Freitag, 4. April 2014

Aus dem Bauch des Imperiums - Das Banger Archiv



Die Sammlung der folgenden Kommentare ist ausgelöst durch das, was in der Psychologie, die C.G.Jung  begründet hat, „numinose Berührung“ heißt. Es meint das, wo eine Begegnung mit einer Person, einem Bild, oder einer Idee,  eine außerordentliche Wirkung  auslöst: diese Wirkung führte im vorliegenden Fall zur Geburt meines „Banger-Archivs“ im vergangenen Oktober.

Die Wiese, auf der dieser kosmische Ochse grast, ist Ives Smith's Blog "naced capitalism", auf dem  ich seit dem Schock vom 15.9.2008 täglich mitgrase.

Mein  Banger Archiv enthält nicht jeden Beitrag von Banger, manchmal aber auch Antworten oder Fragen an Banger und kann auch Links von Banger enthalten, und es stellt in den Augen von MM das wichtigste ungeschriebene Buch dar, dass es über die Gegenwart von einem umfassend gebildeten Amerikaner zu lesen gibt. Allen anderen Kommentatoren  im NC sei hier ausdrücklich mein Respekt und oft genug meine warme Zustimmung versichert. Einzig wegen meines Filters: "In diesem findet sich Mundanomaniac und sein Esel am meisten wieder" erfolgt hier die Beschränkung auf den einen Banger.
 
MM bewegt es, diesen als Muster eines gebildeten amerikanischen Ostküsten - Seniors zu loben, welchem in seinen Kommentaren gelingt, zu zeigen, was in dieser besonderen Sonne/Uranus/Pluto/Jupiter- Woche zu feiern ist: jenen  männliche Charakter, der Traum,  Maß,  Geist und Kraft - vereint.
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
 
Banger;
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! (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2014/04/when-banksters-recruit-trolls.html)

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.
Reply
Banger
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  http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/05/new-cold-war-ukraine-gambit.html :

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.

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.

Indeed it’s a great review and very illuminating. Stoller, however, has it all wrong in classifying Geithner and his as grifters and con artists because Stoller, like almost all leftists to not address the subject of the Deep State and Deep Politics. When he describes how Geithner mysteriously became a photographer or how he was hired and then moved up in various jobs he implies some mysterious supporters or mentors. How does an unqualified young man move up mysteriously in Washington? He does that through his connection to the intel community which today includes not just federal agencies but a substantial “private” community of contractors and major companies that actually do the work of intel and, in my view, largely run the Deep State. If Stoller were to mention this possibility he wouldn’t have gigs since “conspiracy theorists” are excluded from the official left. I refer people to the work of John Perkins on this matter–the left has to pretend people like Perkins and many others simply don’t exist.
I suggest that all major politicians, Obama, for example, are products of the Deep State. Its goal is not particular policies but power. Part of the problem people have in realizing the nature of the Deep State is that they do not care to look into history. Americans, as a whole, don’t like history at least not actual history. Herny Ford said “history is bunk!” and meant it. The second problem Americans face is that when they thing of conspiracies they think of rigid organization and one man at the top. That’s not how the Deep State works. It is an emergent structure–in fact, the whole structure was influenced by a deep understanding of Systems Theory/Cybernetics by CIA agents (then the focus of the Deep State). I leave it to readers to look into this more deeply and not be afraid of the implications of all this–if we don’t face the facts of what we are up against we are helpless and our efforts tend to be futile.
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Curiouser and curiouser.
There seems to be lot of intensity about Ukraine in Russia and Ukraine but the U.S. mainstream appears to be ignoring the issue and focusing on trivialities. Compare this coverage to the coverage a year ago of Syria where the mainstream was screaming for blood and Obama nearly bombed Syria back to the Stone Age despite the fact, as it now appears, the gas attack was probably a false-flag attack. Because I believe the MSM is as controlled by the authorities as the USSR press was I see this as a sign that the leadership in Washington is deeply split on this issue. The CNN story linked to on this page shows a fairly even-handed approach to the fighting in East Ukraine which, for CNN, is unusual because they were the biggest boosters of war last year.
When I commented, a few years ago, on the various scares concerning an immanent attack on Iran I said that not only wasn’t it likely but that the attack would not happen. How did I know this? Because I know that major war with a substantial military power would be bad for bidness–I saw those signals. Syria was a different matter–Syria is no threat to anyone and can’t fight back. The Irnians and Russians, apparently did not draw a line so the USG felt they could bomb without serious consequences and Wall Street was ok with it–they believe that showing “resolve” would keep the colonies in line which is always good for them. But Iran and Russia are a very different matter and I believe after the Kyev coup that the finance oligarchs got cold feet when they realized that the people in the driver’s seat were a dangerous mix of oligarchs and fascist thugs and everybody knows that Eastern European thugs are not pleasant to deal with. I’m sure they were reminded by their operatives that Putin had, to a considerable degree, cracked down or otherwise neutralized the Russian oligarchs and their gangster allies. An endorsement of a war against Putin and the weakening of the Russian state is not in the interest of the corporate elites who seek stability above all else, on their terms of course.
There is a natural antipathy between neocon ideologues and corporate leaders that appears to have erupted over this issue. So far Putin has shown great restraint. He seems to be in charge in his capital while Obama is not in charge of his capital nor is he able to marshall his European vassals. What remains to be seen is if the neocons and the intel operatives (mainly “private”) will continue to urge Kyev to crack down in order to bait Putin into military action. Should be interesting.

I fail to see how an ad hominem attack on me delivered in a highly insulting and misinformed way adds anything to this discussion. Trying to start a flame war or a fist fight adds little to this discussion. I suggest you read what you wrote and think again. I certainly was not questioning your integrity.
You don’t know me so the assumptions you make about me I will let pass because they are based on ignorance. But here’s the thing that puzzles me–I have been on NC urging people to adopt a more nuanced but realistic view of the power structure. I’m consistently attacked here for not believing that the ruling elites are solidly united and one dimensional–I’ve been around some of those elites and know that they are human beings with hopes, desires, dreams, and many of them believe they are patriots committed to a larger good (they often have an endless ability to fool themselves)–mind you, that bunch tends to be older and is being replaced by opportunists as corruption has entered all spheres within the power-elite in and out of government.
If you believe that there is a more humanitarian alternative that lies on the left to today’s oligarchy then why act in a hostile matter to people you ought to be winning over as comrades? Is the world you want to create going to be one periodic slugfest after another over tempests in teapots like I used to see at DKOS? If there is a possibility for the left it lies not in forcing others into some kind of politically correct conformity but in being open trusting and loving–it is love, consideration, cooperation and synergy that offers the only way to power for the left. To compete against the national security state using a cadre of argumentative ideologues isn’t going to work. We sink or swim on the level of our consciousness not our being “right.” We each have our unique gifts so let’s be mindful that others do as well–even me.

I think we are on to something critical that is worth looking into. What are neocons? I have followed the neoconservative POV for a long time going back to their origins. So I have a definition.
Neocons believe that the U.S. is the only country that can conceivably run the world in a benign way–this is also the belief of neoliberals.
Necons believe that U.S. culture is inherently corrupt and narcissistic and only a war-footing (we are at War!) can unite the country and produce some semblance of popular morality in the country. Thus war benefits the world and the American people. Neoliberals do not believe this–they believe U.S. culture with its diversity and hedonism is the best bet for the world thus they believe in “soft power” and “pussy riot” sorts of operations rather than directly going to war.
Realists, in contrast, are skeptical of the human quest for power–they want to create a reasonably stable system that no single clique completely dominates and they prefer to avoid vigorous displays of power–they just want international cooperation between dominant elites and keep things as stable as possible so that business can prosper.

Saker (The Vineyard of Saker) said today “He could not have been any clearer: that is basically a declaration of war and an ultimatum.” Yesterday Saker also said that he sees a Russian intervention as being inevitable within the next couple of weeks.
For awhile I’ve been saying that there is no chance of a major conflict here and that there will be an effort to de-tense the situation and that the neocon project for war and disorder everywhere is opposed by “realists” in Washington who are, in turn, supported by Wall Street. The way I see it is that a new Cold War will put a crimp in the world economy at a very sensitive time. But maybe I’m wrong–maybe Wall Street feels the bubble economy and their lock on power isn’t so solid and that some stricter controls on internal dissent might be in order coming from a common enemy the old standby, Russia.
I believe the balance of power in American FP has always been towards the realists (except after 9/11). Johnson and his circle, for example, agreed to an expanded Vietnam War but did not go where the fanatics wanted them to go, i.e., he adopted a course that would not lead to general war–and we have to remember that there was a strong constituency within the military that wanted any excuse to expand the Vietnam war through the use of nuclear weapons or invasion of the North but Johnson and the State Department nixed those ideas as Kissinger did during the Nixon administration.
Perhaps that balance has changed. The U.S. did not invade or bomb Iran and did not bomb Syria which I saw last year as a solid defeat for the neocon ideologues. I still believe, at the end of the day, that Obama will not urge the Ukranian government to crack down completely on the rebels in the East. I’m sure they will support limited operations that Ukraine is carrying out right now in the hopes that the rebellion will run out of steam and de facto rather than de jure federalization will end up to be the result. If Obama insists on an all out repression of the revolt in the East then war is the result.
The curious thing is, as I said yesterday, the American media is studiously ignoring Ukraine at the moment. Since nearly all the mainstream is under control of the oligarchy and the Putin=Hitler rhetoric has disappeared I’m assuming that the second Cold War is not arriving any time soon. I must admit though the eerie silence in the press actually makes me uneasy. Let’s assume for a moment that Obama orders the Ukrainian military to really step up their repression of the rebellion and that Russia has to act as refugees come streaming across the border then the MSM will say that the action was unprovoked and so on and thus the American people will be “shocked” into supporting a military response since Americans generally respond to “unprovoked” acts of aggression rather than gradual build-ups of 
 
 
Since I followed the beginnings of the Tea Party very closely I can assure you most of it was grass-roots and genuine. The original leaders were libertarians who helped organize the opposition to what Congress was doing to hand over the keys to the Kingdom to Wall Street gangsters who basically put a gun to the head of the American government at the time and said “pay up or we flush the system.” The uprising came from the bottom and included a small fragment of the left that would later become Occupy.
The mainstream media, the political class, the oligarchs, the intellectuals all opposed dealing with Wall Street the way it should have been dealt with, i.e., jail a few hundred of those vicious criminals and charge them with treason, fraud, extortion and so on. The corporate sector took note of this movement and moved to “lead” it in their direction by pumping huge amounts of money into a capaign of deception. This was easy because the average American, lacking a real education, were easily marched up and down the various hills by the usual suspects and defrauded into electing traitors to their own cause. The Democratic Party being perhaps even more corrupt than the Republican Party were happy to appear to be “reasonable” and therefore business as usual. It is possible that the fraud and corruption that characterizes the post-911 era will become common knowledge. The key to all this is to debunk the mainstream media narrative with its tempests-in-teapots and consistently false reporting about almost everything significant in our lives. We live in an era that demands revolution and deconstruction of current myths about who we are, where this historical moment came from and what is possible–fortunately we live in a paradise of possibilities–once Americans grasp this I think they will be able to throw off at least some of the conceptual shackles the mainstream media propaganda organs have laid on them.
 
