Category Archives: Clintonism

Semper Fidelis or Das Kapital Uber Alles: From Eisenhower to Trump!

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

— Smedley Butler, War is a Racket (1935)

I don’t think so. I think that the – the hook for many of our supporters was the idea that this was an unusual messenger for an important environmental message. You know, people who support environmental issues are constantly trying to find a way to preach beyond the choir, to reach beyond their base of people who are already on board, and I think one of the things that’s very appealing about the film, but primarily Jerry as a messenger, is that you don’t expect this message to come from a career military person.

And through Jerry, you’re – we’ve been able to reach this audience of military folks who maybe wouldn’t be attuned to the environmental message about the effects of toxins on health and things like that. So I think there was a real appeal to many of those organizations from that perspective.

— Rachel Libert, co-producer of filmSemper Fi

I’m thinking harder and harder about the Continuing Criminal Enterprise that is the Corporate State. Thinking hard about the buffoonery, really, “regular” citizens, and members of the armed services, taking hook-line-and-sinker the foundational belief that it’s we the people, by the people, for the people, because of the people.

How wrong my old man was, 32 years combined Air Force and Army, believing he was upholding some decency, some safety nets for all, old folks homes, jobs for college grads and those without any training. Turning in his grave, absolutely, if he could now witness the evisceration of our post office, libraries, public schools, health care, roads and infrastructure. He fought for government oversight, EPA, FDA, and the rights of nature over the thuggery of madmen and Mafiosi and financial philanderers. He witnessed the abuse and fraud of the US Military Lobbying Corporate Ripoff complex, up close and personal. When he was in Korea, he had the utmost respect for Koreans, on both sides of the line. When he was in Vietnam, he had the utmost respect for the Vietnamese. He taught me the words of General Smedley Butler when I was 12. Now how fucked up is that, man. Living half a century on that graveyard of lies, propaganda and insufferable patriotism.

Daily, that American exceptionalist clarion call is pummeled and delegitimized by purveyors of Capitalism – rapacious, arbitrary, steeped in usury, couched in profits over all, cemented by the few elites and their soldiers – Little Eichmann’s – to define all human and non-human life as anything for the taking, consequences be damned. It’s a bought and sold and resell system, United States. Many times, it’s a rip-off after rip-off system of penalties and penury.

Think of Capitalism as, in spite of the people, against the people, forever exploiting the masses. Daily, I have seen this played out as a kid living on military bases around the world; or in just one of a hundred examples, as a student at the University of Arizona watching white purveyors of capital squash the sacred mountain, Mount Graham, in the name of telescopes and tens of thousands of profits per hour for anyone wanting to peer through the scopes. Sticking to the Sonora, I saw the developers in Tucson and then in Kino Bay, Guaymas, all there to push ecosystems toward extinction and to hobble the people – of, for, by, because – with centuries of collective debt and decades of individual fines, levies, taxes, penalties, tolls, externalities. This has been a Greek tragedy of monumental proportions, my 61 years of hard living, shaped by Marxist ideology and informed with communitarian reality.

Name a system or an issue, and then I quickly and easily jump to the cause and effect of the problem, and searching for intended and unintended consequences, and then comprehending shifting baselines, and then inevitably, realizing the tragedy of the commons tied to anything enshrined in consumer capitalism, and then, finally, acceding to the full context of how exponential growth and the limits of growth all come pounding like an aneurysm into my brain.

Call it death by a thousand rules, death by a thousand loopholes, death by a thousand fine print clauses, death by a thousand new chemicals polluting land, soil, air, water, flesh. Death by another thousand PT Barnum adages from dozens of financial-extracting arenas — “a sucker is born every minute,” all tributes to this casino-vulture-predatory capitalism which is insanity as we go to war for, because, despite it all.

Teacher-journalist-social worker-activist-unionist: Who the hell said I had any place in this society of “money takes/speaks/controls/shapes all,” or the Holly-dirt celebrity that is Weinstein or Rosanne Barr, the lot of them, and the unending perversion of big business-big media-big energy-big finance-big pharma-big arms manufacturing-big war as the new coded and DNA-embedded value system, the existential crisis (hog) of culture, civil society, the commons, community, and nature?

The men and women I work with now, after a cavalcade of careers under my belt, are wounded soldiers, sometimes wounded warriors, and many times wounded children – both the inner child and the literal children of soldiers. We’ve had one-day-old babies and 83-year-old veterans in this shelter. Every type of service, every type of discharge, every kind of military history. Some were never deployed overseas, some were but in support capacities, and others saw combat.

That is the microcosm of society reflected in this homeless shelter. I’ve written about it here and here and here. The prevailing winds of one or two strikes, then one or two bad debts, then one or two evictions, or one or two convictions, and, one or two co-occurring maladies, or one or two levels of trauma, and you are almost out; and mix that up with failed relationships, and capitalism and militarism, joined at the hip like a six-legged frog, and we have homelessness. Living in garages, in mini-vans, on couches, in tents, on floors, in wooden boxes, in abandoned buildings, in cemeteries, in cars.

For veterans, there is some level of dysfunctional help through the VA, the medical and dental system, the psych wards, and with housing vouchers and some debt relief. Thank a veteran for his or her service to the country, well, that’s a sloppy invocation of superficial respect.

The crumbs of the octopus that is capitalism wedded to war trickle down to some sectors of society – those who were diagnosed before 18 with some developmental-psychological-intellectual disability and veterans who served. I am talking about vets who didn’t go full-bore and retire after 20-plus years. These vets sometimes ended up in for four or five years, some a few months, and as is the case, here, the hierarchy of character and demographics kicks in, as veterans deployed to war and those who were wounded in war get a higher level of “benefits” than, say, someone who was in a few months or a year with no splashy combat rejoinder to his or her record.

We have vets in continuous, long bureaucratic lines working on their service connected disability claims, and, it’s sometimes a huge Sisyphus game of producing medical record after medical record going up against the hydra of the US government, Arms Service Committee pols, and the western medical system that was bound for failure after the striped barber pole days ended. The military does not help, denying injuries on the job, in combat or otherwise.

Tinnitus or loss of hearing, well, that’s usually a given after even a few months of service in the military. Knees, hips, feet, back problems. Anxiety, depression, skin issues. Kidney, teeth, TBI issues. PTSD and MST (military sexual trauma). The list is a ten-volume encyclopedia.

What I’ve found is most guys and gals are not wired for the obscene confusion, machismo and endless stupidity of repetition and humiliation of barking dehumanizing orders and tasks coming out of service to our country – all branches of the military make the Sanford Prison Experiment look like a walk in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

A Documentary About Cover-up, Collective Guilt, Toxins in the Water, Death

The precipitating factor behind a review of a 2011 documentary, Semper Fi: Always Faithful, directed and produced by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, is I am working with a former Marine client as his social worker. In a homeless shelter for veterans; that moniker – social worker — is a deep one, a cover-all assignment, with wide ranging responsibilities, some anticipated and others surprisingly serendipitous.

His case, age 63, former Marine, in at age 17 with parents’ permission, is complicated – as if the other cases are not. A lot of these cases involve young men and women, virtually boys and girls, getting out of Dodge. Some with a sense of patriotism, for sure, and a few with aspirations of turning the military into a career. But make no bones about it, these people many times got caught up in the rah-rah patriotism of the day, Apple Pie, Mom, Hot Dogs and Football. Some were in it for the macho badge, and others wanted to learn avionics, electronics, logistics and nursing, etc. Many were discharged because of physical injuries or some sort of mental strain, or many were rifted for the unjust downright downsizing.

I’ll call my man Larry, and he grew up on the Oregon Coast, ending up hitching up with the Marine Corps because he wanted out of bubble of the small town and wanted in with a band of brothers.

Today, he is still tall, but a bit hunched over. His face is frozen in a heavy screen of sadness and fear. Both hands he is attempting to calm, but Parkinsonian tremors have taken over; he can’t hold a tray of food and drink, and he has no signature left. He has bruises on his arms and shines from falling over, tripping. He repeats himself, and knows it, telling me his words are coming out slurred.

He spent two years in prison for what amounts to minor (in my mind) medical fraud with his company. Those two years, he tells me, were nirvana. “The prison guards told me they had never anyone say they were glad to be in prison. I told them this was the calmest and most level I had ever been, or for at least years.”

His life was one of overwork, overreach, clients all over the Pacific Northwest, gambling addiction, big money from his business, lot of toys and big home, and children who ended up spoiled and broken as adults. Larry’s juggling a hoarder wife whose mother is dying, a heroin-addicted daughter with a child, another daughter in an abusive relationship, and countless appointments now to the VA, psychologists, counselors, OT and PT professionals, and support groups.

Today, he is quickly slipping into miasma of Parkinson’s, with all the symptoms and negative cycles of someone with Parkinson’s hitting him daily. He barely got a diagnosis, as early on-set, a few months ago; in fact, he’s been living with the Parkinsonian-triggered suite of maladies for up to 12 years, he tells me. “I remember my clients telling me I was repeating myself. I really think the stupid decision to defraud the state for a few hundred dollars was triggered by Parkinson’s.”

He and I have talked to support groups, looked at the literature around Parkinson’s, watched TED Talk’s focusing on the disease, gone to Michael J. Fox’s web site, and just honed in on what his life will be like in a year, two years, and five.

Right now, his Parkinson’s is one of nine major maladies tied to service connected disabilities the VA is now processing. This ties into the movie – Semper Fi – because my client was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as part of the Marine Corps where learning the art of war was also combined with the silent spring of water contamination that eventually resulted in diseases that both affected the veterans but also their families, and civilians who used the water, as well as their offspring.

This is a three decades long exposure, 1957 – 1987, with an estimated 750,000 to 1,000,000 people who may been exposed to the cancer- and neurological disorder-causing chemicals. They consumed and bathed in tap water contaminated with “extremely high concentrations of toxic chemicals.”

The documentary follows three main protagonists fighting for their lives, the legacy of loved ones who were affected, and for the truth.

This is Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and according to the epidemiologists and scientists from the National Academy of Sciences, it is one of largest water contamination incidents in US history. We learn in the film the main carcinogens the people were exposed to — benzene, vinyl chloride and trichloroethylene (TCE), three known human carcinogens, in addition to perchloroethylene (PCE), a probable carcinogen.

The list of physical damage caused by exposure is long — Birth Defects, Leukemia, Neurological Damage, Bladder Cancer, Liver Damage, Ovarian Cancer, Breast Cancer, Lymphoma, Prostate Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Lung Cancer, Scleroderma, Kidney Damage, Miscarriage, Skin Disorders.

My guy Larry is afraid of watching the documentary, as he is now in a spiraling malaise and deep anxiety tied to the reality of what life with Parkinson’s is, and that maybe many of his life decisions, from infidelity in a marriage to spontaneous behavior like gambling addiction may have stemmed from the stripping of his neurological web by these solvents and fuels that were leaking into the water supply, a contamination known by the United States’ Marines.

Knowledge is power but it can be a leveling power, one that forces people to look at the totality of their lives as may be based on a stack of lies and false ideologies. The movie reveals to the audience that this is one of 130 military sites in the USA with contamination issues. Alas, as I’ve written about before, the US military is the largest polluter in the world, and other militaries have the same standards or lack thereof for storing fuel, solvents, cleaners and other chemicals utilized in the war machine of the West.

Three Lives Following the Chemical Trail, Lies and Deceit

The documentary looks at three lives intensely – a 24-year veteran of the Marines whose 9-year-old daughter Janey died of a rare type of leukemia, a man who was born on the base and raised there and then developed male breast cancer, and a female Marine who served years at the Camp and who throughout the film is going through chemo to fight her rare disease.

We see the gravestones at the military cemetery at Camp Lejeune and remarkable typographic evidence of strange deaths – babies buried after a day living, stillborn babies buried, families with two or three deceased individuals, the offspring of serving Marines buried in plots surrounded by others who prematurely died.

