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Thread: USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!

  1. #921

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    By Chris HedgesMr. Fish / Truthdig

    Oligarchic rule, as Aristotle pointed out, is a deviant form of government. Oligarchs care nothing for competency, intelligence, honesty, rationality, self-sacrifice or the common good. They pervert, deform and dismantle systems of power to serve their immediate interests, squandering the future for short-term personal gain. “The true forms of government, therefore, are those in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the common interest; but governments that rule with a view to the private interest, whether of the one, of the few or of the many, are perversions,” Aristotle wrote. The classicist Peter L.P. Simpson calls these perversions the “sophistry of oligarchs,” meaning that once oligarchs take power, rational, prudent and thoughtful responses to social, economic and political problems are ignored to feed insatiable greed. The late stage of every civilization is characterized by the sophistry of oligarchs, who ravage the decaying carcass of the state.
    These deviant forms of government are defined by common characteristics, most of which Aristotle understood. Oligarchs use power and ruling structures solely for personal advancement.
    Oligarchs, though they speak of deconstructing the administrative state, actually increase deficits and the size and power of law enforcement and the military to protect their global business interests and ensure domestic social control. The parts of the state that serve the common good wither in the name of deregulation and austerity. The parts that promote the oligarchs’ power expand in the name of national security, economic growth and law and order.
    For example, the oligarchs educate their children in private schools and buy them admissions into elite universities (this is how a mediocre student like Jared Kushner went to Harvard and Donald Trump went to the University of Pennsylvania), so they see no need to fund good public education for the wider population. Oligarchs can pay teams of high-priced lawyers to bail them and their families out of legal trouble. There is no need, in their eyes, to provide funds for legal representation for the poor. When oligarchs do not fly on private jets, they fly in first class, so they permit airlines to fleece and abuse “economy” passengers. They do not use subways, buses or trains, and they slash funds for the maintenance and improvement of these services. Oligarchs have private clinics and private doctors, so they do not want to pay for public health or Medicare. Oligarchs detest the press, which when it works shines a light on their corruption and mendacity, so they buy up and control systems of information and push their critics to the margins of society, something they will accelerate with the abolition of net neutrality.