 
Things are not what they seem in Iraq. The mainstream media is adept at just reporting the externals (and usually not very well) and ignoring/distorting the underlying reality of the situation. Who funds ISIS? What are the objectives of powerful groups involved in Syria/Iraq?
First the Syria “rebellion” is a proxy war between U.S./Saudi and the Shiite part of the ME. Without this as our starting point we get nowhere. The idea that “the people” just all of a sudden rise up against their overlords in this day and age of propaganda, covert operations, NGOs funded by the CIA and so on is fairly ludicrous. Yes, like in Ukraine, there was some kind of upset among the disaffected in Syria but, on the whole, life was not so bad in Syria. Several years before the revolt there was a long New Yorker piece about how well Syria was handling the situation and that Syria seemed to have the most convivial society despite the influx of refugees from Iraq. Now was Syria the land of the free and home of the brave–no it wasn’t but then neither is the U.S. Syria is run by an oligarchy, the U.S. is run by an oligarchy all God’s chillen’ are run by oligarchies so let’s dispense with that–some let people have more scope than other societies–in the U.S. since there is very little opposition there is no reason to take people screaming into the night–just keep the Mighty Wurlitzer humming along year after year.
Now, the U.S. is proposing to bomb ISIS and, in exchange, tie Maliki to the U.S. or replace him with Alawi (the CIA guy) as McCain (the NED guy–same difference). The Iranians, understanding all this are gunning to get into the fight themselves because they know the U.S./Saudi objective, i.e., the defeat and destruction of Iran (for starters). Maliki, said that the refusal of the Iraqi Army to fight was treachery–perhaps. Perhaps the Saudi/U.S. alliance decided to bribe these people or perhaps the U.S. trained officer corps was ordered by the Saudis and U.S. to disperse and melt into the population. I don’t know. Certainly Webster Tarpley who, as much as I hate to admit it, is often pretty right on about geopolitics seems to think that this is the case. I’m on the fence here. But Tarpley also claims and has claimed for some time that there is what he calls a Bonapartist coup in the makings within Washington.
Let’s look closely at that for a moment. Tarpley was one of the most adamant and vociferous critics of Obama early on, in fact, he wrote a book about the danger of an Obama Presidency which turned out to be, on balance, correct which is one reason, aside from his excellent book on 9/11, that I listen to him though I have a very different POV about many things from him. The idea he has, as far as this stunningly quick success of ISIS is that the coup centers around McCain, Petraeus and the Kagan/neocon clique currently centered in the State Department–their chief target is Gen. Dempsey who has urged moderation but, also, the whole WH contignet that tends to be a little more dovish. The coup is not about replacing Obama but bringing in a nest of people like McCrystal and other ambitious Generals to run, along with the hawkish State Dept. American foreign policy and, ultimately all aspects of the state apparatus.
Do I buy this? I’m not sure. As I’ve said, I believe there is a multi-faceted power struggle going on in Washington in large part because Obama is a weak President (he was supported by the oligarchs precisely for that reason) who is dependent on outside sources of power–please don’t think that because theoretically the President has all this power that he can just wield it as he pleases–that is not even remotely true. To get what he wants a Prez has to constantly play one faction against the other–of come into office with that job already done as was the case with every RP President since Reagan (because a Bush was always prominent in all those administrations).
What I do know for sure is that the mainstream media POV is always based on the propaganda needs of whatever factions hold the balance of power in Washington and New York so we have to try and triangulate and use our intuition–since facts are in short supply at least on issues of war and peace.
 
 
I recommend reading the Harper’s piece: The Long Shadow of a Neocon concerning Zalmay Khalilzad who is one of those comic villains who often populate imperial courts. The tragedy of course is that the U.S. political establishment put this guy in a position of power. This establishment has a genius for absurdity–it almost feels like a cabal in Washington deliberately sabotaged U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I did not pay that much attention to Afghanistan because I was focused so much on Iraq in the early days of that war and very quickly I found out that Washington was intent on self-sabotage.
I think it is generally acknowledged (I had it from two inside sources) that the neocons trashed all policy recommendations of both the State Department and the CIA for administering Iraq. Instead, Bush sent in comically underqualified people to administer the country and disbanded the not just the army but most of the bureaucracy of the old Saddam regime. The typical story was that, rather than continue to employ Iraqi engineers who had done heroic service in keeping Iraqi infrastructure functioning in the face of constant bombardment from U.S./Britain during the 90s they kicked them out and used American engineers using American specs and equipment that took many months to arrive–in the meantime power barely functioned almost because the authorities wanted to create maximum discomfort for Iraqi citizens. Almost every decision and policy made by American authorities was a result of just plain mean-spiritedness (Abu Graib) or pure corruption.
I think the Zalmay Khalilzad appointments involved corruption–I believe American imperial officials wanted weak leaders precisely because they would allow corruption to go on (both American and Iraqi) and make sure that both the Afghan and Iraqi state would be weak an unable to sustain itself. Was this part of a long-term strategy or just the stupidity of bureaucracies who always look at the short-term power tripping and careerism of its officials? I really don’t know. I can only go on instinct from the “smell” of Washington at the time. Iraq was a growth industry for a lot of people in government and outside of it. In Washington, someone hands down (from way, way, way, upstairs) some structure–projects go up for bids and the wheels turn. The wheels involve big and small firms the bureaucracy, Congress (always very important concerning who gets contracts) and so on. All this activity has one aim–maximizing utility for each actor–the combat, the posturing, the in-fighting, the conspiracies (Washington is conspiracy central at all levels), cabals, secret deals, lots of wink-wink-nudge-nudge it’s all a stunning dance where some people can make a shitload of money and become very influential with little or no concern for the welfare of the country. Why? Because the State is just too big and too profit oriented (contractors of which I was one). So thousands of powerful actors and maybe hundreds of very powerful actors all are jockeying for the manna that comes down from up on high. The same thing happened when Homeland Security was created or when the health-care debate started up–the suits and the high-heels were running all over town with those opportunities putting little presentations together creating “events” for the bureaucrats (opportunities to get laid) and so on.
So when “mistakes are made” those mistakes are cash-money for Washington–the more we f-ck up the more money gets made because the websites need to be fixed (and they almost always have to be after the first contractor mucked it up because of their special arrangements with certain decision-makers in the government), database problems (because of faulty designs) need to be fixed ten times because ten different agencies hired different contractors and on and on. But the American public is in permanent denial about everything–few of the frauds in Iraq/Afghanistan were ever investigated, few have been arrested or penalized in anyway (except whistleblowers). That’s why they wanted Zalmay Khalilzad to run Iraq and Afghanistan policy for the time he did. They’re doing the same thing with Nuland and Power.

Because 9/11 offered an unprecedented opportunity to go to war anywhere in the world. Why Iraq? It was felt, at the time, that controlling Iraq would install the U.S. as unambiguous sovereign of the ME and thus be able to control and guarantee the flow of ME oil to Europe and Asia thus making it easier to achieve “full-spectrum dominance” of the world. So, then World Domination, the dream of all great empires featured prominently. The problem was that the U.S. ruling elites lacked the discipline and coherence of the Roman, Ottoman and British Empires. Iraq turned into a Star Wars cafe full of hustlers, con artists, smugglers, mercenaries, intel operatives, military organizations all in pursuit of one goal–money. Iraq was a license to steal for members of the Washington elite. The soldiers, of course, weren’t able to take part in any of that because they believed they were “protecting our freedoms” or, more accurately, the freedom for the hustlers to steal from the U.S. Treasure. A close look at what went down in Iraq reveals the ugly reality which the mainstream media, mostly, refused to cover other than a few intriguing reports here and there but all these were quickly forgotten and removed from the Narrative which now states that we made “mistakes” in Iraq. Of course, we meant well and those ungrateful Iraqis dominated by primitive religious emotions just can’t keep it together because they have always fought for “thousands” of hears. Well that narrative is mainly false. They started fighting among each other because of the machinations of the British, the French, and later the USA–but I don’t want to get into the sordid and cruel actions of American intelligence–just look into it and have a good cry.
I, BTW, do not object to Empire as a project (nor support it) I just oppose the American Empire because its officials lack the minimal competence to administer such an Empire. Afghanistan and Iraq are two of the most deeply tragic examples.

 
Is Hilary a neocon? No, she is a Machiavellian opportunist. My intuition tells me that what she is trying to do is to triangulate on an even more dramatic scale than Big Bill.
The neoconservative ideology posits a couple of things that we need to focus on: 1) they believe that the U.S. without a common purpose or mission will fall into tribalism and hedonism and thus lack coherence; 2) this sense of common purpose needs to be centered on religious ideas, not just secular ones–this is why Hilary now claims her greatest influence is the Bible (echoes of Bush the Younger). The neoconservative ideology is the only dynamic political movement in Washington which is why it is now shared by great numbers of people, particularly in the mainstream media. People need meaning in their lives and the alternatives are not good.
What are the alternatives? The left, as a political force in Washington or most of the country is pretty much dead (read an article about the inevitable Hilary scenario by John V. Walsh in Counterpunch), the Tea Party is really just a confused jumble of ideas that are largely destructive when taken together–i.e., their focus is on deconstructing not enhancing society, and, finally, the traditional corporate country-club RP also wants to wreck civil society in order to install a rigid form of neo-feudalism (eventually they will have to clash with the Tea Party as they are beginning to).
So, the Hilary project, I’m guessing, will ally the neoconservatives with people who are progressive on social issues–which means, they will try and hold the line against the fairly anarchic Tea Party and the corporate barons who both hold destructive ideologies. Neocons, for all their faults, seek to hold society together as much as possible to pursue common goals all other forces, including the left, are divisive.
Those of us who remain on the left are left with no one to vote for–which I think is a good thing. We need to re-tool, re-think and reform the left along realpolitik lines (deep politics) and start from the Big Questions like the meaning of life and what it means to be human and so on. From that foundation we can build a world-view that makes sense to others because at the moment the left just doesn’t have it.

DakotabornKansan
Krugman claims that there are no policy disagreements within the party and the united Democrats are fully behind Hillary. Hillary Clinton is one of us!!!
I’m with b @ Moon of Alabama, who asks, “Why would anyone vote for her?”
However, just as the O-bots persist in keeping their heads in the bubble, so will the Clintonistas (rabid supporters of Hillary Clinton). The worst of all deceptions is self-deception.
“The average citizen is the world’s most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own ‘logic proof compartments,’ his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction.” – Edward Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion
How easily people are manipulated. The struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. Just as Obama was a corporate marketing creation, so will be Hillary. Our nation’s digital slavery is the ultimate means of social control because it is voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom:
“Today, we prefer to believe that there is no submissive void. ‘Choice’ is ubiquitous. Phones are ‘platforms’ that launch every half-thought. There is Google from outer space if you need it. Caressed like rosary beads, the precious devices are borne heads down, relentlessly monitored and prioritised. Their dominant theme is the self. Me. My needs. Riefenstahl’s submissive void is today’s digital slavery.” – John Pilger, “The new propaganda is liberal. The new slavery is digital,”
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/politics/2013/03/new-propaganda-liberal-new-slavery-digital
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” – George Orwell
Yes, Hillary Clinton should never ever become President of the United States, but she may well be – the lesser of two evils, once again.
Reply
Banger
Excellent comment and quotes!