Jerry Ensminger, the former drill sergeant, pushes hard to attempt to understand how the Marines could have lied and covered up the years of contamination. He fights to understand how the chemical producers through their lobbyists could hold sway over the common sense duty of protecting the citizens of the United States who swore an oath to defend the US Constitution. In the end, Jerry Ensminger (Janey’s dad), Michael Partain (male breast cancer survivor), and Danita McCall (former Marine enlisted soldier) make for compelling film making, since the project went on for four years.

Here, Rachel, the co-producer, talks about Danita:

The woman who shook her head is a woman named Danita, who we also followed in the film. When we met Danita, she was actually healthy, but shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with cancer that honestly had metastasized so much in her body that I don’t think they could even say what the organ of – you know, what organ it started in. And we began to – in addition to following Jerry and Tom and the others, we also followed Danita as she fought to stay alive, as well as fought to get this issue out.

She did not make it in the time that we were making the film. And neither my co-director or I had ever experienced that in a project we’d worked on, and it was really hard. But Danita felt very strongly that her story should be in the film, and she – even though there were times where she was not feeling so great when we were trying to film her, because she had chemo treatment and whatnot, she really rallied through.

The ultimate sacrifice fighting for your life because of chemical-toxin induced cancers are eating at your very soul while also going up against the PR and hellish propaganda systems that define America, define the powerful, the political, the lobbies, the Captains of Industry, in this case, the chemical purveyors who have been given carte blanc the right to kill entire neighborhoods and classes of people and non-people species because Capitalism is predicated on unfettered rights of any snake oil salesman or demon shyster to bilk, bust, and bill for all the disease they perpetrate. Is anyone with a sound mind going to believe that Agent Orange and PCBs were not already deemed harmful to human life before they were even sprayed on the innocents of Vietnam? Does anyone believe the polluted, lead-flecked water of Flint doesn’t kill brain cells? Off-gassing, Volitile Organic Compounds, plastics, solvents, flame retardants, pesticides, fungicides, diesel fumes, nitrous oxide, fluoride, well, the list goes on and on, and those demons will hide, obfuscate, and downright lie to keep the pennies from Capitalism’s Heaven falling into their fat, off-shore, tax-free bank accounts.

Here, Jerry, talking to C-SPAN:

When any family ever have a child, especially a child, that’s diagnosed with a long-term catastrophic illness, without exception — because I’ve talked to so many other families, when Janey was sic– the first thing after you have a chance to sit down after the shock of the diagnosis wears off is that nagging question: Why? Well, I was no exception.
And I looked into her mother’s family history, my family history, no other child had ever been diagnosed with cancer.

We are talking about over one thousand Freedom of Information requests to have Navy, Marines and other government agency files open for public viewing. The concept of we the people, by the people, for the people – public health, safety, welfare – has never really been a reality, but a myth. For filmmaker Rachel Libert, she too has been caught with wide open eyes around how rotten the systems in place are for supposedly cross-checking and protecting people’s lives:

It’s been eye-opening for me. I think the thing that was probably the most eye-opening – I don’t consider myself a naive person, but I – I actually believed that our regulatory agencies were doing their job and protecting us, bottom line, that things that were really, really harmful and known to be carcinogens wouldn’t really be in our environment, in our water and things. And in making this film, I realized that that system is very flawed and that we aren’t as protected, and that was a very difficult thing for me to accept.

I mean, I certainly didn’t go into it thinking, oh, the government’s perfect and there are no problems, but that was a big revelation.

Again, the film is a microcosm of the world I live in, the world I work in, and the world of a Marxist struggling to make sense of the psychology of power and the impact of that power on the common people. Yes, schooling has helped with the American mythology of greatness. Yes, the Madison Avenue shills have aided and abetted the stupidity of a collective. Yes, the genocidal roots of this country’s illegal origin continue to splay the DNA of Americans. Yes, the food is bad, the air contaminated, the medicines polluted and the human spirit malformed in the collective American household. Yes, those in power are perversions, open felons, war mongers and money grubbers.

But, when you see over the course of four years – these main “actors” in the documentary are not paid – the Don Quixotes flailing at windmills, just replace Camp Lejeune with Love Canal or Monfort slaughter house, or fence-line communities around Houston or the flaming waters of the Cuyahoga River. Just spend a few years studying the largest Superfund site, Hanford in southern Washington. Just spend time looking at the research on Glyphosate (Monsanto’s DNA-killing Round-up). Just delve into the research on EMFs and cancers, or cell phones and brain lesions. Again, this so-called exceptionalist country is a purveyor of lies, purveyor of mentally deranged uber patriotism, and without exception, eventually, anyone going up against the system will quickly hold to him or her self the belief we all have been snookered by the Titans of Industry and the Wolves of Wall Street.

Here, the good Marine, 24 years in, Semper Fi, now a farmer in North Carolina, wondering just what he was fighting for:

Well . . . one thing that they’ve done over the years is that they have obfuscated the facts so much, they have told so many half-truths and total lies, they’ve omitted a lot of information to the media, and now if they were to sit down with me face-to-face, I could show them with their own documents and counter what they’ve been saying, and they don’t want to do that.

I mean, I have been very, very cautious throughout this entire fight to speak truth. I’ve told Mike Partain, when he got involved in it, and everybody else that gets involved in this situation, don’t ever speculate. If you’re talking to the media, if you’re talking to Congress, never speculate. If you don’t have a document out of their own files to back up what you’re saying, keep your mouth shut.

And going back to Mike Partain, when Mike got involved in this back in 2007, Tom was starting to fall out of the hike. Tom’s in his 80s. And Mike was a godsend. I mean, Mike has a degree in history. And he has also got investigative skills, because he is an insurance adjuster. He couldn’t – he couldn’t pay to raise his family on high school teacher’s pay, history teacher’s pay, so he went and got a job as an investigator.

Admirable, the story telling and truth Sather qualities in this film, for sure. The audience gets up close and personal with Jerry and Mike and Danita, and the directors let the soldiers tell the story. We get the cold hard stare down of the military brass. Indeed, for the uninitiated this story is compelling.

But also on the outer edges of this piece are the obscenities of blind obedience to command. There are some ugly truths to being a Marine, of following orders, of sadomasochistic drill sergeants, the culture of rape, the outright racism, and all the attendant issues tied to military service.

This is the fiftieth year after the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. The two or three soldiers who stood down some of the killers and reported the crime were vilified. That bastion of war, Colin Powell, was a junior officer whose job was to hunt down any incriminating evidence against the soldiers who reported the murders. Seymour Hersh won a Pulitzer for his reporting on My Lai. Yet, Colin Powell rose to power, ending up in another war criminal’s administration – Bush Junior. To think of all the illegal wars these soldiers have prepped for and gone to, one wonders if any soldier can believe anything around their sometimes teary-eyed salute the flag patriotism.

The USS Liberty, 51 years ago, and Israel murders 34 sailors, and wounds 171, yet deniability, no repercussions, and here we are, US DoD and US Military are the beckon call of Israel firsters running our government, and the blind allegiance to the apartheid and genocidal state 70 years after forced trail of tears for Palestine, and all those deniers now in positions of Fortune 500 power, and who decide the fate of the plebes, the foot soldiers of industry and military services.

Conversing with my veterans, so many are confused about aliens and Area 54 and reverse engineering from that Roswell kid from space; somehow a Trump is more palatable than an Obama than a Bush. How many times have I been spat upon and cursed when I fought against illegal wars, overt or proxy, in South America, Central America, the Middle East? How many times have I been yelled at for fighting against chemical plants or fighting for clean air, water, soil? How many times have I been called a Pinko Fag for fighting for spotted owls or gray wolves?

As an avowed revolutionary, Marxist, one who has been hobbled by the middling mush that is America, from acidified sea to oil slick sea, I can only say that George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain, respectively, say it correctly about this thing called “patriotism”:

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.

— George Bernard Shaw

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

— Mark Twain

I’ve got a more horrific story to tell about Larry, my former Marine. Yes, he might get some more service connected disability money coming in for the toxic water exposure he attained in North Carolina while on the Marine Corps base for a few years.

He is now stagnant, fearful of uncontrollable tremors, fearful of not getting words out, fearful of falls, fearful of a life now full of attendants, and as we all are, fearful of ending up destitute (he is in a homeless shelter, readers), and alas, his one asset — his brain — is now fogged and riddled with the bullet holes of anxiety and paranoia.

Yet, his toxic waters story pales in comparison to what happened to him as a 17-year-old at boot camp in Dan Diego. A story so bizarre and troubling, that it’s one the military has dealt with since time immemorial, when the first militaries came about under those pressed into service rules of the rich needing bodies to fight their unholy skirmishes, battles and world wars.

That story and series of human penalties Larry encompasses will come soon, but for now, imagine, a country run by the likes of Obama, Bush, Clinton, Trump, et al. Imagine those swollen jowls and paunchy millionaire politicians. Imagine their lies, their sociopathic inbreeding. Imagine the tortures they foment at night. Imagine these people sending people to war, and imagine the entire lie that is America, the land of the free.

Hell, in my own neck of the woods, Portland, again, we are a third world country when it comes to we, for, by and because the people:

In one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, the fight for clean water is taxing. From Salem, Oregon to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota and from Flint, Michigan to the L’eau Est La Vie Camp in Louisiana, Americans are finding their access to clean water threatened.

Emma Fiala

Greater Of Two Evils: Why The Democratic Party Is Worse Than The Republican Party For 85% Of The U.S. Population

How to conceive of the two-party system

Lesser of two evils

Among liberals and the different types of socialists, when the subject of the Democratic Party comes up, there are at least two variations. One is the familiar liberal argument that the Democratic Party is the “lesser of two evils”. For them, the Republican Party is the source of most, if not all, problems while the Democratic Party is presented as shortsighted, weak and/or incompetent bumblers. Among some of the more compromising members of the Green Party, the lesser of two evils manifests itself when it implores its voters to “vote in safe states”.

There are a number of reasons why I will claim that the Democratic Party is not the lesser of two evils. But for now, I want to point out that the lesser of two evils has at its foundation a political spectrum which is organized linearly with conservatives and fascists on the right. Along the left there are liberals, followed by social democrats, state socialists, and anarchists on the extreme left. All the forces moving from liberals leftward is broadly categorized as “progressive.” What this implies is that there are only quantitative  differences between being a liberal and being any kind of socialist. In this scenario, being a liberal is somehow closer to being a socialist than being a liberal is to a being a conservative. However, there is an elephant in the room, and the elephant is capitalism.

What unites all socialists — social democrats, Maoists, Trotskyists, council communists and anarchists — is opposition to capitalism. What divides us from liberals, whether they are inside or outside the Democratic Party, is that liberals are for capitalism. In relation to the economic system, liberals are closer to conservatives than they are to socialists of any kind. So, the “lesser of two evils “argument is based on the expectation that socialists will ignore the capitalist economic system and make believe that capitalism is somehow progressive. It might have been possible to argue this case 60 years ago, but today capitalism makes its profits on war, slave prison labor and fictitious capital. Characterizing this as “progress” is ludicrous.

The parties are interchangeable

Most anarchists and various varieties of Leninists claim there is no difference between the parties. They say that capitalists control both parties and it is fruitless to make any distinctions. I agree they are both capitalist parties, but what most socialists fail to do is point out that, in addition to protecting the interests of capitalists as Republicans do, the Democratic Party: a) presents itself as representing the middle and lower classes; and b) stands in the way of the formation of a real opposition to the elites.

The second reason I disagree with the idea that the two parties are simply interchangeable is that it fails to make a distinction between the interests of the ruling and upper classes (Republicans) on the one hand, and the upper middle class (mostly Democrats) on the other. There are real class differences between elites that should not dissolved.

