*edit, May 22, 2017 – “This world’s leaders, comprised of smart, educated, worldly and informed people (and some within this crowd are much dumber than others, which is beside the point) who very publicly (not honestly) commit the worst crimes (selling weapons to IS and Saudi Arabia and literally helping monsters like those to create hell on earth).” That sentence needs to be the same minus the “who” and the last set of parentheses. I was probably going to make this sentence longer, but decided to chop it up and missed the “who,” which renders the sentence grammatically strange.
A healthy national sovereignty can only be relatively good. It can only be temporary, even without the existence of the wild beast of corporatocracy.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Thomas Fazi follows:
========== == =
The last year has seen the Right and extreme Right capitalise on the dissatisfaction and despair fostered by neoliberalism – and usher in a ‘post-neoliberal order’. Their success is based on championing and monopolising the idea of national sovereignty, but only of a certain kind. The Left has accepted their discourse that national sovereignty goes hand in hand with exclusivist and right-wing ideas, rather than attempting to reclaim it as vehicle for change.
= == ==========
I will not give this blog post my usual ‘disappeared’ treatment, although, in plain English, the post ‘has’ disappeared. Off Guardian’s website has issues. I could just email them with my post, but, as I’m blogging about Thomas Fazi’s article anyway… Also, They have enough to deal with. My online (disappeared, so far), typo-corrected response to the above linked-to article follows:
Well, That there’s not a Left nor a Right isn’t the only idea that writers can’t make their minds up about I see. Neoliberalism is alive and well say some (I think most, still) and that it is dead say others.
I’m not an economist, but I don’t think I’m stupid.
If the core of neoliberalism is inequality, and if neoliberalism (having nothing to do with Liberal philosophy or Liberal Parties) is about corporations (not nation states) having more freedom at the people’s expense, primarily via free trade agreements (which aren’t going away just because they might be done differently; state to state rather than sweepingly with multiple states signing on all at once), then why would the Right (which is evil) jettison that? Good is now bad? This world’s leaders, comprised of smart, educated, worldly and informed people (and some within this crowd are much dumber than others, which is beside the point) who very publicly (not honestly) commit the worst crimes (selling weapons to IS and Saudi Arabia and literally helping monsters like those to create hell on earth). Then regular people without a solid moral foundation look on and notice all of that, concluding that “Those people know right from wrong and there they are doing evil like champs. I guess good must just sometimes be bad.” I go with Jesus, who said that you cannot slave for God and Riches. He also said that if the light that is in you, is in fact darkness, then how great that darkness is. But it’s a free universe. Go with whoever you want. If your saviour is imperfect, and getting more imperfect all the time (Donald Trump), humankind, Well I guess we’ll just have to see how that turns out.
I think it’s worth noting what Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin say about neoliberalism in their book “The Making Of Global Capitalism.” Consider:
“The American state has played an exceptional role in the creation of a fully global capitalism and in coordinating its management, as well as restructuring other states to these ends. Although there has also been a certain renewed fashionability of the term “empire” to designate the United States, the imperial practices of the American state are usually presented as accompanied by economic decline and explained in terms of fending off challenges from rival states. The reality, however, is that it was the immense strength of US capitalism which made globalization possible, and what continued to make the American state distinctive was its vital role in managing and superintending capitalism on a worldwide plane.” -page 2
Indeed, even targets of US aggression look to the US to “superintend” the money system which they operate within, which is problematic – for them.
