Category Archives: Republicans

The Party of “Abortion” in Texas

It’s ironic that Republicans in Texas are so committed to abolishing abortion.

Abortion is their primary modus operandi.

Abortion is basically their chief reason for being.

Every election season, Republicans try to abort voting rights, especially for Texans of a different complexion. And as much weeping and gnashing of teeth Republicans do about late-term abortion, they would gleefully abort the results of the last presidential election. An inordinate number of Texas Republicans tried on January 6. They can’t help themselves.

While the United States of America was established by the descendants of immigrants, the Republic of Texas was largely founded by actual immigrants. The only two native Texans who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence were Jose Francisco Ruiz and Jose Antonio Navarro; so, besides the original founders without Spanish surnames, Republicans are fierce opponents of immigration and naturalization. Republicans would abort immigration altogether if they could, but, in recent years they’ve had to settle for separating immigrant children from their parents and placing them in cages along our border. It’s sad, but at least the victims are brown.

Texas Republicans aren’t real keen on persons of color in general—immigrant or no—unless they’re carrying a football. Which brings to mind another white conservative conundrum. It’s difficult for Texas Republicans to think highly of themselves and their forebears if the facts about Texas independence and the countless atrocities committed against persons of color are widely propagated. Truth-telling, therefore, must be aborted. It’s a constant priority. But—to their tremendous benefit—the only thing more powerful than white fragility in Texas these days is conservative white political agility.

When Texas Republicans aren’t obsessing over ways to disenfranchise persons of color, they go after women. Texas Republicans have a perpetual, Viagra-charged hard-on for aborting women’s reproductive rights, and also fight against fair pay for Texas women. It’s no wonder there are less and less Republican babies around.

And there’s the real rub.

White women have the most abortions. If women of color were the largest demographic utilizing birth control or terminating their pregnancies, Texas Republicans would make birth control and abortion kits available at the drive-thru of every Whataburger in the state.

I’m not trying to be funny.

There’s no reason to mince words. Their record is clear.

Texas Republicans initially aborted the insurance exchange clause of Obamacare here in the Lone Star State to poison the proverbial well. It denied millions of folks affordable health care and, ultimately, killed Texans just to score political points. More recently, Texas Republicans aborted the right to protest Big Oil and regularly abort clean air and clean water measures, poisoning millions of Texans, destroying animal habitats and restricting access to precious natural resources. And Texas Republicans are currently working to abort reasonable gun control efforts, abort real reforms of the Texas power grid (which killed Texans during the ice storm this last February) and abort the homeless (instead of mitigating the conditions that create them).

Oh, and they get away with all this because Republicans aborted the FCC Fairness Doctrine back in 1987, ushering in a media environment where a propaganda machine like Fox News could brainwash conservative voters, convincing them to self-abort theretofore long-standing notions of honesty, conscience and human decency.

In a word, Texas Republicans are more of a miscarriage than an abortion—of justice, of intellect, of forethought and of reasonable governance. But abortion is the means by which they simultaneously make Texas a laughingstock and a menace.

The post The Party of “Abortion” in Texas first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney and the Rule of Law

One could not accuse US Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming of having a sense of irony. For some time, she has felt her party to be the hostage of a ghoulish monster who refuses to be slayed.  And she fears her party has fallen out of love for the rule of law.

In being ousted from the third spot in the leadership of the Republican Conference in the House, Cheney has found a new morality. In her floor speech, she called Donald Trump’s canard of a stolen election a “threat America has never seen before.”  Opposing Trump’s interpretation of the result was a “duty”. “I will not sit back and watch in silence, while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins in the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”  After her speech, she told reporters that she would “do everything” she could “to ensure that the former president never gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

Cheney’s seemingly shabby treatment led such papers as the Washington Post to remark that truth was again under assault. “Truth is the issue upon which Cheney has made her stand – truth and her unwillingness to be silent for the supposed good of the team.”  Peter Wehner, who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes, saw the event as a “confirmation that the Republican party is diseased and dangerous, increasingly subversive and illiberal”.  Eric Lutz, writing in Vanity Fair, called the Cheney display “defiant”, laying “bare the cowardice of her colleagues who, with their vote on Wednesday, affirmed what had long been clear: The GOP is the cult of Trump now, and fealty the price of admission.”

This is gruesomely fascinating on a few levels, given that Cheney comes from a family rather snotty about such concepts as the rule of law, verisimilitude and the Constitution.  Her father Dick Cheney, the Vice Presidential dark operator in the administration of George W. Bush, was not exactly strong on such ideas, and proved rather subversive and illiberal in a number of ways. Old Dick, along with his lawyer David Addington and John Yoo of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, did much to read executive power in a manner most imperial in nature.

For Dick Cheney, US executive power needed to be restored after the damaging effects of Watergate and the Vietnam War.  The time that followed, he lamented to reporters on Air Force Two in 2005, proved to be “the nadir of the modern presidency in terms of authority and legitimacy”.

It is true to say that Trump also preferred a broad reading of executive power, one all too readily articulated by former Attorney General William Barr. But Cheney, Addington and Yoo were responsible for views that justified the bypassing and defanging of Congress, wiretapping of US citizens, torture of terrorist suspects, the establishment of military commissions, the breaching of international treaties and the waging of illegal wars.  Such conduct has caused more than a smattering of commentary urging the prosecution of both Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush for a range of offences in both domestic and international law.

It would be churlish to claim that a father’s blackened record should somehow compromise that of his daughter’s.  But the co-authored father and daughter work Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America repeats the old neoconservative interventionist sins that were so important in laying the ground for a Trump victory in 2016.  Father Dick and Daughter Liz supply an apologia for such murderous disasters as Iraq while piling into President Barack Obama whom they stop short of accusing of treason.  “The touchstone of his ideology – that America is to blame, and her power must be restrained – requires a wilful blindness about what America has done in the world.”

In 2009, Liz Cheney, along with fellow neoconservative Bill Kristol, co-founded Keep America Safe, an outfit steeped in a tattered worldview that proceeded to leave many Americans behind.  As Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic noted in a battering piece on Liz Cheney in 2013, “Most Americans understand that investing trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives in Iraq was a historic blunder.”  Not for Liz, who finds wars stirringly necessary.

Over the years, Rep. Cheney barely warranted a mention after securing the seat her father once occupied. As the third-ranking member of minority party leadership, she was a middleweight power with exaggerated expectations.  Then came President Trump.  The neoconservatives were outflanked.  Fires were lit, casting light upon her cause.  That cause, simple as ever, was an anti-Trump, using truth and democracy as crutches of polemical convenience.

To date, Rep. Cheney is pursuing a cause of martyrdom that is, like many such causes, futile.  It was a martyrdom that was “well-planned”, as Republican political consultant Keith Naughton noted in The Hill.  “There are no reports she actually worked the GOP caucus, canvassing and counting heads.  Cheney didn’t fight back, she planned to lose.”  In losing, she hopes to rebuild a neoconservative base that has withered into oblivion.

The post Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney and the Rule of Law first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Second Stage Terror Wars

We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.

– William Casey, CIA Director, February. 1981

It is well known that the endless U.S. war on terror was overtly launched following the mass murders of September 11, 2001 and the linked anthrax attacks.   The invasion of Afghanistan and the Patriot Act were immediately justified by those insider murders, and subsequently the wars against Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.  So too the terrorizing of the American people with constant fear-mongering about imminent Islamic terrorist attacks from abroad that never came.

It is less well known that the executive director of the U.S. cover story – the fictional 9/11 Commission Report – was Philip Zelikow, who controlled and shaped the report from start to finish.

It is even less well known that Zelikow, a professor at the University of Virginia, was closely associated with Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Dickey Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Brent Scowcroft, et al. and had served in various key intelligence positions in both the George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations. In 2011 President Obama named him to his President’s Intelligence Advisory Board as befits bi-partisan elite rule and coverup compensation across political parties.

Perhaps it’s unknown or just forgotten that The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission repeatedly called for Zelikow’s removal, claiming that his appointment made a farce of the claim that the Commission was independent.

Zelikow said that for the Commission to consider alternative theories to the government’s claims about Osama bin Laden was akin to whacking moles.  This is the man, who at the request of his colleague Condoleezza Rice, became the primary author of (NSS 2002) The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, that declared that the U.S. would no longer abide by international law but was adopting a policy of preemptive war, as declared by George W. Bush at West Point in June 2002.  This was used as justification for the attack on Iraq in 2003 and was a rejection of the charter of the United Nations.

So, based on Zelikow’s work creating a magic mountain of deception while disregarding so-called molehills, we have had twenty years of American terror wars around the world in which U.S. forces have murdered millions of innocent people.  Wars that will be continuing for years to come despite rhetoric to the contrary.  The rhetoric is simply propaganda to cover up the increasingly technological and space-based nature of these wars and the use of mercenaries and special forces.

Simultaneously, in a quasi-volte-face, the Biden administration has directed its resources inward toward domestic “terrorists”: that is, anyone who disagrees with its policies.  This is especially aimed at those who question the COVID-19 story.

Now Zelikow has been named to head a COVID Commission Planning Group based at the University of Virginia that is said to prepare the way for a National COVID Commission.  The group is funded by the Schmidt Futures, the Skoll Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Stand Together, with more expected to join in.  Zelikow, a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program Advisory Panel, will lead the group that will work in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Stand together indeed: Charles Koch, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, the Rockefellers, et al. funders of disinterested truth.

So once again the fox is in the hen house.

If you wistfully think the corona crisis will soon come to an end, I suggest you alter your perspective.  Zelikow’s involvement, among other things, suggests we are in the second phase of a long war of terror waged with two weapons – military and medical – whose propaganda messaging is carried out by the corporate mainstream media in the pursuit of the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset. Part one has so far lasted twenty years; part two may last longer. You can be certain it won’t end soon and that the new terrorists are domestic dissidents.

Did anyone think the freedoms lost with The Patriot Act were coming back some day?  Does anyone think the freedoms lost with the corona virus propaganda are coming back?  Many people probably have no idea what freedoms they lost with the Patriot Act, and many don’t even care.

And today?  Lockdowns, mandatory mask wearing, travel restrictions, requirements to be guinea pigs for vaccines that are not vaccines, etc.?

Who remembers the Nuremberg Codes?

And they thought they were free, as Milton Mayer wrote about the Germans under Hitler.  Like frogs in a pot of cold water, we need to feel the temperature rising before it’s too late.  The dial is turned to high heat now.

But that was so long ago and far away, right?  Don’t exaggerate, you say.  Hitler and all that crap.

Are you thankful now that government spokespeople are blatantly saying that they will so kindly give us back some freedoms if we only do what they’re told and get “vaccinated” with an experimental biological agent, wear our masks, etc.? Hoi polloi are supposed to be grateful to their masters, who will grant some summer fun until they slam the door shut again.

Pfizer raked in $3.5 billion from vaccine sales in the first quarter of 2021, the first three months of the vaccine rollouts, and the company projects $26 billion for the year.  That’s one vaccine manufacturer.  Chump change?  Only a chump would not realize that Pfizer is the company that paid $2.3 billion in Federal criminal fines in 2009 – the largest ever paid by a drug company – for being a repeat offender in the marketing of 13 different drugs.

Meanwhile, the commission justifying the government’s claims about COVID-19 and injections (aka “vaccines”) will be hard at work writing their fictive report that will justify ex post facto the terrible damage that has occurred and that will continue to occur for many years.  Censorship and threats against dissidents will increase.  The disinformation that dominates the corporate mainstream media will of course continue, but this will be supplemented by alternative media that are already buckling under the pressure to conform.

The fact that there has been massive censorship of dissenting voices by Google/ YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc., and equally massive disinformation by commission and omission across media platforms, should make everyone ask why.  Why repress dissent?  The answer should be obvious but is not.

The fact that so many refuse to see the significance of this censorship clearly shows the hypnotic effects of a massive mind control operation.

Name calling and censorship are sufficient.  Perfectly healthy people have now become a danger to others.  So mask up, get your experimental shot, and shut up!

Your body is no longer inviolable.  You must submit to medical procedures on your body whether you want them or not.  Do not object or question. If you do, you will be punished and will become a pariah.  The authorities will call you crazy, deviant, selfish. They will take away your rights to travel and engage in normal activities, such as attend college, etc.

