Trump victory margin in North Carolina: 177,008
North Carolina "Crosscheck" purge list: 589,393
Some final Election 2016 analysis?
In the week leading up to last Tuesday’s election the press was busy writing obituaries for the Republican Party. This continued even after Donald Trump’s “surprising” victory – which, like the 2008 bank-fraud crash, “nobody could have expected.” The pretense is that Trump saw what no other politician saw: that the economy has not recovered since 2008.
Democrats still seem amazed that voters are more concerned about economic conditions and resentment against Wall Street (no bankers jailed, few junk mortgages written down). It is a sign of their wrong path that party strategists are holding onto the same identity politics they have used since the 1960s to divide Americans into hyphenated special-interest groups.
Obviously, the bottom 95 Percent realize that their incomes and net worth have declined, not recovered. National Income and Federal Reserve statistics show that all growth has accrued to just 5 percent of the population. Hillary is said to have spent $1 billion on polling, TV advertising and high-salaried staff members, but managed not to foresee the political reaction to this polarization. She and her coterie ignored economic policy as soon as Bernie was shoved out of the way and his followers all but told to join a third party. Her campaign speech tried to convince voters that they were better off than they were eight years ago. They knew better!
So the question now is whether Donald Trump will really a maverick and shake up the Republican Party. There seems to be a fight going on for Donald’s soul – or at least the personnel he appoints to his cabinet. Thursday and Friday saw corporate lobbyists in the Republican leadership love-bombing him like the Moonies or Hari Krishna cults welcoming a new potential recruit. Will he simply surrender now and pass on the real work of government to the Republican apparatchiks?
The stock market thinks so! On Wednesday it soared almost by 300 points, and repeated this gain on Thursday, setting a DJIA record! Pharmaceuticals are way up, as higher drug prices loom for Medicaid and Medicare. Stocks of the pipelines and major environmental polluters are soaring, from oil and gas to coal, mining and forestry, expecting U.S. environmental leadership to be as dead under Trump as it was under Obama and his push for the TPP and TTIP (with its fines for any government daring to impose standards that cost these companies money). On the bright side, these “trade” agreements to enable corporations to block public laws protecting the environment, consumers and society at large are now presumably dead.
For now, personalities are policy. A problem with this is that anyone who runs for president is in it partly for applause. That was Carter’s weak point, leading him to cave into Democratic apparatchiks in 1974. It looks like Trump may be a similar susceptibility. He wants to be loved, and the Republican lobbyists are offering plenty of applause if only he will turn to them and break his campaign promises in the way that Obama did in 2008. It would undo his hope to be a great president and champion of the working class that was his image leading up to November 8.
In her Wednesday morning post mortem speech, Hillary made a bizarre request for young people (especially young women) to become politically active as Democrats after her own model. What made this so strange is that the Democratic National Committee has done everything it can to discourage millennials from running. There are few young candidates – except for corporate and Wall Street Republicans running as Blue Dog Democrats. The left has not been welcome in the party for a decade – unless it confines itself only to rhetoric and demagogy, not actual content. For Hillary’s DNC coterie, the problem with millennials is that they are not shills for Wall Street. The treatment of Bernie Sanders is exemplary. The DNC threw down the gauntlet.
Instead of a love fest within the Democratic Party’s ranks, the blame game is burning. The Democrats raised a reported $182 million dollars running up to the election. But when (from Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and other candidates in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania) asked for help. Hillary monopolized it all for TV ads, leaving these candidates in the lurch. The election seemed to be all about her, about personality and identity politics, not about the economic issues paramount in most voters’ minds.
Six months ago the polls showed her $1 billion spent on data polling, TV ads and immense staff of sycophants to have been a vast exercise in GIGO. From May to June the Democratic National Committee (DNC) saw polls showing Bernie Sanders beating Trump, but Hillary losing. Did the Democratic leadership really prefer to lose with Hillary than win behind him and his social democratic reformers?
Hillary doesn’t learn. Over the weekend she claimed that her analysis showed that FBI director Comey’s reports “rais[ing] doubts that were groundless, baseless,” stopped her momentum. This was on a par with the "New York Times" analysis that had showed her with an 84 percent probability of winning last Tuesday. She still hasn’t admitted that her analysis was inaccurate.
