Summary: Here are some harsh but important truths about America and its elites that you will not see elsewhere.
We own America. You are in our good hands.
Why the constant sense of crisis in America? Endless quantitative easing leading inevitably to hyperinflation, climate armageddon, Obama the socialist, Trump the fascist, the dollar becoming wastepaper, AIDS will kill us all, Alar on apples, jihadists, government debt, destruction from air and water pollution, peak oil, swine flu & Ebola. It is a constant drumroll of doom, as explained by Peter Moore in ”The Crisis Crisis” (Playboy, March 1987).
In the real world America’s problems are manageable and smaller than those we have surmounted in the past. America is in better shape than Europe and Japan. We have good demographics, sound economic fundamentals, relatively easily solved problems, and no powerful enemies.
Some of the credit for this goes to our ruling elites. They steer America away from the rocks because they own most of it.
Ignore the mockery of them that fills our media. That is typical pleasant peasant behavior. We are ruled by those who are elites in every sense of the word. Rich beyond imagination. Educated from America’s finest universities, which are among the best in the world. Their governance of America is brilliant, which is rare in history.
Their skill in maintaining power is remarkable, using a wide range of tactics. For example, they keep us aroused about foreign threats, funneling much of our national income into the DoD money pit. The fear of foreign foes keeps us obedient and malleable.
They skillfully defend against the two major threats to their power.
First, what if Americans see our common interests – and the extent to which we are exploited, with that the fruits from decades of economic growth gone into the pockets of the 1%? To prevent this they fragment us. They foment internal divisions, splitting us along a dozen fault lines. Race, ethnicity, gender, and religion. They foster development of the factions feared by the Founders above all things. They open our borders – making us an even more multicultural society, with the typical fierce intergroup competition and low social trust.
Second, what if a political movement beyond their control gains mass support. The two major movements in American history are the progressives and populists. The modern progressives’ platform — multiculturalism, multi-genderism, open borders, racism, sexism — is of limited appear and poses no threat to our elites.
But Populism is a threat to them. So the news media overflows with warnings about populism. Both parties consider populism an anathema. To listen to America’s great and wise, populists are an evil under every bed. It is safely contained.
I doubt the Roman Senate every achieved this level of political skill.
We can’t fight what we don’t see
America is well-governed, but not for us. We are losing – and don’t even realize it (except in some low-level sense). Our rulers’ success is the opposite of a conspiracy. They do everything in the daylight. It’s an open source movement, funded and operated by like-minded people. Most of their planning documents are well-known.
It is class warfare. But like warmonger, we cannot use this terms. A form of right-wing political correctness has banned such useful terms from our national thought stream – making it difficult to understand current events. It functions like Newspeak. Our rulers guide our language, which directs our thoughts, which channels our actions (which is why both Left and Right work to control our speech).
We bicker with one another, becoming ever more divided and weak, our rulers gain strength. Every day a progressive – populist alliance becomes less likely. But it is the only political force capable of defeating our elites (as it did during the New Deal).
This will be difficult. Elites are usually defeated only when incompetent or following an external event (e.g, depression, defeat in war). We will have to be smart and learn to stand together. The clock is ticking.
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- How do our leaders see us? Don the shoes of the 1%. Look down on the 99%. Describe the view.
- Will we be better off ruled by the 1%?
- The 1% are changing America. It’s our move.
- The 1% won a counter-revolution while we played.
- Those stupid Americans as seen in the eyes of our superiors.
- Our elites reveal their plan to govern America: divide and rule.
13 thoughts on “America is well-run. Not by us. Not for us.”
I know you like movie references. This article made me think about the line in the Matt Damon movie “The Good Shepherd”, a fictional account about the beginnings of the CIA. Damon’s character Ed Wilson went to the best prep schools, was handpicked from one of the Yale or Princeton secret societies (can’t remember which) and helped to create the new spy organization during the war.
Later in the movie he is talking to (I think) someone from the Italian Mafia that he is enlisting for some op:
That line has always stuck with me.
Wow. I’m amazed that line was said by the hero in a 2006 Hollywood film! The censors must have missed it.
That is a great example of how film and literature references are often revealing of our beliefs! Thanks for posting that.
I agree, the last 20 years or so have been the rise of an Oligarchy in America.
Bush in his 2nd term and the entire Obummer “Presidency” were a rise in a 2-tier system, where the rich financed Obummer and the Dems in exchange for “libertarian global trade” and immigration open borders to keep wages low. These same rich people lived under a govt welfare system and the middle class paid the bills. The middle class got Libertarianism while the rich got subsidies and welfare (Socialism funded by midele class). It was unstable and dangerous and that is why we have Trump now. We were going to become an Oligarchy like Europe if (H)Billary was elected.
