let me make it clearer. Capitalism collapses into fascism by placing a middle class at the edge of subsistence--no matter how “rich” a society may be financially--and such a middle class then begins to wreak vengeance on those lower down than it. They become subhumans, predators, parasites. Babies become monsters with the fearsome power to infect and contaminate everyone. Now a society is a place which must be cleansed and purified. Snap! Fascism has arrived.
This was, of course, the story of the 1930s. What makes today different is the pace and speed of the storm. Why did it happen so fast? So much so that in just two years, America, for example, has bans, trials for infants, camps, and mass political murder?
The hate machine of social media is why.
When a downwardly mobile middle class, already full of bitter rage, frustration, and disappointment, meets a magical machine that rewards them with pleasure every time they click the hate button--bang!! They’ll be conditioned to spite, scorn, and abuse, a little more and more viciously, every day.
What happens when such a class has been told to wish to exploit others, and they meet a magical machine that delivers them a dopamine rush, every time they abuse, shout at, demean, or dehumanize someone? Tap, tap, tap. They’ll hate faster, harder, and more violently every day--what else is there to live, really? What happens when there’s a demagogue modelling how to press the hate button hardest--how to abuse, hurt, and vilify people the most? They’ll follow his lead--like mindless automatons, imitating and copying his behaviour, attitudes, words, beliefs.
The hate machine of social media rewards people in pretty intense psychological turmoil and pain--suffering the trauma, grief, and shock of social collapse--with endless pleasure, dopamine, relief. But the price is a a social tsunami of hate--because such technologies are history’s greatest engines of dehumanization.
The more the hate lever is pulled, the more people are conditioned and groomed to become fascists--to see the world in rigid hierarchies of humanity, with themselves, eternal victims, at the top, and the hated, feared, and despised subhumans at the bottom.
When the perfect hate machine of social media met the searing precarity of capitalism’s frustrated, aspirational proles, told to look for someone to exploit, the world imploded into fascism, my friends. There are other reasons, to be sure. And I am not saying, of course, that old racial and tribal divisions don’t exist--of course not: I’m saying the above amplify them, especially in societies which haven’t done a very good job of really healing them. The question before us now, then, is this--what are we to do about these twin forces tearing the world apart?
Chris Hedges--Scum vs. Scum
November 05, 2018 "Information Clearing House"
Bertram Gross (1912-1997) in “Friendly Fascism: The New Face of American Power” warned us that fascism always has two looks. One is paternal, benevolent, entertaining and kind. The other is embodied in the executioner’s sadistic leer. Janus-like, fascism seeks to present itself to a captive public as a force for good and moral renewal. It promises protection against enemies real and invented. But denounce its ideology, challenge its power, demand freedom from fascism’s iron grip, and you are mercilessly crushed. Gross knew that if the United States’ form of fascism, expressed through corporate tyranny, was able to effectively mask its true intentions behind its “friendly” face we would be stripped of power, shorn of our most cherished rights and impoverished. He has been proved correct. “Looking at the present, I see a more probable future: a new despotism creeping slowly across America,” Gross wrote. “Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion.” No totalitarian state has mastered propaganda better than the corporate state. Our press has replaced journalism with trivia, feel-good stories, jingoism and celebrity gossip. The banal and the absurd, delivered by cheery corporate courtiers, saturate the airwaves. Our emotions are skillfully manipulated around manufactured personalities and manufactured events. We are, at the same time, offered elaborate diversionary spectacles including sporting events, reality television and absurdist political campaigns.
Trump is a master of this form of entertainment. Our emotional and intellectual energy is swallowed up by the modern equivalent of the Roman arena. Choreographed political vaudeville, which costs corporations billions of dollars, is called free elections. Cliché-ridden slogans, which assure us that the freedoms we cherish remain sacrosanct, dominate our national discourse as these freedoms are stripped from us by judicial and legislative fiat.
It is a vast con game.
You cannot use the word “liberty” when your government, as ours does, watches you 24 hours a day and stores all of your personal information in government computers in perpetuity. You cannot use the word “liberty” when you are the most photographed and monitored population in human history. You cannot use the word “liberty” when it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or General Dynamics. You cannot use the word “liberty” when the state empowers militarized police to use indiscriminate lethal force against unarmed citizens in the streets of American cities. You cannot use the word “liberty” when 2.3 million citizens, mostly poor people of color, are held in the largest prison system on earth. This is the relationship between a master and a slave. The choice is between whom we want to clamp on our chains—a jailer who mouths politically correct bromides or a racist, Christian fascist. Either way we are shackled.
