Freitag, 30. Mai 2014

Out Of Empires Belly

The  collection of following comments has been triggered by something which in the psychology, invented by Carl Jung, is called a "numinous touch", meaning a moment, when an encounter with a person, a picture or an idea prompts an unusual effect. In the matter at hand this effct led to the birth of my
Banger-Archiv in recent oktober.

My Banger Archiv does not contain every comment by banger, sometimes answers from or questions to Banger and can contain links set by Banger and in my eyes it constitutes the most important unwritten book about the present age that is to  be read this year, written by an encompassing sophisticated American.
Every other commentator in NC may be hereby assured my respect and often my warm consent. Solely because of my filter of consent ...: " in this mirror Mundanomanic (and his donkey) finds most of all
represented of himself" - in this Banger - reduction .

Mundanomaniac is moved to laud him as a certain sample of a sophisticated american eastcoast senior who in his comments succeeds to display what, for me, is to be celebrated in this special Sun/Uranus/Pluto/Jupiter Year/Week: that male charakter which unites dream, dimension, spirit and power.

4.4.2014, UTC 15:15. 

Banger Archiv im Mundanen Tagebuch
October 21, 2013 at 10:43 am
The American people do not want a job-guarantee program and would never agree to a full-employment system. Why? Because in our culture there have to be winners who gain fabulous advantages, rewards, and praise and losers who must gnash their teeth and either die or come back to the competition filled with intense desire to succeed by any means necessary–or so the myth goes.
Connected to this attitude, our leaders always talk about “hard” work as if the “hard” part was a virtue. I don’t want work to be “hard” I want it to be smart, elegant, and give me and others time for goofing off, playing, partying which, studies show increases creativity. As long as we hear that we should be rewarded for “hard” work there’s no hope.
October 21, 2013 at 12:38 pm
Of course, everyone is for Mom and apple pie so I don’t really think polls accurately reflect what people really think both consciously and unconsciously. Our mythological framework tends to be individualistic and competitive in outlook. For example, WPA programs would be viciously attacked and would those attacks would resonate and work for the majority of the American people and thus would be opposed. Americans believe, as polls show, an amazing array of contradictory things.
All this was even true when leftist ideas had more resonance in decades past. What people want is a highly competitive capitalism that lifts all boats because all boats work “hard” and act like the mythological “white man”; second to that would be a capitalism that lifts most boats and so on. Down last on the list is a country that lifts all boats simply because we ought to have an egalitarian society.
 October 21, 2013 at 10:25 am
I loved your opening paragraph–excellent example of good rhetorical style!
I have to differ here. Obamacare is a political “grand bargain” that puts the private insurance companies within a tighter state-structure than before. The reason so many of the elites opposed the ACA is that it would be a model for future state/corporate arrangements. Obamacare forces the insurance companies to genuflect (and give us some of their most cruel practices) to the state in exchange for collecting rents whereas before they didn’t have to do anything. This also forces these companies to spend more money on lobbyists and increase the power of the state–which the corporate sector sees as rents they have to pay to the state.
Under this system it is theoretically possible that the citizens, through the power of the state, can force the corporations to not be as malevolent as they would like to be. The insurance companies complied because they avoided being legislated out of existence (as should have happened) and lets them play the game in Washington.
Obamacare was a result of a highly motivated FIRE sector letting Obama know that if he f!cked with them he was a dead man politically (or even actually) and the glorious marketing campaign of the Obama brand in 2008 which completely neutralized the left as a political force.
As for this model being a future example of legislation and regulation to come–I don’t think so. The federal gov’t is in a state of paralysis that will last as far as the eye can see until the left wakes up and begins to re-assert itself to move the pendulum back to the center–without that we are moving to the neo-feudal future some of us have predicted.

October 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm
It always strikes me as curious that people don’t see the game is rigged and think these billionaires are just prophets of profits–they aren’t for the most part (some exist of course). They are well connected enough to trade on inside information and have enough political sway to keep regulators at bay. In the U.S. the lapdog press keeps the public in ignorant bliss–though I think that project is fraying at the edges.
October 21, 2013 at 9:31 am
One thing we know for sure is that there are people playing the game who DO know quite a lot of what the rest of us do not know. This kind of information and access to it creates a level of “insiders” who trade on their information and who are vested in the political system and thus avoid prosecution–just sayin’…
October 21, 2013 at 9:36 am
Corporations are all chartered by a political entity and all live within a system of laws and are responsible to society by a whole series of interrelations as Yves pointed out. At one time corporations existed at the “pleasure” of the state and could be disbanded when they became obnoxious and that is the problem we face today.
October 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

  Well said
This evolution of the “idea” of a corporation has evolved through the situations you describe but also clearly show the cultural changes that have occurred in our world.
For good or ill, the U.S. went through a period of collective consciousness–the shared disaster of the Depression, the New Deal, fireside chats, WWII, the Cold War, the trauma of the 60s were all things that were clearly etched in the public consciousness despite the usual private concerns. And despite the craziness were were moving somewhere together and becoming a better place to live, or so we thought. Then came the 1970s cocaine replaced LSD–enuff said.
So the point here is that we live in a culture of selfishness and believe that life is about feeding me–what happens to you is your problem–we are not connected. The cable TV, the internet and so on made us separate nations–and we see the result. Why shouldn’t Wall Street operators game the system? Why shouldn’t CEOs or shareholders demand quick and easy and fast and screw the public and screw the workers. You hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to write laws that only the army of lawyers understand and viola–paradise for the rich. One way or the other, regardless of what you think corporations ought to do, real people gain by the arrangements and ideologies that dominate that world.
My view of the elites starts with Christopher Lasch’s The Revolt of the Elites. At one time the elites felt at least some responsibility for the world they lived in, for the people they interacted with everyday because their world was not so segregated by class. Today the elites are stateless–they really don’t care. Stockholders tend to be in that class and most of them don’t care–other than the pension funds and they’re run by operators who look after their own interests.
This movement has trickled down in society and we are witnessing the slow-motion disintegration of civil society and there is nothing stopping its further movement other than inertia which is, at present, our only ally.
October 21, 2013 at 8:55 am
I agree with you, Lambert, when someone like Wolf comes over to the ideas that have been central to what you all have been saying for years that’s a big f!cking deal and needs to be leveraged for all its worth.
As for solutions to the problem those are less important than getting the ideas wolf has articulated onto the stage of the mainstream media–that’s the real trick. In fact, it is the mainstream media we need to lobby not the politicians.
October 21, 2013 at 11:30 am
I think it’s a mistake to demonize someone like Wolf or others who don’t share our POV. We gain by listening compassionately and taking the good of what someone is saying or doing and keeping our attention on that and not being so quick to judge. The left ought to be about compassion and connection and not about alienating others. When Wolf is with us we praise him–where he is not we critique him. My guess, from knowing other people in high positions with good and honest hearts, is that he really believes in capitalism and believes it is a wide enough ideological “venue” to hold greater possibilities. Let’s not automatically dismiss that or any other possibility. I personally, believe capitalism is essentially against social morality and we need to move beyond it.
October 21, 2013 at 9:07 am
Not in the USA. This country is deeply divided and to have a good fascism you need some kind of cultural unity and we don’t really have that here. More likely we would have some level of civil war and various feudal arrangements. The fact people are heavily armed in this country, particularly in the South where I live would not make a central authoritarian regime very tolerable unless it brought stunning economic benefits–which it can’t. Besides, Americans are in no mood for a strong central government–most of us believe, rightly, that national politicians are all either cretins or thieves.
October 21, 2013 at 11:38 am
Well, I think you make the only possible argument for authoritarian rule. Americans of all political stripes and social classes love the military because they believe it is the only institution that nurtures virtue. And yes, if the military decided to install the whole laundry list of white Southern values I suppose they would have a lot of support in my region but I think that support would be short-lived as the reality set in unless, as I said, they were able to actually make the trains run on time so to speak–and that, knowing the U.S. military would be very unlikely.
Most of our love of the military is based on movies and TV not reality. That effect would quickly wear off.
And what of the rest of the country? If you alienated the cultural left, mainly the people like Snowden who populate the technocratic class the result would be sabotage–they may not be armed with automatic weapons but they are armed with the ability to destroy IT systems without which nothing can be run particularly the military. Also, please understand that the military itself is very divided and have different cultures. The Army, for example, have a dramatically different culture from the Air Force and they would clash. Colorado Springs and West Point are even further away culturally than they are geographically.
October 22, 2013 at 9:22 am
I don’t agree with you on this. While the sharecropper system is one aspect of the current scene the developing neofeudal order will be even more complex than the medieval one you refer to. People aren’t going to accept the sharecropper system and will bind together into formations around churches, communities, militias, powerful families, street gangs, corporate entities both profit and non-profit and so on which will have various levels of coercive features. Some will probably become free-cities probably put together by guilds of highly skilled people, e.g., IT people who hold the keys to everything–eventually these people will find that they have collective power and can raise a ruckus (like Snowden like Anonymous) and become centers of power. The emerging system will be very diverse in my view.
We have to understand why neofeudalism looks inevitable it is not strictly because of debt–it is a result of a lack of cohesion and social bonding. White collar crime is rampant in the corporate sector because the big-shots in that system have no sense of connection to any collective so see themselves as pirate out for all they can get when they can get it. This situation has always been an issue in the U.S. and has contributed to the dynamism of U.S. culture but it’s always been balanced by a sense of connection with some sort of minimal community structure and fellow feeling for other humans–this has diminished in recent decades first among the elites and now is wending its way downward.
November 3, 2013 at 10:47 am
The alternative if you are forced, like I am, to live in the USA is to do several things:
1) enjoy life–because finding joy and pleasure strengthen us and makes our POV more palatable–if we are depressed because we, in contrast to our neighbor, know the full extent of the horror then our neighbor will not want to join us–to understand things without attachment (a principle of martial arts) enables us to function better–things are f!cked? So what feel the air blow through your hair live in the moment.
2) Understand that you are living in the middle of a magical battle against sorcery (PR, advertising, media and so on) where “they” are literally trying to control your mind through making it pleasurable to do their will and painful to do what you want to do. Decondition yourself from the mainstream marrative that is false about nearly everything important particularly major events. Liberating yourself from that mindset, in every detail will bring you strength and hope–it is the mass deception more than physical force that is enslaving us.
3) There are ways to strengthen yourself and open up your horizons to higher and more inclusive states of consciousness whether through psychedelics, prayer, meditation, and, above all nurturing your heart through compassion and love.

November 3, 2013 at 9:44 am
I waver a lot. I don’t know whether it’s worth it to preserve what is left of civil society to minimize human suffering or to advocate for chaos out of which something might come.
One thing I do know and that is we are not just in a traditional battle between plebes and patricians (we are) but in a magical battle for the imagination collective and individual of mankind. The oligarchs consciously use magic to control the populace. This magic consists of stage magic techniques of slight of hand, misdirection, smoke and mirrors as well as neo-shamanism which consist of using insights learned from a stunningly rich assortment of social- and neuro-science research findings about how to manipulate human beings and, finally (I suspect), real hoodoo/voodoo shamanism and God only knows what else.
My point is that the first thing we need to do is to understand that the war is mainly being fought in the mind and spirit of human beings and the only way out is to heal the damage already done to us individually and in our circle of loved ones and then focus on strengthening ourselves on a psychic level.
An example of this is the tendency we all have of being negative about this situation. We have to see this time as an opportunity and an opening. Why not? We are living in, clearly, the most interesting period of history where everything that happens has enormous consequences. Whether Rome fell or kept going as an Empire was trivial compared to whether we take a wrong turn in our society–the entire planet and civilization itself could be in peril. Had Kennedy not believed in human beings rather than listening to his morally corrupt and evil generals (their agenda all along was to have a nuclear war with the USSR) how many of us would be here?
If we can see our own insights here as blessings and from which change can flow we will change the psychic weather just a bit so that positive energy can start to heal us. I will try to start with myself–I say the situation is ripe for change for it has never been so obviously a result of malevolent forces who are doing very little to hide their intentions–this makes it easy to point out if we reach out and empower each other.

November 3, 2013 at 10:35 am
First of all there is an “idea” that we ought to be doing “everything” for our kids. For many people that is just and ideological meme. I’m good so that obviously, I do what is good and being pro-my kids is something I do. Of course before that doing for myself to enhance my status (luxury cars and big houses special shoes, handbags and so no) comes first because that is the meaning of life–isn’t it? In other words those parents don’t really care much for their kids–in fact, there’s an epidemic of texting while parenting–check out what Shelley Turkle has to say on that.
Second, the idea that there is a commons has gone out of fashion–the ideology of Margaret Thatcher (“there is no such thing as society”) so if other people are having a tough time that’s just too bad, if anyone gets in the way of cheap gas in the Middle East then kill them. And, even more, if someone gets in the way of our fantasy lives they must be crushed (terrorists!!!).
It may be the case that most people don’t go as far as I’ve described but it is the direction we are going in. Moral degeneration is the order of the day and, also, an opportunity for all of us who have some sense of public morality to show the practical value of a caring.

November 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm
The necessary information is widely available; for example, the information about WMDs in Iraq was available but everyone chose to ignore it.
When I’ve spoken to people of high, low and in-between education or intelligence (whatever that is–I speak here in the common sense of the word) people have made it clear that they do not want to hear anything resembling the truth–in fact the more education the worse it is. Simple laws of logic, evidence and so on are ignored to protect a mythological framework. That’s why it is so easy to fool the public. The hidden secret in this society is that people, on average, do not want the truth or even talk about it. It’s not that I or other people who share my views are that obnoxious or graceless. It is interesting that for nearly all American intellectuals, for example, any Socratic-type of dialogue is nearly impossible if the arguments starts shifting outside of “normal” boundaries. Usually someone changes the subject–or the person becomes enraged that anyone should have the temerity to question official conventional wisdom.
I don’t mean to be critical here really, it’s just that is what human culture is about. Mythological frameworks almost always trump anything you and I might call the truth or even science–scientists are often the worst offenders, as history has shown–paradigm changes come very hard in any group who share a mythological framework.

“Liberating yourself from that mindset, in every detail will bring you strength and hope–it is the mass deception more than physical force that is enslaving us.
3) There are ways to strengthen yourself and open up your horizons to higher and more inclusive states of consciousness whether through psychedelics, prayer, meditation, and, above all nurturing your heart through compassion and love.(Banger)”
I fully embrace your approach to the human mess caused by the specific degeneration in the minds of the US-”elite” determinig the present world-stile.
One Way, that gives me the independent mind I need to breath freely is the magic of the zodiac and the running lights of heaven (Moses 1, 4).
Just today, the “magical” Reformations-Sunday found me meditating the present earth-quarter of the determination of my fellow countrymen. (Recently I did the same to the country governed in Washington)
Maybe some of you readers, fluent in german,or daring to try the Google-Translator are interested in that aproach.
Reply Banger says:
November 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm
Google translate is not great from German to English–very different gramatical structure, obviously. At any rate I know quite a bit about astrological symbolism and find your ideas interesting. Certainly befuddlement is a good description to the situation in Washington–though I’ve been away for a couple of years.
As an old friend used to say “gasp.” Sex is a whole nest of complexities a sticky morass of conflicting feelings. It’s where everything meets and comes together–it is the essence of the universe which is, after all one big cosmic “bang” of yin and yang and all mixtures in between.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that people in our culture get it very mixed up perhaps because the Christian religion (and other religions), early on, tried to delete sex from God – ya can’t do it without inviting both religious and sexual perversion.
November 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm
You are right–bad language–what I usually say is “everything is a lie even if it’s true” by which I mean that even if the literal facts are more or less correct the context is false. Thus, to me, it is all lies, propaganda and PR. I was able to observe how public opinion is formed–it’s all show-biz, believe me.
November 10, 2013 at 8:21 am
See my comment in answer to this comment. Basically I believe there is no choice for the Greeks but to create private arrangements that will look like feudalism. And this movement in the EU to torture the periphery will result, I believe, in new social arrangements. Already the Golden Dawn movement looks a lot like a set of feudal arrangements where businesses are being recruited to sign up to insure security.

