Neofeudalism has arrived

The Democrats hysterical warnings about Russians under our beds, and Donald Trump's weird connection with poor, working class whites, are equally bizarre as long as you are using the archaic and obsolete left-right paradigm of democracy that we've been taught.
It finally occurred to me the other day that politics in 2016 can make perfect sense if you use the correct paradigm. That paradigm is feudalism.

It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger.
- Matt Taibbi

That the Democrats are fuming against the Russians in Crimea rather than the Turks is no more important than the votes of the Crimean people (again, and again, and again). It really doesn't matter what Russia is or is not doing. What matters is that Democrats salute and rush off to join the hate squad.
When you get down to it, loyal Democrats are furious at Russia for exposing how the corrupt Democratic Party elites were conning them and taking their shit, like good peasants.

However, when it comes to cons, the Democratic Party elites can't hold a candle to the Republican establishment.

In a sense, conservative voters have been groomed for Trump since the 1960s. As the historian Rick Perlstein wrote in The Baffler and The Nation in 2012, the American conservative movement has become more and more amenable to get-rich-quick schemes, snake-oil salesmen, and confidence men. Direct-mail barons like Richard Viguerie began raking in the dough in the 1960s by stirring up ideological hysteria and convincing an audience of senior citizens that only their small-dollar donation could fend off union bosses, abortionists, and gays. Of course, most of the money ended up with the fundraisers.
Conservative ideology, as Perlstein persuasively argues, is particularly vulnerable to grifters because of its faith in the goodness of business and its concomitant hostility toward regulation—which makes it easy for true believers to buy into the notion that some modern Edison has a miraculous new invention that the Washington elite is conniving to suppress. In Perlstein’s words, “The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.”

The only surprising thing about the victory of the grifter and snake-oil vendor, Donald Trump was that it didn't happen sooner.

"Why did so many working class Americans buy into the rhetoric of a billionaire philanderer ensconced in a penthouse in Manhattan with a long history of disdain for labor rights. Figuring that out is likely to be the stuff of many history books in future decades. One thought that comes to mind is that America has fallen so far and so fast at the hands of Wall Street that a slogan on a hat, “Make America Great Again,” was seized upon like a comfort food."
- Russ Martens

Matt Taibbi wrote about this phenomenon a few years ago.

 The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who fucked them over.

Dividing the lower classes against one another is the ultimate objective of the ruling class of all feudal societies, and both the Democrats and Republicans use Identity Politics to do it.

Here's a good definition of identity politics.

The laden phrase “identity politics” has come to signify a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant oppressive characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination.

The key phrase here is "the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups".
Everything about that phrase requires a full understanding of history - an Achilles heel of American society.

And there is the problem.
Few Americans actually know the history behind the social identities that the political movements revolve around.

This is a big deal.

If your political movement is based on symbolism that lacks historical context - without context it's not called history, it's called dogma - then your movement has more in common with religion than reality.

What's more, Americans know even less about the history of the oppressors they want to fight against.
This is important because the white male oppressor you are rebelling against might be Jewish or Irish, who's personal ancestry might include a lot more suffering than yours.

The Republican whipping boy right now are public school teachers, fire fighters, and other public servants. Why? Because they have stable jobs and middle class wages.

Republicans don't use the term "privilege" for their reasons to hate the Volvo-driving public school teacher because they can afford their mortgage.
But they hate them for a similar reason that liberals use the term "white privilege" - because the other group is getting something that they deserve.

And you know what? Republicans are right! They do deserve a middle class wage and some job security. But that doesn't mean that public school teachers don't.
Both Republicans and liberals are guilty of an extremely limited imagination of what the world should be, and a chronic lack of courage to see the world as it could be. But that's what peasants do.
It's disturbing to see both spectrums of political thought with such low expectations and so little vision that they cannot raise their heads to see the larger picture.

Even more importantly, both groups are also guilty of wrongly identifying the enemy.
Here's a good rule of thumb: if the people live on your block, go to your church, shop in your stores, or work in your workplace, then chances are they aren't the ones oppressing you.
If, on the other hand, they can purchase the politician you voted for, ship your factory overseas, and shape the economic, foreign and domestic policies of your country, then that's the group oppressing you..

 Taibbi describes it as a "peasant mentality". I agree. However, Taibbi doesn't take the logical next step and tells us what it all means - neofeudalism.

