Category Archives: Elections

Capitalism, Empire, and the Infernal Gloom Machine

Depression is built into this machine and the evidence is plastered on the morose faces of people caught in the clutches of its business as usual activities. Depression is found in the insurmountable debts we owe for spending a lifetime of preparation and labor to serve the machine. In addition to debt, the machine awards us for our servitude with trinkets, gadgets, doodads and gizmos that provide a moment of hollow amusement and then sit on shelves in garages and decay. They represent the planned obsolescence of the human heart. The sacrifice paid for our fetish with materialism is the actual quality of our lives.

The gloom machine tells us the quality of our lives is defined by the machine in the driveway, and the machine that flushes away our excrement, and the machine that chills the tortured slaughtered animal flesh for later consumption, and the machine that flashes pornographic images and supplies numbers detailing how much we are liked by our so called friends. But to us humans it seems that quality of life is more appropriately measured in the amount of disposable time we have to pursue that which we want, and the quality of the community around us, and living without being chronically stressed with threats of being displaced from the land upon which we live for not working hard enough for the machine.

Depression is waking up at 6 in the morning in darkness to sit in traffic for an hour to arrive at a job that we don’t want to be at, only to serve the machinations of people with nothing but greed in their overstuffed bellies. And we go to these jobs so that we can pay rents that are unaffordable, and to service debt we’ll never escape, and we go home in darkness to our lonely lives in places where community is absent with a view of an equally lonely tree or a man-made retention pond which is an upgrade over the view of staring directly at your neighbor’s domicile. Depression is the realization there is no vacation on the horizon, no respite, just more of the same. Depression is knowing that such a life is better than many others have it.

Depression is recognizing the cynics were right about this society, that Cohen spoke truth when he sullenly moaned:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Depression is watching art die. The surrealist, the bohemian, the rock ’n roll, and the anti-authoritarian soul has lain down and pledged fealty to the dollar. For money, they’re now all willing to become ready made predictable cubes to be packaged and sold in plastic wrap placed in cleverly designed boxes which deliver to the depressed public what they want, more of something that’s pretty on the outside and vacant within. We are left with monthly subscriptions of more tales of self aggrandizement for the throngs of temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

Depression is watching the worst of us rise to legitimacy and awarded iniquitous riches for it. The popular is depressive, musical hack Cardi B sings about her money money money and she is loved. Jordan Peterson sells cheap self help stolen from better written material decades ago amalgamated with misogyny and dictates of hierarchal subjugation and becomes wildly popular. Trump purveys hatred of people of color and a love of authoritarianism and the depressive people, oh do they eat it up. This is sickness, depressive sickness.

Depression is acceptance of the violent now. The grossly unhappy men with their armaments spread their gloom and horror across the planet and claim righteousness for doing so. Depression is watching society applaud murderous hearts for their crimes who don badges and camouflage and have holidays to celebrate their violent history, while villains are made of those who simply don’t want to stand up for songs of oppression. Thank you for your service to the machine.

Depression is watching notions of resistance and revolution take form in slightly altered subservience. The great reformation desired now is for a “green new deal” that doesn’t come close to mitigating the impending culling of humanity from soon to be ecological catastrophes. Their plans offer only more endless work at the behest of the gloom machine while promising healthcare that will never happen, less debt it will also never deliver, and affordable housing that still won’t solve homelessness. They don’t want to break the machine, just tweak it, and they lack the ability to do that even. Never have I borne witness to such eager slaves and such depressive aspirations. The people seem to adore their cubicle lives, their environmental destruction, their corporations, their debts, their corrupt leaders, their prisons, their banks, and their taxes.

They want to continue to be put to work under the thumb of the status quo western civilization authoritarian mind and this is all the depressed mentally dominated masses can think of as a possible improvement. Instead of wanting to taste real liberty and be actual equals, their dreams are limited to being better treated servants. The gloom machine chugs along fueled with dimwitted ideas sold by boxed-in thinkers without any possibility of escaping the darkness, rather simply offering a more cushy seat for viewing the end of everything.

The machine bellows out demanding more, more, you owe me more, and somehow those wearing red, white, and blue agree and celebrate the demands of the machine. These debts we owe are servitude. The numbers held in digital machines are immoral which demand one must wake up to a dreary existence to do more of what is killing our souls along with the flora and fauna around us.

Depression is the downtrodden plebs who celebrate their corrupt democracy, which is in reality a thinly veiled oligarchy that should be obvious to all. They prop up a system of voting that allows the election of the presidency, a position that shouldn’t exist in the first place in an egalitarian society, to be awarded to candidates who don’t capture the most votes. What little democracy there is in a representative system is lost in totality when the winner of elections need not win the majority of votes. The gloom machine is straight up tyranny.

A non-depressed society would reject being served faux democracy. They’d reject a system absent of reason or compassion and disdain would be for ideas of continuing to support such a destructive way of being. But instead, within the gloom machine shame is reserved for those who don’t want to take part in the busted system, and it venerates those who cast votes for imperialist conquerers and planet destroyers, and those voters are lauded as doing their civic duty for taking part in open public corruption.

Depression is the insincere know it all crowd who are incapable of honest debate and have rarely endeavored to open a book of substance or engage in critical thought, but they know trivialities which they mistake as facts and wisdom. They know arrogance well and emanate it with aplomb. They know how to believe all they see in the corporatized media, but thinking without boundaries or limitations is beyond their capacity. This is not even depression, this is tragedy.

Depression is watching the trees be plowed down for more tract housing, a portion of which will sit empty for years because no one can afford to move there, and even if they could it’s a heinous boring life that awaits which is only significantly better compared to being homeless. Depression is knowing this is the reason why we are rapidly destroying our habitable environment and commencing a 6th mass extinction event which is now accelerating.

Depression is to know there is nothing we can do to stop the country we live in from mercilessly killing innocent people all over the world for no reason other than more economic expansion and our sadistic ideas of exceptionalism that entail spreading pain and hardship so a few elites can have more of what they already have more than enough of.

Depression is the powerlessness to change anything of significance. There is no other way they say other than the desolate gloom machine, they say this is how it must be. And so we remain here waiting for the horror that is soon to approach us all as the gloom descends in ever quickening waves.

A zombified indoctrinated populace can see no other way than capitalism and beating each other over the heads to satiate egos in needless competition that is unnecessary for survival and deleterious to the common good. Capitalism is the primary tool of empire, and a word that should be synonymous with depression. It’s the accumulation of resources in an effort to gain more power in man-made markets to leverage that power over other people and get them to do what the person with the most power desires. Capitalism’s depressing ideology is defined by the lecherous desire for more for the sake of it so the winner can pound their simian chest in victorious celebration of the devastation they’ve created.

Capitalism is inherently unsustainable due the way it allows power to coalesce via the leveraging abilities given to money to buy land, the means of production, elections, and advertising. It allows the whims of the few to overrun the needs of the many where those with the worst intentions aspire to gain more than others because they will attempt to fill the void in their hearts with self importance expressed via power over others. This is why it cannot be used.

If there is no central currency or advantage to collecting huge amounts of resources then the motivation to hoard would evaporate, as those resources would simply rot or become a burden to maintain. There’s no fun in that kind of hoarding. The “fun” comes to the simpleton power seeker when they acquire power to make others do what they want and thus gain the ephemeral validation they so desperately seek.

If one runs the math on players competing for money at different rates of gain over a certain amount of time, there will be a doubling effect which becomes exponential. And this effect will accelerate as it plunders along due to gains in leverage which allows for ever greater amounts of money to be made at faster rates. Eventually it always ends the way a game of monopoly ends, someone has all the power and everyone else is subservient to that entity/person.

These dour thoughts manifest from the recognition of the stranglehold empire has over our lives. The depression is the result of the myriad of expectations I can’t let go of that wants to see a kinder more egalitarian and sustainable world emerge while knowing how unlikely it is. Our collective depression is rooted in the foundations of social hierarchy and its economic tools of control, and understanding what a perfect trap it is, and so it goes, and everyone doesn’t know, but they feel it, though.

Of the Triggered, by the Triggered, and for the Triggered

With election day looming (November 6) Trump “resistance” hysteria is at its shrieking worst. Yet again we face “the most important election of our lifetimes,” or as some prefer to put it, “the second most important,” the first being the election of 2016, when “deplorables” put Donald Trump in the White House. Now, say the Trump haters, these scarcely human degenerates will have a chance to redeem themselves by voting “responsibly,” i.e., according to how their self-appointed betters tell them to vote. The persistence of this incredibly arrogant attitude is a good way to deliver a permanent Trump majority. Just ask Steve Bannon.

Even the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has been made Trump’s fault, though the shooter was clearly anti-Trump. (Thank God there were no mass shootings in the Obama era!) The toxic brew of Trump “xenophobia,” “racism,” “misogyny” and “Islamophobia” somehow made the shooter a raving anti-Semite. It couldn’t be that decades of Identarian Politics rendering “white male” a dirty word paved the way for Trump’s nationalism, could it? Of course not. It’s that Trump is stained with original sin and must be removed to make way for … utopia?

In short, we are to understand that Trump-the-Monster (Trumpenstein?) single-handedly bred a political climate that produces everything bad directly out of his evil mind while exonerating establishment politicians of both parties whose political wreckage Trump only coincidentally rose out of. But it should be obvious that this makes history entirely irrelevant, since the Devil himself has triumphed. What’s the point of engaging in political action at all?

