The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Tyranny or Revolution

By Chris Hedges

Source: TruthDig

At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe.

It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by “what’s in it for me?” They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress—whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.

It is essential to understand the pathologies of the uber-rich. They have seized total political power. These pathologies inform Donald Trump, his children, the Brett Kavanaughs, and the billionaires who run his administration. The uber-rich cannot see the world from anyone’s perspective but their own. People around them, including the women whom entitled men prey upon, are objects designed to gratify momentary lusts or be manipulated. The uber-rich are almost always amoral. Right. Wrong. Truth. Lies. Justice. Injustice. These concepts are beyond them. Whatever benefits or pleases them is good. What does not must be destroyed.

The pathology of the uber-rich is what permits Trump and his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to conspire with de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, another product of unrestrained entitlement and nepotism, to cover up the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom I worked with in the Middle East. The uber-rich spend their lives protected by their inherited wealth, the power it wields and an army of enablers, including other members of the fraternity of the uber-rich, along with their lawyers and publicists. There are almost never any consequences for their failures, abuses, mistreatment of others and crimes. This is why the Saudi crown prince and Kushner have bonded. They are the homunculi the uber-rich routinely spawn.

The rule of the uber-rich, for this reason, is terrifying. They know no limits. They have never abided by the norms of society and never will. We pay taxes—they don’t. We work hard to get into an elite university or get a job—they don’t. We have to pay for our failures—they don’t. We are prosecuted for our crimes—they are not.

The uber-rich live in an artificial bubble, a land called Richistan, a place of Frankenmansions and private jets, cut off from our reality. Wealth, I saw, not only perpetuates itself but is used to monopolize the new opportunities for wealth creation. Social mobility for the poor and the working class is largely a myth. The uber-rich practice the ultimate form of affirmative action, catapulting white, male mediocrities like Trump, Kushner and George W. Bush into elite schools that groom the plutocracy for positions of power. The uber-rich are never forced to grow up. They are often infantilized for life, squalling for what they want and almost always getting it. And this makes them very, very dangerous.

Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. It’s a funny thing about the uber-rich: No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. This life of endless desire often ends badly, with the uber-rich estranged from their spouses and children, bereft of genuine friends. And when they are gone, as Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol,” most people are glad to be rid of them.

C. Wright Mills in “The Power Elite,” one of the finest studies of the pathologies of the uber-rich, wrote:

They exploited national resources, waged economic wars among themselves, entered into combinations, made private capital out of the public domain, and used any and every method to achieve their ends. They made agreements with railroads for rebates; they purchased newspapers and bought editors; they killed off competing and independent businesses and employed lawyers of skill and statesmen of repute to sustain their rights and secure their privileges. There is something demonic about these lords of creation; it is not merely rhetoric to call them robber barons.

Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich. And once we understand the pathologies of these oligarchic elites, it is easy to chart our future. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarized police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them.

The uber-rich care inordinately about their image. They are obsessed with looking at themselves. They are the center of their own universe. They go to great lengths and expense to create fictional personas replete with nonexistent virtues and attributes. This is why the uber-rich carry out acts of well-publicized philanthropy. Philanthropy allows the uber-rich to engage in moral fragmentation. They ignore the moral squalor of their lives, often defined by the kind of degeneracy and debauchery the uber-rich insist is the curse of the poor, to present themselves through small acts of charity as caring and beneficent. Those who puncture this image, as Khashoggi did with Salman, are especially despised. And this is why Trump, like all the uber-rich, sees a critical press as the enemy. It is why Trump’s and Kushner’s eagerness to conspire to help cover up Khashoggi’s murder is ominous. Trump’s incitements to his supporters, who see in him the omnipotence they lack and yearn to achieve, to carry out acts of violence against his critics are only a few steps removed from the crown prince’s thugs dismembering Khashoggi with a bone saw. And if you think Trump is joking when he suggests the press should be dealt with violently you understand nothing about the uber-rich. He will do what he can get away with, even murder. He, like most of the uber-rich, is devoid of a conscience.

The more enlightened uber-rich, the East Hamptons and Upper East Side uber-rich, a realm in which Ivanka and Jared once cavorted, look at the president as gauche and vulgar. But this distinction is one of style, not substance. Donald Trump may be an embarrassment to the well-heeled Harvard and Princeton graduates at Goldman Sachs, but he serves the uber-rich as assiduously as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party do. This is why the Obamas, like the Clintons, have been inducted into the pantheon of the uber-rich. It is why Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump were close friends. They come from the same caste.

There is no force within ruling institutions that will halt the pillage by the uber-rich of the nation and the ecosystem. The uber-rich have nothing to fear from the corporate-controlled media, the elected officials they bankroll or the judicial system they have seized. The universities are pathetic corporation appendages. They silence or banish intellectual critics who upset major donors by challenging the reigning ideology of neoliberalism, which was formulated by the uber-rich to restore class power. The uber-rich have destroyed popular movements, including labor unions, along with democratic mechanisms for reform that once allowed working people to pit power against power. The world is now their playground.

In “The Postmodern Condition” the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard painted a picture of the future neoliberal order as one in which “the temporary contract” supplants “permanent institutions in the professional, emotional, sexual, cultural, family and international domains, as well as in political affairs.” This temporal relationship to people, things, institutions and the natural world ensures collective self-annihilation. Nothing for the uber-rich has an intrinsic value. Human beings, social institutions and the natural world are commodities to exploit for personal gain until exhaustion or collapse. The common good, like the consent of the governed, is a dead concept. This temporal relationship embodies the fundamental pathology of the uber-rich.

The uber-rich, as Karl Polanyi wrote, celebrate the worst kind of freedom—the freedom “to exploit one’s fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage.” At the same time, as Polanyi noted, the uber-rich make war on the “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s own job.”

The dark pathologies of the uber-rich, lionized by mass culture and mass media, have become our own. We have ingested their poison. We have been taught by the uber-rich to celebrate the bad freedoms and denigrate the good ones. Look at any Trump rally. Watch any reality television show. Examine the state of our planet. We will repudiate these pathologies and organize to force the uber-rich from power or they will transform us into what they already consider us to be—the help.

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Two for Tuesday

The Bug

DJ True Justice

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The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War

 

By Robert J. Burrowes

British author and social commentator H.G. Wells may have coined the expression that originally popularized World War I as The War that Will End War, as his book, based on articles written during that vast military conflict, was titled. In any case, in one version or another, the expression was one of the most common catchphrases of the Great War of 1914-1918 and has survived as an expression, often used with a grimace of sarcasm, ever since.

