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Elites Hate Dissent   Leave a comment

From “The State” by Randolph Bourne

 

Randolph  BourneAll this organizing of death-dealing energy and technique is not a natural but a very sophisticated process. Particularly in modern nations, but also all through the course of modern European history, it could never exist without the State. For it meets the demands of no other institution, it follows the desires of no religious, industrial, political group. If the demand for military organization and a military establishment seems to come not from the officers of the State but from the public, it is only that it comes from the State-obsessed portion of the public, those groups which feel most keenly the State ideal. And in this country we have had evidence all too indubitable about how powerless the pacifically minded officers of the State may be in the face of a State-obsession of the significant classes. If a powerful section of the significant classes feels more intensely the attitudes of the State, then they will most infallibly mold the Government in time to their wishes, bring it back to act as the embodiment of the State which it pretends to be. In every country we have seen groups that were more loyal than the King—more patriotic than the Government—the Ulsterites in Great Britain, the Junkers in Prussia, l’Action Francaise in France, our patrioteers in America. These groups exist to keep the steering wheel of the State straight, and they prevent the nation from ever veering very far from the State ideal.

Militarism expresses the desires and satisfies the major impulse only of this class. The other classes, left to themselves, have too many necessities and interests and ambitions, to concern themselves with so expensive and destructive a game. But the State-obsessed group is either able to get control of the machinery of the State or to intimidate those in control, so that it is able through the use of the collective force to regiment the other grudging and reluctant classes into a military programme. State idealism percolates down through the strata of society, capturing groups and individuals just in proportion to the prestige of this dominant class. So that we have the herd actually strung along between two extremes, the militaristic patriots at one end, who are scarcely distinguishable in attitude and animus frmo the most reactionary Bourbons of an Empire, and unskilled labor groups, which entirely lack the State sense. But the State acts as a whole, and the class that controls governmental machinery can swing the effective action of the herd as a whole. The herd is not actually a whole, emotionally. But by an ingenious mixture of cajolery, agitation, intimidation, the herd is licked into shape, into an effective mechanical unity, if not into a spiritual whole. Men are told simultaneously that they will enter the military establishment of their own volition, as their splendid sacrifice for their country’s welfare, and that if they do not enter they will be hunted down and punished with the most horrid penalties; and under a most indescribable confusion of democratic pride and personal fear they submit to the destruction of their livelihood if not their lives, in a way that would formerly have seemed to them so obnoxious as to be incredible.

In this great herd-machinery, dissent is like sand in the bearings. The State ideal is primarily a sort of blind animal push towards military unity. Any interference with that unity turns the whole vast impulse towards crushing it. Dissent is speedily outlawed, and the Government, backed by the significant classes and those who in every locality, however small, identify themselves with them, proceeds against the outlaws, regardless of their value to other institutions of the nation, or of the effect that their persecution may have on public opinion. The herd becomes divided into the hunters and the hunted, and war-enterprise becomes not only a technical game but a sport as well.

 


The elites hate dissent within the herd because the herd might circumvent the power the elites feel when we’re at war. We often wonder why our government is no longer under the control of the citizenry, why we can commit three felonies a day because of complicated regulation and be spied on without recourse. The United States has been on a continual war footing since World War 2. This gives the elites power and they are not willing to let it go. Lela

Posted March 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Why Elites Join Government   Leave a comment

From “The Law” by Randolph Bourne

 

Randolph  BourneThere is, of course, in the feeling towards the State a large element of pure filial mysticism. The sense of insecurity, the desire for protection, sends one’s desire back to the father and mother, with whom is associated the earliest feelings of protection. It is not for nothing that one’s State is still thought of as Father or Motherland, that one’s relation towards it is conceived in terms of family affection. The war has shown that nowhere under the shock of danger have these primitive childlike attitudes failed to assert themselves again, as much in this country as anywhere. If we have not the intense Father-sense of the German who worships his Vaterland, at least in Uncle Sam we have a symbol of protecting, kindly authority, and in the many Mother-posters of the Red Cross, we see how easily in the more tender functions of war service, the ruling organization is conceived in family terms. A people at war have become in the most literal sense obedient, respectful, trustful children again, full of that naive faith in the all-wisdom and all-power of the adult who takes care of them, imposes his mild but necessary rule upon them and in whom they lose their responsibility and anxieties. In this recrudescence of the child, there is great comfort, and a certain influx of power. On most people the strain of being an independent adult weighs heavily, and upon none more than those members of the significant classes who have bequeathed to them or have assumed the responsibilities of governing. The State provides the most convenient of symbols under which those classes can retain all the actual pragmatic satisfaction of governing, but can rid themselves of the psychic burden of adulthood. They continue to direct industry and government and all the institutions of society pretty much as before, but in their own conscious eyes and in the eyes of the general public, they are turned from their selfish and predatory ways, and have become loyal servants of society, or something greater than they—the State. The man who moves from the direction of a large business in New York to a post in the war management industrial service in Washington does not apparently alter very much his power or his administrative technique. But psychically, what a transformation has occurred! He is not now only the power but the glory! And his sense of satisfaction is proportional not to the genuine amount of personal sacrifice that may be involved in the change but to the extent to which he retains the industrial prerogatives and sense of command.