November 10, 2013 at 8:18 am
Your last three paragraphs are on the money. Power starts from community and community is something tangible. However, each of those small atomic communities are now able to join with others to form emergent larger communities that can become politically powerful.
I think there are signs of this happening in Greece as the central authority both moral and physical is breaking down new and older political arrangements will emerge. You see these arrangements in the Middle East and they are basically feudal much like the political arrangements illustrated in the movie Godfather.
Central states are failing and political trade arrangements like the EU, WTO, and the TPP are all assaults on the nation state. All this results in corporate domination of the world which means, in effect, a large scale global system of neofeudalism. I’ve said before that, at this time, there is not counter-movement. All we can do is join it by creating our own feudal entities like, I believe, the Greeks will. Some of them won’t be pretty and will resemble the 

December 29, 2013 at 10:21 am
First, 2013 was an excellent year for a host of reasons at least culturally/politically in the U.S.
1) The rejection of the use of force against Syria by the American people and Congress may have been a critical turning point in U.S. history. Generally, it is always easy to stampede the American public to go to war by creating or reacting to a single event through the waving of flags and exhortations by the government and media to meet our grand destiny and so on. The public rejected that BS!!!! Even without a close understanding of the situation! In this way, I believe the public has grown immune to the endless grabbing of tax receipts by the military-industrial-security complex. Perhaps they will move on to see that the security risks the media advertises is non-existent (my view at any rate) and that there are real security threats from the government and the Wall Street oligarchs that are far more critical than the odd mental defective who gets caught in an FBI scam. All this has led to a move towards a modus vivendi with Iran that looks to be permanent.
2) Even more important than what I just mentioned, was the election of Pope Francis wherein the Church is skidding into a dramatic U-turn and resurrecting Jesus as the center of the Church where He tends to be obscured by most of the recent Popes other than Pope John the XXIII. Unless the guy is whacked (a possibility) his Papacy could signal a dramatic change in world culture (there are a lot of Catholics).
3) The revelations of Edward Snowden have had and will continue to have a dramatic effect in world history. The huge structure of the American national security state and it’s colonies (notably in the UK) has shown itself to be vulnerable and full of leaks. Snowden, in my view, did not act alone but may have been aided by dissidents within the intel community (there are such people–Seymour Hersh often reports their concerns). I think all this has deeply shaken the pecking order in Washington and has caused tech companies like Google to re-assess their relationship with the national security state. I believe that this along with public skepticism will gradually weaken the national security state apparatus itself that has gone unchallenged since Truman created the CIA.
4) Finally, the slow-motion rebellion against the federal government that is building steam on the right and may, God willing, begin to build on the left. I personally believe the federal government has passed the tipping point wherein it has become a net-negative as far as the public is concerned because people sense that the government seems to be, largely, a tool for the elites and views us as subjects rather than our servants. This is a critical idea that shows no sign of lessening. Obama has been able to keep the left in thrall (as he was engineered to do) but that shows signs of wearing thin. I know people here condemn me for saying this but I see a movement to bring together the anti-authoritarian right and elements of the left hostile to Obama and not obsessed with the culture wars.
5) I see some evidence that some elements of the public may be drifting towards a more spiritual outlook. I see a focus and a hunger by many Evangelical Christians to focus on inner change rather than forcing others to conform to the dictates of the culture wars. As these Christians are confronted by more friends and relatives who are gay they begin to see them as human beings who share a common humanity and are capable of developing genuine relationships with people of their choosing who they love and are loved in return. Love has a strange way of being infectious–and when we see gay people love each other how can anyone with a heart object? I believe this fact and the revival of the notion that we ought to be looking at the log in our eye rather than the speck in the eye of our neighbor will have profound effects. Similarly, I think New Age ideas are maturing and becoming less of a fad as people discover begin to take the advice of the Dalai Lama to pursue their own traditions faithfully because all spiritual traditions contain the Truth we need. Again, the Pope’s attitudes may well encourage this movement in Catholics who may rediscover the deep spiritual traditions within Catholicism that was often suppressed by the Church.
On the bad side:
We see a continuation of the stranglehold that vested interests have on this society. People are still being seduced and weakened by dependence on entertainment, consumerism, radical materialism, status-needs and so on. I think in the next couple of years, however, we will see a drift towards a more meaningful life.

December 29, 2013 at 4:31 pm
Theoretically, I agree–only players really play in the Machiavellian game of international power-politics. But here’s the thing–not all forces are malevolent and there are more than two sides. Do I think Snowden/Greenwald are playing a “limited hangout” game? Yes I do. Do we have any idea what faction is supporting them or what their goals are? Not really–we should be looking at the whole picture but, frankly, most of us are afraid to do so.

December 30, 2013 at 9:14 am
I think we have seen the flowering of Western Capitalism and now it has gone to seed. There is no chance that the old ways will continue–we are slowly entering the withering stage but have perhaps a decade or two before this is clearly understood.
I see automation, robotics, technology in general as both a problem and an opportunity. Technology is now ripe enough to offer what many in the 1950′s believed was the dream of drastically shorter work-weeks and the spread of prosperity. With the proper social organization some of that was realizable by the 60s–part of the War on Poverty idea was to create that sort of society–where everyone could prosper. What happened? Why are we now so pessimistic about the future?
I suggest to you that only a small percentage of people even want to look at that question. Here’s a hint: we had a couple of major political revolutions we don’t acknowledge because we are, in our culture, generally afraid to face reality, deal with evidence and connect the dots. We’d rather live in the mainstream media land of fantasy, propaganda and misdirection.

December 30, 2013 at 9:21 am
Basically you make a lot of sense. What seems to be lacking in discourse are central ideas and a broad perspective. Our central issues are political (not economic) and the central issue in politics is history. We don’t understand our history at all because we have not been able to grasp the full magnitude of misinformation, misdirection and Big Lies that have come out of the mainstream media including publishing, movies and video–so we end up arguing in their historical language rather than one based on an close analysis of power–particularly history after WWII.

January 1, 2014 at 8:10 am 
Well, let a thousand flowers bloom, I guess. If certain states want to go in various directions the voters seem to want then let them. We are a deeply divided country culturally, religiously, ethnically, politically. We have deep class divisions and a political establishment that is, by historical standards, corrupt, cynical, and power-hungry. We have a mass media that is even worse than the political leadership and has been providing the American people with obviously false narratives about every aspect of political and cultural life for decades.
People are beginning to realize all this and are searching for new narratives, new perspectives and the right-wing has been willing to milk this thread while the left sleeps in the suburbs and West Side apartments.
The appeal of Aynrandia is strong because there are no coherent perspectives around that can be grasped by the simple-minded (most people are simple-minded) because all they listen to is the media and their public education sucked. Christianity should be one alternative since the philosophy of Ayn Rand and Christianity are diametrically opposed but, sadly, the Evangelical movement has itself become corrupt, self-seeking and degenerate though I see signs of that changing as Christians try to deal with real life and the life of the soul for even they are stirred by a hunger for spirituality–so I think we might see glimmers of light there.
But we certainly aren’t going to see much from the moribund left. Why are we so few? Why are we (on the left) so divided, so unwilling to organize to be a militant force in society? I’ve tried to answer that and tried to ask that question and most dialogue degenerates into intellectual pissing contests or rambling about ideology. What does the left offer as opposed to Aynrandia or what I would call neo-feudalism? I see nothing. Even social-democracy is kind of dead. What is our vision? Are we even coherent? What do we have to say about the unique characteristics of modern life very different from life in the 19th and mid-20th century? The best service we have offered is we, like medieval monks are trying to keep some semblance of the truth alive–but even that is inadequate because we still speak within the narrative of the mainstream media. We don’t look at the real history, we don’t debunk the media narrative on, for example, the assassinations of the 60s where the evidence is completely contrary to the official explanations should be central to the left-narrative because if you can’t understand that we haven’t had a legitimate government since 1963 then you fail to grasp the grand sweep of events since then.

Replysufferin' succotash
 January 1, 2014 at 9:59 am
I can’t go along with the notion that most people are simple-minded. Or to put it another way, we’re all “simple-minded” in the sense that we want plausible narratives to explain the world as it is. The key word is “narratives”, and for people estranged from the world as it is–as many Americans are, whatever their political views–the most plausible narrative is often a conspiracy theory. This is just as true on Manhattan’s Upper West Side as it is in Topeka. Conspiracy theories aren’t all alike; there’s a difference between using a conspiracy theory as a learning device, a way of opening minds and creating new perspectives, and confusing it with reality.
The current class warfare in this society isn’t a conspiracy; it’s a condition brought about by the convergence of a number of factors over several decades–”men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please”. The problem for the Left is how to explain this to Kansans who are already knee-deep in right-wing furtive fallacies promoted by some very well-organized and wealthy interests. If those opposed to those interests use a concept such as the ‘one percent versus the 99-percent” to begin making political headway, then this is a solid first step in political education. With special emphasis on “first step”, otherwise the Left is just as guilty of cynical manipulation as its opponents. But coming up with substantial factual evidence regarding inequality, exploitation, etc., should be no problem anywhere outside of downtown DC or midtown Manhattan.

January 1, 2014 at 11:18 am
I love people and I’ve traveled in the developed and less developed world, not extensively, but enough to get a grasp of things. Most people are simple-minded in terms of politics and society and do require simple narratives.
History is often the history of conspiracies–court intrigue, manipulation, trickery was describe in Herodotus and Thucydedes. I’ve been around it, I’ve seen it in very small ways and have studied the evidence. The class-war thing is also old–Livy well-describes the almost comic conflict between the plebes and patricians only in this country the plebes are easily fooled (simple minded) into thinking they ought to be on the side of the patricians without being paid! That’s the height of imbecility don’t you think?
My friends and neighbors are simple-minded in the ways I’ve described and prefer their company to the elites who are more complex but even more deluded. I agree with William Buckley’s quote ” I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University.”

January 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm
I think you bring up a very fertile questions: whose myths are we talking about here. You claim that your or “our” myths are very different than the myths of say an obscure tribe in Indonesian territory. Jung, however, talked about something beneath or beyond myth that is deeply embedded in the human psyche that social arrangements enhance or suppress and everything in between. These deep archetypes cannot be put into words but, through inner exploration, can be sensed and intuited and expressed at least in part in today’s language–the actual literal expression might vary from culture to culture but the “energy” of it remains the same. If we want to use science as a source of material, we know that human beings are hard-wired for compassion and connection thus, for example, a society that devalues compassion like our own becomes stressed and anti-convivial as an existential reality.
My own encounters with non-western people and tribal people, though limited, has shown me that we do have deep connections I did not expect but I believe are real. With that perspective I’ve been able to see how shallow our everyday life and interactions actually are–on the other hand, we’ve expanded human horizons in many other ways that I feel are good including technology which I see as, potentially, an aid for going deeper.

January 4, 2014 at 9:34 am
That goes to the heart of the philosophy that undergirds right-wing political ideas. Remember, Margaret Thatcher said that there was no such thing as society but, rather, individuals. To me this is akin to saying that the world is flat, literally and the Moon is made of cheese. Yet, she and others who follow a Randian or neo-Randian ideology actually believe this fiction which is why most of these “conservatives” hate social-science outside of a narrow brand of economics.
If there is no such thing as society then I am free to grab on to any source of income I can whether it is government subsidies or selling my children into prostitution if that is my pleasure. This part of conservative moral philosophy needs to be looked at by those who espouse Randian notions and, at the same time, claim to be Christian which is diametrically opposed to the cult of selfishness.

February 16, 2014 at 10:06 am
The PD is a kind of symbol of the perversity of assumptions about “rationality’ narrowly defined in the West. The assumptions inherent in this idea that “rational” action equals selfish action goes counter to everything else we know about human beings and their ability to connect with each other. Over twenty years ago Loren Carpenter set up a collective “hive mind” (see Kevin Kelly’s book Hive MInd (here is the link to an online version of the chapter this is described) by asking participants to do a number of tasks starting with a game of pong–people collectively connected their actions to perform this and far more complex acts like landing a plane in a flight simulator. I suggests, as much of social science and now neuro-science has conclusively found that we are hard wired for connection and communication and only a the perpetual beat of stress, distrust, fear, and relentless propaganda dividing us all into “winners” and “losers” keeps this perversity alive. This perversity is what we call individualism and it became a useful tool in human development in the same way that adolscents go through a phase of necessary separation from the family. But we are staying too long in adolescence and must move on to social maturity.
February 16, 2014 at 10:54 am
What nurtures solidarity? To put it simply, compassion and courage. These two principles will lead us to personal as well as collective health.
As for your Mississippi situation, you had no choice–there courage would have been foolish since the culture has no room for worker-solidarity even among workers. Solidarity of a sort exists in the Southern church which is culturally sympathetic to oligarchy and neo-feudalism. As there is a clear spiritual authority and order, so there is a clear temporal authority and order. Question one or another and chaos results.
Replyambrit February 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm
Yes indeedy! One of the biggest crooks in this area, Hattiesburg Mississippi, is the head of the largest Baptist Church in town. He is well known to be the eminence gris behind the Mayor. The questionable votes that decided the judicially mandated re-polling for mayor came from an area notoriously controlled by elders from his church. Something to do with an open ballot box that disappeared for several hours after the polls closed.
What’s the famous saying Frank Herbert used in Dune? Something like, “When Church and State share the reins, disaster follows.”
Thank you for the absolution concerning my silence in the face of Evil. I do think now, years later, that I sold a little piece of my soul by not speaking up, or at least, refusing to participate, as in looking for another job. I would suggest that that moment was a perfect Existential Test. Then, I think back on how Sartre died, and scratch my head. The older I get, the more I realize, I know nothing.
February 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm
I have mixed feelings about democracy but I can imagine a world that was democratic but it would have to involve all aspects of life including our economic life. I like the idea of group-mind that is talked about in the Wisdom of Crowds and other social science experiments. The problem the Founders had with democracy is that it could be subject to collective madness as well as collective wisdom. I don’t agree–I think that “the people” can make all kinds of mistakes and, in fact, are likely to make much greater mistakes than in the Constitutional Republic we had a few years back that ended in 2001. But it can also quickly right itself and make the right adjustments as the collective gains collective wisdom. It’s worth a try.

March 5, 2014 at 7:21 am
Look, enough with the “corrupt thug” nonsense. All major political leaders are tough guys and all need to do things you would call “corrupt” in order to seize and maintain power. In much of the world oligarchs act like oligarchs and don’t pretend to be saving the world so they are called thugs. I’ve actually lived among real thugs and many of them are friendly, personable, and decent with those they care about–if you f—- with them then you pay a price but they don’t pretend to be saving the world.
Power means using the fist–end of story. Obama or Cameron or Putin it’s the same thing. The key difference here is that Putin has largely eliminated most of his serious rivals or made deals with them. He is far more flexible in his freedom of action and has a certain advantage in this crisis that the West lacks.
March 5, 2014 at 7:37 am
Well said.
However, all countries, when they can gobble up other countries. But my concern is not with Ukraine or Russia–my concern, a citizen of the United States, is my country. I know my history very intimately and know that it is in ambition and practice an imperial power that wants to rule the world–for the good of the world of course. This has always been a tacit assumption among many people in the U.S. and it is not an irrational one. The U.S. has, potentially, the qualities of a world-state. We are a multi-ethnic society that, despite obvious tribal differences, has a common culture and series of myths. We believe here that, if only the rest of the world were like us, we could all prosper together. We are, in short, the world’s most ideological country–American Exceptionalism is shared by right and left and by the ignorant and highly educated. Lately, this ideology has been fraying at the edges.
What worries me is that the myth-making apparatus in the my country is gearing up for war as it always does whenever even the remotest chance of armed conflict exists. See my comment below for more.
 March 9, 2014 at 10:28 am
That’s because most people don’t understand politics in Washington. We have a new alliance I will call the “Belligerent Party” made up of neocons like Nuland/Kagan and neoliberals like Kerry–they are now joined at the hip. This party has largely taken over the mainstream media, particularly cable TV which is hungry for conflict and War (almost as a religion). The alternative party are the realists whose views are presented by Henry Kissinger’s op-ed in the Post . Not that I agree with it all but it shows an understanding of the situation as opposed to trying to whip up hysteria to get a reluctant America to meet its imperial destiny. Those that are simply opposed to war or those who just don’t want to get involved in all this nonsense have little voice at this time.
Bangers Link:

How the Ukraine crisis ends

By Henry A. Kissinger, Published: March 5

Henry A. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977.
Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.
Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.
Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.
The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.
The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.
The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian , became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.
Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanu­kovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymo­shenko. They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.
Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.
Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers.
Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. Here is my notion of an outcome compatible with the values and security interests of all sides:
1. Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.
2. Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.
3. Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people. Wise Ukrainian leaders would then opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country. Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. That nation leaves no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.
4. It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea. But it should be possible to put Crimea’s relationship to Ukraine on a less fraught basis. To that end, Russia would recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea. Ukraine should reinforce Crimea’s autonomy in elections held in the presence of international observers. The process would include removing any ambiguities about the status of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.
These are principles, not prescriptions. People familiar with the region will know that not all of them will be palatable to all parties. The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction. If some solution based on these or comparable elements is not achieved, the drift toward confrontation will accelerate. The time for that will come soon enough.