As we commemorate the passing of the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending ‘the war to end war’, one can only marvel at how wrong humans can be sometimes. Not content with the violence inflicted during World War I, humans used the twentieth century to systematically decimate human and other life as violence and war raged across the planet with an increasingly massive and sophisticated armory. In fact, by mid-century, in a tribute to their technological ingenuity and psychological dysfunctionality, humans had invented a weapon that could destroy life on Earth.

And by the beginning of the 21st century, humans were living in the era of perpetual war against life – see ‘Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds’ and Living Planet Report 2018: Aiming Higher’ – with war also the largest contributor to the climate catastrophe: ‘Not only is the Pentagon the single largest industrial consumer of fossil fuels, but fighter jets, destroyers, tanks and other weapons systems emit highly toxic, carbon-intensive emissions, not to mention the greenhouse gases that are released from the detonation of bombs. How quickly the world forgot the toxic legacy of Saddam Hussein’s oil fires!’ See War and Climate Change: Time to Connect the Dots’.

So advanced is our war against life that human extinction is now imminent. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

 

Resisting war historically

Of course, the failure to end war has not been the outcome of lack of effort. And while there have been many efforts focused on ending a particular war, efforts directed at ending a particular aspect of war (such as the use of a type of weapon), and efforts aimed at preventing a type of war (such as ‘aggressive war’ or nuclear war), there have also been ongoing efforts to achieve ‘the holy grail’: to end war itself.

These attempts have included ongoing grassroots mobilization by anti-war organizations spawned by World War I (such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom founded in 1915 and War Resisters’ International founded in 1921) and many equivalents since that time, official attempts to outlaw war such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact that outlawed war in 1928 but has been ignored ever since – see League of Nations ‘Treaty Series’ vol. XCIV, 1929, p. 63 – and institutional efforts to prevent it, particularly by establishment of the League of Nations in 1920 and its successor the United Nations in 1945, both also readily ignored or manipulated.

Separately from the above, however, there has been a long history of nonviolent activism to end wars and this has been conducted by individuals and groups all over the world. Undoubtedly the most effective anti-war movement in history was that undertaken in response to the US war against Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Inspired and supported by the nonviolent resistance of the civilian population, and building on the long history of resistance to war within the military – see, for example, The Soldiers’ Strikes of 1919 – there was widespread nonviolent resistance undertaken by US troops and conscripts to end the US war against Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from 1968 until it ended in 1975.

If you like, you can read detailed descriptions of the systematic and ongoing resistance (nonviolent and otherwise) within the US military, in many forms, which progressively incapacitated the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force during the last years of the war, forcing the US out of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. See Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War and Self-Destruction: The Disintegration and Decay of the United States Army during the Vietnam Era with a summary of the first book in ‘Antiwar Resistance Within the Military During the Vietnam War’ and a review of it in ‘The soldiers’ revolt in Vietnam: Rebellion in the ranks’.

For a documentary account of the conscientious objection by more than half a million US conscripts to military service in South East Asia during this period, which overwhelmed the legal system making prosecutions beyond a token few impossible and, combined with soldier resistance and civilian efforts, forced Presidents Johnson and Nixon to curtail plans to escalate the war and make plans to end it, see the forthcoming film The Boys Who Said NO!

 

Reanalysing the Cause of War to Reorient our Resistance

So, if we are to use this 100th anniversary to renew our struggle to end war and to work effectively to achieve that purpose, then clearly we need to reassess our analysis of the cause(s) of war so that we understand the problem more precisely, and then use this revised analysis to guide the development and implementation of a strategy that addresses the cause(s). Of course, I am not suggesting that ending war will be easy, even with a sound analysis and a comprehensive strategy. But at least it will be feasible.

Before proceeding, I would like to record my own passion for this subject. I lost two great uncles to World War I: Tom Farrell was killed in action at Gallipoli and Les Burrowes was a victim of ‘shell shock’ – later labeled post-traumatic stress disorder – after being wounded in action three times at Gallipoli and then dying prematurely some years after the war.

My father served in World War II as a coastwatcher and both of his brothers, including his twin, were killed. I am named after my father’s older brother. Bob died when the Japanese POW ship Montevideo Maru was torpedoed by the USS Sturgeon on 1 July 1942. 1,053 Australian POWs died that night. And my father’s twin, Tom, died when his Beaufort Bomber was shot down on 14 December 1943 killing the entire crew.

So my childhood is dotted with memories of occasional commemorations of war which, for me, always ended with the same question: Why? But not just ‘why war?’ Given other manifestations of violence I observed around the world during my childhood, including exploitation of peoples in Africa, Asia and Central/South America as well as destruction of the environment, the deeper question was always my focus: ‘Why violence?’

Well, despite considerable research over three decades, I was never content with any version of the answer to this question that I found. Consequently, 14 years in seclusion with Anita McKone ‘taking our own minds apart’ finally gave me the answer I wanted. In ugly detail. If you would like to read this answer, which explains the unrelenting ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that adults inflict on children and the enormous lifetime damage (including the legacy of unconscious fear, self hatred and powerlessness) that this causes, you can do so in Why Violence?’ with our process described in Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

Needless to say, understanding a problem makes developing a strategy to address it far easier (which does not mean that the problem is easy to resolve). However, it is also the case that violence has many manifestations – notably including war, violence against huge sectors of the human population in various contexts (ranging from violence against women and indigenous peoples to military occupations and dictatorships), economic exploitation and destruction of the biosphere – and tackling each of these effectively requires its own sophisticated nonviolent strategy.

This is partly because certain manifestations of violence are structural – see ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research’ – or cultural – see ‘Cultural Violence’ – as Professor Johan Galtung describes these terms, and they originated long ago and have been recreated and ‘built-in’ over successive centuries.

However, it is important to understand that the nature of any given structure or cultural symbol/process reflects the psychology of those who create and/or maintain it. That is, it is dysfunctionalized human beings who create and maintain dysfunctional (that is, violent and/or exploitative) structures and cultures.

So, for example, while the origin of capitalism can be explained in terms of the development of economic structures and processes that took place over preceding centuries (in a particular socio-political-legal setting), fundamentally the exploitative nature of capitalism is a direct outcome of the badly damaged psychology of those men who progressively created it and now those men (and some women) who maintain it, expand it and primarily benefit from the manner in which it exploits most others.

