Archive for political philosophy

The Decline, Decay, Death and Rebirth of Democracy and Freedom

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2020 by jtoddring

 

The two greatest threats to democracy and freedom in the West, or to peace, justice, equality, or even a viable future for humanity, are without question, the currently reigning de facto world government of neofeudal corporate oligarchy, also known as neoliberalism, and the fascist order which it is rapidly morphing into. The Red fascism of China’s totalitarian corporate-Mandarin model is simply the mirror image of the corporate neoliberalism in the West – and the two have effectively merged, like the double coil helix of a mutagenic DNA which is the new cancer spreading over the world, and devouring all. We either come to understand these three phenomenon better – the neoliberal corporate oligarchy of the West, and its mirror in China, and the global fascist order they are clearly transmuting into – or we will soon be slaves, living in a poisoned, gulag world, watching the Earth slowly die.

*

What is fascism?

Fascism and neoliberalism are widely misunderstood. As is the state of contemporary China, though perhaps less so because it is so stark. This must change.

Fascism is widely confused with flags and banners, slogans, marching styles – outer drapings. It is even more widely confused with racism, xenophobia, and a very malignant kind of nationalism. The latter three elements are common to fascism, but they are not the heart of fascism. The heart of fascism, and the only essential element, is what Mussolini himself defined it to be: it is the merger of business and the state.

And that is exactly what we have seen over the past 50 years, with the de-linking of the US dollar from any real world connection (the 1971 decoupling of the dollar from gold, and unilateral abandonment of the gold standard by the US), the birth of heavily financialized global crony capitalism, and the emergence of neoliberalism and corporate globalization. All of this represented the slow-motion fascist coup which is the big business take-over of both government and the global economy.

Fascism is not men in black uniforms goosestepping in the streets, necessarily. It is the hyper-concentration of power in the hands of the few, whereby big business has effectively usurped and taken over the powers of democratic governments.

It is not the window dressings we need to be afraid of, but the lust for power which is at the core of fascism, and which has clearly been at the core of neoliberalism, its for-runner, for well over 40 years.

What is neoliberalism?

First of all, neoliberalism is not static. It is always changing. The cancer stage of capitalism describes it well, as the Canadian philosopher John McMurtry put it. And it is always morphing. There is no permanent state of neoliberalism. It began with crony capitalism, and is moving toward its culmination, which is fascism.

The central tendency of neoliberalism is the same as crony capitalism, or capitalism itself: it is the tendency to concentrate wealth, and therefore power, in ever greater degrees, in ever fewer hands.

What began as liberal capitalist democracies in the late 1700’s, quickly devolved and descended into crony capitalism, which means societies effectively ruled by business elites.

That wasn’t much of a step, since that was essentially the starting point of Western liberal capitalist democracies. They were dominated by land-owning elites, merchants and manufacturers from the outset. It was easy and natural to continue that trajectory.

Thomas Jefferson saw what was happening in 1812, when he said, “I pray we shall crush the birth of the moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it bids defiance to our laws and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.”

But we failed to listen. We did not place checks and balances, or any effectual limits on the natural tendency of capitalism to concentrated capital and wealth, and thus to concentrate power. The result is neoliberalism: a social order in which business elites – the less than 1,000 corporations and 1,000 ultra-rich individuals globally, who meet yearly at Davos – effectively rule the world, and every major nation and government, with few exceptions.

But the important realization is that neoliberalism is not the final end point of this historically unfolding trajectory. It is just a mid-point on the arc. The descending arc of modern democracy runs from 1776, through crony capitalism, through neoliberalism, to its natural conclusion – which is the full merger of business and the state: which, again, as Mussolini said, is called corporatism – which, as he said, is the proper term for fascism.

There is nothing new with neoliberalism. As Chomsky said, it is not particularly new, and it is not particularly liberal. What it is, is a bid for power. Business elites 200 years ago simply wanted more and more wealth and power, and they got it. 200 years later, having effectively taken over the global economy, the financial system, the media, much of academia and the church, and most governments and international institutions in the world, the ruling business elite are now seeking to consolidate their power – before they lose it.

They are keenly aware that they have been in the midst of a rapidly deepening, global crisis of legitimacy, which is quickly coming to a global tipping point. Their advisors have told them what this means. It means the Western corporate oligarchy could collapse like a house of cards, virtually overnight, just as the Soviet Empire collapsed, between 1989 and 1991.

The Western elite are terrified of losing power, and at the same time, have never had such dizzying heights of power – although it is increasingly, and undeniably, fragile. They simply want to batten down the hatches and hold onto what they’ve got – as the new rulers of the world – by any means necessary. Fascism is simply the most expedient means to their desired end. In fact, it is the only means available. It is either that, or it is major compromise with the people, and the tolerating of real democracy – which they decidedly do not want; or else, losing power altogether – which they are adamantly opposed to.

The Western elite see the resort to a more authoritarian, and highly controlled, technocratic, scientific fascism, as their only means to keep their power, without having to compromise with the pesky 99.9%, or demands such as justice, fairness, equality, freedom, democracy, civil liberties, green politics and environmental concerns, or anything that might require a sharing of wealth or power.

*

In 2020, we are seeing the Western and Eastern oligarchies carry out a test run and a social engineering project with a global mass house arrest and lockdown of society, rationalized by a greatly exaggerated public health crisis.

The facts are coming in now, to confirm what should have been obvious from the beginning. The mortality rate in Europe this year is no higher than in the three previous years, and in fact lower, despite the “pandemic”. The centre, right and left all swallowed the hook, line and sinker of this latest propaganda war, and accepted the trial run of fascist lockdown – cheerfully. They will, it is hoped, soon come to their senses, and check the facts, and more importantly, question the rationalizations for a global police state.

What was emerging in 2019, was a global wave of democratic uprisings, and the beginnings of a wave of global democratic revolutions. This explains the 2020 lockdown, along with the end of the line for the ability of vast money printing to keep afloat a wildly unstable global economy, while the germ theory standard narrative does not fit the facts.

*

Whether it is sooner or later, the people must reclaim their democracy, and their freedom. And in China, they must discover that this is, in fact, a better way than the Maoist neoliberal Confucian-Orwellian totalitarianism, which they currently have.

In the world’s biggest democracy, which is India, with the second largest middle class in the world, the people must decide if they wish to see the death of the Gandhian dream, of freedom, democracy, self-government and independence, tolerance and peace, as the country which for thousands of years has been one of the great spiritual beacons of the world, descends into a narrow-minded, bigoted, petty and brutal, barbaric neoliberal/neoconservative corporatist oligarchy and fascist state, a la Modi, sowing war both within and outside its borders, like a mad leper devouring his own flesh; or whether, perhaps, they can imagine something better.

Whatever transpires in the weeks, months and years ahead, we will not see neoliberalism last. It is rapidly descending, or morphing, more precisely, into the full merger of business and the state, which is fascism. Only the willfully ignorant or most dogmatic of ideologues can refuse to see this most obvious fact by now.

Whether this new, second wave of fascism lasts decades, or is but a brief flash, is up to the people to decide. But if it lasts for long, not only will freedom and democracy, human rights and dignity be crushed, at least temporarily, but so too, will all chances and all hopes for a green and sustainable society, or even, a viable future of any kind for humanity on Earth.