 In 1958 John Kenneth Galbraith wrote The Affluent Society. It was a book far ahead of its time, and one of the first to use the term "neo-feudalism". It dared to question traditional attitudes towards economics, and for that it was hated and shunned by wealthy conservatives.

 Inequality has been justified on many grounds, "principally noted for the absence of the most important reason, which is the simple unwillingness to give up what [the rich] have." Equality has been argued to lead to uniformity and monotony (the rich sponsor the arts and education), redistribution has a musty association with godless communism, and the original Ricardian defense was that the present system was ultimately inevitable, and any attempt to change it would only lead to short-run inefficiency which would make everybody worse off.

 This attitude, that some amount of suffering is necessary in the current system, and that any major changes in it would be self-defeating, is what I call Sacrificing to the Volcano God. We have turned economics into a religion, where the mistakes are common, yet the fundamental assumptions it is based on is beyond question. Gaping flaws in logic are ignored, or even held up as unanswerable mysteries that laymen could never understand. When the Volcano God rains ash and lava upon us, it is because we angered the Volcano God with our sins of minimum wage laws, child labor laws, environmental regulations, and worker safety laws. More sacrifices are needed or the Volcano God will destroy us all.

  The High Priests of Economics never explain exactly how these sacrifices will fix the economy, nor do they mention that the sins in question might be their own. Yet we still rush to offer up our children's futures through unpayable debts while never considering that there might be better alternatives.

"Jesus Christ is Free Trade, and Free Trade is Jesus Christ."
- Dr. Robert Browning

 Like the Volcano God, nothing can stop globalization. There is no alternative.

  Besides, globalization is good. They tell us that it creates jobs, and you are expected to believe them even while you watch all the factories in your town close down and get sent overseas.

"Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade."
- N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors

 This shouldn't surprise anyone. David Ricardo, legendary economist and free-trade proponent, explained how this dynamic worked nearly two centuries ago.

"If instead of growing our own corn... we discover a new market from which we can supply ourselves... at a cheaper price, wages will fall and profits rise. The fall in the price of agricultural produce reduces the wages, not only of the laborer employed in cultivating the soil, but also of all those employed in commerce or manufacture."
- David Ricardo, Des principes de l'economie politique et de l'impot, 1835

So you see, your wages are supposed to fall with free trade globalization. Those who worship the Volcano God knew this all along. They also knew that our manufacturing base was going to move south of the border when NAFTA was passed. They fail to differentiate between free trade and global labor arbitrage.

I never understood how the wealthy elite could think that the impoverishment of the working class could be a good thing until I ran across the story of Plutus the other day.

  Plutus, the God of Wealth, was blinded by Zeus so that he would be able to dispense his gifts without prejudice for things like need. When a couple citizens of Athens decide to give Plutus back his sight, the Goddess of Poverty intervenes. She tells them that she is the source of all progress in the world, and that if poverty was eliminated it would destroy civilization.

  That's when I realized that the High Priests of Economics aren't actually worshiping a Volcano God. They are worshiping the Goddess of Poverty.

"Thus you dare to maintain that Poverty is not the fount of all blessings!"
 - Goddess of Poverty, 388 B.C.

"In a little time [there will be] no middling sort.  We shall have a few, and but a very few Lords, and all the rest beggars."
  –R.L. Bushman

Neofeudalism is a concept in which government policies are designed to systematically increase the wealth gap between rich and poor while increasing the power of the rich over the poor. It's a party-neutral idea. There is no cabal pushing the plan, merely the sum effect of pressure from the wealthy elite.

  Those policies can be seen today. Just look at the fact that earned income are taxed at a higher rate than unearned income, and the repeal of the inheritance tax. Other ways are harder to measure but no less real, such as white collar criminals receiving slaps on the wrist, while the poor feel the full weight of the law. It's a system with two sets of rules, one for the rich another one for the poor, and that is the definition of neofeudalism.

  Another manifestation of neofeudalism is the growing power of corporations, that leave the poor dependent on private interests more powerful than the government, a situation resembling traditional feudal society.

Noam Chomsky in Hegemony or Survival had this to say:

 If working people depend on the stock market for their pensions, health care, and other means of survival, they have a stake in undermining their own interests: opposing wage increases, health and safety regulations, and other measures that might cut into profits that flow to the benefactors on whom they must rely, in a manner reminiscent of feudalism.