The Iraq news is interesting but the media coverage in the U.S. is even more interesting and maybe even more important and the media reflects a general state of confusion over Iraq and even Ukraine (which it has chosen to largely ignore at this point). The American mainstream is dominated by the oligarchs and this is very obvious to most people. The “news” reflects the interests of these oligarchs plus entertainment and tempests in teapots (misdirection campaigns) to amuse the public. Here, with this new wrinkle in Iraq the Narrative becomes confused. Some are looking at who is to blame–but they don’t quite catch the question “blame for what?” because the mainstream media has consistently gotten the story wrong from the very beginning to the very end. The media did not report what was actually going on in Iraq during the occupation except in rather vague and misleading ways so people had a hard time making sense of where all this money went (the media tended to minimize the cost of the war and largely ignore the Iraqi casualties cause by U.S. actions) and why the greatest army in the world was fought to a standstill by a ragtag group of fighters. The media never really looked at these questions just as it didn’t carefully analyze what happened in Vietnam including the stunning atrocities committed by U.S. forces there.
Some stories focus on the usual plea by neocons for “toughness” or more violence. Some in the media focus on the “no good options” meme and all major stories or analyses of the issue are mainly incoherent as if the official press were just throwing up their hands because the mainstream Narrative is now so divorced form reality that nothing makes sense anymore.
Of course there are rational actions that could be taken but that would mean acknowledging that the Syria and Iraq wars have to be seen for what they are–proxy wars between Gulf State actors and Iran with interesting mixes of other state actors particularly the Turkish government which is, as usual, up to no good. Eventually someone in the mainstream is going to have to point the finger at the Saudi kingdom as the cause and main backing of Sunni radicalism including Al-qaida. This is the big problem–if you understand this then 9/11 looks a little different than what the mainstream would like it to look like. It would also have to focus on how the U.S., like Britain before WWII, is the key supporter of the house of Saud and then we might have to look on how that happened and what the mechanism of that control consists of, in other words, the CIA and its stable of contractors.
Ultimately the Iraq and Syria situations can be resolved by a series of multi-lateral peace talks as were suggested by the Iraq Study Group some years back to settle new borders, new security guarantees and so on but the Bush administration refused to look at those recommendations because it, as well as this administration is not interested in averting conflict and war–the fact is that the national security state needs constant war and constant conflict and thus creates it wherever it can. Sometimes these conflicts appear to exist because we have strategic interests in the regions involved–but those interests would easily be achieved through diplomacy.
The U.S. has consistently (but usually covertly) assisted and funded radical Islamic groups first to combat socialism and Nasserism then later to substitute the “terrorist” threat for the threat of communism (after the fall of the USSR). Turmoil in the ME only helps the U.S. national security state. “Failure” is always a good option because the mainstream never, ever, ever holds the U.S. military accountable or even the planners who deliberately created the debacle in Iraq–they are given front pages in the media to preach how Obama has falied to be “tough.” I’ll give Obama credit here–he has, somehow, moved the focus of U.S. policy a little bit towards where the American people want it despite heavy pressure from neocons in the administration particularly the State Dept. which has been dominated by the slimiest political players we have in the Democratic Party, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton. So far he has been able to make some minimal peace with Iran instead of following the “bomb, bomb Iran” scenario, the “bomb, bomb Syria scenario” (the intel operatives probably created a false flag event in the alleged “gassing” in Syria) and avoided over-reacting to the neocon coup in Ukraine and now seems to be playing a very interesting game in Iraq where the headwinds of policy are blowing particularly hard.

I feel you, man–and I like what you are saying. I hate the vagueness and lack of rigor in most left-wing analysis of the political-economy–I’m always asking–”on what basis are you saying this, that or another.” I think emotional things like compassion are essential but should be grounded in some kind of intellectual framework and I don’t see it. The reason I don’t see it is because, like most of our culture, we are afraid of the truth. I am continually bringing up “deep politics” here and feel I must continue to do so at every opportunity. For example, my commentary on Whitney’s story implying that the U.S. knew ahead of time about the ISIS invasion is a case and point–Whitney excels at intelligently connecting dots–the dots are about as obvious as the a cloud passing overhead yet, we pretend it isin’t there. Suppose Whitney is right–what then? We have to make the leap–it implies that people know about stuff and aren’t reporting it. I will go further and say that mainstream reporters who are continually talking to intel types (they are always chatting up reporters) knew ahead of time like they knew that Saddam had no nerve gas but choose to pretend he did. Wherever there is power and a lot of money at stake you have conspiracies of one kind or another—that is the rule not the exception. So, my point is that we have to start with some grounding in reality and an understanding of history and realpolitik which is all that deep politics is.
In the case of net neutrality obviously various forces are allying here and there and vast armies of lawyers, lobbyists, fixers and muscle are all in play–that’s Washington–not the bullshit crap you get from the media–that’s complete fiction. So we have to start by waking up and understanding that we live in an empire, and that includes Europeans, not whatever we think we live in and begin to open our eyes. Maybe read about Roman politics for starters particularly the last stages of the Roman Republic–there’s an eye opener!


Great article: The Chaos In Iraq Is By DESIGN.
How obvious has all this been? If you want an Empire then you divide and conquer–it’s really easy. What is fascinating to me is the wholesale acceptance by much of the intelligentsia of the idea that we go into countries with the idea of improving the situation and then we make “mistakes.” No, mistakes weren’t made. Yes, some of this was fueled by radical Israel-firsters (traitors) but that wasn’t the main impetus–the main impetus was to create a global Empire controlled via both outward military force and covert operations as the U.S. has used since WWII. It’s all there hiding in plain sight and the crap you read in the foreign policy publications still drones on about, for the most part, utter nonsense that never focuses on the central policy of chaos everywhere that has come out of Washington since 9/11 (that new Pearl Harbor the neocons believed was the sine qua non of global empire)–I remember thinking a couple of days after the shock of 9/11 diminished having the Church Lady’s “how convenient” quip constantly in my head.
As I’ve said many times–the left has to break away from the mainstream narrative and come to an agreement that the national security state is the Imperial State and that’s all it is–there is no “nation-building” going on except as PR and Potemkin village projects with some exceptions in any of the countries we mess with. ISIS/ISIL is not some random bunch of crazy Arabs (our favorite meme to demonize the region and that civilization).

From Ted Rall:
Journalists ought to publish news wherever they find it, whatever it is, damn the consequences. Credible media organizations don’t protect government secrets. They don’t obey spy agencies. Real journalists don’t cooperate with government — any government, any time, for any reason. My editor and I believed that, by demonstrating a little fearlessness, we might inspire other media outfits to grow a pair and stop sucking up to the government.
Ok, Ted–when has this been true? This is his idealized comic-book version of the journalism as practiced in the U.S. and it is utter fantasy and has been true since the Reagan administration (the CIA) ordered journalists to stop covering U.S. funded death squads in El Salvador in the early eighties. I knew, quite well, a reporter for a major outlet that was ordered out of El Salvador–that person resigned. The press has been largely controlled since WWII anyway but today is it almost 100% controlled, ultimately, by the intel agencies. It isn’t a question of sucking up to the government–it is a question of having or not having a career. A few people can skate the edges and do, to their credit, but few can actually write or speak freely and if the poke their noses in the wrong places there is major trouble.
The comic-book version of fearless reporting is insane and we should put a stop to it. Pando, clearly was given an offer they could not refuse so they fired Sirota and Rall–what else is new? Does this make them “bad”? No, it doesn’t–they do what they have to do to stay alive. Even relatively fearless reporters like Greenwald have to make accommodations with people who have no hesitations in killing anyone that opposes them. This is the world we live in–there is no such thing as fearless reporting–if you don’t have fear you will as soon as you step over the line.
 
 
Not surprising–young people have been exposed to an ever increasing diet of marketing, advertising, and propaganda all their lives. The school system no longer takes much interest in anything resembling critical thinking skills except where a few teachers have some leeway to really educate.
Again, we are on track for neofeudalism.

Moon Over Alabama rightly calls U.S. policy “somewhat lunatic.” Depends how you look at it. Although it appears that people have a hard time grasping this, if you look at the pattern and the facts behind not only Syria but the Iraq situation you see a policy that seeks chaos and continual war. That’s it. That is the entirety of U.S. policy in the region aside from the usual criminal activity going on in procurement.
If anyone can make a reasonable argument showing that there is even the slightest interest on the part of U.S. policy makers in being helpful to the people in that region I’d be glad to consider it. The only arguments I’ve read or heard are easily refuted lies that make up the mainstream media Narrative. Building schools, building institutions, building up security forces were all scams almost always in Iraq and most of the time in Afghanistan. The mainstream media has colluded with the national security state in hiding the massive corruption involved in these phony wars based on phony assumptions.

It is an interesting article in that it at least tries to bring a holistic understanding of U.S. foreign policy and, at a certain level it has a lot of validity. But U.S. policy is not made to simply make “mistakes.” These things, the “failure” in Iraq or Vietnam are not “mistakes” they are deliberate policy decisions where the real decision makers know pretty much what is at stake and what is in the Big Picture interest of those that determine foreign policy.
First, Foreign Policy is highly compartamentalized, like the military. People get policy from above and then carry out that policy to the best of their ability putting the best shine on it they can. The order comes: Iraq has WMDs please go find evidence that they do. Do the operatives think, well, we should see if there actually is let’s check with Scott Ritter who was right there on the ground and is our best expert on the matter? No they don’t–they know very well that you do not ever questions orders just like the military–you just do what you were hired to do and what you were not hired to do is to think outside the box–anyone in government or any other powerful organization knows that.