And if those men and women were not psychologically damaged by the violence they suffered during childhood, then they would devote their efforts to creating egalitarian economic structures and processes that benefited everyone equally and nurtured the biosphere. In short, a human being who is psychologically whole regards the idea of killing or exploiting a fellow human being as deplorable. This is not a moral stance. It is a psychological outcome for the child who is parented lovingly: such parenting produces compassionate identification with others (and, in fact, everything that lives and the biosphere as a whole).

The same reasoning applies to the institution of war particularly as it has evolved and is now conducted by western nations, led by the US, and their allies such as Israel. War is a method of conducting conflict. It has a great many components including elites who promote war-for-profit by using various channels such as ‘think tanks’, the corporate media, government propaganda and education systems to call for and ‘justify’ it, political processes to order it, legal processes to defend it (including against those who take nonviolent action against it), military command, control and communication structures to plan and implement it, corporations employing a labor force to manufacture weapons and other hardware to be used in it, military personnel to deploy and fire the weapons, and citizens willing to pay taxes (or too scared to resist doing so) to finance it.

But at every level of the institution of war, and despite vast advances in peace, conflict and nonviolence theory and practice during the past 60 years, it requires individuals who were terrorized during their childhood into believing that killing fellow human beings is an appropriate way to deal with conflict (or, a variation, that killing human beings is a reasonable way to earn a wage or make a profit). And because they are so psychologically damaged and now deeply embedded within the institution of war, consideration of alternatives to violence is only tokenistically contemplated, if at all (with occasional exceptions by those whose conscience survived the childhood violence they suffered). If you like, you can read a little more about how childhood violence creates insane individuals who perpetuate violence and war in articles such as ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ but there is plenty more on that website.

In essence, if most human beings were not so psychologically damaged by the violence inflicted on them during childhood (leaving them unconsciously terrified, self-hating and powerless), there would be a mass uprising against the barbarity of war: the large-scale industrial slaughter of people like you.

 

So what are we to do?

Well, if we consider war as an outcome not of political and economic differences manifesting as military violence but, fundamentally, as an outcome of psychological dysfunctionality preventing intelligent resolution of conflict, then our strategy for ending war can acquire a sophistication it must otherwise lack. Put simply, by understanding the psychological roots of violence we can develop and implement a strategy that intelligently addresses these, both in the short and medium terms.

So how do we tackle, strategically, the interrelated set of problems that constitute the institution of war?

If your primary interest is focusing on war itself, check out the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel which simply illustrates the 12-point strategic framework necessary to conduct an effective nonviolent campaign and then consider the basic list of 35 strategic goals necessary to end war. Choose one or a few goals appropriate to your circumstances and conduct a strategically-oriented nonviolent campaign, as explained on the same website, to achieve those goals.

If you are concerned that you need some form of military defense against those who might attack your country, it is actually strategically superior to use a strategy of nonviolent defense, which is explained in detail in The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach and presented more simply in Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. In fact, this strategic framework can be used to plan and implement a nonviolent strategy to defend against a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to liberate your country from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat a genocidal assault.

As an aside, if your preferred focus is the climate catastrophe, some other assault on the biosphere or a social justice campaign of any kind, the Nonviolent Strategy website will assist you to develop a comprehensive and focused strategy.

When conducting any campaign, keep in mind a clear understanding of ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’ and remember the distinction between The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’. By keeping these points in mind, your campaign (including each of your tactics) will be focused for strategic impact.

If your interest in ending war is more focused on undermining it at its source, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’ and nisteling, whenever appropriate, to children too. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

This will mean that any children in your life are supported, at least by you, to become self-loving and powerful individuals who are immune to the seductions and indoctrination of those who advocate and make war while developing the capacity to pursue life-enhancing behavioral options when dealing with conflict.

If parenting children in this manner feels beyond you, consider allowing yourself the time to heal from the violence that you have suffered throughout your life. See Putting Feelings First’.

And don’t forget: while depending on our psychological dysfunctionality to accept, finance and conduct war as a means of dealing with conflict, at its most mundane level, war is a conflict over resources, particularly fossil fuels, strategic minerals and fresh water, and it is our consumption of these, in all of those products (such as meat and cars) and services (like airline flights) that we buy, that fuels the wars conducted in our name while also destroying the biosphere in various other ways. (If you want to understand the psychological origin of this obsession with material goods, see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.) In short, there is no point deluding ourselves that we can subvert this violent world order without substantially reducing our consumption on all fronts.

So another way you can have strategic impact in undermining the institution of war (and capitalism), while slowing destruction of the biosphere, is to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. The Flame Tree Project outlines a simple plan for people to progressively reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas.

You might also be interested in signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ where the names of many people who are working to end war (and other violence) are already listed.

Ending war is not impossible. Far from it, in fact. But it is going to take a phenomenal amount of intelligent strategic effort, courage and commitment.

 

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here. http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com

Robert J. Burrowes
P.O. Box 68
Daylesford, Victoria 3460
Australia

Email: flametree@riseup.net

Websites:
Nonviolence Charter
Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth
‘Why Violence?’
Feelings First
Nonviolent Campaign Strategy
Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy
Anita: Songs of Nonviolence
Robert Burrowes
Global Nonviolence Network

Posted in Activism, anti-war, Authoritarianism, culture, Economics, elites, Empire, Geopolitics, imperialism, Militarization, Philosophy, Psy-ops, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whither Russiagate?

By Philip Giraldi

Source: OffGuardian

Two years have passed since the 2016 presidential election. Allegations that foreign interference had influenced the result, perhaps decisively, began to surface even as the last ballots were being counted. Against all odds underdog Donald J. Trump had been elected president and the Establishment, which denigrated him throughout the campaign, had to find a scapegoat to explain their failure to elect the preferred candidate. The scapegoat turned out to be Russia.

The Robert Mueller led inquiry into the election has been running since May 2017. It has been tasked with determining whether the Trump campaign colluded corruptly with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the election. It has worked hard to delegitimize the president without that being its stated objective and has had a certain measure of success in doing just that.

But apart from a couple of low-level convictions for perjury, Mueller has come up with nothing that convincingly demonstrates that Moscow had some kind of plan to disrupt the elections and thereby damage American democracy. There was, to be sure, some Russian government sponsored probing and what might be described as attempted influencing, but that is what intelligence agencies do to justify their existence. The worst culprit when it comes to election interference worldwide is undoubtedly America’s own Central Intelligence Agency, which has been doing just that since 1947. But apart from some low-level activity, there has been nothing to suggest some kind of grand design orchestrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to overthrow or cast into confusion the American government.