Liberals and fake radicals are so triggered by Trump that they don’t even notice their descent into madness, much to the delight of a vast swath of middle America that is willing to re-elect Trump on that basis alone. The incredibly misguided “resistance” has somehow convinced itself that boundless indignation over Trump will lead them to victory. They do not see, apparently cannot see, that their indignation is Trump’s rocket fuel: the more they hate him, the higher and farther he flies. Until they can stop being triggered by him, they have no chance of making him go away.

Investigative journalist Allan Nairn, a longstanding critic of the Democratic party, voices the thoughts of many progressives on this election eve:

Democrats are arguably war criminals – not as big as the war criminals on the Republican side, but still war criminals. And they belong in prison. But we are facing such a crisis in this country at this moment that you have to use your head. You have to be tactical. You have to, at this moment, vote in the warmongers who will preserve democracy to block the warmongers would abolish it – and then, the day after the election, go back to the deeper work of creating real, better, more constructive political alternatives and also helping the base of the Democratic Party take back the party from the consultants, from the rich donors. But that’s for the day after the election is completed … Right now, the task is to stop the incipient fascism that Trump and the rightist revolution represents. And you can’t really say that you were working toward an anti-fascist goal if you’re not mobilizing for the Democrats right now. That’s the urgent reality that we’re living.

It is sad to see Nairn falling for the one-sided “fascist” caricature, which we hear practically every five minutes is taking over the country. Nairn’s view of fascism does not include Antifa thugs beating people senseless, “social justice” crusaders rioting to shut down speaking events for views they consider heretical, “always believe the woman” rage brigades jettisoning the presumption of innocence and rules of evidence painfully acquired over centuries of struggle etc. etc. In a gesture to broad-mindedness Nairn concedes that Democrats are warmongers, but wants us to believe that fascist evil is a Republican monopoly. But it’s just not so: the totalitarian impulse runs along the entire political spectrum.

Maybe Juliet Hoffman, presiding judge at the 1969 Chicago conspiracy trial, summed up this totalitarian attitude best: “The substance of the crime is a state of mind,” he said. That’s it. Trump’s mind is criminal. Therefore, our own unethical and criminal conduct just doesn’t matter, since we are acting in heroic “resistance” to evil incarnate. Nor does it matter whether Robert Mueller turns up anything impeachable, since Trump’s very existence is a crime. Tens of millions of Americans are in lockstep with this view, which the late Harry Elmer Barnes would call “totalitarian liberalism.”

Totalitarian liberals seem to have forgotten that we already fell prey to “fascism” under GW Bush. We heard the claim repeatedly in relation to the draconian Patriot Act, the illegal invasion of Iraq, the suspension of habeas corpus, the revival and expansion of administrative torture, and on and on. We even heard talk of American fascism when Arnold Scharzenegger won the recall election for governor in California. (It must have been the Austrian accent.) In any event, Nairn says nothing about the threat to democracy emanating from “resistance” mobs, screeching anti-Trump media (whose removal of Steve Bannon was achieved via pure hysteria), or Robert Mueller’s show-trial-in-the-making, if he can keep people awake long enough to make intermission.

It is ironic that Nairn urges us to be tactical and “use [our] head,” since he himself fails to do so. If we continue to let Trump trigger us into thinking he is an unprecedented evil, we give power to his blue collar base, which loves to stick it to us for having forsaken their interests for so long while sneering at their “unsophisticated” ways. Using our head means recognizing that tens millions of working class Americans hate our guts, and have every reason to do so.

What’s not to loathe in the political messaging on what passes for an American left? If you don’t “always believe the woman,” you’re a MISOGYNIST. If you have a belief in traditional marriage, you’re a HOMOPHOBE. If you think a fetus is alive and abortion is the taking of a human life, you’re waging a WAR ON WOMEN. If you question whether an asthma inhaler can alter the world’s climate, you’re a GLOBAL WARMING DENIER. If you think gender apartheid is as bad as racial apartheid you’re an ISLAMOPHOBE. If you think resources are finite and inviting tens of millions of economic and political refugees from the Third World to live here is harmful, you’re a RACIST XENOPHOBE. Contrast this with Trump’s changed rhetoric towards Kim Jon Un: He now says he’s “in love” with the man he originally denounced as “little Rocket Man.” Such an abrupt transformation is evidence not of a hate-monger, but of a salesman: his rhetoric shifts to fit an opportunistic agenda. Meanwhile, the contemptuous political commentary coming from the supposedly tolerant “left” never changes.

Nairn urges us to vote against our interests today then “go back” to creating better, constructive political alternatives tomorrow. But that’s not how things work. Voting for our castration today so we can have great sex tomorrow cannot possibly produce healthy political offspring. We have done this election after election for decades and have only mushrooming cynicism and self-contempt to show for it. And cynical people don’t act.

We’re in the political dead-end we’re in because of decades of voting for a Democratic Party that eagerly collaborates with the likes of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and now Donald Trump to make any renewal and expansion of still immensely popular New Deal programs impossible. In short, we have surrendered our initiative to ideological traitors, and no longer determine our politics. Why shouldn’t Trump take advantage?

By all means, go out and vote, just not for Trump’s enablers in the Democratic Party. Vote instead for candidates calling for meeting the most pressing needs of working families: Medicare for all, tuition free college, higher wages, and lower housing costs.

Socialism and the ballot

In recent elections, it seems American voters have had little choice but to elect candidates they perceive as being “on their side,” or perhaps as being “better than the other guy.” Since the enfranchisement of women and Black Americans in the course of the last century, voter participation has been too easily circumscribed by powerful elements, and often approached as if little more than a championship football game. Damage control is simple enough when just two teams play, when only two rule books vie for predictable outcomes, and when always, always, the rich get richer in the end, win who may. Certainly, to an appreciable extent, voters themselves have co-produced this system. Albeit, this problem is nothing new to anarchists who have long pointed out that democracy’s fundamental flaw is that it pivots on processes, not results.

Now, in a country where monopoly pretends to validate the total success of financial as much as political ventures, there may be a telling irony to the current American political moment, a time in which a protracted battle for supremacy yet rages between the major political parties and underscores, rather than snuffs, radical sentiments and the concomitant trends in voting behavior that bespeak them. For many voters today, these elections indicate a departure from what was not so long ago perceived as “politics as usual.” Obama’s election marked a kind of departure from the Bush-Gore election moment, and now, right-wing populism and white nationalism once again leave their substanceless but de-democratizing watermark on the pages of American political history being underwritten by Donald Trump, a shameless clown.

With this year’s midterms, voters yet witness what has been seeping through the political cracks all along. Rather than being eclipsed by the usual two-party political “football rivalry,” and now a peculiarly self-serving presidency, socialist ideas are being floated with a fresh degree of regularity, and very much at the grass-roots level. Some of this year’s candidates, notably women and members of minority and marginalized groups, folks who propound radical ideas to realize necessary dreams, seek to secure historically off-limits establishment positions. One question is why, now, in this utmost neoliberal moment, do socialist ideas lure voters away from either ideology of the dominant, entrenched camps in support of once unthinkable political victories?

The economists who have published the recent World Inequality Report 2018 offer several income-based observations that elucidate a potential, if partial, answer to this question. For example, Piketty and colleagues state:

Until recently, most available long-run series on inequality focused on top-income shares. …[W]e present new findings on how the shares going to the lowest groups of populations have evolved. …[B]ottom-income shares have declined significantly in many countries. In particular, we document a dramatic collapse of the bottom 50% income share in the United States since 1980 but not in other advanced economies, again suggesting that policies play a key role.

Anyone aware of the neoliberal turn ushered in under Reagan and Thatcher could not mistake the year 1980: it all but marks the beginning of the decimation of bottom income shares that is now under study by mainstream economists, who are sounding the alarm. “The income-inequality trajectory observed in the United States,” they write, “is largely due to massive educational inequalities, combined with a tax system that grew less progressive despite a surge in top labor compensation since the 1980s, and in top capital incomes in the 2000s.” Indeed, nearly four decades later, neoliberalism’s downward pressure on workers, the poor, and the marginalized has squeezed the least powerful to a political point of degeneracy pressure, which a star undergoes before eventual detonation. The squeeze is only tolerable to a point, and consequent change is phenomenal.

Under such pressure, what choice do voters have but to vote for candidates sympathetic to the idea of workers controlling the government, and the government controlling the economy? Such is how Danny Katch describes the encompassing pillars of socialism in his book Socialism…Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation.

Moreover, voters know that socialism is not a pipe dream. Piketty’s report possibly provides scientific grounds for steering toward a socialist future. They observe that current economic inequality is “largely driven by the unequal ownership of capital, which can be either privately or publicly owned,” and, globally, current income inequality is going to increase “even more if all countries follow the high-inequality trajectory followed by the United States between 1980 and 2016.” So, given the chance to change from a life lived under capitalism to something else, something much more humane and equitable, socialism amounts not to a “left turn” in the colloquial sense, but very much a “right” one.

But what, exactly, are voters turning away from when they vote at the ballot box? Perhaps unwittingly, Alan Greenspan, appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve by Reagan in 1987, and serving as chairman until 2006, provides insight into this question in his new book Capitalism in America. Greenspan and coauthor Adrian Wooldridge actually paint a dismal, if mythically American, picture of capitalism, which they claim to be the most democratic, globally.

To them, American capitalism is unlike capitalism elsewhere in the world, where unfortunately it is caught up with “a plutocratic elite” and not of any service to ordinary people. Moreover, they believe American capitalism has allowed some to live financially ascendent lives while the rest, at worst, enjoy the spoils of the individual economic cunning of more successful figures. Yet, these authors also acknowledge some blemishes: “…the mistreatment of the aboriginal peoples and the enslavement of millions of African Americans” was bad but excusable when weighed against all the positives. Furthermore, they claim Americans instinctively surmised that Marx was wrong: workers were not responsible for historical change but the industrious men who pull themselves up by their bootstraps (e.g., Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates).