My point is this the “clear-headed” article you cite is not at all clear-headed. Read it again. None of this makes sense why would policy makers make the same mistake over and over and over and over and over again? Why? Because they are incompetent? No, they are not–most of the people working as rank-n-file Diplomats, Military Officers, CIA and other intel people are all pretty smart and not serial blunderers–I’m serious here. There are incompetents, of course, but they are the exceptions. So what is going on here? As the Church Lady would say…could it be…… Satan? Of course it is. And Satan in this case is the agenda of the Deep State. Remember that the Deep State is not “the United States of America” and does not believe that the people are in any way capable of understanding statecraft or the balance of power in the world and, in that, they are probably right.
Lambert does not like the term “Deep State” but does anyone have a better term? Now, let me be clear here, I don’t believe this State is all-powerful–it is vulnerable and it is chageable and it is filled with factions as any Imperial court is filled with factions. But the key to understanding it is that the mainstream media is the most important and critical component of this regime and it has been infiltrated since the 1950s and before by the intelligence community starting with Operation Mockingbird and continuing until today. How do you suppose, for example, the media can turn on a dime so easily? Former enemies are suddenly friends and friends suddenly enemies–all of a sudden Putin is Hitler or Assad or Saddam all rulers who cooperated and worked with the State at one time or another. How does that happen. How does Qaddafi go from being someone who is cooperating with the U.S. on the GWOT all of a sudden become a monster about to kill who know how many thousands of people just for the heck of it unless the U.S. and its possessions in Europe act? I will tell you how. Certain people put something in the ear of the editor of the NYT and suddenly Judith Miller erupts with her straight from the CIA texts. Was her info vetted? No, it was not because the NYT knew as well as I did at the time that her information was from the State. Another, very dramatic one and well-noted at the time–all reporters of all major mainstream media outlets in just a few days were pulled from El Salvador because death squad activities were no longer “news” I was sensitive to this because I knew one of those reporters pretty well and he was beyond enraged. This was in the early eighties.
I know most people here do not want to face this but let’s wake up a little and move away from this notion that our government is somehow different from any other gov’t that ruled an Empire. The only difference is that, to keep the American Exceptionalist ideology intact (to make sure the people are primed to be deceived) the real government has to act in “secret” I put it in quotes because, really, they are hiding in plain sight–we just don’t want to see it the evidence is everywhere. So enough of this “mistakes were made” nonsense. Yes, mistakes were made here and there but the main thrust of U.S. policy has been pretty consistent since the 50′s–seriously check it out. And if any of you have spare time this summer–read up on your classical historians.

 
You’re not completely wrong–there is hubris and self-deception in that world but it does not dominate. Read the Pentagon Papers sometime if you have the time–it’s an eye-opening set of documents. Experts pretty much agreed that Vietnam was probably not a win. I happen have known people in the world of foreign affairs–someone very close to me was in the middle of the Vietnam policy discussions and here is the bottom line: Bill Bundy who was basically in charge of that policy at State was sending messages to his brother McGeorge every day at the WH. State was skeptical of Johnson’s policies yet Johnson persisted, why? Johnson was no fool and was skeptical himslef of his own policy yet he persisted–why? Sheer folly? I don’t think so.
There are thousands of very smart people who work on these problems, every day are they all fools? American operatives have been overthrowing and undermining gov’t around the world for decades–are they incompetent? You think that Washington is run by random idiots? You think corporate America would allow such a thing decade after decade? Look at the Iraq War–a failure? Really? Look how much money was made and how many people benefited, the same was true about Vietnam. The chaos there offered opportunity for all kinds of larceny and, ultimately, larceny is at the heart of the Deep State and its supporters. You don’t want to see it–then fine it’s easy to think, like Churchill that history is “one damn thing after another” which Churchill knew very well wasn’t true.

 
Meaning that it wasn’t madness or folly that created policy in Vietnam–it was pressure from powerful forces that wanted the war to unfold as it did, more or less, with some hoping the war would expand and others oh wanted a less drastic approach. In other words, what Johnson chose to do is to please all the political forces around him which all profited from the situation. The exact same situation occured in Iraq except there were more people feeding on that carcass. It wasn’t foolishness that motivated the decisions in Iraq but, rather, larceny. I should think my point was pretty obvious.

 
Neither he nor Bush were or are incompetent–this incompetence talk is foolish and ends up obscuring the reality–Kerry, in my view, threw the election. There was clear and obvious electoral fraud in Ohio yet Kerry refused to pursue it–why? Incompetence? All our leaders are incompetent? Then how did the U.S. creat and maintain a global Empire? This is all misdirection and fantasy. I know Washington very well and you don’t survive there on any leadership level without being a smooth operator.

 
Great comment, thanks. One other thing, that is interesting about American education is that the emphasis is not on education or learning. As I’ve said here before, there has actually been a lot of research (much of it in the U.S.) on how we learn and how we retain information including the neuro-science and even physiological aspects (effects of stress etc.) on how we learn and function best. Yet, this information is pretty much ignored by educators in the U.S. Someone commented last time I said that and said that educators were, in fact, aware of most of this research but weren’t allowed to deviate from what the officials with power wanted “learning” to be.
It has been clearly shown, for example, that American Universities actually teach people very little because, as you say, they are interested in attracting customers–they are businesses nor real universities. Some great work still goes on but I think we are in a period of decline. I generally advise young people to not go to college if they want an education–of course most young people really just want a start in life and get their ticket stamped and why and how that works is an interesting discussion for another time.

 
Re: 5 Terrible Things I Learned as a Corporate Whistleblower
This is the link of the day and should be required reading because it gives us a window into how power works in this society or any society. One of the great tragedies of American life is the stunning naivite of the vast majority of people who want to believe in the “land of the free”/American Dream/American Exceptionlist haze that, increasingly, appears to have be more cargo cult than anything else. Actually, this mythological framework helps keep the society together and provides some basis for social morality and some conviviality–if all of a sudden people realized the Emperor had no clothers–what then? The idea is frightening even to me–people need meaning and need conceptual frameworks.
All powerful cliques whether in governments or corporations seek power and control and those that succeed are those who claw and fight. Linda Almonte just tried to do her job and not participate in what she saw as criminal activity–for her pains she can never work again. That is the reality of many whistleblowers–they meet the fate of prison snitches. I knew no matter what I saw I could not ever, ever, blow the whistle on illegality and I saw plenty of it in government, usually minor stuff to be sure but sometimes pretty big—I touched on one of those and I had no clue–I made inquiries but was gently asked to mind my own business–which I did. Yes, I took money for projects I knew would be thrown away several times.
Corporations, surprise, surprise, have security people who are, basically, covert private armies. If they want to take you out they can and will. Usually they won’t kill you but they will do to you what happened to Almante. That’s why people crave power. The more power they and their cronies (this is a collective effort almost always) can accrue the more money they can steal, the more money they can steal the more power they can accrue and be honored for it by both political parties and the propaganda organs. This is what neo-feudalism looks like and this is the reality of American society not the pile of crap you get if you watch CNN or listen to NPR.

 
Well, the Palestinians have had money thrown at them mainly gulf states who, in the case of Saudi Arabia is a direct ally of Israel. They are paid to keep the tension going not to achieve any goal. The Israelis are happy because they can play the “poor tiny Israel gamble so that rich American Jews can both personally throw vast sums of dollars at Israel and intimidate the American political class to do the same–more tension, more cash for both sides.

 Eureka Springs
The neighborhood crime watch implication is both horrifying and terribly easy to believe. Reminds me of Cynthia’s comment yesterday.
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/06/links-62914.html#comment-2260695
“By design and by self-infliction, the average American is stuck in a state of stupor that cannot be easily reversed. I am willing to bet that most people in the US would sit idly by and do nothing if half the people in their neighborhood were rounded up and disappeared into the night. I would put money on it. A combination of an empty-calorie diet, mind-numbing and vacuous TV programming, declining school system, way too many prescription drugs, and dishonest ‘news’ channels have successfully made the US a nation of zombies. Borrowing a line from a Pink Floyd song, there’s a look in their eyes like black holes in the sky.”
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Banger
Made me think a little. In our neighborhood it would be noticed, above all, by my wife who they would literally have to shoot to shut her up. I think it depends on the neighborhood–but I think in many places you would be right. In the neighborhood I lived in the longest everyone on the street knew each other so yes, we would have noticed, in another neighborhood I lived in not far away, no, no one would have noticed.
Eureka Springs
The neighborhood crime watch implication is both horrifying and terribly easy to believe. Reminds me of Cynthia’s comment yesterday.
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/06/links-62914.html#comment-2260695
“By design and by self-infliction, the average American is stuck in a state of stupor that cannot be easily reversed. I am willing to bet that most people in the US would sit idly by and do nothing if half the people in their neighborhood were rounded up and disappeared into the night. I would put money on it. A combination of an empty-calorie diet, mind-numbing and vacuous TV programming, declining school system, way too many prescription drugs, and dishonest ‘news’ channels have successfully made the US a nation of zombies. Borrowing a line from a Pink Floyd song, there’s a look in their eyes like black holes in the sky.”
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Banger
Made me think a little. In our neighborhood it would be noticed, above all, by my wife who they would literally have to shoot to shut her up. I think it depends on the neighborhood–but I think in many places you would be right. In the neighborhood I lived in the longest everyone on the street knew each other so yes, we would have noticed, in another neighborhood I lived in not far away, no, no one would have noticed.

Why are Americans not revolting? Because most Americans believe they are doing well and they like the sports, the cable channels, the toys and goodies and so on. The corporate state delivers the goods–why should there be a revolt? Yes, people are more stressed today than in the past but I see no clear reason to revolt–there isn’t enough pain, yet. We are still, as a culture, operating under narcissistic guidelines–if some people aren’t doing well–who cares as long as I’m doing well. Also, as we’ve all said many times–the mainstream media including the somewhat more hidden propaganda and mind-control of popular entertainments keep us confused and/or living in fantasies. The vast majority of the people have not a clue about what is actually happening–though they are beginning to suspect something isn’t right.

 
The end of the cease-fire in Ukraine is very interesting due to the fact that the mainstream media has been covering events in radically different ways. The WaPost only mentioning within a story about Putin’s speech and the NYT actually moved away from it’s usual bellicose ways by writing a fairly straightforward piece. Washington seems to have lost interest in the Ukraine situation because, since the mainstream media will only echo the official line, clearly either they have lost interest or the policy makers are divided and the policy is now incoherent. In fact, I’ve been saying for a long time that FP in Washington is incoherent and points to power struggles within the national security state that seem to involve more than the neocon/realist schools and I will admit that I have no idea what is going in Washington.
I was really shocked by the WaPost’s position of giving pretty fair coverage of Putin’s speech that I didn’t see anywhere else. If anyone has any insights on this I’d like to hear it.