This is our last stand. Make your choices well.

*

Roughly 650 years ago, in the mid-1300s, the Black Plague spelled the beginning of the end for feudalism. While the global pandemic of 2020, so far, and by all present measures, is infinitely smaller in magnitude than the Black Death, the draconian lockdown and mass house arrest of three billion people has caused an economic meltdown that is fanning the flames of social unrest, which were already extremely high and rising by 2019. We can look at that lockdown and its implications in two broad ways – other ways being frankly deceitful, or else delusional. Ominous and disastrous, is one side of the implications. Potential for great, tectonic social change, is the other side, and equally as real. However, with the neo-feudalism which we are now facing, both East and West, we do not have 400 years to throw it off, and rise above it. If it takes us 400 years to overcome our present global neo-feudal order, then humanity, by all likelihood, and almost certainly, will have ceased to exist, for the global ecosystems of the world will have long since been destroyed.

Whatever we are going to do, we had best reflect deeply, and be clear as to the true meaning and implications of our actions. What we do not need now is to sow our own slavery, or our own destruction, thinking that is the road to freedom, to happiness, or to a better world. Moreover, whatever we do, we had best do it now. We have simply run out of time for any kind of dithering, delays, avoidance or evasion, procrastination or hesitation. The time, quite simply, is now.

Democracy must be reborn. It truly is, now or never.

JTR,
April 8, 2020

The Myth Of Progress – Pricking The Bubble

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2020 by jtoddring

Again and again, I am reminded of the need for humility, as well as dignity and confidence. I am reminded not only by my own faults and errors, which are numerous enough, but also by many of the people I respect the most. Again, and again, I read an exceptionally brilliant book, am floored by the clarity and lucidity of mind, and then, am momentarily shell-shocked by the seemingly sudden loss of clarity, and the introduction of what to me is a glaring error. Few people are omniscient or infallible. Shared illusions, furthermore, are not only possible, but are the norm. Shared illusions with regards to the mythology of progress, are a perfect example.

(Stephen Toulmin’s, Cosmopolis, a brilliant book on the history of the modern world, made me reflect on these things again today. A once in 400 year book ends with an assumption, a presumption, of the myth of progress? As I say, question everything. If the most brilliant minds are capable of error, and often great errors, what are our politicians and media pundits capable of? Sheer idiocy, outright lies, half-truths, distortions, evasions, blatant self-delusion? Yes, all of that, and more.)

No one demolishes our modern illusions about progress so marvelously, or with such wit, as Thoreau; but I will do my best here, to follow in the footsteps of one of my great heroes; and urge everyone to read Walden, and On Civil Disobedience, again.  We need such uncommon clarity and Earthy, practical wisdom now.

This is a short bit of reflection on a subject I have returned to many times over several decades – not a comprehensive discourse or treatise on the mythology or ideology of progress, by any stretch. But pithy kernels of thought are useful, it seems to me, because they spark further thought and reflection. Consider this one small spark – knowing that that is all it takes to begin a wildfire: one that can burn through our shared illusions, like the sunrise dispels the darkness of the night.

*

The Western world is heavily influenced by certain founding mythologies (mythologies in the proper sense of the term, meaning grand narratives, subtextual philosophies or worldviews), or confluences of mythology, culture and thought: including Judaism, and later Christianity and Islam; those of ancient Greece, both pre-Hellenic and Hellenic; Roman; Medieval, that of the Renaissance, and of the Enlightenment. (We are dealing in major patterns here, though of course there have been, and are, many other currents.)

Core among Western assumptions, are assumptions or mythologies surrounding the nature of time. Four common mythology groups can be identified, as a start, with regards to views of time: linear descent, linear progress, eternal return, and time as an illusion.

Let’s take the last view first. Time as an illusion is the least common view in the West, the view or mythology with the least cultural, psychological or historical influence – though it is most accurate. All is change, as Heraclitus, the Buddha and Lao Tzu have said, and King Solomon as well; yet, as the Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist views all assert, and mystics of the West as well, time remains an illusion, because while the many are always changing and in flux, the many are always, in truth, the One – hence all is in constant change, yet all change is illusory; therefore time is illusory. Compassion within the illusion of time is paradoxically essential to an intelligent life, much less an enlightened state; yet time remains an illusion, because duality is an illusion, and hence, no true change exists, but only changes in appearance or form.

We will pass over the mystics’ view of time, for now. Let’s look at what the non-mystic great majority have believed about the nature of time – since, unfortunately, they have shaped Western history more than any sages have done.

For the great majority of people, both East and West, time is very real. (Transcendent Oneness may be an attractive idea, but few are genuinely interested in even exploring it. Maya is everything.) And here we are left with three major remaining mythologies, philosophies, or views, with regards to the nature of time:

1. Time is linear, and everything is in a state of decline from an original golden age, or the paradise of Eden. This is the view of ancient Greece, China and India, and with important variations, it is also the core Judaeo-Christian view. Everything was wonderful, then there was a fall from grace, and we are on our way down to the bottom. And if we look deeply at this view, in all cases above, the bottom is not final, but only a nadir, from which rebirth is certain to occur. There is much to be said of, and for, this view, but that is not the topic of this essay.

3. The third view is one of circularity in time: the eternal return. Time may look linear to us, but it is circular in reality. There is much to be said for this view as well, but it too, is not the topic at hand.

2. The second view is linear time marked by an inevitable upward trend. This is the mythology of progress. This is – or became in the modern world – the true religion of the West.

When the Enlightenment thinkers revisited the ancient Western mythology of time, they turned it on its head – similarly to Marx turning Hegel on his head, and with similar general confusion.

The modern view became the mirror image of the traditional Judaeo-Christian view. Now, time is viewed as linear – that much is retained of the mythology; but the path is not inevitable descent, but inevitable ascent.

Modernity became as religiously devoted to the ideology and mythology of progress, as Judaeo-Christianity was wedded to the idea of the fall, decline, decay, the end of time, and cosmic rebirth.

The modern view was simply a secularization of the mythology of redemption. But redemption was to be by our own power and cleverness. (As Nietzsche said, “The ego –  our last article of faith.”) Progress is our redemption; and progress is assured – inevitable.

Thankfully, I haven’t heard anyone use the phrase, “You can’t stop progress”, in quite some time. The mythology has cracked, and is crumbling. “Progress” is not so assured to us now.

And what of the notion of progress? (The author John Michael Greer makes the case well: it is a dying and outmoded notion, that was largely illusory to begin with.) The ideology or mythology of progress takes it as an unquestionable truism that everything that comes later in time, must, by definition, be better than which came before. But is that really true?

Clothes produced in Chinese sweatshops tend to be low quality and wear out quickly – but moving all manufacturing to China and other low-wage areas of the world is a new phenomenon: so all products made in China must therefore be better in terms of quality, since this is a new “development” or phenomenon. Clearly this is not the case.

If the mythology of progress was true, then in the 1930’s, when fascism was rising in Germany and Italy, since fascism was new, it must therefore be an improvement, and must have been better than the free and open democracies which it replaced.

Clearly, only the criminally insane and the pathological would agree that Nazism and fascism were improvements over democracy, or free and open societies, simply because they came after democracy, and (for a time) crushed democracy. Clearly, what comes later in time is not necessarily better than what came before.