 Neofeudalism isn't just about the powerful taking over everything. It's about conditioning the poor to accept their designated role in society, even fighting to defend the ability of the wealthy to exploit them. It requires working people to do things that are against their own interests, and nowhere is this more true than in our current economic system.

The Blue-Collar Billionaire

Nothing seems more bizarre than poor, working-class whites identifying with a privileged, narcissistic, billionaire, con-man.
At least it's bizarre until you put it into the feudal paradigm.
First let's establish the feudal system hierarchy.

In reality, the power of monarchs varied greatly. Some had to work hard to maintain control of their kingdoms. Few had enough wealth to keep their own armies. They had to rely on their vassals, especially nobles, to provide enough knights and soldiers. In some places, especially during the Early Middle Ages, great lords grew very powerful and governed their fiefs as independent states. In these cases, the monarch was little more than a figurehead, a symbolic ruler who had little real power.

In most cases, the monarch was a distant, almost mythical figure to yeomen and serfs, while the actual oppressor, tyrant, and often tax collector in their lives were the large landholding lords and clergy.
In feudal society the monarch and his family was the 0.01% while the large landholding barons were the top 10%.

What does that have to do with Trump?
Look at his $14 Billion cabinet. It's the 0.01% written large.

“In the realm of politico-financial power and in Trump’s experience and ideology, the one with the most toys always wins. So it’s hardly a surprise that his money- and power-centric cabinet won’t be focused on public service or patriotism or civic duty, but on the consolidation of corporate and private gain at the expense of the citizenry.”
- Nomi Prins

On the other side of the coin are the Democrats and the professional class, the top 10%.

The first piece of evidence is what’s happened since the financial crisis. This is the great story of our time. Inequality has actually gotten worse since then, which is a remarkable thing. This is under a Democratic president who we were assured (or warned) was the most liberal or radical president we would ever see. Yet inequality has gotten worse, and the gains since the financial crisis, since the recovery began, have gone entirely to the top 10 percent of the income distribution.
This is not only because of those evil Republicans, but because Obama played it the way he wanted to. Even when he had a majority in both houses of Congress and could choose whoever he wanted to be in his administration, he consistently made policies that favored the top 10 percent over everybody else.

To the one third of abandoned Americans barely hanging on by their fingernails there is no real difference between the 10% and the 0.01%.
However there is a difference how the two groups talk to the lower classes, and thus are viewed.

As economist Mark Blyth pointed out, the political group representing the top 10% views the bottom third of America as "something to be policed and excluded" and "have their behaviors changed."

The Democratic and the professional elites are an easy and often amusing target. One could see them, in another era, prancing at a masked ball at Versailles on the eve of the revolution. They are oblivious to how hated they have become.

On the other end of the spectrum is the party of the 0.01%, the party of Trump, which spoke in terms of noblesse oblige. Trump has promised to defend the poor and powerless working class from things like TPP and foreigners, just like the monarchs of old. No wonder they voted for him.

A casual glance at the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages will reveal that they rarely rebelled against the monarch. In many cases the peasants appealed to the monarch to save them from the brutality and rapaciousness of the barons.
Of course the monarch never did save them, not even once. The monarch needed the barons to control the peasants, but it showed the mindset of the peasants and who they considered their oppressors.

A good example of this was the Great Peasant Rising of 1381.

When it comes to thievery and abuse of power, nothing much changes unless the people rise up and stop it.

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The simple peasants who marched on London believed that they were going to "explain their grievances to the King, who had been badly advised, and that all would be set right."
The leaders were more ambitious.

Personal freedom, free land and free trade: in granting these rebel demands Richard endorsed a revolution so profound that it is impossible to believe he was sincere – after all, serfdom was so entrenched that it would linger on in England well into the 16th century. Surely, then, Richard had no intention of being held to his promises and the Mile End meeting was simply a charade to gain time to suppress the revolt?

The king’s attitude towards the rebels is well known. “Rustics you were and rustics you are still,” the chronicler Thomas Walsingham reports him saying later to an Essex deputation seeking confirmation of their liberties. “You will remain in bondage, not as before but incomparably harsher. For as long as we live… we will strive with mind, strength and goods to suppress you so that the rigour of your servitude will be an example to posterity.”