The Democrats are the greater of two evils

The argument I will make in this article is that the Democratic Party is worse than the Republican Party for about 85% of the population. I make this argument as a Council Communist, and my argument in no way implies voting for Republicans, Greens or even voting at all. Before giving you my reasons for why the Democratic Party is worse for most people I want to give you a sense of how I came up with the figure of 85% .

Old money vs new money and the class composition in the United States

Sociologists have some disagreements over how many classes there are in the United States and what occupations cover what social classes. While some might have a bone to pick about my percentages, I am confident that I am at least in the ballpark. The ruling class constitutes the 1% (or less) of the population and the upper class another 5%. What these classes have in common is that they all live off finance capital and do not have to work. This is what has been called “old money”. This old money had its investments in extractive industries like oil, mining and the war industry. This is the stronghold of the Republican Party.

The upper middle classes consist of doctors, lawyers, architects, and senior managers who make a lot of money, but have to work long hours. It also includes scientists, engineers as well as media professionals such as news commentators, magazine and newspaper editors, college administrators and religious authorities. Yet there are tensions between the elites and the upper middle class. The upper middle class represents “new money” and makes their profits from scientific innovation, the electronics industry, including computers and the Internet, among other avenues. This class constitutes roughly 10% of the population. The upper middle class is the stronghold of the Democratic Party.

A number of economists from Thomas Piketty to Richard Wolff have argued that for these social classes there has been an “economic recovery” since the crash of 2008. For all other classes there has been decline. The role of the Democratic Party is:

  1. To represent the actual interests of the upper middle class; and,
  2. To make believe it is a spokesperson for the other 85%.

Far be it for me to say that the Republicans and Democrats represent the same thing. There is real class struggle between the interests of the ruling class and the upper class on the one hand and the upper middle class on the other. My point is that for 85% of the population these differences between elites are irrelevant. What the top three classes have in common is a life and death commitment to capitalism – and this commitment is vastly more important than where the sources of their profits come from.

Who are these remaining 85%? Poor people, whether they are employed or not, constitute about 20% of the population. When they are working this includes unskilled work which simply means no previous training is required. Working class people — blue and white collar — represent about 40% of the population. This includes carpenters, welders, electricians, technical workers, secretaries, computer programmers, and X-ray technicians. Middle class people — high school, grammar school teachers, registered nurses, librarians, corporate middle management, and small mom-and-pop storeowners — are about 25% of the population. Most poor people don’t vote and in a way, they are smart because they understand that the Democratic Party can do nothing for them. While many working-class people don’t vote, highly skilled working class people do vote, and many will vote Democrat. Middle classes are also more likely to vote Democrat with the exception of small business owners. In fact, research by labor theorist Kim Moody into the voting patterns of the last election showed that a high percentage of this petty bourgeois voted for Trump.

The Democratic Party has nothing to offer the middle class

When I was growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, my father worked as a free-lance commercial artist about 40 hours per week. My mother stayed home and raised my sister and I. One income could cover all of us. My parents sent me to Catholic grammar schools and high schools, which were not very expensive, but they had to save their money to do it. They helped pay for part of my college education after I dropped out and then came back. They helped my partner and I with a down payment on a house in Oakland, CA. Today both parents in a middle-class family need to work and the work-week for middle class workers is at least 10 hours longer. As for savings, if a middle-class family buys a home, it is much more difficult to save for their children’s education.

In 1970 I was living in Denver, Colorado and had my own studio apartment for $70/month. I worked 20 hours a week at the library as a page and could afford to go to community college part-time. Twenty years later I tried to communicate this to my stepdaughter who was 20 years old and then compared it to her experience. She was working full-time as a waitress, had to live with two other people and could only afford to take a couple of classes without going into debt. Reluctantly and seemingly defeated she had to return home to live if she were to ever graduate from a community college. The Democrats did nothing to stem the tide of the decline of the middle class. Working class and middle class people may continue to vote for Democrats, but that doesn’t mean Democrats are delivering the goods. It just means these classes don’t want to face that:

  1. a) They have no representation; and,
  2. b) There is no alternative party and they do not live in a democracy.

Now on to why I believe the Democratic Party is worse that the Republican party for this 85% of the population.

The Democratic Party has nothing to do with being liberal

Most people who support the Democratic Party don’t really consider the party as it actually is, but how they imagine is should be according either to political science classes they’ve picked up in high school or college or from what they have picked up unconsciously through conversations. They have also gotten this from Democratic Party members themselves who talk about liberal values while in practice acting like conservatives. These voters think the Democratic Party is liberal. What do I mean by liberal? The term liberal has a long political history which I have traced elsewhere1 but let’s limit the term to what I call “New Deal Liberals”.

These New Deal liberals think that the state should provide essential services like pensions, food stamps, natural disaster relief as well as road and bridge construction. They also think the state should intervene to minimize some of the worst aspects of capitalism such as child wage work or sex slavery. These liberals think that Democrats should support the development of unions to protect the working class. This class deserves an adequate wage and decent working conditions. They also think — as it is in the American dream — that in order to justify their existence, capitalists should make profit from the production of real goods and services. These liberals think that the Democratic Party should support the development of science and research to create an easier life so that the standard of living for the American population should go up from generation to generation. These are the values of New Deal liberals. If the Democratic Party acted as if it supported these things, I could understand why liberals would say voting for the Democratic Party is the lesser of two evils. The problem is that these New Deal liberals are trapped in a 50-year time warp when the last real liberal Democratic president was Lyndon Johnson. The Democratic Party hasn’t been liberal in 50 years. This is one reason why the program of New Deal liberal Bernie Sanders had been so popular.

It does not take a Marxist to argue that the United States has been in economic decline since the mid 1970’s. It won’t do to blame the Republicans alone for this 50-year degeneration. The Democratic Party has had presidents between 1976 and 1980, in addition to eight years of Clinton, as well as eight years of Obama. They have had twenty years’ worth of chances to put into practice liberal values and they have failed miserably. Under the Democratic Party:

  • The standard of living is considerably below the standard of living 50 years ago.
  • The minimum wage bought more in 1967 than it does today.
  • The standard of living for all racial minorities has declined since the 1970’s.
  • Unions, which protected the working class, have dwindled to barely 10%.
  • With the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich, no Democrat is prepared to commit to building infrastructure as a foundation for a modern civilization.
  • The proportion of wealth claimed by finance capital has dwarfed investment in industrial capital compared to fifty years ago.
  • The Democrats have signed off on all imperialist wars for the last 50 years.
  • Science has lost respectability in the United States as it fights a battle against fundamentalism. Do Democrats come out unapologetically for science and challenge the fundamentalists and the New Agers? There are more people in the US who believe in astrology than they did in the Middle Ages. Does the Democratic Party, in the name of its claimed roots in the Enlightenment, rescue the public from these follies? Hardly.

Please tell me in what sense is this party liberal?

The Democratic Party is not an oppositional party: the Republicans play hardball; the Democrats play badminton

It is right about this time that a liberal defending the Democratic Party would chime in and say something about the Supreme Court. The line is “If we don’t get so and so elected, then the evil right-wing judge will get appointed and Roe vs Wade will be threatened.” This line has been trotted out for the last 45 years. What it conveniently ignores is that the Democratic Party has been in power for at least 40% of the time, whether in the executive or any other branch. It has had forty years to load the Supreme Court with rabid liberals so as to bury the right-to-lifers when they had the chance. An oppositional party would have done this. The Democratic Party has not.

Trump has been on a tear destroying what was left of US international diplomatic relations put into place by Kissinger and Brzezinski. His “policies” are consistently right wing “interventions”, whether they succeed or not. At the same time, domestically Trump has been consistently right wing on every issue from public schools, to immigrants to social programs. What he has done has destabilized international and domestic relations. Conservatives have been doing this kind of thing for 50 years, but with more diplomacy. If the Democratic Party were really an oppositional party, I would expect to find liberal interventions that are roughly the reverse of what Trump and the conservatives have done. There have been no such interventions.

Examples of what an oppositional party would look like

Under an oppositional Democratic regime we would have found a normalization of trade relations with Cuba. There would be scientists and engineers sent to Haiti to build and repair roads and bridges destroyed by natural disasters. There would be normalization of relations with Venezuela and bonds built with the social democratic parties of the Latin American left. Domestically the minimum wage would be restored to at least the standard of 50 years ago. After all, statistics show “productivity” has gone up in the late 50 years. Why wouldn’t the standard of living improve? Social Security and pensions would be regularly upgraded to keep up with the cost of inflation. Bridge and road repair would have been undertaken and low-cost housing would be built. A real liberal president might be so bold as to deploy US soldiers to build them since most them would no longer be employed overseas. They might also have put forward bills implementing a mass transit system, one that is as good as those of Europe or Japan. Has the Democratic Party done any of these things?

This is “opposition”?

Internationally the Democratic Party’s policies have been indistinguishable from the Republicans. Obama did try to normalize relations with Cuba but that was in the service of the potential for foreign investment, not out of any respect for the social project of building the socialism Cuba was engaged in. The US Democratic regimes have done nothing for Haiti. Its attitude towards the Latin American “pink tide” has been hostile while supporting neo-liberal restoration whenever and wherever possible.

Domestic Democratic regimes have done nothing to stem the tide of longer work hours and marginalization of workers as well as the temporary and part-time nature of work. Social Security and pensions have not kept up with the cost of inflation. The Democratic Party has had 20 years to repair the bridges, the roads and the sewer systems and what has it done? The Democrats had 20 years to build low-cost housing and get most, if not all, the homeless off the streets. What have Democrats done? Like the Republicans, the Democrats have professed to have no money for infrastructure, low cost housing or improving mass transit. Like the Republicans they have gone along in blocking Universal Health Care that virtually every other industrialized country possesses. But just like the Republicans they suddenly have plenty of money when it comes to funding seven wars and building the prison industrial complex. Time and again Democratic politicians have ratified increasing the military budget despite the fact that it has no state enemies like the Soviet Union.

In 2008 capitalism had another one of its crisis moments. Marxists and non-Marxist economists agree that the banks were the problem. The Democrats, with that classy “first African American president” did not implement a single Keynesian intervention to reign in the banks. No banker has even gone to jail. What a real Democratic opposition would have done is to tell the banks something like, “look, the public has bailed you out this time, but in return for this collective generosity, we require that you make your profits from undertaking all the infrastructural work that needs to be done, like building a 21st century mass transit system and investing some of your profits in low cost housing.” This is what an oppositional party would do. Notice none of this has anything to do with socialism. It’s straight New Deal liberalism.

In sum, over the last 45 years have you ever seen a consistent left liberal intervention by Democrats that would be the equivalent of what Trump is doing now or any conservative regime has done in the last 50 years in any of these areas? Has Carter, Clinton I or Obama done anything equivalent in their 20 years of formal power that Republicans have done in their 30 years? No, because if they ever dreamed of doing such a thing the Republicans would have them driven from office as communists. When was the last time a Democratic candidate drove a Republican from office by calling them a fascist? The truth of the matter is that the Republicans play hardball while the Democrats play badminton.

The second reason the Democratic Party is not an oppositional party is because “opposition” is a relative term. The lesser of two evils scenario works with the assumption that parties are partisan: all Republicans vote in block and all Democrats vote in block. This, however, is more the exception than the rule. Most times some Republicans support Democratic policies and most times some Democrats support Republican measures. Many Republican policies would not have been passed had the Democrats really been an oppositional party. In 2004, when Ralph Nader ran for president, he was raked over the coals for “spoiling” the elections. Yet as later research proves, more people who were registered Democrat voted for Republicans than the total number of people who voted for the Green Party.