What is the Democratic Party’s former constituency of labor and progressive reformers to do? Are they to stand by and let the party be captured in Hillary’s wake by Robert Rubin’s Goldman Sachs-Citigroup gang that backed her and Obama?
If the party is to be recaptured, now is the moment to move. The 2016 election sounded the death knell for the identity politics. Its aim was to persuade voters not to think of their identity in economic terms, but to think of themselves as women or as racial and ethnic groups first and foremost, not as having common economic interests. This strategy to distract voters from economic policies has obviously failed.
It did not work with women. In Florida, only 51 percent of white women are estimated to have voted for Hillary. It didn’t even work very well in ethnic Hispanic precincts. They too were more concerned about their own job opportunities.
The ethnic card did work with many black voters (although not so strongly; fewer blacks voted for Hillary than had showed up for Obama). Under the Obama administration for the past eight years, blacks have done worse in terms of income and net worth than any other grouping, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s statistics. But black voters were distracted from their economic interests by the Democrats’ ethnic-identity politics.
This election showed that voters have a sense of when they’re being lied to. After eight years of Obama’s demagogy, pretending to support the people but delivering his constituency to his financial backers on Wall Street, “Identity Politics” has given way to the stronger force of economic distress. Mobilizing identity politics behind a Wall Street program will no longer work.
If we are indeed experiencing a revival of economic class consciousness, who should lead the fight to clean up the Democratic Party Wall Street leadership? Will it be the Wall Street wing, or can Bernie and perhaps Elizabeth Warren make their move?
There is only one way to rescue the Democrats from the Clintons and Rubin’s gang. That is to save the Democratic Party from being tarred irreversibly as the party of Wall Street and neocon brinkmanship. It is necessary to tell the Clintons and the Rubin gang from Wall Street to leave now. And take Evan Bayh with them.
The Democratic Party can save itself only by focusing on economic issues – in a way that reverses its neoliberal stance under Obama, and indeed going back to Bill Clinton’s pro-Wall Street administration. The Democrats need to do what Britain’s Labour Party did by cleaning out Tony Blair’s Thatcherites. As Paul Craig Roberts wrote over the weekend: “Change cannot occur if the displaced ruling class is left intact after a revolution against them. We have proof of this throughout South America. Every revolution by the indigenous people has left unmolested the Spanish ruling class, and every revolution has been overthrown by collusion between the ruling class and Washington.” Otherwise the Democrats will be left as an empty shell.
Now is the time for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the few other progressives who have not been kept out of office by the DNC to make their move and appointing their own nominees to the DNC. If they fail, the Democratic Party is dead.
An indication of how hard the present Democratic Party leadership will fight against this change of allegiance is reflected in their long fight against Bernie Sanders and other progressives going back to Dennis Kucinich. The past five days of MoveOn demonstrations sponsored by Hillary’s backer George Soros may be an attempt to preempt the expected push by Bernie’s supporters, by backing Howard Dean for head of the DNC while organizing groups to be called on for what may be an American “Maidan Spring.”
Perhaps some leading Democrats preferred to lose with their Wall Street candidate Hillary than win with a reformer who would have edged them out of their right-wing positions. But the main problem was hubris. Hillary’s coterie thought they could make their own reality. They believed that hundreds of millions of dollars of TV and other advertising could sway voters. But eight years of Obama’s rescue of Wall Street instead of the economy was enough for most voters to see how deceptive his promises had been. And they distrusted Hillary’s pretended embrace of Bernie’s opposition to TPP.
The Rust Belt swing states that shifted away from backing Obama for the last two terms are not racist states. They voted for Obama twice, after all. But seeing his support (of) Wall Street, they had lost faith in her credibility – and were won (over) by Bernie in his primaries against Hillary.
Donald Trump is thus Obama’s legacy. Last week’s vote was a backlash. Hillary thought that getting Barack and Michelle Obama to campaign as her surrogates would help, but it turned out to be the kiss of death. Obama egged her on by urging voters to “save his legacy” by supporting her as his Third Term.
But voters did not want his legacy of giveaways to the banks, the pharmaceutical and health-insurance monopolies.
Most of all, it was Hillary’s asking voters to ignore her economic loyalty to Wall Street simply to elect a woman, and her McCarthy-like accusations that Trump was “Putin’s candidate” (duly echoed by Paul Krugman). On Wednesday, Obama’s former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul tweeted that “Putin intervened in our elections and succeeded.”