Please do not recall The Nuremberg Code.  Especially number 7: “Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability or death.” (my emphasis)

“Now is the time to just do what you are told,” as Anthony Fauci so benevolently declared.

I am not making a prediction.  The authorities have told us what’s coming. Pay attention.  Don’t be fooled.  It’s a game they have devised.  Keep people guessing.  On edge.  Relieved.  Tense.  Relaxed.  Shocked.  Confused.  That’s the game.  One day this, the next that.  You’re on, you’re off.  You’re in, you’re out.  We are allowing you this freedom, but be good children or we will have to retract it.  If you misbehave, you will get a time out.  Time to contemplate your sins.

If you once thought that COVID-19 would be a thing of the past by now, or ever, think again.  On May 3, 2021 The New York Times reported that the virus is here to stay.  This was again reported on May 10.  Hopes Fade for Global Herd Immunity.  You may recall that we were told such immunity would be achieved once enough people got the “vaccine” or enough people contracted the virus and developed antibodies.

On May 9, on ABC News, Dr. Fauci, when asked about indoor mask requirements being relaxed, said, “I think so, and I think you’re going to probably be seeing that as we go along, and as more people get vaccinated.”  Then he added: “We do need to start being more liberal, as we get more people vaccinated.”

But then, in what CNN reported as a Mother’s Day prediction, he pushed the date for “normality” out another year, saying, “I hope that [by] next Mother’s Day, we’re going to see a dramatic difference than what we’re seeing right now. I believe that we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.  We’ve got to make sure that we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated. When that happens, the virus doesn’t really have any place to go. You’re not going to see a surge. You’re not going to see the kinds of numbers we see now.”

He said this with a straight face even though the experimental “vaccines,” by their makers own admissions, do not prevent the vaccinated from getting the virus or passing it on.  They allege it only mitigates the severity of the virus if you contract it.

Notice the language and the vaccination meme repeated three times: “We get more people vaccinated.” (my emphasis) Not that more people choose to get vaccinated, but “we get” them vaccinated.  Thank you, Big Daddy. And now we have another year to go until “we will be about as close to back to normal as we can.”  Interesting phrase: as we can.  It other words: we will never return to normality but will have to settle for the new normal that will involve fewer freedoms.  Life will be reset, a great reset.  Great for the few and terrible for the many.

Once two vaccines were enough; then, no, maybe one is sufficient; no, you will need annual or semi-annual booster shots to counteract the new strains that they say are coming.  It’s a never-ending story with never-ending new strains in a massive never-ending medical experiment.  The virus is changing so quickly and herd immunity is now a mystical idea, we are told, that it will never be achieved.  We will have to be eternally vigilant.

But wait.  Don’t despair.  It looks like restrictions are easing up for the coming summer in the northern hemisphere. Lockdowns will be loosened.  If you felt like a prisoner for the past year plus, now you will be paroled for a while. But don’t dispose of those masks just yet.  Fauci says that wearing masks could become seasonal following the pandemic because people have become accustomed to wearing them and that’s why the flu has disappeared. The masks didn’t prevent COVID-19 but eliminated the flu.  Are you laughing yet?

Censorship and lockdowns and masks and mandatory injections are like padded cells in a madhouse and hospital world where free-association doesn’t lead to repressed truths because free association isn’t allowed, neither in word nor deed.  Speaking freely and associating with others are too democratic. Yes, we thought we were free.  False consciousness is pandemic.  Exploitation is seen as benevolence. Silence reigns.  And the veiled glances signify the ongoing terror that has spread like a virus.

We are now in a long war with two faces.  As with the one justified by the mass murders of September 11, 2001, this viral one isn’t going away.

The question is: Do we have to wait twenty years to grasp the obvious and fight for our freedoms?

We can be assured that Zelikow and his many associates at Covid Collaborative, including General Stanley McChrystal, Robert Gates, Arnie Duncan, Deval Patrick, Tom Ridge, et al. – a whole host of Republicans and Democrats backed by great wealth and institutional support, will not be “whacking moles” in their search for truth.  Their agenda is quite different.

But then again, you may recall where they stood on the mass murders of September 11, 2001 and the endless wars that have followed.

The post Second Stage Terror Wars first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Rise of Right-wing Libertarianism Since the 1950s

Sometimes as I read books I like to simultaneously summarize them in my own words to facilitate the intellectual digestion. And also to post my notes online later on, in the probably vain hope of diffusing knowledge to young people and non-academics. I’ve been reading a couple of books on the rise of political conservatism in the last several generations, and since nothing is more important to the future than combating conservatism, I’m going to jot down some notes here. As a historian, I’m familiar with the story and have read quite a few works on the subject. (E.g., this one.) Nevertheless, Kim Phillips-Fein’s Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (2009) and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (2017) are interesting enough to warrant some summarizing.

One of the useful functions of the latter book, in particular, is that it brings force and clarity to one’s prior knowledge of the dangers of right-wing libertarianism, or more generally anti-government and pro-“free market” thinking. In fact, this sort of thinking is an utter catastrophe that threatens to destroy everything beautiful in the world. I know that sounds like an absurd exaggeration, but it’s not. What with society and nature teetering on the brink, it’s the literal truth. I suppose the reason leftists don’t always take right-wing libertarianism as seriously as it deserves—despite their deep awareness of the evils of capitalism—is simply that it’s embarrassingly easy to refute. It’s a childish, simplistic, vulgar hyper-capitalist ideology that, once you examine it a little, quickly reveals itself as its opposite: authoritarianism. Or even totalitarianism, albeit privatized totalitarianism. Noam Chomsky, as usual, makes the point eloquently:

… Here [in the United States] the term ‘libertarian’ means the opposite of what it meant to everybody else all through history. What I was describing [earlier] was the real Adam Smith and the real Thomas Jefferson and so on, who were anti-capitalist and called for equality and thought that people shouldn’t be subjected to wage-labor because that’s destructive of their humanity… The U.S. sense [of ‘libertarian’] is quite different. Here, every word has taken on the opposite of its meaning elsewhere. So, here ‘libertarian’ means extreme advocate of total tyranny. It means power ought to be given into the hands of private unaccountable tyrannies, even worse than state tyrannies because there the public has some kind of role. The corporate system, especially as it’s evolved in the twentieth century, is pure tyranny. Completely unaccountable—you’re inside one of these institutions, you take orders from above, you hand them down below…there’s nothing you can say—tyrannies do what they feel like—they’re global in scale. I mean, this is the extreme opposite of what’s been called libertarian everywhere in the world since the Enlightenment …

“Libertarianism,” in short, is a bad joke: morally hideous, theoretically flawed, and empirically without merit. (For instance, it’s well known among economic historians, or should be, that the only way countries have ever industrially developed is through radical state intervention in the economy, which is also the reason that today we have technologies like electronics, the internet, aviation and space technologies, pharmaceuticals, nuclear energy, containerization in shipping, biotechnology, nanotechnology, green technologies, even mass production and electric power.) Still, the simplistic dogma has to be taken seriously and combated because of the incredible damage it has done worldwide, by, for example, justifying state withdrawal of support for vulnerable populations and deregulation of industries that are consequently destroying the natural environment.

Even people and policymakers who aren’t actual libertarians (in the perverted right-wing American sense) have almost always been influenced by pro-market ideologies, because two centuries of global propaganda have made their mark. I don’t want to say markets are necessarily and always, even on small local scales, destructive; I’m only saying that the denigration of government relative to markets is horribly misguided. Besides, what does “the market” even mean? When people talk about “the free market,” what are they talking about? Markets, at least national and international ones, have always been shaped and structured and created and manipulated by states. That’s a truism of economic history. Just read Karl Polanyi’s classic The Great Transformation (1944). “The market” is a meaningless abstraction, an idealization that distracts from the innumerable ways states create rules to govern market interactions, rules that favor certain actors and disadvantage others. No national or international market has ever been “free” of political constraints, structures, institutions, rules that are continually contested and shaped by interest groups in deadly conflict with each other.

Conservative ideologues such as most economists, especially so-called libertarians, always prefer to traffic in idealizations (for instance the neoclassical fetish of mathematical models or the “libertarian” fetish of “the market”) and ignore history because, well, history is inconvenient. Reality mucks up their dogmas. Actual investigation of labor history, economic history, political history, social history leads to such subversive notions as that if workers had never organized, the mass middle class would never have existed. Or that capitalist states have consistently acted for the (short-term or long-term) benefit of the capitalist class or some section of it. Or that classes exist at all! It’s much safer to follow the Milton Friedmans and Friedrich Hayeks and talk only about “freedom,” “economic liberty,” “the market,” “the price mechanism,” “labor flexibility,” and other things that abstract from real-world conditions. It’s also less intellectually and morally arduous. Materialism—historical materialism—leads to revolutionary conclusions, so let’s stay on the level of abstract ideas!

What an obscenity that capitalism is considered synonymous with freedom! When ideologues prate about “economic liberty” or “the free society,” the obvious question is: whose liberty? The liberty of a Jeff Bezos to pay a non-living wage is premised on the inability of millions of people to find a job that will pay more. And when, as a result, they’re (effectively) coerced into taking that minimum-wage job—because the alternative is to starve—their low income vitiates their “liberty” to realize their dreams or have a decent standard of living. Charles Koch, say, has the freedom and ability to influence policymakers at the highest level; in a radically unequal society, most citizens do not have that freedom or ability. A billionaire (who likely inherited a great deal of money) has a heck of a lot more “economic freedom” than the rest of us. But he whines about his lack of freedom because of burdensome government regulations, taxes, and irritating labor unions. If only he could get rid of these obstacles he’d have more freedom—to pay his workers less, fire them for any reason, pollute the environment, and charge consumers more. The “freedom” of the right-wing libertarian is the freedom to dominate others. (More specifically, the freedom of the capitalist to dominate others.)

The truth is that socialism, or popular democratic control of the economy, entails not only more equality but also more widespread freedom. For example, in an economy of worker cooperatives, people would be free from coercion by a boss (because collectively the owners of a cooperative are their own boss). Even in a social democracy, people generally have the means to realize more of their desires than in a neoliberal economy where much of the population lives in poverty. Similarly, the more public resources there are, the more freedom people have to use these resources. Privatization of resources excludes, depriving either all or some people of their freedom to use them.

Needless to say, it took a lot of indoctrination, backed up by a lot of money, to convert untold numbers of people to right-wing libertarianism in the last sixty years. Phillips-Fein starts her story with the famous du Pont brothers who created the Liberty League in the 1930s to fight the New Deal. They didn’t have much success: in the depths of the Depression, it was pretty easy for most people to see through vulgar business propaganda. It wasn’t until after World War II that business was able to regroup and launch successful offensives against the liberal and leftist legacies of the 1930s. You should read Elizabeth Fones-Wolf’s Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945–1960 for a broad account of this counterrevolution. Phillips-Fein’s focus is more narrow, on the far-right organizations that sprang up to play the long game rather than just immediately beat back unions and Communists and left-liberalism.

One such organization was the Foundation for Economic Education, which “advocated a stringent, crystalline vision of the free market” and disseminated that vision through innumerable leaflets and pamphlets and LP recordings. It was funded by companies both small and large, including U.S. Steel, General Motors, and Chrysler. A couple of the businessmen associated with FEE helped bring Friedrich Hayek, already famous for The Road to Serfdom, to the University of Chicago (the libertarian Volker Fund paid his salary) and assisted with his project of building the international Mont Pelerin Society in the late 1940s. The ideas of Hayek and his mentor Ludwig von Mises (who was hired as a FEE staff member) would become gospel to the fledgling libertarian movement.

It’s remarkable, and testament to the power not of ideas but of money, that a movement that started out with a few scattered malcontents in the business and academic worlds who were fighting a rearguard action against the internationally dominant Keynesian and social democratic paradigm of the 1940s has snowballed to become almost globally hegemonic by the 2010s.