The Democratic Party is a party of the elites

Those politicians and media critics who inhabit the nether worlds between left liberal and social democracy such as Robert Reich, Bernie Sanders, Cornell West are tenacious in their search for the “soul” of the Democratic Party. They insist on dividing Democrats into conservative and liberals. The latest version is to call right-wing Democrats “corporate” Democrats as compared to some other kind of Democrat labelled “progressive”. The implication is that it is possible not to be bought hook line and sinker by corporations if you are in the Democratic Party. I am skeptical that any person can run as a Democrat candidate, win an election and not make some compromises with corporations even at a local level. I am cynical this can be done at a state or national level. Corporations are ruling class organizations and they own both parties. There is a reason why Martin Luther King, Malcolm X never joined the Democratic Party.

If the last Democratic primaries in which Clinton II was handed the nomination over Bernie Sanders was not enough to make you leave the party, the World Socialist Website published two major articles on how the CIA is running its own candidates as Democrats this year. When a world terrorist organization runs candidates under a liberal banner, isn’t that enough to convince you that the Democratic Party is a party of the elites?

Earlier I stated that the upper middle class represents the Democratic Party and the upper class and the ruling class represent the Republican Party. While each may have inter-class differences it is essential for all three social classes that their struggle be seen by the 85% as something this 85% has a stake in. It is important for the ruling class and the upper class that there is a party that appears to represent the unwashed masses (the Democrats). The ruling class and the upper class need the Democratic Party even if they have differences with the upper middle class, whom the Democrats represent. They need the Democratic Party to help create the illusion that voting is an expression of democracy. But the Democratic Party has as much to do with democracy as the Republican Party has to do with republicanism.

The Democratic Party’s presence is an obstacle to building a real opposition to elites

By far the greatest reason the Democratic Party is worse than the Republican Party is the way in which the presence of the Democratic Party drains energy from developing a real opposition to the elites and the upper middle class.

The Democratic Party attacks the Green Party far more than it attacks Republicans

While the Democratic Party plays badminton with Republicans, it plays hardball with third parties, specifically the Green Party. It does everything it can to keep the Greens off the stage during the debates and makes things difficult when the Greens try to get on the ballot. After the last election, Jill Stein was accused of conspiring with the Russians to undermine the Democrats.

If the Democratic Party was a real liberal party, if it was a real opposition party, if it was a party of the “working people” rather than the elites, it would welcome the Green Party into the debates. With magnanimously liberal self-confidence it would say “the more the merrier. May all parties of the left debate.” It would welcome the Greens or any other left party to register in all 50 states and simply prove its program superior.

The wasted time, energy and loss of collective creativity of non-elites

About 10% of the 40% of working class people are in unions. Think of how much in the way of union dues, energy and time was lost over the last 50 years trying to elect Democratic candidates who did little or nothing for those same unions. All that money, energy and time could have been spent in either deepening the militancy of existing unions or organizing the other 30% of workers into unions.

Think of all untapped creative political activity of working class people who are not in unions that was wasted in being enthusiastic and fanatical about sports teams because they see no hope or interest in being part of a political community. Instead of being on talk show discussion groups on Monday morning talking about what the Broncos should have done or could have done on Sunday, think of the power they could have if instead they spent their time strategizing about how to coordinate their strike efforts.

Think of all the immigrants and refugees in this country working at skilled and semi-skilled jobs that have wasted what little time they had standing in line trying to get Democratic Party politicians elected. That time could have been spent on more “May Days Without An Immigrant” as happened thirteen years ago

Think of all the middle class African Americans whose standards of living have declined over the last 45 years who wasted their vote on Democrats and put their faith in the Black Caucus. Think of the wasted time, effort and energy of all middle class people who often actively campaign and contribute money to the Democratic Party that could have been spent on either building a real liberal party or better yet, a mass socialist party.

For many years, the false promise that the Democratic Party just might be a party of the working people has stood in the way of the largest socialist organization in the United States from building a mass working class party. Social Democrats in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) who should have known better continue to blur the line between a real socialist like Eugene Debs and left liberals like Bernie Sanders. With 33,000 members there are still factions of DSA that will not break with the Democrats.

Are there real differences between the neo-liberal Democrats and the neo-conservative Republicans? Are there differences between Soros and the Koch brothers? Yes, but these differences are not, as Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Claire have said, “a dimes worth of difference”, especially compared to what the presence of the Democratic party has done for 50 years to 85% of the population. Their fake opposition has stood in the way of building a mass left political party.

The Democratic Party is a parasite on social movements

Can you remember a time when the Democratic Party had an innovative program of their own that was clearly separate from the Republicans yet distinct from any left wing social movements?

I can’t. What I have seen is a Democratic party that does nothing but sniff out the flesh and blood of social movements and vampirize them. I have no use for identity politics, but I can remember a time when the Democratic Party wanted nothing to do with it. Now it runs candidates based on identity politics. Black Lives Matter is now part of the Ford Foundation, a Democratic Party think tank. The Occupy Movement term “occupy” was taken as a name for a Facebook page sympathetic to the Democrats, Occupy Democrats, as if the Democratic Party could be occupied. The Democratic Party, which did nothing for feminism while it was attacked and marginalized by the right wing since the 1980’s, has suddenly “discovered” feminism in the Pink Pussy cats. This is an upper middle class party that sings “We Shall Overcome” fifty years too late.

What should be done?

Rather than focusing on the evil Republican Party, which makes the Democrats seem merely wishy-washy or inept, the policies of the Democratic Party should be attacked relentlessly while paying little attention to Republicans. In the election years, the Green Party should abandon its strategy of soliciting votes in “safe states”. Instead, the Greens should challenge those who claim to be “left-wing” Democrats to get out of the party as a condition for being voted for. In my opinion, there needs to be an all-out war on the Democratic Party as a necessary step to building a mass party. The goal of such a party should not be to win elections, but to use public opportunities as a platform for deepening, spreading and coordinating the commonalities of the interests of the poor, working class and middle class people.

  1. Counterpunch, “Left Liberals Have No Party”

The Donkey Did It More: Russian Collusion in the Age of Delusion

Schiff Is a Shill for the Russians
Mark Levin

Lamenting Germany’s WW1 defeat at the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, Joseph Goebbels acknowledges a hard lesson learned:

While the enemy states produced unprecedented atrocity propaganda aimed at Germany throughout the whole world, we did nothing and were completely defenseless against it…Just as we were militarily and economically unprepared for the war, so also with propaganda. We lost the war in this area more than in any other. The cleverest trick used in propaganda against Germany during the war was to accuse Germany of what our enemies themselves were doing. (My italics)

History repeats even its most odious chapters. Today, the cleverest trick against President Trump in the current high-stakes establishment war is to accuse him of what his enemies, mostly Democrats, are already up to their donkey-ears in: Russian collusion.

                                    *****

The term Russian collusion sounds like it walked off a Tavistock Institute clipboard with the usual aim of promoting fear and avoiding mass enlightenment. Knowledge is power. Enlightenment is the coveted reserve of the Few. Not surprisingly, power favors misdirection (ignorance) over enlightenment (empowerment). Dumb down and frighten — divide and conquer.

This is why the plebeian class is often referred to as the disorganized masses. Buffeted by successive waves of misdirection, society becomes a de-articulated echo chamber of movements, ideologies and belief systems. Horizontalized incoherence averts vertical assaults on those who preside on high. The Internet alt-narrative, a bottoms-up constellation of knowledge simultaneously disseminated and protected by its distributive architecture, is climbing the enlightenment ladder slowly. It needs to hurry.

We find an early Russophobic send-up in the zany 1966 movie The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! Trying desperately to stay under the radar of state actors (with their penchant for international incidents and Independent Counsels) a Soviet sub and its crew, having run aground on a Cape Cod sandbar, enlist the support of sympathetic Cape Cod villagers to regain open waters. Their Russian nationality is initially hidden (isn’t it always?) behind the guise of Norwegian fishermen. Everyone has the presence of mind not to call CNN. The movie instructs that, when encountered in everyday interactions, Russians are people too. Imagine that! This humanizing touch was a real coup in Cold War America.

The visceral and reflexive fear of a prior era is being resurrected. But as prelude to what? More on that later.

Russian collusion is also calculated to stoke primate fears. In essence, the colluders have acquired an infection from the main doctrinal source; Russia being a sort of Typhoid Mary. The resultant false doctrine (revived nationalism, multilateralism, Eurasianism, post-Bolshevism, Christian renewal) has the potential to visit a cognitive plague on the larger group, or should we rather say their doctrine poses a health threat to the prevailing narrative, the latter being an illness in itself that seeks the preservation of the Few at the cost of the Many.

So, a pervading illness erects the strawman of a secondary ailment in order to defend the primacy of its own pathology. Never mind that, for Americans, this secondary ailment is exactly what the doctor ordered. The truth is disguised as a disease. The emanation point is Russia.

Keeping the masses both joined to a common moral cause (the Straussian baton of Greatest Present Evil has clearly passed from Terror to Russia) and trained on their potent enemy (for what appears to be an imminent conflict), our Managers find the prospect of We the People—in our militarized permutation—inflicting a deathblow on Russia, while getting death-blown ourselves, a very tempting two-for-one proposition.

For the moment, until a cure is found (or a war is started in earnest) we are urged to please wash our hands thoroughly after handling all things Russian. Russian flags on Olympic grounds could spark an outbreak. Ban them. If you encountered a Russian-sponsored ad on Facebook during the election be aware the contagion may have survived on your PC screen for weeks, causing some to waste their vote even on the likes of Jill Stein. Now that’s sick! The political valence of the click ads–Trump or Clinton—didn’t matter either. Germs are agnostic and airborne. They can travel for miles disguised as competing worldviews.

Sometimes the drumbeat can carry us into the most surreal byways. Take the positively eerie instance of a CNN correspondent venturing onto an elderly pro-Trump Floridian’s front lawn to question her patriotism and Russian sympathies.  Throwing caution to the wind, he fails to don the official CNN gloves and surgical mask. What is he in this instance: a journalist, a stalker, an ideological ambulance-chaser, a proto-Soviet Precinct Captain?

More linguistic mischief. We encounter the nefarious The dozens of times a week as in The Russians. Deployment of the definite article as preface to an ethnic group, people or tribe is another tactic aimed at suggesting members of a particular group can no longer be referenced as autonomous individuals, having become hive-minded Stepford Wives lashed to an agenda injurious to the larger group. The The’s are behind the recent ramp-up of crime! No sooner do the The’s move into the neighborhood than property values take a dive. The The’s control the world!

The perils of ethnic scapegoating are a matter of historical inspection. Why then are they being so systematically courted? The indignation of our nation’s 2.9 million Russian-Americans is entirely too muted, certainly under-televised. Perhaps Wolf Blitzkrieg can look into this.

In a recent tweet, Hillary Clinton stoops yet again to Russia-baiting. Then there’s the thirteen Facebook trolls who happen to be Russian nationals engaged in a strictly business venture with no evidence of a state actor role and no overt political leanings. None of this prevents Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from alluding by sly inference to the Russians during his press conference (here at 3:19) as though King Bee Putin himself was supplying the company with kitty and puppy clickbait pics from the depths of the Kremlin’s basement.

How does national origin warrant even a cursory mention unless a larger point is being made? The indicted will never see a court of law anyway. The slur was the thing. It was lodged. Mission accomplished.

*****

This essay would be remiss if it didn’t acknowledge another deep reservoir of Russian antipathy, one rarely cited in realpolitik analyses.

Americans can scarcely imagine the elemental hatred unreconstructed Bolshevism still harbors for the Russian people, even less so that the current anti-Russian mania reprises a century-old conflict in a far-off land. The depth and context of this hatred overflows America’s rather provincial and TV-centric intellectual boundaries. Russia’s defeated Bolsheviks are America’s resurgent ones.

Bolshevism is a secular expression of the Spirit of Antichrist. Like a noxious fume seeking a crevice of entry, it presses cultural nihilism everywhere God isn’t. Sadly, America is ripe for invasion. Christian leader Chuck Missler identifies America’s fate as an instance of God’s abandonment judgment. Missler lays this harsh heavenly verdict largely at the unclean feet of abortion. The Creator is particularly jealous of His creational prerogative. Human interlopers armed with forceps anger Him like few other things.