    Oligarchs do not vacation on public beaches or in public parks. They own their own land and estates, where we are not allowed. They see no reason to maintain or fund public parks or protect public land. They hand such land over to other oligarchs to exploit for profit. Oligarchs cynically view laws as mechanisms to legalize their fraud and plunder. They use their lobbyists in the legislative branch of government to author bills that increase and protect their wealth, through the avoidance of taxes and other means. Oligarchs do not allow free and fair elections. They use gerrymandering and campaign contributions to make sure other oligarchs are elected over and over to office. Many run unopposed.
    Oligarchs look at regulations to protect the environment or the safety of workers as impediments to profit and abolish them. Oligarchs move industries to Mexico or China to increase their wealth while impoverishing American workers and leaving U.S. cities in ruins. Oligarchs are philistines. They are deaf, dumb and blind to great works of art, reveling in tawdry spectacles, patriotic kitsch and mindless entertainment. They despise artists and intellectuals who promote virtues and self-criticism that conflict with the lust for power, celebrity and wealth. Oligarchs always unleash wars on culture, attacking it as elitist, irrelevant and immoral and cutting its funding. All social services and institutions, such as public housing programs, public parks, meals for the elderly, infrastructure projects, welfare and Social Security, are viewed by oligarchs as a waste of money. These services are gutted or turned over to fellow oligarchs, who harvest them for profit until they are destroyed.
    Oligarchs, who do not serve in the military and who ensure their children do not serve in the military, pretend to be great patriots. They attack those who oppose them as anti-American, traitors or agents for a foreign power. They use the language of patriotism to stoke hatred against their critics and to justify their crimes. They see the world in black and white—those who are loyal to them and those who are the enemy. They extent this stunted belief system to foreign affairs. Diplomacy is abandoned for the crude threats and indiscriminate use of force that are the preferred forms of communication of all despots.
    There is little dispute that we live in an oligarchic state. The wealthiest 1 percent of America’s families control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, a statistic similar to what is seen globally: The wealthiest 1 percent of the world’s population owns more than half of the world’s wealth. This wealth translates into political power. The political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, after examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, concluded, “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”
    Oligarchs accelerate social, political, cultural and economic collapse. The unchecked plunder leads to systems breakdown. The refusal to protect natural resources, or the economic engines that sustain the state, means that poverty becomes the norm and the natural world becomes a toxic wasteland. Basic institutions no longer work. Infrastructure is no longer reliable. Water, air and soil are poisoned. The population is left uneducated, untrained, impoverished, oppressed by organs of internal security and beset by despair. The state eventually goes bankrupt. Oligarchs respond to this steady deterioration by forcing workers to do more for less and launching self-destructive wars in the vain attempt to restore a lost golden age. They also insist, no matter how bad it gets, on maintaining their opulent and hedonistic lifestyles. They further tax the resources of the state, the ecosystem and the population with suicidal demands. They flee from the looming chaos into their gated compounds, modern versions of Versailles or the Forbidden City. They lose touch with reality. In the end, they are overthrown or destroy the state itself. There is no institution left in America that can be called democratic, and thus there is no internal mechanism to prevent a descent into barbarity.
    “The political role of corporate power, the corruption of the political and representative processes by the lobbying industry, the expansion of executive power at the expense of constitutional limitations, and the degradation of political dialogue promoted by the media are the basics of the system, not excrescences upon it,” the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin wrote in “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.” “The system would remain in place even if the Democratic Party attained a majority; and should that circumstance arise, the system will set tight limits to unwelcome changes, as if foreshadowed in the timidity of the current Democratic proposals for reform. In the last analysis, the much-lauded stability and conservatism of the American system owe nothing to lofty ideals, and everything to the irrefutable fact that it is shot through with corruption and awash in contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors. When a minimum of a million dollars is required of House candidates and elected judges, and when patriotism is for the draft-free to extol and for the ordinary citizen to serve, in such times it is a simple act of bad faith to claim that politics-as-we-now-know-it can miraculously cure the evils which are essential to its very existence.”
    The longer we are ruled by oligarchs, the deadlier our predicament becomes, especially since the oligarchs refuse to address climate change, the greatest existential crisis to humankind. The oligarchs have many mechanisms, including wholesale surveillance, to keep us in check. They will stop at nothing to maintain the sophistry of their rule. History may not repeat itself, but it echoes. And if we don’t recognize these echoes and then revolt, we will be herded into the abattoirs that tyrannies set up at the end of their existence.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #922

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    FEB 18, 2018
    TD ORIGINALS
    How We Fight Fascism


    COMMENTS






    Political theorist and activist Clara Zetkin (1857-1933). (Mr. Fish / Truthdig)