No one should ever let a good story line go to waste, so the U.S. mainstream media has bought into the proposition that Russia did both interfere in and influence the result of the election based on the assumption that where there is smoke there must be fire with little in the way of evidence being provided. Some media outlets have maintained that the margin of victory for Trump was actually “made in Russia,” meaning that he is ipso facto Moscow’s puppet. It should be noted that this is the same media that embraced Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and transatlantic gliders back in 2002 and the Syrian use of chemical weapons more recently, suggesting that the relationship between demonstrated facts and what comes out in the reporting is very tenuous.

To keep the story fresh, both government and the media have now been suggesting that there has already been an attempt by Russia to interfere in the 2018 midterm election which will take place on Tuesday. The New York Times describes an “elaborate campaign of ‘information warfare’ to interfere.” On October 19th, federal prosecutors charged Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg Russia, a woman whom they labeled the project’s “chief accountant.” She allegedly managed a budget to “sow division and discord” in the lead-up to the voting. The Times goes on to describe how “She bought internet domain names and Facebook and Instagram ads and spent money on building out Twitter accounts and paying to promote divisive posts on social media.”

And the list of culprits has also been expanded to include China and Iran, if one goes by PBS’s coverage of the story. One would not be surprised to see North Korea added to the list, as it is convenient to keep all of one’s enemies in one place, all on the march to destroy American democracy and its political institutions before the GOP and Democrats finally get around to doing it.

One might easily regard the never ending Russiagate saga as a bit of an amusement, but there are actually real-life consequences to corrupting the popular sentiment in a large and powerful nuclear armed nation like the United States by constantly discovering new enemies to stimulate the selling of newspapers and television ad time. At a minimum, phony threat accusations create paranoia and also mistrust in the institutions that are supposed to be protecting the country.

And there are also other less tangible consequences, namely that the constant crying wolf over the Russians and Chinese corrupting America’s political system actually does tell the voters that their vote does not matter as outside forces beyond their control will determine the result anyway.

Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at Princeton University, has been arguing for some time that the pursuit of Russiagate and the various delusions that have become attached to it is doing grave damage not only to the bilateral relationship between Moscow and Washington but also to perceptions of the state of the U.S. political system. His latest article in The Nation entitled Who is really undermining American democracy? has as a sub-heading “Allegations that Russia is still ‘attacking’ US elections, now again in November, could delegitimize our democratic institutions.”

Cohen argues plausibly how the “undermine American democracy” meme may itself erode confidence in U.S. political institutions because if the trick of claiming outside interference can to be used successfully once it will be used again even after Trump is gone. If there are claims by losing candidates that Russia or some other foreign power interfered in the midterm this week it will inevitably jumpstart a witch hunt to find those congressmen who were “helped.” The legitimacy of congress itself will be in question.

Cohen also argues that “Russiagate has revealed the low esteem that many U.S. political-media elites have for American voters—for their ability to make discerning, rational electoral decisions, which is the bedrock assumption of representative democracy… Presumably this is a factor behind the current proliferation of programs—official, corporate, and private—to introduce elements of censorship in the nation’s ‘media space’ in order to filter out ‘Kremlin propaganda.’ Here, it also seems, elites will decide what constitutes such ‘propaganda.’”

It is the ultimate irony that the most powerful and least threatened country in the world – the United States of America-runs on fear. The obsession with possible foreign interference in U.S. elections reflects the fundamental insecurity of the elites that actually manipulate the system to benefit themselves and their constituencies. If the midterm results do not satisfy the Establishment and the “foreign menace” again is surfaced as causative it will, in truth, be the beginning of the end for American democracy as mistrust of the integrity of the government institutions will continued to be eroded. The alternative? Tell Robert Mueller to put his cards on the table and prove what is being generally accepted as true regarding Russia or fold up his tent and go home because he is no longer need.

Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, divide and conquer, Empire, Geopolitics, imperialism, media, Media Literacy, Neocons, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lost in the Theatre of Data, Dada, and Emotional Manipulation

By Edward Curtin

Source: OpEdNews.com

“It is not only information that they need — in this Age of Fact, information often dominates their attention and overwhelms their capacities to assimilate it”What they need, and what they feel they need, is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves”what may be called the sociological imagination.”

— C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959

“‘Our own death is indeed, unimaginable,’ Freud said in 1915, ‘and whenever we make the attempt to imagine it we can perceive that we really survive as spectators.’ It is thus the very habit of military situations that turn them theatrical. And it is their utter unthinkableness: it is impossible for a participant to believe that he is taking part in such murderous proceedings in his own character. The whole thing is too grossly farcical, perverse, cruel, and absurd to be credited as a form of ‘real life.’ Seeing warfare as theatre provides a psychic escape for the participant: with a sufficient sense of theatre, he can perform his duties without implicating his ‘real’ self and without impairing his innermost conviction that the world is still a rational place. Just before the attack on Loos, Major Pilditch testifies to ‘a queer new feeling these last few days, intensified last night. A sort of feeling of unreality as if I were acting on a stage”.'”

— Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory

“The society whose modernisation has reached the stage of integrated spectacle
is characterised by the combined effect of five principal factors: incessant technological renewal, integration of state and economy, generalised secrecy, unanswerable lies, and eternal present . . . .”

— Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

“Hi-diddle-dee-dee

An actor’s life for me..

Hi-diddle-dee-dum

An actor’s life is fun”

— Walt Disney, “Pinocchio”

It was 100 years ago this November 11th when World War I ended. This “War to End All Wars,” resulted in the death of approximately 9 million soldiers and 9 million civilians. The brilliant leaders who waged this war — the crème de la crème — men who, in their own warped minds, possessed impeccable logic and rigorous reasoning, expected the war to be over in a few months. It lasted four years. Like their more current American counterparts before they launched the war against Iraq in 2003, they expected a “cakewalk” or a “slam-dunk” (the former term is racist and the latter a sports term, perfect unconscious verbiage for the slaughter of “lesser” humans). All these principals were data demented, they had lined up their little toy ducks in a row and expected a neat and logical outcome. Or so they said. The new weapons would make quick mincemeat of the enemy. Technology would expeditiously destroy to expeditiously save. Nothing has changed in one hundred years

Such instrumental logic and its positivistic data reductionism has now deeply infected the popular mind, as common sense has been destroyed by government and mass media propaganda so blatantly ridiculous that only a hypnotized person could believe it. But so many have been hypnotized and follow the repetitious and overwhelming streaming of each day’s markedly ad hoc “news,” following the Pied Piper to their doom via the wizardry of digital technology. Raptly attentive to the “politainment” that passes for journalism, they pin ball between alleged assertions of fact cobbled together with tendentious and faulty logic and theatrical displays of emotion meant to manipulate an audience of spectators in the national theatre of absurdity. It is all show and tell in which the audience is expected to react emotionally rather than think, with images and feelings having replaced concentrated reflection, and facts and evidence having disappeared like a coin from a magician’s hand.