*

I do have faith, or confidence, if you prefer, in the long-term upward trajectory of humanity. I firmly believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But I have no illusions that we cannot have set-backs, or that temporary regression is not possible. Clearly it is. Look at the Nazis and other fascists in the 1930’s and ’40’s. Clearly, we can regress, just as easily as we can progress. You can climb up a mountain, stumble, and fall back down again. Stumbling and falling are not impossible. Descent is as real as ascent.

China is now ruled by a totalitarian bureaucracy that has wedded itself to neoliberalism, every bit as much as Western corporate neoliberalism has wedded itself to it. It is a match made in hell, and the two deserve each other – while humanity deserves neither.

China represents neofeudal technocratic corporatism (or Red fascism, as I call it); the West is ruled by a technocratic corporate neofeudalism. One is the mirror image of the other. Neither can be tolerated by those who value freedom or democracy, civil rights, or a world where people are something other than slaves, consumer drones, and mindless cogs in a great machine.

But this new form of society for China, this new Confuscianist-Orwellian neofeudal corporatism, came after Taoism and Zen. Does that make it superior to Taoism and Zen, because it came later in time? The newer is better, right? Everything that is new is best. That is the mythology of inevitable progress.

To my mind, one would have to be out of one’s mind, to say that an Orwellian-Confucian neo-feudal bureaucratic corporate police state is superior to either ancient Taoism or Zen. I think there is absolutely no question about this. What came latter, happens to be a profound regression – not progress at all. That can and does happen in history. We can make miss-steps.

Neoliberalism is a recent ideological construct, not yet quite 50 years old – because it is new does that mean it is better? Must the drive toward a global corporate oligarchy be accepted as inevitable, or worse, as inevitable progress? I think we would be quite delusional and deranged to assume such a thing, when all the evidence is that neoliberalism, and the corporatism – aka fascism – which it represents, is extraordinarily destructive to people and the planet both.

Viewed in this light, we have had 50 years of regress.

Culturally, it is clear we have progressed greatly in the past 50 years. But in terms of reigning political-economic systems, structures and ideologies, we have simply fallen into a ditch – because we followed blind men.

We’ve had fifty years of neoliberalism – which is the ideology which rationalizes the corporate take-over of the world – and fifty years of post-modernism – which effectively lobotomized intellectuals for five decades, spinning polysyllabic webs of confusion justifying a hidden nihilism, which in turn provided the perfect cover for a corporatist (that is, fascist) take-over.

Maybe now we can regain our senses, and reject both neoliberal corporatism, which is fascism with a pretty face, and also post-modernist nihilism, which vacates all intellect and common sense, neuters the people, and paves the way for the justification of, and collusion with, almost anything – including the worst of evils, and the worst regression.

Are post-modernism and global neoliberal corporatism improvements over the values of the Renaissance, of dignity and confidence, with a counterbalancing of  tolerance and humility? Are they improvements over Spinoza, or over Plotinus, Socrates or Aristotle? Are they improvements over Jesus, Mohammed, Daniel or Moses? Are they improvements over the Enlightenment values of liberty, equality, and solidarity, the values of the American and French Revolutions, the values of democracy and common sense? I would say that any reasonable or honest accounting would show both post-modernism and neoliberal corporatism to be deeply regressive, barbaric, profoundly myopic, and frankly delusional. We had best retrace our steps, and think again.

There are many treasures to be saved, and preserved, and cherished, from our 5,000 year journey. Neoliberalism and post-modernism are not among them. These belong on the dung heap,

*

We can take the best from the past and the present, and decide to reject certain new trends, ideologies or technologies as destructive to life on Earth: nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons; along with fascism, neofeudalism, and neoliberal corporate oligarchy – all of which are various ways of describing the same single system; are among the things which we should reasonably and unequivocally, and firmly reject.

In short, we have choices. There are dangers, and there are opportunities. We must make the best of the latter, while navigating around, overcoming, or defeating the former. This should be a matter of common sense.

Chomsky sums it up well, as he so often does:

(I am paraphrasing from memory here)

“The world is filled with ominous portent, and signs of great hope. Which result ensues, is largely up to what we do with the opportunities at hand.”

Exactly.

Let’s not be complacent. There is work to be done. We have a better future, and a better world to build – a task we are entirely capable of fulfilling. But complacency and denial are luxuries that we most certainly cannot afford.

JTR,
April 6, 2020

 

Further reading:

Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies,
Year 501: The Conquest Continues,
Class Warfare,
and
Requiem For The American Dream: The Principles Of Concentration Of Wealth & Power
George Orwell, 1984
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, and Brave New World Revisited
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We
Jack London, Iron Heel
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule The World
Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns
John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World
John Perkins, A Game As Old As Empire, and
The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite
Peter Phillips, Giants: The Global Power Elite
Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom
Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom
Bertrand Russell, Roads To Freedom
Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self

And perhaps most urgently:

Ronald Wright, A Short History Of Progress

For philosophical, cultural, anthropological and historical perspective, there is no better guide or place to start than here – an immenseley erudite and deeply perceptive book which reveals precisely, by contrast, and exactly where we stand in the early 21st century: still lost in a continuing dark age that daily threatens to get ever darker – until we reflect, and change our course:

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Time to wake up. Fascism is rising, and the planet and the people are in peril.

 

Six Founding Principles Of Good Government

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2020 by jtoddring

Or,

Public Policy 101:

Tax “Bads”, Not Goods

Public policy, or government policy, should reflect certain basic principles. Let’s set out a few. Not everyone will agree, but polls repeatedly show the great majority, from the moderate grassroots right, across to the left, in general agree, and in general strongly agree, with much of what I will set out here. Where they don’t, we need to discuss further, until clarity and a general consensus are reached. This is critical, and it is also urgent, given the present, intertwined, severe crises we face: so we had best get on it.

1. Freedom should be protected and preserved. (Why? Because it is better to be free than to be a slave. And because freedom is best in light of, and most conducive toward, the fulfilment of human creativity and potential. Such things should not need explaining, but sometimes do.) That means, among other things, that constitutional law must be protected and preserved, and when necessary, ammended or changed to accomadate what is, hopefully, a growing, or rising cultural awareness and awakening. Attacks on our liberties and constitutional rights must be viewed with great wariness, at the least, and in general, strongly and forcefully opposed.

“States of emergency” do not justify a rollback of such liberties and rights, but only highlight our need to preserve them; and test our moral courage in difficult times, when it is easy to be seduced into throwing them overboard in pursuit of an eternally ellusive security that tends always to cost far more than it delivers.

(You don’t surrender your freedoms in order to preserve them, as we did after 9/11. Nor do sane people surrender the liberties of all in order to defend, theoretically, but in reality uselessly, against a germ. Epidemics and other disasters must be met with great compassion – not a police state.)

2. Since freedom is a core value to be preserved, democracy, or rule by the people, must therefore be preserved, and also advanced.

Excessive concentrations of power, alng with the inevitable abuses of power which stem from it, is the greatest danger, or certainly one of them. Freedom and constitutional democracy are among the core components of any serious answer to that very real and ever present danger.