The right-wing peasants of today will soon learn a similar, harsh lesson of where lie the loyalties of the elites.
Trump has no intention of vanquishing the foreign demons and domestic heretics, and that's the problem.

The corporate elites failed to grasp that a functioning liberal class is the mechanism that permits a capitalist democracy to adjust itself to stave off unrest and revolt. They decided, not unlike other doomed elites of history, to eradicate the liberal establishment after they had eradicated the radical movements that created the political pressure for advancements such as the eight-hour workday and Social Security....
The problem is not the liberal elites. The problem is the elites. They serve the same ideology. They work in the same financial institutions, hedge funds and foundations, including the Council on Foreign Relations, where government officials often are parked when they are out of power. They belong to the same clubs. They are stunted technocrats who function as systems managers for corporate capitalism. And no class of courtiers, going back to those that populated the Ottoman palaces, Versailles or the Forbidden City, has ever transformed itself into a responsible elite. They are, as John Ralston Saul writes, "hedonists of power."

Unfortunately, the Peasant Revolt of 1381 failed just like every other peasant revolt, mostly because the peasants are almost never as ruthless as the elites.
All 1,500 rebel peasant leaders were tortured to death.

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Worked on it for two days.

I'll drop it on TOP tomorrow (although they don't deserve it).

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Pricknick's picture

Most excellent diary. It will take me much of the evening to decipher it all.
Thankfully, there are many who don't fall into the category of those who grovel, bow and fume at our oppressors will.
Again, great diary.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

solublefish's picture

"Volcano God", I love that one; I hope you won't mind if I steal it.

Feudal nobility BTW generally did not make up more than 1-2% of the population. But there WAS something arguably similar to the liberal elite you mentioned, and that was the clergy and the upper bourgeoisie. The clergy acted as the moral guardians of the society ("do this!" "don't do that"), whose function was to keep the rulers in line as well as the people. Some of them, along with the upper bourgeoisie and perhaps a few nobles acted also as the bureaucratic functionaries of state - the willing tools of the power elite, you might say, who basked in the reflective glory (and geld) of the throne.

Corporations I would say are the new fiefs, their employees the serfs. States are increasingly subordinate to them - even in law (as is familiar to most here, I think, from opposition to the TPP). I am given lately to wonder if states, even the US, are not themselves becoming the equivalent of corporations, whose basic purpose is to control the population of serfs on behalf of the corporate entities - each of which, alone or in combination with others, attempts to purchase the "services" of that state (provision of cheap labor, lax environmental law, favorable subsidies, etc). A corporation unable to gain from one state the services it seeks merely attempts to gain those same services instead from another, if possible at a cheaper rate....

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It was an observation of a friend of mine. I lifted it from him.

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I like it very much.

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dervish's picture

Did they specify?

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

travelerxxx's picture

gjohnsit wrote an essay regarding the TO here.

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I second the sentiment that TOP doesn't deserve you. Keep safe out there in the political wilderness.

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JekyllnHyde's picture

/s.

Excellent essay, gjohnsit.

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

asterisk's picture

whether they are NSA or Russian, to hand over all my backup files. Since the NSA is supported by our taxes they really should be the ones to hand help us reset our computers when they crash.

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JekyllnHyde's picture

Don't get your hopes up too high. The new era of Hope and Change promised the same damn thing in 2008!

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

So much to chew on. The dipshits at TOP won't read it, but a few of the ringleaders will extract a few reasons to be outraged so all the rest will have their talking points with which to ignore and vilify you.

Just like the good little peasants they are. Then they will resume cowering under their beds in fear of the Red (or Orange) menace.

Thank you for giving this wonderful piece to us.

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Please help support caucus99percent!

So yeh, it's a safe bet some will be pissed.

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asterisk's picture

This is not just a snide comment. The first two people who attacked my last diary do not seem to have read it. I had noticed this before in diaries other people posted.

How can we communicate with them if they refuse to hear what we say? I thought the Hillary loss would get their attention long enough to get them to listen. If they are the chosen gatekeepers to keep the peasants in line this makes more sense I suppose. I will have to watch their antics with your essay in mind. It does explain some of the deliberate divisiveness. I will have to read your excellent essay again and think about all this.

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If you're lucky the title. Many times the name of the author is sufficient.

The truly rabid stalk you.

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after posting a diary.
I then called him out for not reading the diary first, which he then had the nerve to deny, and someone else actually came to his defense.
After I called bullsh*t, he then admitted to only reading the title. Shameless.