    By Chris Hedges

    In 1923 the radical socialist and feminist Clara Zetkin gave a report at the Communist International about the emergence of a political movement called fascism. Fascism, then in its infancy, was written off by many liberals, socialists and communists as little more than mob rule, terror and street violence. But Zetkin, a German revolutionary, understood its virulence, its seduction and its danger. She warned that the longer the stagnation and rot of a dysfunctional democracy went unaddressed, the more attractive fascism would become. And as 21st-century America’s own capitalist democracy disintegrates, replaced by a naked kleptocracy that disdains the rule of law, the struggle of past anti-fascists mirrors our own. History has amply illustrated where political paralysis, economic decline, hypermilitarism and widespread corruption lead.
    Zetkin’s analysis, eerily prophetic and reprinted in the book “Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win,” edited by John Riddell and Mike Taber, highlights the principal features of emerging fascist movements. Fascism, Zetkin warned, arises when capitalism enters a period of crisis and breakdown of the democratic institutions that once offered the possibility of reform and protection from an uninhibited assault by the capitalist class. The unchecked capitalist assault pushes the middle class, the bulwark of a capitalist democracy, into the working class and often poverty. It strips workers of all protection and depresses wages. The longer the economic and social stagnation persists, the more attractive fascism becomes. Zetkin would have warned us that Donald Trump is not the danger; the danger is the growing social and economic inequality that concentrates wealth in the hands of an oligarchic elite and degrades the lives of citizens.
    The collapse of a capitalist democracy, she wrote, leaves those in the working class disempowered. Their pleas go unheard. Reforms to address their suffering are cosmetic and useless. Their anger is written off as irrational or racist. A bankrupt liberal class, which formerly made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, ameliorating the worst excesses of capitalism, mouths empty slogans about social justice and the rights of workers while selling them out to capitalist elites. The hypocrisy of the liberal class evokes not only a disdain for it but a hatred for the liberal, democratic values it supposedly espouses. The “virtues” of democracy become distasteful. The crude taunts, threats and insults hurled by fascists at the liberal establishment express a legitimate anger among a betrayed working class. Trump’s coarseness, for this reason, resonates with many pushed to the margins of society. Demoralized workers, who also find no defense of their interests by establishment intellectuals, the press and academics, lose faith in the political process. Realizing the liberal elites have lied to them, they are open to bizarre and fantastic conspiracy theories. Fascists direct this rage and yearning for revenge against an array of phantom enemies, most of them scapegoated minorities.
    “What weighs on them above all is the lack of security for their basic existence,” Zetkin wrote of the dispossessed working class.