(“When men are ready for it”, no government shall be what they have, as Thoreau said. But that time is not now. Right now, the people need the state to counterbalance the powers of the corporate oligarchs. Libertarians and anarchists need to realize this fact, as Chomsky also expressed, or else cease to pretend to be dealing with the real world.)

Elite rule, or oligarchy, is always the enemy of both democracy and of freedom. This is political-economy axiom number one.

In a heavily financialized, state-sponsored corporate capitalist economy, which is what neoliberalism represents – or corporatism, as it should be called, more precisely – and which is what now rules most of the world, we can either abandon democracy, freedom, civil liberties, an open society and constitutional rule, and embrace the new world empire of global neo-feudal corporate oligarchy, which is increasingly descending into a global police state; or we can vigorously assert our rights, and protect our vanishing freedoms, civil liberties and democracy, break up the big corporate empires, and apply bold, unflinching anti-trust legislation to make democracy and freedom real, and justice, peace, and survivability, real possibilities. Those are the two choices, broadly speaking. Right now we are heading for neoliberal corporate fascism. (In fact, it looks like we may well have arrived.) If we want something different, then we’re going to have to change course, and we’re going to have to act – and now.

Oligarchy and democracy cannot coexist. One must go. The elite want democracy to die. They naturally prefer oligarchy. We should be aware, however, if democracy goes, then freedom goes as well. We must be perfectly clear on this.

And of course, as US Presidents Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln understood, if the nation’s central bank, which prints and creates the nation’s money, is privately controlled by banking elites, rather than publicly owned and democratically controlled by congress, as the US Constitution set down, then “all talk of sovereignty and democracy will be idle and futile”, and freedom and democracy will be no more, because the banking oligarchy will rule the people, the nation, and the land. That is now the case in the US, as in most nations. Making the Federal Reserve publicly owned and democratically controlled, therefore, along with the ECB in Europe and other central banks, is essential if freedom or democracy are to survive. If we are serious about either freedom or democracy, then this very likely must be step one.

Step two is a global reset, by way of a debt jubilee, a mass debt cancellation. The people will continue in debt bondage and debt slavery until this happens. (See Ellen Brown and Michael Hudson.)

Furthermore, if it’s going to be a stable currency, which is necessary for a stable economy, and which are both in turn needed for sovereignty, democracy, independence and self-determination,  then it will also require a Tobin tax, also known as a Robin Hood tax, a tax on financial speculation, to protect the currency and thereby also the people from finanical warfare and extortion. Further, some real world backing is needed, such as gold or silver, or perhaps most usefully, a combination of gold, silver, and Bitcoin. (See Ellen Brown, Max Keiser, James Altucher, Gerald Celente, and Michael Hudson.)

Another point that must be made clear regarding freedom and democracy, is that if loan agreements or “trade” agreements, or any other treaties or agreements, effectively nullify or over-ride the democratic powers of sovereign nations, parliaments or congress, and render the people therefore powerless – as is the categorically the case with regard to the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and NAFTA, or the SPP, for example – then these binding and positively anti-democratic ties, treaties, agreements, arrangements, or “advice”, must be rejected, severed, abrogated, and terminated, without hesitation or delay. Alternative, freer and fairer, more democratic agreements must be sought, and can and will be found, since the great majority of the people want exactly those kinds of alternatives, and immediately.

However these intertwined issues are addressed, our actions must now be bold and swift, clear-minded and unhesitating. Oligarchy, neo-feudal corporate rule, and the power of bankers in particular, are the principle threats to democracy and freedom now, as well as to the 99% of the people, and to the Earth. They must be stopped. (And by now, this means revolution is required –  and urgently so.)

3. Government policies should benefit the people broadly, and not only one select group – for example, the big corporations and the richest 1%, as it does in most nations now. (Hence the need for revolution. Jefferson would unquestionably agree. So, I am sure, would MLK.)

4. Government policy should follow a least harm, maximum social benefit model. Supporting the planet-killing fossil fuel industry, and other polluting industries, such as the chemical-biotech pesticide industry, for example, is both unwise, and self-destructive. It is also morally bankrupt, genocidal, ecocidal, and suicidal – that is, sociopathic, and insane.

Big Oil, Big Chem, Big Pharma, Big Agra, Big Tech, the military-industrial-security complex, and the big banks, among others of the Davos neo-feudal global corporate oligarchy, currently rule over most governments, as well as financial system, the major media, and the global economy. If this is not quickly changed, it will mean a toxic, barren, gulag society ahead, followed by extinction and collapse. (Revolution is needed, and now, I say once again.)

5. Government policy should impose and intrude as little as possible, while seeking to be a vehicle for the people to protect themselves from any and all threats, both foreign, and domestic.

From 1812 on, when Jefferson gave his clarion warning, the greatest threat to the people has been what Thomas Jefferson called, “the new monied aristocracy”.

(We are facing oligarchy and neoliberal fascism now because we failed to listen to prescient minds like Jefferson. We had better corect that error, and immediately.)

Government has been in the business, since that time, for over 200 years, and with few exceptions, of aiding and abbetting the mass rape, looting and pillaging of the many by the few – at least since that time, and to a very high degree, for many centuries before.

Placing some limits on economic predations by the rich upon the many, therefore, and requiring the rich to share some portion of what they have plundered from the many and the Earth, is not only fair, just, and legitimate, but is the moral responsibility of any and all moral governments. Until a more just economic system is created, this is the very least that honest men and women of good conscience can do.

It is also the least that the prudent can do – for the simple reason that, any growing, unchecked power, including in the form of great empires of wealth, will eventually devour all, including the merely afluent and rich, and including our freedom, as well as our democracy.

Both conscience, and also prudence, therefore, require checks and balances, and limits, on great wealth, so as to protect the people, and to preserve our freedom from being taken over and destroyed by any and all, new or old forms of tyranny.

(Libertarians and conservatives, who, in general, are conditioned to believe that any form of government action, other than keeping up an ever-expanding military industrial security complex, empire and war machine, is an unnecessary and dangerous action, should consider this: if you refuse to tax, regulate, and thereby reign in the great economic powers of the oligarchs and the giant fortune 500 corporations, then you automatically allow these same vast economic empires to continue to grow unchecked in power: that means, they will sooner or later devour all – including your precious liberty, your rights, your constitutional protections, and yes, your assets; and quite possibly, your personal freedom – and you may find yourself in a society that all too chillingly resembles, not Eisenhower’s America, but Stalin’s Russia. In short, you either help the people stop the plutocrats from destroying and devouring everything, and building a new global police state and a gulag society, and a ravenous neo-feudal global order; or else, very likely, you will be next in line to be devoured. Get it now. Understand this now. We need your help. Now. Right, bloody, now.)

6. When taxing, or raising funds for public projects, that is, tax “bads”, not “goods”. This should be obvious. Taxes, fees, fines, etc., discourage certain things, are a disincentive to certain things. Spending, funding, grants and loans are inducements, stimuli, incentives, to certain things. We want to create jobs, so we ban payroll taxes, which create disincentives to hiring and job creation, for example. We tax pollution, if we wish to survive, or to breathe.