“Over the course of the 1950s,” Phillips-Fein writes, “dozens of new organizations devoted to the defense of free enterprise and the struggle against labor unions and the welfare state sprang into existence.” Ayn Rand, amoralist extraordinaire, had already become “tremendously popular” among businessmen. But some in the business world didn’t like her rejection of Christianity, and they dedicated themselves to shaping religion in a pro-capitalist direction. “We can never hope to stop this country’s plunge toward totalitarianism,” wrote one of them (J. Howard Pew, president of Sunoco and a devout Presbyterian), “until we have gotten the ministers’ thinking straight.” (The usual irony: to avoid “totalitarianism,” we have to get everyone to think like us. Only when every individual is lockstep in agreement, marching behind us, will the danger of totalitarianism be overcome. These ideologues are pathetic, unreflective mediocrities who take it for granted that they have the right to rule—and anything else is totalitarianism). 1 Pew worked to support an organization called Spiritual Mobilization to get “the ministers’ thinking straight,” and Christian Business Men’s Committees spread in a decade that saw the increasing success of anti-Communist preachers like Billy Graham and the growth of fundamentalism.

One reason for the alliance between religion and capitalism in those years is obvious: they were both anti-Communist. But there are other affinities that are, I think, revealing. What they amount to, at bottom, is the common urge to dominate—an authoritarianism common to both religious and business hierarchies. Most religion by its nature tends to be a rather closed-minded affair (rejection of scientific evidence, doubt, skeptical reasoning), attached to tradition—traditional hierarchies like patriarchy, white supremacy, homophobia. The authoritarian and submissive mindset/behavior it encourages in the faithful can be useful to — and coopted by — business institutions that similarly demand submission and are authoritarian in structure. (Just as Christianity earlier on was coopted by the Roman authorities (after Constantine), and then by medieval authorities, and then by the early modern absolutist state.)

It’s true that in most respects, market fundamentalism and conservative Christianity are very different ideologies. And their fusion in the modern Republican Party can seem odd. The socially conservative and the economically conservative wings of the party, basically anchored in different constituencies, have by no means always been comfortable with each other. (For instance, libertarian attempts to privatize and destroy Social Security and Medicare have been resisted by the socially conservative popular base.) It’s even more ironic because the religious concern for community, family, and tradition is constantly undermined by capitalism, as has been understood at least since the Communist Manifesto. But the reactionary business elite needs an electoral base, so it’s stuck with the rednecks it despises, because of the interests they have in common. And the “rednecks,” or the social conservatives—but we should keep in mind that plenty of people in the business world are themselves socially conservative and religious—end up allying with business for the same reason. For both groups are opposed to democracy and equality. They want the federal government to stay out of their business, for the federal government has historically done a lot more than state governments to empower the oppressed and undermine reactionary hierarchies. Whether it’s white supremacy, conservative Christian values, or the business desire to avoid taxes and regulation, the federal government has frequently been the enemy—as during the era of the Civil Rights Movement and the liberal Warren Supreme Court. “Small government!” can become the rallying cry for authoritarians if government starts to challenge authoritarianism.2

Thus you get the seemingly incongruous but immensely revealing cooperation, starting in the 1950s and continuing today, between white supremacists and “libertarians.” Who thereby show their true colors. Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains is illuminating on this point. Her book describes the career of the influential Nobel laureate economist James M. Buchanan, one of the founders of public choice theory, which is devoted to the impeccably capitalist goal of exposing and explaining the systematic failures of government. MacLean argues that John C. Calhoun, the great nineteenth-century ideologue of slavery, states’ rights, limited government, and “nullification” (the idea that states can refuse to follow federal laws they consider unconstitutional), is an important inspiration for right-wing libertarianism.

Both Buchanan and Calhoun…were concerned with the “failure of democracy to protect liberty.” In particular, Buchanan and Calhoun both alleged a kind of class conflict between “tax producers and tax consumers.” Both depicted politics as a realm of exploitation and coercion, but the economy as a realm of free exchange… Both thinkers sought ways to restrict what voters could achieve together in a democracy to what the wealthiest among them would agree to.

Murray Rothbard, among other libertarians, spoke openly of the movement’s debt to Calhoun. “Calhoun was quite right,” he said, “in focusing on taxes and fiscal policy as the keystone” of democracy’s threat to so-called economic liberty, or property rights. Property rights trump every other consideration, including the right of the majority to vote and determine policy. This is why Buchanan worked with Pinochet’s government in Chile to write a radically undemocratic constitution, and why he worked with Charles Koch and others to find ways to limit democracy in the (already very undemocratic) U.S., and why, in general, prominent libertarians have been quite open about their distaste for democracy. The famous economist George Stigler, for example, once told a meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society that “one possible route” for achieving the desired libertarian future was “the restriction of the franchise to property owners, educated classes, employed persons, or some such group.”

The young libertarian movement was energized by the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. Why? Not because they supported it (as genuine libertarians, people who authentically value human freedom and dignity, would have), but because, like segregationists, they found it an appalling instance of federal overreach. William F. Buckley and his magazine National Review (funded largely by Roger Milliken, a reactionary textile manufacturer) — not totally “libertarian” but very much in that camp —3 published articles denouncing the Supreme Court’s “tyranny.” Others were excited by the prospect that the South’s resistance offered to end public education itself. Buchanan, at the University of Virginia, wrote a proposal to sell off all public schools and substitute for them a system of tax-funded private schools that would admit or reject students as they saw fit. His plan never came to fruition, but in the following years, as the Civil Rights Movement gained steam, libertarians—such as Barry Goldwater—could always be found on the side of “states’ rights.” After all, the Civil Rights Act did interfere with property rights, by dictating to businesses what their policies had to be!

Goldwater’s campaign for the presidency in 1964 was a precocious moment for the young conservative movement, and his landslide loss to Lyndon Johnson showed the country wasn’t ready yet for the mainstreaming of far-right politics. Still, all the organizing during the 1950s, from the John Birch Society to the American Enterprise Association (which became the now-well-known American Enterprise Institute), had clearly made an impact. Goldwater’s bestselling book The Conscience of a Conservative helped his cause, as did Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. Financial support for his campaign came from conservative businessmen across the country, not only big names like the du Pont family and Walt Disney but also countless small businesses (which are often more conservative than larger ones). The Republican establishment, on the other hand, was hardly fond of Goldwater: Nelson Rockefeller, for example, issued a press release that said, “The extremism of the Communists, of the Ku Klux Klan, and of the John Birch Society—like that of most terrorists—has always been claimed by such groups to be in the defense of liberty.”

To try to get white working-class support, the Goldwater campaign pioneered a strategy that Republicans have used to great effect ever since: capitalize on racial and cultural fears. As one official wrote in a memo, Goldwater should “utilize (and build) fully the one key issue which is working for us—the moral crisis (law and order vs. crime and violence).” Instead of talking about the usual libertarian themes of unions, Social Security, the welfare state, and taxes, he should focus on “crime, violence, riots, juvenile delinquency, the breakdown of law and order, immorality and corruption in high places, the lack of moral leadership in general, narcotics, pornography.”

Phillips-Fein comments: “The issues of race and culture, White [the author of the campaign memo] believed, could easily be joined to the politics of the free market. The welfare state, after all, was the product of just the same unrestrained collective yearnings that produced moral chaos.” Exactly. This, then, is another point of contact between free-market ideologues and social conservatives. Both groups want “law and order” and nothing more. (No equality—and no freedom for “undesirables”—only authoritarian hierarchies, whether of class, race, gender, sexuality, or whatever).

As for Buchanan, in the late 1960s, as he was teaching at UCLA at the peak of the New Left, he found himself decidedly unsympathetic to the student protests. To quote MacLean: “Despite ‘my long-held libertarian principles,’ he said, looking back, ‘I came down squarely on the “law-and-order” side’ of things. He heaped praise upon one administrator who showed the ‘simple courage’ to smash the student rebellion on his campus with violent police action.” –What a surprise. A “libertarian” who cheers violent police actions. (Buchanan also supported the Vietnam War, except that he thought it should have been fought more aggressively.)

Meanwhile, he co-wrote a book called Academia in Anarchy that used public choice theory to explain—abstractly, as usual, with no empirical substantiation—why campuses were in an uproar. It had to do; e.g., with students’ lack of respect for the university setting because tuition was free or nearly so. Faculty tenure, too, was “one of the root causes of the chaos” because job security meant professors had no incentive to stand up to radical students. The solution was that students should pay full-cost prices, taxpayers and donors should monitor their investments “as other stockholders do,” and “weak control” by governing boards must end. Such measures would facilitate social control. “In essence,” MacLean comments, he and his co-author were arguing that “if you stop making college free and charge a hefty tuition…you ensure that students will have a strong economic incentive to focus on their studies and nothing else—certainly not on trying to alter the university or the wider society. But the authors were also arguing for something else: educating far fewer Americans, particularly lower-income Americans who could not afford full-cost tuition.” As we now know, the ruling class eventually adopted Buchanan’s agenda.

The tumult of the late ’60s and early ’70s, combined with inflation, recession, and intensifying international competition, is what finally shocked big business into taking action, much broader action than before. The Powell Memorandum, written for the Chamber of Commerce, is symbolic of this panic. Neoconservatives like Irving Kristol argued that, in order to be effective in the sphere of propaganda, businessmen should stop defending only such grubby, uninspiring things as selfishness and the pursuit of money and instead elevate more transcendent things like the family and the church, institutions that (to quote Phillips-Fein) “could preserve moral and social values and had the emotional weight to command true allegiance.” (These neoconservatives also became militant advocates of American imperialism under the slogans of fighting Communism, spreading freedom and democracy, etc.) Nonprofits like the American Enterprise Institute began to get a much more receptive hearing when they pressed businessmen to fund a free-market ideological counteroffensive. The Olin Foundation, among others, disbursed millions of dollars to a variety of conservative think tanks, such as the new Manhattan Institute. The Coors family were the main financers of the Heritage Foundation, created by Paul Weyrich (a conservative young congressional staffer) in 1973, which would take a more pugilistic and culturally conservative stance than the AEI. For instance, it attacked “secular humanism” and defended the “Judeo-Christian moral order” at the same time as it was attacking big government, unions, and the minimum wage.

Incidentally, if this fusion of cultural conservatism and defense of capitalism reminds you of European fascists in the 1920s and 1930s, it’s because reactionaries always use the same ideological bag of tricks. Fascists and Nazis defended capitalism and even, sometimes, “Christianity” while attacking “decadent” bourgeois culture, democracy, effete intellectuals, socialists and Marxists, ethnic minorities (not Blacks, as in the case of American conservatives, but Jews and others), economic parasites—think of Buchanan’s attacks on welfare “parasites.” Most of these American conservatives would have been Nazis had they been German in the 1930s.4

Corporate Political Action Committees sprang up everywhere. Phillips-Fein:

In 1970 most Fortune 500 companies did not have public affairs offices; ten years later 80 percent did. In 1971 only 175 companies had registered lobbyists, but by the decade’s end 650 did, while by 1978 nearly 2,000 corporate trade associations had lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Thanks in part to…the educational seminars sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations, the number of corporate PACs grew from 89 in 1974…to 821 in 1978. They became an increasingly important source of funding for political campaigns, while the number of union PACs stalled at 250.

Meanwhile, the Business Roundtable “was founded on the idea that celebrity executives could become a disciplined phalanx defending the interests of business as a class.” Its membership was open only to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. As its executive director said, “Senators say they won’t talk to Washington reps [e.g., lobbyists], but they will see a chairman.” The Roundtable took a less blatantly reactionary (anti-union, etc.) approach to lobbying than many other business organizations.

The Chamber of Commerce was less genteel: it changed its character in the 1970s, becoming much more activist and politicized than it had been. It “believed in mobilizing the masses of the business world—any company, no matter how large or small, could join the organization. The Chamber rejected the Roundtable’s tendency to seek out politicians from the Democratic Party and try to make common ground. It backed the Kemp-Roth tax cuts [based on the new and controversial supply-side economics of Arthur Laffer] long before most other groups…” By 1981 the group had almost 3,000 Congressional Action Committees; at the same time, it was sponsoring all kinds of projects to indoctrinate students and the general public with conservative points of view on capitalism and such issues as civil rights, gay rights, feminism, and school prayer.

