No Illusions

 

I’ve been getting a lot of pushback from liberal friends about my disdain for Democrats. “You’re helping Trump,” with your criticism of the blue team, they tell me.

Let me be clear–I’ve come to despise the tribalism that passes for politics. Instead, the identity politics practiced by team blue and the culture war practiced by team red are mutually reinforcing, in that they both beguile their respective supporters, to the delight of the plutocratic owners of both parties. For instance, we have one party that’s committed to Wall Street and to neoliberalism and is deeply and earnestly committed to a notion of diversity and multiculturalism, and another party that’s committed to Wall Street and neoliberalism, and is deeply opposed to multiculturalism and diversity.

With all of the challenges facing us, we can’t afford to have illusions about our enemies or our so-called allies. With that in mind, I’ve come to hate the Democrats more than Republicans because of their duplicity. I expect the Republicans to be evil, and they don’t disappoint, but the Democrats pretend to support progressive policies when it’s simply kayfabe.

“The problem we have is actually with the Democrats,” said Jessica Early, a nurse practitioner and health care justice organizer, in a 2017 interview with Truthout. “We know how Republicans are going to vote on this issue. The obstacle we face is getting Democrats who will support us into office.”

To understand why the Democrats have become the way they are it’s important to understand some history. The term “New Democrats” refers to an ideological and strategic movement that argues the U.S. is fundamentally a center-right country and the Democrats must embrace this — and corporate donors — to win elections. During the 1990s it was the most powerful wing of the party: Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden and most of the party’s top names were on board.

Our last President–Barak Obama–was also a “New Democrat”, something that a lot of liberals don’t want to acknowledge.

I’ve long been critical of Obama, having read The Audacity of Hope, where Obama professed his admiration of President Reagan, and the writings of political scientist, Adolf Reed Jr., who warned us about Obama, before the Senator from Illinois was elected President. I wasn’t alone. Many progressives have pointed out that hope and change were largely symbolic rather than substantive, and that Obama failed to use the transformative period after the Wall Street Crash to transform our extractive financial system, while his Justice Department let Wall Street criminals off the hook. Obama also deported staggering numbers of immigrants, supported fracking, killed American citizens with drones (and then made sickening jokes about it), killed lots more non-American citizens with drones, conducted violent regime-change operations in Libya, Ukraine and Syria, promised “the most transparent administration ever” and then was “worse than Nixon” in his paranoia about leakers, and pushed a market-friendly healthcare plan based on conservative premises instead of aiming for single-payer.

Obama’s defenders respond to these criticisms by blaming mean Republicans, but nobody forced Obama to nominate Joe Biden as Vice-President, or Tim Geithner as his Treasury Secretary. No one forced Obama to single out charterization advocate Arne Duncan for Education Secretary, and push a horrible “dog-eat-dog” funding system called “Race To The Top.” The Republicans certainly didn’t force Obama to choose Hillary-we came, we saw, he died-Clinton, as his Secretary of State.

Obama supporters think all of this is deeply cynical and unfair. But, as I said, we can’t afford to have illusions about our enemies and especially about our so-called allies.

And Trump, like so many before him, has been projecting with his well publicized disdain for socialism. After all, his MAGA regime, is simply a variant of Herrenvolk socialist-democracy, a system of government in which only the majority ethnic group participates in government largess, while minority groups are disenfranchised. Again, some history is in order. To be brutally honest, the New Deal was socialism for white people, as African-Americans and Hispanics were largely excluded from the government largess. This, I believe, is the America that Trump supporters long for.

The problem for all of us is that the owners of both parties have moved past offering benefits to average Americans. The logic of extractive capitalism mandates that the same policies of structural adjustment that gutted Third World countries must come back to the homeland. Indeed, since the 1970’s, Americans have been ravaged by four forces — financialization, monopoly, the implosion of the job, and austerity.