If you want a market economy at all, whether in a mixed economy, which is best, or in any form, then you have to tax big business and subsidize small business. You put checks and balances, or strong disincentives, on the growth of monopolies and cartels, by taxes or anti-trust legislation for example, otherwise, you get monopolies and cartels dominating both the economy and the government, as we have now, and a neo-feudal economy and social order, which we also have now. At present, most nations are neoliberal, thus, taxing the 99% to lavishly feed the 1%. This is economically foolish, and sociologically, politically, and ecologically, suicidal.

We tax luxury goods as well as pollution; but we put no tax on general consumer spending, because: a) it is regressive and hurts the poor, the middle class, and small and medium businesses, by far the hardest; and b) because it discourages economic activity in a crude and unthinking way.

(“No” to sales taxes, but yes to luxury taxes and pollution taxes. This should be a “no-brainer”, an obvious principle.)

We tax great wealth, because great wealth should be shared; but more importantly, because great wealth means great power – and you cannot let great power accumulate unchecked, either economically or politically (or in finance or the media, equally critically), or you will have oligarchy in the end, and one or another form of fascism; and both democracy and freedom will be destroyed, and the people will be reduced to serfs once again – and worse, will be enslaved.

If we do not soon come to understand, and soon apply, these six most basic and fundamental principles of good government, of justice, of democracy, and of freedom, then these warnings will come to pass.

It is two minutes to midnight now – if not later. We have lost all time for delay. Now, we must be swift, for we are in darkest peril, as the oligarchy of business elites, have clearly taken over.

JTR,
April 5, 2020

The Central Issue: Oligarchy vs Democracy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2020 by jtoddring

The central issue, now as always, is not about wealth, or distribution of wealth. It’s not about bread and butter issues. It’s not about taxes or spending, budgets or allocations, or who gets what and how much. It’s about power. The oligarchs know that. The elite know that very well. The other 99.9% of the people had better learn it fast, or we will be discussing budgets and social programs from inside a gulag. This is what the contemporary left, in 2020, fails utterly to realize. If we don’t correct that blindness very soon, I can assure you, we will regret it profoundly, and immeasurably.

That is to say, the central question is whether we will have real democracy, or whether we will live under an oligarchy and elite rule. The consequences of that choice are becoming clear – and they are quite stark.

You know what side I am on. Now comes the time for all to choose. And yes, that does mean now. Further delay in deciding, or acting, will cause regret so deep there are no words to describe it.

We must choose now. We must get clear, and now.

The barbarians are not at the gates. The barbarians are in power. We must remove them from power now.

JTR,

April 4, 2020

Political Philosophy 101: Democracy vs Elite Rule

Posted in democracy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, freedom, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, people's movements, philosophy, police state, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2020 by jtoddring

Use anything and anyone to gain and maintain power. That is the Machiavellian philosophy which rules the minds of the power elite, both East and West, as Howard Zinn has indicated as well. Public health, human well-being, conscience, principles, morals, freedom, democracy, other high ideals, have nothing to do with it.

We are not preschoolers. Let us not take the attitude of preschoolers.

Most people, the great majority, as Chomsky has said, “have basically decent impulses”. The power elite, however, have gained, and maintain their power, generally speaking, and with few exceptions, by abandoning all morals, (see the text of NSC-68, for example) and becoming, by and large, sociopaths. We must resist them, and dethrone them. Democracy is vastly preferable to fascism, to be sure; but fascism is what we will have if the people do not question more, and take their democracy back. And the hour is late.

JTR,

March 17, 2020

 

Further reading – big picture analysis:

Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies,
Year 501: The Conquest Continues,
Class Warfare,
and
Requiem For The American Dream: The Principles Of Concentration Of Wealth & Power
George Orwell, 1984
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, and Brave New World Revisited
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We
Jack London, Iron Heel
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule The World
Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns
John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World
John Perkins, A Game As Old As Empire, and
The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite
Peter Phillips, Giants: The Global Power Elite
Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom
Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom
Bertrand Russell, Roads To Freedom
Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self
Ronald Wright, A Short History Of Progress

 

The Central Challenge Of Our Time

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American Freedom Agenda, American Freedom Campaign, analysis, anarchism, anthropology, banks, capitalism, Chomsky, civil liberties, class, climate change, collapse, common ground, consciousness, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, coup, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, detention centers, ecological crisis, ecology, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, freedom, geopolitics, global warming, globalism, globalization, history, imperialism, inspiration, Jefferson, libertarian, Mussolini, must-read, nation state, national democracies, neo-feudalism, people's movements, philosophy, police state, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, social theory, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the world's other superpower, tipping point, Uncategorized, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2020 by jtoddring

What is the central challenge of our time? It is not what most people think it is. It is not race or gender, or climate change, or the environment broadly, or issues of war and peace, or poverty, or justice, or equality, or fighting terrorism, crime or violence, WMDs and disarmament, the arms and drugs trade, imperialism, national sovereignty and the rule of law versus aggression, “regime changes”, coups and “intervention”, or freedom, or democracy, constitutional rule or human rights. All of these things are extremely important, of course. But there is one issue which connect them all.

The central fact, dynamic or pattern, which connects all of these things, and is at the centre of them all, is the excessive concentration of power. This we must address, above all, and immediately, or we stand no chance of resolving any of these other issues, or even making any serious or lasting progress on them.

Until we address the extreme and growing, excessive concentration of power in the world, both within nations and also globally, we will have no chance at a better future, no chance at a decent future, and, in fact, little chance of a future of any kind.

*

Marx was a terrible political philosopher, it must be admitted – but it must also be admitted that he was a brilliant sociologist. That is, his analysis and portrayal of the problems of modern state-sponsored capitalism (and it is always state-sponsored, because the business elite demand it, and because otherwise it would even more quickly self-destruct) was very perceptive, honest, and revealing. We would do well to continue to study Marx – as a sociologist. His diagnosis of the problem held some considerable merit, even if his proposed solution was poorly thought out. And one of his central observations, as the clear-minded sociologist that he generally was, is that capitalism tends to concentrate wealth. And that much should be perfectly obvious to us by now.

In 1812, Thomas Jefferson warned of the growing power of the business elite, and said, prophetically and passionately, unequivocally, “I pray that we shall crush the birth of the moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for already it defies our laws, and seeks a contest of strength with our democratic government.” That was over 200 years ago. The central problem now is, quite simply: we failed to listen.

We allowed wealth, and far more dangerously, economic power, to grow unchecked, and to become astronomically concentrated, far beyond anything ever seen before in history. We placed checks and balances on political powers, but not on economic powers – foolishly, and most unwisely.

The result, is that 200 years after Jefferson’s warning, which we failed to heed, we no longer have liberal-democracy at all: we now have oligarchy – rule by the few, or plutocracy, which is rule by the rich, or as Mussolini defined it, corporatism, which as he said, is the merger of business and the state – as the business elite have grown so powerful as to take over the state – and which Mussolini said is the proper term and description of fascism.

It is called by sociologists, institutional capture.

The global business elite have captured (or effectively ruled from the start) the all of the major social institutions: including the major international organizations (the IMF, World Bank, WTO, ECB…), the financial system, the media, and the majority of the governments in the world – including all of the most powerful governments of the Western world.

The street level, plain English description is simply, a coup.

Well, the people had better recapture their democracy, or they will soon be slaves. They are already serfs – they will soon be slaves, if they do not act now, or very, very soon.