Gross understood that unchecked corporate power would inevitably lead to corporate fascism. It is the natural consequence of the ruling ideology of neoliberalism that consolidates power and wealth into the hands of a tiny group of oligarchs.
The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin, refining Gross’ thesis, would later characterize this corporate tyranny or friendly fascism as “inverted totalitarianism.” It was, as Gross and Wolin pointed out, characterized by anonymity. It purported to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution and the iconography and symbols of American patriotism but internally had seized all of the levers of power to render the citizen impotent. Gross warned that we were being shackled incrementally. Most would not notice until they were in total bondage.
He wrote that “a friendly fascist power structure in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, or today’s Japan would be far more sophisticated than the ‘caesarism’ of fascist Germany, Italy, and Japan. It would need no charismatic dictator nor even a titular head … it would require no one-party rule, no mass fascist party, no glorification of the State, no dissolution of legislatures, no denial of reason. Rather, it would come slowly as an outgrowth of present trends in the Establishment.”
What to DO?
Regime Change Is Urgently Needed In Washington
By Andre Vltchek, February 28, 2019 "Information Clearing House"
It is not Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Iran that are in dire and crucial need of ‘regime change’. It is the United States of America, it is the entire European Union; in fact, the entire West.
And the situation is urgent.
The West has gone mad; it has gone so to speak, bananas; mental. And people there are too scared to even say it, to write about it.
One country after another is falling, being destroyed, antagonized, humiliated, impoverished. Entire continents are treated as if they were inhabited by irresponsible toddlers, who are being chased and disciplined by sadistic adults, with rulers and belts in their hands yelling with maniacal expressions on their faces: “Behave, do as we say, or else!”
It all would be truly comical, if it weren’t so depressing. But… nobody is laughing. People are shaking, sweating, crying, begging, puking, but they are not chuckling.
I see it everywhere where I work: in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
It is because North American and European countries are actually seriously delivering their ultimatum: you either obey us, and prostrate yourself in front of us, or we will break you, violate you, and if everything else fails, we will kill your leaders and all of those who are standing in our way.
This is not really funny, is it? Especially considering that it is being done to almost all the countries in what is called Latin America, to many African and Middle Eastern nations, and to various states on the Asian continent.
And it is all done ‘professionally’, with great sadistic craftsmanship and rituals. No one has yet withstood ‘regime change’ tactics, not even the once mighty Soviet Union, nor tremendous China, or proud and determined Afghanistan.
Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK and Syria may be the only countries that are still standing. They resisted and mobilized all their resources in order to survive; and they have survived, but at a tremendous price.
The victims keep crying. A few independent countries keep expressing their outrage. But so far, there is no grand coalition, which would be ready to fight and defend each other: “one for all, all for one”.
Until the recent ‘rebellion’ at the UN, no one has been openly and seriously suggesting that international law should apply to all nations of the world, equally.
People talk about ‘peace’. Many are begging the brigands to ‘to stop’, to ‘have mercy’, to show some compassion. But, neither Europe nor North America has ever shown any compassion, for long, terrible centuries. Look at the map of the beginning of the 20th century, for instance: the entire world was colonized, plundered and subjugated.
Now it is all moving in the same direction. If the West is not stopped, our planet may not survive at all. And let us be realistic: begging, logical arguments and goodwill will not stop Washington, Paris or London from plundering and enslaving.
Anyone who has at least some basic knowledge of world history knows that.
So why is the world still not forging some true resistance?
Is Venezuela going to be the last straw? And if not Venezuela, that is if Venezuela is allowed to fall, is it going to be Nicaragua, Cuba or Iran next? Is anything going to propel people into action?
Are we all just going to look passively how, the socialist Venezuela, a country which has already given so much to the world, Venezuela which managed to create beautiful visions and concepts for our humanity, is going to be burned to ashes, and then robbed of all of its dreams, its resources and of its freedom?
Are we all such cowards? Is this what we – human beings – have actually become; been reduced to? Cowards and cattle, selfish and submissive beings; slaves?