March 9, 2014 at 10:18 am
I like Yannis and contributions here–I think he’s a little Jesuitical in his commentaries but let’s start with what is really going on here. The Ukrainians are split into different groups and are ripe for destabilization. There are all kinds of grievances I’m sure–if you are in an “out” position in a neo-fedual society you are going to be irritated but, frankly, the alternative is neo-feudalism with other faces. There is no evidence that the main thrust of the demonstrations were towards creating a Western European state–that simply is not going to happen nor should it. However, the critical facts are that this was a country that was gradually moving in a Western direction and had free elections. The demonstrators proved that Ukraine cannot be a democracy because they sought to reject the will of the people in the streets with wild scenes of hooliganism chiefly fueled by right-wing youth. Yannis ignores this.
The action of NED is ignored by Yannis–he may not even know that is or how it is constructed and what it’s agenda is. It is made up of four sections, one Republican headed by John McCain, the other Democrat, headed by Madeleine Allbright, one Chamber of Commerce and one Labor (mainly AFL-CIO) I don’t know who heads these right now. It’s agenda was to promote U.S. interests in the way that the CIA did (overthrow governments the current faction in the foreign policy establishment didn’t like). It seems that neoliberals and neoconservatives have come together to form an alliance. Both factions are belligerent in the sense they favor a U.S. based Imperial system guaranteed by U.S. military, “soft”, and covert power. Most of the mainstream media are on board and are enamored of Victoria (Torry) Nuland wife of Robert Kagan one of the chief ideologues of neoconservative policies.
Let me explain what this alliance wants. They want “full-spectrum dominance” in all areas of geopolitics such that any power outside of the U.S. cannot even think about challenging the U.S. thus its main targets are Russia and China. Neoliberals now have signed on to the neoconservative strategy of chaos, first in the Middle East and central Asia, now in Eastern Europe. Why do they want this? They believe that without the “mission” of world dominance the U.S. will dissolve into hedonism as well as regional, factional, racial, cultural conflict and fights and “something.” This was noted in neocon writing in the 90s. For awhile the “Ware on Terror” seemed to galvanize public opinion and even brought a sense of euphoria in the U.S. a sens of being united against what I believe was largely a manufactured threat–but that notion, after trillions of dollars thrown in the garbage and untold numbers of dead has run out of steam. This is why when the alleged gas attacks were made in Syria the mainstream media, the Washington establishment rose up, shockingly, with a cry of “War!!” and yet, the people were unmoved. Quickly the so called evil Putin defused the situation and Kerry and his new neocon friends had that haggard look. Then the Ukraine came along–nurtured by NED and other operatives since 2004′s “Orange” revolution now revenge was at hand–money poured in and a coup was set up. Mind you Yanukovych was out of his league and was your average Eastern European/Central Asian despot no particularly bad but not good either. Somewhere along the line the U.S. made the oligarchs that run Ukraine an offer they couldn’t refuse while assuring them they’d keep their power and Yanukovych was out.
Now, Putin and his friends are considered “bad” because they see the world as it is. They know that if you are weak and too “democratic” and liberal your ass is cooked and you are under the rule of the Empire. Putin sees his job as maintaining Russian power and using balance of power politics acting, on the whole, intelligently in international affairs. He understands that this Ukraine game is part of a larger effort on the part of the U.S. to encircle Russia with military alliances usually with brutal oligarchical leaders always threatening the Russian federation with covert operatives, aiding separtists and so on. That’s the reality of big-power politics nothing, my dear Yannis, in all this has anything to do with “democracy” or all the pious claptrap that comes out of the West. This is, as it always has been, pure power politics both on an international level and within the Washington establishment itself.
One last thing I urge readers to read Henry Kissinger’s op-ed in the Post . It is a reasonable and peaceful piece probably written by staff that pleads for moderation rather than belligerency. But the belligerent clique has the ear of Kerry and maybe Obama–I don’t know–the politics will be interesting to view. In the final analysis, however, the American public doesn’t really want more war even a new Cold War–I think our disunited state has gone too far to unite about anything at this point. Europe is unimportant in this matter other than a source of funds, I guess–good luck with that. Giving oligarchs more billions is just what the Ukraine needs, right?

March 9, 2014 at 7:46 pm
Tut tut, Hugh. Really? Russia is what it is–and Putin is not Jeffereson. The point we are making is that the U.S./EU was involved in promoting this coup d’etat of a democratically elected government as a part of a general policy of destabilization in multi-ethnic countries in critical regions of the world. Did the U.S. establish the notion of “full-spectrum dominance” or not? Isn’t it a fact that the same ideologues that fueled the follies of Bush are back in the saddle and their aim is Empire, for the good of the world of course. I’m a citizen of the United States and an anti-imperialist who has, like Henry Kissinger, observed a half-century of conflicts that only made a lot of money for military contractors. I don’t want these guys to have more power so I care about who is in power here not Ukraine and I don’t give half a damn about Crimea. And why, pray should I? What has Putin done on the international stage that is even remotely comparable to U.S. actions? He at least pulled off a lowering of tensions in Syria. Russia is not much of an imperial power. I’m not sure Putin acted wisely in the Crimea but I do know that he believes that right wing revanchists are in power in Kiev. Imagine Mexico being ruled by Hugo Chavez–that would never have been allowed even if the Mexican people had voted for him. Imagine the Russian Foreign Minister stirring up violent demonstrators in Washington and calling for the overthrow of the Obama government. How can you justify your stance? Because Russia and Putin are “bad”? Are we children here–who, in this fiasco is “good”? And don’t say “the Ukrainian people” because that is a hard thing to describe–isn’t it?

March 18, 2014 at 9:17 am
Thanks for the link–great story and well-written. Just a comment on his attitude towards Putin and his allies–all people in power are corrupt to some extent. Obama is a weak leader installed by Wall Street and other corporate forces–he can’t act like Putin and doesn’t have the power-base to overrule the deep state. If he had been more ruthless he would have had more power. The power-elite in Washington are more diverse and have competing interests. The power-elite in Russia are, to all appearances, more united and focused which allows Putin to act in bold moves. Are they more corrupt than American leaders? Depends on how you define corruption–are they more violent than American leaders? I would say the answer is no–clearly, Russia could never dream of causing death on the scale the U.S. has since Putin came to power.
March 18, 2014 at 8:55 am
So then, why didn’t the USG think about that before trying to engineer a coup against the democratically elected government of Ukraine. A government that was corrupt as the government was before and as the government will be once it gets a chance to coalesce.
The whole thing is confusing–what is going on? Why the push for a new cold war?

March 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm
I think a section of the oligarchy wants war to unite the people of the U.S. And perhaps the EU. That seems to be the agenda.

March 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm
Yes, I noticed the propaganda thing from the opening ceremony which I thought was very cool and the chatterers I chief was laying it on thick. Because the American propaganda organs are so used to fooling the publics they’ve gone more blatant and fact free every year. They have done the research on the AMerican public and know that the vast majority of the Amrerican public lack all critical thinking skills.

March 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm
Yes, I noticed the propaganda thing from the opening ceremony which I thought was very cool and the chatterers I chief was laying it on thick. Because the American propaganda organs are so used to fooling the publics they’ve gone more blatant and fact free every year. They have done the research on the AMerican public and know that the vast majority of the Amrerican public lack all critical thinking skills.

March 19, 2014 at 10:28 am
The same could be said for any country with imperial roots and/or ambitions. I view the crisis there through the eyes of realpolitik and the interests of the American people. Russia is what it is as is China (another racist country) they are entitled to their spheres of influence. You, although you don’t say so, may favor U.S. imperialism but I see it as ultimately destructive to my country (the U.S.) and those currently in power are far, far, far, more dangerous to me and people I know than Putin.
Russia reacted to a U.S./Nato operation to expand their power–certainly the Western Ukraine favors Europe but their street toughs staged a coup supported and funded by the U.S. and other forces and that was an act of aggression–remember the gov’t was freely elected and replaced a corrupt gov’t–it itself was corrupt as will any future government–only it will be subject no to Russia but to the IMF. Pick your poison–both choices are bad.

March 19, 2014 at 12:17 pm
There was an attempt at an invasion and attempts to invade Cuba. An agreement was reached about Cuba with the Russians back in the day that defused the situation after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Since then there has been a punishing embargo against Cuba but no military action–all due to an agreement with the USSR. But other countries in Latin America were ruthlessly brought to heel over many decades. Plus, look at the population of Cuba and its raw materials and capabilities then look at Cuba–are you serious in comparing the two?
Cuba is a tiny island and not important or a threat to the U.S. The Ukraine is a threat to Russia because the coup is part of a long-standing policy to undermine Russian power and surround Russian with NATO bases. It’s pure power-politics. Russia allowed the Baltic states to leave the Russian sphere with minimal complaint despite the fact that the USG promised to not expand NATO. The U.S. broke its agreement.
I’m a realist and believe that change needs to come slowly in international relations–sudden moves can spiral out of control.

March 19, 2014 at 10:46 am
I found Wahl’s appearance on Colbert kind of nauseating but not unexpected. I don’t doubt that she was uncomfortable with RTs stance–but it’s obvious, if you watch, that the view expressed there are not censored–yes, those views tend to be Russia-centric but it is RT. Compared to Comedy Central which is a more amusing but even more narrow version of MSNBC it is fairly diverse.
As for Martin–she goes in all kinds of directions that no one on cable ever goes through–I don’t care for her personality but her views are refreshing.

March 19, 2014 at 11:49 am
Just a note on what is going on in Washington. Though I no longer live inside the Beltway I have lived there most of my life. It has always been full of plots and counter-plots with multiple interest groups all angling for influence, money and power. It is exactly what you would expect the capital of what is one of the most powerful empires in history.
People miss the fact that the stakes in these power games are unprecedented. The power-game is played very hard and very fast and ruthlessly. There are periods of calm when the plots and the factions are in balance, there are times when one group dominates and then falls. Currently the neoconservatives are back on top in Washington. Do they have popular support? No they don’t but they don’t need that–they hold the narrative and much of the media. Who are these guys? Political parties have nothing whatever to do with anything. These people are just more likely to be social liberals, agnostic or atheist than cultural conservatives. They do prefer that others are culturally conservative because they know and have articulated the fact that too loose a society will result in too much free-thinking and independent thought.
Currently the neocons are locked in a struggle with realists who don’t believe the U.S. is all-powerful or all-wise in its action–these are men and women who believe in moderation and a conservative (in the original meaning of the word) and careful approach to foreign policy–imperial ambitions and hubris are things to be avoided. This group is at a disadvantage because they tend to be skeptical of true-believers, narcissists (most neocons are narcissistic) and idealism which they believe always leads to foolishness and authoritarianism and Americans tend to be caught up in enthusiasms and heroic visions of themselves.

March 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm
Good points. Don’t disagree at all. BTW, they are all monsters roaring at each other–one hopes for a balance of power so that those of us who live between the cracks can survive.

March 20, 2014 at 9:33 am
I don’t think student loans will be as big a factor in the future as it is now. Non-traditional learning will gradually eat into the need for a university education. Right now, going to college is more of a class-marker that tell employers that you a) either had enough money in your family to attend college; or b) you are seriously in debt and will tend to be very compliant and dedicated. However, at some point, the need for expertise and skill will fuel an interest in people who have found a way to acquire those skills. There has been a lot of evidence about how little people actually learn in college that those who pursue non-traditional courses will gradually get the upper hand.
Still, as a matter of public policy, our “leaders” clearly prefer a highly compliant worker who is perpetually in debt either through student loans or home loans. Order and maintaining power is at the top of the oligarch’s agenda outstripping economic growth.

March 20, 2014 at 9:53 am
The Mandel story on Ukraine is very good but he failed to mention the NED funding of the demonstrations and the general use of the color revolutions, the Arab “spring” and other movements by the USG create disorder throughout the world. Nuland is not a fascist or Kerry is not a terrorist–yet they both want to fund fascists and Islamic extremists in order to create a strategy of tensions and/or chaos in various regions of the world.
I’m less interested in Ukraine–which I believe is on the way of resolving itself. Russia has clearly stated that it will pursue its interests and if the USG and the EU want to make trouble, so be it. Ukraine will have to be effectively partitioned–there is no way that the fascists of the West will impose their will on the East–the status quo will soon be established. But for Washington and who has power there this matter is critical. There is a clear domination emerging of a re-tooled neoconservative movement made up of opportunists and fanatics who want the U.S. to continue to pursue the full-spectrum dominance policies of pre-2006 Bush, meaning solidifying and strengthening the Empire. Some believe that the U.S. power is waning and in some ways it is–but the U.S. still controls the major shipping lanes and is the guarantor of stability both through its use of the military and its related use of dollar hegemony to impose order in the world–which is why the EU slavishly follows U.S. dictats in the area of foreign affairs and macroeconomic policies.
Right now the struggle between the neocons and the realists (the only major forces other than neoliberals who are divided between the two sides) is raging in the bureaucracies. I think the realists will win in the end because a strategy of tension only helps the national security state and may harm Wall Street, we’ll see.

March 22, 2014 at 9:55 am
I urge readers to read “Neoliberalism as Social Necrophilia: The Case of Greece” at Truthout. The Greek situation is our future and an illustration of Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine.” The ruling elites know that they can do anything they want. They can destroy societies and know that there will be no opposition. In the U.S. the open theft and fraud that went on in starting in the late 90s and early 00s met with only tepid opposition and there was no opposition or serious call for prosecution of this unprecedented crime wave.
Something about contemporary life has frozen not just the human mind but the heart as well. Our modern culture is deeply flawed because it cannot react to crisis. Climate-change, massive criminal activity on the part of elites, the degradation of democratic institutions (at least in the USA), the deepening corruption of all cultural institutions particularly the corporate sector but spreading through education, religion, charities and so on is met with muteness–perhaps because the door is wide open for escapism, petty cultural issues, and the culture of narcissism which degrades the commons.
We write and talk about this but we do nothing and there is much that could be done.

Kommentar: susan the other March 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Aby, this country of ours has no mandate to govern. It provides no well being, no nutritious safe food, no protected drinking water, no essential transportation, no health care except token health care which is almost as bad as none, no family support, no education, and no jobs and no welfare. Etc. Please do not become too sad. We are all with you.

March 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Well, Occupy tried some good simplified slogans and, frankly, they didn’t stick. While the left talks about the “99%” the rest of the population doesn’t much care because, as most people know, Americans like to think of themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires (or even billionaires) who accuse the poor of being irresponsible and making poor choices–if you want to work in America, the story goes, you can succeed. How do you argue with that? Sociological studies? Lectures on the psychology of poverty and generational suffering? Americans equate economic success with virtue because that’s the social ethic–not necessarily because they are mean or ignorant it’s and underlying assumption on the part of most Americans.
How can you simplify Yves’ assertion that the budget crisis is phony? You can say “government debt is not like consumer debt” but that goes nowhere. You can say that the ruling elites are stealing our money but most people will ignore that because American cultural icons are often con-men and women. After all, the Bankers cheated us fair and square in the old-fashioned art of the hustle–they put in the sweat to run the cons–why not get the rewards?

March 25, 2014 at 9:03 am
This is a clear exposition of what most people who comment here have understood for some time. In my case, I realized this over two decades ago when the trends we see in full flower were glaringly obvious.
The problem is cultural. The U.S. is the land of the hustle. On the plus side this makes Americans more creative and innovative on the minus side it makes it possible for people to game the system so much as to render it virtually inoperable. And that’s where we are today. Once there was a balance in U.S. society–hustlers were balanced by progressive religious sentiments, high-brow activism (Jane Addams) and a sense of responsibility among significant numbers of the elite for the general direction of American society whether it was wrong headed or not. Also, there were organized forces, social movements that balanced the greed of the hustlers. After WWII when the U.S. found itself on top of the world things started to change. Success and prosperity brought, ultimately, the culture of narcissism. This culture features the glorification self-interest in a way Adam Smith never dreamed of, i.e., the ideal became for every person to be completely “free” of all entanglements and obligations to family or society even though most people did not live it out and maintained some degree of moral sentiment. Material wealth was the road to that free and easy lifestyle that is glorified in endless American movies. This ideal, like Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island, turns even seasoned hustlers into donkeys. And there is no real counter-force. Even those who are most vociferously “Christian” are just as bad or even slightly worse in their narcissism than the general population–they use their “faith” to justify anything they do. Those that don’t follow the Evangelicals may not know that once you are “saved” you can do whatever you want to do and you will still inherit heaven! If you need proof of narcissism there you are!
Thus the ruling elites have lost all sense of moral restraint and the ideas behind Christopher Lasch’s book The Revolt of the Elites are even more valid today than when he wrote it almost two decades ago. We can complain all we want, wave our angry fists at the oligarchs but, for most Americans, these elites are merely living out the dreams of most of the general population even our most religious people.
People often ask about what to do about all this. Let’s be clear then–this is more fundamental that economics or public policy. Our task is to start from scratch and realize that the ultimate task of the modernist project is to clear the decks of outwork social mores and rebuild on stronger foundations. The very illness we see is inherent and necessary but we can’t stop at the edge of the precipice we can’t throw out old ideas and customs without understanding that we must, with the detritus we see around us, build something new–and that starts with us. We need to ask why we are here? What is the point of our existence? Who are we? From that we will find, I believe, that we are deeply social animals that find true creativity through cooperation and connection with each other (rather than our current relatively alienated status) and thus we have to redefine society and grasp the necessity of moving towards each other as best we can.