*

We now have a global situation where the largest 500 corporations, and the 2,000 or so billionaires who own or control them, have more power than the most powerful nation in the history of the world (the US, of course). A situation where the eight richest families control more than half the wealth on the planet. And the growing concentration of wealth, and far more dangerously, of power, continues to accelerate rapidly.

This is what people are referring to as the oligarchy – or plutocracy, or kleptocracy, or corporatocracy.

This is what I have described as a new world order of global neo-feudal crypto-fascist corporate oligarchy. It has already devoured democracy, and is busy devouring all freedom, all constitutional rule, and all rule of law (law is for the little people, the 99.9%, not for “the masters of the universe”, as they like to call themselves). The new global corporate empire is now, without question, devouring both the people and the planet – along with our freedom. Clearly this has to stop, or we will not only be in chains: the life-support systems of the living planet will be destroyed, and our future will be extraordinarily dark.

As I have said before, we now have one remaining choice: revolution, or a new dark age, followed by extinction, and collapse.

*

The new empire ruling the world is not the US empire, which is in decline and heading for collapse, bankrupt, and heading fast for economic and financial implosion; but the global corporate empire, which has swallowed the US empire whole, and uses it now as a puppet-master pulls his strings – mainly as a hired thug.

The new masters of the world, the new oligarchs, are an elite who are clearly drunk with power, and have become, not only insatiably rapacious, and much more dangerously, insatiably hungry for power, but also, parasitic, frankly sociopathic, rabidly anti-democratic, as well as anti-ecological, suicidal, and world destroying. We either remove them power, or they will destroy the Earth which we all share, not to mention our freedoms in the process.

*

The good news is that since 2001, it has been recognized even by the ruling elite, from their own global poll, which came back in early of that year, proving the point beyond any doubt: there is a profound and growing, crisis of legitimacy for the ruling powers. The people of the world are fed up with the power games and machinations of the ruling elite, and are hungry for change. There is a global awakening taking place.

However, the elite see the global awakening of humanity, not as a great boon, a cause for rejoicing, but as a threat.

The Davos club – what John Ralston Saul called, “the new Palace of Versailles”, and “the new royal court”, and which the world’s leading business journal, the Financial Times called, “the de facto world government” – knew in 2001, or it was spelled out to them by their intellectuals in residence, what their own global poll meant. It meant the Western power elite are experiencing the same kind of crisis of legitimacy which caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.

For the first time since its founding, the WEF meeting at Davos was not jubilant or euphoric – it was deeply nervous and glum. There were only three remaining options, in the face of the indisputable, serious and growing crisis of legitimacy: a) compromise, and give the people a New Deal of some sort; b) surrender power, or else get ready to lose power completely; or c) batten down the hatches, and prepare for lockdown, repression, fascism – a police state, and resort to brute force. The Western elite concluded very quickly that the first two options were unacceptable. You can figure out what conclusion they came to from that – and why we have been moving rapidly towards fascism ever since.

People who do not understand these central facts of the past two decades of world history, understand nothing at all. Their advice is meaningless, for they have no connection to reality.

Remember Neville Chamberlain’s foolish statement: “Peace in our time!”

No, we need more serious voices and appraisals – and advisors – now. Churchill, for all his faults, is vastly preferable, to a Chamberlain, or worse, a Vichy government, or a Quisling – and believe me, the latter are in great abundance, while the former, at this, our truly darkest hour, is exceedingly rare.

*

The first step, is for the people to unite, and to reclaim their power. That, by now, will require revolution of some manner or another, in most nations on Earth. Whether by ballot box, or, more often, by blockades and political-economic siege, it is revolution – non-violent, Gandhian-King style – that is needed now.

What we must do, is to reduce the vastly excessive powers of the international business elite, and the trans-national corporations and institutions (such as the IMF, World Bank and ECB), which they control; and to either break up these giant economic empires, as is most wise, in most cases (such as the big banks, the fossil fuel giants, the arms merchants and the media empires), or else reduce their powers dramatically by some other means, and bring them under the control of democratic processes – meaning, bring them under control of the people, so that the people rule the nations, and set checks and balances on the powers of both governments, and also corporations and other economic powers.

The alternative is that the global corporate empire rules the world, as it effectively does now; and the 99.9% of the people who are not among the ruling elite, are reduced to peasants, serfs, or slaves.

Let us not play games. These are not realities we can safely avoid, or sweep under the carpet. We either face reality, and now – both political-economic reality, sociological reality, that is, as well as ecological reality – or our future will be bleak indeed.

*

The nation-state, as Chomsky has said, is the only institution powerful enough to be a counter-balance to the powers of big money. Therefore, we must, as Chomsky has also said, temporarily strengthen the nation-state, in order to reign in the excessive powers of big business.

In order to remove the corporate elite from their current position as the unelected and unaccountable, de facto rulers of the world, we will have to temporarily strengthen the nation-state, and national democracies.  This makes libertarians of the right and the left nervous, but it simply must be done. The alternative is neo-feudalism, and global corporate-fascist rule – which anyone of sound mind should view to be far worse, than a limited form of constitutional democracy asserting its power to reign in the corporate giants and the ruling business elite.

You can talk all you like about your libertarian or anarchist views, but you will be discussing them in chains, if we don’t deal pragmatically and immediately with the present order that now rules the world. Your high ideals, in short, will have to wait. We have more immediate dangers to take care of, first.

Once the people have recaptured and reclaimed their democracy, their constitutional republics;,and the business elite, the new corporate oligarchy, has been dethroned, and also placed within very firm checks and balances on their powers, then we can look to a further decentralization of powers – which would be…nay, will be, the further evolution of democracy and freedom. But first things first: we have a global oligarchy and police state to defeat. Fascism is here again.

And let us make no mistake, we will need all the tools, short of violence, that are at our disposal – including, most centrally, the state – in order to defeat this second round of fascist usurpers and would-be Gods.

*

Note that the greatest of libertarians, Chomsky and Thoreau, have argued for exactly the same thing. They combined a rare long-range vision which was highly idealistic, very far-sighted; and yet, at the same time, an immediacy of pragmatism: what do we do now – right now, in this moment, while keeping our long-term vision, our high ideals, and our dreams alive?

To my mind, the most important piece of political literature, the most important political document ever written, is not the Magna Carta, or the Bill of Rights, the UN Charter of Human Rights, or the Declaration of Independence, though all of these are greatly important, of course. But all of them, to the last, are merely pieces of paper – unless the people stand up to protect and defend them, and what they stand for.

For that reason, I believe the most important political documents ever written are those of Thoreau and La Boite – for they urge the people to stand up for themselves and one another, and to embrace their power. The other documents mean nothing without this.

(See Etienne de la Boite, The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude, and Henry David Thoreau’s short essay, On Civil Disobedience, which has reverberated around the world for over 150 years, inspiring Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the environmental movement, and popular movements around the world to this day.)

Thoreau remarked, in his famous essay, On Civil Disobedience, (and I am paraphrasing, mostly accurately, from memory here) “I heartily agree with that motto, “That government is best which governs the least”, and I should like to see it acted up to more speedily and more fully. And I would extend it to say this: That government is best which governs not at all. And when are prepared for it, that is precisely the kind of government they shall have.” (And note his emphasis – “when men are prepared for it”.)