Another claim central to their argument is that American capitalism has importantly depended on creative destruction, which in turn relies on better machines and business processes, information, cost reduction, efficient use of inputs, reduced transportation costs, and location. But alas, despite having the secret recipe for it, they admit the upsides to creative destruction are not an immediate given for anyone. And if potentially failing to exist altogether were not the worst of creative destruction, that is to say the very heart of Greenspan’s reduction of American capitalism, the authors cede the fallout manifests two ways: “…the destruction of physical assets as they become surplus to requirements, and the displacement of workers as old jobs are abandoned. To this should be added the problem of uncertainty.”

Naturally, this key economic feature in American capitalism begets winners and losers. Greenspan’s fix for making such a system “truly actuarially sound” is simple: reduce “benefit levels … by 25 percent indefinitely into the future, or taxation rates need to be raised”–the latter being a political non-starter, of course.

Yet, history is not inaccessible to the rest of us, and individuals with power similar to Greenspan’s have themselves weighed-in on capitalism from time to time. Nearly a century-and-a-half ago, for instance, John C. Calhoun asserted “there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. Broad and general as is this assertion, it is fully borne out by history” Calhoun further argues “it would not be difficult to trace the various devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has been allotted to those by whose labor it was produced, and so large a share given to the non-producing classes.” This flies in the face of Greenspan’s gambit that American capitalism has proven, definitively, that workers are not responsible for historical change.

Prior to Calhoun, even, Andrew Jackson ostensibly bemoaned the rigging of the American government in favor of capitalism and its winners, as well as the inability of American democracy, thoroughly sustained by capitalism, to provide a solution:

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add … distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society – the farmers, mechanics, and laborers – who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.

Today, while the three richest individuals in the United States and half the country’s population (i.e., its poorest half) possess the same amount of wealth, and when over four-fifths of the wealth created in the last year flowed only to one percent of all people, globally, it makes intuitive sense that people should be wont to–as anarchist thinker Ivan Illich says–“shake off the illusion that men are born to be slaveholders and that the only thing wrong in the past was that not all men could be equally so.” And so, the present critique of capitalism manifests many places, the ballot box being but one of them.

Voters are questioning crisis, whether economic or social. They question the distribution of wealth, what wealth means, and how it gets created. Fairness is questioned: who gets what, why, and for what work? Furthermore, voters are questioning “what counts as labor, how it is organized, and what its organization is now demanding from, and doing to, people,” as Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi examine in their book Capitalism: A Conversation in Critical Theory.

The same authors indicate that criticizing capitalism entails equity as well as questions surrounding why so few lives are stable or undergirded by “a sense of wellbeing…” Also, why is there such precarity relative to work? Why must voters living under capitalism continue acquiring multiple jobs with “fewer rights, protections, and benefits,” not to mention increasing instances of crushing debt? Fraser and Jaeggi add:

Equally fundamental questions surround the deepening stresses on family life… Deep questions arise, too, about the increasingly alarming impacts of our extractive relation to nature… Nor, finally, should we forget political questions, about, for example, the hollowing out of democracy by market forces at two levels: … the corporate capture of political parties and public institutions at the level of the territorial state; [and] the usurpation of political decision-making power at the transnational level by global finance, a force that is unaccountable to any demos.

Rightly, these theorists consider all of the above to be “central to what it means to talk about capitalism today.”

Capitalism and critique notwithstanding, conservative thought leaders in America could not be happier to finger Venezuela as suffering from a failed, tag-team combination of Venezuelan socialism and Cuban communism. They say whereas Venezuela was once among the world’s richest countries, socialism is unequivocally to blame for the bankruptcy and misery that Venezuelans currently face. The old self-evident truth once again emerges in their ploy: heterodox approaches to economic policy and political governance breeds dissonance and suffering time and time again. But really, what is the mis-direction being given here? Simply, resist socialism. The American government itself promotes the same, calling on the international community to help in restoring democracy, or capitalism, in Venezuela through economic sanctions and pressure on the Venezuelan people.

Consider the source of the advice that encourages American voters to resist socialism. In America, the government is not controlled by the workers. What is largely possible for voting constituents to achieve, radically speaking, is to an extent determined by what the state is willing to ordain and prescribe. As Alain Badiou notes, “The State is always the finitude of possibility, and the event is its infinitization.” So, voters must necessarily consider the state also to be preoccupied with what is, or what, for its own sake, ought always to be, impossible. Truly, for for the American state, this is likely imperative to self-preservation in a time of revived interest in socialist ideas.

To the state’s liking, what is possible under the present political arrangement in America is: one, a highly susceptible constitutional government; two, an economic system marked by capitalism; three, law for the sake of property; and four, military and police apparatuses. This arrangement frees the state to further discern what possibilities it will engender and espouse going forward, organizing itself accordingly and, thus far, along two party lines. That anything else outside either the will or the activity of the state will be tolerated endures “only to the extent that it is subtracted from the power of the state,” as Badiou asserts.

As further evidence of this, French anarchist Jacques Ellul provides a historical observation on “technique” and the state in the mid-twentieth century: “…either it receives from the state that sanction which alone can render it efficacious, or it must remain a mere abstraction, an offer without a taker. But who believes that such a noble edifice can remain an abstraction? There is, in any case, one agency which asks nothing better than to intervene: the state.”

In all likelihood, the continued existence of capitalism serves to ensure the dream of socialism be kept alive. And because life becomes increasingly dire for so many while a select few enjoy more and more spoils, it is only reasonable that voters should be acting to materialize some of their dreams by supporting candidates oriented toward socialism. As Ernesto “Che” Guevara once wrote, a revolution is not “an apple that falls when it is ripe.” Rather, “You have to make it fall.”

Today, a vote outside the political binary that perennially conforms American voters to a selection between two all but inevitable evils has dangerous fissures where radical political seeds have been sown, and by some mainstream politicians! The message? Principally, that another world is possible, no matter how dire the outlook at present, and that voters are precipitating the revolution at the ballot box. But for those who continue vote instep with the “spirit of Socialism,” as anarchist writer Rudolf Rocker calls it, that the overarching, albeit nominal, democracy should remain oriented towards processes rather than outcomes is problematic. If the state can know the outcomes or predict them based on the processes in place, or the “sides of the aisle,” then the various administrative tendrils of the bureaucratic corpus can ensure a viable existence going forward.

Of course, talking heads rally behind the state and come to its aid. Economists, politicians, pundits, and so on, all decry the recent upwelling in interest about socialism, contending that much of the original momentum of heterodox economics of decades, and even centuries, past is now lost. Despite the jingoism, both radicals and the uninitiated find themselves in good company at present. The thought of carrying on the radical work initiated by predecessors suffices to inspire them. For, the ideas of socialism are often practical as much as moral ones. Hence, Noam Chomsky instructs that “at every stage of history our concern must be to dismantle those forms of authority and oppression that survive from an era when they might have been justified in terms of the need for security or survival or economic development, but that now contribute to–rather than alleviate–material and cultural deficit.” Indeed, it is the reasonable humanist who sides with Enlightenment ideals and continues the age-old assault on the attendant inequality in society through an entire suite of prudent and necessary means.

Certainly, socialism’s detractors would have all voters believe there is no alternative to the dreadful status quo or its companion hierarchies that brace the current socio-political and economic arrangements. Furthermore, to inquire as to the feasibility of alternatives to the status quo is to welcome the usual self-serving response that guards the thing–perhaps as Badiou says of the “red decade,” beginning with the mid-1970s, which “finds its subjective form in a resigned surrender, in a return to customs–including electoral customs–deference towards the capito-parliamentarian or ‘Western’ order, and also the conviction that to want something better is to want something worse.” Or, in other words, to want socialism in America is necessarily to want to live a life under “failures” of economic and political experiments manifest elsewhere.

Well, what of the world’s dominant incarnation of oligarchic representative democracy? Indeed, it is like what Badiou asserts of the so-called “Communist hypothesis,” precisely that to compare most any alternative to what American capitalism and its government has espoused and engendered at home and abroad is to risk proselytizing about the benefits of subscribing to the “free world” values whose purportedly necessary protection is used as an excuse to further the state’s waging of endless war around the world. This, too, empowers the West to designate as “bad” anything of its choosing.

Reagan knew this well, and thus enjoyed the cultural currency afforded him by giving an incredible platform to the term “Evil Empire.” But this may also be evidence in support of anarchist Murray Bookchin’s assertion, “There is no future for hierarchical society to claim, and for us there are the alternatives only of utopia or social extinction.” In the face of the current extinction event, which the state has not designated as “bad” enough so as to go to war with it, the sweeping, steady turn towards socialist ideas is precisely a turn away from social extinction and toward something better.

As Katch writes:

Because we are so used to picturing the masters of both government and economy as narrow centralized powers that rule over us from a handful of buildings, it is hard for us to picture changes in society that go beyond replacing the people in those buildings with others who are hopefully more honest and noble. Socialism wouldn’t just replace those people but the system that centralizes so much power in a few buildings. It would broaden the bases of decision-making to thousands of buildings and public squares and community centers.

Therefore, so many cast their ballots this year in the hopes of realizing socialist aims: elaborating a system whereby they, the people, “control the government by changing what government means.”