From members of this class a certain insuperable indignation arises if the change from private enterprise to State service involves any real loss of power and personal privilege. If there is to be any pragmatic sacrifice, let it be, they feel, on the field of honor, in the traditionally acclaimed deaths by battle, in that detour to suicide, as Nietzsche calls war. The State in wartime supplies satisfaction for this very real craving, but its chief value is the opportunity it gives for this regression to infantile attitudes. In your reaction to an imagined attack on your country or an insult to its government, you draw closer to the herd for protection, you conform in word and deed, and you act together. And you fix your adoring gaze upon the State, with a truly filial look, as upon the Father of the flock, the quasi-personal symbol of the strength of the herd, and the leader and determinant of your definite action and ideas.

 


Why would Donald Trump want to be President of the United States? It wasn’t because it would be good for his businesses? And this is the reason he sometimes seems impatient with the process in DC, because he didn’t expect to lose any real power or personal privilege as president, but today’s presidency is under pressure from a Congress that no longer wants to be irrelevant and an administrative state that has gotten used to being able to do whatever it wants from President to President. Lela

The Amazing Arrogance of the Paris Climate Agreement | Jeffrey A. Tucker   1 comment

It was December 12, 2015, when headlines in the world’s leading newspapers, in implausibly bold type, celebrated the “historic” agreement in Paris between all nations of the world to curb carbon emissions and thereby stop climate change: or so they said, as if elites get to say what is and is not historic.

Source: The Amazing Arrogance of the Paris Climate Agreement | Jeffrey A. Tucker

 

The spin, like the agreement itself, was crammed down our throats.

Image result for image of paris climate change agreementEnergy stocks weren’t affected in the slightest by the diplomatic agreement.

I read the stories that day, and the next and the next, and the continuing coverage for weeks that nearly every reader – apart from a few dedicated activists and permanent regime bureaucrats – ignored. The stories appeared on the international pages and didn’t touch the business pages. Energy stocks weren’t affected in the slightest.

The stories had all the signs of dutiful public service announcements – “fake news,” as they say today – and they contained not a single quote from a single dissenting voice, because, of course, no respectable news outlet would give voice to “climate deniers.”

Deniers?

Let me pause to protest this “denial” language. It attempts to appropriate the widely shared disgust toward “Holocaust denial,” a bizarre and bedraggled movement that belittles or even dismisses the actual history of one of the 20th century’s most egregious mass crimes against human rights and dignity. Using that language to silence questions about an attempt to centrally plan the energy sector is a moral low that debases the language of denial.

This rhetorical trick reveals all you need to know about the desperate manipulation the climate planners are willing to engage in to realize their plot regardless of popular and justified skepticism concerning their regulatory and redistributionist policies.

And you wonder why many people have doubts about it.

And what are the specifics of that agenda? The Paris Agreement is a “voluntary” agreement because its architects knew it would never pass the US Senate as a treaty. Why? Because the idea of the agreement is that the US government’s regulatory agencies would impose extreme mandates on its energy sector: how it should work, what kinds of emissions it should produce, the best ways to power our lives (read: not fossil fuels), and hand over to developing world regimes billions and even trillions of dollars in aid, a direct and ongoing forcible transfer of wealth from American taxpayers to regimes all over the world, at the expense of American freedom and prosperity.

And you wonder why many people have doubts about it.

The Trumpist Reaction

Consider what else was going on December 12, 2015. Donald Trump was in the midst of a big battle for the Republican nomination. He started with 16 challengers to beat. He was widely considered to be a clownish candidate, a guy in it just to get press attention to build his business brand. Surely the American system of electoral politics, largely but imperfectly managed by responsible elites, would resist such demagogues. Besides, the media that trumpeted the Paris Agreement would be on hand to shame anyone who supported him. He couldn’t win.

The press mostly pretended that he wasn’t happening. The Huffington Post put coverage of his campaign in the humor section.

Obama would be our master and commander, ruling on our behalf, fresh off cocktail parties in Paris with the best and brightest.

And so President Obama came home from the Paris meetings to the acclaim of all the right people. He alone had made the responsible choice on behalf of the entire country: every business, every worker, every consumer, every single person living within these borders who uses some measure of this thing we call energy. He would be our master and commander, ruling on our behalf, fresh off cocktail parties in Paris where the best and brightest – armed with briefcases full of government-funded science – decided to give the Industrial Revolution its final comeuppance.