Some will ask, but wasn’t Bolshevism forever consigned to the ashcan of history? Not universally.

America’s aversion to introspection permitted it to circumvent the dialectical process (that the disintegrating Soviet Union had no choice but to pass through) by audaciously claiming one-sided victory in the First Cold War. This undigested Hegelian synthesis goes on to become a catastrophe for the world:

Refused her duly earned ticker-tape parade, America was presented instead, at war’s end, with the preposterous Neocon invocation to beat her sword into yet another sword. The interminable loop of permawar (itself an indigestible bit of ahistorical mischief) became America’s ‘way forward’. As for our supposed adversary, ‘terror’, it offers an inexhaustible emotional response to perils of the real, imagined and endlessly manipulated kinds. The Neocon catastrophe is now a matter of global record. The peace dividend was purloined by a unipolar will-to-power that metastasized into a monomania worthy of Ahab himself.1

The mere passage of time—days stacked on days—carries neutral historical content. History measures itself in the birthing and discarding of ideas. In Hegelian terms, because historical synthesis in America was not allowed to happen, Bolshevism is free to renew itself on American shores like a new, old plague. Certainly the appearance of Trump impedes this process. Whether Trumpism can, in the long term, avert Bolshevism (essentially, collectivization and centralized control) altogether runs counter to the eschatological necessity, within Abrahamic traditions, for a climactic and unassailable evil.

If Russia’s post-Bolshevik Christian revival is a matter of record, surely the demise of Christianity in America is equally documentable. Since America is a God-vacated public space, albeit peopled with a large and besieged Christian population, the nation can reacquire God’s manifold blessings, one suspects, only after a protracted period of civil strife and turmoil comparable to Russia’s near-century-long struggle.

Paul’s Principalities of the Air, Good and Evil, are no less aware of what renewed Russian ascendance portends. The forces of evil, armed with what Joel Skousen has called, ‘revelatory demonic content’, have every reason to resist Russia at every turn. The point is the Russian Collusion delusion comports a supernatural component. I have spoken elsewhere about Russia’s strange and special mission with regard to a global Christian revival, certainly in its Orthodox form. Numerous mystics and thinkers have asserted the same:

Acting as an agent of restraint on the spirit of Antichrist (a phenomenon Paul in Thessalonians calls katechon), Russia can influence—and work to brake–a world hell-bent on godless chaos. Oswald Spengler spoke of the Russian soul coming of age at some future propitious time.2

Russophobia expresses a spiritual aversion to which geopolitics acts merely as frontispiece. The stakes are existentially high, transcending empires and ideologies. No wonder our Gatekeepers sputter and fuss. Armed with the most tepid forensic evidence of Russian influence, they are charged nonetheless with pressing a spiritual war on ostensible geopolitical grounds, loath (for tactical reasons) to expose their dark, first-order spiritual affiliations. Invisibility indeed!

If, as Nicolas Berdyaev claimed, “independent Russian thought was awakened by the problem of the philosophy of history”, America’s purveyors of wickedness glossed our version of the history problem by consigning us to a deep sleep of irresolvable terror. 3

Into this bewildering spiritual-geopolitical nexus tumbles the Trump phenomenon as though God Himself delivered the former reality TV star to an especially propitious moment in history. Actually Trump arrives as an emissary and change agent from the tippiest-top of human society in its current arrangement.

For, with all due respect to Alex Jones, the elite is not simply a monolithic invective to be invoked between vitamin appeals. Both George Orwell and Ferdinand Lundberg recognized a tripartite class structure; the Inner/Outer Party and the FinPols/PubPols respectively, with the Proles languishing beneath their bicameral overlords. Recognition of this structure is imperative to understanding the machinations occurring overhead, particularly during moments of inflection.

The Outer Party (what I’ve taken to calling the Janusian Class) is always, by the latter phase of empire, existentially corrupt and irredeemably evil. Beholden to the empire-of-the-moment, this class is typified by Bill and Hillary Clinton: proles-by-birth, striving, venal, amoral, grasping, highly acquisitive and power-hungry. Outer Party corruption grows as the empire becomes more sclerotic. Influence-peddling and trading off past empire glories overtake bold new action.

American foreign policy has been of the self-harm variety in recent years. Take the myriad sanctions regimes and their strange internal contradiction: By hurting ourselves we will hurt you more. Petulance is a weird master. Each chastisement of the outside world is met with greater strides by the latter to extricate itself from the Empire yolk. Global retreat from petrodollar recycling accelerates. You call this success?

Unlike the transnational and multi-generational Inner Party, a genus apart, the Outer Party administers the prevailing empire on the former’s behalf while feigning attentiveness to the proles. In the waning days of every empire (a point we find ourselves at with Pax Americana), the Outer Party must be disabused of its false sense of entitlement. The privileges it enjoys are far from inalienable, though many may be ‘compartmentalized away’ from a full understanding of their own ephemeral, second-tier status.

Dispatched from the highest strata of society to organize the masses behind the ostensible banner of populism (yes, a seeming paradox), Trump’s task is to retrieve and restore America the Nation from the vacating, century-long mandate of America the Empire.

Therein lies the Trump paradox as he serves both the Upper Party and the Proles with material assistance from the former and cheers from the latter. His war is with the Outer Party, a confluence of Democrats, Republicans and Deep State operatives whose end is near. Though their potential to inflict great damage (in the manner of thermonuclear war) remains potent.

It is America’s Outer Party—not the Transnational Inner Party—that detests and fears Trump and Putin. Nor are these leaders saviors-for-all-seasons it must be understood. The nationalism they champion is but an interim step to a full-on advance of renewed globalism.

Whether they fully comprehend the provisional status of their respective movements is hard to say. The boundaries of compartmentalized knowledge are difficult to ascertain. Some actors are more conscious than others.

Suffice it to say the world is in a normalizing phase. The ultimate equilibration during this phase involves establishing a trade-balanced parity between the US and China. To the disappointment of many, the Eurasian Century, the One Belt One Road (OBOR) and AIIB initiatives are not born of exogenous processes, but rather unfold within the rubric of the Transnational Inner Party.

The monism required of the Antichrist system allows for no partition. Cultural Marxism, a soul-destroying collectivist paradigm, is in service to the Transnational Inner Party. With the able assistance of this Luciferean vanguard, the world is being staged for the Final Days, but not before an eclipsing Panopticon runs the full length and breadth of the planet.

*****

The insistence that Trump is a Russian agent (against an avalanche of absent facts) is simply untrue. Nothing has been produced to substantiate the charge. As this essay is being typed, CNN is en route to interview a female escort in Thailand who may be sitting, not only on her livelihood, but on the key to unlocking the Trump-Putin secret relationship. Very shortly, Wolf Blitzkrieg will be issuing parental warnings. The escort is a former paramour of Russian oligarch and Putin confidante Oleg Deripaska who we’ll be getting to in a minute.

What Trump and Putin are are co-agents of strikingly similar conceptual frameworks that are at odds with the ultimate globalist plan for eviscerated national sovereignties. The Outer Party fights them as though their lives depend on it. And they do. The Inner Party are using both men as transitional cleansing agents on the way to a culminating globalist regime. The current ‘Globalist’ vs. Nationalist struggle is an orchestrated conflict. (There’s much talk of ‘false dialectics’ these days. Lucifer is the Prince of this World and the purveyor of intellectual confusion. All dialectics are false, though God works mysteriously to guide His eschatology through.)

Trump and Putin are thus wed, neither by treasonous acts nor shared paramours, but by worldviews that happen to align. The collusion narrative neatly ties both leaders together in the pejorative image of partners in crime. Exactitudes such as these hardly matter to those who would like nothing better than to see an end to both of them by any means necessary.

The Democratic Party version of Russian collusion, which we’ll be hearing a lot more about in the coming weeks and months, is a much seedier brand. Traditionally a globalist stalking horse and Deep Swamp entity and possessing greater latitude than the currently hamstrung Republicans (with the disliked Trump at their helm), the Party of the Donkey views Russia as a source of enrichment. As long as it fulfills its globalist work-list, the usual graft and corruption is permitted to occur simultaneously.

Thus Trump’s ‘collusion’ is an unfairly earned and intentionally misleading depiction of his geopolitical intentions. Whereas the Democrat’s ‘collusion’ is the old-school, under-the-table form of corruption implicating business interests rather than state actors. Oddly enough, neither is collusion in the proper sense of the word.

The truly grievous miscalculation arose when such a whirling dervish of a topic was injected into a Presidential campaign. For that, we turn to Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta.

The Trump collusion delusion—impudently put into play by Podesta during the 2016 election—is the Goebbels Doctrine brought back to wretched life. The trick, again, is to identify one’s most glaring vulnerability (Uranium One, Podesta Group), then ruthlessly attack the enemy with it.

One of alt-media’s indispensable websites The Conservative Treehouse connected some fascinating dots recently regarding Oleg Deripaska. While hardly a household name, the Russian aluminum magnate has popped up more than once in the collusion saga. The trouble is his appearances never fail to tear away the Goebbelian veil behind which we invariably find a donkey-bride with puckered lips.

As Tablet Magazine reported:

A release last week of texts showed that Christopher Steele, the former British spy whose memos regarding the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia are referred to as the Steele dossier, reached out to Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, through a Russian-linked Washington, D.C., lobbyist named Adam Waldman. Among Waldman’s clients is Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a text dated March 16, 2017, Waldman texted Warner, “Chris Steele asked me to call you.”4

The article goes on to suggest that:

If Steele worked for a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin, it is likely to change prevailing views of the Russia investigations of the past year and a half.

Understatement duly noted.

If the universally discredited Christopher Steele anti-Trump dossier is, in fact, a faux-Opposition Research piece jointly commissioned by the Clinton Campaign and Deripaska, then perhaps the nation’s media complex has been barking up the wrong collusion narrative. Goodness, how’d that happen?

Then there’s the recently announced aluminum tariffs. Either Trump is mounting an insurrection against his ‘Kremlin handlers’ with aggressive tariffs targeting close Putin confidante Deripaska’s company, Rusal or we’ve been diverted yet again from the real Russian corruption within our political process.

Cementing the Democratic brand of Russian collusion even further, we shouldn’t forget Senator Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) attempts to make secret off-the-record communications with Christopher Steele in November 2017.  Warner’s intermediary was the same lobbyist (Adam Waldman) retained by, are you ready? Oleg Deripaska. Heehaw!

Interestingly, Deripaska announced just last week his decision to step away as head of Rusal. A 23.6% levy, the aluminum tariff is no glancing blow. Listed on the Department of Treasury’s ‘Kremlin list’, Deripaska may be distancing himself as part of a sanitization exercise as prelude to Russia’s formal filing of a trade complaint with the WTO.

Of course, the Russian Oligarch’s connections to the Democrats is but a minor collusive thread in a much larger fabric where the common preoccupation is money. Its renewed newsworthiness derives from the tariff announcement just this week by the ‘soft on Russia’ Trump administration.

As the President is routinely pilloried by Democrats for his failure to implement the last round of Russian sanctions, surely Senator Warner and his colleagues should be sprinting to the mic to applaud Trump’s shoving it to one of Russia’s wealthiest and most notorious oligarchs. For all we know, Warner has already messaged his regrets directly to the Russian source. He has the number.

But back to Podesta, who had at his back a propaganda apparatus the Weimar Germany would have envied: The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, et al, et al. According to The Media Research Center, network press coverage of Trump logged an astonishing 91% negative slant in the September-November 2017 period.

