This post originated at Imagine Democracy. If you follow all the links, it pieces together.
Over at sister-site Government Cheese, a discussion of capitalism, propaganda and how a few wealthy people keep things under control
Capitalism literally means that the people with wealth make the investment decisions for society & get the return on investment, and the broad public don’t.
All the rest is just propaganda. Capitalism has nothing to do with “markets” or “freedom” or any of the rest.
It’s really so simple. It’s how a few people maintain control of society for their own benefit and it’s been this way for thousands of year, under different labels. It’s what a monarchy is. The King and his buddies control the wealth. “WE should have this and you should not and here’s why.”
It’s why the United States was such a breakthrough. WE THE PEOPLE will decide what’s best for us, not you. Government of, by and for THE PEOPLE. Not the elites, the wealthy, the aristocrats, the priesthood, the monarchy, the warlord, whatever label put on the ruling wealthy. A country run for the benefit of the people in the country. Whatever label we put on that – democracy, socialism, whatever.
That’s all. All the rest is just propaganda.
Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the context of the monarchies of Europe just salivating waiting for “the Union” – the experiment in democracy – fail so they can get the world back where they want it.
Capitalism: Maintain a “reserve army of the unemployed” to keep wages low. Keep public services (the things government does to make people’s lives better) and taxes at the top down and keep the people from organizing (democracy) to protect themselves.
Capitalism part 2: As life gets worse, bathe the masses in propaganda and point them at “the other” for blame.
As the country dissolves into fascist turmoil, it’s useful to look back at How We Got Here. 2009 was The Year Democrats Could Have Done Something, but chose not to.
The W Bush Years
‘W’ Bush lost the 2000 election but was appointed president by the Republican Supreme Court. The Bush years were terrible for the country and ended in absolute disaster. He oversaw an administration of lies, corruption, enrichment of the rich, scams targeting the poor… The Bush administration ignored warnings so we were attacked on 9/11 Republicans used the attack to polarize the public into an illegal war for oil.
“People like you are still living in what we call the reality-based community. You believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
THAT was how the nation was “governed.” The Bush response to Hurricane Katrina and the financial collapse showed the public how that sort of “governance” works out for them.
In the union movement we learned the hard way that the only way to fight the moneyed interests is to stick together. It’s called SOLIDARITY. It’s what “union” MEANS.
When unions are in a fight the members stick together, and those crossing the lines are called “scabs”.
In the 2000 election it was the usual fragile Democratic coalition fighting the usual moneyed interests. Ralph Nader broke the solidarity, divided the coalition, and lost us the election. Ralph Nader is a scab.
No one was “taught a lesson” by people voting for a 3rd party to “teach the Democrats a lesson.” We got Bush and death and corruption and destruction. OBVIOUSLY “the Democrats” did not learn the lesson.
Vote for the right person in primaries! Get the bad Democrats out. Then show up and vote for the Democrat in the general. No matter what. Otherwise the fascists win.
How many of you have heard about “MMT” – Modern Monetary Theory?
MMT says federal budgeting should look ahead to whether spending will cause inflation instead of just worrying that it will. After analyzing whether spending might cause inflationary pressures, address those causes of inflation – resource & capacity shortages – in advance. Then spend.
That way government can do what it needs to do to meet the needs and wants of We the People.
Example, of you want a high-speed rail system make sure to set up steel & train car manufacturing etc. first, then build the rail systems. If you approach it that way, capacity and resource shortages – steel, labor & other resources – don’t cause inflation.
Address the causes of inflation first instead of trying to “fight inflation” later by forcing people out of work, etc.
Superstitious Fear of Deficits
We have a superstitious fear that we might “run out of money.” We used to use gold (or shells) as money. Kings used to have to round up gold. People still think this is what money is. People think taxes round up gold – “revenue” – and the government that makes money – “dollars” – can somehow run out of the money it makes.
But that is not what money is, and not how a modern economy works. Money is created by government. (We “make” dollars and license banks to “create” money.) Taxes help regulate the money in the economy and (used to) balance its distribution. Dollars are like points on a scoreboard. A baseball game can’t “run out” runs. Our government can’t “run out” of dollars. Dollars are just an instrument of keeping score of how government has allocated our resources.
Unfortunately, the way government budgeting still works now – worrying about “deficits” and inflation instead of addressing problems that deficits might cause – we end up with austerity. We don’t spend enough. We don’t address the needs and wants of We the People. And if we see inflation we do terrible things to fight it. We CAUSE unemployment. We CAUSE poverty. Etc. We try to fight inflation after it begins instead of not causing inflation in the first place.
Austerity Breeds Fascism
Our medieval monetary superstitions and the resulting practices cause us to refuse to allocate resources to address our societal problems. This austerity keeps us from doing things to make our lives better. We don’t fix and certainly don’t modernize infrastructure, don’t provide healthcare or childcare or good education (through college), etc., so people feel government doesn’t work. As we saw in the 1930s and are seeing again now, austerity breeds fascism.