The exuberant spokespeople talked about how “the United States” had “agreed” to “curb its emissions” and “fund” the building of fossil-free sectors all over the world. It was strange because the “United States” had not in fact agreed to anything: not a single voter, worker, owner, or citizen. Not even the House or Senate were involved. This was entirely an elite undertaking to manage property they did not own and lives that were not theirs to control.

The Backlash

And then Trump spoke. He said that this Paris bit was a bad deal for Americans. We are already in a slow-growth economy. Now these global elites, without a vote from Congress, are presuming to mandate massive controls over the economy, hampering its productive sector which benefits everyone and transferring countless billions of dollars out of the country, with the acquiescence of the party in power.

Globalism and nativism are two sides of the same statist coin.

He spoke about this in a way that bested all his opponents. The entire scenario fed his America First worldview, that the global elites were operating as parasites on American prosperity and sovereignty. His answer was to put up the wall: to immigrants, to trade, to global managerial elites, and reclaim American sovereignty from people who were selling it out. It was another flavor of statism (globalism and nativism are two sides of the same coin), but it tapped into that populist vein of the voting public that looks for a patriotic strongman to save them from a distant ruling class.

Everything about the Paris Agreement seemed structured to play into Trump’s narrative of how the world had gone mad. And then he won the nomination. Then he won the presidency. None of this was supposed to happen. It wasn’t part of the plan. History took a different course from what the power elite demanded and expected to happen. Not for the first time.

How Dare Anyone Dispute Our Plans?

But the “globalists” of the type that tried to make Paris work have a stunning lack of self-awareness. They pretend to be oblivious to the populist resentment they breed. They act as if there is not a single legitimate doubt about the problem, their analysis of cause and effect, the discernment of their selected experts, or their proposed coercive solution. And there certainly isn’t a doubt that their mighty combination of power, resources, and intelligence can cause all the forces in the universe to adapt to their will, including even the climate that King Canute himself said could not be controlled by kings and princes.

These are all attempts to subvert the capacity of society to manage itself on behalf of the deluded dreams of a few people with power and their lust for controlling social and economic outcomes.

As with countless other statist plans over the last hundred years, they figured that it was enough to gather all the right people in one room, agree to a wish list, sign a few documents, and then watch the course of history conform to their wishes.

The Paris Agreement is no different in its epistemological conceit than Obamacare, the war on drugs, nation-building, universal schooling, or socialism itself. They are all attempts to subvert the capacity of society to manage itself on behalf of the deluded dreams of a few people with power and their lust for controlling social and economic outcomes.

Rejecting Elite Politics

How far are the Democrats from recognizing what they have done? Very, very far. John C. Williams, writing in the New York Times, has decried the “The Dumb Politics of Elite Condescension”:

“As a progressive, I am committed to social equality – not just for some groups, but for all groups… Everyone should have access to good housing and good jobs. That’s the point… Too often in otherwise polite society, elites (progressives emphatically included) unselfconsciously belittle working-class whites. Democrats should stop insulting people.”

That would be a good start. But it is not only about rhetoric. Policy preferences have to change. A global agreement that somehow binds entire countries to centrally plan and regulate the whole of a crucial sector of economic life that supports all economic advances of our time – at the very time when the energy sector is innovating its own solutions to carbon emissions in the cheapest possible way –  is certainly going to breed resentment, and for good reason. It is a bad and unworkable idea.

The backlash against globalism can be as dangerous as globalism itself.

Continued reliance on undemocratic, uneconomic, imposed strategies such as the Paris Agreement will only further feed the populist revolt that could end in the worst possible policy combinations of strong-man nationalism, nativism, protectionism, closed borders, and backwards thinking in general. No good can come from this. The backlash against globalism can be as dangerous as globalism itself.

You might think that the election of Trump would offer some lessons. But that is not the way the arrogant minds behind the climate agreement work. They respond by merely doubling down on disdain, intensifying their commitments to each other, heaping more loathing on the workers and peasants who have their doubts about these deals.

Trump and his ilk abroad, backed by voting masses with pitchforks and torches – and not a managed transition from fossil fuels to clean energy – are their creation.

Simplistic Answers Don’t Work   Leave a comment

Arthur C. Brooks wrote an op-ed for the  New York Times concerning the rise of Donald Trump and populism. He then urged reform of the GOP to look a lot more like the Democratic Party by moving to the “center” on a whole host of issues.

In doing so, he made two bold, but inaccurate claims. Mr. Brooks asserted that historical populist movements were triggered by severe financial crises that resulted in protracted and uneven recoveries that exacerbated existing income and wealth disparities.