The Bernaysian narrative prefers to work the room in jealous monotone. Dissonance distracts the masses from their marching orders. Sometimes things can go haywire such that the proles vote for what the Outer Party deems an unvetted, exogenous candidate. Managed Democracy fears the insurrectional energies posed even by a 9% dissident narrative. (Nursing a 2-strike Youtube count, Alex Jones should take note.)

Now a word on hubris.

Podesta had every reason to believe Clinton would win thereby allowing his disinfo project to slink, unexamined, into the mists of time.

Of course, Trump, no limping Kaiser, is a TV-savvy guy with uncanny media instincts. (Witness his ringside, bone-spur-defying, mano a mano victory against WWE owner Vince McMahon.  Professional wrestling is a pioneer in the belief-suspension biz.. This makes it a forebear of Fake News and a potential uncle of Wolf Blitzkrieg. See kayfabe.)

So yes, in terms of propaganda firepower, Trump is badly outnumbered. However, to Twitter management’s continued exasperation, he’s far from toothless. Early on, he elects to sidestep the gatekeeper’s media prism altogether, weathering the simpleton accusations and conveying his policy initiatives in 280-characters or less.

Much like Wile E. Coyote at the bottom of the U-shaped gorge, we find today the collusion-boulder gazing down upon Podesta et al from the peak of Mt. Trump. Curiously enough, Lady Lynn de Rothschild perceives all that is portended for The Valley of the Dems below. She intuits the fatal turn very early on too.

Releasing on February 21, 2017 what in hindsight appears to be a twitter overshare, Rothschild publicly castigates Podesta as ‘pathetic’ and a ‘loser’. Nothing subtle there. As Tom Jones might say she’s a Lady even when she slips.

Nonetheless her foresight is both telling and foreboding as, from her vantage, nothing less than the ‘destruction’ of the Clinton family lies ahead. At first blush, one thinks Milady fretheth a bit much. After all, Girlfriend just lost an election. The utter cessation of the family crest seems excessive given all that is known, certainly by us, in February.

Or maybe not.

Rothschild’s exasperation and concern, palpable in the tweet, is directed at one man. How could that idiot Podesta have been so reckless?

Indeed his out-of-touch arrogance succeeds in activating a realm of inquiry that is destined to brush past Trump on its way to decimating the real Russian collusion culprits, the Democrats. Podesta proves himself a passable acolyte of Herr Goebbels in all but one crucial metric: his candidate fails to win. Loser!

I cite Milady’s prescience not to belabor hackneyed Rothschild conspiracy theories, only that she is a close, wealthy, and influential confidante of Hillary Clinton. To minimize her insight and access is as equally implausible as it is to proffer one-eyed pyramids in the Valley of Illuminati Kings. The tweet stands as an astute predictor of dark days to come for the Democrats.

Post-election, we move into a far more perilous phase for the Democrats and their Deep State patrons as they decide to inflict the hopelessly self-referential collusion narrative on a sitting President. Fortuitously (or is it providentially?), there’s a stalwart Constitutionalist to contend with in NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.

A mere two days after the latter’s November 17 2017 trip to Trump Towers where it is strongly presumed he tips the cards to Trump regarding the building’s bugged status, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are baying in the Washington Post for Rogers’ firing (see below). One of the pressing reasons given? Rogers’ ‘gruff personality’. The day after Rogers’ visit, Trump relocates his entire transition operation to Bedminster, New Jersey.

Thus Rogers’ termination is proposed in hurried fashion during the waning, post-election days of the Obama administration. Understandably, the President elects not to cloud his final days with an oddly-timed and controversial firing. Wisely (or not), he declines Carter and Clapper’s recommendation. The coup-plotters (for we are very much in a coup phase now) must content themselves with the hope that, between the media’s frenetic arm-waving, the future appointment of a Special Counsel Inquisitor by a compliant DOJ and a cooperating Comey at the FBI, soon-to-be President Trump can still be thwarted via impeachment, resignation or worse.

Not enough can be said by the way for Rogers’ courageous intervention on behalf of the President-in-waiting, and indeed on behalf of the rule-of-law and the orderly transition of power. In fact, the video below suggests Admiral Rogers may be the Hero-Savior of the Republic. It’s worth a watch.

In short order, Trump’s National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn gets shanghaied via process crime entrapment, which may yet turn to rancid, poisoned fruit before this opus sounds its last note.

Slowly but surely, we’re converging upon the million dollar question which is really the trillion dollar question. Why did the Democrats, in league with certain Deep State actors, persist in a brazen plot to unseat a duly elected President? Because it is a trillion dollar question, that’s why. The stakes are exponentially high, and not because of the Russians either. Because of the money.

By all rights, CNN has held up its end of the bargain. Wolf Blitzkrieg and Jake Wire Tapper can barely manage a shift in their chairs without lashing Trump to Russian Collusion. Down in the media trenches, 24-7 drummed-in false consciousness is a tedious affair where repetition is king. Someone’s got to do it. Wolf seems intellectually well-suited for the task.

Once again, The Conservative Treehouse reminds us why the Facebook bobble-heads wake up every morning in a diversionary funk regarding all things Trump. And no, it’s not because he has funny hair:

For the past 30 years the U.S. has lost jobs, wages have been depressed, and the middle-class has suffered through the implementation of economic trade policy that destroyed the U.S. manufacturing base. None of this is in question – the results stare us in the face – yet the Wall Street and multinational corporate club(s) [U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief among them] now demand a continuance of the same.

The economic and trade policies of the Trump administration are adverse to those interests. As we have shared for several years, candidate Trump, now President Trump is an existential threat to the multinational program.

All opposition to President Trump is about the underlying financial and economic policy of America-First. There are trillions at stake. [My italics]

With a GDP half that of the UK’s, Russia is still economic small potatoes. Nonetheless a double-bang is achieved (for the Military Industrial Complex) with a renewed Cold War directed at the Bear. Conceivably, that’s the quid pro quo presented to Trump for acquiring the military as Praetorian Guard as a counterweight against intelligence agency hostility. The military is an institution with naturally strong nationalist affinities. The antagonism between the Pentagon and the CIA is longstanding and culturally embedded.

As Voltaire might allow by way of paraphrase, “look to the behemoth you’ve barely broached for there you will find the puppet-master extraordinaire.” That behemoth is China.

China’s hidden hand (with, it must be said again, the Inner Party’s active assent and participation) has been evident in America’s establishment parties since at least Bill Clinton, with Western banking interests active since at least 1972, probably earlier. Should Congress not deliver (on continued sedition against America-First interests and prolongation of NAFTA), the extortion screws will begin turning in earnest.

Might this explain the recent spate of announced Congressional Republican resignations? The easy money has been made selling the nation out for decades with duopolistic abandon and mutually-assured cover. Faint-hearted traitors are moving for the exits.

For today, we have a wily gate-crasher in the White House. Under him, the People are tasting the early, tangible fruits of a renationalizing economy: full employment, rising property values, an anticipatory stock market rise and re-equilibrating food and consumer prices (ultimately to revise downward for America consumers) when China’s backdoor entry to the American market via camouflaged proxy points Mexico and Canada is appreciably closed. Again, this is all part of an equilibration process sanctioned from above.

The fiction of Trump as Putin stooge is a threadbare pretext. Manafort and Podesta are prior working colleagues after all, hardly diehard ideologues for their respective Red and Blue. Both hail from the Outer Party’s Great Purple Swamp, an environ intent on the de-industrialization of America, the delivery of productive primacy to China and the ascent of Wall Street over Main Street forevermore. The Red-Blue horizontal divide is Carroll Quigley’s kabuki theatre in full false swing.

In yet another instance of Goebbelian misdirection, the Democrats’ Russian collusion narrative is all about neutering Trump for the greater good of China and its stateside patron, Wall Street. Russia is but an expedient globalist cudgel to be wielded against MAGA comeuppance. Democratic leaders only ask that you not examine the collusion narrative’s internal contradictions too closely as the whole gravy train could come crashing down in a cloud of sedition and jaw-dropping hypocrisy.

For thirty years or more, China was the chief beneficiary of this Great Game of Treachery. Then Mr. Trump came to Washington. This re-nationalization (de-empirization) of America involves normalizing trade, defusing the Triffin Paradox, extracting the dollar from reserve currency status and petrodollar primacy; i.e., smoothing the potentially bumpy road back to nation-among-nations status, all without WW3 being instigated by a power-mad Outer Party in precipitous decline.

That’s the balancing act. Importantly, this walk-back—while ostensibly nationalist—expresses the desire of some of the most powerful forces on earth. A peaceably requited US will then create the parity required to install a proper globalist super-state. The US is the last empire to emerge from nation-state auspices. Although its presence will be greatly felt (already it is asserting a repressive hand on the global Internet) China will not assume the empire mantle from America, thereby averting the enormous dislocations caused by the Triffin Paradox. A global currency (the SDR) unbeholden to destabilizing trade imbalances will become the coin of the global realm.

Thus while the American Outer Party’s decades-long capitulation to Chinese interests joins the usual earthly vices—greed, corruption and power—with a globalist endgame of Cultural Marxism, the active promotion of Russophobia unfolds on two diametric planes: diversionary politics and deep-seated spiritual opposition.

Human history is intended as a gradually narrowing process wherein divine light is progressively obscured as Lucifer consolidates everything of earthly value first, for a select few, then ultimately for himself. Therein lies the resonance of the pyramidic metaphor. Things will darken appreciably before lightening climactically. God will win.

  1. “War of Imposition: This Is Not America (Any More Than It Was Russia Once Upon a Time)”, Full Spectrum Domino, Norman Ball, September 25, 2017.
  2. In “Spiritual Roots of Russo-American Conflict“, Kerry R. Bolton offers an authoritative and fascinating examination of this subject matter.
  3. “War of Imposition: This Is Not America (Any More Than It Was Russia Once Upon a Time”), Full Spectrum Domino, Norman Ball, September 25, 2017.
  4. Was Christopher Steele Paid by Russian Oligarch and Putin Ally Oleg Deripaska?’, Lee Smith, February 12, 2018.

The Myth of “The Left” in America’s Distorted Political Culture

A few years ago, anarchist philosopher Crispin Sartwell argued that “the left/right or Democrat/Republican split—which turns American politics into a hyper-repetitive, mechanical set of partisan bromides about free markets versus government programs with egalitarian results—depends on a historical mistake.”1 While Sartwell was pretty much on point with this assessment, we haven’t yet been able to cast aside these self-imposed political blinders. Americans by and large still see politics through the left/right prism, without realizing that our perceptions of what constitutes ‘the left’ in particular are intrinsically flawed. In modern American political culture, the descriptor ‘left’ is commonly used with reference to Democrats, liberals, progressives, and even moderates. However, there are barely any truly leftist currents in our mainstream political landscape. In addition to being guilty of having committed Sartwell’s collective ‘historical mistake,’ this erroneous delineation of ‘the left’ not only defies political realities in the rest of the world, but it also perpetuates the deception we have created in our own political understanding of ourselves.

American claims to being exceptional among the civilizations of the world are in many ways an overblown nationalistic myth. But there is one particular strand of American exceptionalism that has long been a mainstay in our political culture and in the vernacular we employ within it. On a daily basis media outlets, politicos, pundits, thinkers, and commentators – and thus, by virtue of information consumption, the general public – fall into an all too common trap of political misperception, myopia, or willful misappropriation when it comes to the concept of ‘the left’ in American politics. In their narratives, liberals and Democrats are commonly seen and referred to monolithically as ‘the left.’ But put into context, this is a fundamentally false equivalence. Let’s establish one thing right off the bat: There really is no tangible ‘left’ in America’s political mainstream today. Except for a few growing and increasingly influential yet still relatively fledgling movements and organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America or the Black Lives Matter movement, there is very little leftist thought and action at work in America’s two-party landscape. What many commentators – liberal or conservative alike – often refer to as ‘the left’ is but a poor excuse for actual leftist political philosophy.