Socialism and the ballot

In recent elections, it seems American voters have had little choice but to elect candidates they perceive as being “on their side,” or perhaps as being “better than the other guy.” Since the enfranchisement of women and Black Americans in the course of the last century, voter participation has been too easily circumscribed by powerful elements, and often approached as if little more than a championship football game. Damage control is simple enough when just two teams play, when only two rule books vie for predictable outcomes, and when always, always, the rich get richer in the end, win who may. Certainly, to an appreciable extent, voters themselves have co-produced this system. Albeit, this problem is nothing new to anarchists who have long pointed out that democracy’s fundamental flaw is that it pivots on processes, not results.

Now, in a country where monopoly pretends to validate the total success of financial as much as political ventures, there may be a telling irony to the current American political moment, a time in which a protracted battle for supremacy yet rages between the major political parties and underscores, rather than snuffs, radical sentiments and the concomitant trends in voting behavior that bespeak them. For many voters today, these elections indicate a departure from what was not so long ago perceived as “politics as usual.” Obama’s election marked a kind of departure from the Bush-Gore election moment, and now, right-wing populism and white nationalism once again leave their substanceless but de-democratizing watermark on the pages of American political history being underwritten by Donald Trump, a shameless clown.

With this year’s midterms, voters yet witness what has been seeping through the political cracks all along. Rather than being eclipsed by the usual two-party political “football rivalry,” and now a peculiarly self-serving presidency, socialist ideas are being floated with a fresh degree of regularity, and very much at the grass-roots level. Some of this year’s candidates, notably women and members of minority and marginalized groups, folks who propound radical ideas to realize necessary dreams, seek to secure historically off-limits establishment positions. One question is why, now, in this utmost neoliberal moment, do socialist ideas lure voters away from either ideology of the dominant, entrenched camps in support of once unthinkable political victories?

The economists who have published the recent World Inequality Report 2018 offer several income-based observations that elucidate a potential, if partial, answer to this question. For example, Piketty and colleagues state:

Until recently, most available long-run series on inequality focused on top-income shares. …[W]e present new findings on how the shares going to the lowest groups of populations have evolved. …[B]ottom-income shares have declined significantly in many countries. In particular, we document a dramatic collapse of the bottom 50% income share in the United States since 1980 but not in other advanced economies, again suggesting that policies play a key role.

Anyone aware of the neoliberal turn ushered in under Reagan and Thatcher could not mistake the year 1980: it all but marks the beginning of the decimation of bottom income shares that is now under study by mainstream economists, who are sounding the alarm. “The income-inequality trajectory observed in the United States,” they write, “is largely due to massive educational inequalities, combined with a tax system that grew less progressive despite a surge in top labor compensation since the 1980s, and in top capital incomes in the 2000s.” Indeed, nearly four decades later, neoliberalism’s downward pressure on workers, the poor, and the marginalized has squeezed the least powerful to a political point of degeneracy pressure, which a star undergoes before eventual detonation. The squeeze is only tolerable to a point, and consequent change is phenomenal.

Under such pressure, what choice do voters have but to vote for candidates sympathetic to the idea of workers controlling the government, and the government controlling the economy? Such is how Danny Katch describes the encompassing pillars of socialism in his book Socialism…Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation.

Moreover, voters know that socialism is not a pipe dream. Piketty’s report possibly provides scientific grounds for steering toward a socialist future. They observe that current economic inequality is “largely driven by the unequal ownership of capital, which can be either privately or publicly owned,” and, globally, current income inequality is going to increase “even more if all countries follow the high-inequality trajectory followed by the United States between 1980 and 2016.” So, given the chance to change from a life lived under capitalism to something else, something much more humane and equitable, socialism amounts not to a “left turn” in the colloquial sense, but very much a “right” one.

But what, exactly, are voters turning away from when they vote at the ballot box? Perhaps unwittingly, Alan Greenspan, appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve by Reagan in 1987, and serving as chairman until 2006, provides insight into this question in his new book Capitalism in America. Greenspan and coauthor Adrian Wooldridge actually paint a dismal, if mythically American, picture of capitalism, which they claim to be the most democratic, globally.

To them, American capitalism is unlike capitalism elsewhere in the world, where unfortunately it is caught up with “a plutocratic elite” and not of any service to ordinary people. Moreover, they believe American capitalism has allowed some to live financially ascendent lives while the rest, at worst, enjoy the spoils of the individual economic cunning of more successful figures. Yet, these authors also acknowledge some blemishes: “…the mistreatment of the aboriginal peoples and the enslavement of millions of African Americans” was bad but excusable when weighed against all the positives. Furthermore, they claim Americans instinctively surmised that Marx was wrong: workers were not responsible for historical change but the industrious men who pull themselves up by their bootstraps (e.g., Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates).

Another claim central to their argument is that American capitalism has importantly depended on creative destruction, which in turn relies on better machines and business processes, information, cost reduction, efficient use of inputs, reduced transportation costs, and location. But alas, despite having the secret recipe for it, they admit the upsides to creative destruction are not an immediate given for anyone. And if potentially failing to exist altogether were not the worst of creative destruction, that is to say the very heart of Greenspan’s reduction of American capitalism, the authors cede the fallout manifests two ways: “…the destruction of physical assets as they become surplus to requirements, and the displacement of workers as old jobs are abandoned. To this should be added the problem of uncertainty.”

Naturally, this key economic feature in American capitalism begets winners and losers. Greenspan’s fix for making such a system “truly actuarially sound” is simple: reduce “benefit levels … by 25 percent indefinitely into the future, or taxation rates need to be raised”–the latter being a political non-starter, of course.

Yet, history is not inaccessible to the rest of us, and individuals with power similar to Greenspan’s have themselves weighed-in on capitalism from time to time. Nearly a century-and-a-half ago, for instance, John C. Calhoun asserted “there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other. Broad and general as is this assertion, it is fully borne out by history” Calhoun further argues “it would not be difficult to trace the various devices by which the wealth of all civilized communities has been so unequally divided, and to show by what means so small a share has been allotted to those by whose labor it was produced, and so large a share given to the non-producing classes.” This flies in the face of Greenspan’s gambit that American capitalism has proven, definitively, that workers are not responsible for historical change.

Prior to Calhoun, even, Andrew Jackson ostensibly bemoaned the rigging of the American government in favor of capitalism and its winners, as well as the inability of American democracy, thoroughly sustained by capitalism, to provide a solution:

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add … distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society – the farmers, mechanics, and laborers – who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.

Today, while the three richest individuals in the United States and half the country’s population (i.e., its poorest half) possess the same amount of wealth, and when over four-fifths of the wealth created in the last year flowed only to one percent of all people, globally, it makes intuitive sense that people should be wont to–as anarchist thinker Ivan Illich says–“shake off the illusion that men are born to be slaveholders and that the only thing wrong in the past was that not all men could be equally so.” And so, the present critique of capitalism manifests many places, the ballot box being but one of them.

Voters are questioning crisis, whether economic or social. They question the distribution of wealth, what wealth means, and how it gets created. Fairness is questioned: who gets what, why, and for what work? Furthermore, voters are questioning “what counts as labor, how it is organized, and what its organization is now demanding from, and doing to, people,” as Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi examine in their book Capitalism: A Conversation in Critical Theory.

The same authors indicate that criticizing capitalism entails equity as well as questions surrounding why so few lives are stable or undergirded by “a sense of wellbeing…” Also, why is there such precarity relative to work? Why must voters living under capitalism continue acquiring multiple jobs with “fewer rights, protections, and benefits,” not to mention increasing instances of crushing debt? Fraser and Jaeggi add:

Equally fundamental questions surround the deepening stresses on family life… Deep questions arise, too, about the increasingly alarming impacts of our extractive relation to nature… Nor, finally, should we forget political questions, about, for example, the hollowing out of democracy by market forces at two levels: … the corporate capture of political parties and public institutions at the level of the territorial state; [and] the usurpation of political decision-making power at the transnational level by global finance, a force that is unaccountable to any demos.

Rightly, these theorists consider all of the above to be “central to what it means to talk about capitalism today.”

Capitalism and critique notwithstanding, conservative thought leaders in America could not be happier to finger Venezuela as suffering from a failed, tag-team combination of Venezuelan socialism and Cuban communism. They say whereas Venezuela was once among the world’s richest countries, socialism is unequivocally to blame for the bankruptcy and misery that Venezuelans currently face. The old self-evident truth once again emerges in their ploy: heterodox approaches to economic policy and political governance breeds dissonance and suffering time and time again. But really, what is the mis-direction being given here? Simply, resist socialism. The American government itself promotes the same, calling on the international community to help in restoring democracy, or capitalism, in Venezuela through economic sanctions and pressure on the Venezuelan people.

Consider the source of the advice that encourages American voters to resist socialism. In America, the government is not controlled by the workers. What is largely possible for voting constituents to achieve, radically speaking, is to an extent determined by what the state is willing to ordain and prescribe. As Alain Badiou notes, “The State is always the finitude of possibility, and the event is its infinitization.” So, voters must necessarily consider the state also to be preoccupied with what is, or what, for its own sake, ought always to be, impossible. Truly, for for the American state, this is likely imperative to self-preservation in a time of revived interest in socialist ideas.

To the state’s liking, what is possible under the present political arrangement in America is: one, a highly susceptible constitutional government; two, an economic system marked by capitalism; three, law for the sake of property; and four, military and police apparatuses. This arrangement frees the state to further discern what possibilities it will engender and espouse going forward, organizing itself accordingly and, thus far, along two party lines. That anything else outside either the will or the activity of the state will be tolerated endures “only to the extent that it is subtracted from the power of the state,” as Badiou asserts.

As further evidence of this, French anarchist Jacques Ellul provides a historical observation on “technique” and the state in the mid-twentieth century: “…either it receives from the state that sanction which alone can render it efficacious, or it must remain a mere abstraction, an offer without a taker. But who believes that such a noble edifice can remain an abstraction? There is, in any case, one agency which asks nothing better than to intervene: the state.”