The right-wing counteroffensive was so vast it can scarcely be comprehended. New anti-union consulting companies were founded, and employers became more vicious toward unions. Legions of small businessmen, fed up with the costs of complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rules, joined the veritable movement to “Stop OSHA” that was coordinated by the American Conservative Union. Colossal efforts were directed, too, at reshaping the nation’s courts so that, as one crusader said, “the protection and enhancement of corporate profits and private wealth [would be] the cornerstones of our legal system.” Entities like the Liberty Fund, the Earhart Foundation, and many businesses funded Henry Manne’s “law and economics” programs to train lawyers in corporation-friendly interpretations of the law. (By 1990, more than 40 percent of federal judges had participated in Manne’s program at George Mason University.) A few years later, in 1982, the Federalist Society was founded—“federalist” because the idea is to return power to the states, as good white supremacists and libertarians (business supremacists) would want. Within several decades it had completely transformed the nation’s judiciary.

The 1970s was also the decade when “the upsurge of religious fervor that has sometimes been called the Third Great Awakening began to sweep the country” (Phillips-Fein), “shifting the balance of the country’s Christian population toward evangelical and fundamentalist churches and away from the old mainline denominations.” Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other evangelical leaders preached not only the predictable homophobic, anti-pornography, anti-abortion stuff, but also libertarian ideology—anti-unions, anti-government-bureaucrats, anti-welfare-state stuff. As Falwell said when founding Moral Majority in 1979, part of its job would be “lobbying intensively in Congress to defeat left-wing, social-welfare bills that will further erode our precious freedoms.” (Roe v. Wade, of course, had helped inflame social conservatives’ hostility to the federal government, providing another reason for the affinity with economic conservatives.) Needless to say, the politicization of evangelicals has had some rather significant consequences on the nation’s politics.

And then, as if all this weren’t enough, there was…Charles Koch, whom MacLean focuses on, together with Buchanan. He’s become even more influential in the last couple of decades—though MacLean surely exaggerates when she says, “He is the sole reason why [the ultra-capitalist right] may yet alter the trajectory of the United States in ways that would be profoundly disturbing even to the somewhat undemocratic James Madison”—but he was already playing a very long game in the 1960s. The son of a co-founder of the John Birch Society, he’s a true ideologue, a fanatical believer in “economic liberty” and Social Darwinism, fiercely opposed to government largesse dispensed to anyone, apparently including (at least in his early idealistic years) corporations.5 From the early days to the present, one of his favored institutions to help carry out the revolution has been the ironically named Institute for Humane Studies, successor to the Volker Fund in the mid-1960s. But in the late 1970s he founded, with the assistance of the even more fanatical Murray Rothbard, the Cato Institute, to train a disciplined “Leninist” cadre that, unlike most conservatives, would never compromise, never forsake its anti-government principles in any area of policy. (Rothbard supplied the Leninism.) Abolish the welfare state and all government regulations! Abolish the postal service and public education! Legalize drugs, prostitution, and all consensual sex! Slash taxes across the board! End American military intervention in other countries! Much of this was a bit shocking to mainstream conservatives, but Koch wouldn’t stray from his divine mission.

With a permanent staff and a stable of rotating scholar visitors, Cato could generate nonstop propaganda… Buchanan played a crucial role in such propaganda, for Cato’s arguments generally followed analyses provided by his team. Koch, meanwhile, provided new resources as the cadre brought in recruits with ideas for new ways to advance the cause. They would then be indoctrinated in the core ideas to assure their radical rigor, all of this held together with the gravy train opportunities Koch’s money made available as they pushed their case into the media and public life…

Koch (and his brother David, who was less political) also supported the Reason Foundation (which still publishes the magazine Reason), a think tank that soon became “the nation’s premier voice for privatization, not only of public education…but also for every conceivable public service, from sanitation to toll roads.” And in 1984—to give just one more example of many—the Kochs founded Citizens for a Sound Economy, chaired by Ron Paul, to rally voters behind their agenda.

The conservative mobilization of the 1970s, combined with the country’s economic woes and liberals’ feckless policies, got Reagan elected—a pretty impressive achievement when the electorate had overwhelmingly rejected his views just sixteen years earlier, in the form of Barry Goldwater’s campaign. But many libertarians were unhappy with his presidency, since he did so little to shrink government. (He did cut taxes, social spending, and regulations, but overall the government continued to expand and, very disappointingly, the welfare state wasn’t destroyed.)

The Cato Institute’s top priority became the privatization of Social Security. Buchanan helped supply a strategy to achieve this wildly unpopular goal. It would be political suicide to just come out and state it openly; instead, devious measures were necessary. First, a campaign of disinformation would have to convince the electorate that Society Security wasn’t financially viable in the long term and had to be reformed. (You may remember this intensive propaganda campaign from the George W. Bush years.) Step two was to “divide and conquer” (in the words of MacLean): reassure those who were already receiving benefits or would soon receive them that they wouldn’t be affected by the reforms. This would get them out of the fight to preserve the existing system. Meanwhile, foster resentment among younger workers by constantly reminding them their payroll deductions were providing a “tremendous welfare subsidy” to the aged. And foster resentment among the wealthy, and thus their opposition to Social Security, by proposing that they be taxed at higher rates than others to get their benefits. Etc. Eventually, popular resistance to “reform” would begin to break down. The financial sector could be enlisted in the fight too because of the windfall of money it would get by Social Security’s privatization.

As always, the ultimate goal was to eliminate all “collectivism,” all collective action and solidarity, which really means to get people to stop caring for each other. The world should consist of private atoms, because that means “freedom”—but more importantly because that means the elimination of resistance to capitalist power. (Ideologues may convince themselves that they’re wonderfully idealistic, but from a Marxian point of view they’re just useful idiots serving the objective interests or dynamics of capitalism to expand everywhere. As I wrote in a brief critique of Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind, power-structures basically ventriloquize certain highly indoctrinated people, animating them to speak for them and rationalize them.) It reminds me of Hannah Arendt’s analysis of totalitarianism, according to which the ideal is that everyone is an atom. To shamelessly quote myself:

As someone once said, the closest we’ve ever come to a society of pure selfishness and individualism was Auschwitz, which was the culmination of a kind of totalitarian collectivism. The ironic parallels between Nazi (and Soviet) collectivism and Randian or Rothbardian individualism are significant: they’re due to the profound atomization that each entails. In the latter, the individual is to treat everyone as a means to his end; in the former, the individual is to treat everyone as a means to the state’s (or the movement’s) ends. In both cases, no human connections are allowed, no treating the other as a being with his own value and his own claims on one’s respect. Hate, mistrust, and misery are the inevitable consequences of both these dystopian visions.

Cf. Pinochet’s regime, beloved by Hayek and Buchanan.

Anyway, the Cato Institute was hardly the only conservative institution fighting to privatize Social Security, but the war was never won. Democracy and “collectivism” proved too resilient. Unexpected outcome! In the 1990s, the Kochs and other funders, Buchanan, Congressman Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich, and the whole 1994 crop of Republicans at the vanguard of the “free market revolution” struggled mightily to shackle democracy by passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (along with cutting Medicare, “reforming” welfare, and so on), but again, alas, they failed.

Buchanan was particularly incensed by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the so-called Motor Voter Act). “We are increasingly enfranchising the illiterate,” he growled, “moving rapidly toward electoral reform that will not expect voters to be able to read or follow instructions.” It bears noting, by the way, that it’s really superfluous to argue that market fundamentalists hate democracy, because it hardly requires great insight to see that the accumulation of wealth by a minority is itself totally inimical to democracy. And such wealth accumulation is not only an inevitable product of “unfettered” markets but openly celebrated by businessmen and ideologues.

In the meantime, George Mason University, conveniently located right next to Washington, D.C., had become a center of the “Kochtopus,” as people took to calling the vast network of institutions the brothers funded. It was the home, for example, of the Institute for Humane Studies, the James Buchanan Center, Henry Manne’s Law and Economics Center, and the important Mercatus Center. Buchanan himself, who had provided so many useful ideas and academic legitimacy, was effectively pushed out of the movement as Charles and his loyal lieutenants (Richard Fink, Tyler Cowen, and others) took control at the university. And now, at last, the long march of the zealots was about to come to fruition.

The last chapter of Democracy in Chains is chilling. In the words of the economist Tyler Cowen, the reality that is being fashioned for us will see “a rewriting of the social contract” according to which people will be “expected to fend for themselves much more than they do now.” From public health and basic sanitation to the conditions that workers toil in, the goal is to dismantle government, which is to say democracy. As the most extreme market fundamentalists have preached for centuries, only the police and military functions of government, the authoritarian functions, are legitimate. (Adam Smith, by the way, did not advocate this position.)

As hard as it may be to believe, one individual—Charles Koch—really is behind a large part of the destruction that conservatives have wrought in the twenty-first century. He substantially funds Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the State Policy Network, the Mackinac Center in Michigan (worth mentioning only because its lobbying played a significant role in Flint’s water crisis), and, in fact, uncountable numbers of institutions from university programs to legal centers. His loyalists control the Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, a massive conservative fundraising machine, and American Encore, a secretive but powerful nonprofit that funnels money to right-wing causes and advocacy groups. He owns i360, a cutting-edge data analytics company that has precise personal information on over 250 million American adults. It’s so sophisticated it has eclipsed the Republican Party’s voter files, such that the party has had to buy access to it to more effectively bombard voters with personalized messages.

(See this Intercept article by Lee Fang on how Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn used i360 to help “inundate voters with anti-immigrant messages” in her victorious 2018 Senate run. The technology shaped “3 million voter contact calls, 1.5 million doors knocked, $8.4 million spent on television ads, and 314,000 campaign text messages,” all of which gave her a commanding lead over her Democratic opponent.)

In 2016, the “Koch network” of hundreds of wealthy right-wing donors he heavily influences spent almost $900 million on political campaigns, which in effect made it a third major political party—and little of that money was for the presidential election, since neither Clinton nor Trump interested the man at the center. Even officials with the Republican National Committee have grown uncomfortable with the power of Koch and his allies: journalist Jane Mayer reports one of them plaintively saying, “It’s pretty clear that they don’t want to work with the party but want to supplant it.”

Ever since the brilliant journalism of Mayer and others brought the Koch underworld out into the open more than ten years ago, much of the politically conscious public has become vaguely aware of the role of this network in funding and coordinating attacks on everything from climate action to unions to public education. But to get a real sense of the radical evil and effectiveness of this “vast right-wing conspiracy,” it’s necessary to read Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

For example, the hysteria in wealthy right-wing circles after Obama’s election precipitated nearly instant mobilizations to create the Tea Party. Citizens for a Sound Economy had tried to create an anti-tax “Tea Party” movement as early as 1991, but these attempts had led nowhere. In 2004 CSE split up into the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity on the one hand and FreedomWorks on the other, the latter headed by Dick Armey and funded by; e.g., the Bradley Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Philip Morris, and the American Petroleum Institute. In early 2009, operatives from these two groups and a couple of others formed what they called the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition to organize protests across the country, using talking points, press releases, and logistical support provided in part by the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. To help get the word out, FreedomWorks made a deal with the Fox News host Glenn Beck: for an annual payment of $1 million, he would read on air content that the think tank’s staff had written. Pretty soon, the increasingly frequent anti-government rallies were filled with racist slogans (“Obama Bin Lyin’”) and racist depictions of Obama—showing, once again, the deep affinity between pro-capitalist ideologies and racism. It’s hard to argue with the Obama aide (Bill Burton) who opined, “you can’t understand Obama’s relationship with the right wing without taking into account his race… They treated him in a way they never would have if he’d been white.”

From these noble beginnings, the Koch network stepped up its funding for and organizing of ever more vicious attacks on Obama’s agenda, such as cap-and-trade legislation and even the conservative-centrist Affordable Care Act. With the help of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, they met with extraordinary, though not complete, success. And this was in addition to the highly successful efforts to take over state governments. In North Carolina, for instance, Americans for Prosperity (significantly aided by the John William Pope Foundation and other funders, as well as an array of private think tanks) played a large role in the Republican takeover of the state’s government and passage of such measures as slashing taxes on corporations and the wealthy while cutting services for the poor and middle class, gutting environmental programs, limiting women’s access to abortion, banning gay marriage, legalizing concealed guns in bars and school campuses, eviscerating public education, erecting barriers to voting, and gerrymandering legislative districts for partisan gain. State after state succumbed to such agendas. Just between 2010 and 2012, ALEC-backed legislators in 41 states introduced more than 180 bills to restrict who could vote and how.