We’re used to thinking that offshoring simply transferred jobs from the US to Mexico, or India, or China. But the truth is subtler, and more ruinous. As jobs went to corrupt nations without decent labour or environmental laws, a boomerang effect happened. Our plutocratic owners discovered that they could do here what they had done there, and so they began stripping away everything that created the American Middle-class. Because the US economy was increasingly composed of monopolies, giant companies, banks, and investors had the power to do so with impunity. Speculators began raiding pension funds. Managers began stripping away benefits of every kind, from childcare, to vacations, to healthcare.

Until at last–we have the United States of Precariat, where a con-man like Trump could be seen as an agent of change.

The salient question is what are we going to do now?

We can continue to fight each other over cultural or identity politics like crabs in a pot of water, or we can focus on the real enemy.

It’s now or never.

The water is almost boiling.

 

 

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Selfishness is not a Virtue

 

How did we go from a nation that reformed capitalism with the New Deal, defeated Germany and Japan in WWII, rebuilt Europe, put a man on the moon, and created the Internet; to riven by inequality, overcome by addiction and helplessness, fearful of immigrants and wallowing in corruption?

Selfishness.

The dirty little secret of the economic system that we use to organize our world–neoliberalism–is that it’s predicated on everyone being a selfish-asshole and only looking out for themselves.

However, examining American history, it’s clear that this economic dynamic goes against everything that our founders envisioned when they designed the republican-democracy enshrined in the Constitution. Our founders understood that a republic absolutely requires citizens to sacrifice their own self interest when it conflicted with the general welfare. In fact, the actual conception of civic virtue in a republic is by its very nature fundamentally contrary to the basic tenets of neoliberalism, that posit that selfish interests will result in the best and most efficient allocation of society’s resources.

Going further, it’s become obvious that neoliberalism and the importance it places on selfishness and self-interest is a fundamental rejection of republicanism.

As a primer, a republic is a system of government in which all citizens have an equal right to select their governing representatives, equal access to those representatives, and equal standing before the law. A republic is not a democracy, but a republic is always democratic in form: all citizens have an equal right and access to the electoral process through which government officials and representatives are selected.

In the Introduction to Securing the Fruits of Labor: The American Concept of Wealth Distribution, 1765–1900 (Lousiana State University Press, 1998) James L. Huston writes, “…the essence of the historical interest in republicanism  is lodged in the word virtue, which means a willingness to forgo self-interest in order to pursue the general welfare. The search that so many historians have engaged in is to find when self-interest triumphed over virtue, when liberal capitalism overran republicanism.”

Led by neoliberal and propaganda charlatans like Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, David and Charles Koch, Karl Rove, and Frank Luntz, the US has abandoned virtuous republicanism for a corporate totalitarian state.

Objectivist author, Ayn Rand perfectly summed up this selfish value system.

No wonder our country is so fucked-up.

Let’s be clear–these neoliberal intellectuals have taken selfishness and self-interest, to their logical capitalist extreme, and in so doing provided us the caricature which demonstrates why republicanism will never be in harmony with neoliberalism.

The good news is that Americans are starting to recognize just how destructive neoliberal selfishness is and the immense damage it has wrought.

The polls showing enormous public support for the key progressive initiatives terrify the neoliberals. Sanders’ 2016 policy initiatives have transformed the Democratic Party candidates’ policy proposals for 2020. Warren’s policy proposals are having a similar effect. Polls show broad support for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, a jobs guaranty program, a tax system that would reverse the current race to plutocracy, the restoration of the rule of law, breaking up monopolies (particularly banking and Silicon Valley), and a meaningful minimum wage.

President Trump, Fox News, and neoliberal economists have attacked these policy proposals precisely because the public overwhelmingly supports them. These attacks form the selfish neoliberal meme that the government cannot and should not act to protect the public. Government should get out of the way by privatizing key industries while everyone should act in their own selfish interests to maximize the economy.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing a version of this story my whole life and it’s wearing thin. At this point it’s beyond obvious that the only ones served by a nation of selfish-assholes are the plutocrats and their political and media lackeys.