This technological surround-sound theatre has reduced everything to play-acting, with audiences and their puppeteers playing reciprocal parts. Theodor Adorno analogizes thus:

“Real life is becoming indistinguishable from the movies. The sound film, far surpassing the theatre of illusion, leaves no room for imagination or reflection on the part of the audience, who is unable to respond within the structure of the film, yet deviate from its precise detail without losing the thread of the story; hence the film forces its victims to equate it directly with reality. The stunting of the mass-media consumer’s powers of imagination and spontaneity does not have to be traced back to any psychological mechanisms; he must ascribe the loss of those attributes to the objective nature of the products themselves, especially to the most characteristic of them, the sound film. They are so designed that quickness, powers of observation, and experience are undeniably needed to apprehend them at all; yet sustained thought is out of the question if the spectator is not to miss the relentless rush of facts.”

Meanwhile, the real business of murder, mayhem, and economic exploitation continues apace. As one “small” example of a fact relegated to oblivion by our mainstream media, in Gaza this past week, Israeli occupation forces killed Nasser Azim Musabeh (12), Mohammed Nayef Ai (14), Mohammed Ali Mohasmmed Anshasi, (18), Iyar Khalil Al-Sha’er (18), Mohasmmed Bassam Mohammed (24), Mohammed Walid Haniyeh (23), and Mohammed Ashraf Awawdeh (23). But such facts don’t matter since these dead young people were already reduced to invisible people not worthy of a mention.

Rather, pseudo-debates and pseudo-events are created by media and political magicians whose goal is to confuse the audience through information (data) and emotional overload into thinking that they are “freely” choosing what is always the same, to paraphrase Theodor Adorno. It is a conjurer’s act of mind manipulation in support of a repressive political and economic ideology built on false dichotomies. The political/media empire creates its own “reality” that the captivated audience takes as reality, as their emotions swing from outrage to laughter and their electronic clickers jump them from show to show, from CNN or Fox or the New York Times to Saturday Night Live in the land where there is no business but show business. “Amusing ourselves to death,” as Neal Postman so aptly put it. To which I would add: As we put others to death outside the show.

The other day I was in a library and was looking through a large book of World War I photographs from the Imperial War Museum that I found lying on a table. They were arranged chronologically from the start of the war in 1914 to its end in 1918. Fascinating photos, I thought. I went through the book page by page, examining the photos one by one, beginning with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by a young guy, on through the photos of stiff British war-hawk leaders in double-breasted suits, through photos of the trenches and the new weapons until I reached photos of the treaty to “end” it. By the conclusion, I felt exhausted and knew nothing new. Photos as data. Click, click, click: How many are enough? It was like spending an hour with the mainstream corporate media, and much of the alternative press. It was like a black and white movie in no motion. Same old, same old, as a young man I know often says when I ask him what’s new. Same old data via photographs. War is hell. Ditto. Bodies get blown to bits and decompose in mud. Ditto. Heads get separated from necks and blood pours forth. Ditto. War is hell. Ditto. Great leaders meet and end the carnage. Ditto.

Ditto Data Dada. I had to imagine the subsequent pages and years as these great leaders, so disgusted by war, prepared for the next one, and the one following, etc. Ditto, data, dada.

I understood then why the first famous Dadaist piece of art that emerged from absolute disgust with the data driven crazies who started and waged WW I was Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 “Fountain,” a porcelain urinal signed by R. Mutt, a message to tell the “great” leaders to piss off.

But Dadaist art, like all avant-garde art, gets quickly sucked into the maw of the entertainment complex, which is another name for the propaganda complex. As the word media means etymologically — magicians — these sorcerer’s have developed and use every bit of black magic to engineer the consent of the bewildered herd, to blend the words of two of America’s key propagandists from the past: Edward Bernays, Freud’s American nephew and President Woodrow Wilson’s master propagandist for WW I, and the famous journalist Walter Lippman. Bernays put it straight and succinctly:

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of engineering of consent. The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process. It affects almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Last week I attended a production of the play Annie in a community theatre in a liberal town in the northeast. The show was sold out, and I was there because my lovely granddaughter was performing in the play, one whose story and music I was very familiar with. The show was delightful and the audience was enraptured by the performances and the wonderful music. If you are not familiar with the story, it is about an 11 year old orphan named Annie who, in 1933 when FDR has assumed the presidency, is in search of her biological parents. Together with other orphans in a NYC orphanage, she is treated miserably by a character named Miss Hannigan. By the play’s end, Annie is adopted by a wealthy man to presumably live happily ever after. At one point in the play, this wealthy man brings Annie to Washington D. C. to meet his friend, President Roosevelt. He says to FDR, Franklin, you need to do something and get my factories humming again. In this scene, Roosevelt and his cabinet, the wealthy man, and Annie sing the very upbeat song — “Tomorrow” — which Roosevelt loves since it offers hope in the dark time of the great depression. Everyone sings the stirring song, many in the audience silently singing along and the mood in the theater elevates. By the play’s end Annie is adopted by the wealthy man, whose name is Daddy Warbucks. This super-capitalist billionaire with a mansion on Fifth Avenue and a heart of gold has made his riches making weapons for WW I, though this is not spelled out in the show. I kept wondering what the audience of liberal-minded people were thinking, or if they were, about the strange fact the hero of the show was a man with a war-monger’s name whose factories had produced armaments that had created tens of thousands of war orphans and who was urging the liberal Roosevelt to get his munitions factories up and running again in 1933. I suspected they weren’t thinking about this at all and that the work of subtle propaganda was being magically induced at an unconscious level. For how could such a nice, caring guy, who adopts the cute Annie and who sings such tuneful songs, be a killer?

I guiltily thought: I shouldn’t be thinking such thoughts, as I also thought how can I not think them. Emotionally I felt one thing, and intellectually another. This was the classic double-bind.

Upon further reflection, I realized that this is how the finest propaganda works. It splits people in two and works subtly. Emotionally you are pulled one way, and intellectually another, if you are thinking at all. There are certain connections you are not supposed to make or verbalize, when to oppose the powerful sway of the media’s emotional appeals is considered a betrayal of your humanity and certain victims, such as a cute orphan or acceptable victims, even when that doesn’t follow logically.