Thus, a reactionary political infrastructure generations in the making has finally matured, even as its goal of completely shredding the social compact and leaving everyone to fend for themselves remains far in the future (in fact unrealizable). Economic and cultural polarization, consciously planned and financed since the 1950s, has reached untenable extremes. Daily newspaper articles relate the sordid story of Republican state legislatures’ ongoing efforts to decimate the right to vote, as, meanwhile, Koch and his army of allies and operatives frantically work to defeat Democrats’ For the People Act (described by the New York Times as “the most substantial expansion of voting rights in a half-century”). “The left is not stupid, they’re evil,” Grover Norquist intones on a conference call with Koch operatives and other conservatives. “They know what they’re doing. They have correctly decided that this [voting rights act] is the way to defeat the freedom movement.” The class struggle, in short, rages on, with the stakes growing ever higher.

A Marxian, “dialectical” perspective offers hope, however. Being nothing but capitalism’s useful idiots, the vast horde of reactionaries whose handiwork I’ve surveyed is unable to see that history is cyclical. The business triumphalism of the 1920s led straight into the Great Depression, which led to left-populism and the welfare state, which led to the corporate backlash of the 1950s, which helped cause the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left, which bred the hyper-capitalist counter-assault of the 1970s–2010s, which is now bringing forth a new generation of social movements. These are still in their infancy, but already they have been able to push even the execrable Joe Biden to mildly progressive positions (though not on foreign policy). To paraphrase Marx, what the radical right produces, above all—in the long term—are its own gravediggers. For Karl Polanyi was right that before society can ever be destroyed by thoroughgoing marketization and privatization, it will always bounce back and “protect itself” (in his words). At long last, we’re starting to see the glimmers of this self-protection.

As for libertarianism—yes, in an authentic form, a philosophy of freedom must guide us. As Howard Zinn said, Marxism provides the theory and anarchism provides the moral vision. But in order to realize freedom, what we need is the exact opposite of the tyrannical Hayekian model of society. We need an expansive public sector, a society of communal and public spaces everywhere, cooperatives and democratic institutions of every variety—libraries and schools and parks and playgrounds in every neighborhood, public transportation and housing and hospitals, free higher education and healthcare, the transformation of corporations into worker cooperatives or democratically run government institutions (whether municipal or regional or national or international). Even in the neoliberal United States, society has (barely) functioned only through hidden economic planning—and corporations embody sprawling planned economies—and without constant local planning, urban planning, scientific planning, political and industrial planning, everything would collapse. “The market” is nothing but a concept useful to bludgeon popular strivings for dignity and democracy. Its ideologues are the enemies of humanity.

What does it mean to be free? A robust freedom isn’t centered around the property one owns; it’s centered around the individual himself. Every individual should have the right to freely and creatively develop himself as he likes, provided he respects the same right in others. To respect others means to take on certain responsibilities to society—which is already a “collectivist” notion, in a sense. To respect others means to acknowledge their humanity, to treat them as you would like to be treated, to do no harm and, in fact, to do good—to cooperate, to work to advance and protect a society that allows everyone to live a decent life. Rights are bound up with responsibilities. And substantive, “positive” freedom isn’t possible in an environment of significant material deprivation, especially when others have incomparably greater resources and will use them to consolidate power (further limiting the freedom of the less fortunate). So, to permit the flourishing of freedom and thereby respect others’ rights, we all have a responsibility to advocate and work towards a relatively egalitarian, economically democratic, socialist world.

Reverence for “property” (a concept defined by the state and subject to political negotiation) has little or nothing to do with protecting individual liberty. It isn’t impossible to imagine a world in which private property is marginal, the means of production, the land, perhaps even housing being held in common and managed through procedures of direct or representative democracy. That such a world would end up violating people’s freedoms on a scale remotely comparable to that at which our own world does is far from clear, to say the least.

Nor does the radical right’s objection to “discriminatory” taxes on the wealthy make sense. As Peter Kropotkin lucidly argued in his classic The Conquest of Bread, we all benefit from the collective labor of millennia, and of the present. “Millions of human beings have labored to create this civilization on which we pride ourselves today,” he wrote. “Other millions, scattered throughout the globe, labor to maintain it… There is not even a thought, or an invention, which is not common property, born of the past and the present.” Why should a few individuals capture exponentially greater gains from all this labor than everyone else? And if they do capture such gains, why shouldn’t they be compelled to give back more than others to the society that permits them such extraordinary privilege? Right-wing objections are the more absurd in that economists such as Mariana Mazzucato (in The Entrepreneurial State) have shown it is overwhelmingly the taxpayer, not the wealthy investor, who drives innovation forward and has therefore, through the mechanism of government funding and coordinating of research, built the prosperity of our civilization. Capitalist parasites on taxpayers and the collective labor of billions deserve to be driven out of existence through confiscatory taxation—which would give government more resources to invest in publicly beneficial research and development.

“Libertarian” arguments are bankrupt, but that hasn’t prevented the movement from doing incalculable harm worldwide since the 1970s. We can only hope that popular movements defeat it before its environmental consequences, in particular, doom us all.

  1. Think of the famous Powell Memorandum in 1971: absolute panic at the fact that business didn’t completely control the country—there was some dissent among the young and a minority of intellectuals—and fervid determination to (re)impose ideological uniformity on the population…for the sake of the “free” enterprise system.
  2. Notice, however, that reactionaries love big government as long as it supports their agenda. Fundamentalists and anti-abortion types want to use government to impose their values on the country—showing how little they value “freedom”—and big business certainly has no problem with corporate welfare or the national security state.
  3. The National Review is always mentioned in histories of the New Right. As Phillips-Fein says, it is “rightly known for pioneering what the historian George Nash has described as the ‘fusion’ of conservative ideas, joining the Hayekian faith in the market and critique of the New Deal to the larger moral and political concerns” of conservatives who lamented the decline of religion.
  4. There are obvious differences between Nazis’ statism and right-wing libertarianism, but in power the Nazis were highly supportive of business and profoundly hostile to unions. Since modern conservatives attack unions and social welfare far more than corporate welfare and the national security state (neoconservatives, of course, actively adore the latter), it’s pretty clear that in practice they’re not opposed to business-friendly statism. They would have been very happy with fascists—and at the time, their counterparts were.
  5. Koch Industries benefits from an array of federal subsidies, but Koch insists (somewhat comically) that he wishes this whole regime of corporate welfare didn’t exist.
The post The Rise of Right-wing Libertarianism Since the 1950s first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Failure of Trump’s “Coup”: A Victory for the US Empire

The Democrats’ second trial of Trump ends like the first: the outcome known in advance, the entire process designed to sell to the anti-Trump masses that the Democrats were leading some progressive counter-attack. Both impeachments enabled these politicians to present a national diversion to avoid addressing real issues the US people suffer from: the pandemic, lack of vaccines, no national health care program, increasing homelessness, closed schools.

The Democrats’ first impeachment over Trump’s phone call to Ukraine aimed to sully his name for the benefit of the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign.  They purposely did not address Trump’s actual crimes: his cruelty to Latino immigrants on the border, his indifference to  police abuse of Blacks and Latinos, his racist attacks on non-white US citizens and residents, his neglect of the threat of global warming, funding the genocidal war against Yemen, bombing other countries, such as Syria, illegal and cruel sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela.

The second impeachment, for the vague charge of “incitement of insurrection” sought to permanently ban Trump from “holding any office,” removing him as an election opponent in 2024. The Democrats reduced themselves to presenting as “evidence” of inciting insurrection Trump’s statement “’if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” However, this insubstantial statement could easily be used to indict any progressive social change movement, much as the Smith Act of 1940 had been used against leftists. The Democrats conveniently avoided mention that Trump in his January 6 speech explicitly told protesters to “peacefully march to the Capitol.”

The second impeachment also charged Trump with refusing to accept the November 2020 election results. However, the Constitution states Congress must officially certify the Electoral College votes and the presidential victor, giving Trump the constitutional right to challenge these votes in Congress. The articles of impeachment concluded “Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution”. Whatever our opinion of the man, this only continues the Democratic Party-national security state McCarthyite campaign against Trump begun in earnest in 2016. Trump’s second acquittal marked a setback for this McCarthyism the Democrats have been pushing.

Trump’s “coup” and the Democrats’ “coup”

Trump’s attempt on January 6 pales in comparison to the Democrats’ well-orchestrated lawfare coup operation set in motion in 2016. As Consortium News, The Grayzone, Stephen Cohen, Glenn Greenwald have documented,  by late 2015 the Democrats were working with national security state officials to paint Trump as beholden to Putin – including stories of Putin’s alleged ownership of “pee tapes” of Trump with prostitutes in Moscow hotels. The Democrats funded the Steele Dossier fabrication, beginning a years-long fact-free story of Trump collusion with Russia to steal the election.

While Democrats charge Trump with propagating his Stop the Steal story, they have not renounced their own fake Trump-Putin collusion story. In fact, it set the stage for their first impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even tweeted – after Congress certified the 2016 Electoral College vote “Our election was hijacked. There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts.”

The continuous Democratic Party double standard and hypocrisy in relation to Trump explains a great deal of his supporters’ anger. As Scott Ritter noted, “For the supporters of Donald Trump, the events of Jan. 6 did not occur in a vacuum but were rather the culmination of what they believed to be a four-year campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the president they voted for and, by doing so, disenfranchising not only their vote, but by extension their role as citizens.”

The second impeachment show intended to divert the 81 million Biden voters from their expectations and demands for progressive change, given the Democrats have won the presidency and both houses of Congress. It stifled any budding movement demanding the Democrats take action for a national health care program, a bailout for the people, a jobs program, a Green New Deal, etc. Their impeachment spectacle sought to vilify Trump and his supporters, as well as solidify what Glenn Greenwald describes as the new alliance of the national security state, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Bush era neo-cons, and mainstream corporate media with the neoliberal Democratic Party.

Who were the Trump voters

Central to the Democratic Party – and even leftist – spin is that Trump supporters are racist, sexist white men, the “deplorables.” This prejudiced stereotype hardly explains why 9 million Obama voters switched to Trump in 2016. Nor explain why, after four years of hostile mainstream media coverage, he won 10.5 million more votes in 2020.  A look at the 2020 election voter breakdown contradicts their condescending stereotype.

In 2016, Trump won the white women vote by a margin of 9%, even though his opponent would have been the first woman president. In 2020 this vote margin increased to an 11% margin. In 2016, Trump won 28% of the Latina vote; in 2020, 31%. In 2016, Trump won 5% of the Black women vote; in 2020, 9%, despite Kamala Harris being on the Democratic ticket.  In 2016, he won 13% of the Black male vote; in 2020 it rose to 19%. Overall, comparing 2016 and 2020, Trump’s vote share rose 4% with Blacks, 3% with Latinos, and 5% with Asian Americans. Of the LGBT community, Trump was said to have won 28% of the vote, double his 2016 percent. In sum, people of color, LGBTs  the very ones said to be central to the Democratic coalition, shifted toward Trump.

The group where Trump lost vote share involved white men, even though he won 35% more of the white working class vote than Biden. In 2016, Trump won 65% of the white men vote; in 2020 it fell to 61%. This hardly squares with liberal and pro-Democrat mythology that a Trump supporter is a racist white man.

The US leftist movement co-opted by the Democratic Party

Despite the November election choice coming down to two corporate neoliberals disliked by the great majority of the US population, more than 159.6 million Americans turned out to vote. The corporate rulers’ effort to neutralize popular opposition to their two parties and lure in social movements was so successful that the election turnout marked the highest percent of  voter population in 120 years, 66.7%. Even leftist groups capitulated, dressing this up as “fighting fascism” as they climbed aboard the two corporate party bandwagon.

Typically, every four years the liberal-left, in order to justify a vote for the corporate Democrat presidential candidate, tries to paint the Republican candidate as a herald of fascism. In Fascism? First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump, I wrote:

Leftists recognize corporate America owns the two parties, yet many still vote Democrat. Every four years, we must first defeat the fascist, then build our movement. So is the story we are told. This has been an effective strategy to trap us in the Democratic Party. It has worked for generations. Not only does it reinforce our domination by corporate America, but it seriously miseducates people about fascism.