We’ve been discussing global weirding and the importance of a Green New Deal in response to the looming disaster, but it’s obvious that neoliberal selfishness will absolutely preclude action to save our world. For example, it’s insane to keep adding to global climate change. It’s insane to claim that we can afford to cripple our planet’s climate but cannot afford to prevent the catastrophe.

University of Missouri Kansas City, economics Professor Bill Black, says that the antidote to neoliberalism is Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). He also defines socialism as the opposite of selfishness and places it in the proper perspective.

“If neoliberals want to define as “socialism” an effective government that produces markets in which honest people prosper and we imprison or at least drive from the markets the elite cheaters, then we are all socialists.  An economic system without an effective rule of law and with massive negative externalities such as global climate change is a suicidal kleptocracy.  If neoliberals want to define that as “capitalism,” they should get used to the public rejecting it as an ideology that is as economically illiterate as it is inhumane and unethical.  Kleptocracy and plutocracy invariably corrupt and ruin democracy.  The truth is that honest markets and governments are complements and that the most effective economies are ‘mixed-economies.”

We’re at a turning point in America. We can continue the same disastrous policies or we can try something radical like rejecting selfishness and rediscovering virtue.

Our children are showing us the way.

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Not a bug but a feature

 

The 2020 election is set to be a barnburner with over a dozen Democratic challengers lining up to take a shot at Trump.

With that in mind this article by neoliberal economist Brad DeLong caught my eye.

DeLong, who served as deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy in the Clinton administration and is one of the market-friendly neoliberal Democrats who have dominated the party for the last 20 years. Yet DeLong believes that the time of people like him running the Democratic Party has passed. “The baton rightly passes to our colleagues on our left.” DeLong wrote. “We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.”  DeLong continues: “Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy. And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they fucking did not.”

What amuses me, besides DeLong’s potty-mouth of course, is that he seems oblivious to the structural dynamic in American politics, where the Republicans do horrible things while the Democrats pretend to oppose them. Wash, rinse, repeat. This scenario is what I’ve come to refer to as kayfabe, where much like pro wrestling, there’s a noble hero who pretends to battle an evil villain.

We’ve been discussing global weirding and the importance of a Green New Deal (GND), while noticing the Democratic resistance. The cause was taken up by a number of climate and environmental groups, which organized sit-ins and demonstrations in order to get the attention of Democratic congress members. But their efforts failed. The proposal for a select committee on the GND was killed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who instead decided to revive an old House panel on climate change from 10 years ago. It’s clear that many of the most powerful Democrats in the House are not interested in forming a committee with a mandate anywhere close to what Green New Deal advocates had originally proposed.

Health care is another example of a major policy issue where Democrats collude with Republicans to stymie reform. On Sept. 13, 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Medicare for All Act, a bill aimed at establishing a single-payer health care system in the United States. If passed, the legislation would ensure comprehensive health care for all Americans at a cost significantly lower than what the United States currently pays. A recent Reuters poll revealed that the bill is incredibly popular, with 85 percent of registered Democrats and 52 percent of registered Republicans expressing support for it. In total, 70 percent of voting Americans support the legislation. And yet the Democratic leadership has been secretly informing the giant health insurers they have nothing to worry about Medicare for All.

Meanwhile, despite Democrats depicting Trump as some sort of evil Stalinist/Hitler, they’ve hardly made any effort to oppose his policies or his court appointees. If Trump is the madman that Democrats make him out to be, why would they entrust him with powers that the founders of America never envisioned when they drew up the US Constitution? If Democrats hate Trump so much, why do they keep voting in lock step with Republicans to give even more money to the military-financial complex?

Indeed, from instituting a 70 percent marginal tax rate to marijuana legalization to breaking up the big banks to the influence of big money in politics, the same pattern holds: the leadership of the Democratic party has either been silent or outright antagonistic toward many of the most popular policy proposals.