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blazinAZ's picture

Of course, you can read something this long and complex in under a minute -- and have time to write a comment!

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There is no justice in America, but it is the fight for justice that sustains you.
--Amiri Baraka

I read every word of your essays from beginning to end and have yet to be disappointed. Smile

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Creosote.'s picture

on the scene today, whether at the other place, in government, or in one's neighborhood. It almost feels like posters here are among the last generation to read seriously.

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Bollox Ref's picture

came to an unhappy end, via his cousin, Henry IV.

Who, because of his tenuous claim to the throne, had to work with a newly energetic Parliament that subjected both him and his son, Henry V to rather more scrutiny with regard to prerogative and taxes. The early Lancastrian period is one of Parliament making inroads on royal power. Several times Lord Chancellor, Henry, Cardinal Beaufort (Henry IV's half brother) had to make placating speeches to achieve royal ends.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

TheOtherMaven's picture

due to Henry VI's mental incompetence, the greed and ambition of the nobles, and Edward IV's total inability to keep his dick in his tights.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Bel and the Dragon.

It shows up only in the Septuagint (Greek) version of Daniel. Every day, the folks in Babylon make sacrifices to the god Bel (like Ba'al) by leaving food and drink in Bel's temple. The next morning, when the temple is opened by the 70 priests of Bel, the food and drink are gone, and the sacrifices begin again.

Daniel (like the one in the lion's den) says to the king that Bel is no real god (like YHWH), but is a mere idol. The king objects that Bel must be real because the food and drink disappear each night, apparently consumed by Bel. The 70 priests are outraged by Daniel's claim and demand a test in which the temple will be filled with food and drink, and the temple door will be sealed by the king himself with his own seal. Daniel says that's cool, but first put ashes on the floor.

The test is conducted, and the next morning, the door to Bel's temple is unsealed, and lo and behold, the food and drink is gone. Daniel points to the footprints of the 70 priest left in the ashes on the floor. The priests have been using a secret underground entrance all the time to secret away the food and drink for themselves.

The king is outraged, and in true ANE style, orders that the priests and their families be slaughtered in return for the deception.

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Mark from Queens's picture

prevent the 99% from rising up together, imo.

As you brilliantly pull together here, one of them is how much We Worship The Rich. This can not be understated and deserves more study and discussion. It's everywhere in American culture, especially since the 80's and amplified by the MSM and pop culture infestation: this notion that you're not quite a whole person if you aren't either attempting to be the next Who Wants To Be A Millionaire(TM) or on the consumer treadmill keeping up appearances the best you can, within whatever strata you are. It matters greatly what kind of shoes you wear, car you drive, places you eat at, products you buy. Status is what we strive for, rather than an upstanding member of civic society who sees the oneness of the human experience as not merely to get rich but that none fall through the cracks because you wouldn't want that to happen to you or your loved ones. In the meantime, we worship the rich and strive to become like them.

Everyone is told that we are just one Get-Rich-Quick scam, or Ponzi scheme or lottery ticket away from achieving the American Dream, which has been contorted out of its real meaning and become a rat-race inducer to keep one fighting to fill the ledger with more zeroes at the end of the numbers on his bank account, because it's ones divine right as an American to get rich. We worship "Capitalism" as a deity, and the average man conflates it falsely with "democracy."

The other one is our education system, which lays the foundation for the two aforementioned poisonous conventions that have seeped into the American bloodstream and have been assimilated and accepted by subtle propaganda. That being, American Exceptionalism. This controls the lemmings by order of fealty to a nation and its credos of getting rich, which is the Dream, achieved by pulling one's self up by the bootstraps which is taught in our schools as a birth right, instead of a humane and dignified economic system of socialism based on empathy and compassion. Don't dare question your country's motives or beneficent leaders, "We're #1, USA!USA!USA!" - that's the ulterior motive of the first day in kindergarten when we're taught to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, to the Greatest Country in the World(TM).

Thanks for a really good overview of the history of this sad and infuriating response through human history. Can it be corrected? Not if one doesn't get familiar with this history, which we're doomed to repeat of we don't learn these lessons.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

The American Dream is more like the American Nightmare, Completely out of reach for many and the constant pursuit of newer, bigger, faster etc. for the rest. The Me, Me, Me, nothing is ever good enough consumer mentality is a major problem in this country and is the cause of many of our social, economic and political problems.