Needless to say, so long as corporate America has the liberal-left tied to their two party system, they have no need for fascism. They need fascism only when their customary method of rule breaks down and they face a very direct threat of losing control to revolutionary forces. The historic function of fascism is to smash the radicalized working class and its allies, destroy their organizations, and shut down political liberties when the corporate rulers find themselves unable to govern through their charade of democracy.  No such problem here.

This capitulation to the corporate Democrats, including by self-described leftist groups, was hard to imagine just earlier in 2020, with the massive Black Lives Matter protests and the anti-neoliberal Bernie Sanders movement.

While the vast majority of voters for both parties voted for their version of the “lesser evil,” the record election turnout for this charade was a great victory for corporate America irrespective of who won.

A successful Trump coup would be a worse outcome for the corporate rulers

The Democratic Party, liberals and leftists claimed Trump was planning a coup, a fascist coup even, on January 6. We are supposed to be grateful this alleged fascist insurrection was put down. But to play along with this coup story, if it were successful, the result would ignite massive nationwide protests by anti-Trump voters. After Trump’s election in November 2016, there were large “Not My President” protests in over 20 cities and many universities around the country. In 2020 between 15-26 million are said to have mobilized in Black Lives Matter rallies. Between 3-5 million participated in the anti-Trump Women’s Marches in 2017. Trump and his supporters have also shown they can turn out their base not only in large rallies but in armed protests.

Murders by individuals in both camps have already occurred in Charlottesville, Portland and Kenosha. Both anti-Trump and pro-Trump protesters firmly believe they are the ones defending US democracy and freedom against their opponents, that their own candidate legitimately won the presidential election. Right wing Trumpers fear socialists will take over the US, while the anti-Trump left fear fascists will.

Nationwide confrontations and mobilizations by these opposing forces following a successful Trump coup could seriously damage the overall political stability of the US system for some time. This would weaken the US empire’s ability to sell its “freedom and democracy” image and political leadership role abroad. It would undermine US capacity to assert its military and world cop ideological power around the world.

Consequently, the best result for the US empire would be for Trump to lose the election, his “coup” to fail, and he be banned from running for political office. The US rulers achieved almost all that agenda. US leftists, declared opponents of the empire, must ask themselves why this very agenda was also their own agenda.

The post The Failure of Trump’s “Coup”: A Victory for the US Empire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Leaving Aside” International Law: Why Democrats are as Dangerous as Republicans to a Just Peace in Palestine

Motivated by their justifiable aversion to former US President Donald Trump, many analysts have rashly painted a rosy picture of how Democrats could quickly erase the bleak trajectory of the previous Republican administration. This naivety is particularly pronounced in the current spin on the Palestinian-Israeli discourse, which is promoting, again, the illusion that Democrats will succeed where their political rivals have failed.

There are obvious differences in the Democrats’ approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but only in semantics and political jingoism, not policy. This assertion can be justified if the Democratic administration’s official language on Palestine and Israel is examined, and such language considered within the context of practical policies on the ground.

Take recent remarks, made by the new US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during a CNN interview on February 8. Blinken’s comments reminded us of the clever – albeit disingenuous – US foreign policy under previous Democratic administrations. His select words may seem as a complete departure from the belligerent, yet direct, approach of former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

“Look, leaving aside the legalities of that question (meaning the illegal Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights), as a practical matter, the Golan is very important to Israel’s security,” Blinken said. Later in the interview, he went on to, once again, acknowledge, yet, at the same time, sideline the question of ‘legalities’. “Legal questions are something else,” he said, before continuing to speak vaguely and non-committedly about the future of Syria.

Juxtapose Blinken’s position on the illegal Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights with statements made by Pompeo in November, just before the end of Trump’s Presidency. “This is a part of Israel and central part of Israel,” Pompeo said, as he was accompanied by Israeli Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, and speaking from the occupied Golan Heights.

Pompeo’s position, which is a stark violation of international law, was duly condemned by Palestinians and Arabs and criticized by various governments and international bodies. Blinken’s position, however, generated little media attention and negligible, if any, serious reprimand regionally or internationally. This should not have been the case.

By acknowledging the relevance of the issue of legality, then “leaving it aside”, in favor of the seemingly more pressing question of Israeli security, Blinken simply defended the status quo, that of perpetual Israeli military occupation, which is also championed enthusiastically by Republicans.

Succinctly, this is the Democratic doctrine on Palestine and Israel, in effect largely since the Bill Clinton era. The current Administration of Joe Biden is, undoubtedly, following the same blueprint, which allows Washington to offer itself as a neutral party – an ‘honest peace-broker’ – while helping Israel achieve its strategic goals at the expense of the Palestinian and Arab peoples.

The clear distinction between the Democratic and Republican discourses on Palestine and Israel is a relatively new phenomenon. Interestingly, it was the Republican George H. W. Bush Administration that, in 1991, established the current Democratic narrative on Palestine. At the end of the First Gulf War, Bush championed the multilateral talks between Israel and Arab States in Madrid, Spain. Within a few years, a whole new American discourse was formulated.

The September 11, 2001 attacks on the US supplanted the peace process discourse in Republican foreign policy literature with a new one, which is avowedly dedicated to fighting ‘Islamic terror’. Israel cleverly used the new American language and conduct in the Middle East to present itself as a direct partner in the US-led global ‘war on terror’.

To stave off the collapse of US global political leadership as a result of the Iraq invasion of 2003, the Barack Obama Administration quickly restored the traditional American position, once again offering US services as a benefactor of peace in the Middle East. True, Obama labored to restore America’s relevance as a ‘peacemaker’. His administration still utilized the disingenuous language of the past, one which constantly put the onus on the Palestinians, while gently reminding Israel of its responsibilities towards Palestine’s civilian population.

Obama’s Cairo speech in April 2009 remains the most powerful, yet indicting document on the numerous moral lapses and legal blind spots of US foreign policy, particularly under Democratic administrations. The speech, which was meant to serve as a watershed moment in the US’ approach to the Middle East region, fully exposed the caveats of US bias towards Israel, predicated mostly on emotional manipulation and historical misrepresentations.

Obama deliberately fluctuated between the persecution of Jewish communities throughout history and Israel’s ‘right’ to ensure its security at the expense of oppressed Palestinians, as if the systematic Israeli violence was carried out as genuine attempts to prevent further persecution of world’s Jewry.

Contrastingly, Obama insisted, with little sympathy or context, that “Palestinians must abandon violence”, thus painting the Palestinians and their rightful resistance as the true obstacle to any just peace in Palestine. Concerning Palestine and Israel, blaming the victim has been a central pillar of US foreign policy, shared by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Yet, while Republicans increasingly ignore the rights and, sometimes, the very existence of the Palestinians, Democrats, who continue to support Israel with equal passion, use more moderate – although inconsequential – language.

For Democrats, Palestinians are the instigators of violence, although Israel may have, at times, used ‘disproportionate force’ in its response to Palestinian violence; for them, international law exists, but can easily be ‘left aside’ to accommodate Israeli security; for them, there is such a thing as internationally recognized borders, but these borders are flexible in order to accommodate Israel’s demographic fears, strategic interests and ‘military edge’.

Hence, it is easier to discredit the foreign policy agenda of Trump, Pompeo and other Republicans as their aggressive, dismissive language and action are unmistakably objectionable. The Democratic discourse, however, cannot be as easily censured, as it utilizes a mix of superficial language, political platitudes and historical clichés, worded meticulously with the aim of placing the US back at the driving seat of whatever political process is underway.

While the Democratic discourse remains committed to arming and defending Israel, it provides Palestinians and Arabs with no meaningful change, because substantive change can only occur when international law is respected. Unfortunately, according to Blinken’s logic, such seemingly trivial matters should, for now, be ‘left aside’.

The post “Leaving Aside” International Law: Why Democrats are as Dangerous as Republicans to a Just Peace in Palestine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will More Police-State Arrangements Foster Democracy?

The events of January 6, 2021 in Washington D.C. were historic and will be analyzed for some time to come. Many were rattled and shaken to their core by what unfolded that day in the nation’s capital. Others were excited, relieved, and hopeful.

Since then, all sorts of disinformation, confusion, and illusions have filled mainstream accounts of what happened that day and why, but it is already clear that certain things are emerging that once again do not bode well for the people. It is always important to ask: “when a major event happens, who ultimately ends up benefitting from it?”

As with past events and crises, and keeping in mind the role and significance of “disaster capitalism,” it is not unreasonable to assume that the events of January 6, 2021 will be used by the rich and their political and media representatives to expand police-state arrangements under the banner of high ideals (e.g., “protecting the citadel of democracy” and “our democracy is in peril”). The irony of the situation did not escape numerous world leaders and millions around the globe who proclaimed in unison: “Finally the U.S. is getting a taste of its own medicine. The U.S. has actively organized ruthless coups, conflicts, wars, rebellions, and insurrections in more than 100 countries over the past 200 years.” For many, the events of January 6 further lowered the credibility of “representative democracy” in the “bastion of democracy.”

Further degrading the legitimacy of outmoded governance arrangements, the world saw how Washington D.C. was recently turned into a large military camp with armed soldiers and armed state agents everywhere. Many police and military forces will remain in and around the area well after the January 2021 presidential inauguration and contribute to establishing a “new normal” of police presence. How does this look at home and abroad? Like a robust vibrant democracy which is the envy of the world, or a scandalous troubling situation? The massive militarization of Washington D.C. has only added to the dystopian, humiliating, and bizarre life everyone has been forced to endure since March 2020 when the never-ending and exhausting “COVID Pandemic” started in earnest.

But contrary to media accounts the struggle today is not between democrats and republicans. It is not between those who support Trump or revile him. It is not between racists versus anti-racists, pro-diversity or anti-diversity advocates, or “progressives” versus “right-wingers.” Nor is it between “right-wing thugs” versus the police, or ANTIFA versus right-wing militias. These are facile dichotomies that consolidate anticonsciousness and further divide the polity. Such superficial characterizations miss the profound significance of what is unfolding—an intense legitimacy crisis—and the fact that no one is talking about how to empower the people as sharp conflicts among factions of the ruling elite intensify and ensnare people. Ramzy Baroud reminded us recently that:

While mainstream US media has conveniently attributed all of America’s ills to the unruly character of outgoing President Donald Trump, the truth is not quite so convenient. The US has been experiencing an unprecedented political influx at every level of society for years, leading us to believe that the rowdy years of Trump’s Presidency were a mere symptom, not the cause, of America’s political instability.

In the current fractured, chaotic, and dangerous context, all manner of inflammatory and provocative remarks are still being made by a range of politicians, media outlets, and “leaders.” Words like “treason,” “insurrection,” “violent mob,” “coup,” “rebellion,” and “sedition” are being thrown around loosely and quickly. There is no sense of how such discourse takes us all further down a dangerous road. Different individuals, groups, and factions are being lumped into overly-simplistic categories and classifications while ignoring the long-standing marginalization of the polity as a whole and the continued failure of “representative democracy.”

In this foggy context, it can be easy to forget that whether you are a democrat, republican, or something else, the economy and society are not operating in your interests. Debt, poverty, inequality, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, under-employment, stock market bubbles, environmental decay, and generalized anxiety continue to worsen nationwide and harm Americans of all political stripes while the rich get much richer much faster. Existing governance arrangements marginalize more than 95 percent of people. Working people have no real mechanism to effectively advance their interests in the current political setup. They are reduced to perpetually begging politicians and “leaders” to do the most basic things. There is an urgent need for democratic renewal.

In the coming months we will not only see more economic collapse but also more police-state arrangements put in place in the name of “security” and “democracy.” A main focus will be “domestic terrorism,” leading to the further restriction of freedom of speech and criminalization of dissent. Freedom of movement will also be constrained. This will be far-reaching, affecting everyone, even those currently throwing around words like “sedition,” “coup,” and “insurrection.” Already, the atmosphere has been chilled; many are more carefully self-monitoring their speech and actions so as to not be targeted by the state.

At the end of the day, conflicts, divisions, social unrest, political turmoil, and economic deterioration will not go away so long as the existing authority clashes with the prevailing conditions and the demands emerging from these conditions. Objective conditions are screaming for modernization and solutions that the rich and their entourage are unable and unwilling to provide.