It was as if the Republicans and even the FBI were a kind of fifth column for the KGB. Her receptiveness to cutting back Social Security and steering wage withholding into the stock market did not help – especially her hedge fund campaign contributors. Compulsory health-insurance fees continue to rise for healthy young people as the main profit center that Obamacare has offered the health-insurance monopoly.
The anti-Trump rallies mobilized by George Soros and MoveOn look like a preemptive attempt to capture the potential socialist left for the old Clinton divide-and-conquer strategy. The group was defeated five years ago when it tried to capture Occupy Wall Street to make it part of the Democratic Party.
Its attempt to make a comeback right now should be heard as an urgent call to Bernie’s supporters and other “real” Democrats that they need to create an alternative pretty quickly so as not to let “socialism” be captured by the Soros and his apparatchiks carried over from the Clinton campaign._ _ _ _ _ _ _
And on the other hand . . .
Greg Palast says they never changed their operating procedure.
And Trump was right.
It was rigged.
By the usual suspects.
Friday, November 11, 2016
Before a single vote was cast, the election was fixed by GOP and Trump operatives.
Starting in 2013 – just as the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act – a coterie of Trump operatives, under the direction of Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, created a system to purge 1.1 million Americans of color from the voter rolls of GOP–controlled states.
The system, called Crosscheck, is detailed in my "Rolling Stone" report, “The GOP’s Stealth War on Voters,” 8/24/2016.
Crosscheck in action:
Trump victory margin in Michigan: 13,107
Michigan Crosscheck purge list: 449,922
Trump victory margin in Arizona: 85,257
Arizona Crosscheck purge list: 270,824
Trump victory margin in North Carolina: 177,008
North Carolina Crosscheck purge list: 589,393
On Tuesday, we saw "Crosscheck" elect a Republican Senate and as President, Donald Trump. The electoral putsch was aided by nine other methods of attacking the right to vote of Black, Latino and Asian-American voters, methods detailed in my book and film, including “Caging,” “purging,” blocking legitimate registrations, and wrongly shunting millions to “provisional” ballots that will never be counted.
Trump signaled the use of “Crosscheck” when he claimed the election is “rigged” because “people are voting many, many times.” His operative Kobach, who also advised Trump on building a wall on the southern border, devised a list of 7.2 million “potential” double voters — 1.1 million of which were removed from the voter rolls by Tuesday. The list is loaded overwhelmingly with voters of color and the poor. Here's a sample of the list:
Those accused of criminal double voting include, for example, Donald Alexander Webster Jr. of Ohio who is accused of voting a second time in Virginia as Donald EUGENE Webster SR.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress.
A Clinton Presidency would have offered four more years of that pretense. A woman President following a black President would have meant to many that things are getting better. It would have obscured the reality of continued neoliberal economics, imperial wars, and resource extraction behind a veil of faux-progressive feminism. Now that we have, in the words of my friend Kelly Brogan, rejected a wolf in sheep’s clothing in favor of a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that illusion will be impossible to maintain.
I am willing to suspend my judgement of Trump and (very skeptically) hold the possibility that he will disrupt the elite policy consensus of free trade and military confrontation – major themes of his campaign. One might always hope for miracles. However, because he apparently lacks any robust political ideology of his own, it is more likely that he will fill his cabinet with neocon war hawks, Wall Street insiders, and corporate reavers, trampling the wellbeing of the working class whites who elected him while providing them their own sugar-coating of social conservatism.
The social and environmental horrors likely to be committed under President Trump are likely to incite massive civil disobedience and possibly disorder. For Clinton supporters, many of whom were halfhearted to begin with, the Trump administration could mark the end of their loyalty to our present institutions of government. For Trump supporters, the initial celebration will collide with gritty reality when Trump proves as unable or unwilling as his predecessors to challenge the entrenched systems that continually degrade their lives: global finance capital, the deep state, and their programming ideologies. Add to this the likelihood of a major economic crisis, and the public’s frayed loyalty to the existing system could snap.
From Naked Capitalism's video below we learn quite a bit more about the implications of Election 2016:
The gold within occurs mainly from 34:40 to 43:44 where Mark Blyth, and Wendy Schiller, both professors of Political Science discuss the Trump Aftermath. The whole talk is pretty interesting although possibly longer than anyone other than people with an hour to while away on this site might enjoy.