In all likelihood, the continued existence of capitalism serves to ensure the dream of socialism be kept alive. And because life becomes increasingly dire for so many while a select few enjoy more and more spoils, it is only reasonable that voters should be acting to materialize some of their dreams by supporting candidates oriented toward socialism. As Ernesto “Che” Guevara once wrote, a revolution is not “an apple that falls when it is ripe.” Rather, “You have to make it fall.”

Today, a vote outside the political binary that perennially conforms American voters to a selection between two all but inevitable evils has dangerous fissures where radical political seeds have been sown, and by some mainstream politicians! The message? Principally, that another world is possible, no matter how dire the outlook at present, and that voters are precipitating the revolution at the ballot box. But for those who continue vote instep with the “spirit of Socialism,” as anarchist writer Rudolf Rocker calls it, that the overarching, albeit nominal, democracy should remain oriented towards processes rather than outcomes is problematic. If the state can know the outcomes or predict them based on the processes in place, or the “sides of the aisle,” then the various administrative tendrils of the bureaucratic corpus can ensure a viable existence going forward.

Of course, talking heads rally behind the state and come to its aid. Economists, politicians, pundits, and so on, all decry the recent upwelling in interest about socialism, contending that much of the original momentum of heterodox economics of decades, and even centuries, past is now lost. Despite the jingoism, both radicals and the uninitiated find themselves in good company at present. The thought of carrying on the radical work initiated by predecessors suffices to inspire them. For, the ideas of socialism are often practical as much as moral ones. Hence, Noam Chomsky instructs that “at every stage of history our concern must be to dismantle those forms of authority and oppression that survive from an era when they might have been justified in terms of the need for security or survival or economic development, but that now contribute to–rather than alleviate–material and cultural deficit.” Indeed, it is the reasonable humanist who sides with Enlightenment ideals and continues the age-old assault on the attendant inequality in society through an entire suite of prudent and necessary means.

Certainly, socialism’s detractors would have all voters believe there is no alternative to the dreadful status quo or its companion hierarchies that brace the current socio-political and economic arrangements. Furthermore, to inquire as to the feasibility of alternatives to the status quo is to welcome the usual self-serving response that guards the thing–perhaps as Badiou says of the “red decade,” beginning with the mid-1970s, which “finds its subjective form in a resigned surrender, in a return to customs–including electoral customs–deference towards the capito-parliamentarian or ‘Western’ order, and also the conviction that to want something better is to want something worse.” Or, in other words, to want socialism in America is necessarily to want to live a life under “failures” of economic and political experiments manifest elsewhere.

Well, what of the world’s dominant incarnation of oligarchic representative democracy? Indeed, it is like what Badiou asserts of the so-called “Communist hypothesis,” precisely that to compare most any alternative to what American capitalism and its government has espoused and engendered at home and abroad is to risk proselytizing about the benefits of subscribing to the “free world” values whose purportedly necessary protection is used as an excuse to further the state’s waging of endless war around the world. This, too, empowers the West to designate as “bad” anything of its choosing.

Reagan knew this well, and thus enjoyed the cultural currency afforded him by giving an incredible platform to the term “Evil Empire.” But this may also be evidence in support of anarchist Murray Bookchin’s assertion, “There is no future for hierarchical society to claim, and for us there are the alternatives only of utopia or social extinction.” In the face of the current extinction event, which the state has not designated as “bad” enough so as to go to war with it, the sweeping, steady turn towards socialist ideas is precisely a turn away from social extinction and toward something better.

As Katch writes:

Because we are so used to picturing the masters of both government and economy as narrow centralized powers that rule over us from a handful of buildings, it is hard for us to picture changes in society that go beyond replacing the people in those buildings with others who are hopefully more honest and noble. Socialism wouldn’t just replace those people but the system that centralizes so much power in a few buildings. It would broaden the bases of decision-making to thousands of buildings and public squares and community centers.

Therefore, so many cast their ballots this year in the hopes of realizing socialist aims: elaborating a system whereby they, the people, “control the government by changing what government means.”

Narrative Divergence and Degrees of Blessed Freedom

Today in America, a tug of war rages between two competing visions of the public interest. One vision is indicative of direct democracy as evidenced by the mammoth and spontaneous Trump rallies. The other is the same ole’ top-down imposition orchestrated by managed democracy‘s “invisible rulers”. Look at the obligatory apparatchiks at Obama ‘rallies’. No comparison.

The first vision is both subversive and organic, deriving its strength from the economic populism (Make America Great Again – MAGA) that Donald Trump has so effectively cultivated in his role as anti-establishment outsider. (I’ve suggested elsewhere Trump is supported in this ‘populist crusade’ by an America-First subset of the elite intent on trade normalization and re-industrialization. The plot thickens.)

The second vision is overwhelmingly reactionary, roughly comprising the establishment parties (Democrats and ‘RINO’ Republicans), the Trumanite Military-Industrial-Surveillance-Media-Complex, the US Chamber of Commerce (multinational corporatism), the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a relative latecomer: Antifa foot soldiers dedicated mostly to Open Society Foundation paychecks. Soon, full employment will hire these Bolshe-vistas away.

Too bad so many decent moderate and left-leaning Americans are effectively caught in the dissonant headlights of the second vision’s media-propagated, out-sized fear of Trumpism.

Managed Democracy has little choice but to ignore the booming economy and satisfy itself with telegenic pratfalls, such as how Trump occasionally walks in front of his wife and sets umbrellas down without closing them. To America’s great credit, the CNN snarks are losing big-time. Trump’s job approval keeps rising despite the relentless whingeing. Even a 92% media negativity onslaught can’t avert the upward ascent of Trump’s numbers (see the Media Research Center and recent Gallup numbers, below).

Then just yesterday Rasmussen released in a report, Is Another Silent Red Wave Coming’, 51% job approval numbers for Trump. Even more foreboding, traditional Republican and Independent voters are not disclosing their voting intentions much as we saw with the stealth Trump wave of 2016. Rabid anti-Trumpism tends to drive many of his followers underground until their votes are required.

Can we talk, please? Antifa is little more than pre-ideological angst frothed up into a Soros-funded ad hominem contempt for Trump, then amplified by a manipulative Corporate Media with zero interest in a leftist agenda. The specter of a genuine leftist threat in America is thus vastly overstated.

(For the best explanation on how the political became the personal and consumer affinities kicked civic rectitude to the curb, see Adam Curtis’ The Century of the Self.)

The Organized American Left, such as it is (and it really isn’t) strikes a delicate balance between ingested false consciousness and battered wife syndrome. The hijack dates back to 1980 when ideologically oblivious DCCC fundraiser and California Congressman Tony Coelho mired the Democratic Party in a Republican-lite quest for corporate dollars (later to be called Clintonism.) The ‘Left’ has been beating itself up in a lesser-of-two-evils cul de sac ever since. False consciousness ‘aspires’ to trapping its ingestees in a cycle of escalating self-injury. Even when Trump unlocks the prison door, they do not run away.

The fact is, there is no Left in America. There is no Center in America. Why? Under the American campaign finance regime three-quarters of the political spectrum has been structurally consigned to penury. Soros is not opposed to feeding them for awhile if they can help usher in his Orwellian nightmare. After that, it will be an easy segue into the faceless proles of the United Oceanian States.

An outhouse with two doors remains an outhouse.

The Conservative Treehouse blog has taken to calling the ensuing monolith the ‘Uniparty’ as there is very little of ideological substance separating the two national organizations. Indeed the relationship between the two might better be described as a corporate-dollar market-carving strategy. HMO executives to the red, trial lawyers to the blue.

Guilds with competing economic interests square off against one another under the respective banners of one or the other party. However, this has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with securing a ‘finance-able’ political apparatus from which to launch economic warfare against a competitor. That’s the ‘inversion’ in Sheldon Wolin’s inverted totalitarianism versus the classical form as epitomized by Mussolini: economics drives politics, not the other way around.

This leaves us with Trumpism, the most authentic expression of people-power in America today as its battle is as much against RINOs (Republican In Name Only) as the designated-foe-of-record, the Democratic Party. Though it kills half the nation to hear it, Trump’s fighting da System can’t you see? What, you got a better battering ram? As a bonus, Trump enrages Security State luminaries (have you read Brennan’s and Comey’s tweets?) the way 70s era Frank Church Committee lefties only wish they had.

But since you made me bring it up, where is the countervailing force, Trump’s doppelganger on the Left? After all, authentic opposition can only add vigor to the system. And please don’t cite that existentially corrupt carcass, the Democratic Party and its pygmy wannabes, nor the dude whom Chris Hedges accurately characterized in early 2016 as, a gutless war-mongering, sheep-herding, caucus-camp-following and despicable dissipator of leftist energies, Bernie Sanders.

For a time, he was okay for Trump’s running mate. Then he made the kids cry and delivered a whole new generation to cynicism. Creep.

Did you say Trump’s running mate?

With a modicum of jest I did propose a Prosperity Party Trump-Sanders ticket, sort of a labor-management coalition united by an abhorrence of globalism’s darling, the TPP and our shared 99.9% pariah status (this was pre-Deplorables). Alas, ideas not prefigured by the Fox/MSNBC split-screen are cognitive non-starters. In America, television has to believe things first before the People can assemble the requisite imaginative energies to offer their consent. Nobody gets behind anything until TV gets in front. Seminal thinking is reserved to the managers. That’s what decades of managed democracy will do.

Mostly there’s no money for the Left. So no doppelganger.