    “Masses in their thousands streamed to fascism,” she went on. “It became an asylum for all the politically homeless, the socially uprooted, the destitute and disillusioned. … The petty-bourgeois and intermediate social forces at first vacillate indecisively between the powerful historical camps of the proletariat and bourgeoisie. They are induced to sympathize with the proletariat by their life’s suffering and, in part, by their soul’s noble longings and high ideals, so long as it is revolutionary in its conduct and seems to have prospects for victory. Under the pressure of the masses and their needs, and influenced by this situation, even the fascist leaders are forced to at least flirt with the revolutionary proletariat, even though they may not have any sympathy with it.”
    The discredited ideals of democracy are replaced by a hypernationalism that divides the population not by class but between the patriotic and the unpatriotic. National and religious symbols such as the Christian cross and the American flag are fused under fascism. Fascism offers the dispossessed a tangible enemy and a right to physically strike back. Those demonized for a nation’s decline—Jews and communists in Nazi Germany, the kulaks in the Soviet Union and the undocumented, African-Americans and Muslims in the United States—become social pariahs. The stigmatized, along with intellectuals, liberals, gays, feminists and dissidents, are attacked as the embodiment of the disease that has destroyed the nation and will be exorcised by the fascists. This fascist rhetoric is always couched in the language of renewal and moral purity.
    “[W]hat [the masses] no longer hoped for from the revolutionary proletarian class and from socialism, they now hoped would be achieved by the most able, strong, determined, and bold elements of every social class,” Zetkin, a close friend of the murdered revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, wrote. “All these forces must come together in a community. And this community, for the fascists, is the nation. … The instrument to achieve fascist ideals is, for them, the state. A strong and authoritarian state that will be their very own creation and their obedient tool. This state will tower high above all differences of party and class.”
    Zetkin, a cofounder of the radical Spartacus League, cautioned against demonizing the rank and file of fascist movements. She reminded us that only when the real and profound grievances of those attracted to fascism are addressed can they be pried from its grip.
    “The best of them are seeking an escape from deep anguish of the soul,” she wrote of those who joined fascist organizations. “They are longing for new and unshakable ideals and a world outlook that enables them to understand nature, society, and their own life; a world outlook that is not a sterile formula but operates creatively and constructively. Let us not forget that violent fascist gangs are not composed entirely of ruffians of war, mercenaries by choice, and venal lumpens who take pleasure in acts of terror. We also find among them the most energetic forces of these social layers, those most capable of development. We must go to them with conviction and understanding for their condition and their fiery longing, work among them, and show them a solution that does not lead backward but rather forward to communism.”
    The highest aesthetic of fascism is war. Its veneration of militarized force and violence, its inability to deal in the world of ideas, nuance and complexity, and its emotional numbness leave it unable to communicate in any language other than threats and coercion. Institutions that pay deference to complexity, that seek to cross cultural barriers to communicate and understand others, are belittled and destroyed by fascists. Diplomacy, scholarship, culture and journalism are an anathema. One obeys, both internally and beyond the nation’s borders, or is crushed. This moral and intellectual vacuum leads fascists to overreach, especially through military adventurism and imperial expansion. They begin long and futile wars that drain the depleted resources of the nation while eradicating civil liberties at home. And in the end, they practice a brutality inside and outside the nation that is genocidal.
    Fascism, Zetkin wrote, pits one segment of the working class against another. Last year at the Charlottesville, Va., demonstration that turned deadly, the “antifa” activists and neo-Nazis who clashed came largely from the same dispossessed economic stratum. The divisions created within the working class by fascism, coupled with fascism’s attack on unions, intellectuals, dissidents and the press, foster an uneasy alliance with the capitalist elites, who often view the fascists as imbeciles and buffoons. In essence, much as Trump has done, the capitalists are bought off by fascists with tax cuts, deregulation, the breaking of unions and the dismantling of institutions that carry out oversight and the protection of workers. The expansion of the military, which provides capitalists with increased profit, coupled with the expanded powers of the organs of internal security, binds the capitalist elites to the fascists. Their marriage is one of mutual convenience. This is why the capitalist elites tolerate Trump and endure the international embarrassment he has become.
    “There is a blatant contradiction between what fascism promised and what it delivered to the masses,” Zetkin wrote. “All the talk about how the fascist state will place the interests of the nation above everything, once exposed to the wind of reality, burst like a soap bubble. The ‘nation’ revealed itself to be the bourgeoisie; the ideal fascist state revealed itself to be the vulgar, unscrupulous bourgeois class state. … Class contradictions are mightier than all the ideologies that deny their existence.”
    “The bourgeoisie needs to use aggressive force to defend itself against the working class,” she wrote. “The old and seemingly ‘apolitical’ repressive apparatus of the bourgeois state no longer provides it with sufficient security. The bourgeoisie moves to create special bands of class struggle against the proletariat. Fascism provides such troops. Although fascism includes revolutionary currents related to its origin and the forces supporting it—currents that could turn against capitalism and its state—it nonetheless develops into a dangerous force for counterrevolution.”
    “Fascism clearly will display different features in each country, owing from the given historical circumstances,” she wrote. “But it consists everywhere of an amalgam of brutal, terrorist violence together with deceptive revolutionary phraseology, linking up demagogically with the needs and moods of broad masses of producers.”
    In 1932 Zetkin, at 74 the oldest elected member of the Nazi-controlled Reichstag, was by tradition supposed to open the first session of the legislature. She was an object of vitriol in the Nazi press, which attacked her as a “Communist Jew,” a “traitor” and, as Joseph Goebbels called her, a “slut.” The Nazis threatened her with assault if she appeared in the chamber, threats that led her to quip she would be there “dead or alive.” In poor health, she arrived at the Reichstag on a stretcher but at the podium recovered her familiar fire. Her 40-minute speech was one of the last public denunciations of fascism in Nazi Germany. Within a year, the Nazis banned the Communist Party and Zetkin had died in exile in the Soviet Union.
    She told the Reichstag:
    Our most urgent task today is to form a united front of all working people in order to turn back fascism. All the differences that divide and shackle us—whether founded on political, trade-union, religious, or ideological outlooks—must give way before this imperious historical necessity.
    All those who are menaced, all those who suffer, all those who desire freedom must join the united front against fascism and its representatives in government. Working people must assert themselves against fascism. That is the urgent and indispensable precondition for a united front against economic crisis, imperialist war and its causes, and the capitalist mode of production.
    The revolt of millions of laboring men and women in Germany against hunger, deprivation, fascist murder, and imperialist war expresses the imperishable destiny of producers the world over. This destiny, shared among us around the world, must find expression through forging an iron-like community of struggle of all working people in every sphere ruled by capitalism.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  3. Default Fascism, Putin,Trump