Unemployment, under-employment, hunger, homelessness, poverty, debt, inequality, despair, and generalized anxiety do not care if you are black or white, democrat or republican, right-wing or left-wing, a “Trumper” or “anti-Trumper.” Concrete conditions are screaming for the affirmation of basic rights like the right to food, shelter, education, healthcare, work, and security.

Their struggles and demands may take different forms and express themselves in different ways, but it is the long-standing absence of these rights that people from all walks of life are striving to bring into being.

And while their policies may differ in some respects, the different factions of the rich and their political representatives have only more of the same to offer people: more inequality, more debt, more under-employment, more worry and insecurity, more stock market bubbles, and more empty promises. Lofty phrases and grand “plans” from the rich and their representatives won’t change the aim and direction of the economy. People are not going to suddenly become empowered because one party of the rich or the other holds power now. Divisions, dissatisfaction, and marginalization are not going to disappear just because a different section of the rich wields power. Many believe that the road ahead will be very rocky.

Democratic renewal does not favor the rich or their representatives, it is something only working people themselves will benefit from and have to collectively fight for. In this regard, it is key to consciously reject the aims, outlook, views, and agenda of the rich and develop a new independent aim, politics, outlook, and agenda that favors the polity and the public interest.

The post Will More Police-State Arrangements Foster Democracy? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Capitol Assault was Symptomatic of Our Dysfunctional Two-Party Politics

Americans were shocked to witness the assault on the capitol building on January 6, the day Congress was scheduled to ratify the presidential election.  Washington DC and the nation’s state capitals remained on high alert through the inauguration as right wing groups promised more violent attacks.

It’s easy to trace the proximate cause of this assault, a president who has long cultivated the lie that the 2020 election was somehow stolen.  Prior to the capitol assault, he exhorted his “Save America” rally on the Mall to “stop the steal” and “fight much harder,” asserting “You have to show strength, you have to be strong.”

Much has been made of the fascist overtones of Trump’s efforts, but it is important to understand how we got to such a place.  It goes well past Trump to forty years of dysfunctional, neoliberal American politics, and beyond that to the racism deeply embedded in this nation’s history.  Both political parties share responsibility for our current condition.

Republicans

The Republican Party role is the most obvious.

In 1968, President Nixon rode a law and order campaign into the White House, appealing to a so-called “silent majority” frightened, if not alienated, by the images of antiwar protesters, inner-city “rioters,” and counterculture “freaks” during the 1960s.

The corporate mass media, of course, fed this dynamic by refusing to take seriously the actual claims of black, antiwar, New Left and feminist activists, instead, making sure the public saw the most inflammatory examples of their behaviors and appearances.  In mass mediaspeak, “radical” was used to describe militancy, whereas any system-challenging argument vanished from mainstream discourse – sound familiar?  That’s a story I have documented elsewhere.

Nixon’s racist “southern strategy” set in stone the future of the Republican Party, although it remained for Ronald Reagan to seal the deal.  Reagan’s rhetoric about basic “decency” and “family values,” effectively played on the feelings of those disaffected by the 60s.

Yet Reagan’s actual policies focused on eliminating ways the government addresses public needs, cutting taxes on the wealthy, rebuilding a huge military complex, regenerating an aggressive foreign policy, and deregulating the economy.

However, the people drawn to Reagan’s so-called “conservative” rhetoric and his tax-cut pitch – whether religious traditionalists, rural folks, or members of the white working class — actually lost more and more ground, economically, under Reagan’s and the Republicans’ neoliberalism.  They got symbolic gratification while their attention was diverted to the Democrats, liberals, and “Eastern elites” who allegedly caused their problems.

That’s the Republican path that leads directly to Trump and his True Believers.  It also echoes the post-Reconstruction Democrats’ austerity pitch that reinforced white supremacy in the South.

What, then, of the Democratic Party?

Democrats

Smarting from Reagan’s landslide victory in 1984, Democratic centrists – names like Dick Gephardt, Sam Nunn, and Bill Clinton — took steps to move the Party away from its more liberal wing, into the corporate-dependent center.  In its more liberal moments the Party voiced hopeful rhetoric about defending the rights of minorities, women, and LGBTQ people, defending the environment, etc.  The reality has consistently fallen far short of the rhetoric.

Indeed, the two “liberal” Democratic presidents of the neoliberal era – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — were responsible for a host of repressive and “free market” (e.g., neoliberal) policies.  Clinton’s contributions are perhaps better known: the “end of welfare as we know it,” NAFTA, financial and telecommunications deregulation, and the 1994 Crime Bill that accelerated mass incarceration, among others.

Riding a campaign of “hope” and “change” into the White House, none of Obama’s “liberal” accomplishments – the Affordable Care Act, Supreme Court appointments, the negotiated settlement with Iran, and initial steps on climate — diverged from the neoliberal playbook.  At the same time, Obama pushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other so-called ‘free trade” agreements, escalated both domestic surveillance and drone killings abroad, supported the anti-democratic coup in Honduras, and withdrew the public option for health insurance, among others.

The right-wing Republican attack machine kept its rank-and-file in line with attacks on Clinton’s “60s-style” licentiousness and Obama’s being of African descent.  For their part, the corporate media repeatedly turned the 60s era into a “good sixties” of a romanticized civil rights movement and a hopeful John Kennedy administration, and a “bad sixties” of violence and narcissistic rebelliousness  — the latter a useful hook for selling entertainment and commodities to younger generations.

Dysfunctional Neoliberal Politics

Republicans, in short, have been all about giveaways to the rich while manipulating the emotions of less well-off white Americans.  Democrats have ignored the latter populations, becoming increasingly dependent on corporate money while effectively manipulating the aspirations of marginalized communities.

In their more liberal moments, what Nancy Fraser has called “progressive neoliberalism,” Democrats embrace what is often called “identity politics” – race, gender, and sexuality in particular.  Republicans use Democrats’ rhetoric to cement the emotional attachment of their rank and file supporters.  As Republican “reactionary neoliberalism” becomes more and more outrageous, Democrats gain popular support.  The corporate center, with all its sanctimonious rhetoric, is reinforced when something like the Capitol assault occurs.

As Fraser has observed in The Old is Dying and the New Cannot Be Born, “To reinstate progressive neoliberalism [e.g., Joe Biden and the Democratic mainstream] … is to recreate –indeed to exacerbate—the very conditions that created Trump.  And that means preparing the ground for future Trumps –ever more vicious and dangerous.”

Thus the country remains stuck in a see-saw battle that utterly fails to address the deep crises we face.  Neither party speaks a word against a capitalist system that feeds inequality, threatens the planet’s ability to sustain life, and generates a foreign policy marked by militarism and war.  The “problem” is always the “other party.”  Such are the boundaries of what Noam Chomsky called “legitimate discourse.”

And neither party dares to confront class inequality.  Unlike identity concerns about white supremacy, hate speech, harassment and abuse, and the like – all profound problems — class analysis reveals the systemic forces that keep both parties’ rank-and-file in their place at the margins of American politics.

Ultimately, the only way out of this will occur when enough people become aware, not only of the seriousness of the crises facing us, but of the need to come together in a well-mobilized mass movement addressing systemic concerns.  We already can see where we’re heading if we don’t do this.

The post The Capitol Assault was Symptomatic of Our Dysfunctional Two-Party Politics first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Trump-Biden Transition in the Wake of the Capitol Building Riot

The Capitol building riot of January 6 marked the messiest transition in recent history of ruling class power from one chief executive of the capitalist world to the next. If that history is any guide, the change of guard neither portends better treatment of working people nor a reduction of the threat of fascism.

Trump may have been booted off the mainstage, but the next act promises to be worse. Beyond the particularities of either Mr. Trump’s or Mr. Biden’s personalities or even the parties they represent, fundamental institutional factors have and will likely determine the trajectory of neoliberal capitalism towards an ever more authoritarian state, austerity for workers, and imperialism abroad.

Trajectory of neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is the current form of capitalism in the US, replacing the New Deal regime that incorporated elements of social democracy. Jimmy Carter foreshadowed the neoliberal era with his mantra of deregulation and small government. The “small” referred to the state’s role to ensure the social well-being of its constituents, but not its coercive functions, which would expand.

Next came the full-blown neoliberal Reagan Revolution. When Democrat Bill Clinton became president, he did not reverse the trajectory of neoliberalism. Instead, he extended it by passing NAFTA, ending “welfare as we know it,” contributing to mass incarceration, deregulating banking, and launching wars of his own. And in those endeavors, he was assisted by then Senator Joe Biden.

While Republicans and Democrats are not the same, no lesser an authority than then President Obama explained that the “divide” is “not that wide” with “differences on the details” but not on “policy.” Differences between the two parties lie in their “rhetoric and the tactics verses ideological differences.”

Biden may bring some relief: he will be better about wearing COVID masks and he is rejoining the voluntary Paris Climate Agreement. Otherwise, there will be more distinctions without differences as with the two parties’ response to the existential threat of global warming: one denies it; the other believes in it but fails to combat it. Under oilman George W. Bush, US oil production declined. Under his Democratic successor, production nearly doubled with Obama bragging, “we’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some.”

Biden defended fracking, promised the military-industrial complex that war appropriations would be maintained, and guaranteed Wall Street “nothing would fundamentally change.” Next Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured the new administration’s imperialist policies would follow Trump’s, but will “more effectively target” official enemies such as Venezuela and will double down on Russia.

The devolution of Donald Trump

According to the rulebook for bourgeois democracy, the POTUS serves the interests of the owners of capital. To legitimize this arrangement, elections are staged to give the appearance of choice, but only those who can raise billions of dollars can successfully run. The blatant buying of candidates by the rich is protected as “free speech” by the US Supreme Court.

The presidential primary is an audition contest where the hopefuls prove they can appeal to the voters while being vetted by the funders. Donald Trump gamed the extravaganza riding on his TV reality show celebrity and personal wealth. He was lavished with billions of dollars of free TV coverage because his antics boosted ratings. Hillary Clinton and the DNC, as revealed by Wikileaks, abetted his campaign.

Against expectations, Trump became number 45. His rule, through most of his presidency, was garden variety neoliberalism with a veneer of racist, nativist populism. Despite hyperbole from left-liberals, Trump was no more a fascist than was Biden socialist.

Trump erratically made rhetorical feints against establishment orthodoxy “to get out of endless wars to bring our soldiers back home, not be policing agents all over the world.” He railed: “Unelected deep state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself.” Last spring and into summer such maverick utterances gave way to anti-China, anti-BLM, and anti-socialist rants. The veneer of hard right populism became increasingly Trump’s essence as he careened towards the debacle of January 6.

Was January 6 a riot or a coup?

The event of January 6 was a demonstration turned riot, leaving five fatalities. But did it rise to the level of a coup?

After storming the Capitol building and taking selfies, the demonstrators simply left after a few hours. Regardless of the intentions of the inscrutable Mr. Trump, the clumsy and violent attempt to influence the electoral process by disruption did not and could not have led to the seizure of state power because all the institutions of state were aligned against him along with a nearly unanimous ruling class.

The Democrats, most of corporate media, and much of the left reported a premeditated attempted coup, focusing on the violence, collusion by police and Republican politicians, and the racist nature of elements of the crowd. Their emphasis afterward has been on punishment of the Trumpsters so as not to “emboldenfascism, while downplaying the need to address root causes: treating the symptoms and not the disease.

Some rightwing media claimed that the Trump walked into a trap designed to discredit and isolate him. A poll taken shortly after the incident found 68% of Republicans believed Antifa incited the violence. Although such involvement is highly unlikely, the poll suggests many Trump partisans did not favor the violence and thought it was a false flag operation.

Putting the event to the cui bono test (who benefits), the outcome went badly for Donald Trump. The flight into the Democratic Party’s big tent precipitously accelerated by members of Trump’s own party, his administration officials, military brass, and security state spooks, leaving a sitting president with little more than his next of kin to comfort him. His prime creditors, the Deutsche and Signature banks, dropped him. Cutting to the quick, even the US Professional Golfers’ Association canceled their scheduled tournament at one of his golf courses.