Lacking an irresistible force (and have I mentioned no money?) a vacuum can fill instead with hyperbolic blather. Witness the attempts to demonize the uncoaxed enthusiasm of Trumpism by equating it to incipient fascism. In the words of former President Obama (okay I’m lying, but darn it, they should be his words), if you can’t match the crowds (and he can’t), you might as well Nazify them. That’s just more of the System fighting back.

On the contrary, Trump is the antidote to Wolin’s inverted totalitarianism as old-school nationalism is a counter-trend to the dystopian telos sought by monistic globalism (the endgame of managed democracy). But nice try there, oh careless readers of Democracy Incorporated.

So who are these managers trying desperately to get inverted totalitarianism back on track? In his 1928 landmark book Propaganda, public relations pioneer and Goebbelsian trailblazer Eddie Bernays references them vaguely as, “…invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions… and shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

For a large segment of Americans, this alliance ‘feels natural’ as it’s been the prevailing de facto power configuration throughout the post-WW2 era. (Presidents Kennedy, Carter and Reagan are the only real departures from form albeit in vastly differing modes, degrees and outcomes.) For those seeking a time-zero legislative milestone, the 1947 National Security Act will do.

Nonetheless there is a nostalgic desire on the part of many to return to ‘the way things were’ before Trump the Disrupter introduced chaos (creative destruction?) into the body politic. Much of the present chaos is being fomented by reactionary forces desperate to discredit Trumpism by showing all the chaos Trumpism foments. Did you follow that grim Soros circle? This exhausted yearning for renewed false consciousness resembles victims of the Stockholm Syndrome who miss and idealize their former captors.

Bernays, one of corporatism’s (and thus globalism’s) earliest spokesman, offers a disingenuous assertion at best when he says:

It is important that any effort to influence or effect the American public that is not in the public interest be killed by the light of pitiless publicity and analysis.

Immediately Plugins 11, the statement begs two questions that Trumpism, in its own way, hammers away at:

  • What if the American public decides at the ballot box that what passes for the prevailing public interest (really a manufactured imposition) runs counter to its own version of said interest?
  • Who orchestrates the “pitiless publicity” aimed at killing competing visions of the “public interest” and by what authority do they undertake this Fake News mission?

In a prior time just concluded when the efficacy of mass media could be trusted, such a conflict would not represent an intractable impasse so much as a cue for re-calibrating the “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses” (Bernays).

After all, only intensified propagandizing can correct the People’s ill-informed sense of the public interest. Undemocratic manipulation is “an important element in democratic society” under Bernays’ weirdly circular formulation. In his seminal work Public Opinion (1922) Walter Lippmann covers the same terrain with his conception of ‘guided democracy’.

Bernays would have been better to say manipulation is a vital facet of a smoothly running Republic or Oligarchy, less so a Democracy. His paternalistic subtext clearly reflects the former. Indeed another name for Managed Democracy is Republicanism (not to be confused with the political party of the same name).

Finally, a cautionary to the grubby, sweaty masses: self-determination is neither a path to infallibility nor a vaccine against public policy mistakes. Direct Democracy merely makes the People the masters of their own fate, which is equally to say the captains of their own errors.

But carry on we must, and under the best banners Providence tosses our way. Beggars can’t be tireless comparison shoppers Trump may have to do. Or else show us something better.

Don’t be Flattered, Fooled and Flummoxed in Tomorrow’s Election

Let’s face it. Most politicians use the mass media to obfuscate. Voters who don’t do their homework, who don’t study records of the politicians, and who can’t separate the words from the deeds will easily fall into traps laid by wily politicians.

In 2002, Connecticut Governor John Rowland was running for re-election against his Democratic opponent, William Curry. Again and again, the outspent Curry informed the media and the voters about the corruption inside and around the governor’s office. At the time, the governor’s close associates and ex-associates were under investigation by the U.S. attorney. But to the public, Rowland was all smiles, flooding the television stations with self-serving, manipulative images and slogans. He won handily in November. Within weeks, the U.S. attorney’s investigation intensified as they probed the charges Curry had raised about Rowland. Rowland’s approval rating dropped to record lows, and impeachment initiatives and demands for his resignation grew. He was prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. Unfortunately, enough voters were flattered, fooled, and flummoxed to cost Bill Curry the race.

In 2004 Tom Frank, a Kansas author, wrote: “The poorest county in America isn’t in Appalachia or the Deep South. It is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns, and in the election of 2000, George W. Bush carried it by a majority of greater than 75 percent.” Inattentive voters are vulnerable to voting against their own interests. They are vulnerable to voting for politicians who support big business and ignore their interests as farmers, workers, consumers, patients, and small taxpayers. Big Business will not spur change in a political system that gives the fatcats every advantage. Change must come from the voters, and here’s how:

President Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress are masters at flattering voters and lying about their positions on issues ranging from health care to the minimum wage. Before you vote, rid yourself of all preconceived, hereditary, ideological, and political straitjackets. Use two general yardsticks for candidates for elective office: Are they playing fair and are they doing right?

Stay open-minded. Avoid jumping to conclusions about candidates based solely on their stance on your one or two top issues. Pay attention to where these politicians are on the many other issues that profoundly affect you and your family. If you judge them broadly rather than narrowly, you will increase your influence by increasing your demands and expectation levels for public officials. There are numerous evaluations of their votes, easily available on the Internet.

Know where you stand. A handy way to contrast your views with those of the incumbents and challengers is to make your own checklist of twenty issues, explain where you stand and then compare your positions, the candidates’ votes and declarations. Seeing how their positions or their actual record matches up to your own positions makes it harder for politicians to play you. Compare candidates with their votes or declarations.

Ask the tough questions. These are many issues that politicians like to avoid. They include questions about whether candidates are willing to debate their opponents and how often, why they avoid talking about and doing something about corporate power and its expanding controls over people’s lives, or how they plan specifically to shift power from these global corporate supremacists to the people. After all, the Constitution starts with “We the People” not “We the Corporations.” The words “corporations” and “company” are never mentioned in our Constitution!!

Ask candidates to speak of Solutions to the major problems confronting our country. Politicians often avoid defining solutions that upset their commercial campaign contributors. Ask about a range of issues, such as energy efficiency, livable wages, lower drug prices, massive government contractor fraud, corporate crimes against consumers, workers and investors, reducing sprawl, safer food, and clean elections.

Ask members of Congress to explain why they keep giving themselves salary increases and generous benefits, and yet turn cold at doing the same for the people’s frozen minimum wage, health insurance, or pension protections.

All in all, it takes a little work and some time to become a super-voter, impervious to manipulation by politicians who intend to flatter, fool,and flummox. But this education can also be fun, and the pursuit of justice can offer great benefits to your pursuit of happiness.

Such civic engagement will help Americans today become better ancestors for tomorrow’s descendants.

Don’t be Flattered, Fooled and Flummoxed in Tomorrow’s Election

Let’s face it. Most politicians use the mass media to obfuscate. Voters who don’t do their homework, who don’t study records of the politicians, and who can’t separate the words from the deeds will easily fall into traps laid by wily politicians.

In 2002, Connecticut Governor John Rowland was running for re-election against his Democratic opponent, William Curry. Again and again, the outspent Curry informed the media and the voters about the corruption inside and around the governor’s office. At the time, the governor’s close associates and ex-associates were under investigation by the U.S. attorney. But to the public, Rowland was all smiles, flooding the television stations with self-serving, manipulative images and slogans. He won handily in November. Within weeks, the U.S. attorney’s investigation intensified as they probed the charges Curry had raised about Rowland. Rowland’s approval rating dropped to record lows, and impeachment initiatives and demands for his resignation grew. He was prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. Unfortunately, enough voters were flattered, fooled, and flummoxed to cost Bill Curry the race.

In 2004 Tom Frank, a Kansas author, wrote: “The poorest county in America isn’t in Appalachia or the Deep South. It is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns, and in the election of 2000, George W. Bush carried it by a majority of greater than 75 percent.” Inattentive voters are vulnerable to voting against their own interests. They are vulnerable to voting for politicians who support big business and ignore their interests as farmers, workers, consumers, patients, and small taxpayers. Big Business will not spur change in a political system that gives the fatcats every advantage. Change must come from the voters, and here’s how:

President Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress are masters at flattering voters and lying about their positions on issues ranging from health care to the minimum wage. Before you vote, rid yourself of all preconceived, hereditary, ideological, and political straitjackets. Use two general yardsticks for candidates for elective office: Are they playing fair and are they doing right?

Stay open-minded. Avoid jumping to conclusions about candidates based solely on their stance on your one or two top issues. Pay attention to where these politicians are on the many other issues that profoundly affect you and your family. If you judge them broadly rather than narrowly, you will increase your influence by increasing your demands and expectation levels for public officials. There are numerous evaluations of their votes, easily available on the Internet.

Know where you stand. A handy way to contrast your views with those of the incumbents and challengers is to make your own checklist of twenty issues, explain where you stand and then compare your positions, the candidates’ votes and declarations. Seeing how their positions or their actual record matches up to your own positions makes it harder for politicians to play you. Compare candidates with their votes or declarations.

Ask the tough questions. These are many issues that politicians like to avoid. They include questions about whether candidates are willing to debate their opponents and how often, why they avoid talking about and doing something about corporate power and its expanding controls over people’s lives, or how they plan specifically to shift power from these global corporate supremacists to the people. After all, the Constitution starts with “We the People” not “We the Corporations.” The words “corporations” and “company” are never mentioned in our Constitution!!

Ask candidates to speak of Solutions to the major problems confronting our country. Politicians often avoid defining solutions that upset their commercial campaign contributors. Ask about a range of issues, such as energy efficiency, livable wages, lower drug prices, massive government contractor fraud, corporate crimes against consumers, workers and investors, reducing sprawl, safer food, and clean elections.