“The mechanisms of neoliberalism – understood in terms of the expansion and deepening of markets and competitive pressures – may have been economic, but neoliberalism was essentially a political response to the democratic gains that had previously been achieved by working classes and which had become, from capital’s perspective, barriers to accumulation. It was only on the most stylized and superficial reading that the state could be seen to have withdrawn. Neoliberal practices did not entail institutional retreat so much as capitalist expansion and consolidation of the networks of institutional linkages to an already globalizing capitalism.” -page 15
“Anti systemic?” Does Thomas Fazi mean anti-establishment? Does the author really believe that the corporatocracy is dead, that the global capitalist system designed and created (mostly) by the US post World War 2, whose existence uncle Sam’s favored (now; it’s always changing) states benefit from (by not being targets for regime change and strategic rule-breaking via sanctions and tricks), even though their 99 percenters (Chile, Russia) don’t benefit, has been shut down? Why is it that countries like Venezuela and Haiti cannot stay free despite having the luck (and good sense of enough citizens, with and without power) of finding people’s champions (Chavez, Aristide) who will lead them away from the Washington Consensus (of one, in some ways), which means neoliberalism (http://bit.ly/2qAVz3g)? It’s precisely because 1. they are not ‘outside’ the US designed and dominated capitalist system and 2. uncle Sam will break the rules in order to win once he’s targetted a nation. If Russia was truly outside of the corporatocracy, What would sanctions mean? And it’s not just economics and finance. Hugo Chavez, for example (exactly as was the case for Mohammad Mossadeq), allowed the private (rightwing) media in his country all the freedom in the world – which they abused. They happily aided and abetted uncle Sam and foreign, US-based investors, who were trying to undermine ‘dictator’ Chavez with all kinds of lies, propaganda and demonization. Which is ironic, since rightwing leaders everywhere are attacking alternative media, labelling it as fake news that can undermine national security, thus demonstrating that media can indeed channel national security-threatening fake news. Of course, The state and its media allies have the power to impose its definition of ‘national security’, or anything else, on the nation.
“It became increasingly clear that the project of European integration had little or nothing do with a more progressive variety of capitalism that would challenge the American empire, but was rather part and parcel of the ongoing integration of Europe itself into global capitalism under the aegis of the American empire.” – Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, page 203 of “The Making Of Global Capitalism.” That’s the same Leo Panitch who insisted that Alexis Tsipras did ‘not’ betray the Greek people. Which just goes to show that very educated and smart people can say really dumb things.
In uncle Sam’s world, namely the only world we have, you can’t be free (or neutral, as any number of leaders, like Mossadeq and Tito found out the hard way). You can resist, but you won’t see the world’s champion of democracy wish you well and leave you alone to make your own path. That’s not what the CIA and the NED and it’s tentacles do. That’s not what democracy means to those monsters. Democracy means that when the powerful (like conventional mobsters) don’t like what you’re doing, they will do something – anything – about it until you are no longer doing it. In the case of uncle Sam and his agents, the CIA and NED et al, that means funding the opposition to the people’s champion. That then develops into a foundation for coups. Just ask Dilma Rousseff. What would Venezuela’s godless, rightwing opposition want elections for when uncle Sam will just hand Venezuela over to them in a coup, eventually? That’s what’s coming, or the US wouldn’t be preparing for it (demonizing the people’s champion, spreading propaganda and lies to undermine the Venezuelan state etc).
“Capitalism’s response” probably should be “capitalists’ response.” There’s the overall situation and then there’s details. Capitalism – which is state capitalism; There’s no actual existing pure capitalism outside of farmers’ markets in your local parks etc – has obviously undergone some changes (finance capital has displaced industrial manufacturing capital) and, as a matter of fact, so can neoliberalism. Changes are one thing. Elimination is another.
“threatening a meltdown of the global economy” What does that mean to the mafia capitalists within the gangster corporatocracy? Those ones simply break rules to get their way. If they want a system which works for them, to remain, then they will strategically break whatever rules (written and unwritten) they need to break in order to maintain it. Their insurance policy? As (the much maligned, by the Left and Right) Chomsky points out, it is to have the people bail them out when they are criminally reckless and get themselves, and us, into trouble. And that happens whether the people agree to it or not. Does the author really believe that Trump (and his ‘words’) is an honest response to the unrestricted freedom of abusive banksters and Wall Street and unpatriotic CEOs? One of his first acts after convincing dumb people that his words meant something good, was to do exactly the same kind of deal with Carrier (in which Carrier succeeded in extorting the US government for a handful of jobs and no actual commitment to care about Americans – http://bit.ly/2q5MrzY), as any of his predecessors would have done. And then to pretend that he didn’t. It’s up to people, including Trump’s uncaring supporters, to care enough to notice.