Look at history: Libertarianism created the Robber Baron monopolies that prevented any growth or any competition in the early 20th century. It created social instability and widespread poverty. Violent riots were everywhere. Chaos ruled our cities, with places like 5-Points neighborhood of NYC (portrait in movie “Gangs of New York”) were dirty and poor, as Monopolies used mass immigration and cartels to keep wages artificially low. Our cities lacked basic roads and even sewer system under the Libertarian age of the late 1880s-early 20th century.
Once we forcefully broke up the Monopolies (Standard Oil, Edison’s electric, Carnegie Steel, etc) in early 20th century we created the Middle Class, the best engine of prosperity and growth in human history. Business creation, innovation, and property expanded enjoyed by widespread segments of American society.
There was TV show special on History Channel, it has a center-left tilt on some subjects, but it shows this whole thing very well, called “The Men Who Built America”. It shows how the monopolies, once helped promote growth, national development, and even product safety (example: Standard Oil created a kerosene of stable consistency and that prevented fires from people using kerosene poorly formulated) later hurt the country badly. But in time Standard Oil became a national monopoly, preventing any new small business start-ups. We saw this with Railroad monopolies, Edison Electric, Carnegie steel, communications (AT&T), telegraph, etc.
In some ways, America today IS back at the early 20th century. We have mass immigration hurting wages; we have an Aristocracy paying off and buying politicians (Bezos of Amazon has a SuperPAC buying 22 Democrat and 18 Republican Congresspeople in 2018 elections, under the guise of “supporting veterans for Congress”, Soros/Tom Styer/Zuckerberg literally own the entire Democratic party); we have monopolies preventing any new start-ups and sucking up all financing and the oxygen out of the markets (Amazon, FB, Tweeter, Google, etc).
The only hope we have is that unlike early 20th Century, we ALREADY have a President that wants to break-up the monopolies and is fighting back against “libertarian global trade” and mass immigration to depress wages.
So there is hope. :)
This is a great post, very dense in that you pack a lot of important ideas into few words. There is a lot going on in the news right now that shows there’s a show for the masses (Kavanaugh fiasco) and there’s business as usual (budget sails through with plenty of dough for bombs, bullets, and the like). Trump shows the contours of the deep state by what he’s allowed to check off his promises list and what he cannot. Yes to tax cuts, jacking up defense spending, regulatory rollback and fiddling with certain aspects of trade. No to the wall, or pulling out of Afghanistan, or curtailing our illegal presence in Syria.
If you take away the continuous hyperventilation about Trump and his tweets, most of what has actually *happened* probably would have happened under President Pence and you can bet your bottom dollar that President Clinton would have kept the bullets flying in Syria and Iraq and made sure the Saudis have plenty of fuel in the sky so they can bomb the Houthis into submission or extinction. We came, we saw, he died, indeed.
As far as organizing, a significant portion of the progressive leadership is destroying the possibility of building the broad coalitions that are necessary to win elections with its insistence of the primacy of identity politics and framing men in general and white men in particular as dangerous, useless, and expendable. Moreover, their over-the-top rhetoric about oppression often insanely rejects the notion that their oppressed constituency has agency and we’re stuck in this pattern forever (c.f., Te-Nehisi Coates).
Kinda makes it hard to get people to collaborate if they think that the other is a the source of all of their implacable woes or if they think that the other views you as a wastrel plucked from a basket of deplorables. It’s hard to organize when you can’t even talk because mere words and ideas unleash paroxysms of rage. Empire 101. Our society needs to reclaim a norm of civility and mutual respect so we can communicate at the very least.
That’s very well said. Nothing I couldn’t have said in a few thousand words. To boil it to 347 words shows some serious clarity of thought and expression!
“Our society needs to reclaim a norm of civility and mutual respect so we can communicate at the very least.”
It needs lots of things. But nothing happens until people decide to make it so. We lack people wanting to act. I have written 120 posts about how to reform American, but nothing effective about how to accomplish that – the vital step.
“I doubt the Roman Senate every achieved this level of political skill.”
I don;t know about that. The Roman Senate was pretty good at what they did for a long time, but they eventually lost it. Actually, I remember the old Avalon Hill game The Republic Of Rome (And God, does that ever date me.) You had to gain power for faction, but if you failed to defend and protect the Republic, then it would be conquered, or the masses would revolt, and EVERYONE lost the game. My copy is still around here somewhere.