Circling back to DeLong’s comments about the Democratic Party, I’m not sure if he being coy or really doesn’t comprehend the kayfabe reality of American politics. What’s certain is that he’s absolutely correct in his assessment that the time of people like him (read–neoliberal Democrats) running the Democratic Party has passed, and that the “baton rightly passes to our colleagues on our left.”

I’ve come to believe that Trumpism emerged from the historical transformation of the “New” Democrats. The New Deal was the most ambitious attempt to reform capitalism in history. But by the late 1970’s, the propagators of neoliberalism began to reverse these policies, creating our current situation of extreme economic inequality and corporate oligarchy. By becoming the other party of capital, the “New” Democrats eliminated any alternative to the neoliberal austerity, which has been a catastrophic failure everywhere it has been tried, creating misery, stalling growth, wiping out the hopes of whole generations, and enflaming right-wing populism.

The 2008 election and the 2016 election were both attempts by the American people–frustrated by a federal state that seems indifferent to their needs–to reject the neoliberal status quo. Crucially, Obama’s failures to address the underlying causes of the 2007-2009 world financial crash set the stage for the election of Donald Trump.

Here’s a prediction–if the Democrats resist this move to the left the next Trump will be worse, while the catastrophic problems that plague our country will intensify.

 

 

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This is why we fight

 

The Green New Deal (GND) promises to be one of the most contentious issues of our lifetime.

Spend anytime thinking through the implications of a plan to radically cut carbon emissions to reduce the threat of global warming (which really, in my humble opinion, should be described as global weirding) and you’ll see what I mean.

Recent events have have only provided a taste of just how contentious this promises to be.

On Monday, Diane Feinstein, the loathsome 85 year-old oligarch, a California Democrat with a net worth of $94 million, was confronted in her office by a courageous  group of school children who asked her to sign on to the GND after reminding her that Earth scientists now say that urgent action on a GND scale is required in the next twelve years if humanity is going to avert catastrophe.  Here was Feinstein’s response:

Okay, I’ll tell you what, we’ve got our own green new deal. It’s not going to get turned around in ten years. Guess what? I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and say it has to be my way or the highway. I don’t respond to that. I’ve just gotten elected.  I just ran and I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality. And I know what I’m doing. So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit. I’m trying to do the best I can, which was to write a responsible resolution…[if] you know better than I do… I think one day you should run for the Senate.  In the meantime, I just won a big election.”

Do you care about our children? Really care enough to change the way that we live our lives and organize our economy? These are the questions that an authentic and independent media would be asking Feinstein in the wake of her shameful treatment of a group of kids who, basically, are asking her to help save the world they’re set to inherent.

However, that not the media we have. Instead, the corporate media, which is funded by the same corporate entities that fund Di-Fi, has spent the weeks essentially mocking the sweeping proposals as unrealistic and way, way, way too expensive.

That the corporate media has been joined in their effort to demean the GND by leading Democrats is a vivid example of just what we’re up against.

It’s not just Feinstein. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, with a net worth of $72 million) has belittled the GND by referring to it as the green dream or whatever they call it.”  Recently, she was joined in elitist condescension by U.S. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and neoliberal MSDNC morning television host Joe Scarborough.  On Scarborough’s “Morning Joe” show recently, Durbin chuckled as the host referred to “the new green deal, the green new deal, whatever they call it.”  Scarborough’s wife and co-host Mika Brzezinski cackled loudly when Durbin said, “I’ve read it and re-read and I asked (GND co-sponsor Senator) Ed Markey (D-MA) ‘what in the heck is this?’” Joe and Mike loved that comment. “You sound like Nancy!” Scarborough, laughed.

The Green New Deal  was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The resolution lays out an ambitious set of goals and principles aimed at transforming and decarbonizing the US economy.

The release did in fact result in a great deal of smart, insightful writing.  Unfortunately, this effort was overwhelmed by a lot of reactionary bull-shit. Conservatives called it totalitarian. Moderates called it extreme, too expensive and unrealistic. Think-tanks scolded it over this or that omission. Pundits obsessed over missteps in the rollout. And, we must never forget that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a socialist, who used to dance in college. So, there.