“neo-nationalist”? Fascism is on the rise, or I should say, is intensifying, everywhere. No question. As I read more history, I find it astonishing how the smashed state of Nazi Germany didn’t at all result in the obliteration of nazism. I’m reading Ervand Abrahamian’s “The Coup – 1953, And The Roots Of Modern US-Iranian Relations” at present. And lo and behold, Iran had (has?) its nazis (who the West used to destablize Mossadeq, just as they use nazis everywhere to do the same), and there’s connections back to the German nazi state. Having said that, I think it would be a mistake to conclude that the corporatocracy’s managers, by which I mean thinkers, would like to get rid of the nation state. It’s a useful concept, like Camelot (saint JFK, to use Hersh’s language). If the people have elections and leaders who purport to represent them, then they can be bamboozled into thinking that they have democracy and can, even without systemic change, change things for the better via elections etc.. Note that others (not amateur bloggers like myself) are pointing out that various plans (by the US, which will not seriously be opposed by its allies) for the mideast include shattering Iraq into three areas, Sunni, Shia and Kurdish, as well as the division of Syria and even, eventually the shattering of other Arab states like Egypt. The idea is not to get rid of nation states, but to make them weak – partly by pitting different groups against each other – and no threat to US interests. The idea of Greater Israel envisions such ‘nation-building’ among Israel’s neighbors, so that its power – as it continues to abuse Palestinians jailed on their rapidly vanishing land – can’t be challenged. But a nation state is a nation state, big or small, weak or strong. Indeed, Small, weak states with fascist dictators who will keep the people in check while mafia capitalists (like those who comprise the Egyptian military/government) do destructive, exploitative business as usual are ideal.
“Since 2011, world trade has grown significantly less rapidly than global GDP, and has now begun to shrink even as the global economy grows, albeit sluggishly. World financial flows are down sixty per cent since the pre-crash peak.” I’m sure that’s true. But, again, it all works according to economic rules and cause and effect and so on, none of which matters when gangsters run things. Things can break, according to the economic definition of ‘break’, let us say. But that doesn’t matter to mafia capitalists who make the system ‘work’ anyway (the insurance policy of big banks, namely the little guy and ‘his’ government, for example). What are you going to do about them? If you need real democracy and real freedom, including democracy and freedom in the electoral marketplace, but can’t have it because the gangsters who have captured governments and all that goes with them, including electoral systems, won’t let you have it, then how will you get that back? To get back democracy and freedom you need democracy and freedom, and, in this world, you can’t have it.
This is where Chris Hedges, and others, are right. The people also have to strategically rule-break and disengage, as Chomsky-basher James Corbett has advised (http://bit.ly/2q2XMSv). You must resist, non violently. You must rebel. I personally don’t think that that’s enough, but then again I don’t believe that I’m my own savior. Which doesn’t mean that I think Hedges and Corbett are entirely wrong. Civil disobedience, together with whistleblowing, are indispensable. But the indispensable tool that those ones would use to accomplish their (non violent) fightback are not off the corporatocracy’s radar. The people are losing the internet as I type. Trump’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is going full steam ahead with plans to kill of net neutrality while other leaders, like Theresa May, plan to impose a hearty censorship online (http://ind.pn/2q34Ey7). This is the real, not abstract, world.
“…right-wing forces have been much more effective than left-wing or progressive forces at tapping into the legitimate grievances of the masses disenfranchised, marginalised, impoverished, and dispossessed by the forty-year-long neoliberal class war waged from above…” That might be mis-characterizing things. I think one needs to say why rightwing forces have reached those who they’ve reached. Rightwingers are bullies. It’s always hard to challenge them. Also, The people are not automatically righteous because they are lied to and victimized by exploiters and demagogues. Even though societies have been designed to make people stupid, especially via consumerism in richer countries, the people still have some responsibility here. Caring means knowing. People don’t have to give in to the pressures and inducements entirely. They can, if they care and wish to, think (actively, not passively) about the state they are in and the messages they are being bombarded with by the state and its media allies. But, mostly, they don’t. People don’t spend as much as a minute thinking, actively, about important things in a week. The bread and circuses (with the bread component diminishing in influence) approach of elites is working. But that’s not altogether because their manipulations are so effective. It’s also because people themselves have not cared enough. Everyone, victim and victimizer, is trying to win in the godless game of ‘riches for the strongest’ in which there ‘has to be’ losers. People need to wake up and see that the problem is this neoliberal/neoconservative paradigm of ‘riches for the strongest’. That game is the problem. We need a new game in which there are no losers. Of course, How would we deal with those who disagree with that?