April 4, 2014 at 8:14 am
The IMF is an integral part of the world imperial system staffed by a class of international bureaucrats that have very little interest in the lives of the poor not because they are particularly evil but simply because they are part of the world’s new hereditary nobility which has reconstituted itself out of the ruins of the old regimes that burned and crashed in the 20th century. In other words, we are now getting back to the normal human condition–rule by elites. These elites will, increasingly, rule by decree enforced by military force. We aren’t there yet but we are going in that direction.

There are forces in Washington that want, if not war, a strategy of tension and there are forces in Washington that want stability not crises. These two forces I’ve loosely described as neoconservatives and realists are in conflict which is why U.S. foreign policy tends to zid and zag. The world-stage is a
place of conflict but so is Washington itself with many forces competing for power and money.

Evidence, proof of facts and so on are, increasingly, irrelevant. I can give you point by point proof that what most people believe about most of the great issues of our time and, in particular, history is mainly false. That includes the intellectual class that holds on to orthodoxy more fanatically than the average person. These people will directly deny clear easily provable facts because it violates their mythological frameworks. I’ve hear this out of very intelligent people with graduate degrees from the most elite universities in the world: “even if it’s true I can’t believe it.” I found the admission refreshing–but nevertheless it begs the question: wtf happened to the Enlightenment project?
The fact is, I believe, that PR/advertising/”education”/media are all practicing the black arts. The craze some years back with Harry Potter indicated to me then, as it does now, that subconsciously people believe they are in the midst of battling wizards and I think it is true. Our only recourse, allcoppedout, is to to practice magic ourselves–hopefully a less costly yet more potent variety.
Antwort digi_owl
What happened was that it was usurped by industrialization.
It does not produce free thinkers, it produces biomachines programmed for specific tasks. Only by jumping of that threadmill and living on the margins do one have the time and reserve energy to actually dive into the material.
And the devil was firmly uncorked when science delved into the workings of the mind. This then unearthed a mass of techniques to get past the rational and appeal directly to the emotions and instincts. Tuning “products” to talk directly to the ape lurking within. Initial attempts were crude, fear, lust, anger and so on. But now they have it refined to the point that they can mix and match the exact response they want, as long as they don’t give people the respite to contemplate what is going on (much less exchange notes).
Excellent points–we are interchangeable parts. I guess.

This is one reason Putin has been demonized by the Western media. He personally is the main threat to the West and its trajectory of a universal imperial order. The trend has moved from central state authority to a diffusion of power towards a feudal corporatist order. The idea here is that money rather than military might buys you power over others. The state acts as an enabler and transmitter of corporate power and international bureaucracies and the ongoing attempt to create a “free trade” regime all are very specifically aimed at creating tangible power for large multi-national corporations.
Putin believes in a strong central state acting in the interest of his subjects not just to protect borders and keep order but to preserve and enhance culture–thus his favorable view of the Orthodox Church and traditional values. He understands, correctly, that there is something rotten in modernist values that tend to fragment society into the culture of narcissism–without which the West would not so easily impose increasingly tight and authoritarian controls of people who are, increasingly, so morally weak that courage and other virtues are out of the question. Mind you, I don’t agree with Putin nor do I think the way forward is the way back–I think we need to break through, in the West, the culture of narcissism and embrace the Modernist project even more by truly embracing the facts before us rather than the myths the magicians of information war are throwing at us to control us. Cultural conservatives are right that morality is a requirement for a convivial life but their morality is a dead-end–we cannot develop and prosper as human beings by going back to fear-based religion and the repression of people who have won, at great expense, their right to be dignified members of society. But we cannot linger in the emergent feudal world dominated by hungry predators who are capable of eating us alive, literally.
Putin serves, I think, as a temporary block to the triumphalist advance of the corporate state/Deep State and, despite his obvious faults, deserves our respect. In terms of the Ukrainian crisis he had to do what he did. His next moves will be determined by the West which now, as I see it, lies confused and moving in contradictory directions at the same time.

It is natural to want to return to a more simple, and, in many ways less toxic time. However our current situation is untenable no matter what your political and cultural tendencies are. I will tell you what I admire about true conservatives: and that is the understanding that a healthy society requires a virtuous populace. I believe this can come through reaching for expanded consciousness and a morality that Aldous Huxley comes from the “perennial philosophy” common to most great religious/spiritual traditions. I differ from conservatives in that I don’t believe any one tradition possesses the full truth as Christians tend to believe.

Well, sadly your facts are dead wrong. Ukraine was a constitutional democracy that was overthrown by a mob (impeachment was in their constitution). The last elections were legitimate. I believe the U.S. government is pretty bad, allowing thugish Wall Street oligarchs to get away with massive crimes that nearly upended the world economy yet I don’t favor massing in the streets of Washington and overthrowing the government. Whatever the former Ukrainian Prez was guilty of it pales in comparison to the sins of the USG in the past decade or two.
Ukraine represents one of a score of government overthrown using similar techniques by the USG, once it used the CIA and other contractors and, in the mix today, are also the NED and other semi-official entities. This project is fueled by fanatical followers of the American Exceptionalism delusion and led by, what we thought was a discredited movement, i.e., the neoconservatives.
Compare Russia under Putin with the U.S. under Bush and Obama–which country has the most toxic oligarchs? Which country has been waging war all over the globe against non-existent and trumped up “threats” (e.g. Saddam) that resulted in millions of people dead, wounded, or driven from their homes? Certainly Putin has his Chechnia which he inherited from the U.S. puppet Yeltsin–which the U.S. encouraged, btw tut-tutting all the way. 
Important link, thanks! (

Everyone recruits the twenty-something, student-debt recent college/university graudates to troll on the internet. I saw it with my own eyes working a tech contract in one of the top-tier PR firms on K Street quite a few years ago–I was put in the midst of these young people when blogging first began to be a big deal–I also saw endless lobbying of reporters and Hill staffers, party girls and the whole nine-yards.
Whenever there is an article on climate-change in any major forum the trolls come out with a vengeance more than any other issue including Obamacare. Why is this? Because the open secret in Washington is that the energy companies have given these PR firms a virtual blank-check for their work. It should be no surprise that there is such opposition in lightening the load of student loans–it forces young people into a life of prostitution.
It is critical that we understand the mechanism for manufacturing consent and the fact major industries and the oligarchs that run them are involved in a conspiracy to deceive us and that this extends into the media and involves anything from favors to threats. The left often does not understand that the oligarchs do not play by any sort of rules other than the general rules of establishing power that Machiavelli gave us. Academia, btw, is not exempt.

Please take a look at the Sy Hersh article in the London Review of Books. It will help in understanding why Hersh is now persona non grata in the U.S. media and provides a great understanding of how Washington and other actors approach international intrigue. It begs the question “why is Washington doing this sort of thing?”

Let’s look at why very conservative Republicans opposed and still oppose Obamacare. The idea that the government can offer some kind of umbrella over the health-care system means that, eventually, the government can impose controls on that an many other things. Right-wingers oppose government as a guarantor of any economic result–they believe in markets regulated only by major corporations. They are, in short, fanatical believers in neo-feudalism. Their vision of this sort of society is, sadly, ignored by almost everyone. So that any government involvement in health-care or any other aspect of life other than war and police/prisons is a travesty.


The argument always involves “it is better than nothing.” And it’s the same argument as “the lesser of two evils.” What can you say? Personally, I think we would be better off had the bill not passed. I believe the most egregious practices of the insurance industry could have been passed separately and quickly. My reasoning then as now was that the deal was basically made before and “debate” occurred thus limiting the debate thus the media did not feel obliged to offer us the full spectrum of choices available to us. There was little or not consideration of the scores of systems around the world most of which work far better than our own and all have interesting tweaks that keep costs down while improving care. Single-payer was one option that was not really looked at in terms of efficiency–what were the costs and benefits? Why was that not emphasized? Or what about the various Euro-systems that combine a strongly regulated insurance market with government guarantees–we could have copied the French system–very well run and considered by many the best in the world. But since Americans rarely travel outside of tour buses they don’t know how much better those Euro systems are in delivering HC. Obama is now and was then, obviously, an agent for the corporate sector (where the power is) the institution that failed us dramatically was the mainstream media which could have reported more honestly. There was never, to be blunt, any kind of “debate” on HC in this country.

How do they expect to get away with that stuff? Gore Vidal would have simply answered that we live in the United States of Amnesia. History is an almost forbidden subject in the U.S. particularly in the mainstream media.
The Hersh article and other sources of information indicate deep internal splits within ruling circles on the issue of imperialism. Strangely, while after 2006 it appeared the neoconservative movement was in disarray, they resurrected after 2008 on the sly while everyone was congratulating themselves at having elected the “first black President” and McCain effectively throwing the election (like his friend Kerry did in 2004) and falling for the misdirection as Obama installed neocons into his foreign policy team. How was anyone going to believe in 2008 that the guy would put forward an insurance-company-friendly health care “reform” (it was nothing of the sort) bill, would out-Bush Bush on national security policy and officially begin the era of no-jail for rich people justice and pwogwessives still believe the dude is left of center.
Fortunately, the last refuge for sanity is in located in the military not the civilian leadership (the opposite was the case during the Cuban Missile Crisis). The worst of the neocons aren’t even in the Administration but are in the media–particularly CNN, NPR, MSNBC who went to a level of hysteria and fanaticism over the gassing incidents in Syria I have not ever seen, even in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.

Re: NYT Article on Ukraine
Yves is right in her little comment on this article in the Times. The NYT is, at this point in history, a semi-official paper that generally reflects the power-elite consensus on Foreign Policy. As I’ve said here many times, the main struggle within ruling circles is between a reconstituted neocon movement of ideologues and mercenaries (MIC) and, on the other side, realists who focus on practical affairs are more influence by corporate interests. The borders between these to groups shifts but has remained fundamentally unchanged since the old Team A and Team B conflict within the intel community in the 70s.
The NYT piece appears to reflect a shift in the Obama administration on Ukraine or it never would have appeared. While ideologues seem to dominate the WH this article shows a shift in official thinking. The fanatics push Obama (who is clearly a much weaker President than most people think) to some brink and Obama, at the end of the day, resists as he cleary did with Syrian gas fiasco. This was also the case when pressure to attack Iran built up and seems to be the case with Ukraine. Neocon fanatics try to create facts on the ground through their machinations and conspiracies and, at the last moment, Obama realizes that increasing tension will please no one other than the ideologues and the MIC. Maybe Jamie Dimon calls him up and tells him to cool it–who knows? We have to remember that his chief allies are the international financial elites not the narrow interests of ideologues and the MIC.
Right now the State Department under Kerry seems to be the only major U.S. institution other than the cable channels and NPR favor a militant stance. Kerry, who I believe threw the 2004 election like his friend McCain threw the 2008 election (Sarah Palin?), seems to believe that Obama’s weakness offers him a chance of taking over American foreign policy–or is he just play acting?
I listened to another blood-curdling program on NPR yesterday for about ten minutes and just could not stomach it–I have heard nothing but crap from NPR on this issue and Syria–just who is running the network? Or am I just not listening enough to that network any more?

What is “bad”? If you study ecology with a systems approach you will find out that the question of change itself is not a big issue–a bigger issue is the rapidity of that change–does it give organisms a chance to mutate fast enough (organisms do mutate faster when their ecological niche is threatened) to adapt to the changing conditions. The fact is that this period of human-caused climate change, if you consider keeping human civilization and the current complex set of interlocking ecologies more or less intact, is to rapid to be able to provide that positive result. On the other hand nature, as it always has, is responding and will continue to respond rapidly making slower changing organisms with small life-spans obsolete for a time. Nature is fine–it always recovers but will we?
Also, there is a problem in this situation with positive feedback loops resulting from release of methane gas (check out its properties sometime) in the tundra that has been frozen for millenia and from ocean releases due to increased temperature. All this because human beings don’t want to take public transportation or curtail their stunningly wasteful lifestyles.
Sadly systems thinking still is as exotic to the vast majority of the population (except as applied to extremely narrow professional concerns. People still think in crude linear forms of thinking and think of feedback as the interplay between guitar an amp, are you one of those people?

Sy hersh has a history of telling the truth and the USG official pronouncements are nearly always misleading and full of misdirection or lies and some of them very big lies–the more important the issue, the bigger the lie. By “USG” I include the courtiers who present themselves as journalists but are most certainly nothing of the sort. Hersh is the guy dissident military, intel, and diplomatic people go to when they see the USG going down a dangerous path to major war. The same thing happened, with Hersh, during the lead up to a war with Iran some years ago–Hersh was then the conduit for these dissident officials. The USG pressured the New Yorker and any other mainstream media outlet that they would not tolerate anything from Hersh to be published in the U.S. and they have the power to do so. The U.S. Media, even when they want to be, cannot defy the national security state for obvious reasons.
The only mild criticism one can have on Hersh is that he writes stories that are limited hangouts because the senior officials that trust him also know he will cover their asses which he is, in my view, right in doing. He may not be meticulous in his fact-checking because he doesn’t have a whole department of fact-checkers behind him.
Again look at the record on who to trust. I’ve been following political events closely for almost a half century and. I know The Washington milieu pretty well and know, by now, who the liars and truth-tellers are.

From an interview in VoltaireNet with Peter Dale Scott the inventor of the term “deep politics”:
Peter Dale Scott: The term “Deep state” comes from Turkey. They invented it after the wreck of a speeding Mercedes in 1996 in which the passengers were a Member of Parliament, a beauty queen, a local senior police captain, and an important drug trafficker in Turkey who was also the head of a criminal paramilitary organization – the Grey Wolves – that went around killing people. And it became very obvious in Turkey that there were a covert relationship between the police who officially were looking for this man – even though a policeman was there with him in the car – and these people who committed crimes on behalf of the state. The state that you commit crimes for is not a state that can show its hand to the people, it’s a hidden state, a covert structure. In Turkey, they called it the Deep state, [1] and I had been talking about deep politics for a long time so I used the term in The Road to 9/11. This is why I have defined deep politics as all those political practices and arrangements, deliberate or not, which are usually repressed rather than acknowledged. So the term “Deep state” – coming from Turkey – is not mine.
It refers to a parallel secret government, organized by the intelligence and security apparatus, financed by drugs, and engaging in illicit violence, to protect the status and interests of the military against threats from intellectuals, religious groups, and occasionally the constitutional government. In this book, I adapt the term somewhat to refer to the wider interface in America between the public, the constitutionally established state, and the deep forces behind it of wealth, power, and violence outside the government. You might call it the back door of the Public state, giving access to dark forces outside the law. The analogy with Turkey is not perfect, because what we see today in America is less a parallel structure than a wide zone or milieu of interaction between the public state and unseen dark forces, as I expound in my latest book The American War Machine. But this interaction is significant, and we need a name, such as Deep state, to describe it.

Hersh’s piece on Syria/Turkey and the reactions to it are fascinating. The only mainstream pub that even mentioned, in passing, the Hersh article was the LA Times. This is further proof that the story is accurate–the usual technique is to ignore stories of this sort.
This story I intimately linked the Ukraine story. Russia was the ultimate target in Syria and Russia was, along with dissident elements within the national security state, the cause of humiliation for the fanatics in the WH and State Dept. who wanted full scale genocidal war against Syria. Having failed they have put all their eggs into Ukraine where they hope to find war easier to start. As usual, they have now the mainstream media parroting press office talking points but, thankfully, with somewhat less enthusiasm.
The question I have is why is the Administration so bent on War as a general policy? I have some ideas on that but am not sure about them.

RE: School Officials Bully Student into Deleting Recording of Bullying, Threaten him with Felony Wiretapping
The police state and fascism starts in middle and high schools in the U.S. As time has gone on, schools have become more authoritarian and draconian in their treatment of students. In the case of this rural PA school system it has reached true farce status. Here a school system is encouraging bullying and further victimizing the victim who they probably have labelled as a “loser” kid. They are expressing the dominant ideology in the U.S. of “winners” and “losers” and losers and the weak should be punished for being weak as U.S. society encourages predators at all levels to prosper and the poor to suffer increasing pain and humiliation each day. This incident mirrors perfectly the basic state of U.S. society–particularly the perversion of “justice” by the police and the courts. We all know what these people was wrong and they knew it was wrong–but they did it anyway. The reason why they did it anyway is an interesting subject.