Ask members of Congress to explain why they keep giving themselves salary increases and generous benefits, and yet turn cold at doing the same for the people’s frozen minimum wage, health insurance, or pension protections.

All in all, it takes a little work and some time to become a super-voter, impervious to manipulation by politicians who intend to flatter, fool,and flummox. But this education can also be fun, and the pursuit of justice can offer great benefits to your pursuit of happiness.

Such civic engagement will help Americans today become better ancestors for tomorrow’s descendants.

Oceania is at War with Fascism

If you’re a critic of global capitalism (sometimes referred to as “globalism”), I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is, you’re not a “peddler of Russian propaganda” anymore. The bad news is, you’re an anti-Semite.

You’re probably also a domestic terrorist, or an “emboldener” of domestic terrorism, or at least some sort of terrorism-apologist. And not good old-fashioned Islamic terrorism like we used to get during the War on Terror, because that ended in the Summer of 2016, right around the time Trump won the nomination. No, the brand of terrorism you are probably emboldening by criticizing global capitalism is anti-Semitic, fascist terrorism … the most terroristic form of terrorism there is!

Up until recently, you might have just been going about your normal business, criticizing global capitalism, completely unaware of your anti-Semitic, white supremacist terrorist activities, but from now on there will be no denying them. Your hate thoughts are right there for everyone to read. Go back and check your Facebook posts and your Twitter feed. You’ll see what I mean. All those times when you impulsively lashed out against the global capitalist ruling classes, or globalism, or Obama, or Clinton, or the Wall Street banks, or, God help you, George Soros … well, you might as well have been tweeting blinking neon GIFs of dancing Swastikas or posting Adolf Hitler’s speeches with little throbbing hearts and smiley-face emoticons.

See, according to the “Anti-Fascist Resistance” (i.e, the the Democratic Party, the “intelligence community,” the corporate media, those Wall Street banks, the military industrial complex, and other components of the global capitalist empire that doesn’t actually exist, except as a Nazi “conspiracy theory”), any references you might have made to “globalists,” or “globalism,” or the “corporate media,” or “banks,” or “Hollywood,” or the “1 percent,” or any other “elites,” didn’t really refer to what they referred to, but, in fact, were anti-Semitic “dog whistles.” If you went so far as to literally mention or include an unflattering photo of Soros in any of your posts or tweets, then you weren’t just “whistling” to your fascist dog friends, you were openly calling for a second Holocaust, or “inspiring” some anti-Semitic psycho to senselessly murder a bunch of people, as recently happened at that synagogue in Pittsburgh.

This newly rebranded “Anti-Fascist Resistance” (formerly known as the “Anti-Putin Resistance,” that is, until pre-election polling convinced them that most Americans were not responding to their “Russiagate” propaganda) has been working more or less around the clock to badger the public into believing that this psycho was an official “lone wolf terrorist” (i.e., a “terrorist” who has no affiliation with any actual terrorist organization), and that “America is on the brink of fascism,” and that Trump is “deploying the fascist playbook,” and that attacking the media is “the first step toward fascism,” and that Trump is a fascist because he isn’t a fascist (or something … I couldn’t quite make sense of that one), and, basically, that everyone should be afraid of fascism! Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 when the Party abruptly switches official enemies in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the “Resistance” is counting on its loyal members to instantly forget the Russia hysteria they have been mindlessly parroting for almost two years, and start mindlessly parroting Fascism hysteria (as they mindlessly parroted the Terrorism hysteria throughout the Global War on Terror, until they switched to parroting the Russia hysteria after Trump got elected in 2016).

This recent rebranding of the neoliberal Resistance was a brilliant move, and is going quite well. It couldn’t have come at a better time, what with the midterm elections about to take place. While liberals were ready to swallow any anti-Trump narrative the corporate media rammed down their throats from the moment Clinton lost, much of the slightly-more-left-leaning Left never bought the Russiagate story. So it’s been tough for slimy beltway operatives like David Brock and other propagandists to unite “the Left” behind the Democratic Party, so they can put down this annoying “populist” insurgency, reinstall some Obama-like puppet, and get back to the business of globalism … no, not worldwide Jewish domination, you Jew-obsessed, neo-Nazi freaks, but, rather, the consolidation of corporate control over what remains of society, the abrogation of national sovereignty, and the establishment of a smiley, happy, multicultural, over-medicated, neo-feudal global capitalist marketplace. This Fascism hysteria is doing the trick!

This is the beauty of the “Putin-Nazi” narrative, which was designed to be a one-two punch. First, they hit us with the “Russiagate” hysteria, which worked like a charm on the kind of liberals who have no qualms about destroying whole countries, murdering hundreds of thousands of people in faraway lands that pose zero threat to us, and debt-enslaving millions of Americans to enrich the global investor classes, as long as someone like Obama is doing it. Then, once all the NPR liberals had been whipped into a hysterical frenzy over “Russian propaganda,” “collusion,” and so on, they hit us with the Fascism hysteria, which is working like a charm on the rest of the Left. (I haven’t seen any official polling, but when the official narrative is being mindlessly parroted, not only by the liberal corporate media, but also by “grassroots” left-wing outlets like Truthout, Democracy Now, and CounterPunch, you know their propaganda is working.)

Not that there aren’t a bunch of racists, anti-Semites, and other bigots out there. Of course, there are. There always have been, just as there have always been terrorists out there (or non-state militants, depending on your perspective). Some of these racists and anti-Semites are obviously homicidal lunatics. This is not a new phenomenon. The American white supremacist fringe (and, sorry, but it is still a fringe) has been shooting and bombing innocent people, and otherwise doing their utmost to get their ridiculous “Racial Holy War” going since at least the early 1970s, and arguably since end of the Civil War. They have been doing this without any “emboldenment” from billionaire jackasses like Donald Trump, and they will continue to do this once Trump is gone and this Fascism hysteria has outlived its usefulness … like the War on Terror hysteria did.

If you’re in the mood to live a bit dangerously and want a little preview of what that will be like, switch off your smartphone for a minute, turn off the television, shut down the notebook, and walk out into the city, suburb, town, or gated community you live in. Does it look like the Nazis have taken over? OK, want to live even a little more dangerously? And I’m talking about flirting with serious thought crime. Ask yourself, how many actual terrorists did you encounter during the War on Terror (that is, assuming you didn’t invade their country and start, you know, bombing and shooting at them)? Can you even remember as far back as July, when Oceania was at war with Russia, and Trump (temporarily) wasn’t Hitler, but was a treasonous “Russian intelligence asset,” who was almost certainly going to disband NATO, and a “crippling Russian cyber attack” on vital American infrastructure was imminent?

I doubt it, because that never happened. Oceania has never been at war with Russia. Oceania is at war with Fascism. Oceania has always been at war with Fascism. Donald Trump has always been Hitler. He has never been a Russian intelligence asset. Obama never put children in cages, or assassinated entire families at weddings. Trump’s nativism leads to anti-Semitism. America is not a safe place for Jews. The invasion of Iraq was just a tragic mistake, which will never, ever, happen again. There are no global capitalist elites, and anybody who says there are is an anti-Semite, and a fascistic thought criminal, and an emboldener of domestic terrorism, which is “a plague America can no longer ignore.” Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot, the Ministry of Plenty has just announced that there will be no reduction of the chocolate ration. The chocolate ration will be increased!

So don’t forget to vote blue tomorrow and help the Party defeat the fascists! Or, if you’re one of the fascists, don’t forget to vote red tomorrow and help the Party save America from that Jewish Mexican zombie horde that is coming to steal your fruit-picking job! And whatever you do, stay tuned to the telescreen, and do not start thinking about global capitalism, or the manufacture of mass hysteria, or put anything into any kind of broader historical or geopolitical context. That kind of thinking leads straight to thought crime … and we all know where thought crime leads.

The Fire This Time: It Will Keep Burning Long After November 6

Perhaps enough Americans in enough numbers in enough places have woken up to the wildfires consuming our country. Perhaps these woke Americans will throw some water on the fires in the November 6 election. Perhaps an emerging American majority will slow the Republican burn of American idealism, decency, and justice. Perhaps an emerging American majority will elect enough new Democrats to prod old Democrats out of their lazy collusion with burning the country down. Perhaps.

Whatever happens November 6, the fires of political fascism and capitalist authoritarianism will continue to rage out of control. The conniving right has been feeding these flames for decades and it’s likely to take more decades to extinguish them, if that’s even possible. The Long March of the right from the debacle of Goldwater in 1964 to the triumph of Trump in 2016 has been astonishingly Maoist in its determination, orthodoxy, and political correctness. One has to acknowledge them for their sheer ruthlessness and determination. Minority rule is no mean trick.

The Republican right had help from supine Democrats with no coherent alternative. They had more help from media quislings and collaborators (yes, that’s Fox) whose idea of analysis involved telling “both sides” regardless of what might be true. They had more help from an educational system producing increasing compliant, ignorant voters who could no longer reliably assess what was real or important or even in their self-interest. And they had still more help from elitist leaders who, rather than engaging the country as a potential unity, dismissed millions of people as deplorables in love with their guns and their religion (as if either of those were unquestionably evil).

Whatever happens November 6, we’ll still have a president who aspires to dictatorship, as illustrated by his assertion that he has the power to rewrite the Constitution all by himself. We’ll still have a ruling party that relies on racism to maintain power, that enables its bigots to spread hate by graffiti and murder. We’ll still have concentration camps full of migrants and migrant children separated from their parents, rounded up and held with no due process of law.

