Doublethink, or the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, is an essential means of population control for the U.S. government and corporate media. In this up-meets-down funhouse, destructive economic and foreign policies and narratives go largely unquestioned by the mainstream media and American public.
Michael Hudson’s new book, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroyed the Global Economy, examines how neoliberalism has perverted economic thought into a modern version of Orwellian doublethink.
Today’s vocabulary is what Orwell would call doublethink. If you’re going to call something anti-liberal and against what Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill and other classical economists described as free markets, you pretend to be neoliberal. The focus of Smith, Mill, Quesnay and the whole of 19th-century classical economics was to draw a distinction between productive and unproductive labor – that is, between people who earn wages and profits, and rentiers who, as Mill said, “get rich in their sleep.” That is how he described landowners receiving groundrent. It also describes the financial sector receiving interest and “capital” gains.
Hudson explains how neoliberals have propagated doublethink as means to loot countries and productive businesses, all under the rubric of “freeing the economy from the jack-boot of oppressive governments”. In a modern development, this economic newspeak has largely replaced force as a means of control. Back in 1973, neoliberal economists from the University of Chicago were required to deploy General Pinochet and the Chilean army against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in order to seize power and carry out a test run of neoliberal orthodoxy.
The first thing the neoliberal Chicago School did when they took over Chile was to close down every economics department in the country except the one they controlled at the Catholic University. They started an assassination program of left wing professors, labor leaders and politicians, and imposed neoliberalism by gunpoint. Their idea is you cannot have anti-labor, deregulated “free markets” stripping away social protections and benefits unless you have totalitarian control. You have to censor any idea that there’s ever been an alternative, by rewriting economic history to deny the progressive tax and regulatory reforms that Smith, Mill, and other classical economists urged to free industrial capitalism from the surviving feudal privileges of landlords and predatory finance.
Today in America there really is no need for such an overt deployment of force. In conjunction with doublethink, advertising, public relation and propaganda suffice to maintain a quiescent population even with an economy whose gains largely go to the financial sector.
About that financial sector, Hudson asks an important question. “If government is not the director and planner of the economy, then who is? It’s the financial sector. It’s Wall Street. So the essence of neoliberalism that you were mentioning before, is indeed a doctrine of central planning. It states that the central planning should be done by Wall Street, by the financial sector.”
And, pray tell, what is the financial sectors objective?
Hudson states plainly that looting is the objective. “The problem is, what is the objective of central planning by Wall Street? It’s not to raise living standards, and it’s not to increase employment. It is to smash and grab. That is the society we’re in now.”
All this present day looting was made possible by the ultimate doublethink Presidential candidate–Barak Obama, with his slogan of hope and change. “He ran as the candidate of Hope and Change, but his real role was to smash hope and prevent change. By keeping the debts in place instead of writing them down as he had promised, he oversaw the wrecking of the American economy.
The moment he came to power was a critical moment when action was needed. Not only did he not take the right action, he did exactly what Wall Street wanted. In many ways we can look back to 2008 when he was championing the TARP, the bailout, and all the rest of that. None of that would have been possible without Obama. That’s something that Democrats like to avoid in their conversations.
He had done something similar in Chicago, when he worked as a community organizer for the big real estate interests to tear up the poorer neighborhoods where the lower income Blacks lived. His role was to gentrify them and jack up property prices to move in higher-income Blacks. This made billions for the Pritzker family. So Penny Pritzker introduced him to Robert Rubin. Obama evidently promised to let Rubin appoint his cabinet, so they appointed the vicious anti-labor Rahm Emanuel, now Chicago’s mayor, as his Chief of Staff to drive any Democrat to the left of Herbert Hoover out of the party. Obama essentially pushed the Democrats to the right.”
Maybe Obama’s Presidential Library will have an exhibit on Orwell’s 1984, and the use of doublethink–by the dastardly Republicans against Obama.