Anyone who says “crime doesn’t pay” hasn’t been paying attention to the behavior of the American elite in the 21st century. Historians of the future, when the study this era, will marvel at the rampant criminality and official impunity, that for all intents and purposes has enabled our very own “feral elite” to stage a clean get away.
In discussing our descent into neo-feudalism here at Camelotkidd, I’ve focussed primarily on the contributions of the neo-liberal elite. But I’ve been remiss in acknowledging the contribution of the neo-conservative elite.
A post at Eschaton the other day reminded me that we’re coming up on the ten year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. As Duncan says–“There were about 20 different reasons for invading Iraq, none of them good or true. Still back then it was people like me who were treated as lunatics. The Iraq war turned out to be a bigger disaster most of us imagined, and yet we’ve all just agreed to move on. Bygones.”
The neo-cons elite who brought about the illegal invasion and destruction of Iraq have paid no price. In fact, they have gone on to prosper and are still a potent force in American foreign policy, as the confirmation battle of Chuck Hagel can attest. They have demonstrated conclusively that advocacy for war is never a setback for you career in Washington.
The only ones that have paid a price are the whistleblowers who have exposed this rampant criminality. The most prominent example is Bradley Manning, but there are others. “People like John Kiriakou and Thomas Drake have had their careers destroyed and their lives torn apart simply for telling uncomfortable truths that expose corruption and lawlessness at the highest levels.”
I’m always on the lookout for intellectual underpinnings of this grand new order. So the question I’ve been pondering–is there a common link between the neo-libs and the neo-cons? In jest I’ve come to express this as a mathematical formula: neo-conservatism + neo-liberalism = neo-feudalism (NC + NL = NF)
There is, in fact, a connection. The intellectual incubator for neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism can be found at the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago was financed by John D. Rockefeller, prompting writer Upton Sinclair to call it “The University of Standard Oil.”
Professor Leo Strauss, the godfather of neo-conservatism, taught political philosophy at the University of Chicago in their Department of Political Science. And Milton Friedman, the American maestro of neo-liberalism, taught economics at the University of Chicago Business School for three decades.
Google “Chicago Boys” for a taste of their policies.
Just to complete the connection between neo-libs, neo-cons, and the present Administration: President Obama was a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, rather than a Socialist–Muslim–Kenyan. Hah! Take that “Birthers.”
After getting away scott free, this partnership of neo-lib and neo-con elite(they actually share a lot of common interests and goals) are not content to enjoy the fruits of their crimes. Oh no. These criminals are pointing to the deficit(largely caused by their crimes) and are busily advocating austerity. After all, someone, certainly not them, must pay for the crimes.
Economist Michael Hudson makes the same point as yours truly. “Today’s post-bubble austerity blames the victim, taxing consumers and wage earners to provide governments with enough revenue to pay banks for their financial losses and misdeeds. So matters are brought back to the classic political issue of Who/Whom. Who will absorb the losses – at whose expense? Will government rule on behalf of the economy, or its creditors?”
I don’t have to be prescient to know how that will turn out. The creditors, of course. You and I will just have to move out when they come to foreclose.
Allowing our elite, whether neo-conservative 0r neo-liberal, to break the law with impunity and benefit from it hastens the neo-feudal trajectory of America. IMF economist Simon Johnson still has the best description for where we’re headed– “a banana republic.”
Update: Ian Welsh shows what happens when a society chooses a bifurcated legal system.