Obviously, I don’t agree with the idea of nation states that attempt to disappear the Creator, who, in fact, is the only one who can deal with root problems, like beastly individuals, sickness, old age and death.
I myself have argued that Brexit, for example, is the kind of shock that Naomi Klein wrote about in her book, “The Shock Doctrine,” which shocks usually benefit the Right. I allude to it in another post on my blog titled “I’ve Got All These Books Lying Around.” In that post I refer to Naomi’s discussion of Milton Friedman et al’s approach to nation-building. From page 166 of “The Shock Doctrine,” the following:
It was in 1982 that Milton Friedman wrote the highly influential passage that best summarizes the shock doctrine: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” It was to become a kind of mantra for his movement in the new democratic era. Allan Meltzer elaborated on the philosophy: “Ideas are alternatives waiting on a crisis to serve as the catalyst of change. Friedman’s model of influence was to legitimize ideas, to make them bearable, and worth trying when the opportunity comes.”
With the Civil Rights movement and the New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and students actually learning things in schools and feeling free, to a degree, to criticize society’s movers and shakers, elites in the US (and elsewhere) became alarmed. Their unease with developing democracy was reflected in the Trilateralists’ document titled “The “Crisis Of Democracy” and in the “Powell Memorandum.” In other words, in the US, you had a rise of democracy among the people, partly because of the educational system, which had not yet been tamed. The flip side of that ‘problem’ is that you didn’t have a democratic society or leaders, in government or in the private sector, which Klein is referring to when she writes about “the new democratic era.” Which gets to the crux of the matter. We are looking at how fascism rises. It rises ‘naturally’, via self-modified individuals who decide that getting and keeping power, however they might accomplish that, is the highest value humans can possess. And it rises in response to the outbreak of democracy, which comes from those who, while not perfect, haven’t modified themselves into monsters who believe (never fully) in inequality and violence and deception, as neoconservatives and neoliberals do. This is where shocks come in. Imperfect societies, which come from imperfect humans and that’s that, can lead to discontent and rebelliousness. So along come the self-modified believers in inequality who now pose, a la Jeffrey Sachs, as saviours who will completely remove the old, broken system and replace it with one that works for everyone. Of course they lie. And when the people trust them, not fully cognizant of their self-modified nature, that then leads to a situation where the new leaders remove the old system, replacing it with the exploitative system that they’ve been waiting around to impose. The thing is, As bad as that old, democratic system is, it was built with at least some input from citizens and was to an extent democratic. The new system will be less democratic, for that’s how elites want it. And they will give the people bread and circuses enough to allow them, if they are willing (which they’ve been) to fool themselves into thinking that they’ve gained democracy when in fact they’ve lost it.
Holly Sklar wrote:
Domestic stability and international stability were closely linked under the umbrella of the welfare/warfare state. Policy makers and presidents like John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson stepped up efforts to fight the worldwide “war on communism” (read “war for capitalism”) alongside the domestic “war on poverty”-with the support of liberals, big labor, and big business. (“Cold War liberalism” is the name given to the dominant ideology of the postwar period.) Corporations reaped lush profits from domestic military production and rapidly expanded out into the empire which U.S. foreign aid remodeled and U.S. guns protected. Stability at home was maintained with varying doses of butter (expanding social welfare programs in the context of a prosperous economy) and political repression (McCarthy era of the 1950s; FBI and CIA counter-intelligence programs to disrupt and destroy progressive movements in the 1960s and 70s; systematic police brutality against Chicano/as, Blacks, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans.
Note that the Third World Traveler website’s search feature is no longer useful. I typed in “Trilateralists” was met with no returns, although that word should have brought up Holly’s above entry, and others. And try finding a contact for those who look after the site. It’s appalling really.
So I agree with Thomas Fazi about the need for the Left to be as quick as the Right in taking advantages of shocks, which they haven’t been. But that doesn’t mean that what he discusses can’t be… discussed.