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gendjinn's picture

1) nuclear weapons have rendered international conflict impossible.
2) technology will permit a surveillance state so effective it defeats any internal revolt.

I think that is going to be a very expensive bet for humanity.

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asterisk's picture

faculty positions. There are a lot of very angry people who are quite tech savvy and a lot of extremely literate folks who are trying to get by with 2 or 3 adjunct faculty positions. There are also a lot of 'invisible' working-class people who also feel cheated. Modern versions of samizdat can be designed. The real question is what will interfere most effectively with the plans of the 1%.
Some sort of non-violent slowdown involving non-cooperation should be possible, but it is not clear to me what would be most effective.

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I think this also ties in with your last essay on Nature's trust law and the commons.

There was a time that a peasant couldn't shoot the "king's hart". All deer belonged to, and could only be used by, the elite.

Similarly now, it seems to me, the powers that be have decided that ownership of the air and water must be consolidated for the rich. How else can they pollute at will in the process of enriching themselves?
The death throws of capitalism won't be pretty. Especially for us peasants.

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I wasn't familiar with SOTT, but I'll look over there in the future.

As an aside, but wow but I'd like to see that posted in its entirety over at TOP.
All the quotes from Nader speaking truth?
It could well be glorious.

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Creosote.'s picture

I couldn't find the link.

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Mark from Queens's picture

especially in this day and age of manufactured hysteria, attendant with the purposeful media-concocted distraction (cover) for their own Fake News. Folks need to know who are the fearless and intrepid journalists. They deserve our fealty, in this case the amazing Chris Hedges. The link in question was in the last paragraph and to a site I'm unfamiliar with called Signs of The Times, who apparently lifted the entire Truthdig piece whole.

Phoebe loosinhouse was saying it last week and I totally agree:

To me the upshot is that people who read and pay attention have to value byline more than publication. I imagine the Washington Post will occasionally publish someone with actual news to report instead of an axe to grind and the same for the Huffington Post and Vox and others IF they want to maintain any kind of readership. It's a sad thing when amateur commenters in columns offer up more and better analysis that the column under discussion.

So, it's up to us to go about and discover and pass around and reward the folks who have continued to keep their nose to the reporting grindstone regardless of where their research takes them or who is involved as long as we are allowed to and as long as these alternative viewpoints are allowed to exist. TPTB see what happens when the Little People educate themselves and they don't like it one little bit.

(emphasis mine)

To that degree I think it's vital that when we write essays, especially ones like yours which will get lots of views, it is incumbent on us to draw attention to, or at least mention, the journalists who have stuck their neck out to write the pieces we are quoting from. And then if possible monetarily support their efforts, because as we all know real muckraking journalism has become an anachronism.

I'd guess I'm not alone that when I see a block quote without attribution I find it frustrating. But moreover, it's a missed opportunity to highlight an ally to the rest of us. I'd even go so far to say that we should consider making that a rule of sorts, that when publishing an essay to accredit all quoted material and/or like to the actual author first and foremost and then the publication next. By no means are you the only one doing it gjohnsit, but definitely one of the more high profile and one who does use many, edifying quotes/graphs/links. Just my suggestion...

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

I didn't realize they lifted the Hedges essay from Truthdig. It looks like the whole site does this sort of thing a lot.
I guess I won't be visiting there so much afterall.

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Lookout's picture

I've been wondering if we have slipped beyond feudalism and gone all the way to a slave-master system....With debt as the new chains binding the slaves to work - (2 or 3 low wage jobs).

Richard Wolff has some nice lectures online on this topic too (at 1.5 hours you have to take this one in small bites).
The History of Capitalism, Slavery, Feudalism and Marxism
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcbptH-LLjs

Thanks for your excellent work gjohnsit!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

TheOtherMaven's picture

i.e., "You jump when I say frog, and in exchange I'll protect you from the Big Bad (Huns, Vandals, Vikings, Mongols, Turks, baron next door who wants to add this patch to his holdings....)"

Worked pretty well as long as the peasants believed in the boogeyman du jour. But eventually they started getting equalizers - first the longbow, which could bring down an armored knight (and did at Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt) and then the gun. They were a little slow in figuring out that they could now protect themselves, so the rotting edifice creaked on for another century or two (more in some places) before crumbling.