There are two interesting articles in the WaPost today. One concerns veterans who were interviewed in Afghanistan, by name, about how they felt about the apparent disintegration of Iraq and it was completely bogus because servicemen are not allowed to speak freely so why bother? The second was more interesting and, written fairly well, by Aly Khedery, called “Why we stuck with Maliki and lost Iraq.” In it Khedery, who hung around in Iraq for almost the life of that war gives us an interesting insight into the thinking of policy makers in Iraq—I won’t comment on the substance other than say that he warms up the “we did the right thing” and, gosh, somehow it didn’t turn out right because Maliki fell in love with power etc. and it’s all his fault for not fulfilling the sacrifices Americans made in Iraq and blah, blah. But if you read it carefully and know how to read propaganda it becomes more interesting–and I leave that to you.
Norman Mailer quipped once that the tragic flaw of Americans was that on all sides of any issues Americans believe they are doing the right thing. I will put it another way–Americans will believe anything if it puts them and their motivations in the light of righteousness. Most people who supported, fought and maintained the Iraq War were of the following three classes: 1) self-deluded “patriots” who “believed” in a mission that was impossible, illegal and immoral from the start–they had to believe because they wanted to fight and needed a justification; 2) the usual Star Wars’ cafe of mercenaries, hustlers, criminals, con artists and so on that gravitate to any war but this one, due to the large number of the self-deluded, was particularly juicy; and 3) the class of professionals who feel their job is to accomplish what is directly in front of them because thinking deeply on an intellectual or moral level is just, well, plain un-American.
Iraq displayed all the worse features of American Imperialism due to the dominance of the above-referenced types. The pattern was set in Vietnam and has continued in every major intervention since then. The Vietnam War, Afghan War, and Iraq War are all crimes against humanity and every single one violated key provisions of the Geneva Conventions on war. Many of the main strategies featured terror-tactics. In Vietnam free-fire zones, terror bombing, frequent use of torture, and the Phoenix Program (assassinating village elders and others who were considered unfriendly to the U.S. war-effort). In Afghanistan pretty much the same thing though not as frequent a use of torture and a bit more surgical in their version of the Phoenix Program. In Iraq the situation was as bad or worse than Vietnam but more use of strategic bombing to terrorize the people starting with “shock and awe” tactics and continuing with more sophisticated methods learned from the Israelis.
If these nasty methods had a result that actually created some kind of civil society in those countries that really did accomplish “nation building” then I would say, still bad, but at least Americans are learning to be good imperialists. But, instead, these wars are, ultimately, being fought just to fight them–there is no over-arching strategy, no careful and considered policy but just chaos and more chaos–why? Because thinking strategically and realistically seems to have no cash-value in Washington other than in inside the Beltway plots and conspiracies a la House of Cards.
Which brings me to the F-35, the ultimate symbol of what the American military is acutally all about–i.e., corruption. The plane, appears to be worse than useless and, at every step, critics said so yet the project marches on. Many experts are adamant that in a head to head match-up between Russia’s latest fighters and the combo of F-22 and F-35 (they are supposed to be used together) would lead to the complete defeat of the American jets. At all times American jets have been superior to Russian fighters until this new generation. F-16 were the last great fighter-jet, it seems. At any rate, it is now nakedly obvious that the whole war machine is built not for defense/offense but for contractors, Congresspeople, and Pentagon officials (after they leave the Pentagon) to make sh!tloads of money. This is why the American Empire is unsustainable and we are now ten to twenty years away from loss of “full-spectrum” dominance at least in the air.

Moon Over Alabama makes a good point on Ukraine. Putin, because he has consolidated power in his hands and has a pretty smart Foreign Minister in Mr. Lavrov, can afford to bide his time. Like Mikhail Kutuzov, Putin seems to be waiting for winter to take its toll on Kiev. At any rate the situation is murky. The Ukrainian military has found forces willing to fight but it is a slippery situation for them. If they kill too many civilians the Europeans may break with the U.S. official Narrative and start reporting the atrocities and once the Euro media breaks with the U.S. Narrative on this matter what is to stop it from breaking on other topics? Putin, I think is counting on a sea-change in Europe if and when the Euro media are allowed to put two and two together and accurately assess what happened in the Maidan–then we will see a major foreign policy defeat of the U.S. that could be of historical significance–Putin can’t afford to blow it by prematurely intervening. Anti-Russian sentiment is still high in Europe and it will take time to tame it.
Putin, I’m sure, is also aware of deep divisions within Washington and a weak President.

OIFVe
I think that waiting for seachange in Europe is like Vladimir waiting for Godot. He ain’t coming, the Euro elites’ interests are far too intertwined with those of the American elites, and the media in both places are subservient organs for disseminating elite propaganda. Also, with the exception of Poland and some other easterners, popular sentiment at this point is far more anti-US than anti-Russia. The US is not the only place where the elites are divorced from the mood of their populations you know.
 
 
The Kaplan article about Moldova is very interesting in that, aside from the usual nonsense about Russia on the march there is what I can only describe as a call to covert war against Russia.
I am saying only that there are incalculable human costs to Western inaction. And Western action must mean a whole-of-government approach — political, intelligence, economics and so forth — in order to counter what the Russians are doing.
Kaplan is very unclear about just what the Russians are doing in the region or what their possible motivations are. There is nothing in the article that provides much insight into Russian strategy just a tactical issue of using “corruption”, subversion, fanning ethnic conflicts and so on. Interestingly Kaplan also makes this revealing statement that goes to the heart of the neoconservative project (now disguised as humanitarian interventionism).
Thus, Moscow’s strategy is about taking over countries from within. In this battle, it is precisely during the quiet periods, when an issue like Ukraine drifts off the front pages because of the Middle East, for example, that we should be worried. And remember that weak democracies can be more useful to Russia than strong dictatorships. A ruthless communist autocrat such as Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia was able to keep the Soviets out of his country during the Cold War. But a feeble polity, however democratic, such as Romania’s neighbor Moldova, offers the Russians many local politicians to bribe.
The goal of the neocons is to create strong autocratic regimes in the region who will ruthlessly put down rebellions of ethnic minorities as the current Kiev gov’t seems to be wobbling about as Kaplan, Nuland and the nest of necons in the Obama administration attempts to influence to be more brutal and authoritarian.
We need to establish why Russia is seen as such an enemy–as, basically, the re-incarnation of the old USSR. I think it is because the GWOT has become so absurd and so hollow no one really believes in it anymore–people are more concerned with the NSA than the alleged terrorists–who are, for the most part, a fiction anyway just as ISIS is not a local movement but largely engineered by the Gulf States, Turkey, U.S./NATO and so on. The weakness in the neocon argument is that they do not present a good motivation for why Russia would want to renew its imperial ambitions other than the Putin=Hitler nonsense which is nonsense since Putin does not appear to be ideological.

vidimi
this latest round of sanctions are the most serious yet but have nothing to do with ukraine. the real reason for them is retaliation for the following offenses (in no particular order):
1 – russia’s forgiveness of cuba’s debt
2 – russia’s plan to reopen a spy base in cuba
3 – russia’s role in setting up a BRICS bank to counter the IMF
another possible factor is russia’s intention of providing security for china’s canal across nicaragua.
putin has taken to the counteroffensive strongly entering america’s back yard and this has angered the empire.

Banger
So what do you believe is the Argentine strategy here–clearly they have made some rational decision on the matter and aren’t just a bunch of four-year olds stamping their feet.
I don’t know much about the underlying issues but I do know that the finance oligarchs are, second to the MSM, my enemy and anything no matter how irrational that harms their interests has a silver lining to it as far as I’m concerned. The same is true of the U.S. courts which I believe are fundamentally corrupt with a few bright lights here and there.
 
 
You know, diptherio, you come up with consistently cogent analyses that get to the heart of the matter. Your point here is central and it is one we need to think long and hard about here.
The vanguard of the left is now up for grabs because its leading lights (with some exceptions) is still stuck in the “progressive” mind-set that favors reform, radical reform but reform nonetheless. In the past as Chris Hedges has pointed out in The Death of the Liberal Class the more radical left acted exactly as a vanguard, leftist ideas like 40 your work week, ending segregation and apartheid laws, anti-war movements and so on were eventually taken up by liberal politicians, academics and professionals who worked within the system to gradually create reforms like the Civil Rights Act and so on. But that era is over and, as Hedges says, all we have left is resistance–now I happen to disagree with Hedges because he does not wish to look into deep politics but that does not change his basic insight–nor do I agree with his despairing attitude.
While I appreciate civil society I see that the greatest threat to that society is coming from the corrupt oligarchical structures and system of Catch-22s that dominate our political landscape. We need a revolutionary mind-set but with a difference–I believe that, due to the internet, we can create a relatively peaceful revolution through a multi-pronged approach. But this approach has to start with making alliances with a diverse group of people.
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diptherio
Thanks for the compliment, but I can’t really take credit–just expressing what seems to be in the aether lately, so to speak.
Your last comment, about diverse alliances, is another thing that’s in the aether right now. The “Solidarity Economy” meme, in fact, is largely focused on this. Metaphors of rainforests and ecosystems are thick at the moment. We’re all realizing that we need a new system to replace the captured one we’ve got, and most of us realize that no one movement or idea is going to be adequate to address the situation. Those that don’t seem to realize that, unsurprisingly, seem to come out of ivory towers or think tanks, but the people on the ground, by and large, get it.
It takes an Ecosystem: The Rise of Worker Cooperatives in the US ~Nina Ignaczak, Shareable
































Patrick Cockburn has been reporting on ISIS/ISIL recently at Counterpunch–I recommend looking up his articles there. His latest article discusses the fact ISIS back into Syria to mop up other rebel groups and attack Syrian Kurds with its new American equipment and money robbed from banks in the area it conquered. What Cockburn did not say, and has no need to say, is that this arming of this Saudi-financed army created to fight Shia Islam (which Cockburn wrote in a previous article) by fanatic Wahabbis who have been supported by the West since the days of T.H. Lawrence not so much to destroy the Shia but to make sure that the Arab world never enters the modern world. The alliance now current in the region involves the U.S. and its minions in Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, Turkey, and not so distant Pakistan. Ironically, Turkey and other states are the chief supporters of Hamas that continues to be the gift that keeps on giving to the radical right-wing Israeli government. We live in a deeply Machiavellian world that the mainstream media is forbidden to report on–a few reporters like Cockburn give us some realistic pictures of what is going on here. The alliance I mentioned, for example is filled with internal conspiracies and power-plays so who knows in what interests any of them are acting–we certainly know for sure that the U.S. and NATO is most definitely not acting in the interest of Europeans or North Americans.
In contrast to Cockburn is a rather silly article in Pando (in the links above) that claims that Israel supports ISIS not because it is strong but because ISIS is weak. They have it right that Israel supports ISIS but very wrong that ISIS is weak. Real reporters know that ISIS is real, ruthless, staffed with professional soldiers from around the world who know how to use modern weapons and have studied military strategy and know they have the support of the major powers. The question is, of course, has this army an agenda of their own and will it turn on their benefactors? I doubt it, at this point–at some future date, maybe.


This is a very important question because most people have no idea how a mainstream media shop works. First, throw out all the TV or movie crap–it’s mainly fantasy. Second, understand it is, mainly, a political institution and, also, a profession that is highly competitive. So we have individual institutions who are under pressure to make money, fulfill the publisher’s political agendas, and provide lucrative work for professionals and it all has little to do with providing the public with an accurate account of anything. Reporters don’t even think about what they have to say when reporting about Israel/Palestine, the Narrative on that issue has been cast in stone over generations.
Israeli intelligence long ago created (before the internet) phone networks of American Jews who would relentlessly call reporters and editors and cajole and sometimes threaten staff should they even mildly criticize the Israeli state–it was, some have said, so overwhelming that stories, over the years became much more circumspect and, besides, the media and entertainment industries are dominated by Jews in the U.S. (though many Jews are not pro-Israel) and they naturally network with each other and mutually help each other keep positions “in the family” much as construction is dominated by Italians in the Northeast or the CIA by Yalies or whatever. Human beings are tribal first and members of nation states second at least in multi-ethnic societies.
Senior staff sets editorial standards about various issues–usually these positions are established across the media through social contacts often at parties or conferences where senior public officials interact with reporters and editors (often intel officers) and give the various lines of the power elite. Outside of that consensus there is no reality. Ultimately, everyone knows if you deviate you will never work again anywhere in the industry even if you are a lifer and have won the Pulitzer–none of that matters in the least if you deviate from the official line and no reporter who has an interest in being in the mainstream and have a nice steady gig deviates from the official line set somewhat informally at Central Committee Headquarters. That’s why the news is mainly the same–Fox is different because Murdoch is a major world power himself so he can deviate all he wants.