Charles LeSeau
I was thinking much the same when I read that piece and looked for answers that made any sense. Sometimes I wonder if the string-pullers are intentionally fomenting mass interpersonal hatred in whatever ways they can.
The internet seems to me to be rapidly declining into more and more of a war zone too, with all manner of rudeness over the most pathetic and petty things, punctuated by personalities that seem little more than robots spouting out the latest e-cliches. It seems normal for people to call each other idiots over the tiniest points of fact or opinion, and often about things that are completely trivial. For example, yesterday I read some very heated, angry, and mean-spirited arguments over the question of “who is the most badass character in Game of Thrones.” Sad, sad, sad.
Competition über alles, divide and conquer, atomization, etc… Let’s all be incredibly cruel to each other now. Hooray.
I believe it is precisely these negative and selfish attitudes that feed the “dark side of the Force” that is mainly responsible for the wars of the past couple of decades. We complain about the government, the police state and so on but we have to understand that this negativity and urge to kill opponents ultimately comes from us. It is probably more important that we see each other as brothers and sisters than almost anything else we can do in our lives.

Mike Whitney has a masterful understanding of the real strategic situation in the world–why? Because he pays attention and reads. His article can be accessed at Counterpunch
I quote:
The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe. That’s what the fracas is really all about. The United States wants to control the flow of energy from East to West, it wants to establish a de facto tollbooth between the continents, it wants to ensure that those deals are transacted in US dollars and recycled into US Treasuries, and it wants to situate itself between the two most prosperous markets of the next century. Anyone who has even the sketchiest knowledge of US foreign policy– particularly as it relates to Washington’s “pivot to Asia”– knows this is so. The US is determined to play a dominant role in Eurasia in the years ahead. Wreaking havoc in Ukraine is a central part of that plan.
He goes on to say that he believes Putin is not fully aware of this plan which was clearly enunciated by Wolfowitz and is unchanged U.S. policy. For those that don’t understand how security policy works–it remains the same across administrations–there are only slight deviations over time. For example, the neocons of Bush II believed in using massive military force with dramatic “shock and awe” effects in order to scare the world , and they clearly said so in public statements. They wanted the world to believe that the U.S. was irrational and unpredictable and very violent in order to scare the rest of the world into submission.
I disagree with Whitney about Putin no knowing this policy–I think he does but he has very limited options at this point but to resist, perhaps, in the manner of Kutusov who had to deal with Napoleon’s invincible armies. Putin know the U.S. based Empire has take over Europe and now it wishes to move on to Asia–first Russia then China. I think China also knows this and what they are taking a wait-and-see approach neither supporting Russia nor supporting the Empire.
We can now only wait and see. The NYT (now a virtual cabinet department) is signaling the start up of revving up the Mighty Wurlitzer including all mainstream media outlets, left, right (all the right-wing organs are now attacking Rand Paul for being anti-war) and center. Much depends on the state of the Ukrainian army–does it really want to be a pawn in the the game that will further impoverish Ukraine so oligarchs in the West can get rich of Ukrainian debt?
But make no mistake, the U.S. will continue to pursue world domination this is permanent U.S. policy as it emerged out of the 80s. This will not end until the U.S. collapses–it must continue to pursue this policy–without it the whole thing falls apart. We also have to understand that these people (the Deep State) will stop at nothing to pursue their goals. Few people who have not been near it understand the stunning intoxication that power brings–it is profoundly transformative–the Emperor in Star Wars does the best job of understanding the pleasures of the dark side of the Force–Lucas was not kidding–this is serious business.

You are right. Most of the fighting is going on in the imperial court as I’ve mentioned many times. The alliance that surround the neoconservatives, however, has the media in the US and the Euro vassal states rallying around them. This group is trying to create facts on the ground that will force more moderate and realist factions to move away from their positions. Should be interesting. You can see the back and forth in the media. Today or yesterday the NYT the main commissars of the media took a strong stance in favor of the neocons whereas CNN has been trying to avoid the issue.

It’s not an issue of taking sides. It’s a question of understanding what the impetus of the conflict is about. What is the interest of the US in Ukraine, a country pretty far away? What is the history and intention of U.S. foreign policy in the region and elsewhere? The same question can be asked about Russia except Ukraine is on the border and the country, formerly a constitutional democracy that has recently experienced a Western supported overthrow of that government through violent rather than constitutional means that were fully available but not even attempted.

Both could be telling the truth. Obama has “his” corporations, i.e., financial institutions which he gives a free pass to do whatever they want and others he may be hard on. This is exactly how urban PDs treat criminals–they have their favorite drug dealers that they take favors from and those that are not part of the club who they crack down on with. lots of publicity to fool the public.
Als ich mit 25 zur ersten Lehrerprüfung im Wahlfach Philosophie an der PH Lüneburg die Arbeit "Entfremdung und Freizeit" verfasste, da hatte ich 1967 meinem "Pflock" eingerammt für alle Zeiten.
(Entfremdung; auf englisch "alienation" ...)

Money or no money the “natural” political arrangement is oligarchy. We have to face the fact that most people want a authoritarian system of some kind. But what they want is one that does not come out of alienation and, sadly, one of the chief features of capitalism is alienation. Planners view citizens as “workers” or “consumers” to be moved around on spreadsheets (the ultimate in alienating technology). Ordinary people see themselves in the same way. When they go to work they are objects to be manipulated like prostitutes paid to take various positions in bed. Happiness comes from having relatively few forced postures as in moving from prostitute to “kept woman” brings plenty of scope to your daily activities but, ultimately, when master calls, your time is his.
In a more natural world people are connected through kinship, history, common interest and so on. Interesting that you should bring up modernism–indeed modernism’s project is to destroy tradition if favor of a larger connection or, alternatively, no connection. Capitalism moves us into the direction of no connection–from a spiritual point of view Hell is the place of radical alienation and no-connection. Capitalism was able to bring us radical change at a price. It has brought us to where we are, freed up a lot of energy, helped destroy many prejudices and destructive customs but now it has done its work and it’s time to get off that vehicle. It has taken us as far as it can and now we have not only reached the law of diminishing returns but we are headed towards catastrophe if we don’t get off now.
The big questions about modernism and capitalism were put in high relief during the 1960s and, in a way, everything since then has been a reaction against and to that challenge. We have adapted many of the external attributes of the sixties in terms of fashion, music, culture, greater openness and so on but we have not dealt with the central challenge, i.e., consciousness and ending alienation–those of us involved in that period experienced a sense of belongingness that was unique but that sense of maintaining an open heart fell victim to repression and reaction both internally and externally.
We can go on flaying about as we are but without a profound revolution in the consciousness of the ruling elites and a significant part of the population we are f—ing doomed. Actually, I’m ok with that–I’ve spent enough time staring Despair in the face to not be that impressed. I see no hope to resolve the major issues we face in an organic and friendly way without this profound change so I know we are probably, unless aliens and angels interfere, headed towards a world of one disaster after another. I’m old enough to know I probably won’t see the worst of it.
Still, here we are in this moment and the further I feel all there is to feel and put myself fully into this moment the more bliss I feel. I believe this is the great message of the death and resurrection figure of Christ who was crucified and rose again–despair and destruction turns to resurrection–all this in a realm that is beyond thought and beyond time.
Economic sanctions are political acts of war as much as laying siege to a town only much more complicated. There is and cannot be economics without political structures.

I’m always amazed at such terms as “controlling” health-care spending. What do they mean by that? The control of spending is in the marketplace–or to put it another way, each organization involved in health-care seeks to make more money and thus increase spending by someone—there are no incentives to “control” spending even possible in this system except as complex sets of rules and regs written by lobbyists that can be easily skirted by teams of lawyers.
Health is important to people and families and the pressure will always be high to increase spending and profits that result from that. I’m sure there are precisely zero executives of insurance companies who try to figure out how to improve the health of customers except to keep them alive so they can be cash-cows till they die of a broken-heart.
I can forgive the big banks–I’ve known real hoodlums and gangsters in my life and one can live with that; but there are three sectors of the economy are more toxic: 1) energy companies that want to destroy humanity and much of the natural environment; 2) MIC that wants to keep the planet in a state of high-stress; and 3) health-care companies that seek to profit over pain and misery.

The article of course is incomplete so we don’t know the full argument but since we live in a world where “it’s the economy, stupid” or as I prefer, “it’s the stupid economy” money, trade and so on is an important component in all this. But it is not, in my view, the main component.
I don’t believe the U.S. is in serious economic trouble, the economy as such can be easily fixed if it weren’t for the cultural prejudice against the poor. Dollar hegemony still is untreatened and is backed up by overwhelming conventional and covert military force. The U.S. is prepared to do “anything” it has to to keep this power intact and Euro leaders know this. The official U.S. stance towards the world is “full spectrum dominance” so that cooperation, dialogue is not something the U.S. does in terms of international politics at this time. This could change since the U.S. population seems uninterested in the imperial project.
As for the Europeans, it seems they want the New Rome to rule them. It gives their leadership class stability, insures open shipping lanes and access to energy supplies to be sure but mainly the U.S. assures Europe with protection from all internal and external threat. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the U.S. is willing to use any means to accomplish its goals including, obviously, assassination, torture and so on.
Ukraine is significant mainly as a pretext to harass Russia which stubbornly resists being sucked up into the Empire.

I’ve suggested that approach many times and the politically correct crowd start howling. Politics is about listening, negotiating, making deals and playing realpolitik. There was an attempt by Ron Paul people to take part in Occupy but that alliance never came to much. Had more activists agreed to put cultural issues aside an anti-Wall Street alliance could have been formed. Few people know that the current Tea Party was formed in reaction to the Wall Street bailout, at least in part.

Re: The Change Within
Naomi Klein presents the basic argument that is the central issue of our time, i.e., why we can’t deal with the greatest collective threat human beings have ever faced. And let me qualify here–I’m not merely talking about climate change. Just because 97% of scientists who publish in professional journals agree that this climate crisis in largely man-made doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s possible they’re wrong but, if you just look at the odds and have a reasonable grasp of how biological systems work (the Earth is a bio-system) and the physical nature of greenhouse gases you certainly have to figure the chance these scientists are right is well over 50% and certainly isn’t 0% as many “deniers” I’ve read online seem to believe. Yet, the media and our political and community leaders all over the world don’t seem to think this is much of a problem. Climate change is likely, in my view, to cause catastrophe because I know, as Klein does, that problems in many ecosystems are showing up already–but since most people are completely uninterested in natural systems either observing them or reading about them these pass us by largely unnoticed. But these problems of the opposition between living systems and cultural systems are still a secondary problem–the main problem is that, structurally, the human community is unable to act.
Our problem is that the climate crisis hatched in our laps at a moment in history when political and social conditions were uniquely hostile to a problem of this nature and magnitude—that moment being the tail end of the go-go ’80s, the blastoff point for the crusade to spread deregulated capitalism around the world. Climate change is a collective problem demanding collective action the likes of which humanity has never actually accomplished. Yet it entered mainstream consciousness in the midst of an ideological war being waged on the very idea of the collective sphere.
The most central human trait we have is that we are hard-wired for connection. Individualism/narcissism that is the chief feature of modern consumer-culture is a perversion that is ugly and sinister. We are like addicts who keep injecting drugs in our system despite the destruction of infections, or hepatitis or AIDS, or the destruction of our relationships and families. This is who we are at this point in history.
Sadly, though we could change, there is no sign that we will change. Abuse of the Earth is central to our current fossil-fueled based system and people seem to be prepared to live and die by that system. We have to face the fact that this is what our fellow humans have decided and there appears to be nothing we can do about it. Most people have heard about climate-change, large numbers reject it out of hand, most ignore the issue. I’ve often made the comment here that there is little we can do other than witness and make our feelings known. We could, theoretically, bind ourselves together and take common action but few, even those who comment here have any interest in that because coming together requires trust, faith, courage and we are enculturated towards the opposite of those virtues even those of us who are dissidents–and isn’t that tragic? The path is clear, in my view, but we can’t take steps to do much more than complain and shake our fists at Capitalism that is steaming happily and triumphantly towards catastrophe.

“We” means the whole sytem including each of us who live in the U.S. As you know, I believe citizens are, in part, to blame not just the oligarchs. If the citizens had not been weak, divided and uninterested in looking at the facts they bear some responsibility just like I do for my part.

Since I have lived in places where there is vey low energy consumption I don’t agree that there are too many people–there are too many Americans. It is possible to live in a sustainable and even happier way with more or less the current population but the carbon barons don’t want that. Lowering population is the way the oligarchs intend to go with all this–they will choose who lives and who dies or so they appear to believe.

We are collectively facing catastrophe yet we actually do nothing. Why? Because we don’t believe in the collective–as Margaret Thatcher channeling the narcissistic culture that surrounds us said: “there is no such thing as society.”
The tragedy we are facing is, in part, the disruption of natural systems but is mainly a deep crisis in humanity. We cannot act collectively no matter how deep the problem. We are only able to assert our narrow interests. This is true, obviously, for those on the right but it is tragically true for those on the left as well. We seem to have no cultural reference for being part of a larger whole. The right is often obsessed with an authoritarian “God” that is chiefly interested in obedience and the left tends to not be interested in any larger reality other than “me.”
The left has a notion that we ought to be more collective but lacks a philosophical foundation for why that should be true. To put it another way, the reason why the political left cannot get people to understand that public space, nature and other “greater wholes” are important is that the underlying conceptual framework is still individualistic–the collective is ok as long as it doesn’t intrude in my ability to indulge in all the entertainments available online, on cable and in the marketplace.
If we find ourselves concerned with climate change and the rapid degradation of many ecological systems we need to take the next step and create a spirituality either of the Earth or something beyond our narrow personal and tribal concerns. These spiritualities are around us and include the Christianity of Thomas Berry (and others), Paganism and the Eastern traditions and some of the less narcissistic New Age ideas that have developed in recent years. We need something like those things to break down the barriers of mistrust that keep us from taking collective action. Some say that it would take only five million dedicated people to utterly transform American culture it they were committed and united. I believe that it could be an even smaller number.

Our problem is that we can’t get out of the silly arguments about capitalism. Capitalism is neither good or bad–it served a clear historical purpose that seemed to fuel great material progress and now we don’t need it so it has become a burden–it has lost its dynamism and is merely moving us inexorably into a neo-feudal situation. All the elements are here to go to a new stage of civilization but we are too confused and morally weak to do anything new.
The reason why a populist revolt has not and, I suggest, cannot happen is that our culture has changed dramatically. The populist farmers were directly involved in their economic lives–they could see before them the struggle of making their farms work–they were used to taking independent action and because they felt empowered they were used to acting directly.
In contrast modern Americans are passive–they rely on their bosses to boss them and avoid “direct responsibility” particularly in bureaucracies. In addition, the culture is saturated with “magic” spells created by generations of advertising, public relations, mass entertainments whose message to us all is that we are inadequate unless we are swimming in manufactured products and eating manufactured food. I keep getting blamed here for “blaming the victim” by putting some responsibility on the average citizen–and, indeed, we are all responsible for our situation–”we” are the culture and oligarchy is thriving because the culture favors that tendency. The citizen has, symbolically, made a bargain with the capitalists–he/she will give up the old traditional self-sufficient attitudes of the 19th century in exchange for massive goodies much like the boys who populated Pleasure Island in the story of Pinocchio were able to indulge their fantasies and desires so now we are collectively growing donkey ears.
The solution is simple and we have the opportunity, still, to do it. Organize into unions or collectives of some kind–but we won’t because we are used to living in fantasies after renting our bodies out to the bosses–that’s the life we have chosen as a mass. Individually, we can change it but it isn’t easy since our culture only tends to honor individuals rather than groups.

Good point–it is the middle class and what Chris Hedges calls the “liberal class” that is missing in action and happy with things as they are. The reason they are “happy” is that technology delivers to them goods, services and entertainments that are compelling enough to absorb the interest of this class. In addition, should there be some problem with the situation there are pallet loads of pharmaceuticals that provide attitude adjustments should the mind wander into deeper territories.
This is why we are drifting to the right every day in every way–the class interest of the middle classes, still, are against progressive politics even if the sentiment is here. All a candidate has to do is to make rhetorical noises (Obama) and this class is happy–they are concerned with images not realities since most of their time is spent in front of screens of one kind or another.

That is the key to all this. Consciousness must change and people need to stop their addiction to legal drugs and escapist entertainment. We must assume that all “news” is propaganda (it is for the most part) and cultivate alternative sources of information. Will people want to do this? That is the question.