It's difficult to know where to start explaining the dark-world links to those who have never connected any of the dots of the U.S.'s almost 40-year right turn to world dominion.
One place might be here.
How much one wonders did we have to pay for her?
Because she's been a bargain for some.
Huma Mahmood Abedin is a good starting point down the rabbit hole of dirty and dangerous money. Born in 1976 in the United States, she moved with her family to Saudi Arabia two years later, returning to the US at the age of 18 to enroll at George Washington University. Certainly more interesting is the story of her parents, both Muslims and both heavily involved in Muslim Brotherhood networks as well as opaque financing mechanisms to structures linked Al Qaeda. How the daughter of two such controversial characters could come to occupy such an important role explains how deep down the rabbit hole this story goes.
To understand the influence of Abedin on Hillary Clinton, just think of all the latest scandals involving Clinton that revolve around the funding and indirect support of radical Islamist groups. From Libya to Egypt to Syria and Iraq, the trail of the State Department, and the Clinton Foundation is everywhere. It is no wonder that a family like the Abedins have been able to forge such important friendships as the one with the possible future president of the United States. Abedin seems likely to be an intermediary connecting worlds that are adjacent but never fully overlapping. No American could ever accept the idea that alongside the next POTUS could be a person deeply embedded in such a milieu. But that is how it is. On September 11, 2001, for example, Abedin was simultaneously working for the Clinton Foundation as well as a charity subsequently discovered to be a front for money laundering on behalf of Bin Laden, as covered by Newsweek. The day when the twin towers collapsed, the current top advisor to the probable next US president was working for an organisation indirectly linked to Al Qaeda.
The American Deep State
When addressing the topic of Huma Mahmood Abedin, top advisor to Hillary Clinton, it is good to ask how deep we are willing to go to discover the mechanisms of American power, penetrating into the dark caverns and complex entrails of a state within a state, the so-called deep state.
To answer this question, it is good to define it. Generally, when we talk about the deep state, it means the various branches of power. The best known are certainly the military-industrial complex, energy giants, Wall Street, the mainstream news media, extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its Wahhabi ideology, in addition to foreign lobbies, especially the Israeli and Saudi lobbies. Their interests are mainly based around the accumulation of money and their ability to generate more of it to buy influence.
Generally the major representatives of deep-state interests are the so-called think-tanks. These organisations, made up of experts and former members of the public and private sectors, exist primarily to influence and condition the political discussions, favoring the interests of their funders, which not surprisingly are precisely the industries and people related to the various branches of American power. As a result, think-tanks have now taken on a more central role in defining the domestic and foreign-policy postures of the United States.
Of course money also buys people in addition to associations. This is the case with direct donations to the election campaigns of senators and members of Congress by the giants of the deep state. Large companies, banks, financial institutions and the military industry use think-tanks, the media and politicians through their money with only one purpose: to protect and nurture their interests and their vision of the state within the state. Put simply, their objective is to continue to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers.
Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Deep State
In addition to the neo-conservative and liberal factions, as well as the Israel lobby, we find the ideological component of Wahhabi Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood participating in the US political system, playing an important role in the fashioning of American foreign policy. Suffice it to say that this trio has for more than two decades completely dominated the choices about foreign policy of the United States, with dire consequences. The Muslim Brotherhood, a creation inspired by the British MI6 in the early 1900s to fight nationalism and Arab governments with communist inclinations, quickly became the spiritual fathers of the Afghan freedom fighters. It is a monster that has continued to morph in our day from the Taliban in Afghanistan to Al Qaeda in the late 1990s to the 2000s, and currently metamorphosing into Al Nusra Front/Daesh. Of course in each of its historical iterations, Islamic extremism has been fomented and directed against nations hostile to American imperialism.
In recent years the once peaceful Arab Spring turned into violent riots thanks to the ideological inspiration of movements such as Saudi Wahhabism or the Muslim Brotherhood. This distorted view of Islam has often been the catalyst transforming initially peaceful movements into violent anti-government clashes. The Wahhabi ideology and the Muslim Brotherhood’s political interpretation of Islam unites such capitals as Riyadh, Doha and Ankara with those fighting for the Islamic caliphate, namely Al Nusra Front/Al Qaeda. US geopolitical ambitions have increased over the years through terrorist attacks and the consequent destabilization of nations opposed to Washington. The use of terrorism as a geopolitical weapon is not new for the United States when one remembers the stay-behind networks that operated in Europe during the Cold War.