What seems to be clear is that all of the criticism misses the larger historical nature of the crisis we face. To put it bluntly–This is not normal. We are not in an era of normal politics.

Global weirding is poised to cause catastrophic sea-level rise, storm strength and frequency, ice melt, temperature, glacial collapse, crop failures, and massive population dislocations. The world as we know it is undergoing a sudden and violent transformation, unlike anything the planet has experienced since the Cretaceous Extinction. The evidence is all around us: vast droughts that last decades, super-storms and floods that destroy cities, dwindling aquifers, vanishing glaciers, toxic water supplies, raging wildfires, obscure new diseases, vanishing species and indigenous communities. Our planet is changing faster than evolution can keep up.

Going further, there is no precedent for global weirding, its dangers or its opportunities. Above all, the massive crisis calls for courage and fresh thinking.

Of course, we could always do nothing. I’m sure that would be cheaper, right?

We’ll be talking a lot more about the GND in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, one simple and noncontroversial way to reduce carbon pollution has been gathering steam across the country: energy efficiency. Policies like those that encourage the retrofitting of low-income homes in Texas with insulation and provide cash incentives for new homes in Vermont that generate as much power as they consume are reducing carbon emissions and pollution while creating jobs. Some 2.25 million people are working in the swiftly growing sector.

 

 

 

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Socialism for thee but not for me

 

Trump appears to have found the theme for his 2020 presidential campaign–Socialism is bad!!!

“We are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” said President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Unfortunately for Trump, the continuing deterioration in economic and social conditions for most Americans has resulted in an increased hostility towards corporate capitalism, Wall Street and what more and more citizens correctly perceive as a plutocracy masquerading as “democracy”. Moreover, this desperate maneuver by Trump to use socialism as a bogeyman is unwittingly a signal that America’s elite does actually view the resurgence in class politics and socialism as a real threat.

What’s funny is that after years of unrelenting hostility, socialism is more popular than ever thanks to the efforts of this very same elite. It seems as if the alienation from the myth of the “free-market” and the “American Dream” has resulted in a growing receptiveness among ordinary citizens to socialism. Polls now show majorities of US public expressing a positive identity with socialist politics. It is no longer a taboo concept. This is quite a shocking achievement in the US, where decades of government, news media and academic propaganda have tried to expunge any notion of socialism from the American mind.

I’ll let you in on a little secret–we already have socialism in the US but this particular form of socialism is reserved for the wealthy and corporations and financial institutions they own, while the rest of us are force-fed austerity.

For instance, the same neoliberal crew who depicted any expansion of government as a step on the path toward socialist dystopia, was clamoring for a government backstop for insolvent banks in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street Crash. We find more evidence of corporate socialism in the military/industrial/complex (MIC), where a small number of so-called defense firms get no-bid, cost-plus contracts to manufacture largely worthless, planes, ships, and weapons systems. Then, there’s the socialism for Amazon, who just walked away from its planned new HQ in Long Island, eschewing the 3 billion dollar subsidy (bribe) that the city of NYC and state of New York were offering.

This story of Amazon pitting various cities against each other in a desperate bid to grow their economies is the latest itineration of this all-American class-based socialism. For too long, powerful corporations and politicians have promoted policies and projects that asked  working-class Americans to sacrifice their meager benefits and social services for the supposed greater good of the economy.

For years, our leaders have informed us that the economy is first and foremost for the wealthy, who might share their riches with the rest of us. We’re told that if developers get to shape the city, with ‘consultation’ and subsidies from the people; and your children will benefit from the shared prosperity the rich somehow summon. My favorite example of this phenomenon is wealthy sports team owners holding a city hostage by threatening to move the team if the captive city doesn’t pony up billions of dollars to build a new stadium.

Basically, the message has been–we must provide socialism for the rich so that the wealth they create will trickle down to the rest of us. And, furthermore, there’s no alternative.