The present danger lies in the preparation for fascist rule

Fascism is a form of capitalist rule where the legitimizing role of elections is done away with in favor of more authoritarian means of maintaining elite hegemony. If the façade of bourgeois democracy can be maintained, the ruling elites have no need to impose a dictatorship over themselves to preserve their class rule.

Analogies made of Trump to Hitler are misleading. While material conditions for many Americans are distressing, they are not as dire as Weimar Germany. Nor do the Proud Boys and company approximate the hundreds of thousands of trained and armed paramilitaries under Hitler’s direct command. Most important, the mass working class Communist and Socialist parties in pre-Nazi Germany were positioned to contend for state power.

As long as such contending forces are absent, the US ruling elites have little incentive to resort to fascist dictatorship. But that does not mean that they need not prepare for the contingency of fascist rule, which is where the present danger resides.

The collateral damage of the Democrats’ offensive against Trump may turn out to be the left. Bans from social media and broad definitions of sedition have been and will be used to suppress progressive expression and action. Particularly misguided is the leftist acquiescence to the establishment’s call for yet new repressive legislation, such as Biden’s domestic anti-terrorism measures. Even existing hate crime legislation has been used to disproportionately target people of color.

Already on the books, Obama’s abrogation of habeas corpus and Biden’s incarceration state legislation facilitate fascist rule. The Democrats’ romance with the FBI, CIA, and other coercive institutions of the unelected permanent state may be harbingers of a dystopian future. That super-majorities of Democrats in Congress voted to extend the Patriot Act and for the war budget should be warnings that supporting Democrats to defeat Republicans risks falling into the pit of preemptive fascism.

Proposed cures for Trump’s purported fascism may cultivate the disease. The blowback from the victory over Trump is criminalizing resistance to the government.

Trump’s second impeachment

The left-liberal framing of January 6 as a violent fascist assault has some validity, though it paints the tens of thousands of demonstrators all in one color, failing to put to the forefront the underlying causes of right populism. Underplayed is the distress that has fed the movement led by Trump.

That 74 million voted for such a repugnant figure is proof that folks are hurting and looking for relief. Not all Trump voters identify with the racist, populist right veering towards fascism. Many are traditional Republicans, fiscal conservatives, and simply people – seeing the bankruptcy of liberalism – who voted for what they perceived as the lesser evil. Within that assemblage, from a progressive point of view, are those that can be won over, those to be neutralized, and those to be defeated.

The second impeachment of Trump was a gift allowing the Democrats to appear to take decisive action. This symbolic gesture did not cost their donor class, nor did it address relief from the pandemic and the economic turndown. Had timely $2000 stimulus checks been distributed, some of the wind might have been taken out of the Stop the Steal demonstration on the 6th.

With Democratic majorities in both houses, Congress refuses to vote on Medicare for All at a time when record numbers of people have lost their health insurance while being threatened by a deadly virus. The Squad demonstrated that they were more beholden to their party’s leadership than their constituents’ health but got off the hook of #ForceTheVote with the distraction of the Capitol building riot.

The neoliberal order’s impending crisis of legitimacy

Neoliberal capitalism is heading into a crisis of legitimacy as the system proves itself increasingly incapable to meeting the needs of its people. Class disparities during an economic recession are ever more evident.

US billionaires added $4 trillion to their net worth since the onset of the pandemic. That obscene windfall was a product, not of a rising economy, but of a bi-partisan policy to benefit the class the politicians serve. Meanwhile the politicians are still bickering over a stimulus package which will be a fraction of what was already gifted to the super-rich.

Petty partisan sectarianism by both major parties is on full display. Republicans believe the Democrats stole the 2020 election; Democrats believe the Russians stole the 2016 election. Three-quarters of the US population agrees the country is heading in the wrong direction. Overall, the failing institutions of bourgeois democracy are being seen as fraudulent.

Although conditions appear ripe for fundamental challenges to the capitalist system, incipient challenges have either been defeated or coopted. The November presidential election was noteworthy, given two truly unattractive candidates. Rather than rejection of the two corporate parties through abstention and third-party resurgence, the opposite happened with the absorption of a historically vast popular mobilization contained within the two major parties of capital.

Trump’s and Sanders’s campaigns both spoke to popular discontent, though with different messages. That these potential insurgencies could be contained within the two-party duopoly is a testament to the current strength of bourgeois institutions. Trump’s stepped out of bounds and was crushed. The other attempt was derailed by the DNC, and the campaign coopted into supporting neoliberalism.

The Resistance

Bernie Sanders has been unfairly criticized for not leading a progressive insurgency out of the Democratic Party. But Sanders has always been a principled epigone in the Democratic Party who would not bolt for fear of facilitating a Trump victory. Sanders is kept around for his ability to give the Democrats a false patina of progressivism.

Had the Resistance been the genuine article and not the Assistance, the political landscape would have been different. Instead, the progressive movement massively capitulated.

The slogan “dump Trump and then battle Biden” of the self-described “progressive thinkers” was at best ingenuine, because they surrendered their guns – their vote – before going into battle. Now these leftists of faint heart – having passed the “we have to hold our nose and vote Democratic” phase – are in the “hopeful” phase of their perpetual four-year lesser-evil cycle. This soon will be followed by the predictable “so terribly disappointed” phase and then a brief “we’ve been sold out” phase.

The Trumpsters are more perceptive; they go directly to the “sold out” phase. Ashli Babbitt recorded a video, yelling “you guys fail to choose America over your stupid political party.” Shortly thereafter, draped in a Trump flag, she was silenced, fatally shot by Capitol Police. The system failed her and millions more, and it is at our peril to ignore their cries of anguish. She had no illusions about failed liberal pretentions, which is a clue why right wing populism is on the rise in the US and globally.

Indicative of the current state of the left is that “red states” are right-wing. Ralph Nader has been haranguing the liberal-left to get outraged for decades. No one has to make that plea to the populist right, whose outrage is manifest and dangerous. Trump may recede, but right populism will not because the conditions that foster it continue.

As the neoliberal state’s crisis of legitimacy matures, anti-terrorism laws and the institutional apparatus of fascist repression are being perfected to use against future insurgencies. The left is faced with serious challenges, from (1) the neoliberal state and (2) right populism precipitated by failures of that state, and will need to develop effective means of struggle on both fronts.

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The “Insurrection” and Its Discontents: “American Exceptionalism” Revisited 

History is being written in the United States today. Even the most pessimistic about the prospects of American democracy have rarely ventured out this far while offering a bleak analysis of America’s future, whether in terms of political polarization at home or global standing abroad.

As shocking and, certainly, telling as the images of thousands of American protesters taking over the symbols of America’s federal, representative democracy in Washington DC on January 6, it was only a facet in a far more complex and devastating political trajectory that has been in the making for years.

While mainstream US media has conveniently attributed all of America’s ills to the unruly character of outgoing President Donald Trump, the truth is not quite so convenient. The US has been experiencing an unprecedented political influx at every level of society for years, leading us to believe that the rowdy years of Trump’s Presidency were a mere symptom, not the cause, of America’s political instability.

Even the storming of the congressional halls by angry pro-Trump crowds did not fundamentally alter the make-up of America’s political affiliations. Not only did Democrats remain firmly Democrats, but Republicans also remained entrenched in their republicanism and their allegiance to President Trump.

The House of Representatives’ vote on impeaching Trump, which was held on January 13, hardly registered a significant shift even among establishment Republicans. Only ten Republican members of Congress voted to impeach Trump. But how about ordinary people – have they changed their views on Trump following the congressional insurrection? Hardly.

According to an Economist/YouGov poll published on January 13, 69% of all Republicans surveyed said that activists from the anti-fascist, leftist group, Antifa, are to be blamed for the takeover of the Capitol. While 22% said they are ‘unsure’, a meager 9% agreed that Trump’s supporters instigated the violent events which, even then, should not automatically be understood to be an admission of guilt.

These results should not come as a surprise. The mistrust in the government and media in the US is so widespread to the extent that the country is experiencing two parallel political realities, each committed to a fundamentally different set of aspirations. Each side perceives the other as the enemy, and while still believing in its own version of ‘democracy’, it no longer agrees to any functional definition of the term.

This has not always been the case.

In their seminal book, Manufacturing Consent,  Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky provided a most comprehensive analysis of how the ‘system’ – the government/ruling classes, big business and mainstream media – has invented the most effective mechanism which allowed the US to ensure two naturally contradicting realities: persistent popular consent within a seemingly democratic governance.

“The beauty of the system … is that … dissent and inconvenient information are kept within bounds and at the margins so that, while their presence shows that the system is not monolithic, they are not large enough to interfere unduly with the domination of the official agenda,” Chomsky and Herman argued.

Years later, Chomsky contested that, underneath this facade of democracy, the US is, in actuality, a plutocracy, a country that is dedicated to serving the interests of the powerful few. He also argued that, while the US does operate based on formal democratic structures, these are largely dysfunctional. In an interview with Global Policy Journal in 2019, the famed linguist and historian further asserted that the “US Constitution was framed to thwart the democratic aspirations of most of the public.”

While these realizations have served as the core of the US Left’s ideology, it was most interesting to see American Right constituencies leading what they call the ‘revolution’, referred to by mainstream media as ‘insurrection’. Equally interesting, many of Trump’s supporters actually come from working-class and lower-middle-class America, itself a fascinating subject in its own right.

Regardless of what may transpire in the official investigation of the Capitol’s upheaval, US political polarization, the breakdown of trust between the public and the ruling elites, along with their media allies, will continue unabated. Undoubtedly, the consequences will be dire.

But there is another consequential crisis that is also brewing, ‘American exceptionalism’, a rare meeting point between Democrats and Republicans, is facing its greatest challenge since its coinage sometime in the mid-17th century.

Historically, the US has defined and redefined its mission in the world based on lofty spiritual, moral and political maxims, starting with ‘Manifest Destiny’, to fighting communism, to eventually serving as the defender of human rights and democracy around the world, using violence whenever necessary. In truth, ‘protecting human rights’ or ‘restoring democracy’ were mere pretenses often used to provide a moral cover that allows the US to reorder the world for the sake of expanding its market and ensuring its economic dominance.

The late American historian, Howard Zinn, explained in his essay entitled ‘The Power and the Glory’, the functional meaning of American exceptionalism as such: “… that the United States alone has the right, whether by divine sanction or moral obligation, to bring civilization, or democracy, or liberty to the rest of the world, by violence if necessary …”

Many examples and numerous violent images can be immediately summoned when Zinn’s definition is translated into historical precedents. From the genocide of the Native Americans, to the enslaving of millions of Africans, to the never-ending interventions in South America – starting with the Monroe doctrine of 1823 – all the way to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, American exceptionalism has always served the purpose of reinforcing the notion that America possesses a moral, divine right to do as it pleases for the betterment of mankind.

When former US President George W. Bush took it upon himself to ‘restore democracy’ in Iraq as part of the US-championed ‘war on terror’, his ultimatum to the United Nations reflected both American entitlement and its rooted sense of exceptionalism. “You are either with us or with the terrorists,” he said on September 21, 2001. According to that maxim, the world was divided into categories, of ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’,  ‘with us’ or ‘against us’, ‘Old Europe’ and ‘New Europe’’, and so on. Despite the palpable irrationality – let alone arrogance – of that logic, US ‘democratic’ institutions and mainstream media cheered Bush on. The ‘war president’s’ ratings seemed to increase as his rhetoric and actions grew more violent.

But the orchestrated ‘popular consent’ is finally breaking down, raising an unprecedented challenge to the notion of American exceptionalism, a banner under which America’s ruling elites have long united. The more political chaos and societal division widen, the more the notion of exceptionalism will be exposed as bizarre, selfish and unsustainable.

Surely, the storming of the US Congress will have global repercussions, not least among them the collective rejection of the outdated notion of American exceptionalism. But with that, there is also an opportunity: first for Americans to swap their ‘manufactured consent’ with real dialogue; to salvage and, eventually, renew trust in their democratic institutions and second, for the world to challenge America’s hegemonic discourse of fraudulent democracy and other self-serving fables.

• This article was originally published in Politics Today.

The post The “Insurrection” and Its Discontents: “American Exceptionalism” Revisited  first appeared on Dissident Voice.