Naturally I feel more akin to Israeli society but your statement describes perfectly the problem for me with the Israeli state and it’s Jewish supporters. You are tribalists and see the world as “them and us.” In my case I prefer the truth, however it turns not faithfulness to a tribe–perhaps I’m wrong but it is the Western project that Jews were indeed deeply involved in. In terms of the Israeli state with its deeply chauvinistic ideology, particularly in recent years, it has manipulated, gamed infiltrated and managed to control U.S. ME policy and aided the National Security State which is the main enemy of the people of the U.S. Israel has managed to take taxpayer money to help to support what is, very nearly a neo-fascist state. Israel has an overwhelming military superiority in the region yet it rules over its subject peoples with an iron fist and acted in bad faith during the Oslo process by building settlements in the then Occupied Territories deliberately to scuttle the peace process and then allowed the radical right to kill the last real human being to occupy the office if PM in Israel. I know for a fact that most Palestinian prisoners were tortured in captivity and I also know from Israelis that most believe Arabs are “animals” and seem to have inherited the fascist ideologies that were floating around Europe in the thirties.
Frankly for all its faults I believed in Israel and believed it had the capacity to make peace despite its ruthless behavior from its inception–one could well understand it the need for it. But Israel at the height of its power chose tension and war over humanitarianism in the 90s and that is difficult to forgive even more than Israeli meddling in our political and cultural institutions.
One of the saddest things to see is a regional superpower shooting fish in a barrel against a helpless population–whether they hate gays and women is irrelevant it is, from my perspective, dishonorable.

In the U.S. It is forbidden to examine motive. Just as with the alleged Assad gas incident which occurred precisely at the point Assad was winning the struggle this happened precisely at the point the rebels were inflicting a defeat on the Western backed government in Kiev. So you understand why it might be hard to believe, as the propaganda organs spout that the Russians are responsible just because they are “bad guys.”
Please, I challenge you, what reason would the Russians have to down a civil airliner? For fun? Also, most of us here have at least some knowledge of deep politics and thus the pattern the U.S. has used since WWII in situations in every region of the world including multiple times in our own country; if you don’t know that history I suggest you look into it.

Still very little on the Malaysian crash–the Mighty Wurlitzer is creakily sounding its usual tunes. I’m always struck by the sheer irrationality of the propaganda organs and their rhetoric. No one ever seems to ask or answer the cui bono question over controversial events–it’s a question that seems to be forbidden. I don’t have the heart to read many of the articles in the mainstream or listen to cable chatter so if anyone has heard an argument about why Russia or the rebels would see it as beneficial to their cause to bring down a civilian airliner I would like to hear or read that argument.
Saker presents something that the other propaganda organs don’t–a compendium of interesting and sometimes contradictory accounts but pointing in the direction of false-flag. Saker is an ardent partisan in the struggle against the Kiev government for what some call the Federalist cause and others the pro-Russian cause. But his stories have turned out to have more validity than the mainstream during the crisis in Ukraine and, lately in Iraq. One of his arguments is that the plane, based on an analysis of where the remnants of the plane landed, had to have been shot down over territory controlled by Kiev–what strikes me is that, in my initial perusal of the mainstream those kind of analyses were not made. The other comes from how the missile actually works–the explosion occurs before the missile hits the target and numerous projectiles are fired into the target plane. The analysis on Saker’s site states that the missiles are designed to bring down fighters not airliners and the damage caused would not have torn the plane apart as it must have done–therefore, the argument goes, the flight was probably shot down by a fighter plane. I hope, at some point, someone can present an analysis like we find on Saker’s site from the mainstream that points in the other direction.
Because the U.S. was very quick to blame the rebels or Russians without evidence one way or the other or without time to analyze the evidence, I suggest to you this, in itself, is suspicious. Because of the internet and social media, it may be hard for the administration to keep a lid on all this if their accusations turn out to be premature or wrong.
Whatever it is, this event, along with the other crises shows we are in for a bumpy ride because if this is something deliberate and not an accident, well….

The two state solutions is probably impossible thanks to the deliberate sabotage of the Oslo process by Israel with its settlement policy and Clinton’s weakness on the issue. Even then there was hope until the assassination of Rabin. I just see more of the same as the Israeli elites use outside threats for the permanent state of war that it, like its American ally, seems to want above all other things.

Lambert, this is a really rough issue. Your commentary is confused and makes little sense–but the situation is confused and makes little sense and what can anyone say about this incident? So I commend you for your efforts. Certainly we can’t jump to conclusions like the MSM has from the beginning.
The problem is that the Russians have no motivation, like Assad with the “gassing his own people” narrative, to do the deed. And isn’t it interesting that after the Sy Hersh story and Assad’s agreement to dump his gas supplies that story completely disappeared from view.
Anything is possible in our hyper-Orwellian world and nothing is what it seems since we live in a world whose Narrative and conceptual framework is controlled by the central authorities. We have to remember one thing–the State, in the U.S. at least, regards the population as those it must manipulate and control. Outer events exist as opportunities to encourage conflict and, ideally, war. Political power today is based on fear and it is fear that keeps Washington prosperous and hopping (a lot of adrenaline junkies there). The sad part is that we have methods and procedures to resolve conflicts today if we want to use them. Ukraine or Palestine are thorny issues all of which could be solved in mutually beneficial ways among the inhabitants of the regions there. But those in power in the region and here in the West don’t want to resolve these issues because their power depends on conflict, hatred, war, fear out of which flows our insatiable need for mass quantities of every f–king thing.

The pattern goes back to the hijacking of the Cold War by the National Security State where, pretty quickly, the CIA (in the fifties) became the senior partner. I believe that Vietnam was the method Johnson used to keep the martinets at bay–remember, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Joint Chiefs and other leaders wanted to use the opportunity to launch an attack on the USSR in which they calculated they would lose 150 million people and we would lose “only” 40 million–that was an acceptable number to these people. These are the sorts of people that still dominate Washington today. The slaughter in Indochina was a better deal for all of us–they wanted blood and the got it. A lot of money was made from that war and today even more can be made which is why Washington is always ready to spread chaos and misery everywhere it can. It’s not personal–it’s just what Washington does and has done for several generations–it is very deeply set in the bone. Today it’s even easier than back in the day since all the mainstream media is controlled by the State it was somewhat less controlled back then.

Within the mainstream Narrative reality has little to do with anything. And if there is one thing I’ve learned about the left in the U.S. is that it mainly follows the mainstream narrative on most issues particularly since 1963. It’s a long story about how this all comes down and I don’t want to go into it now but the left failed to look deeply at the JFK and later RFK and MLK assassinations. To me, this is why the left has failed in the U.S. despite wonderful opportunities–it accepts the mainstream narrative about most things even when, like the assassinations the official story is demonstrably false. Part of the issue is the deep attachment the American left has to American Exceptionalism, i.e., Americans do not do the sorts of things that happen in other societies and so on. When confronting deep politics Americans, particularly in the center and the left, will demur with “even if it’s true, I refuse to believe it” sorts of ideas. Look at what Lambert says in his intro–he won’t deal with deep politics because he sees them as tangled hairballs–no they’re not. The evidence against the official conclusions in that area is unambigous, conclusive and very, very, clear. There’s nothing confusing or obscure about a Coroner’s Report, for example. I’ve challenged Lambert on that and he won’t answer–the Report (Noguchi’s report on RFK) is either real or it isn’t–there is no ambiguity possible–if Noguchi is right then the officlal story is wrong–and if that official story is wrong then what? But no one on the left, with some exceptions of course, wants to face that. Why? Because they will be ridiculed endlessly if they do accept direct and unambiguous evidence and will see their careers and ambitions ruined but also, perhaps deeper is that then a person will have to re-examine his/her world view! My God we can’t ever do that, can we? Where’s the Xanax?

Amazing–didn’t know about the medals–as an old friend used to say back in my stoner days “gasp.”
We are living in a world of 100% propaganda on all sides. Information is now ammunition in an increasingly serious war on all of us. I’ll put is simply, in my country (the USA), the mainstream media is the main enemy of the people as a whole. Nothing it says can be trusted other than sports scores.
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Banger
NR may be moving towards a more libertarian slant and this is one of the most interesting phenomena to observe–the movement of the American right away from fascism to somewhere totally new–the old right with its ethnic hatreds, racism, worship of violence and war is beginning to fade. The normal attitude for them was anyone killed or beaten by police deserves what they got otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten into trouble with the police in the first place may be fading. Maybe brutality, fear and hatred are not as important to them and perhaps they may even harbor an interest in living in a convivial society.
Like an increasing number of institutions at all levels of government cops have managed to escape accountability and can, really, do anything they want to us and they know it and they act, often, like they know it.

The article on Qatar and its funding of Hamas is interesting because mainstream outlets don’t like to mention who funds Hamas, ISIS or any other group. But here’s the most interesting part of this–everyone knows who funds these groups including AIPAC which, I think, we can all agree more or less runs U.S. policy on Israel/Palestine. Why isn’t this group up in arms about the Turks or the Gulf States who fund Hamas? They aren’t usually shy about attacking people or groups they see as hostile to Israel–why not the supporters of Hamas?
I will answer that question–Israel, or at least the right-wing government, wants the conflict in the region to continue in order to maintain power indefinitely. They stir up the bees nest and then act shocked if missiles come pouring out of Gaza–of course they are intercepted which both sides know all about. We need a lot more stories on following the money.




















Saker has a well-written bit on his site “Thinking the Unthinkable” about whether or not the U.S. would be willing to engage in full out war including nuclear war over Ukraine. Worth reading so check it out.
He uses the “Duck Test” (if it quacks like a duck….) to examine his own assumptions which have been, up to now, that the U.S. would not go to war because the U.S. military just is not capable of fighting a war there. His arguments are sensible but, I believe, mistaken. He sees U.S. oligarchical leaders as irrational and crazy–they’re not. The whole point of Ukraine is to create a new enemy for the National Security State to scare Congress to increase the budget of said NSS, aka “Deep State.” The overall strategy of this organization is to create as much chaos and tension in the world as possible to distract people from the obvious criminally minded actions of the U.S. oligarch class. The enemy is not Putin but the American people. America does not fight wars to win (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq) but to enrich cronies and reward military officers with promotions and lucrative careers after their service. What Saker does not comprehend is the extraordinary corruption that has infected Washington since 9/11 (which Saker believes was a false-flag event) though it was pretty major before 9/11.
All this hinges on the control of the MSM by the Deep State. I urge all of you to look beyond the surface events and see what underlies contemporary events and ask questions like “who benefits” and “follow the money” two tried and true principles you must have. We need to understand that Public Relations/Propaganda/Mind Control are 24/7 operations with incredibly high-stakes and everything is obfuscated–there is no reliable mainstream source of information–they are all political establishments related to some faction of the oligarchy.
And here I will stop. I am taking a break from NC after today for at least a couple of weeks–I have other matters needing my attention and I need a break from all the stuff we write about here, barring major world events. I am happy to have pushed the envelope here just a bit, to the chagrin of poor Lambert, whose work I actually respect and admire.