I kinda think that this arrangement will be up for discussion in 2020.

 

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Not your fathers empire

 

I believe that the bipartisan freak-out over a Congresswoman’s criticism of AIPAC provides a window into the true nature of the American empire.

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has published an apology for making self-evident observations about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC spends enormous amounts of time and energy in seeking to influence US foreign policy in favor of Israel, and is one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington.

It all started when GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened punishment for and over their criticisms of Israel, and alt-jouralist Glenn Greenwald tweeted “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

Things escalated quickly when representative Omar retweeted Greenwalds comments and added “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”

And, that’s when the entire political and corporate media class lost their shit due to Omar’s equation of money and Jews, or something.

Batya Ungar-Sargon tweeted “Would love to know who @IlhanMN thinks is paying American politicians to be pro-Israel, though I think I can guess. Bad form, Congresswoman. That’s the second anti-Semitic trope you’ve tweeted.” Omar tweeted back “AIPAC!”, to which Ungar-Sarson responded, “Please learn how to talk about Jews in a non-anti-Semitic way. Sincerely, American Jews.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Party leaders condemned Omar in unison.

What this tweet storm demonstrates beyond the fact that Twitter is the equivalence of junior-high school, is that there are some things you can’t talk about. Indeed, an example has been made. Who among those in Congress or the media will criticize AIPAC now?

Going further, I believe that this whole affair illustrates an unstated truth about the modern American empire, and that’s why the attack against Omar was so savage.

Contrary to the myth of Israel as a plucky little democracy alone in a sea of hostile Arab powers, the Jewish state is an integral part of the transnational corporate empire nominally headed by the US. Israel is a western imperialist military operation that was created in the heart of the most strategically crucial location on earth in 1948. It should hardly be a surprise that there is a transnational political-media campaign to keep that operation going, especially as pertains to the US, the country that maintains the worlds reserve currency along with the most powerful military force in history. In reality our world is dominated not by sovereign nations and governments, but by a transnational alliance of influential plutocrats who have no loyalty but rather use governments as tools to advance their agendas.

During the Cold War many of the benefits of the American empire accrued to US workers, which was one of the key reasons the leading trade unions supported the multi-generational conflict against the USSR. However, like everything else in our neoliberal dystopia, the US empire has gone transnational. As a result, average Americans no longer receive the benefits from the American empire. I’ve come to believe that Trump was elected in part due to Americans desire to have their fathers empire back. But, for whatever reason, whether Russia-gate, or the intense media hostility, or that he always wanted to do these things and the rest was just bull-shit he said to get elected, it certainly appears that Trump has surrendered to the transnational power structure.

We can observe this in the way that the corporate media has responded to Trump’s aggression towards Venezuela. After spending the last couple years breathlessly painting Trump as a pawn of Putin, if not an actual Russia intelligence asset, the corporate media turned on a dime and started spewing out blatant propaganda supporting his effort to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela.

However, this behavior is not what Trump supporters wanted. Overthrowing the governments of sovereign countries, destroying their economies, stealing their oil, and otherwise bringing them into the fold of the global capitalist transnational cabal is not exactly what the Americans who voted for Trump meant by “Make America Great Again.”

Unfortunately, there is no more nationalist American empire. There is nothing to make great again. The American empire of MAGA is a fiction, a fantasy, a nostalgia that Donald Trump used to sell his presidency. What there is, in reality, instead of America, is a supranational global capitalist empire, a decentralized, interdependent network of global corporations, financial institutions, national governments, intelligence agencies, supranational governmental entities, military forces, media, and so on.

If all of this sounds far-fetched or conspiratorial, pay attention to what is going on in Venezuela.

 

 

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Empire Wreckers

 

The Trump administration has segued from tragedy to comedy while unintentionally wrecking the US empire.

Didn’t know we were an empire?

You’re not alone. Most Americans believe the myth of American exceptionalism, where the USA is depicted as the benevolent Republic busy spreading peace and democracy.