Brooks briefly examined financial crises and touched on the book “This Time is Different” which found that it normally takes about eight years for the economy to recover from financial crises like we had in 2008 because they are different from ordinary recessions (which have a typical recover of 18 months). He noted that the wealthy of US came “roaring” back after the “Great Recession of 2008. Before I get into the naivete of blaming populism on economic determinism, I want to just note that the American wealthy presumably had savings – actually money in the bank — that allowed them as an economic class to recover more quickly than the cash-strapped and credit-leveraged middle class.

Image result for image of populism

In Brooks’ estimation, populist movements have historically been the result of economic determinism, which is kind of simplistic and naive and completely overlooks the American middle class’s awakening to the elitists of both major parties structuring political institutions and policies so as to oppress and plunder us. Everywhere you look, you can see evidence for this structural bias in our society.

There’s the war on terror, which never ends and is eating the economy of the nation

There’s the the multi-billion dollar federal bailout of financial institutions not just in the US, but overseas

There’s the ineffective, grossly expensive and never-ending war on drugs

There’s the pandemic of political correctness unleashed by Federal mandates and regulations that indoctrinates our kids in American colleges, universities and public schools

There is the unrestrained spying on American citizens by the US security apparatus

Brooks ignored all of these issues and opted for simplistic analysis. “The real issue is weak, uneven shared growth.” If the rich weren’t getting richer and the poor weren’t getting poorer, Brooks intimates, we wouldn’t be angry at the elites. Really? You think we’re that dumb?

Of course, some of us are that dumb because we’ve been manipulated by the mainstream media, academics and political analysts (supposed moderates on both the left and the right) who claim that populism comprises specific ideological positions and policies. Brooks referred to “populist positions on issues such as trade and immigration” and to “populists who specialize in identifying culprits: rich elites who are ripping you off; immigrants who want your job; tree trade that’s killing our nation’s competitiveness.” Brooks asserted that populist policies advocate for “some combination of increased redistribution, protectionism and restrictionism.”

Brooks sees populism as the polar opposite of classic liberalism and libertarianism.

Of course, that ignores reality. Populism is not and never has been a right-wing ideology. It is a strategy that has been used by ideological groups whose political agendas differed radically from the agenda of the ruling class. Juan and Eva Peron were left-wing populists. Ever hear of Huey Long … Father Coughlin … Fidel Castro … Huge Chavez? Then there were classical-liberal populists like Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams and libertarian populists like Richard Cobden, John Bright and Ron Paul. Iceland has recently seen the dramatic rise of popularity of the Pirate Party, with an ideologically diffuse membership of libertarians, hackers, Web geeks, and anti-globalist anarchists.

 

Regardly of its ideological motivations, populism is always feared and hated by the political center, which is occupied by individuals and groups comprising the “moderate” left and right wing, because the “center” is invested in defending the political status quo. We see this in US elections, where they take turns operating the levers of power to distribute privilege and wealth to themselves and their cronies.

 

Regardless of their ideology, populist thinkers and the movements they build believe that government ought to be responsive to the people. They see that it is not and they set about exposing the “moderate” center who run the State apparatus. They point out the powerful elite whose interests are inherently opposed to the productive workers and entrepreneurs who make up the mass of the population. Extreme, emotional and embittered rhetoric captures the attention of people who are not yet fully conscious that they are being exploited. Marxists would say this rhetoric helps them to develop “class consciousness.” Inflammatory rhetoric is necessary in the US and most European countries because the mainstream media operate as privileged mouthpieces for government and corporations, spewing non-stop propaganda designed to camouflage government exploitation of the working class so as to discredit dissenting political movements.

I’ve not love of Donald Trump, but his harsh populist rhetoric strikes a responsive chord among the US electorate. That isn’t because Americans have become irrational on the subjects of economics, immigration and security in some sort of fit brought on by economic inequality, but because the Internet has snapped on a light in reality land, that has awakened Americans to the cold, hard fact that, since World War 2, we have been plundered and are being oppressed by the “moderate” American globalist political establishment. We’ve become what France was in the 1950s when Murray Rothbard wrote:

[T]here’s a lot to be bitter about: crushingly high taxes on businesses and individuals, submergence of national sovereignty in international organizations and alliances, fumbling and incompetent government, endless fighting in colonial wars. Especially taxes.

It’s tempting (and folks like Brooks succumb to the temptation) that populism will wither away once you redistribute some wealth, but that’s not likely. Populism is the only effective political strategy for radical political change. Brexit, Trump’s threat to contest the election, the growth of libertarian-like populist movements throughout Europe — these all suggest that populism is here to stay.

If we can somehow grab a microphone to be heard over the media spin, libertarians (please note the small “l”) may have cause to celebrate because for the first time in 90 years we have access to an effective strategy for rolling back the US welfare- and warfare-propped State. But we need to start by educating our neighbors as to what is really going on and what it is we actually stand for.

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