This conglomerate of power has in the last 30 years guided American foreign policy, justifying interventions in foreign countries under the pretext of fighting terrorism (Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan), or by using terrorism as a tool of destabilization (Syria, Egypt, Yemen). Consequently, the Wahabi/Brotherhood component continues to play to this day a major role in the constant quest for global supremacy by the US deep state.
Clinton Foundation, Huma Abedin and the US Deep State
The deep corruption that permeates the deep state has consistently enabled countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to buy modern and advanced means of warfare produced in the US. A summary of the so-called pay-to-play scheme goes as follows: money comes into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation thanks to generous donations from Riyadh and Doha, and in return they are cleared by the State Department (headed for many years precisely by Clinton) for the sale of weapons.
It is a simple mechanism that satisfies everyone: the foreign countries are able to get their hands on advanced weapons to be employed in future bloody wars; the weapons traders receive hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts; and the Clinton Foundation, as payment, receives millions of dollars in donations.
In a rather agreeable arrangement, the arms manufacturers earn back the money invested in election campaigns many times over, thanks to the resulting lucrative contracts closed with foreign countries. The consequences of such a wicked arrangement have been seen in wars of aggression by the Saudis against the Yemenis and the Turks against the Kurdish minority, all thanks to weapons sold by Washington. Another aspect of this arrangement relates to the sale of weapons to terrorists in the Middle East from the US thanks to the sponsorship of the Gulf nations. It is an evil system that in addition to enriching the producers of American weapons, as well as the Clinton Foundation together with satisfying the regional allies of the US, uses Gulf nations to provide cover to the US to directly provide advanced weaponry to terrorists. A typical example of this perverse arrangement is easily verifiable in the events in Benghazi, which still awaits truth and justice.
The drama around the emails contained on the computer of Huma Abedin and her ex-husband is probably attributable to the concrete risk that all this mess gets uncovered, including the unspeakable role of Clinton and her foundation in international terrorism. It remains to be seen in this complicated journey into the deep state what role the FBI and Donald Trump are playing. Although personally I have many doubts about the figure of Trump, one thing I am quite certain of is that a vast chasm separates him from the center of America’s deep-state establishment. While Clinton is a direct product of this tumor, Donald Trump comes from another set of circumstances, marshalling around him that patriotic feeling that many, even within the US government, are beginning to feel, particularly given that America’s international credibility, together with its confidence domestically, has collapsed dramatically.
Despite the constant efforts of the mainstream media to refute this representation of reality, the feeling is increasingly common in the minds of Americans that much of what ails the country today is this degenerate web of economic, political and strategic corruption. Many Americans are tired of seeing their nation fighting senseless wars far away from home without any real threat to their national security but with costs in the order of trillions of dollars.
The United States has been flirting immorally and illegally with organizations dedicated to terrorism, thanks to the many deep-state links. Such collusion existed before and after September 11, subsequently triggering the Arab Spring and destabilizing countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq. What we have seen in the last few days with Comey’s revelations may represent a veritable Pandora’s box. It is impossible to determine whether this scandal will eventually overwhelm Hillary Clinton. Perhaps the leaders of the deep state have decided to destroy the nomination of the Democratic nominee in favor of Donald Trump. Or maybe not; right now every hypothesis is valid. But if Trump wins on November 8, it may represent the triumph of the American people’s will to discard once and for all anything that even remotely smells of the 'deep state’, the redolence of which hangs heavily over Clinton and her aide Huma Mahmood Abedin._ _ _ _ _ _ _
George Washington's blog is dead on.
Take your hat off.
America, you’ve been played.
This is what happens when you play politics with matters of life, death and liberty.
You lose every time.
Unfortunately, in this instance, we all lose because of the deluded hypocrisy of the Left and the Right, both of which sanctioned the expansion of the police state as long as it was their party at the helm.
For the past eight years, the Left — stridently outspoken and adversarial while George W. Bush was president — has been unusually quiet about things like torture, endless wars, drone strikes, executive orders, government overreach and fascism.
As Glenn Greenwald points out for "The Washington Post:"
Beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nation’s mass electronic surveillance…
Liberals vehemently denounced these abuses during the Bush presidency… But after Obama took office, many liberals often tolerated — and even praised — his aggressive assertions of executive authority. It is hard to overstate how complete the Democrats’ about-face on these questions was once their own leader controlled the levers of power… After just three years of the Obama presidency, liberals sanctioned a system that allowed the president to imprison people without any trial or an ounce of due process.