Interesting quote AEP has for us in his Telegraph piece:
European foreign ministers warned that they would tighten the sanctions noose yet further unless Russia draws back. “Any unilateral military actions on the part of the Russian Federation in Ukraine under any pretext, including humanitarian, will be considered by the European Union as a blatant violation of international law,” it said.
Of course in any “normal” time violating a country’s borders in any way would be a breach of international law. But, as things stand today, there is no “international law” that means anything–there really isn’t. It would be nice if such a thing existed but it has been utterly shredded over the years by the U.S. and the Israelis chiefly. There is, similarly, no such thing as the “free world” other than a propaganda term for the Empire. This should be obvious.
Now we sit and see what develops—will the new Cold War become hotter? If you think about it–at the very least the new Cold War strengthens the hand of the oligarchs in Europe–is this what the European public really wants? Appears that they do really want to be subjects of the Empire and not citizens of their own countries.

YY
I think there are two fundamental problems with most observers of Russia.
One is to assume that it acts as if it were an extension of Putin and not the other way around, that Putin represents Russia. Regardless of character foibles and appearance. I tend to believe that Putin understands the national interest of Russia, and more importantly any regime change will only result in a leadership that will behave exactly with the same interests.
Two is that those who should know better in the West assume that Russia has inherited all the problematic aspects of USSR, and in knee-jerk fashion judge Russia on the distant memory of the myths of evils of the Soviet Union. It becomes particularly galling when Ukraine and Georgia are somehow seen as not being as much a constituent part of USSR historically, so that Russia becomes demonized as the sole inheritor of the Soviet system. We should all count our blessings that Russia is the sole inheritor of the nuclear weapons which in the hands of the recent leadership of the other former Soviet republics would be a true nightmare.

There we are–yet another potential arrow in the quiver of the left to use. Many years ago I suggested that the left could galvanize around a few general issues and one of them was the right’s increasing appeal to un-reason and solidly anti-scientific points of views–then Al Gore wrote a book about it. The left’s response was to snicker and laugh at the silliness of the right but it did not make a clear case that voting for the right was voting against reason itself–as a way to frame issues it was perfect but the left still focuses on individual issues and not the underlying problem. We face the death of Western Civilization because we appear to be abandoning the best parts of our tradition starting with relying on reason to help us navigate the world and create a convivial society. I think there are still enough people around who could be rallied by appealing to reason if we can present a coherent argument for its usefulness and virtue. The fruits of reason undergird everything in our civilization and abandoning it now rather than taking it to the next level is a tragic mistake.
It is clear to anyone who has studied psychology and kept up with advances in neuroscience that human beings are “hard-wired” to connect to their fellow humans–we are social animals not “individuals” as many believe. Being unique an an individual, rather than strictly conformist, is a virtue that benefits rather than harms society because it makes us each develop our unique abilities. We now have the tools to educate people to develop their unique abilities. The industrial classroom is an anti-reason and anti-scientific abomination that should be immediately abandoned. It may have fit with the narrow low-level of knowledge of a century ago but is a technology that is hopelessly outdated like trying to use punch cards on a laptop computer.
Now, here is my point, hierarchy as it developed in the Industrial Age is anti-scientific and absurd in part because it is enforced through coercion not love (the principle of connection) just as school uses grades and coercion to “teach” even though those methods don’t work as we can see from the massive flight from reason we see in our culture. Today rather than the whip we use “the economy” to coerce people to do the bidding of the oligarchs. That conceptual framework has no basis in reason as “economics” as many of us here have often commented on has no basis in reason because economics is politics by another name and I enforces a clearly destructive and coercive authoritarian political regime–but because it is traditional we turn off our Eason and accept it and then while our Eason is turned off we accept the massive tissue of lies that is the mainstream Narrative.
Authoritarianism is illogical and anti-scientific yet the population is hungering for it. There is this incredible nostalgia for the pre-modern period (before 1648). Not that there weren’t things there that shouldn’t be brought back–every culture in history had some virtues but we left that period for good reason! Authoritarianism is obviously unhealthy because it involves stressing people out to produce cortisol ands other substances that, we are discovering, cause at least 80% of all illness. If you favor authoritarian solutions to problems from medicine (clearly authoritarian at this time) to foreign policy the results will continue to be poor.

I second the “must read” for today–as someone who lived inside the Beltway for most of my life (I now honestly regret it) I can attest to Stoeller’s insights on BS activism as excellent and heartfelt.
Re: Ukraine and the Moon Over Alabama piece. The situation there is getting curiouser and curiouser. The American media is making claims that the Russians are coming into Ukraine because the Ukranian army is winning in the war against insurgents–but it has been winning for months and there has been no victory. These same “reporters” and editors said Assad would fall in a few months–he’s still there. BTW, if you read the Reuters report on the links can you make any sense of it?
MSM reporting on foreign affairs is laughable and as absurd as I’ve ever seen it. But…if you can read between the lines you can begin to see what is happening. If, indeed, the neocons ruled Washington then every Ukrainian propaganda ploy would be heavily featured and endlessly repeated like the Syrian gas story where the entire MSM and all the tribes of Washington “consultants” rose as one to cry for WAR!!!! It didn’t work so a better enemy was created with ISIL and they worked the operation in Ukraine to poke Putin and Lavrov who had stymied the West in Syria. They shot both barrels and still no WAR!
With Merkel appearing to get cold feet about a WAR, cold or hot, with Russia after trailing after the USA like a meek child we have a fascinating situation. I suggest to you that the neocon clique has been outmaneuvered in Ukraine by more realist figures because I don’t think they expected the rebels to be able to be a match for the Ukrainian army. The situation in Washington is now fairly confused. There seems to be some consensus on ISIL as the new ENEMY so the Deep State may back off of Russia and continue to torture the ME for fun and profit. I want to emphasize “fun” here because some of the motivation of the most ardent martinets is that they do actually enjoy pulling wings off of flies like the cops in Ferguson and elsewhere love intimidating, beating and murdering black men for fun–in the old days it was called “coon hunting” in the South and it was much milder than what is going on today.

Most of us who dissent on the official 9/11 story have given up saying anything about those events. 9/11 has become a sacred event in the grand Official Narrative and it is unquestioned in every detail–every single assertion the government has made is sacrosanct and infallible.
I’m not going to go into detail on the evidence. I’ve looked into it some years back and found out that all you need to know is that no normal investigation ever occurred–the government announced that we were “at war” and questions would not be entertained. Eventually there was an “investigation” which, if you read the report or followed the hearing was a dramatic exercise in covering asses and was not even remotely and investigation.
The mainstream and most of the radical left will call me mentally ill for even bringing up the subject. All I have to say is that if you’re looking for why the country has drifted solidly and inexorably to the right and continues to do so every day then wonder no more. If there is a radical left most of it is the sort of opposition the Stasi coopted during their heyday in East Germany. I suggest to you that we are ruled, more or less, by a Stasi sort of National Security State that has its fingers in all public and many “private” institutions. Few people here would think it as out of the question, for example, that the U.S. mainstream media is, at least in part, controlled by the State or strongly influenced by the State at minimum.
The American left still seems to believe in American Exceptionalism–that somehow Machiavellian politics stops at the border and the left refuses to see the obvious machinations of the National Security State. I submit to you that since the late forties (but having roots in the period 1917-1920 culminating in the Palmer Raids) we have seen the growth of this monster State led my the CIA but now distributed to many government and non-government organizations including organized crime and, in my view, most of the mainstream media. And why not? Why wouldn’t a secret network not answerable to the democratic process not want to influence world events and pursue its own agenda? Why do you assume that this State is loyal to whoever the President is? Why do you imagine they would be forthcoming to Congress? Why wouldn’t these guys used to killing “ememies” and world leaders, overthrowing governments not turn their eye to the domestic politics of the U.S.? Because Hollywood movies say that these guys are loyal an patriotic? I would say most of them are–but there is no secret that these guys hated JFK/RFK/MLK as being traitors to the country. My question to you is why you assume that the National Security State actually is interested in pursuing the will of the American people? Why do you assume, if they have the know-how (they do and I’d be pleased to expand on that), that they wouldn’t try to manipulate public opinion even against their interests. Why do you suppose there is such a dramatic difference between what the people actually want and what their elected representatives do? It’s not just bribery (the carrot) there is also the stick–and why not? Why wouldn’t power-hungry operators not want to be able to have extra-legal powers to pursue their interests and vision of the world? Why wouldn’t these people take seriously Walter Lippmann’s ideas and shape rather than follow the opinion?
The usual answer is that if all this CT stuff is true then why isn’t the secret out of the bag? Well many people have spoken out–you just don’t know about it. I’ll give you the crudest example–my favorite because it is so obvious: Scott Ritter, probably the most knowledgeable American on Iraq WMDs was, when the media found out he did not go along with their narrative, airbrushed from history. His expert opinion was ignored as all the other many expert opinions are systematically expunged from “the record.” And so on and so on and so on.
Ultimately, what I’m talking about is too disturbing for the vast majority of people and almost all American Intellectuals–they ignore the laws of evidence and logic because they are afraid to confront the ugly truths we must ultimately face. American is nothing else but a place for mental refuge–a country addicted to fantasy and comforting stories. Our dark side comes out with our love of violent and “horror” movies that expunge our unconscious anxiety where our fears of the truth reside.
In a sense I’m sorry for disturbing your day–I really don’t have a problem confronting all this because I was raised on the classical historians who were not afraid to document the machinations of political actors.

Good post and your points are worth debating. The usual answer to your points on spending is that we need to look at spending not as debt but investment. I have a business and I’m in debt of course but if I don’t invest money in it my revenues will drop so I must continue to make the required purchases to stay afloat. If I stop I will go under of I invest I will, unless economic conditions radically worsen, stay in business and, who knows, may be able to make a profit. The US can literally create money out of thin air which it does but rather than invest it it allows politically powerful gangsters to skim a point or two off the top and lend it back to governments or corporations so they can invest in their execs taste for cocaine and prostitutes. For the moment we are getting a trickle down effect from this money creation scheme for which I’m grateful (it’s always good to be grateful) and that seems the best we can do.
Now, for your idea that governments need to take these rich a-holes in hand and take substantial amounts from their treasure houses all I have to say is you and what army? These guys hire governments and are not subject to them and, as far as I can see in the medium and short term, there is no conceivable road map to make the sort of changes you are talking about. No government in the world other than Putin’s in Russia has confronted their oligarchs and survived and made some inroads and there is no political leadership in the US or Europe that has the strength or intelligence to be real leaders.
Yannis tries to deal with the art of the possible.
 
 
 
The whole international law nonsense should just stop. There is no international law other than the law of force. The whole movement started after WWI to rationalize international relations is dead–there is only the Empire and those who, in various ways, oppose it.