The primary reason for this misconception is rooted in the anomaly that is our political system and our political culture, which inherently gravitates further to the right than most other advanced contemporary democracies. In addition to this basic conundrum, the political climate of the past four decades – marked by acquiescence and concessions to neoliberalism, a continuation of militaristic-imperialistic foreign policy, reactionary culture wars, a preoccupation with reductionist identity politics, as well as the preservation of privileged self-interest – have effectively eviscerated what modicum of ‘leftist’ thought may once have existed in Progressive Era and post-New Deal American politics. Since then our political system has shifted so far to the right that most Americans today seem to fully accept as a given the simplistic binary political pancake in which liberals and the Democratic Party make up ‘the left,’ conservatives and Republicans constitute ‘the right,’ and independent voters and non-voters alike occupy a space somewhere in-between.

As a volunteer and activist for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in late 2015 and early 2016, I knocked on countless doors, called and texted voters across the country, and had many a conversation with a wide variety of people. I spoke with many other activists, groups, members of political organizations, and legions of potential voters of all sorts of political persuasions. Out of all of these conversations, two particular encounters stand out to me to this day. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that both interlocutors were fellow academics, but even more than that, these conversations serve as exemplary manifestations of America’s political blinders.

One of the two conversational partners, a fellow historian in her late twenties – and a die-hard supporter of Hillary Clinton – noted in late 2015 that she had been observing some “strange behavior among liberals” during this election cycle. She was referring to the growing support for Senator Sanders, and the equally growing mistrust and criticism toward Secretary Clinton. From her perspective it appeared almost inconceivable that anyone who was seriously committed to meaningful progress could support Sanders over Clinton. Getting big corporate money and special interests out of politics or working toward a universal single payer healthcare system seemed to be at best secondary, if not at all irrelevant, to her rather narrow and strongly gendered conceptions of modern politics, in which breaking the symbolic glass ceiling of having a female chief executive appeared to trump (no pun intended) any other argument. The notion, that a considerable share of Sanders’s supporters may actually hold deeper political convictions that are further to the left of modern American liberalism, did not seem to fit her political worldview.

The second conversationalist was an aging mathematics professor, who seemed relatively open to some of the more leftist items on the agenda of many ‘Sandernista.’ Yet he, too, displayed an almost dogmatic adherence to the old blue dog Democrat view of American politics that seems to revolve only around liberals vs. conservatives, blue vs. red, left vs. right. As we were talking about coordinating our political activism to support the campaign of a challenger to the incumbent in our congressional district, the septuagenarian mathematician asked me about my own political views, by which he meant party affiliation. When I told him that I considered myself a leftist independent who is not affiliated with any party, he encountered, visibly concerned I might add, that “if you’re an independent, you are somewhere between the Democrats and the Republicans.” As a relative novice to all out boots-on-the-ground political activism, this statement shook me to my political core. I wondered if this was indicative of the political worldview in America, and where this would leave true leftists on America’s political spectrum.

Just a few months prior to these encounters, I was struck by a realization that had been hiding in plain sight all along. At one of our Bernie rallies, a local activist leader argued in his speech that there is no ‘left’ in American politics, and that there hadn’t been one since Debs. He was, of course, referring to Eugene V. Debs, the iconic union organizer and multi-time presidential candidate of the American Socialist Party during the first two decades of the twentieth century. As a historian of American politics during the late Gilded Age and early Progressive Era, I was, of course, very familiar with Progressive insurgencies in both parties, as well as third party challenges to the established two-party system, but perhaps I had been looking at things from a decidedly liberal vantage point up until then. It was only through careful revision of the works of William Appleman Williams, Martin Sklar, Jeffrey Lustig, and most importantly my re-reading of Gabriel Kolko’s seminal “The Triumph of Conservatism,” that I realized the false pretenses in my own thinking.

In the early 1960s, Kolko had broken new ground when he argued that the Progressive Era was really an era of conservatism. Instead of exploring alternative options, Kolko argued, American Progressives deliberately opted for the preservation of the existing hegemonic political, economic, and societal structures, or in Kolko’s words, the “basic social and economic relations essential to a capitalist society.”2 Though often hailed as the lynchpin of reform, Progressive policies and regulation by and large served as a rationalization of the market, with the intention of safeguarding long-term profit. America’s business leaders and ‘Corporate Caesars’ realized that only control of and collusion with federal and state governments, especially under the purview of increased regulatory power vested in government, could protect their interest from either haphazard legislative policies or true radicalism emanating from the populace.

This was by no means an American phenomenon. Imperial Germany saw similar ‘reforms’ in the later nineteenth century, when the staunchly pro-monarchical Bismarckian government had implemented universal male adult suffrage and a system of social insurance which would become the foundation for later models of the modern welfare state. However, Bismarck did not implement these reforms out of kindness, humanitarian spirit, or because of genuine empathy with the laboring classes. Quite the contrary. Bismarck was concerned about the growing discontent among the German people over the fallout from rapid industrialization, the long-term effects of Enlightenment democratization, and the simmering of class-conscious sentiments. In an effort to preserve the Kaiserreich and its existing power structures, Bismarck had remarked early on that “[i]f there is to be revolution, we would prefer to make it than to suffer it.”3

American political leaders at the turn of the century shared similar convictions. In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt characterized his own policies as a preservation of the “conservative class,” to which he himself belonged, with the intention to provide “a safety valve for the popular unrest and indignation” among a sizable section of the populace, and to avoid state ownership or “other drastic measures against corporations.”4 Thus, working closely with America’s ‘captains of industry,’ many Progressive lawmakers devised and implemented policies that sought large scale reforms – many of which resulted in great leaps forward such as railroad regulation, food and drug regulation, a graduated income tax, or women’s suffrage – but most of the policies that Progressives pursued did not actually seek to fundamentally address America’s structural biases, blind spots, and inequalities. Thus America’s national Progressivism during the first quarter of the twentieth century, Kolko concluded, was essentially a “defense of business against the democratic ferment in the states.” However, unlike developments in Europe, Progressive politics in America, as Kolko notes further, effectively “sidetracked European socialism” and thus stymied a “truly radical, articulated alternative economic and political program capable of synthesizing political democracy with industrial reality.”5

This may be a sobering realization, but mainstream American Progressivism was never truly leftist, and neither of the two major parties during the height of the Progressive Era constituted an actual left wing in American politics. As historian Alan Dawley points out, Progressives were not the left, but merely “drew many ideas from the left”. The actual left, as Dawley argues most convincingly, is best defined “as the political stance, whether Marxist or not, that blamed inequalities in wealth and power on the workings of the capitalist system.” This ought to be the primary consideration in helping us “distinguish leftists from progressives, who, for the most part, did not see capitalism behind every wrong.”6

A truly leftist space existed merely on the fringes, and it was occupied by individuals such as Eugene Debs or Emma Goldman, or by organizations such as the American Socialist Party or the International Workers of the World. While this fringe left did most certainly influence broader political conversations, it did not permeate the political mainstream enough to create a viable left-wing mainstay in American party politics. As a result, the Democrats and the GOP, both of which experienced Progressive insurgencies at the time, and both of which would recalibrate several times throughout the twentieth century, eventually developed into today’s center-right and right-wing parties, respectively.

And this is where so many American liberals, center-leftists, conservatives, and reactionaries get it wrong today. Looking at our two-party system under the premise of a ‘left/right’ duality essentially creates the fallacy of equating ‘liberal’ or ‘Democrat’ with ‘the left.’ While populist liberals like Elizabeth Warren – herself a former Republican – undoubtedly consider themselves to be a part of ‘the left,’ far right commentators, such as the folks at Breitbart, deride “her ideological left-wing purity,” while at the same time branding her as a “liberal icon.”7 Unfortunately, both viewpoints equally conflate liberals with ‘the left.’ Moreover, such invocations of ‘the left’ seem oblivious to the fact that liberals only occupy a space to the relative political left when they are juxtaposed to individuals, movements, or positions on the far right. The effect on our national political culture is disheartening. Not only do we appear to be in the dark about the political anatomies and philosophies of the world we live in, but we seem to lack an understanding of political culture outside of the American context.

Such myopic perceptions of ‘the left’ permeate almost our entire mass political consciousness. The headlines and front page stories of major news outlets provide ample proof. One such example is a New York Times piece from January 2016, titled “Democratic Race Will Test Where the Left Stands.” This headline alone seems to equate the Democratic Party with ‘the left.’ While this an omnipresent trope in American political language and media narratives, it is an inherently false and inadequate exposition. Yet, the misleading headline is not the sole element of concern here. Not unlike the above-mentioned Breitbart piece on Elizabeth Warren, this article similarly characterizes Senator Bernie Sanders as both a “liberal” and as “far-left,” while seemingly using these terms interchangeably. This conflation is amplified further when the author ponders over whether Sanders could energize “the liberal wing of the party,” again, conflating ‘liberal’ with ‘left.’8

In this potpourri of political nomenclature, the otherwise solid article at best blurs and at worst ignores the considerable distinctions between the Democratic Party and modern liberals on the one hand, and ‘the left’ on the other. Another New York Times headline from January of this year goes even further, suggesting that “The Left Mulls How to Resist Trump.” The author clarifies his frame of reference as to what sort of political figures constitute the ‘left’ by discussing the deliberations of Democratic establishment figures such as DNC Chair Tom Perez or CNN contributor and Clinton confidant Donna Brazile, neither of whom are remotely representative of the political left.9

But the constant reproduction of the misnomer that is ‘the left’ in reference to the Democratic Party or mainstream liberals is not just an issue in our corporate news media. On an episode of NPR’s Here and Now on September 13, 2017, Republican strategist Paris Dennard rejected questions about whether the Trump administration’s tax cuts (which have since been enacted) would primarily benefit the wealthiest Americans as mere “talking points from the left.” As if this wasn’t platitudinal enough, Dennard then proceeded to comment on the issue of healthcare reform, stating that “single payer is not working in Canada or in Europe,” and thus spreading a definitive falsehood.

What is perhaps more disconcerting, however, is the fact that NPR’s Meghna Chakrabarti then followed the established but erroneous trope of misusing the term ‘the left.’ In what was obviously a subtle reference to existing criticism toward single payer healthcare coming from some liberals and establishment Democrats, Chakrabarti noted that “there are some people on the left who are worried that Medicare-for-all could backfire because it possibly could reduce the coverage that people already have.”10 This is yet another example of the casual, widespread, and politically myopic trigger-happiness that misidentifies mainstream liberal and moderate viewpoints as distinctly ‘left.’

Sadly, National Public Radio, of all places, seems to be particularly susceptible to misappropriating the term ‘left.’ On a recent episode of Here and Now, host Robin Young spoke with former NPR CEO Ken Stern about his new book, in which Stern reflects on his travels and experiences when he left his Democratic “liberal bubble and learned to love the right.” Stern’s subtext and discussion of his book undoubtedly set the parameters of the conversation, and even though Young tenaciously pressed the former CEO on his arguments on political bubbles and confirmation biases, asserting that NPR provides “views from all sides,” she, too, slipped into the fallacy of equating the liberal vs. conservative dichotomy with the left vs. right divide, when she asked her listeners to share their impressions, especially if they themselves were trapped in a bubble either on the left or on the right.

As we can see, commentators and correspondents in both corporate and public news media outlets across the board continuously use the qualifier ‘left’ in their publications and broadcasts when, in fact, they are referring to mainstream liberals or Democrats. In doing so, they are not only communicating a false narrative, but they are perpetuating a part of our political culture that is deeply flawed. The conflation of equating Democrats and liberals with ‘the left,’ and juxtaposing them in opposition to conservatives and Republicans as ‘the right,’ may be a convenient and utilitarian tool in our soundbite media landscape, but the downside to this practice is that it only reinforces our national Manichean worldview of wrong and right, black and white, left and right, which severely limits our political discourse and stifles our possibilities.