    Mr. Lemkin:

    My JFK research has given me several insights to fascism and oligarchicalism which I could list here:

    (1) I didn't realize that Aristotlle laid out the "facts of life" about oligarchy. It's apparently not a new phenomenon.

    (2) Gay activity used to be called (by some) "the love which dare not speak its name". Well, oligarchy "the government which dare not speak its name." Apparently the tell-tale sign of oligarchy is referred to as the "theory of the state". In other words, such a government can't say "we have an oligarchy form of government." Instead, they say "we have a veneration of the state." The goal is "the state". (But what does that mean? This thinking is meaningless). Amazingly, both the government of Putin and the government of Argentina's Juan Peron used the identical explanation of their philosophy as veneration of the "state". (I have also heard that Japanese Shintoism involves a worship of the state).

    (3) In "The New Odessa: How Peron Brought The Nazi War Criminals To Argentina" by Uki Goni, one can find some amazing insight into Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump as well as Juan Peron. Peron built on the base of the oligarchy but he added a new ingredient: the support of labor unions. Thus he broadened the base of the oligarchy to pick up the support of some working people, enough to become an icon. In a biography of Putin which I also read recently, Putin also uses "the state" as his entire philosophy of government. Trump has taken the Koch Brothers' oligarchy and added the extra ingredient of opposing the outsourcing of jobs and opposing illegal immigrants taking of jobs from workers. Since Juan Peron is defined by most people as a fascist, then that might make Trump and Putin fascists as well. (I'm not sure that Putin supports workers, as such, though).

    (4) The missing link here is that fascism (i.e. the fasces or "bundle") has historically involved the binding together of the government, the (Catholic or Eastern Orthodox) church and the corporate establishment. Peron definitely involved the Catholic Church. Putin and Trump are not involving any church. That's why I'm not sure they qualify as fascists in the sense of Mussolini, Franco, Hitler, Peron, etc.

    (5) The big weakness of oligarchicalsm is its military weakness. In oligarchicalism, the ordinary person has no love for the goverment as do people under democracy or fascism. For that reason, such goverments are military pushovers. Thus, there has never been any Latin American country with any military influence whatever. The Southern Confederate oligarchy imploded. Mexico offered no resistance in the Mexican War. Spain collapsed in the Spanish-American War. Mussolini was deposed even with the threat of the US invasion. Even Hitler collapsed in the face of Stalin and the Communist invasion and that of the democracies.

    (6) The other analysis which comes into play is found in the information about international banker Clarence Dillon. Dillon owned the banking firm Dillon, Read. He saw the basic conflict and struggle of government as being between private creation of credit (i.e. loaning most of the money) and the government creating credit through loaning money by government bonds and government entities such as the New Deal FHLA, Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mac and so forth. Dillon believed that it's an abberation when rich people control the government and loan all the money. He believed that this was the case from the Civil War up to the New Deal. This was the heyday of the Robber Barons, Jay Gould, John D Rockefeller, JP Morgan, etc. I'm not sure where his analysis would put the US government today. The Federal Government still loans most of the money through the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury (bonds) and the bloated spending on the military-industrial complex, etc.

    I would say that Hitler, Franco and Mussolini were 100% fascists. Since Putin and Trump don't feature legally established religion, I'm not sure they are 100% fascists: maybe 50% fascists.

    James Lateer

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