Ukraine has wandered off the media landscape and settled in for the long Cold War II. It seems the issue comes down to whether Ukraine can last as a coherent state even in its rump form and whether the Russians can weather sanctions and lower energy prices. Either way, the Empire’s decision to impose misery on people continues.
As for ISIS–I was amused to hear some noodle-head administration type (on the NewsHour) talk about eschewing support from Syria and Iran to “fight” ISIS in favor of the getting the Gulf States to help. Well, these very states are the ones who created ISIS in the first place to fight Syria and Iran! It was the Gulf States who bribed Iraqi officers to surrender massive amounts of U.S. armaments to ISIS to augment the arms the imported from Libya thanks to the U.S. decision to destroy civil society in Libya to make sure Jihadis had a place to hang out. The level of discourse on the matter is so childish and pathetic I can’t watch for too long. The NewsHour is still the best program to watch to discern the various “lines” of factions within Washington.

They are deterred by nuclear confrontation. Most of this BS is theater and pro-wrestling. The enemy is not ISIS or Putin but the US and Euro public–those are the people the oligarchs want to feast on as they have been–they just want more.

Banger
No one is taking Baghdad. The war in that area has nothing to do with “normal” wars. It is all about hidden agendas of at least the following players: Iran, Turkey, Israel, the various Gulf States, rump Syria, rump Iraq, Russia, “NATO”, and all the half-dozen factions in Washington. Mix that up with real fighters and Sunnis on the ground and you have a completely insane mess with guns, money, slave girls, and God knows what else.
I see the whole crazy criminal enterprise stabilizing with various factions claiming their booty and maneuvering on the sidelines. Borders will be established. With an ISIS statelet probably dominated by Turkey, a Kurdish virtual state, a rump Iraq and a rump Syria with occasional fighting over scraps. The U.S. will attempt to maintain some kind of status quo secret agreement to keep things as-is until Lady Clinton takes the helm and all Hell breaks loose. That’s my guess based on nothing other than a knowledge that nothing is what it seems.

Clearly we are faced with a series of very clear decisions as a civilization. Let’s look at the record so far while keeping in mind the extraordinary achievements of western science/technology/systems theory and so on which is much greater and more spectacular than we generally acknowledge since, in the U.S. at least, history is considered a four-letter-word and long-term perspectives are seen as deeply immoral.
We have all the methods, materials, expertise to handle all our major problems, environmental, war/peace, income inequality and social malaise and outbreaks of serious diseases. Problem is that in all of these areas we have chosen not to use our abilities to solve any problems that involve the commons because the West doesn’t seem to recognize that such a thing exists except in a sort of theoretical sense–but when push comes to shove it is me, myself and I and the people I feel are part of my clan or tribe that count–never mind that we live in a finite planet with finite resources and carrying capacity–that is irrelevant to the vast majority of people even most on the so-called “left.”
In the U.S. (which the Western world still slavishly follows) we have turned thumbs down to effective action on climate change and other environmental scourges other than some vague gestures in that direction by some but such notions are increasingly unpopular (see the rejection of Senator Udall by Colorado voters that looks almost certain because he made the environment a major issue).
Now we are faced with Ebola despite the fact we have been warned for several decades about the inevitability of such an epidemic whether Ebola or something else. And, collectively, we have chose to ignore the problem. Well, the good part of this epidemic is that if it spreads as it appears to be spreading it could very well threaten population centers outside of Africa (which we have studiously neglected, exploited and meddled in for centuries) and then what? Are we going to realize then that simply following our own self-interest may not be in our self-interest? That maybe the culture of narcissism may not be all it’s cracked up to be? Could it be that the leadership class might be motivated to be responsible? What do you think?

The whole problem is ideological. We are not worth anything at all unless we are “productive” meaning we work for the virtual State which most corporations are a part of at this point in history. We have, because of our acceptance of the culture of narcissism growing our donkey’s ears as would have been obvious to anyone reading Pinocchio and having their eyes open.
This is not how humans were meant to live–this notion of human worthlessness is leading us to radical evil. Eventually, the logic would mean, indeed, culling the surplus population and I do know that there are people who want to do exactly that.

 
Politicians and journalists love cliche because it makes their jobs easier–they can pretend to say something but mean nothing. We aren’t able to handle reality so the media happily avoids it. Cliche, platitudes the whole thing is all about propaganda. Repeat the same thing over and over and over again and it become real even if it clearly is not.
“Folks” is a term that appeals to a sense of wholeness in a demographic that is radically split into sub-cultures that are often mutually exclusive. There are no “folks” in North America–there are various tribes and sub-cultures and, increasingly, isolated individuals who pick and choose among alternatives and live out their lives pretending to be a series of identities–that’s the trend. It’s all about, like, fashion man.


David Lentini
Good article by Gupta. But I still tend to see the key issue in the transformation of the Democrats as being the ascendence of the colleged-education, professionals who came off the campuses of the late ’60s, thinking they could pursue riches while “doing good” by focusing on very specific social issues. The promontory point with the GOP was the triumph of that party by the libteranian ideals of Milton Friedman as financed by Wall Street. In the end, that left neither party with any soul. Instead, each became slave to Wall Street and our politics degenerated into an orchestrated absurdist kabuki of side shows driven by the inflamed revanchist anger of the religious right and the stoked outrage of the left over limitations to middle class freedoms of gay marriage and abortion solving nothing by design. Of course, as the culture has accepted more of the middle class freedome, the Democrats have fewer places to hide.

Banger
Good points David. I’m a member of that generation. I stayed in the counter-culture as long as I could while everyone else was off careering around. Those insights from the sixties wafted away as if they never existed as my fellows became even more materialistic than our parents. Very sad to see.
At any rate new generations will be coming to the fore with a far more cynical and, I’m hoping, honest attitude that may want to do something about our culture of denial that my generation has created.

The clear policy of the oligarchs and all levels of gov’t–make the rich richer, the poor poorer. Make the more powerful more powerful the less powerful and so on. My problem with the younger people is that they are, as a demographic (with plenty of exceptions), weak and without courage. We saw how little support those with courage (the Occupy Movement) got from their peers–that was the opportunity missed. Instead the endless entertainments and relentless push to achieve yuppie-dumb occupies y’all’s attention.
On the other hand, my generation, completely and actively betrayed their ideals by moving rapidly from Woodstock to Ronald Reagan in a little over a decade–from trying to form communes to becoming K Street hustlers (my contemporaries) obsessed with buying suburban real-estate to out material and out suburb our own parents we criticized and made fun of–how fucking pathetic! But here’s the thing–that was a time when we could make tons of money, get what we wanted when economic groaf was better than LSD! Today, young people face a future that, increasingly, looks like a nightmare–how do y’all put up with that–there is no hope except for the privileged who will do great–but what about the middle and lower-middle? Their situation will be serfdom and they don’t utter a peep of protest.
I know young people who are veterans of Occupy who have not sold out–will their peers support them more than they supported those of us who did not go towards Reagan or the neoliberalism of so-called progressives.

All the war talk is a sign of weakness not strength. As the article above points out American wars have been a disaster–they cause more conflicts, more pain, more suffering and more money. The War Party, which is really a Party that has two goals: 1) political: U.S. society has little sense of cohesion and, therefore, external threats are needed to give the State its power as people, increasingly, lose faith in the central government; 2) money: the MIC is a fool-proof way to easy money and in Washington, increasingly, money talks–and the beauty is that the way the procurement and contracting system works there is no need to get results.
While it is true the American people are stunningly ignorant despite generations of public education (shouldn’t that tell us something about our “education” system?) and largely unable to reason beyond the daily tasks they must perform at work, the fault lies with the MSM and the entertainment media. These two institutions, along with the education system, are the chief enablers of War, War, War as a viable policy. They create a strange and ludicrous mythology about the world that is largely a fantasy. The world most Americans are told exists really doesn’t exist. If most of what you tell the public is fiction it’s easy to get everyone riled up about some “enemy” whether that enemy exists or not.
The wars the U.S. has been involved in since WWII have mainly been pointless and wasteful by any standards even those of the fictional world the MSM has created. Powerful political societies sink or swim on the quality of their elites. However nefarious the American elites were through much of our history–there were enough statesmen in key positions to avoid disaster and even to prosper the country. Today elites have little interest in the fate of the United States of America or, at least, not the real one. Ideology is now an even bigger requirement for public office than it was in Stalin’s time. Officials have to spout inane and insane slogans or they are barred from public office. It is up to the media to deconstruct the ideology of the War Party. Lobbying government or Congress is utterly pointless–if you want to put in effort lobby the media.
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In my mind, since I don’t think death is “the end” torture is worse than murder. It is, in a sense, equivalent to the “sin against the Holy Spirit” that cannot be forgiven. Torture is an active insult against the mind, the soul, the body and insults all of us by existing. No cause is worth torture whether it is torture of humans or animals.
 I knew torture was used and has been used throughout U.S. history but never in quite this “open” a way. Why? I don’t think torture became official U.S. policy because of any practical need. The terrorist threat is minor. Someone high up was quoted that they wanted to show the world what happens when they oppose the will of the U.S. and that was why Guantanamo was set up–they didn’t care who they populated the prison with–they just wanted bodies and “bought” then from Afghan and Pakistani operative with few, if any, questions asked. This was clearly state by neocons in the 90s when they said that the U.S. should inspire fear not love.
And we the people have been complicit in these crimes against the human spirit and the Holy Spirit. We were so easily led into a fantasy world of fear of things that go bump in the light that we betrayed what was left of our collective values to feed the angry maw of the War Party and its gangs of ghouls. The good part of this is that anyone with even a slight ability to reason can no longer fall into the American Exceptionalist ideology of ideocy. But, I know, from talking to people, that many will simply pretend, as in all dysfunctional families that Daddy is not fucking Sister.


The PCR article kind of puts together aspects of how markets are rigged. The situation is more complex and more extensive that PCR reports–still reading the article will give you a good sense of the general atmosphere of the “big picture.” There are informal networks now that exist between various sovereign funds, international organizations like IMF/World Bank and the major TBF banks which we can not identify as parts of the State, at least in the U.S. and Britain. I think we are past the time that we can even regulate the major markets–the attempt is futile because, at this point in history, regulators do not have much real political support and are even more vulnerable to “offers that cannot be refused” than before the 08 crash.
Thus the only way “out” of this is to create some kind of alternative financial system. Loretta Napolieoni suggested modelling it on the the Islamic system–I don’t know but we need to remove to gradually boycott all the major institutions from education to medicine to the police–just FYI don’t think that if you’re white, middle class and own property that you are immune from police abuse and use of excessive force we have a friend who was the victim of that quite recently–she was arrested and they never even read her rights and she did nothing wrong and the case will be thrown out of court on Monday I’m sure. I think that will be the future since the police will be, in their persons, the law–this is the basic fact we see emerging from a plethora of courts cases–we are wrong if we focus on race here–we are all vulnerable to the police in theory. Make your own evaluations of your local police if they are arrogant and strutting around then you are at risk.


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