The RP and DP play a good cop/bad cop game. Both parties favor imperialism abroad and pro-oligarch policies at home–the greatest crime wave in U.S. History and almost nothing was done–that is unforgivable–at minimum there should have been a truth commission ,giving the banksters immunity in exchange for fussing up.
The demographic favors the DP because the Rs have decided to be a niche party of culturally conservative white people at least in 2012 until now–that may change in 2014.
The DP has become the status quo party and shows absolutely no interest, other than a handful of people like Warren, in reforming anything or acting on climate change. The ACA was a bill to preserve the power of the worst actors in the HC system and keep all reason-based alternatives out of the public discourse. The DP does a lot of talk and pro-wrestling type discourse to appear to be mildly progressive but it is cynically false.

Certainly the Rockefellers and many others in ruling circles (I mean the broadly) were and are interested in the welfare of the citizenry. The U.S. has a long history of benevolence on the part of the rich some of it very helpful to society some not–but the motivation among these people is generally to do good as they understand it. But the tide is moving in the other direction–large numbers of the rich now want it all both money and power and it is within their grasp to create a truly feudal society. Now once they get their feudal rights they may become benevolent to their subjects–my guess is most will believe they are.

I know you like “Kleptocracy” and its a good rhetorical term but it doesn’t really work for me. Your term is right in that it inserts criminality into the picture because at heart this system has become criminal in that we see that the elites are, increasingly, immune to laws and regulations as was the case in the Gilded Age.

Providing social services to citizens has nothing to do with whether or not we live in an oligarchy–I repeat–”nothing.” Qaddafi who was a relatively absolute rule provided a lot of generous benefits to his citizens. Many oligarchs are personally generous to friends and employees and some support social programs and are interested in the long-term well-being of their society. The issue in the U.S. is not whether or not we live in an oligarchy but whether the ruling elites are or are not interested in our well-being.
Certainly what the study you cite says is that we are trending towards an oligarchy but here we get into semantics–what is an oligarchy. My definition is that an oligarchy is the effective rule by a few of a political entity. Today oligarchs have a special legal status in terms of the justice and regulatory system that makes them largely immune from prosecution. Oligarchs control the election system both through money and, in many areas, through control of the voting process–voting machines are still vulnerable to being manipulated and have been manipulated in several states that we know of.
What limits oligarchs is that they are not united. The Kochs and Soros do not see eye-to-eye and I know there are many factions and factions of factions–we can see this by the back and forth in public policies–most graphic is the internal and almost public conflict between neo-neo-cons and realists in foreign policy that has come out publicly with Syria and Ukraine/Russia policies.
The public, theoretically, could take back some power if they organized. The system is not rigid–it can change–but, for cultural reasons and the fact the public is basically happy being ruled rather than ruling itself, this is unlikely. True democracy is a rarity in human history–people like structure and authority–it gives, for most of us, a feeling of security when we know others are watching out for us. The problem is that the current oligarchs are, on the whole, not interested in our welfare and we need to act because they are driving us to destruction.

What most Americans don’t understand is that our government plays a Machiavellian game using any technique–assassination, false flag, torture, misinformation/misdirection, manufacturing fact through altering photos, forgery, sexual manipulation and on and on. Why we choose to ignore these facts–and they’ve all been proven true at some time or another–I will never understand. All this is hidden by the myth of American Exceptionalism and the utterly false notion that these people (who perform these acts) are protecting us from anything–often, in their deluded states, they believe they are the “good guys” because they have to in order to avoid cognitive dissonance.
Re: Cliven Bundy
If you read the text of Bundy’s statement you can see a couple of things. First of all, he is an illiterate and appears to lack fundamental language skills–but he has a point though he does not understand it nor did he make it. The point is that poor black, or poor white for that matter, life may not be better than slavery if we view slavery in its most benign form. Let’s assume, for the moment, that it was the social norm to treat slaves with respect, not break up families and so on (as Bundy imagines it), wouldn’t the fact that these slaves had a purpose make up for their lack of freedom at least somewhat? And really, what freedom to ghetto dwellers really have? For all our clapping ourselves on the back the reality is not very good–just take a gander at prison populations–the new plantations.
Victor Frankl showed us that meaning helps people survive and even thrive in difficult circumstances–when we lack meaning, I suggest, even comfortable situations are highly stressful. There’s another dimension Bundy doesn’t see–and that’s the systemic racism and its effect on families, individuals and culture. Perhaps because he personally has never met or known the people he disparages–I would guess if he conversed with them he might understand their POV–and, in my experience, that POV is often not pleasant. Despite cultural changes most of us still don’t understand black experience and how being a lower- class ignorant black is different from being a lower-class ignorant white person who entertains opinions like Bundy. Science has shown us that black people are racist against themselves–what more proof do we need that we live in a racist society? So why is it a big surprise that Bundy lifts the veil of racism which we want to shove underneath the rug so we don’t have to face the reality of what this culture really is.

Venezuela, in its policies to help the poor, is everything certain kinds of libertarians hate. The poor, according to their philosophies, should know their place and die if they can’t produce economic value. It’s not an unreasonable position but it lacks compassion.

For the upper middle-class life is better in Panama or Miami. When Cuba was ruled by organized crime the upper middle-class and even middle class did fairly well in urban areas while the peasants suffered. Thus when Fidel and Che chased Batista and his band of criminals away the elites fled to Miami where they have become a highly negative force in U.S. politics as well as being involved in all kinds of illegal activities in the Miami area–though the community has changed and is now more open and less obsessed with ousting Fidel.
We forget the deep class-hatreds, often racially based, that has existed since Spanish colonial times in Latin America. We also forget that the U.S. government actively has worked for generations to stop or overthrow any government that makes any attempt to improve the lot of poor people in those countries. I can cite you specific operation in Latin America starting with Cuba during the Spanish American War–the pattern is stunningly obvious yet you miss it. All countries that dare to oppose the U.S. support of oligarchy (the U.S. has no interest in “democracy” in any part of the world and that, again, has been proven ad nauseam for over a century). Start to read history–or you sound like you were born yesterday. Panama itself was a victim of an aggressive U.S. war to “liberate” Panama from itself as well as being involved in the assassination of Presidne Trorrijos.
The NYT link to “A White House Split Over Russia” goes to Bloomberg. At any rate, the article basically says that some in the WH want a harder line than the one Obama is taking. I think the split is ideological and political. I believe war and the strategy of tension is the way the national security state has of keeping its power–without tension, bloodshed and so on what are all the men with guns supposed to do? On the other side, those who favor the “global marketplace” don’t want to hurt business over silly border disputes–Europe is backing off from strong action against Russia and Obama is going along with them while having Kerry shoot of his mouth and spread whatever lie de jour he can find. The ideological struggle between realists and neocons may come down to a struggle between the nation-state and the corporate sector not just in the U.S. but in Europe and Russia.

So knowledge is irrelevant? How is the average person suppose to know what many of us have taken decades to learn? Would you allow anyone off the street to fix the wiring in your house? Do you suppose Martin Luther King could have been replaced by just anyone in the corporation. It’s just that kind of attitude that animates the tea party with their militant ignorance. People are not born with critical thinking skills, they must be trained by someone that possesses those skills; in the same way, those of us who have done our research must lead those who have other qualities to fully develop.

The LRB article on conspiracies lost me in the first paragraph. I’m automatically bored when so-called intellectuals dismiss those of us who have studied Deep Politics as somehow deranged. Hundreds of books like, for example, of Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets, which is meticulously footnoted and has, as far as I know, not been reviewed in the mainstream or refuted by anyone. One of the reasons for the moribund nature of the left and the weakness of American intellectual culture is its fear of addressing not just Deep Politics but of anything very deep.
For the sake of brevity I will give you the same smoking gun that I always give when the issue of this sort comes up that cannot be refuted and makes my point. There is an inconvenient fact (among many) that Thomas Noguchi, the highly experienced LA Coroner at the time, prepared a Coroner’s report that said RFK died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of his head at nearly point-blank range (no more than 1.5 inches). So Sirhan, who was in front and no closer than two feet did not kill the man who would have easily been elected President. In all the 60′s assassinations there are similar inconvenient facts that have been combed over by generations of scholars who have all been labelled as mental cases and therefore been largely ignored by the media (understandable–it is their job to ignore facts) and 99% of intellectuals particularly on the left. So j’accuse the lot of them of cowardice and/or duplicity–and I challenge anyone to contradict what I’m saying. I submit to you that without digesting the assassinations of the 60′s you cannot possibly understand anything very substantial about U.S politics or U.S. foreign policy.

RE: What would America fight for? Economist
Reading the Economist is always interesting because it represents “smart” thinking in the UKUS about the issues before us–it really states them rather well in this article and gives us a view of the important issue, i.e., “credibility.” After snidely implying that the U.S. did not go far enough in Libya and Syria and seems not to be reacting strongly enough in Ukraine the money shot:
Such mind games in the badlands of eastern Ukraine and the South China Sea may feel far away from Toledo or Turin. But the West will also end up paying dearly for the fraying of the global order. International norms, such as freedom of navigation, will be weakened. Majorities will feel freer to abuse minorities, who in turn may flee. Global public goods, such as free trade and lower cross-border pollution, will be harder to sustain. Global institutions will be less pliable. Americans understandably chafe at the ingratitude of a world that freeloads on the economic, diplomatic and military might of the United States. But Americans themselves also enjoy the exorbitant privilege of operating in a system that, broadly, suits them.
The problem with all this is that the actual facts don’t accord with the above paragraph. While the U.S. once was serious about establishing a regime of international law after WWII the mission creep moved in a very different direction over the decades. The Geneva Conventions on war have all been violated by the USG and they were violated deliberately and knowingly. Today, particularly after the illegal and uncalled for invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq the U.S. has no moral right to tell the Russians to leave Ukraine alone and it may have no legal right to do so either since, in fact, there is no international law left at this point–there is only the law of the strongest.
Actually, this is what The Economist advocates and has advocated for a long time–it, like most of the elites in the world, want a strong U.S. to be the New Rome. They are willing to tolerate wasteful and fraudulent “wars” like Iraq which was, ultimately, fought to enrich people close to Bush, Cheney and their hangers-on as well as other rather sordid reasons and for nothing else. If you analyze and observe the invasion of Iraq closely you see a lot of ego-tripping, to be sure, (Rumsfeld and the neocons), the pleasures of war (see Hedges book War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning–these pleasures related to me by those who have been in combat at all levels should not be ignored), and mainly the deep corruption that now engulfs the USG at all levels particularly the world of contracting–the Iraq War built many McMansions in the Washington DC suburbs. The Europeans, for example, tolerated that obscenity, that meatgrinder of a war that brought only misery and chaos to the region. All this The Economist and the mainstream media ignore and pretend never happened.

Absolutely, we consistently underestimate the role of the unconscious in the Anglo-American cultural sphere and thus believe, as Churchill quipped that history is ” simply one damn thing after another” which is complete idiocy–there are deep patterns that are easily discerned if you have any reasonable grasp of what it is to be human.

Americans are not generally aware of not only the deep corruption of the police, prison and “justice” systems. Many are surprised that the Wall Street organized crime organizations survived virtually untouched–but if you understood courts, prosecutors, the FBI and other enforcement agencies you would more easily understand how it works. If you’d seen with your own eyes how cops protect favored drug-dealers and bust the unimportant ones you would know the whole enforcement mechanism from the DEA down was a crock of sh*t.
Prison guards are the lowest rung of law-enforcement even if they aren’t sadists they become sadists often. Look at the Stanford Prison Experiment and other social science research projects–you will see that the situation invites evil. Americans obsession with law-enforcement, hatred of compassion, love of “winners” and visceral hatred of “losers” is the chief cause of our problems not the prison guards or cops or prosecutors or judges who oversee our rotten and cruel legal system. That there is some mercy and compassion by individuals in the system is a testament to humanity–the system itself is structured to bring out the worst in everyone.

It’s interesting that the events in Odessa that led to the raid on the police station by “pro-Russia” advocates are portrayed in the mainstream as having virtually no cause other than Russian aggression. Ok, fascists attacked an encampment of people who want a federalized Ukraine (a country that was created by the German General Staff in WWI) and chased them into a building and set fire to it killing many and those that jumped out were beaten to death, mostly. This fact is not important to the official U.S. media (basically now nothing but another federal agency, The Ministry of Truth). All the problems in Ukraine are 100% the fault of Putin the New Devil. The proof of that incident is plain–there was video footage that appears to be genuine.
So, again, we live in the new USSR, i.e., the U.S. and its satellites in Europe. If you want the truth about any issue that contradicts the fundamental story-lines of Washington you can’t find it in the mainstream. Having said that there are continuing sighs that Washington is not united. On the left, I see little enthusiasm for U.S. Ukraine policies–I see zero mention of Ukraine over at Daily Kos–which is, for those that don’t realize it by now, the official “left” Democratic Party site that usually reflects official thinking–anyone who crosses the line over there is purged without warning. The Nation seems to be skeptical of the Washington consensus and the New Republic usually always ready to push for war and reflecting the left side of neoconservative views seems less than enthusiastic about official policy. It’s only a matter of time, I hope, before the mainstream starts dribbling in some truthful accounts–certainly the WaPost and NYT seem to be providing more nuanced and less black and white propaganda stories, while still seeing Putin as the villain but coverage may well evolve from there as reporters stick their toes in to see if they are published or punished for what they say–with Washington divided this is a good opportunity for a freer mainstream media–one hopes.

My point is that it is the confusion around this issue that may provide some cover for reporters to tell the truth–when Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Vietnam started to go wrong editors gave reporters more leeway to actually report something resembling the truth (always with a very limited hangout). Usually these windows don’t last very long because a new consensus emerges and then it’s back to just propaganda.

Paul Craig Roberts has been writing about U.S. society and government for some time and he is now in full-scale Gonzo Jeremiahad. He has written in detail about all the issues he brings up in the article cited on this link-page but he’s tired of repeating the same thing over and over again. I agree with most of what he says–disagree only in his tone and the fact I see more nuance than he does and I just can’t get pissed off the way he seems to be these days. I actually met him once–he was one of the people that changed my mind about the Reagan administration–I met him when he was Asst. Sec. Treasury and a few others that seemed to be more open minded than many of the Democrats I had met–the Reaganites also partied hardier but that’s another story.
Why aren’t I as pissed off? Because I’m more cynical than Roberts. I never swallowed the baloney about a “free country” and all that American Exceptionalist crap. The USA is not so different than what Henry Miller described in his book on his cross-country travels An Air-Conditioned Nightmare or much different from what Mark Twain described particularly in his latter years. Hunter S. Thompson always provided charming insights and so on. But I will admit that after 9/11 we have descended into much deeper hells where we (and not just the government–Roberts has some quite cutting things to say about the people in other essays) than even I had thought possible.
I’m also more optimistic than Roberts. I believe large numbers of people know the gov’t is f*cked and more are beginning to understand that we live in an oligarchy where voting is kind of pointless. Maybe the left will even wake up and stop thinking that laughing at the illiterates on the right (as Comedy Central does night after night after night after night after night while giving Obama a free ride) is enough–I find this tendency disgusting, cheap and Stewart and Colbert can GTH (at least Colbert is a great comedian). The fact people are getting the idea they’ve been bamboozled by the mainstream media for decades is sinking in. Will people react with more than a shrug? Who knows? The issues will be sharper–we can choose the path of public morality or private gain–one or the other–if people are willing to give up the latter for the former to a degree–then we’ll be ok.

I don’t agree with you on what we ought to be doing. I’ve helped organize demonstrations and vowed that I was through with that. Why? Outside of laziness, yes, I am lazy, often unfocused and so on–but mainly it is the fact that unless demonstrations represent powerful and cohesive groups rather than ad hoc gatherings that come together and then disperse demonstrations are not effective in my experience. Occupy, for example, for all its sturm und drang did not result in a single conviction of a major Wall Street criminal nor did it win the hearts of Americans nor did it do much of anything to revive the moribund left–yes, people will answer Occupy still lives in various forms but in what numbers? Insignificant–and I know what I’m talking about. Without vibrant tight communities as displayed by the various social movements (Civil Rights, Labor) real results are simply impossible. The oligarchs are well-organized and armed to the teeth with every sort of soft and hard weapon–to match them we have to be almost as well-organized and in great numbers–otherwise you are wasting your time. I stopped really being involved after the utter and abject failure of the anti-Iraq War movement.
We need to establish communities first and that is what I’m trying to do and have been trying to do in a culture whose chief attribute in narcissism. Here I give you one of my favorite Hubert Selby, Jr. quotes:
Obviously, I believe that to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. Why? The reason is simple: because life is giving, not getting.
My point is that as long as people are culturally prejudiced toward self-interest as the primary motivation for life we cannot hope to achieve a decent and convivial society. It is towards that end that I’m working–our negative politics is a result of what most other cultures that have existed in the world would consider profoundly immoral–selfishness. I would go further to say that this selfishness is not just morally evil from a spiritual point of view but goes counter to what we know scientifically about the human brain and being. We start there or we go nowhere.