But, having made his views clear as a decided libertarian, he goes on to say, “But I am not among the “No government men”. I do not wish for, at once, no government, but at once, a better government. Let every man state what kind of government would command his respect, and that shall be one step towards attaining it.”

Now that, to me, as with Chomsky’s views, is what Thomas Paine might agree is a matter of Common Sense. Let us first secure our liberty in the broad sense; and seek to dispel the greatest dangers, and the greatest threats to it first – which is, to be sure, the growing police state and fascist architecture, which is being actively and eagerly created by a set of bankers and their business friends, cronies and stooges in high places.

After we have dispensed with the greatest of dangers, then we can afford to be more high-minded and idealistic in our visions. But for now, let us deal with the reality at hand. We must defeat the new corporate oligarchy, or not only will liberty be vacated, but the planet, and the people, will also be laid to waste; and the new God-kings will rule, until they destroy themselves as well.

Stand now.

It is now revolution or slow death.

Choose wisely.

To be perfectly clear, we must recognize this fact: the state and the government are going to exist for some time to come – the question is, who controls it: a handful of global bankers and an oligarchy of business elites, or the people?

Again, I would say, Choose wisely. This is the critical hour.

A shift in consciousness, culture and lifestyle are urgently needed and essential, if we are to survive as a species, much less have a good, or even a decent future – yes, that is undoubtedly the case. But no New Age revolution of mind, or any other kind of shift in consciousness, is going to be successful, or mean anything at all, unless the new would-be God-kings are deposed and dethroned, and removed from power.

If that is not yet clear, it will be soon, and in terrifying ways. Better to act now, before the reality is confirmed in starker, more brutal ways.

Heed the warning, I urge you now. We failed to heed the warning of Thomas Jefferson, 200 years ago. That was a grave mistake. And the consequences will be even greater, and far more grave, if we fail to listen now.

Stand.

JTR,
March 15, 2020

Post-Script:

Flash-Drive Revolution:

Save this or any other document, image, video, poster, film or song that you find important, or socially/politically/philosophically relevant or pertinent, to a USB flash drive, for safe storage and sharing. Censorship is increasing now. We need alternative ways to communicate important ideas and information if, as is likely, censorship increases further. Consider, at least, all of my books, essays and writings as public domain. (Other living authors will have to decide the matter regarding their own works for themselves. I would urge people to respect their rights unless they state something similar to what I have just stated here.) I would appreciate people buying my books or making donations to support the writing and research, as I am a typically broke writer; but do share my writing with others – that is far more important to me. I certainly did not become a writer, much less a philosopher, for the money. Vive la revolution! For a better world for all.

WATCH THIS – EXTREMELY IMPORTANT:

Whether this is a warm-up, a dry-run, a preamble to the big putsch, or the main event, the following short video will remain extremely important. Please watch immediately:
Celente: Police State Emerging Now        https://youtu.be/5aLiEVbNTUs

Further Reading:

Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, Class Warfare, and Year 501 (These three in particular)

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

John Perkins, A Game As Old As Empire, & The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman

Naomi Wolf, The End of America

John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World

Susan George, Shadow Sovereigns

C Wright Mills, The Power Elite

Peter Phillips, Giants

and I would recommend my two first published books:

Enlightened Democracy: Visions for A New Millennium

and,

The People vs The Elite:
A Manifesto For Democratic Revolution,
Or, Survival In The 21st Century And Beyond

 

Bernie Sanders: socialism, anarchism, corporatism and democracy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by jtoddring

I support Senator Bernie Sanders in his candidacy to become the next US president. I would very much like to see him win, and I think he very may well. Now, some people will say, but Bernie Sanders is a self-declared democratic socialist. I see no problem with that. And 49% of Americans, and a larger percentage of people in most nations today, also have no problem with that. And the percentage who do have a problem with that continues to shrink, virtually every day. This is not 1955, and the McCarthy era is over. Let’s try to live in the 21st century.

Bernie Sanders, for a start, is no more socialist than the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. – whom the great majority of Americans revere, and rightly so. And he is less socialist than Jesus, whom the majority claim to revere. We should look at the contradictions here, and give them some serious thought.

Bernie Sanders has been called the second most popular socialist in America, after Jesus, and I think that is a fitting and accurate statement.

Bernie Sanders is not radical. Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist socialist philosopher, scientist, evolutionary biologist, and peer, or superior, to Darwin, was radical – radical in a positive sense, from the original meaning of the word, which is derived from the Latin, radus, meaning root, and meaning, to get to the root of. But Bernie Sanders is not radical. He is simply sensible. Let’s try to keep things in perspective here.

If Bernie had said, let’s take over all the factories and corporate farms in America, and turn them into worker owned democratic co-ops, through revolution, that would be radical. Seeking election to office in order to remove big money from politics, is not radical, it’s just sensible and honest politics – which is something we haven’t had for a very long time, so it seems shocking to some.

Supporting Bernie Sanders’ presidency should not be alarming; it should be a matter of common sense. What would be alarming would be to vote for any other candidate, and to allow the de facto corporate rule of the political process, the government and the nation to continue. That would be shocking, that would be alarming, and that would be unconscionable, as well as frankly insane.

*

Am I a socialist? Yes – an anarchist socialist, and one who would settle, in the short term, for democratic socialism, but yes, a socialist. Of course I am a socialist – what else would a thinking, feeling, person of conscience be? But first and foremost, I am a democrat.

I supported Ron Paul, though I disagree with him on major points, because he took a strong stand against the dominance of Wall Street over the political process and the government. I support Bernie Sanders for the same reason, and with the same qualifications. I don’t agree with either of these two men on everything, but I agree on the central thing, which is that the power has to be returned to the people, and taken back from the corporate elite who have stolen it and who have effectively taken over.

*

All the indications are that mixed economies work very well. The Nordic and Scandinavian countries are a good example. They have free markets and a capitalist economy, but they also have socialist elements in the society and the economy as well – such things as health care and education being publicly owned and publicly controlled, through the democratic process, and freely available to all.

In terms of key indicators, the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, with their mixed economies and democratic socialist traditions, lead the world in terms of meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals, and are far ahead of most nations. The US ranks near the bottom, along with Egypt, Chile, Mexico and Greece.

The US figures on homelessness, hunger, poverty and infant mortality also rank it with Third World nations. So something is clearly going wrong, especially considering the US is the richest nation in history, and yet, it lets its people go hungry and homeless, and go without proper health care.

There is something deranged, even pathological, with this picture. Yes, you are your brother’s keeper. The professed Christian values, along side a callous and cold-hearted set of policies, in numerous regards, and shocking levels of poverty and inequality, rapaciousness, violence, militarism and greed, materialism, narcissism, vanity and consumerism, simply appall the world. The people of the US need to be aware of this fact; and more and more of them are, and wish to change it.

Civilized nations, as leading trend analyst, Gerald Celente has said, have universal health care for all. Civilized countries have dikes to keep flood waters out, and serious disaster relief when disaster does strike, and exceeds our capacities to cope with it.