Suddenly, with Trump in the White House for the next four years, it’s all fair game again.
As "The Federalist" declares with a tongue-in-cheek approach, “Dissent, executive restraint, gridlock, you name it. Now that Donald Trump will be president, stuff that used to be treason is suddenly cool again.”
Yet as Greenwald makes clear, if Trump is about to inherit vast presidential powers, he has the Democrats to thank for them.
A military empire that polices the globe. Secret courts, secret wars and secret budgets. Unconstitutional mass surveillance. Unchecked presidential power. Indefinite detention. Executive signing statements.
These are just a small sampling of the abusive powers that have been used liberally by Obama and will be used again and again by future presidents.
After all, presidents are just puppets on a string, made to dance to the tune of the powers-that-be. And the powers-that-be want war. They want totalitarianism. They want a monied oligarchy to run the show. They want bureaucracy and sprawl and government leaders that march in lockstep with their dictates.
Most of all, they want a gullible, distracted, easily led populace that can be manipulated, maneuvered and made to fear whatever phantom menace the government chooses to make the bogeyman of the month.
Unless Trump does another about-face, rest assured that the policies of a Trump Administration will be no different from an Obama Administration or a Bush Administration, at least not where it really counts.
For that matter, a Clinton Administration would have been no different.
In other words, Democrats by any other name would be Republicans, and vice versa.
This is the terrible power of the shadow government: to maintain the status quo, no matter which candidate gets elected.
War will continue. Surveillance will continue. Drone killings will continue. Police shootings will continue. Highway robbery meted out by government officials will continue. Corrupt government will continue. Profit-driven prisons will continue. Censorship and persecution of anyone who criticizes the government will continue. The militarization of the police will continue. The government’s efforts to label dissidents as extremists and terrorists will continue.
In such a climate, the police state will thrive.
The more things change, the more they will stay the same.
We’ve been stuck in this political Groundhog’s Day for so long that minor deviations appear to be major developments while obscuring the fact that we’re stuck on repeat, unable to see the forest for the trees.
This is what is referred to as creeping normality, or a death by a thousand cuts.
It’s a concept invoked by Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond to describe how major changes, if implemented slowly in small stages over time, can be accepted as normal without the shock and resistance that might greet a sudden upheaval.
Diamond’s concerns are environmental in nature, but they are no less relevant to our understanding of how a once-free nation could willingly bind itself with the chains of dictatorship.
Writing about Easter Island’s now-vanished civilization and the societal decline and environmental degradation that contributed to it, Diamond explains, “In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism… Why didn’t they look around, realize what they were doing, and stop before it was too late?
What were they thinking when they cut down the last palm tree?”
His answer: “I suspect that the disaster happened not with a bang but with a whimper.”
Much like America’s own colonists, Easter Island’s early colonists discovered a new world — “a pristine paradise” — teeming with life. Almost 2000 years after its first settlers arrived, Easter Island was reduced to a barren graveyard by a populace so focused on their immediate needs that they failed to preserve paradise for future generations.
To quote Joni Mitchell, they paved over paradise to put up a parking lot._ _ _ _ _ _
From Crooked Timber we get a lesson about the alleged failure of "liberal progressivism:"
As if anyone even remembers the definition of those terms anymore.
Let the pretenders/grifters have the floor (and thereby expose themselves)!
The other day, an article by Chris Deerin, a writer for the "Scottish Daily Mail," appeared on my twitter timeline, retweeted and endorsed by several people I respect. The article argued Trump and Brexit mean that “liberal progressives” have lost and that “the model that has more or less dominated Western politics for the past three decades is defunct. It could not be more dead.” “We” misused that hegemony and are responsible for our own downfall:
We used our hegemony to take down barriers and borders, to connect and build, to (yes) line our own pockets and smugly luxuriate in the goodness of our ideas and intentions. Meantime, we forgot about those who weren’t able to take part, who weren’t benefiting, to whom free trade and open borders meant greater hardship and uneasy cultural compromises. Or, let’s be honest, we didn’t forget – we just chose to conveniently ignore. We stopped asking for their permission, ploughed on through the warning signs, and fell off the end of the road.