One way to find the job you want is to help create it–we need a teaching collective–it could be online where I believe the future of learning lies since those of us who believe, more or less, as we do mainly seem to have no outlet other than online. This is actually a business I considered getting into three or four years ago–but I couldn’t get enough partners who were willing to dedicate time and money to it. I believe the academic world has been in serious decline for some time (if we consider pursuing knowledge and teaching as important). We need a lot of new approaches that aren’t strictly tied into the increasing conformity that I see all around us.
RE: The Secret Back Story to Russia and Ukraine that Americans Never Learned In School
I and a few others have been saying many of the things described in the above-referenced article for many years. We’ve been called “conspiracy theorists” as if conspiracies, false-flag attack and, yes, genocide were not something any American was capable of since both left and right in America believe, to varying degrees, the extraordinary mystical belief in American Exceptionalism.
My reading of history tells me that powerful people and entities act using the traditional techniques classical historians have passed on to us and Machiavelli wrapped in a neat and concise manner in his book The Prince. Americans are not immune from this tendency. When the stakes have been high powerful Americans have used misdirection, assassinations, genocide, Big Lies and so on to aid their quenchless search for power and/or money. Yes, there have been great statesmen who bravely acted, generally, for the interests of others and not just their own personal interests which JFK recorded in his book Profiles in Courage but these statesmen have been the exception and the forces they have to fight are formidable as the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington illustrated. JFK paid for his courage with his life as did his brother and one of the great personages of the 20th century, Martin Luther King. My view is that Americans are unable to examine inconvenient truths of any kind and pretend (though most people know better) those assassination either never happened or were the acts of lone gunmen despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Until the left reclaims history and stops living in this fog or forgetting there is not even the remotest chance of any kind of significant reform in any area of American life other than in minor cultural issues which have no bearing at all on the basic arrangements of power.
I guess I’m not sure what you are trying to say. The famine was due to Stalin deciding he needed foreign exchange and sold the grain to the West–which gladly bought it knowing precisely what was going on in the Ukraine. Note that Stalin murdered far more ordinary Russians than Ukrainians–in other words the famine was not a Russia vs. Ukraine situation n my view at least.
At any rate, our concern is now and, as an American, my concern is with what the USG does. So far, Putin and the Russian government seems to have been, compared to the U.S., fairly benign in their international dealings since WWII.

Re: Pope’s message
This Pope is asking us to re-discover Christian teachings and move away from the what much of Christianity has become–a religion of the Pharisees.
It is, in every way, a good thing to balance out the vast disparities in wealth. The culture of the rich, for those who know it, is perverse and ugly because it worships at the shrine of separation and exclusivity. That culture does nothing but damage rich people as human beings from what I’ve seen directly. To share is also to connect and to connect is to allow yourself to experience the greatest human pleasures. When we increase human happiness–and it would be so easy for the rich to do this everyone benefits and people can relax and be in the moment far easier than we see today.
The notions that come from Christianity are certainly not exclusive to Christianity and I hope this Pope moves in the direction that the last great Pope, John XXIII, was moving towards–dialogue and cooperation between all religions who all emphasize compassion and connection.

There are elements within the USG who want to egg on the fascists in Kiev to attack the East but there are also elements who are against that policy–you often see different factions sometimes united by ideology, sometimes by Byzantine posturing, and sometimes money all jostling to take control of U.S. policy. Iraq was a case and point of many factions all fighting separate “wars” which was one reason why Iraq was such an unmitigated disaster.
In this case I think everyone knows that Western Ukraine cannot subdue the East–even if they retook the buildings and city centers they would still have a citizenry that would resist and fight in an active resistance. The neocon factions within the USG want to, ultimately, provoke the Russians into crossing the border–the Russians know this and will not invade unless thousands are killed by fascist goon squads. I don’t think this will happen because the anti-neocons (realists) appear to be in charge of policy for now and are happy to keep Ukraine simmering but not flaring up. All sides probably want a little bit of tension in the region to keep the MIC/National Security State (Deep State) humming along.
I find it interesting that an ever growing number of people are noticing this phenomenum. While the U.S. mainstream was never the “free” and “objective” press it has claimed since WWII, despite Operation Mockingbird that made much of the media a virtual Ministry of Truth other parts of the media were willing to tackle inconvenient truths from time to time. By the 1980s this changed when the Reagan Administration was able to almost literally suspend all reporting on the death squad activities and, indeed, all substantive reporting on El Salvador. After that, bit by bit, the mainstream, particularly after 9/11 avoided with a couple of notable exceptions both the spectacular corruption surrounding American contractors in the Iraq War and the colossal crime wave involving most if the banking and investment industries for which we all paid a heavy price. Had the media honestly looked into these matters we may have avoided the criminality that is now built into nearly all our institutions.
At any rate, the internet has made it possible for alternative views to be heard and these views are beginning to be heard by the few who are interested in actually finding out what is going on in the world. As long as the Net doe not change too much and realize fake alternative sites like HuffPost are corporate owned and operated the mainstream is going to lose influence.

Re: Ukraine: Another German “Leak” Against U.S. Policy
Germans, if the U.S. persists, will stop cooperating with the U.S. in security matters if the U.S. insists on reckless behavior–this is why these leaks occurred. German operatives are more sensitive to the disadvantages of war with Russia–they once tried to invade Russia and it lost them the war.
I suspect the German government also understands that there is a split within policy making circles of the Deep State as to the desirability of creating more chaos and violence in Ukraine. U.S. covert operators in Ukraine may want to create facts on the ground that would force those in Washington who seek moderation to act. I see Ukraine as a reflection of power-struggles within the Deep State.

I go on instinct. I have been right on many issues. When people were all in tizzy over an imminent invasion or bombing of Iran both in the Bush days and the Obama admin I said that there was no way it would happen because military planners mainly didn’t want to start that war and the whole thing would be bad for business. The USG is split and I suppose I’m not entirely accurate in saying it is realist vs. neocons (more or less)–the real key to all this is the massive corruption within the State due to the world of security contractors.
The whole Iraq War, if you look closely was about the massive corruption of the contracting community and political appointees within the Bush administration and had little to do with “winning” anything. The idea was merely to keep the war going as long as possible. The Ukraine situation is about reviving tensions to increase national security budgets and the useful idiots like S. Power and V. Nuland are useful until they become harmful to Wall Street/City of London who support a strategy of tension-lite (the realists).
There will be no really serious sanctions against Russia right now a good portion of the Russina oligarch money is invested in London real estate and if that bubble bursts there will be many unhappy Tories. War over silly borders isn’t going to happen because the ruling elites in the Empire and in Russia are doing just fine and are using the crisis to keep in power as they did during the latter part of Cold War.

Zu :

Dollar hegemony will never be allowed to be threatened. The U.S. has signaled over and over again it will meet that threat with military force. Elements within the U.S. power structure are more than willing to use covert methods as well to “influence” any deal that is threat to that hegemony. Most of the developed world is behind the U.S. imperial structure even the Chinese because the U.S. provides a hierarchy and structure to the world economy. That is one reason, not mentioned, that the U.S. manufactures threats like terrorism to motivate the average American citizen to approve of military spending. We hear over and over again in the mainstream how American soldiers “protect our freedoms” and nearly everyone buys into that right and left.

I tried to find something wrong or overdone in Hudson’s analysis and I could find nothing. His narrative about Ukraine and how it fits into U.S. Russia policy is spot-on. Most Americans don’t understand that the sort of Machiavellian maneuverings Hudson speaks of has become, essentially, U.S. policy. The split in Washington is between those who want to be more aggressive and use military force to spread neoliberal hegemony and those who prefer to let corruption take its course–but that’s another discussion. But all sides in Washington agree on the goal and that is a U.S. centered global Empire ruled by a permanent oligarchy. One of the main features of Western Civilization since the fall of Rome has been to re-establish that Empire. They view a tight and authoritarian system is the best way to establish a convivial society that guarantees a system that provides a clear structure for people who forget about public or private morality and gives them a chance to enjoy entertainments, purchase toys, remain in a state of perpetual adolescence; in exchange the public must kiss the ring of power whether it is the State of the Boss–in fact they are one and the same.
Because Mr. Hudson’s analysis can only be found or understood by a very few people and the “dialogue” is mediated by a media that is nothing more than the Ministry of Truth of the Imperial Court we cannot organize resistance based on intellectual analysis. Yesterday’s discussion of the anarchism of Cody Wilson is important in this discussion. Reform, in an inverted totalitarian state, is impossible–there is no hope that we can have a sane discussion about jobs, the environment, foreign policy if the Western intellectual class lacks a way to take up Hudson’s ideas–they are simply ignored in the U.S.–this is the tragedy of the U.S. intellectual class. All you have to do is spend time reading the New York Review of Books, once a decent venue for intellectual discussions, has now become yet another neoliberal propaganda sheet. American intellectuals are as radically deluded as Tea Party activists–perhaps more so because at least they have the instinct that something is radically wrong.
As Chris Hedges notes we must resist and the anarchist project in all its variety is the only game in town–the only one with vitality, the only one that has begun to capture the imagination of youth (at least those who don’t believe that making money is all there is in life). Younger politicals understand viscerally how totalitarian the system has become while us older folks still imagine we live in the flawed U.S.A. we grew up where reform was possible if only we petition our representatives etc.
The argument contra anarchism is that it will allow “criminals” to run wild etc. This upper-middle class fear of criminals comes from propaganda from endless cop shows and movies and, in the eighties and afterwards was used to scare people into creating a police state and imprison massive numbers of people. I’ve socialized with “criminals” and they are like puppies compared to the hustlers on K Street or Wall Street who are not, btw, averse to violence if they can get away with it. People can self-organize as we see when there is major disaster and the state is missing–I think we need an ongoing discussion about the anarchist alternative that seems to me to be the only way to re-establish legitimate order. The criminals now run the society so it’s foolish to fear the minor league criminals.

The anarchist project is not about creating a particular system. Systems need to emerge from the situation. In some situations capitalism is perfect, in others socialism works and even monarchies can work and have worked rather well. The corporate national security state needs to be undermined and anarchism is a good placeholder until we have the freedom to create something pragmatic–my own sense is that there ought to be many alternatives and a lot of dialogue rather than ideology.
The situation in Ukraine is a side issue for the strategists in Washington–this all about two things: 1) the new version of the Great Game; and 2) the power of the national security state within Washington! i.e., there has to be a strategy of tension to justify the absurd level of spending on all aspects of “security.”

It’s a scam–the whole national security state–it’s a scam from start to finish. There is practically no rational reason for either the huge military establishment and the secret-police state. While some threats exist they are minor and largely irrelevant, at this point in history. The Cold War itself was mainly a fraud and existed primarily to support the military/security establishment particularly after the Cuban Missile Crisis where the leaders of both countries agreed to take solid steps to end it. After all, if you really think about it, there really was very little reason to continue the Cold War after that period.
As for the “War on Terror” it was even more solidly based on fraud. Conflict was a requirement after the fall of the Soviet Empire–the national security state had to have a real threat to insure its existence. The existence of that state was always predicated on a mutual aid society between large corporations and that security state. From the beginning the CIA was created from and by Wall Street operatives who themselves overthrew governments for the benefit of big banks or United Fruit Company. We need to connect the dots and see the pattern here.
9/11 was a mysterious event which all political sides in the U.S. have refused to look at in a rational way based on evidence in the same way all sides have refused to look at the assassinations of two Kennedy brothers and one of the 20th Century’s great moral giants, Martin Luther King. Americans, left and right, have obediently gone along with the fraudulent official explanations of all these events with dissidents not allowed to publish in either the mainstream media or intellectual journals. The worst aspect of all this has been the reaction of the American left to these events which has been to consistently demonize dissidents as mentally unbalanced.
If the citizenry decides it prefers “security” to dignity what can any of us do? It is inevitable that we will live in an authoritarian regime of some kind unless some opposition to the narrative can emerge. There are stirrings, certainly, the media and the politicians are no longer automatically believed and perhaps this will move on to a larger skepticism about the system as a whole.

One of the great problems we face is the belief that totalitarianism died out with the totalitarian regimes of the 1930′s and the fall of the Soviet empire. The impulse for absolute power never died–in fact, many ex-Nazis came to the U.S. with Operation Paperclip and other related programs and Nazi agents were turned to work against the Russians.
Since WWII the “major leagues” for the game of power occurred at the new centers of power in Washington and New York with the City of London catching up quickly. The CIA and other agencies that operated under secrecy were the logical forcus of much of this new power. Authoritarian/totalitarian regimes could only have a lock on power if they dominated the people who had the maximum ability to use force. Nothing about the growth of power in the area of security whether the military, secret police, intel or whatever seems odd or particularly malevolent–it is all eminently predictable and normal. You would expect, using systems analysis, that a community that could operate in secret would be at a competitive advantage compared to ones operating in a more public way and eventually dominate the landscape as, I believe, the “secret” community does in Washington. The weird thing is that those communities have not done even worse things which attests to some minimal standards of decency still being present.

Yes David, Cold Wars are required for the national security state to maintain its domination of the U.S. government. In my view most of the threats the U.S. has face are mainly fraudulent. Cold War #1 was convenient for both US and USSR military establishments to maintain their domination of their respective governments and the end of the Cold War required another “threat” to keep that establishment in power and it was dutifully manufactured and this one actually officially pushed the Bill of Rights and habeas corpus off a cliff. Now that this GWOT seems to have run out of gas the national security state has to manufacture more conflict.

I think the key to this story is the press. It is the mainstream media in our civilization that, much more than the banks and corporations in themselves or the politicians and other “wankers” (EU technocrats), are the chief enemy of civilization. Yes, it’s that bad. These empires of misinformation/PR/Propaganda/Marketing/Advertising are making democracy unusable. A deluded public subject to sophisticated techniques of mind-control that Goebbles touchingly admired that were in their infancy in the work of the The Committee on Public Information (Creel Committee) matured and grew up to be an intricate system of control that even the journos believe in as they twist reality into unrecognizable shapes. Yes, from time to time accurate information is reported on but only if that information does not destroy the basic narrative. This narrative extends, btw, to most movies and even academia–everyone wants into consensus reality otherwise you are left outside staring at the party going on inside the mansions.
Europe has copied the U.S. press techniques and tendencies with relish as they are copying the U.S. abandonment of democracy and Constitutional rule. Y’all in Europe need to support parties on the left and right who oppose the EU–at least you still have alternatives. But political activism should be focused on the media as much as possible.

RE: America dumbs down
The article in Macleans is a bit confused but forceful in making its point but the article needed to spend a bit more time explaining why people choose to be stupid. And let me be clear here, people do choose it–it’s not like information is not available and people don’t know where to go. I’ve had discussions with people about climate change, for example, where they read some right-wing nonsense or just keep Fox News on and then argue with me about it. I’ve kept up with the issue since that late eighties and have done my due diligence yet these casual browsers of information believe their opinion has the same weight as mine–and I’m deliberately putting this in personal terms to make a point. I know more about it than my interlocutor yet he (it’s never a she) can’t admit that. It’s like someone who may have heard something about writing code starts telling me how to write code that I used to do for a living–what is that?
The dumbing-down of America has a lot to do with a very bad public education system that discourages intellectual exploration and critical thinking. This tendency in American education turns off many students (even if they do well) who see pursuing knowledge and taking in the gems of Western Civilization as a chore not a joy. Without joy, intellectual inquiry cannot happen so most people, even those with graduate degrees, simply stop growing intellectually and tend to be attracted to lines of thought that fit their prejudices. The article mentioned above mentions deficits in science and math which are considered the height of intellectual achievements and fail to mention poetry, music, philosophy, literature and so on. We still have the idea that education is something we force-feed our children but generations of children have resisted it–shouldn’t we actually try to use the knowledge we do have about learning theory and neuro-science rather than continue to use arbitrary methods that are duct-taped methods from the 19th century? American educations steadfastly refuses to acknowledge modern science so how can they teach it?
The author of the piece also mentions the confusing demands of modern life and that’s all true. People live fragmented lives that lack cohesion–what is missing in the piece is the description of the forces that cause us to live confused lives. The people in South Carolina Mr. Gatehouse describes who are fixated on science having to bend to the Bible which is, to most of South Carolinians, the source of all truth allows these people to live with more peace and tranquility than those who don’t have a firm set of beliefs. Mind you, I’m pretty certain that most of the people don’t actually believe the Bible is literally true but “believe” it as a way of not having to think deeply about anything–it’s like a medication–you know it’s a drug but it makes you feel better so you take it.
But what causes this confusion? Of course, it is complicated, but I believe there is a chief cause to our malaise. This has been caused by the systematic and conscious effort by marketers, advertisers, PR people and political propagandists to control the mind of the American people. While education won’t use scientific ideas on human nature the mercenaries who populate the influencing class do use those techniques and others that they’ve found throh experience to control the human psyche. They have manufactured consent and they’ve created needs–they’ve altered completely morality even in South Carolina. These people, like the rest of the country, are programmed to satisfy themselves–Jesus is a commodity that makes them feel better–if he didn’t many would dump him for something else.
Intellectual development and the culture of narcissism we live in are completely incompatible because, along with joy, dialectic is essential. Holding on to your opinion because you need that opinion to keep your ego inflated is the main problem of our age and extends just as much in the liberal bi-coastal areas as in the South as I’ve mentioned with specificity in other posts.

