"and now, i am not angry, just sad. sad that the death knell of the american democratic republic has turned into a funeral march. many folks looked to obama as someone who would lead america back towards democracy- but there is no democracy in politics. survival of the richest and fittest- and obama and the congress caved yet again to corporate interests. i mean, you can't bite the hand that feeds you, right?"I'm still reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.
It's still blowing the top off my head.
Making me really sad and a little hopeless, too. The powers that be don't plan on making any concessions to the Left. The Democrats, the NDP, whatever the designated left parties in any of our countries tell us...none of their platforms mean shit. They know this. They have purposefully undereducated the vast majority of their voters to such a large extent that these people don't realize that they're participating in ritual games that won't ever have a positive outcome for everyday people. The way those in power, in real power, high up past their puppets the politicians see things, they don't have to play nice or fair...anymore...
Obama who? If you don't know what him or Hilary will do when they get into power, you're fucking fooling yourselves.
I read this about events just after the defeat of Hitler up until just after the fall of the Soviet Union...the game...their economic agendas linked to the supremacy not of democracy but of capitalism as the sole economic system holding sway over the whole planet, is clear and terrifying...
"When the Cold War was in full swing and the Soviet Union was intact, the people of the world could choose (at least theoretically) which ideology they wanted to consume; there were the two poles, and there was much in between. That meant capitalism had to win customers; it needed to offer incentives; it needed a good product. Keynesianism was always and expression of that need for capitalism to compete. President Roosevelt brought in the New Deal not only to address the desperation of the Great Depression but to undercut a powerful movement of U.S. citizens who, having been dealt a savage blow by the unregulated free market, were demanding a different economic model. Some wanted a radically different one: in the 1932 presidential elections, one million Americans voted for Socialist or Communist candidates. Growing numbers of Americans were also paying close attention to Huey Long, the populist senator from Louisiana who believed that all Americans should receive a guaranteed income of $2,500. Explaining why he had added more social welfare benefits to the New Deal in 1935, FDR said he wanted to "steal Long's thunder."They are like a fox in the hen house because they believe there are no "competitors" powerful enough to force them to soften or otherwise alter their blood thirsty agendas in any way whatsoever. Sweet.
It was in this context that American industrialists grudgingly accepted FDR's New Deal. The edges of the market needed to be softened with public sector jobs and by making sure no one went hungry -- the very future of capitalism was at stake. During the Cold War, no country in the free world was immune ot this pressure. In fact, the achievements of mid-century capitalism, or what Sachs calls "normal" capitalism -- workers' protections, pensions, public health care and state support for the poorest citizens in North America -- all grew out of the same pragmatic need to make major concessions in the face of a powerful left.
The Marshall Plan was the ultimate weapon deployed on this economic front. After the war, the German economy was in crisis, threatening to bring down the rest of Western Europe. Meanwhile, so many Germans were drawn to socialism that the U.S. government opted to split Germany into two parts rather than risk losing it all, either to collapse or to the left. In West Germany, the U.S. government used the Marshall Plan to build a capitalist system that was not meant to create fast and easy new markets for Ford and Sears but, rather, to be so successful on its own terms that Europe's market economy would thrive and socialism would be drained of its appeal.
By 1949, that meant tolerating from the West German government all kinds of policies that were positively uncapitalist; direct job creation by the state, huge investment in the public sector, subsidies for German firms and strong labour unions. In a move that would have been unthinkable in Russia in the 1990s or Iraq under U.S. occupation, the U.S. government infuriated its own corporate sector by imposing a moratorium on foreighn investment so that war-battered German companies would not be forced to compete before they had recovered. "The feeling was that letting foreign companies come in at that point would have been like piracy," I was told by Carolyn Eisenberg, author of an acclaimed history of the Marshall Plan. "The main difference between now and then is that the U.S. government did not see Germany as a cash cow. They didn't want to antagonize people. The belief was that if you come in and start pillaging the place, you interfere with the recovery of Europe as a whole."
This approach, Eisenberg points out, was not born of altruism. "The Soviet Union was like a loaded gun. The economy was in crisis, there was a substantive German left, and they [the West] had to win the allegiance of the German people fast. They really saw themselves battling for the soul of Germany."
Eisenberg's account of the battle of ideologies that created the Marshall Plan points to a persistent blind spot in Sachs's work, including his recent laudable efforts to dramatically increase aid spending in Africa. Rarely are mass popular movements even mentioned. For Sachs, the making of history is a purely elite affair, a matter of getting the right technocrats settled on the right policies. Just as shock therapy programs are drafted in secret bunkers in La Paz and Moscow, so, apparently, should a $30 billion aid program for the Soviet republics have materialized based solely on the common-sense arguments he was making in Washington. As Eisenberg notes, however, the original Marshall Plan came about not out of benevolence, or even reasoned argument, but fear of popular revolt. Sachs admires Keynes, but he seems uninterested in what made Keynesianism finally possible in his own country: the messay, militant demands of trade unionists and socialists whose growing strength turned a more radical solution into a credible threat, which in turn made the New Deal look like an acceptable compromise. This unwillingness to recognize the role of mass movements in pressuring reluctant governments to embrace the very ideas he advocates has had serious ramifications. For one, it meant that Sachs could not see the most glaring political reality confronting him in Russia: there was never going to be a Marshall Plan for Russia because there was only ever a Marshall Plan because of Russia. When Yeltsin abolished the Soviet Union, the "loaded gun" that had forced the development of the original plan was disarmed. Without it, capitalism was suddenly free to lapse into its most savage form, not just in Russia but around the world. With the Soviet collapse, the free market now had a global monopoly, which meant all the "distortions" that had been interfering with its perfect equilibrium were no longer required...
Now that there was no need for compromise, all those moderating social policies were under siege in Western Europe, just as they were under seige in Canada, Australia and the U.S. Such policies were not about to be introduced in Russia, certainly not subsidized with Western funds.
This liberation from all constraints is, in essence, Chicago School economics (otherwise known as neo-liberalism or in the U.S., neo-conservatism): not some new invention but capitalism stripped of its Keynesian appendages, capitalism in its monopoly phase, a system that has let itself go -- that no longer has to work to keep us as customers, that can be as anti-social, anti-democratic and boorish as it wants. As long as Communism was a threat, the gentlemen's agreement that was Keynesianism would live on; once that system lost ground, all traces of compromise could finally be eradicated, thereby fulfilling the purist goal Friedman had set out for his movement a half century earlier.
That was the real point of Fukuyama's dramatic "end of history" announcement at the University of Chicago lecture in 1989; he wasn't actually claiming that there were no other ideas in the world, but merely that, with Communism collapsing, there were no other ideas sufficiently powerful to constitute a head-to-head competitor."