The problem with "neofeudalism" is that there's no "protection" involved - just raw exploitation "because we can". That is no basis for a stable society.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

Wink's picture

willing to die in the street, to take a bullet for the team, the 1% will simply use 2, surveilance technology, (and 1) to keep the 99% at bay, working for crumbs. Ya gotta figure Hitler only gained power becuz none of the masses would take a bullet to stop him. Funny (or not), we've seen a few movie versions of these events, but who knew we'd be witnessing them, right here in the USA, in RL in real time?

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

ZimInSeattle's picture

seen from you. The whole essay is spot on. I'd like to think that many, maybe most of those that voted for Trump were really voting against Killary. A majority of the Republicans I know would have voted for Bernie were he the nominee. I don't know how more obvious a slimy lying con man can be than the PumpkinFuhrer! (H/T to whoever here came up with that name). Since the theft of the primary from Bernie and the subsequent confirmation via WikiLeaks, the whole political paradigm has been flipped from left vs right to up vs down. The reality is it's been up vs down for decades, it's just that the majority hasn't realized it what with all the really killer bread and circus afforded us from our masters. As the ranks of the peasantry swell many orders of magnitude more than the TPTB, it is only a matter of time before the revolution comes.

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"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK | "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine." - G. B. Shaw Bernie/Tulsi 2020

Mark from Queens's picture

would have voted for Bernie instead if he was running.

It was the Tom Ashbrook show, and the guests were the lame, MSM pundit and $hill for Hill, Joan Walsh, whose daughter was working on the campaign and another flunky paid pundit guy.

Just then they go to a caller from rural WI, who thanked them for the important topic and then expressed his concerns:

What I see coming down the pipeline is the new Fourth Reich and the Rich…

A large part of my extended family voted for Donald Trump. But at our Thanksgiving dinner of which we had about 60 people, they all admitted that Bernie Sanders was a genius and that if he had been running instead of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump would not have gotten in…

When you get into the rural areas I saw what people were saying here, that they felt like they were not represented here or left behind and that’s why they voted (for Trump).

It is so sickening having to hear otherwise intelligent people be so clueless as to what drove the vote. It was desperation. Worse still is the MSM false red herring of Russian interference and the belief that Bernie wouldn't have fared as well against Trump also. Total. Absolute. Bullshit.

As the caller said, and anybody with half a brain can verify simply by going and talking with voters in places where Trump won, many of those who voted for the sleazy, narcissistic, bigoted, NY billionaire would have easily voted for Bernie instead.

Bernie would have absolutely destroyed Drumpf in a historic landslide. There is no doubt in my mind.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

ZimInSeattle's picture

of change available. I can't say as I blame them one bit. Bernie was the only real threat to the oligarchy and anyone paying the slightest bit of attention realizes the primary was stolen. Thus the big F-U to Killary.

Bernie would have absolutely destroyed Drumpf in a historic landslide. There is no doubt in my mind.

Absolutely no doubt in my mind either.

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"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK | "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine." - G. B. Shaw Bernie/Tulsi 2020

Wink's picture

would have meant yet another vote for the Third Way, another vote for conservadems to lead the party. Kudos to midwest Dems who voted for the Trumpster instead of licking DNC boots. Dworkin today at TOP still whining about the white male ignorant fucks... "And still this imperviousness to fact pales next to the racism and xenophobia and misogyny — in other words, the moral ignorance — that Trump’s supporters wallowed in."
Right. Never mind that the Dem candidate and her campaign stunk it up, it was those white male meanies in the flyover states denying Her Highness her rightful place among the previous 44 presdents that cost HRC the election. Couldn't be HRC, she was the smartest in the room! Smartest ever! And most qualified ever! It was those ignorant asshats in the corn fields and wheat fields that denied our girl the crown. Fuck every last one of them! – Hillbots

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

Creosote.'s picture

Truthdig is one of the sites I mention to the few I know who otherwise imagine they are doing fine in following the news if they read the NYT and the Guardian. They seem to want something like we have here served up on one convenient predigested plate.
Its an effect that makes me prize what I've been able to step away from thanks to my relative isolation.

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Damnit Janet's picture

Read this while listening to Lennon's Working Class Hero...

Thank you so much for this.