It hasn’t sunk in yet but yesterday’s vote to allow Republican election-rigging and keep the filibuster marks the end of democracy. From here on out the fight is over. Republican efforts to rig the next elections will now accelerate. They know they have a free hand to do what they want. The public will tune out, understanding that nothing can change.
Billionaires and corporations funded and engineered the effort to keep the filibuster. Their thinking is that they’re at the top of a system rigged in their favor, and the filibuster keeps anything from changing. The filibuster has maintained their position at the top of the pyramid, blocking all efforts by the people to use government to change the rigged system. All Republicans were part of this pay-for-play operation, of course, but so were many Senate Democrats under Obama, and now Manchin and Sinema.
The corporations and billionaires think the current system of paying politicians to keep the money flowing to them has been locked in. Continue reading →
Watch this interview. It is a master class in propaganda. What he says was obviously (to me) written in one of their well-funded think tanks. He has obviously rehearsed this. Those of us who mock it just don’t get what the real message is and how effective it is.
As I keep saying, the current Republican fascist appeal all goes back to “NAFTA” – which is the brand name for the neoliberal austerity attack on the middle class, pushed by Wall Street, by all Republicans, and bought into by the “corporate Dems.” (See below)
How can you make these claims?, Hawley is asked. Answer: “If you look at the policy of deindustrialization…”
The Virus That Carries the DNA Therapy
The porn nonsense is like the virus that carries the DNA therapy. The virus isn’t the point, the embedded DNA is. The virus is used to move around the body, targeting the right cells, leaving behind the intended therapy.
The “porn” part will be repeated widely because of the outrageous nonsense, but… Then there is this nugget (and a few others like it): “The [Democrat] policy of deindustrialization.” It is slipped in there, as if it is something we all know and agree with. The Dem policy is why you are all suffering, out of work, etc.
The nugget – the real message here – is the things slipped in as taken for granted now that they have your attention.
The REAL message in this is: “Democrats did this to you. We (the fascists) are here to make it all better.”
“NAFTA” is a brand name for all the neoliberal policies that wiped out the factory towns and turned blue collar workers against Democrats.
The Clinton admin went all-in to get NAFTA passed. The televised 1993 “debate” between Al Gore and Ross Perot over NAFTA is worth revisiting. “Giant sucking sound” of jobs leaving the country – and that’s what happened. (The damage was really more from China entering the WTO, but “NAFTA” is the brand name for all of it.) The “benefits” of free trade were all directed up to a top few. People were threatened with, “Do you want YOUR job moved to China, too? No? Then shut up and take the pay cut.”
And everyone in the Midwest and other “post-industrial” areas that were wiped out understand this.
Obama understood, too. In 2008 he campaigned in the Midwest as the candidate who is going to do something about NAFTA and all the shit that is happening to you.
The administration has no present plans to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to add labor and environmental protections, as President Obama vowed to do during his campaign, the top trade official said on Monday.
Then came full-on neoliberalism. Dems did not even bring the promised Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made it easier to organize unions in the workplace, up for a vote. Wall Street was bailed out and instead of removing (and prosecuting) the executives whose fraud caused the financial crisis the bailout funds were used to give bonuses to those executives. Austerity was imposed. The “recoverey” left millions behind, especially in the “deindustrialized” regions.
Then the Obama/Wall Street years clinched the wipeout of the middle class. For millions upon millions things didn’t get better, they got worse. People don’t forget things like that.
So Trump campaigned on getting rid of NAFTA, etc. Add in the right’s propaganda infrastructure )”Republicans are the party of the working class”) and here we are.
The unvaccinated right-wing nuts are a SMALL percentage of people.
If they really are quitting jobs, etc, over vaccine requirements maybe we should celebrate their exit from society. Especially the ones who encourage others to resist sensible and lawful requirements.
Especially police and others who are supposed to be dedicated to serving and protecting the public and enforcing society’s rules. If they have joined the fascist cult, it is better for the rest of us if they are not in positions of trust.
Law enforcement officials who say they will not follow the law really should be in other lines of work.
A mix of authoritarianism, pro-wrestling, “stab-in-the-back” mythology (“they” sold us out), militaristic imagery, shooting machine guns while saying he won’t “appease the left,” bikers and Trump stickers.
I got off Twitter, for a while at least, and it’s wonderful. My concentration is returning. I’m able to go to the bathroom without my phone. And I’m even writing a blog post! (For better or worse.)
But I have a few questions:
– Has Trump or anyone at the top of things been held accountable for anything yet? I mean actually indicted for their crimes — not “stern letters” from Democratic senators. (Remember that report that detailed how Trump committed Obstruction but couldn’t be indicted because he was resident? Tell the Justice Dept. he’s not president anymore.) (PS His lawyer went to jail for a crime he committed with Trump but Trump couldn’t be indicted because he was president. Tell the Justice Dept. he’s not president anymore.)