Civilized countries do not let their people die in the streets, from hunger or cold, or leave them to fend for themselves in the face of disaster, as the US government did, in the face of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

The US is in a disgraceful state, and most Americans know it, and want the situation changed. And this time, they don’t want hollow speeches about change, that amount to nothing.

In terms of human happiness, the global polls continue to show that the Nordic countries, with their mixed economies, their universal public health care, free education, several weeks of yearly paid vacations, much higher minimum wages, excellent pensions, paid sick leave and parental leave, rank as the best places in the world to live. And again, the US is far, far below. So clearly, there is much to be said for a mixed economy.

The lesson applies to the United States as well.

The United States is not a pure capitalist society. In fact, as Chomsky has pointed out, a purely capitalist society would disintegrate in no time, and is completely self-annihilating. There is a corporate welfare state that protects and serves and supports big business, as it has always done, but only more so in recent years. Instead of having the state intervene to benefit the rich and the corporations, however, the state could be used, through democratic means, to protect and serve all of the people, and not just the rich and the large corporations. This is what Senator Sanders is seeking to do.

For example, Bernie Sanders is proposing to bring in, not only universal public health care, but universal free education, up to and including college and university, and also, to re-invest in America, and rebuild the economy and the infrastructure, both of which are in tatters, and create jobs for all.

How would that be paid for? By making the richest 1% and the large corporations pay their fair share of tax. Right now, they pay little or no tax, which means a loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues a year. Add to this the massive subsidies, which total hundreds of billions of dollars more per year, and the bailouts and “stimulus” packages, which together have handed $20 trillion to the big banks from the Treasury and the public purse, and you can easily see how such programs that benefit the people could be funded: end the corporate welfare system, make the rich and the big corporations pay a reasonable level of tax, say 30, 40, or 60%, end the enormous subsidies to big business, and stop bailing out the “too big to fail” banks. If they’re too big to fail, then, as Bernie says, they’re too big to exist – break them up. The money is there. It is simply being misspent. Or rather, it is being stolen by the criminals on Wall Street, and their accomplices in the White House, Congress and the judiciary.

Bernie is here to cast the money changers from the temple. There are good precedents for that, and it is needed again today.

And as far as the US being a mixed economy, as I say, it already is, but in limited ways, and in highly distorted ways, due to the excessive corporate dominance over the political process and the government. But already, the US has many elements of socialism, and the great majority of the people like it that way: public schools, public libraries, public roads, sewers, bridges, water treatment, fire departments, colleges and universities – few people would want to do away with these things, and these things are socialist.

Other countries which are democratic and capitalist, also have mixed economies, but with higher levels of socialist elements within those capitalist-democratic societies. Britain, France and Germany, for example, have universal public health care, as does most of Europe. Bernie Sanders is simply proposing that the US enter the civilized world, and bring in universal public health care, like every other civilized nation, and is proposing relatively modest increases in the socialist elements that exist within the basic framework of US capitalist democracy. I do not think that is unreasonable. And more importantly, the great majority of the people in the US are in support of Bernie Sander’s proposed policies.

So we can put the Red Scare terror aside, because under a Sanders administration, the economy would simply become more fair, and would be rebuilt, but the basic framework of the capitalist-democratic system would remain intact.

The main thing that Bernie would help to accomplish, is to get big money out of politics – which is something that 78% of Americans, including the great majority of both Republicans and Democrats, strongly support. In fact, it is the single hottest issue in the nation, and Bernie Sanders is the only major candidate who is seriously addressing it – which is why he is so immensely popular, and why his grassroots support is rising exponentially, every day. We now even have the phenomenon of Republicans For Bernie Sanders. He is taking the country by storm.

*

I believe in democracy – which is to say, to be clear, constitutional democracy, and not simple majority rule, and constitutional democracy with guaranteed rights and freedoms for all people. And I believe, more over, that democracy has been evolving for a long time, and is still evolving. It was not born a finished work, but a work in progress.

Initially, only the rich, white, male land owners could vote or share in political power. Then women and people of colour won the right to vote. Now, we need to wrest democracy from the big money interests who have taken it over, and restore democracy.

And beyond that, once we have restored democracy, we can further evolve democracy. Part of that evolution of democracy is to apply it, not just to the political realm, but also the economic realm. If we believe in democracy, then we should also have economic democracy. This is the next logical step in the evolution of democracy.

But first things first: first we must recapture and reclaim our democracy from the corporate elite who have stolen and high-jacked it. It’s time to take the power back.

*

Right now, we have what is in reality, not democracy, but oligarchy. We have a plutocracy, or rule by the rich; or oligarchy, rule by the few. What we have is a neo-feudal corporatism, which, as Mussolini himself said, is the proper term for fascism, for it is the merger of business and the state. Now, you may say what you will about democracy, but it is certainly preferable to fascism, and it is certainly preferable to an oligarchy run by bankers and billionaires and other corporate elites.

Let’s not miss the forest for the trees here, or divide ourselves unnecessarily. We need to take our democracy back. That is step one. And that is something that Bernie Sanders can help us in doing. He deserves our support – whether we are socialists, anarchists, liberals, conservatives, progressives or libertarians, because the alternatives are far worse: Clinton and Trump represent Wall Street and the agenda of the billionaire class. Bernie represents the other 99% of the people. At this time at least, these are the only sides, and the only battle lines, that truly matter.

Democrats and Republicans alike, along with independents and Greens – and anyone who wishes to see power returned to the people, and Wall Street and big money removed from political power, should vote for Bernie Sanders in 2016. It is important, and I do believe he can win. More over, there is simply no other choice.

Don’t worry – Bernie Sanders is not going to abolish capitalism. Some will be angered by this fact, some relieved, but it is a fact. What a Sanders presidency would do, is to begin to restore the power to the people, within the context of a capitalist-democracy, and to make the system more fair for everyone, so that it is not just the top 1% who benefit, or who have power, but all the people. And while this is far from utopian, it is a good first step, and it simply needs to be done.

There are those who believe that Bernie cannot win, or worse, that no real change is possible. I say, let us avoid the iron cage of cynicism, which turns a great many otherwise intelligent people into functional idiots, and set aside, for a moment, our disbelief. If we do so, there is the very real possibility that we will be pleasantly surprised. But as Chomsky has said, if we assume that nothing can be done, then we have created our own self-fulfilling prophecy, and nothing will be done.

But above all, let’s be clear about the choices at hand. It’s Bernie or Wall Street in 2016. Let’s make the right decision.

Vote, and vote in your interests, not against them. Bernie’s got your back. Clinton and Trump want simply to be on it.

Follow the money. Clinton has the backing of Wall Street and corporate America, and is awash in their money – and that is because they know she is going to continue to work for them. Bernie Sanders has raised more money than any other candidate – and he’s done it through half a million small scale donations, averaging $31. This says everything.

The corporate media are clearly favouring Clinton and Trump, and grooming them for power. That should tell us all we need to know about who is the true ally and friend of the people. It is Bernie Sanders.

J. Todd Ring,
October 17, 2015

Chomsky on Socialism

Chomsky on the Soviet Union – which was anything but socialist

Naomi Klein on Neoliberalism and Mixed Economies

Tony Benn: A 10 minute lesson on neoliberalism, socialism and democracy

Big Ideas That Changed The World – The History of Democracy, with Tony Benn, BBC

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