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"Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

My point of view now is that identity politics is necessary for corporate/oligarch control of the democratic party. And it is not done by division. Simply, the way I understand identity is that everybody is assigned membership to a particular identity group. And following what I have seen and read on democratic party sites like TOP, you are either invited or dis-invited to join solely and only based on your identity membership. As you quote, this is very true: "Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos,..."

Identity politics is politically without context. Identity is an empty vessel ready to be filled with whatever beliefs are held by the elites and oligarchs of the party--such as universal healthcare is not realistic and must be opposed; or money does not corrupt the political process; or we must cut social security. And changed whenever it suits the elites as again the only permanent and necessary requirement for membership in the democratic party is identity and not ideology--such as aggressive preemptive war is necessary. So we get African America lawmakers supporting the idea that giving unconditional health care to their under served voters is literally un-American ("well we are not Denmark").

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Season's greetings, y'all.

Rounding Past the Solstice

At the next table, the First Windbag discusses his recent successful speech to hundreds of thousands in which he urged global connection and cooperation in the effort against climate change. He has friends who are friends of Al Gore and Richard Branson. His non-profit organization and his website are imminent.

He will accomplish nothing of consequence to anyone else. He is uneasily unhappy. He needs to get small and doesn’t know how or has forgotten. His friend describes a recent conversation with an artist in Washington, D.C.: “I said to him, what good is it?” (art). I left the coffee shop after that, taking a long look at them. Least said, soonest mended.

A mile down the way, the regular musician outside Trader Joe’s was working through “O Come All Ye Faithful” —single violin, bare pavement, traffic, hurrying shoppers, the plain old tune, his red face—I was suddenly fine again. I gave him enough for a bottle of wine.

“Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas!” We shared a silent moment—equal, small, grateful, if not joyful and triumphant.

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polkageist's picture

I have a draft essay along the same lines but far inferior to yours. I've dumped it.

I think you should share this on other sites such as Jackpine Radicals, Naked Capitalism, etc. If you have the knowledge of particular sites and the courage, a few right wing sites might be a good target too. I think it's time we began to forge some understandings with the other have nots about the truth of our situation regardless of the right-left divide.

I am not sending this article to some of my acquaintances who will not really read it but who will find all sorts of talking points to try to refute it. Blind as bats to the true situation.

Others will get it and I will send it to them.

Thanks for a fine essay.

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Greed is not a virtue.
Socialism: the radical idea of sharing.

I'm always pleased to see people coming to understand the realities we face.
It appears to me that people are getting closer to putting it all together.

However, it's probably too late.
Neo-feudalism has been overtaken by genetic and robotic science.
Climate change is seen not as a problem but rather as a tool to an ends.
You fool yourself if you think that those who consider themselves the best and most deserving of mankind would not sacrifice billions and self righteously justify it as saving the species.
We are in grave danger.
I say
HCN_guillotine.gif
before all hope is lost.

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With their hearts they turned to each others heart for refuge
In troubled years that came before the deluge
*Jackson Browne, 1974, Before the Deluge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SX-HFcSIoU

Excellent essay, I can tell you put a lot of time into it. I'm hosting a party today, so I don't have time to give it the careful read it deserves. I will return to it tomorrow.

I feel a bit disconnected from politics often, as I feel utterly powerless. Instead I spend most of my days, and try to direct most of my thoughts, to the tiny little slices of now that accumulate to become living. Selfish, perhaps, but I'm happier that way.

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ZimInSeattle's picture

argument:

Large segments of the American public, especially minorities of class and color, have been written out of politics over what they view as a failed state and the inability of the basic machinery of government to serve their interests. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from public schools to health care centers– there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. This grim reality has been called a “failed sociality”– a failure in the power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy. As the consolidation of power by the corporate and financial elite empties politics of any substance, the political realm merges elements of Monty Python, Kafka, and Aldus Huxley. With the election of Donald Trump, the savagery of neoliberalism has been intensified with the emergence at the highest levels of power of a toxic mix of anti-intellectualism, religious fundamentalism, nativism, and a renewed notion of American exceptionalism. Mainstream politics is now dominated by hard-right extremists who have brought to the center of politics a shameful white supremacist ideology, poisonous xenophobic ideas, and the blunt, malicious tenets and practices of Islamophobia. -Henry Giroux

Emphasis Added

The rest can be found here: Militant Hope in the Age of the Politics of the Disconnect

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"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK | "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine." - G. B. Shaw Bernie/Tulsi 2020