RE: The State Department’s Ukraine Fiasco
Consortium news offers us, in the above-mentioned article, one of the best overall views of the Ukraine crisis–basically a synopsis of what most of us already knew but with a question that I think we need to dwell on:
It may be understandable at some level that the still-powerful neocons saw the Ukraine wedge as a useful tool in splintering the Putin-Obama cooperation that had eased tensions over Syria and Iran – two of the neocons’ top targets for “regime change” – but it remains a mystery how anyone could think that the Ukraine adventure has served U.S. national interests.
We can approach the answer by understanding that the neocon faction that dominates, now, the Dept. of State and most of the mainstream media outlets and who were screaming with one voice for war in Syria has no interest in the “national interest” but only their own relative positions within the Washington pecking order. I know it is hard to believe but, from my observation of these types, that’s what it comes down to. On a personal level, of course, these people will deny this because of the American cultural propensity to be in perpetual denial of anything negative that comes with the religion of American Exceptionalism, i.e., whatever U.S. leaders do it is well-intentioned and when things go wrong well then it’s “mistakes were made” time.
The fact is that almost every bit of American foreign policy in the past decade and a half (or even more depending on how you look at it) was made with the express intention of undermining what was left of international law and the post-WWII idealism that set up the project of internationalism as a reaction to the failure to institute it after WWI. With all its warts that system, despite severe crises from time to time provided a structure in which the world could recover from the major wars of the 20th century and build new structures and ways of life. For most developed countries this arrangement was fruitful materially for most of the post-WWII era and up until the late seventies this prosperity was shared by rich and poor and those in the middle. Many social movements from Civil Rights in the U.S. to feminism and gay rights and many other things significantly altered and relaxed Western culture for the better in my view.
Imperialism since 2001 in particular has not “worked” out very well. Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya which were direct victims of U.S. imperialism are societies that have been torn to shreds how does this help the ambitions of the neocons? In Washington, it’s all about funding not just for various Departments and agencies but for the rich and growing stable of consultants and “NGOs” that do most of the dirty work these days, particularly the covert/black ops stuff that now appear to be coming out of not just the CIA but State and other parts of gov’t. These forces thrive on a constant crisis atmosphere–careers rapidly advance and plum jobs in the world of contractors glow as beacons in the night for these characters who live, like the Kagans, in a very slimy world that is completely ignored by the mainstream media because they are deeply involved in the same social/political networks. The link between hawkish foreign policy among most big shots in the media and the government started during the days when the CIA dominated Washington politics in the 50s and 60s and well beyond that when CIA nurtured and paid off journos (as did business groups) to spew official crap. The same system exists today but just more so as a result of 9/11 when covert ops bloomed as never before in Washington.
The world of the Washington Byzantine swamp exists strictly to perpetuate itself and exists as field of play. The Tea Party has the right instinct–destroy it–but they don’t know what they have no idea they are playing into it by electing fascists and martinets to Congress. We’ll see how this goes.

For the power elite who own and operate the mainstream media, the very idea that people can find ways through cooperation and creativity to resolve difficult issues is anathema. They have to maintain the stance that anarchism (which is all about communities coming together to solve mutual problems) either cannot or does not exist anywhere.

Re: Moon Over Alabama piece about Ukraine
America’s general foreign policy is somewhat strange because it is a hybrid of two impulses. The first is to create a reasonable and stable world-system that features the famous Pax Americana that, theoretically, enables global prosperity; and the second is to ruthlessly serve the interests of a voracious and vicious national security-industrial complex that demands political instability and war for profit. In recent years the latter has taken over fueled, in part, by fanatical neoconservatives who believe world empire is the mystical destiny of the U.S. and are, and disorder is the only thing that can break down not just countries but cultures. If you can, for example, destroy from outside and inside, Islamic culture then eventually those people will come to the radical materialism that can make everyone a follower of the American Dream.
Ukraine in particular and Europe in general is now the field of battle–Europeans must understand that they have to stop relying on and trusting the U.S. and their puppets in Europe.

I generally don’t think cultural issues are usually crucial but in the case of marijuana legalization I think the issue comes as close as it can get to a crucial issue. Why? If we know our history (and few people do) marijuana was made illegal in order to have a way of jailing more latinos and blacks and to particularly target musicians, bohemians, artists and so on–but that’s only part of it. The main reason was to expand the burgeoning police state and the power of little dictators like Harry J. Anslinger who was as disgusting a character than J. Edgar Hoover who similarly was able to turn disinformation and public hysteria against this or that group for his own benefit and desire to wield power. This is the same mentality that dominates Washington today.
Marijuana legalization would tell the little corrupt dictators in our justice system that we are going to try to reverse the trend towards mass imprisonment and allow people to relieve stress in a better way than alcohol. Stress reduction may be one of the most important issues of our time. Not only does marijuana tend to relieve stress (in some people it increases it–different people react differently) but it has other medicinal properties and it tends to diminish fakery. Terry Southern made that point eloquently in his short story “Red Dirt Marijuana” which I believe is available for download–it explains the reasons why marijuana was illegal–the story was published in 1967. The main character is asked why marijuana (gage) is illegal:
“I tell you what it is,” he said then, “it’s cause a man see too much when he git high, that’s what. He see right through ever’thing . . . you understan’ what I say?”
“What the heck are you talkin’ about, C.K.?”
“Well, maybe you too young to know what I talkin”boutbut I tell you they’s a lotta trickin’ an’ lyin’ go on in the world . . . they’s a lotta ole bull-crap go on in the world . . . well, a man git high, he see right through all them tricks an’ lies, an’ all that ole bull-crap. He see right through there into the truth of it!”
The full story is available for free here.
Now let me be clear here–not everyone become hip and enlightened from smoking pot. But the opportunity is there to see things from a different perspective–it’s hard to maintain the same old phony stance when you’re high–though it’s possible and many people can deliberately will themselves to be a-holes when they’re high. The main problem with being high on marijuana occurs when you have to deal with the straight world where encounters with people often depend on distance, status, and fakery. If more people got high there would be less of that and less drive to be hostile–it may seem silly but being mellow would go a long way to solve our collective problems which we seem, at present, almost completely unable to deal with primarily because we live in a world that is increasingly dependent on denial and phoniness.
For me, as long as I don’t smoke regularly (regular smoking for me tends to blunt the effect), provides a little window into a more realistic look at life perhaps because it relieves stress so that I can see things as they are. The fact is life is beautiful and any agent that is able to remind us of that is a good drug and will enhance society. So, whether it is provided by small business or large corporations, legalization would have a transformative effect because lowering stress would, in my view, provide that needed spark for cultural change without which we will just go on as before.


Also important to understand that the need for opiates is a result of many people being in pain. Heroin is somewhat addictive physically, like tobacco, but the main power of its addiction is that it mimics endorphins which people who have been very stressed from childhood on up can’t produce. When you’rl in physical and psychic pain you seek relief. That’s why people who become addicts come from a background of severe abuse. Others who just try heroin don’t become addicted. For example many people came back from the hell of Vietnam addicted to heroin (about 25%) and of those addicts 95%, after a few years, were drug free.

Two stories above caught my eye. The first is the comparison (DailyKos) between what the one-percenters think and what the rest of the people think. There is no surprise that top earners are selfish a-holes (most of them anyway) because if you’re born to wealth and privileges (as many of them increasingly are) in which case you are trained from an early age to adopt a-hole attitudes (my young anarchist friends call them “trustafarians”) or you’ve clawed your way to the top by developing predatory sociopathic behavior you are bound to have disdain for the losers below you. Again, my apologies to the significant minority of the wealthy who do not fit into those categories. The development of the current trend was well-articulated some time ago by the late Christopher Lasch in his The Revolt of the Elites which ought to be on everyone’s reading list. But the real tragedy is not that the rich are a-holes but that the average persons believes in social democracy yet doesn’t vote that belief. Why are people voting against what they believe as they clearly are if you believe the polls? This is a question that has been little examined considering that how important it is. If a democracy does not reflect the will of the majority then is it a democracy? My own view is the while the average person believes in progressive policies when it comes to actually paying for them they don’t want to do it. In fact polls have consistently shown that Americans want to cut the budget deficit but don’t want to cut programs. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that polls are useless and that the American people refuse to deal with moral dilemmas and simply tune out. The majority of Americans who believe in helping those who don’t have jobs or income don’t have the courage to vote for politicians who favor those policies–instead they dither and often vote on cultural matters. In my area of the country white people, even very nice ones, tend to vote Republican, if they vote at all, because most of the are “Christian” and the RP flies a Christian flag and also tends to be hostile towards minority groups most white folks here distrust. They may theoretically feel everyone that wants a job should have one but when it comes to taxes some believe that just goes to prop up lazy people.
Again without major cultural change which would have to start with deconstructing the mainstream media narrative I don’t see a change in the trend to the right.
The second story is something out of a horror movie. The Zappos policy of using a social network to select job applicants is a inside look at what the neo-feudal future will look like. Throngs of people will gather in virtual spaces flattering noblemen and their retainers for the hope of a position. Juneau in a comment above rightly views this as humiliation.
The new neo-feudal economy will change the workplace into artificial communities with rituals, bonding, and artificial enthusiasm. And it will be artificial and fake. They will not and cannot be true communities because these companies don’t meet their end of the bargain–if an employee displeases the bosses for any reason he or she is out and a new one will be put in her/his place from the virtual hall thronged with supplicants ready to repeat the slogans and buzzwords and pledge undying dedication to the holy endeavor of selling shoes or whatever. This world being built today is a result of the almost complete devaluation of morality and virtue. We have thrown out the baby with the bathwater–we have made a positive effort to reform morality particularly in sexual matters that desperately needed reform and, at the same time, we seem to have thrown out (as a practical matter) the higher morality that sustain our social structure. Instead of real social structure we create virtual ones, instead of solid moral principles and a sense of honor we create temporary situation ethics. Instead of reason and dialogue we engage in denial and phony behavior tuned to our audience.

You’re being a little harsh here. Much depends on what you call “democracy.” Many people, presumably you are one of them, believe that democracy is some pure thing like the free-market. Let’s be clear here there is not now, not in the past, not in the future such a thing as a pure democracy or a free-market.
Relative democracies that flourished in the period after WWII in the U.S. and in Europe more or less reflected the will of the people–governments like, payoffs were made and taken across the Western world but, more or less, governments attempted to do the right thing for most of the people and the people, in varying ways, put their thumbs up or down periodically. The U.S. made a genuine attempt after WWII to support democracies in Europe, at the same time, it acted against perceived threats to what U.S. policymakers viewed as “democracy” in the shape of the Italian and Greek Communists.
In my view the U.S. was a middling democracy–far from perfect but full of checks and balances that kept social-political disaster from happening. By the late seventies, however, the trend reversed for complex reasons whose roots are in the sixties.

Indeed–the idea of participatory democracy is an important one and also an idea that has caused the oligarchs to react very strongly against those that have favored such ideas everywhere in the world. You are right–to have some civic democracy but no democracy in the workplace is a major contradiction that people don’t seem to understand–you can’t really split up democracy into compartments because, as is now glaringly obvious, civic democracy will eventually lose out as commodification increasingly dominates our cultural life.

As you know, I believe we are all complicit because we are all connected. Again, ordinary people have made the conscious choice, and I have socialized across social classes and other groupings, to live in denial–not just about a couple of issues but about anything that would be somewhat disturbing. Are they being manipulated by sophisticate mind-control techniques–absolutely–but these techniques and narratives are very easy to debunk if you want to be deprogrammed–most people don’t.

Well, maybe you a generalizing a bit about Russia, not that you are wrong but what major power does not have a self-serving oligarchy at the top? The problems the current Ukrainian crisis are not of Putin’s making but come mainly from the West and chiefly from the neoconservatives in Washington. Normally, powerful states are given a sphere of influence around their borders and was part of the deal that Russia and the U.S. Agreed on. The U.S. And it’s vassal states in Europe, as usual, went back on their agreement and attempted to destroy Russia as a society and a world power after the collapse of the Russian Empire. A resurgent Russia now threatens U.S. hegemony thus the skulduggery that brought us the coup in Kyev.
When Russia creates a coup in Mexico to overthrow the currently corrupt government and installs a government that seeks a hostile relationship with the U.S. then I’ll attack Putin even though my own government is just as corrupt.

As a sometimes observer of the rich a-holes “low cunning” is exactly the right term. I have been continually amazed (more in recent years than in the past) at the low-level of culture, grace and intelligence at the top–not only in the rich but, for example, in top positions in the media both entertainment and “news.”

Re: Monbiot’s piece:
Here’s George:
The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.
Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.
Ok, this issue has been batted around on this site from time to time but, and here’s a major tragedy, we go on as if this wasn’t the case–we imagine that “progressive” politics of the the old Democratic Party is sufficient. We imagine that industrial production, good, skilled and semi-skilled blue-collar jobs will shore up the middle-class if we only had good policy from Washington. Well, guess what? That just isn’t going to happen. The fact is that we need austerity not to balance budgets but to return to sanity. Let me be clear as I can here–were insane! We cannot go on as before to do so is to ask for destruction. I’ve seen this before in the lives of people I’ve known–people who can’t stop their self-destructive behavior–they just keep going on and on and on until their lives and their families lives are in tatters and, if they live through it, they grumble about the injustice of it all.
There is, basically, one macro pattern that must be developed, i.e., we have to reclaim normal humanity. The term we need to think about is “conviviality.” What makes this word important is that it means being friendly and active–a convivial gathering, for example, involves good food, drink (or smoke) and other shared pleasures. It’s not people blankly staring at a screen. A convivial society contains a lot of communal celebrations and opportunities for friendship–in fact, getting “high” either through substances, chanting, dancing, trance-music or whatever is also critical in a communal celebration–that should be our focus not industrial production.
We focus way too much on the trappings of life and little on the substance. We don’t need 95% of what we have. Society can be designed so that energy is used more efficiently through technology; there are a multitude of schemes to grow food that would free us from agri-biz and the oil economy, housing can be considerably simplified, and there are clear methods of conflict resolution (this is a sophisticated field why aren’t the principles of conflict resolution better known?) to solve the problems of border disputes and political rivalries–the endless wars the U.S. engages in are not necessary they are ALL (and I do mean ALL) contrivances created to keep a portion of the oligarchy in power. The products we buy and the information we ingest are “sold” to us through incredibly sophisticated mind-control techniques that would make the staff of Hogwarts envious–we need to find some magic to dissolve the spells.
Our true human nature is not to be bitter and frowning, to scuffle in front of oligarchs just to validate our lives, it is to connect and delight with each other and the beauty of this earth. Our focus on “work” and the fact that if we get off the treadmill we will be outcasts and people will shun us is, to me, the one unforgivable sin talked about in the Gospels. It is not work itself that is the problem–work can be good even if you’re breaking up rocks in some prison yard–but the FOCUS on WORK is an abomination. Here’ a thought: tune in, turn on, drop out–as valid today as it was almost a half century ago except today it’s almost illegal to actually do that.

RE: 1993-2013: is the twenty years long “pas de deux” of Russia and the USA coming to an end? Vineyard of the Saker
If you want help in understanding U.S./Russia relations this article (which predated the Ukraine coup) is de rigeur it is one of the best things I’ve read on the subject and accurately describes what I know to be the case from other sources both in his analysis of recent Russian and his understanding of power dynamics in Washington.
Saker points out the fact there are two groups contending in Washington–the first he calls the Ziocons (neoconservatives) and the second “old Anglos” (realists). His analysis is excellent on this matter and, of course, while they are opposed within the context of Washington, in terms of the rest of the world both represent the oligarchs who we all hate. One thing he does not mention and I have downplayed is the emergence of a third force in Washington and that is the world of opportunists, hustlers, criminals who continually frustrate the neocons and realists. Those two groups have to continually cater to the hustlers and, fortunately for us, they tend to gum up the works–it is this group that will eventually bring down the imperialists by making Washington too expensive and too heavy to operate. Some people are beginning to suspect that even our vaunted military is falling behind as it is meeting budgetary restricitons and its own inertia and corruption.

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