Under the able guidance of the Trump administration, (snark), this original ideology is getting harder and harder to perpetuate.

Instead, Trump has ripped the mask of altruism off the U.S.-led liberal international order and revealed its true nature. And, he’s managed to do that despite the best efforts of the liberal international establishment and corporate media courtiers, who are desperate to maintain appearances. In the process, Trump has been useful for flushing-out the bi-partisan, always-war, Beltway crowd, that some refer to as the deep state. He’s been such a lightning rod that he’s exposed for all to see what truly animates this political and media establishment.

What’s humorous, and quite predictable, is that much of the empire wrecking has come from the neocon advisors that Trump has surrounded himself with.

In his latest article, heterodox economist Michael Hudson says that, “Through their serial incompetency, the neocons who Trump has appointed are accomplishing what seemed unthinkable not long ago: Driving China and Russia together – the great nightm1are of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They also are driving Germany and other European countries into the Eurasian orbit, the Heartland nightmare of Halford Mackinder a century ago.”

The objectives were to prevent collusion and maintain security among the EU-NATO vassals; keep tributaries pliant; keep the barbarians (Russians and allies) from coming together; most of all prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition–Russia-China alliance capable of challenging U.S. hegemony.

Hudson says that in addition to its military, the US uses its financial assets to maintain its hegemony. “Today, international finance and foreign investment have become the key flashpoint.” 

Perversely, the neocons, through their use of sanctions, are driving countries to abandon the dollar as a means of trade, that is facilitated electronically.

The major cyber connections are financial money-transfer ones, headed by SWIFT, the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is centered in Belgium. Russia and China have already moved to create a shadow bank-transfer system in case the United States unplugs them from SWIFT. And now, European countries have come to realize that threats by Bolton and Pompeo may lead to heavy fines and asset grabs if they seek to continue trading with Iran as called for in the treaties they have negotiated. 

On January 31 the European Union moved to create its own bypass payments system for use with Iran and other countries targeted by U.S. diplomats. Germany, France and even Britain joined to create INSTEX — Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. 

The US effort to maintain its dollar hegemony helps explain events in Venezuela. Caracas has committed the cardinal sin–oil trading bypassing the US dollar or US-controlled exchanges. In 2017 Maduro, like Hussein and Gaddafi before him, stopped selling Venezuelan oil in dollars.

In order to shore up the petrodollar system amid its own looming economic recession, the United States needs a government in Venezuela that will denominate the sale of its oil in dollars to maintain its global hegemony.

As with Washington’s aggression on so many other fronts–towards Russia, China, Iran, Europe–the American coup against Venezuela is helping to bring about its worst fear: a multipolar world where US hegemony no longer prevails.

For all his talk on the campaign trail about changing US foreign policies and MAGA, Trump has turned out to be just like his predecessors in offering little besides austerity and endless war. Trump, who ran on promises to expand health care and raise taxes on the rich, as well as ending US regime change policies, began betraying his working-class supporters the moment he took office, pushing through big tax cuts for the rich and attempting to take health coverage away from millions, while staffing his administration with neocons who pushed for the same policies of empire.

It appears that in this context our best hope is the serial incompetence of the Trump administration, which through their bungling is hastening the end of the US empire.

 

Update: If only there was a principled #Resistance to Trump’s policies, whose fury at foreign meddling in the sacred tenets of American democracy, would apply universally.

Oh, wait.

“On January 24, less than 24 hours after Juan Guaido declared himself Venezuelan President, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff (House Intelligence Committee Chair) blamed Maduro’s “dictatorial” rule for devastating Venezuela’s economy, then recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s “rightful leader.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Democrat-IL) piped in calling Venezuela’s 2018 election a sham before endorsing Guaido’s presidency.”

Of the 280 Democratic Senators and Representatives only 3 dissented from this gross meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela, that many would rightfully condemn as a coup.

Maybe the Venezuelans can start calling this latest state of affairs–America-gate.

 

 

 

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