Now “liberal” is a funny old word, mostly used as an insult these days by the Jacobin crowd on the one hand and conservatives on the other. Still, I can’t help but feel that my politics is being condemned here as infeasible and dead whilst wondering whether it is in fact true that I’ve enjoyed such “hegemony” for the past 30 years, because that certainly doesn’t gel with my experience. To get pedantic about it, 30 years takes us back to 1986. Mrs Thatcher was still in power in the UK and her most illiberal single measure, Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was still in the future, outlawing British local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality.
In the United States, Ronald Reagan still had a few years to go, and would then be replaced by former CIA Director George H.W. Bush. So whenever this liberal progressive hegemony started, it was considerably more recently. Presumably, in the US it starts with Bill Clinton — a man not without his illiberal side — but then gets interrupted by George W. Bush, whose liberal progressivism included Guantanamo and waterboarding, before “normal service’ got re-established by Barack Obama.
In the UK, you could make a plausible case that some kind of “liberal progressivism” took power with Tony Blair in 1997 and then ran on all the way to 2010, though the use of the word “liberal” to describe the attitudes and policies of successive Labour Home Secretaries such as Straw, Blunkett, Clarke and Reid would be curious. In the United States, the past 30 years has seen a massive expansion of the prison population, hardly the mark of liberal progessivism.
Since the article specifically identifies immigration as one of the areas of liberal triumph during this period, it might be worth directing some attention there. Whilst the opening of the UK to migration from new accession EU countries is a big element that supports the claim, pretty much everything else in UK policy in the area does not. As the Migration Observatory reported recently, British immigration law added 89 new types of immigration offences from 1999 to 2016, compared with only 70 that were introduced between 1905 and 1998.
There was a massive increase in immigration detention in the UK over the same period and in recent years a series of moral panics about “foreign criminals” that have led to a serious erosion of the rule of law for some sections of society. Citizenship deprivation has become much more common, and is now used to punish not only those taking up arms against the state but also some criminals. A tightening of the spousal visa regime in the UK has separated tens of thousands of children from their parents and prevented many British citizens from living on the territory with their partner of choice. Meanwhile in the US, deportations of irregular migrants including people who entered the United States as small children, disfigured the Obama administration. My Facebook is full of people up in arms about Donald Trump saying he’ll deport 2-3 million, but where were they when Obama deported 2.5 million? Liberal progressivism, it would be nice to try some.
And from a social and economic justice perspective, the liberal progressive agenda has gone backwards rather than forwards over much of the period. The Rawlsian ideal of society as a system of co-operation that both guarantees basic liberties but ensures that society works for the benefit of everyone, and especially the least advantaged, looks further away now than it did in the 1970s. The “well-ordered society,” in some respects recognizably the philosophical expression of the New Deal looks unimaginably distant from our present condition. Now political philosophers worry about the relevance of “ideal theory,” which can seem like a Byzantine discussion of the architecture of castles made of chocolate: back then a fair society seemed almost close enough to touch.
. . . So what Deerin’s article actually means by “liberal progressivism” is a set of policies of free trade, deregulation and privatization, pursued aggressively by governments of all stripes over the past thirty years. These have indeed failed people, and policies of austerity coupled with bailouts for the banks have enraged the voters, so that many people, nostalgic for a more equal and more functional society but confused about who to blam, have channelled their resentments against immigrants and minorities.
I wouldn’t want to be misunderstood here. What is coming is far far worse than what we’ve had. For all of their many faults, Blair, the Clintons, Obama, and even, occasionally, Bush and Cameron paid lip-service to ideals of freedom and equality, to the rule of law, to the various international treaties and obligations their countries were parties to, even as they often worked in practice to evade them. Clinton practiced interdiction of refugees on the high seas, but stayed committed to the letter of the Refugee Convention. Cameron denied poor people access to justice and removed “foreign criminals” to distant countries without due process, but he included the “rule of law” in the roster of “British values.”
In the next period I expect a lot less of the shameful hypocrisy and a great deal more shameless assertion of power against people who have the wrong skin colour or the wrong class or live in the wrong country. But what has got us to where we are is not “liberalism," let along “liberal progressivism,” it is the systematic neglect of liberal respect for the rights of individuals coupled with the brutal assertion of deregulation and privatization. Liberalism didn’t fail and we need to defend liberal principles now.