But in the Magic Theatre that is American life, false choices are the essence of the show. Democrats vs. Republicans, Clinton vs. Bush, Bush vs. Obama, Obama vs. Trump, liberals vs. conservatives, and on and on endlessly. It’s Dada, my friends, all theater. The next election will change everything, right? “The sun’ll come out/Tomorrow, So ya gotta hang on/’Till tomorrow/ Come what may.”

Only when we leave the theatre can we see the real play. But that’s a bold act for which no Oscars, Tonys, or Emmys are handed out. And outside the theater’s warm embrace, it’s cold, and you feel like an orphan looking for a home, no matter how much blood-money purchased it. But don’t go in; it’s a trap.

 

Posted in consciousness, corporate news, culture, Dystopia, History, media, Media Literacy, Militarization, news, Philosophy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Matinee: Dick

“Dick” (1999) is a cult comedy co-written (with Sheryl Longin) and directed by Andrew Fleming. It’s an absurdist retelling of the events surrounding the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon (played in the film by Dan Hedaya). Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams star as Betsy and Arlene, two fun-loving and ditzy best friends, who, through a random chain of events, become the legendary “Deep Throat” figure ultimately responsible for bringing down the Nixon presidency. Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch star as this film’s version of Woodward and Bernstein. A roster of comedic actors including Teri Garr, Dave Foley, Harry Shearer, Jim Breuer and Ryan Reynolds also make appearances.

Watch the full film here.

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Humor, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats rally to defend fired Attorney General Sessions, Special Counsel Mueller

By Tom Eley

Source: WSWS.org

The Democrats and their fake “left” allies held war-mongering demonstrations in a number of cities on Thursday in defense of the fired far-right attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the anti-Russia investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Wednesday’s ouster of Sessions and his replacement by Trump ally Matthew G. Whitaker has brought forth a wave of condemnation from Democratic Party figures and their media allies, including the New York Times and Washington Post, asserting that the move is the prelude to Trump’s closing down of the Justice Department probe into allegations of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 elections and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.

Trump had repeatedly denounced Sessions for having recused himself from the Russia investigation in March of 2017, leaving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a defender of the investigation, in overall charge of its conduct. Whitaker, a former US attorney and now acting attorney general and therefore responsible for overseeing the Mueller probe, is on record criticizing Mueller and suggesting that the Justice Department could cut off funding for his office.

Mueller’s investigation has been at the center of a McCarthyite-style campaign against Russia spearheaded by the intelligence agencies and the Democratic Party, based on fabricated claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the presidential election to undermine the candidacy of Democrat Hillary Clinton and boost Trump. It has been used as a weapon in the drive by the Democrats and sections of the military/intelligence establishment to force Trump to adopt a more aggressive posture against Moscow and in the war for regime-change in Syria.

To the extent that the Democrats oppose the right-wing Trump administration, it is on this entirely reactionary basis. In the lead-up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, they not only called no demonstrations, they were entirely silent on Trump’s fascistic attacks on immigrants, his deployment of troops to the border against the caravan of Central American asylum seekers, and his pledge to overturn the 14th Amendment guarantee of birthright citizenship—a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights.

Following the election, in which the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, the party leadership called repeatedly for bipartisan unity and collaboration with Trump, underscoring their essential agreement with his policies of war, austerity and repression. It was only when Trump fired Sessions, a right-wing anti-immigrant zealot, that they swung into action, reviving their denunciations of Trump as a stooge of Putin.

The aim of shifting the Trump administration to a war footing against Russia has been achieved to the extent that there is now a substantial risk of nuclear conflict between the US and the second-leading nuclear power. War could quickly erupt in a number of flash points, especially Syria, where Russian soldiers, sailors and airmen carry out combat operations within miles of their American counterparts, as well as US-allied Islamist proxies armed by Saudi Arabia.

Though promoted in the media and sponsored by over 50 Democratic Party-linked organizations, including MoveOn.org, the rallies on Tuesday were small, reflecting the lack of support in the general population for the anti-Russia crusade. The protests were notable primarily for their unvarnished right-wing and neo-McCarthyite character.

Two of the largest were in Washington DC and New York City, which each drew roughly 1,000 demonstrators, many of whom held hammer and cycle posters with Putin’s image. Sessions began his career as a segregationist in Jim Crow Alabama and went on to become a right-wing Republican senator from the state. Mueller, for his part, was director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013, during which time he helped institute mass domestic surveillance and other sweeping attacks on democratic rights linked to the so-called “war on terror.”

At the Washington demonstration, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin led those in attendance in a round of applause for Sessions. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, appealed to the military against Trump, declaring, “You are the defenders of our democracy,” and led a chant of “protect Mueller.”

In defending Sessions, the Democrats and their allies are rallying around the most rightwing attorney general in American history, who, prior to joining the Trump cabinet, had won a well-earned reputation as a bitter opponent of civil rights. As attorney general, Sessions will primarily be remembered for the persecution of immigrants, most notably the separation of immigrant children from their parents and their imprisonment in detention camps built in the desert.

The task of spearheading the attack on immigrants and democratic rights will now fall, pending the installation of a permanent attorney general, to Whitaker, who has boasted that he interprets the Constitution from a biblical standpoint. His very first act as head of the Department of Justice was to issue, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, a directive stripping the right to asylum from anyone who enters the US over the Mexican border and has not first gained legal status—a move that is tantamount to abolishing the right to asylum, which is guaranteed under international and US law.

This move, a new landmark in the attack on immigrants, due process and basic democratic rights, has been virtually ignored by the media and the Democratic Party. It was not mentioned in the press release calling Thursday’s demonstration, nor by speakers at the demonstrations in Washington and New York.

Posted in Activism, conditioning, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, Empire, Geopolitics, media, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Time to Wake Up: the Neoliberal Order is Dying

By Jonathan Cook

Source: CounterPunch

In my recent essay, I argued that power in our societies resides in structure, ideology and narratives – supporting what we might loosely term our current “neoliberal order” – rather than in individuals. Significantly, our political and media classes, who are of course deeply embedded in this neoliberal structure, are key promoters of the very opposite idea: that individuals or like-minded groups of people hold power; that they should, at least in theory, be held accountable for the use and misuse of that power; and that meaningful change involves replacing these individuals rather than fundamentally altering the power-structure they operate within.