We’ll still live in a country where Twitter enables the president to release a shamelessly dishonest racist ad scapegoating immigrants and libeling Democrats. We’ll still live in a country where Facebook profits by selling lists of likely customers to white nationalist marketers promoting myths of “white genocide.” We’ll still live in a country where the dominant culture makes it unsafe and sometimes lethal to be different, where the president invites the military to kill innocent, unarmed people with impunity. This is not politically correct, but it is true: even as we mourn the synagogue murders in Pittsburgh we remain silent about Israeli executions of innocents in Gaza or Saudi genocide in Yemen.

We’ll still live in a country where the government no longer makes grants to organizations fighting US terrorism. We’ll still live in a country where the government deliberately pursues policies that threaten the global climate. We’ll still live in a country that abrogates nuclear weapons treaties and pursues new, “usable” nuclear warheads and the domination of space.

In a sense, November 6 is a moment of truth for the country. In a deeper sense, that’s fundamentally facile and false. Nothing magically changes on November 6, no matter the outcome. The election of a Democratic House looks like the most likely best outcome. But that Democratic majority wouldn’t be seated till January, leaving Republicans two months to feed the flames consuming us. The reality is that every moment is a moment of truth. Radical Republican reactionaries internalized that decades ago. Perhaps the realization that the moment of truth is now, always now, has finally generated a humane, tolerant, democratic majority in America – and maybe even an enlightened majority that can sustain itself. It’s worth dreaming.

How the Rats Revolt: “Ratting Out” Democrats’ Electoral Extortion

Introduction: The Rat as a Compelling Symbol of Needed Revolt

In his recent Truthdig piece,  “The Rats Revolt“, journalist Chris Hedges discusses a fable for activists just published by legendary political dissident Ralph Nader. I haven’t read Nader’s book, but it’s enough for organizers like me to know that two of the left’s leading public intellectuals are united in calling for revolt. And (since symbols are vital to movements) that they’ve given us a highly effective symbol for organizing current revolt: the rat.

With crucial strategy to discuss, it would waste precious time to dwell long on movement symbolism here. But, besides its adoption by leftist opinion leaders like Hedges and Nader, the rat splendidly serves the purposes of organizing revolt. In the face of onrushing climate apocalypse, we are all rats on a sinking ship. And to the elites blithely ignoring climate apocalypse—partying on the Titanic—we who care deeply about the matter are clearly noxious vermin; the brutal treatment of the Standing Rock water protectors as terrorists (championed by Republican pols with scarcely a murmur of protest by Democrats) is both telling and typical. My family’s experience resisting fracking under PA’s Democratic governor Rendell (Virginia Cody is my wife) was parallel.

But—provided the revolt movement chooses appropriate action—there’s a positive, active side to the rat symbol; it needn’t just represent passive victimhood. Indeed, my case here is that Democrats are engaged in mafia-like behavior—electoral extortion—that demands “ratting out.” Finally, it’s appropriate in view of rats’ historical role in transmitting the bubonic plague, since the movement strategy I propose here is heavily focused on plaguing Democrats.

Revolt Basis: Democrats Criminally Extort Votes against Climate Justice

Say what? Why plague Democrats, with a president as horrible as Trump in charge and ruling Republicans arguably turning ever more fascist?  Indeed, hasn’t Noam Chomsky himself, an icon to most leftists, branded today’s Republican Party “the most dangerous organization in human history“? So what’s up with organizing a mass revolt against Democrats? Isn’t it insane to elect the most dangerous organization in human history?

First off, I’m not saying we should vote Republican, or even run the risk of electing Republicans by voting for third parties. Far from it! Asserting we should vote Republican, or even risk Republicans winning, would contradict my fundamental assertion that Democrats extort our votes. Anyone who takes Chomsky’s assertion that Republicans are the most dangerous organization in human history seriously—and no one takes it more seriously than climate justice activists like me—is poised to understand how Democrats exploit the threat of brutal Republican misrule as a turbocharged tool of electoral extortion.

If Democrats didn’t make a rationally compelling threat, they wouldn’t be practicing extortion. Just as the mob makes a rationally compelling threat: they provably can and will kill your whole family. That Democrats make their totally rational threat unsuccessfully is suggestive evidence of just how loathsome voters find today’s Democrats. Even more so, it’s compelling evidence that U.S. voters on neither the right nor the left are terribly rational. The left, in particular, has shown a piss-poor grasp of Chomsky’s logic.

Anyone acquainted with Chomsky’s dry, matter-of-fact speaking style should realize that he’s not given to emotionally charged hyperbole. In fact, I seem to recall that he adopts that style deliberately, wishing to persuade by facts and logic rather than emotional appeals. So when he makes an assertion as outrageous sounding as calling Republicans the most dangerous organization in human history—and openly acknowledges how outrageous his assertion sounds—he’s basing it on the scientific logic of climate apocalypse, a logic regrettably almost totally absent from U.S. political discourse.

With an unprecedented climate fiasco menacing our species—perhaps to the point of extinction—a Republican Party not merely rejecting climate science, but proactively attacking it as a dangerous conspiracy, is logically humanity’s most dangerous enemy ever. Which is why leftists must choke back our vomit and vote for Democrats. But we hardly need to stop there. We should torture Democrats with righteous wrath for strong-arming us into voting for their own loathsome party. A party with no room whatsoever for climate justice.

By voting for Democrats, we’re voting for a party that overwhelmingly supports fracking and militarism—the first a direct, and the second an indirect, assault on the prerequisites of emergency climate action, as ably laid out by Naomi Klein in This Changes Everything. If leftists needed a scathing indictment of Democrats and their policies, the latest IPCC report is clearly that indictment. Anyone secretly hell-bent on promoting human extinction need not look crazy by backing Republicans; Democrats’ policy commitments will work just fine. But in a political system with only two viable parties, Republicans are demonstrably far worse, beyond appeal to reason (just like any other mob enforcer). For any reasonable person concerned about climate, Democrats’ electoral extortion must succeed. And must be repaid with bitter resentment. That’s what movement organizing—and the time between elections—is for.

So, the logic of U.S. politics cries out specifically for a Rats’ Revolt, one devoted to “ratting out” Democrats for their anti-climate electoral extortion. Moreover, the notion of “ratting out” couldn’t be more appropriate to the nature of Democrats’ extortion. After all, ratting out mob higher-ups to the feds is a disloyal act of revenge or self-protection (both apply here) undertaken by fellow members of the mob. Perhaps those future “rats” were even coerced into the mob under threat of force and therefore owe the mob no real loyalty. Such is the case for all climate justice voters strong-armed into voting Democrat—coerced into the Democrat mob—under the rationally unthinkable threat of Republican rule. Climate justice voters in our hearts, we would—in a genuine democracy—vote for a climate justice party like Greens in a heartbeat. We owe neither love nor loyalty to a Democratic Party that holds our votes hostage—in fact, we hate it—but we will never be safe or free until we “rat out” Democrats’ electoral extortion racket. And torture Democrats—the ones we were coerced into electing—into providing effective remedies.

Making U.S. Elections Safe for Democracy

Democrats clearly have a vested interest in quashing democracy through electoral extortion. And their pretenses of wishing to protect us from Republican fascism and insanity are the purest hypocritical lip service. For there’s a vastly more effective method of sparing us Republican barbarity than demanding we vote for Democrats. It’s called ranked choice voting, and if Democrats really gave a damn about protecting us from Republicans, they’d be tripping over one another to sponsor bills to make it U.S. electoral law.

While I don’t have space here to discuss ranked choice voting in detail (all people who cherish democracy should use the link above to inform themselves), ranked choice voting would forcefully close the curtain on Democratic Party extortion. Every climate justice voter who wished to vote third party—right now, that should mean every climate justice voter—could safely vote, say, for the Green Party candidate and list the Democrat as a second choice. If the Green candidate didn’t win enough first-place votes to stay in the race, the Green voters’ votes would then go to the Democratic candidate. In that way, voting Green would not automatically entail taking a vote away from Democrats. Prospective Green voters would no longer face a compelling dilemma of conscience when voting for their (vastly) preferred party. And climate justice activists like me could—in good conscience—throw all energies into working to build Greens (or the most promising climate justice party). And Democrats would be faced with serious competition from the environmentally and socially conscious left. The same sort of competition that forced 1930s Democrats to embrace the New Deal.

Coercing Democrats to embrace ranked choice voting would open the door to further reforms crucial to “making U.S. elections safe for democracy.” I speak of the hurdles deliberately placed to keep third parties from appealing to voters, whether it be ridiculous barriers to ballot access or scandalous exclusion from major media debates. Currently, both Democrats and Republican show their “mafia” thuggishness by reveling in these anti-democratic practices. With Republicans, this should be no surprise, since fascistic anti-democracy thuggishness is actually a large part of GOP appeal. Whereas Democrats have zero rational grounds for anti-democratically suppressing progressive third parties—except, of course, the threadbare argument of risking electing Republicans. A risk easily removed by enacting ranked choice voting. Democrats’ flagrant resistance to ranked choice voting, like their persistence in third-party-suppressing practices, makes an utter mockery of the party name.

But Democrats’ role models in strong-armed extortion—the mafia—never showed much interest in democracy either.

Conclusion

In this article, I indicated why leftist activists—especially climate justice activists—should take up Chris Hedges’ and Ralph Nader’s call to start a “Rats’ Revolt.” I also sketched the organizing theme and overall strategy for such a revolt. In my next piece, “Chuck Schumer, Democrats’ Low-Profile Teflon Don,” I’ll illustrate the needed tactics for executing our strategy of “ratting on” and “plaguing” Democrats who extort our votes.