The argument I am making here is far beyond semantics or labels. If Americans want to be understood politically by observers from all socio-political spheres and spectra, if we want to create a more vibrant democracy in which to engage our citizenry, if we want to open our possibilities, if we want to effectively integrate our growing foreign-born population into our political discourse, and if we want to communicate effectively and meaningfully with people and cultures abroad, we need to rethink our own political culture and language.

So, how then should we look at the political language of ‘left’ and ‘right’? Some international context might be beneficial. In their modern political capacity, the descriptors ‘right’ and ‘left’ originate from the parliamentary seating arrangements in post-Revolutionary France, referring to pro- and anti-monarchists respectively. While their exact meaning and connotation are contingent upon the specific temporal and societal context in which we locate them, core conceptualizations of the political left generally encompass an egalitarian socio-political and economic character; i.e., a clear rejection of a capitalist economic model with its inherently parasitic nature and the limitations it imposes on true human liberation.

Conversely, the political right is defined by a more individualistic, pro-capitalistic, free market calibration. In modern political science, manifestations of left and right are usually measured on bi- or multiaxial spectra. Let me elaborate my point using the bi-axial Political Compass. In this model, the horizontal axis depicts the full range of economic matters, ranging from the total absence of private property (not personal property!!!) on the far left, to an economy based entirely on private property and free markets on the far right. The vertical axis, on the other hand, charts the range of political and social liberty, from fully authoritarian statism and state-sanctioned social and racial suppression at the top to entirely unimpeded individual autonomy at the bottom. Of course, political ideologies are inherently non-static, and they can and do indeed intersect or overlap, particularly on the extreme fringes of the spectrum. In other words, since varying degrees of statist-authoritarianism, for instance, are conceivable on both horizontal ends of the spectrum, the very notion of a definitive terminus is debatable. For this purpose, a three-dimensional spherical model could perhaps serve as an alternative to a conventional two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, but within the context of discussing the left in American political culture, the Political Compass is more than adequate to chart manifestations of ‘left’ and ‘right.’

Compared to the multi-party democracies of many European countries, which cover a broader range of ideologies and policies on the political spectrum, mainstream political discourse in the United States occurs almost exclusively between the center and the far right. The following charts depict the major political entities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France in their respective general elections over the past year. It becomes apparent that, even in the context of growing uncertainty as reflected in more recent developments in Europe — such as the refugee crisis, anti-globalization forces, or increasing anti-EU sentiment — European political cultures still include a far greater space for decidedly left alternatives and counterweights to the prevalent right and conservative trajectories in recent years.

When we apply the aforementioned criteria that define ‘the left’ to the political realities of modern America, however, there appear hardly any readings on either left quadrant of the Political Compass. In the 1940s and 1950s America was defined by New Deal reforms and post-war prosperity, but many of these developments structurally and deliberately excluded women and people of color. While the Civil Rights movement successfully paved the way for a whole host of different people and interest groups in their pursuits of greater liberty and equality, America’s political reordering since the late 1960s — which was in many ways a response the social and political upheaval and challenges during that decade — saw an assertion of neoliberalism wedded to a revival of conservatism and reactionism.

Since the 1970s the Democrats have effectively positioned themselves at the center-right. Rather than having been overrun by the resurgence on the right, the Democratic Party was an active part and parcel of the conservative swing in American politics. Enjoying a majority in the House of Representatives during both of Ronald Reagan’s presidential terms, the party of FDR and Lyndon Johnson had essentially shed its post-war progressivism, and now became complicit in the deindustrialization and deregulation of the American economy, huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, the ‘war on drugs,’ and the rise of the prison-industrial complex.

The 1990s only saw an extension of this ‘Reagan Democrat’ calibration. Bill Clinton’s ‘welfare reform,’ trade deals, and his administration’s continuation of Reaganite ‘tough on crime’ and anti-drug law enforcement initiatives only exacerbated the rightward trend of the party, which again disproportionately targeted people of color. And, finally, when the dust had settled on the initial hype over our nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama’s legacy was quickly defined by his ‘signature’ healthcare reform – which is really a tremendous gift to big insurance and big pharma – along with his prolonged military operations, and the continuation of disastrous trade deals. Therefore, the bar had been set low enough – or should we say far enough to the right – for Hillary Clinton’s lackluster campaign which promised at best incremental progress, and which was a significant part as to why we ended up with Trump, not to mention her mitosis from a one-time healthcare reformer to a center-right establishment candidate who is convinced that single payer “will never, ever come to pass.”11

All this contortion of ‘the left’ is reflected in the issues we debate in our political climate, and more importantly, how we discuss them. Many Europeans generally take for granted provisions such as universal healthcare, strong employment rights, inviolable civic rights, strong consumer and environmental protections, or efficient systems of public infrastructure – just to name a few. In comparison, such issues are always hotly contested in America, to the point that proposals such as Medicare for all, affordable and debt-free education, limiting the influence of special interests in policy-making, or reducing our overdependence on fossil fuel not only seem all but destined to perish at the whims of the corporate oligarchy and its networks of wealthy donors and lobbyists that control the political process, but these ‘leftist’ policies are also dismissed as ‘pipe dreams’ or ‘pie in the sky’ by many liberals and moderates.

Herein lies the kicker. For all their alleged commitment to social justice and political equality, American liberals and moderates (you know…the folks who supposedly make up ‘the left’ in American politics), are still often beholden to or imbued with national myths about America’s role as the global exporter of democracy and economic prosperity. Put differently, American liberals are caught in their own delusions and safe logic, in which our protracted involvement in foreign wars just means that ‘our troops are fighting for our freedoms,’ and in which America’s large corporate enterprises are justified in their accumulation of wealth and power (read: in the continuous exploitation of workers and people of color, both at home and abroad, and hence the proliferation of grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality), as long as they continue to be the drivers of research and innovation.

This misappropriated version of ‘the left’ in American politics then is a strange phenomenon. Many Americans, both liberal and conservative, often seem to care very little if human beings are being exploited in Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East, as long as folks here at home enjoy artificially low gas prices, get to shop for cheap at Walmart, or get to have their sugar-laden dessert coffees at Starbucks. White liberals in particular often proclaim solidarity with and empathy for disadvantaged and disenfranchised people of color in America as well as in the developing world, but yet too many of them confine themselves to the privileged seclusion of a sheltered suburban life, which was only made possible on a grand scale by racially exclusive big government programs and an economic prosperity that hinged on wartime production and the vast expansion of what Eisenhower called ‘the military-industrial complex’ on the heels of the second World War.

It is one thing to call for greater equality for the marginalized and the disadvantaged in society, but it is quite another thing to come to terms with the fact that much of one’s own behaviors and consumption patterns contribute to the factors that create and perpetuate these disparities in the first place. Until Americans truly awaken to the realization that most of our mainstream social justice campaigns and our cyclical bouts and assertions of American progressivism cannot be effectively reconciled with our existence within a pseudo-democratic corporate capitalist system, there will be no tangible left wing in mainstream American politics. As James Baldwin has once remarked elsewhere, the future of America depends on the question whether Americans are able to come to terms with their own distorted “sense of reality.”

  1. Crispin Sartwell. “The Left-Right Political Spectrum Is Bogus“, The Atlantic, June 20, 2014.
  2. Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916 (New York: The Free Press, 1963), 2.
  3. Otto von Bismarck, Die gesammelten Werke (Friedrichsruher Ausgabe), 19 vols in 15 (Berlin, 1924-35), vi. 120, Bismarck to Manteuffel, 11 August 1866.
  4. “Jar at Gridiron Dinner,” Baltimore Sun, January 29, 1907; TR to Paul Morton, January 2, 1907, in Roosevelt, Theodore, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, Vol. 3-7. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951-1954, 5:535-536.; Unreasonable Men 84-90.
  5. Kolko, Triumph of Conservatism, 286.
  6. Alan Dawley, Changing The World: American Progressives in War and Revolution. (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2003, 3).
  7. Adam Shaw. “Elizabeth Warren, Supporters Making Big Bucks from ‘She Persisted’ Merchandise“, Breitbart, August 13, 2017.
  8. Patrick Healy. “Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Battle for Party’s Future”, New York Times, January 24, 2016.
  9. Jonathan Martin. “When He Goes Low, They Go …Where? Democrats Mull How to Confront Trump“, New York Times, January 14, 2017.
  10. Trump Meets With Lawmakers On Tax Overhaul“, Charlottesville, Here and Now, September 13, 2017.
  11. Hillary Clinton, Campaign Rally in Des Moines, Iowa, January 29, 2016.

Democrats Have Found the Enemy if They Would Only Look

The Republicans are up to their usual shenanigans. There they are again, sitting on the Right. Don’t like it, Democrats? At least we (and they) know who they are. Posing the question as Pete Townshend did years ago, we must ask of the Blue Team: “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?”

Prior to the election and on these very ‘pages’, I argued how neither American party can reasonably be called Moderate Right, never mind Centrist or Left. I even suggested (with perhaps a dash of tongue-in-cheek) that a Trump-Sanders anti-TPP, labor-management ticket would provide the populist groundswell necessary to topple the Duopoly of Stasis once and for all.

Far and away, the Great Political Train Robbery of the last quarter-century was Clintonism which, in shouldering up just to the left of the Republicans, created a hostage crisis for the Center and Left that has never been defused.

Year ago, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a pro-Democratic Party institution that fostered and encouraged Clintonism, defined the latter as standing for, “economic growth and opportunity; for fiscal responsibility; for work, not welfare; for preventing crime and punishing criminals; and for non-bureaucratic, empowering government”. That all sounds like perfectly benign banner-fodder (who’s for crime?) except that it could just as easily have festooned a Barry Goldwater banner.

So what gives, yon Party of FDR?

Clintonism created no real daylight between the two parties. That was its diabolical genius. If you think you see daylight, it’s because you’re told day and night by a corporate-captured media that there is. Organized political spectrum in America can be comfortably situated on the head of a pin.

Clintonism trapped progressives (and moderates) forevermore in a lesser-of-two-evils calculus. Three-quarters of the political spectrum was foreclosed upon, never to see the sound-stage light of Fox or MSNBC again.

Their political energies effectively sidelined, the dispossessed multitudes could still be counted upon to vote for the infinitesimally more palatable Democrats. After all Civics class taught them voting was their sacred duty. This shearing of the spectrum freed the party duopoly to develop a market-carving strategy where each could partake of their share of big corporate bucks. That’s how the pigs came to look like men and the men, pigs.

When Democrats failed to come out of their chairs after Clinton stole the nomination from Sanders –choosing instead to play the increasingly frayed lesser of two evils card yet again– (because, you know, the REAL THREAT was Trump), it was further evidence their moral capacities had, after a quarter-century of capture, succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome.

True inter-party competitiveness is at least one battle away. First, the Dems must undertake the painful task of unwinding their Faustian Bargain with corporate America. This is nothing the well-heeled party apparatchiks and consultants want to hear. After all, the corporate teat is their livelihood and no one can be reasonably argued away from their paycheck.

Another way of saying this, which Dems are going to hate, is that the first-order enemy of the Democratic Party (or should we say of traditional Democratic constituencies?) is neither Trump nor establishment Republicans, but Clintonism and Third Way politics. There is no historic parallel for the corrosive effect this Power Couple wielded over a nation’s political landscape — and the real dirt hasn’t even begun to surface. Stay tuned.

This is why DNC Chair Tom Perez is having such a hard time raising money. Putting bucks before soul is like asking a carriage to pull a horse. Money-centrism is myopia. Sanders proved the passion is out there in millions of $20 donations.

Of course, the normalized drumbeat is to defeat the Republicans in the mid-terms (what else?). Lesser evils and all that rot.

The real elephant in the room is not the elephant. It’s the existential fog that continues to beset the Democratic Party.

Know thyself or die trying.