In other words, our political and media debates reduce to who should be held to account for problems in the economy, the health and education systems, or the conduct of a war. What is never discussed is whether flawed policies are the fleeting responsibility of individuals and political parties or symptoms of the current neoliberal malaise – manifestations of an ideology that necessarily has goals, such as the pursuit of maximised profit and endless economic growth, that are indifferent to other considerations, such as the damage being done to life on our planet.

The focus on individuals happens for a reason. It is designed to ensure that the structure and ideological foundations of our societies remain invisible to us, the public. The neoliberal order goes unquestioned – presumed, against the evidence of history, to be permanent, fixed, unchallengeable.

So deep is this misdirection that even efforts to talk about real power become treacherous. My words above and below might suggest that power is rather like a person, that it has intention and will, that maybe it likes to deceive or play tricks. But none of that is true either.

Big and little power

My difficulty conveying precisely what I mean, my need to resort to metaphor, reveals the limitations of language and the necessarily narrow ideological horizons it imposes on anyone who uses it. Intelligible language is not designed adequately to describe structure or power. It prefers to particularise, to humanise, to specify, to individualise in ways that make thinking in bigger, more critical ways near-impossible.

Language is on the side of those, like politicians and corporate journalists, who conceal structure, who deal in narratives of the small-power of individuals rather than of the big-power of structure and ideology. In what passes for news, the media offer a large stage for powerful individuals to fight elections, pass legislation, take over businesses, start wars, and a small stage for these same individuals to get their come-uppance, caught committing crimes, lying, having affairs, getting drunk, and more generally embarrassing themselves.

These minor narratives conceal the fact that such individuals are groomed before they ever gain access to power. Business leaders, senior politicians and agenda-setting journalists reach their positions after proving themselves over and over again – not consciously but through their unthinking compliance to the power-structure of our societies. They are selected through their performances in exams at school and university, through training programmes and indentures. They rise to the top because they are the most talented examples of those who are blind or submissive to power, those who can think most cleverly without thinking critically. Those who reliably deploy their skills where they are directed to do so.

Their large and small dramas constitute what we call public life, whether politics, world affairs or entertainment. To suggest that there are deeper processes at work, that the largest of these dramas is not really large enough for us to gain insight into how power operates, is to instantly be dismissed as paranoid, a fantasist, and – most damningly of all – a conspiracy theorist.

These terms also serve the deception. They are intended to stop all thought about real power. They are scare words used to prevent us, in a metaphor used in my previous post, from stepping back from the screen. They are there to force us to stand so close we see only the pixels, not the bigger picture.

Media makeover

The story of Britain’s Labour party is a case in point, and was illustrated even before Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Back in the 1990s Tony Blair reinvented the party as New Labour, jettisoning ideas of socialism and class war, and inventing instead a “Third Way”.

The idea that gained him access to power – personified in the media narrative of the time as his meeting with Rupert Murdoch on the mogul’s Hayman Island – was that New Labour would triangulate, find a middle way between the 1 per cent and the 99 per cent. The fact that the meeting took place with Murdoch rather than anyone else signalled something significant: that the power-structure needed a media makeover. It needed to be dressed in new garb.

In reality, Blair made Labour useful to power by re-styling the turbo-charged neoliberalism Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party of the rich had unleashed. He made it look compatible with social democracy. Blair put a gentler, kinder mask on neoliberalism’s aggressive pursuit of planet-destroying power – much as Barack Obama would do in the United States a decade later, after the horrors of the Iraq invasion. Neither Blair nor Obama changed the substance of our economic and political systems, but they did make them look deceptively attractive by tinkering with social policy.

Were the neoliberal order laid bare – were the emperor to allow himself to be stripped of his clothes – no one apart from a small psychopathic elite would vote for neoliberalism’s maintenance. So power is forced to repeatedly reinvent itself. It is like the shape-shifting Mystique of the X-Men films, constantly altering its appearance to lull us into a false sense of security. Power’s goal is to keep looking like it has become something new, something innovative. Because the power-structure does not want change, it has to find front-men and women who can personify a transformation that is, in truth, entirely hollow.

Power can perform this stunt, as Blair did, by repackaging the same product – neoliberalism – in prettier ideological wrapping. Or it can, as has happened in the US of late, try a baser approach by adding a dash of identity politics. A black presidential candidate (Obama) can offer hope, and a woman candidate (Hillary Clinton) can cast herself as mother-saviour.

With this model in place, elections become an illusory contest between more transparent and more opaque iterations of neoliberal power. In failing the 99 per cent, Obama so woefully voided this strategy that large sections of voters turned their back on his intended successor, the new makeover candidate Hillary Clinton. They saw through the role-playing. They preferred, even if only reluctantly, the honest vulgarity of naked power represented by Trump over the pretensions of Clinton’s fakely compassionate politics.

Unstable politics

Despite its best efforts, neoliberalism is increasingly discredited in the eyes of large sections of the electorate in the US and UK. Its attempts at concealment have grown jaded, its strategy exhausted. It has reached the end-game, and that is why politics now looks so unstable. “Insurgency” candidates in different guises are prospering.

Neoliberal power is distinctive because it seeks absolute power, and can achieve that end only through global domination. Globalisation, the world as a plaything for a tiny elite to asset-strip, is both its means and its end. Insurgents are therefore those who seek to reverse the trend towards globalisation – or at least claim to. There are insurgents on both the left and right.

If neoliberalism has to choose, it typically prefers an insurgent on the right to the left. A Trump figure can usefully serve power too, because he dons the clothes of an insurgent while doing little to actually change the structure.

Nonetheless, Trump is a potential problem for the neoliberal order for two reasons.

First, unlike an Obama or a Clinton, he too clearly illuminates what is really at stake for power – wealth maximisation at any cost – and thereby risks unmasking the deception. And second, he is a retrograde step for the globalising power-structure.

Neoliberalism has dragged capitalism out its nineteenth-century dependency on nation-states into a twenty-first ideology that demands a global reach. Trump and other nativist leaders seek a return to a supposed golden era of state-based capitalism, one that prefers to send our children up chimneys if it prevents children from far-off lands arriving on our shores to do the same.

The neoliberal order prefers a Trump to a Bernie Sanders because the nativist insurgents are so much easier to tame. A Trump can be allowed to strut on his Twitter stage while the global power-structure constrains and undermines any promised moves that might threaten it. Trump the candidate was indifferent to Israel and wanted the US out of Syria. Trump the president has become Israel’s biggest cheerleader and has launched US missiles at Syria.