All this, simply because people are too scared to confront the empire? Because they prefer to hide and to pretend that what is so obvious, is actually not taking place?
Therefore, let me pronounce it, so at least my readers do not have that ‘luxury’ of claiming that they were not told:
This world is being brutalized and controlled by the fascist clique of Western nations. There is no ‘democracy’ left in this world, as there is near zero respect for international law in North American and European capitals. Colonialism has returned in full force. Western imperialism is now almost fully controlling the world.
And begging, trust me – begging and talking of peace is not going to help.
During WWII, fascism had to be stopped. If not, it was going to devour the entire planet. In the past, tens of millions have already died fighting for freedom and for our mankind. Yes, some nations tried to compromise and negotiate with Nazi Germany, but we all know where it all ended.
Now, the situation is the same. Or worse, perhaps much worse, because the West has nukes and a tremendous propaganda apparatus: it controls human brains all over the world with ‘mass media’, and ‘education’.
And because the citizens of the West are now much more brainwashed than the Germans and Italians were in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s; more brainwashed, more scared, submissive and more ‘disciplined’.
Look, seriously: are the people who are now writing those “peace essays”, in which they argue with the Western regime about who is right and who is wrong, seriously thinking that they are going to move people like Donald Trump, or Pompeo, or Abrams, or Rubio?
Do they believe that Washington is going to stop murdering millions of people all over the world? Or that the neo-colonialist plunder would stop, after the US Congress and Senate suddenly understands that it has been at the wrong side of history?
This is not some rhetorical question. I am serious: I demand answers!
Does ‘peace movement’ thinks that by amassing arguments it could stop Western expansionism? Yes or no?
Do they believe that Pompeo or Trump will suddenly hit their foreheads and exclaim: “You people are correct! We did not see this!” And call their troops, their thugs and mercenaries back?
If not, if this is not what peace movements believe would be done by North American and European leaders, then why all those thousands of wasted pages?
Would you go near a crocodile that is ready to devour an innocent child, and try to reason with it? Would you, seriously? Do you think it would stop, drop a few tears, wag its tail and leave?
Sometimes I tend to believe that ‘peace movements’ in the West are making things worse. They create false hopes, and they behave as if the empire is some entity that has a soul, and understands logic. They grossly underestimate the threat; the danger.
And they tend to analyze the Western threat from a Western perspective, using Western logic.
It somehow gets lost in interpretation that fascism, terror, and bestiality have to be confronted and fought.
One cannot negotiate with a group of countries which are already bathed in the blood of some 80% of the planet. If it was to happen, it would just be a mockery and it would simply humiliate everyone that is sincerely trying to stop the assassins.
Right now, Venezuela needs solidarity. It requires direct help, actions; not words. And so do many other countries.
Instead, it gets an endless avalanche of best wishes, as well as premature obituaries.
The Bolivarian Revolution has gotten plenty of colorful words. But what it urgently needs is volunteers, money, and internationalist brigades!
I know that billions of people all over the world are now cheering from their armchairs; in fact, doing absolutely nothing, while also spending zero. Their love for Venezuela is ‘platonic’.
I have just left Syria, where I was covering the Idlib war zone. There was not one single foreigner near me, during those days. Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley usually work all over the toughest areas in Syria, but how many others do? And most of the time we work with near zero backing, just because we feel that it is our moral obligation to inform humanity.
I am wondering, how many foreigners are fighting for Venezuela, right now?
Who is going to face the Western spooks implanted into the Caracas and the Venezuelan borders with Colombia and Brazil? A few RT and TeleSur reporters, those true heroes, yes, but who else?
Only direct action can save Venezuela, and the world.
This is no time for debates.
This is worse, much worse than the late 1930’s.
The proverbial crocodile is here; its enormous ugly mouth open, ready to devour yet one more brilliant, proud country.
It is time to stick a big metal rod into its mouth. Now, immediately; before it gets too late.
Let us shout LONG LIVE VENEZUELA! But with our hands, muscles and purses, not just with our mouths.
And let us not be scared to declare: if anywhere, it is Washington where regime change is truly and urgently needed!
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are China and Ecological Civilization with John B. Cobb, Jr., Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.
Colby Glass, MLIS