Faustian pacts

The current power-structure is much more frightened of a left insurgency of the kind represented by Corbyn in the UK. He and his supporters are trying to reverse the accommodations with power made by Blair. And that is why he finds himself relentlessly assaulted from every direction – from his political opponents; from his supposed political allies, including most of his own parliamentary party; and most especially from the state-corporate media, including its bogus left-liberal elements like the Guardian and the BBC.

The past three years of attacks on Corbyn are how power manifests itself, shows its hand, when it is losing. It is a strategy of last resort. A Blair or an Obama arrive in power having already made so many compromises behind the scenes that their original policies are largely toothless. They have made Faustian pacts as a condition for being granted access to power. This is variously described as pragmatism, moderation, realism. More accurately, it should be characterised as betrayal.

It does not stop when they reach high office. Obama made a series of early errors, thinking he would have room to manoeuvre in the Middle East. He made a speech in Cairo about a “New Beginning” for the region. A short time later he would help to snuff out the Egyptian Arab Spring that erupted close by, in Tahrir Square. Egypt’s military, long subsidised by Washington, were allowed to take back power.

Obama won the 2009 Nobel peace prize, before he had time to do anything, for his international diplomacy. And yet he stepped up the war on terror, oversaw the rapid expansion of a policy of extrajudicial assassinations by drone, and presided over the extension of the Iraq regime-change operation to Libya and Syria.

And he threatened penalties for Israel over its illegal settlements policy – a five-decade war crime that has gone completely unpunished by the international community. But in practice his inaction allowed Israel to entrench its settlements to the point where annexation of parts of the West Bank is now imminent.

Tame or destroy

Neoliberalism is now so entrenched, so rapacious that even a moderate socialist like Corbyn is seen as a major threat. And unlike a Blair, Obama or Trump, Corbyn is much harder to tame because he has a grassroots movement behind him and to which he is ultimately accountable.

In the US, the neoliberal wing of the Democratic party prevented the left-insurgent candidate, Bernie Sanders, from contesting the presidency by rigging the system to keep him off the ballot paper. In the UK, Corbyn got past those structural defences by accident. He scraped into the leadership race as the token “loony-left” candidate, indulged by the Labour party bureaucracy as a way to demonstrate that the election was inclusive and fair. He was never expected to win.

Once he was installed as leader, the power-structure had two choices: to tame him like Blair, or destroy him before he stood a chance of reaching high office. For those with short memories, it is worth recalling how those alternatives were weighed in Corbyn’s first months.

On the one hand, he was derided across the media for being shabbily dressed, for being unpatriotic, for threatening national security, for being sexist. This was the campaign to tame him. On the other, the Murdoch-owned Times newspaper, the house journal of the neoliberal elite, gave a platform to an anonymous army general to warn that the British military would never allow Corbyn to reach office. There would be an army-led coup before he ever got near 10 Downing Street.

In a sign of how ineffectual these power-structures now are, none of this made much difference to Corbyn’s fortunes with the public. A truly insurgent candidate cannot be damaged by attacks from the power-elite. That’s why he is where he is, after all.

So those wedded to the power-structure among his own MPs tried to wage a second leadership contest to unseat him. As a wave of new members signed up to bolster his ranks of supporters, and thereby turned the party into the largest in Europe, Labour party bureaucrats stripped as many as possible of their right to vote in the hope Corbyn could be made to lose. They failed again. He won with an even bigger majority.

Redefining words

It was in this context that the neoliberal order has had to play its most high-stakes card of all. It has accused Corbyn, a lifelong anti-racism activist, of being an anti-semite for supporting the Palestinian cause, for preferring Palestinian rights over brutal Israeli occupation. To make this charge plausible, words have had to be redefined: “anti-semitism” no longer means simply a hatred of Jews, but includes criticism of Israel; “Zionist” no longer refers to a political movement that prioritises the rights of Jews over the native Palestinian population, but supposedly stands as sinister code for all Jews. Corbyn’s own party has been forced under relentless pressure to adopt these malicious reformulations of meaning.

How anti-semitism is being weaponised, not to protect Jews but to protect the neoliberal order, was made starkly clear this week when Corbyn criticised the financial elite that brought the west to the brink of economic ruin a decade ago, and will soon do so again unless stringent new regulations are introduced. Useful idiots like Stephen Pollard, editor of the rightwing Jewish Chronicle, saw a chance to revive the anti-semitism canard once again, accusing Corbyn of secretly meaning “Jews” when he actually spoke of bankers. It is a logic intended to make the neoliberal elite untouchable, cloaking them in a security blanket relying on the anti-semitism taboo.

Almost the entire Westminister political class and the entire corporate media class, including the most prominent journalists in the left-liberal media, have reached the same preposterous conclusion about Corbyn. Whatever the evidence in front of their and our eyes, he is now roundly declared an anti-semite. Up is now down, and day is night.

High-stakes strategy

This strategy is high stakes and dangerous for two reasons.

First, it risks creating the very problem it claims to be defending against. By crying wolf continuously about Corbyn’s supposed anti-semitism without any tangible evidence for it, and by making an unfounded charge of anti-semitism the yardstick for judging Corbyn’s competence for office rather than any of his stated policies, the real anti-semite’s argument begins to sound more plausible.

In what could become self-fulfilling prophecy, the anti-semitic right’s long-standing ideas about Jewish cabals controlling the media and pulling levers behind the scenes could start to resonate with an increasingly disillusioned and frustrated public. The weaponising of anti-semitism by the neoliberal order to protect its power risks turning Jews into collateral damage. It makes them another small or bigger drama in the increasingly desperate attempt to create a narrative that deflects attention from the real power-structure.

And second, the effort to stitch together a narrative of Corbyn’s anti-semitism out of non-existent cloth is likely to encourage more and more people to take a step back from the screen so that those unintelligible pixels can more easily be discerned as a smoking gun. The very preposterousness of the allegations, and the fact that they are taken so seriously by a political and media class selected for their submissiveness to the neoliberal order, accelerates the process by which these opinion-formers discredit themselves. Their authority wanes by the day, and as a result their usefulness to the power-structure rapidly diminishes.

This is where we are now: in the final stages of a busted system that is clinging on to credibility by its fingernails. Sooner or later, its grip will be lost and it will plunge into the abyss. We will wonder how we ever fell for any of its deceptions.

In the meantime, we must get on with the urgent task of liberating our minds, of undoing the toxic mental and emotional training we were subjected to, of critiquing and deriding those whose job is to enforce the corrupt orthodoxy, and of replotting a course towards a future that saves the human species from impending extinction.

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