You’ve had some very good posts these last few days, and I haven’t commented mostly because events have left me at a loss for words, and that doesn’t happen very often. As for a progressive-populist alliance, I’m not clear on who would be giving up what in exchange for what. I can imagine a series of compromises where say, the Left gives ground on immigration, or the big tech data monopolies, in exchange for the Right giving some ground on heath care, or the minimum wage, or gun control. But nothing like seems to be in immediate prospect. If we were playing the Republic Of Rome, I might be thinking about what I was going to do the rest of the evening since this game is clearly going down the tubes. But then again, in the Republic Of Rome, persistence was rewarded, and there were often last minute drastic reversals of fortune that produced sudden and unexpected outcomes.
I do have to agree with Bill Occam though, that the progressives are too addicted to identity politics to be interested in real compromise, and like every other political strategy, it’s beginning to show diminishing marginal returns. Which is partly how we got Trump.
Compromise, or that progressive-populist alliance, will come, if it comes, only when both sides are afraid of losing it all. And that may be too late.
“The Roman Senate was pretty good at what they did for a long time …”
You are, of course, correct. Mine was a rhetorical statement, not really a serious one. I don’t know of a way to compare our elites with those of the Roman Republic (the Senate wasn’t a big player during the Empire). The two situations are too different.
“As for a progressive-populist alliance, I’m not clear on who would be giving up what in exchange for what.”
If both sides saw the necessity, they would find a way. As it is, we appear to be happy as peons – with whining as our primary mode of political action.
“Compromise, or that progressive-populist alliance, will come, if it comes, only when both sides are afraid of losing it all. And that may be too late.”
That’s a logical way to look at it. But I disagree. History shows that such logical or emotional calculations are irrelevant. People wish to be free, risking their “lives, fortunes, or sacred honor.” Or they don’t. Usually they don’t. The West, esp the English-speaking peoples, have been the exception. But this too might be passing.
Time will tell.
The rulers haven’t worked for national success for at least 30 years. Globalization was a massive wealth and power transfer from the working and middle classes. Mass immigration was a second hit.
A united citizenry has high civic trust and civic virtue. Divide and conquer, bread and circuses, and class warfare are ineffective tools when consensus rules.
Neoliberalism has been horrible for most people.
Imperialism, especially neocon style, is all about creating a world safe for fraud and looting. “All wars are bankers’ wars” is a mostly true slogan. Greed pushes conquest. Systems that are closed to outside exploitation are the enemies. The costs of war are borne by the people. The trilions in profits and loot go to the wealthy.
Our elites believe they are not exploitive. They truly believe they serve the greater good for humanity. They are just fundamentally wrong. They are much like the hardcore criminals I have represented over the years. All of them can justify their crimes.
Hillary embodies all of the worst aspects of the elites.
Trump is a great threat because he disrupts all their plans. He breaks the illusion the elites have created. American First and nationalism are power counter moves to break through the narrative of the elites.
PS: Republic of Rome is a great game, maybe the most cutthroat Machiavellian ever.
“The rulers haven’t worked for national success for at least 30 years.”
Since the US has done so well during the past 30 years, that seems unlikely. Our leaders deserve at least some of the credit.
“Globalization was a massive wealth and power transfer from the working and middle classes. Mass immigration was a second hit. …Neoliberalism has been horrible for most people.”
Did you read the post? Do shepherds want the sheep to get rich? How much do ranchers worry about the cattle?
“Our elites believe they are not exploitive.”
Evidence? I had some very rich people as customers. I don’t recall any worrying about the peons.
“Trump is a great threat because he disrupts all their plans.”
Trump has governed as a standard Republican, albeit incompetently. The few exceptions, such as the Wall, have been stopped by the GOP Congress and the bureaucracy. Most of his appointees are both competent and standard conservative.
Where is Walt when we need him?
I believe that Walt Kelly via his Pogo would have summarized in even fewer words than all y’all … and me too. “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Cartoon found here https://goo.gl/HbwtMR
From Wiki here https://goo.gl/qaMlW9 “Pogo is the title and central character of a long-running daily American comic strip, created by cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913–1973) and distributed by the Post-Hall Syndicate. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp of the southeastern United States, the strip often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters. Pogo combined both sophisticated wit and slapstick physical comedy in a heady mix of allegory, Irish poetry, literary whimsy, puns and wordplay, lushly detailed artwork and broad burlesque humor. The strip’s content was intended for both children and adults. The strip earned Kelly a Reuben Award in 1951.
Oh how I pine for the 40s, 50s, 60s and someone to step up and speak today with the voice and mind of a Winston Churchill, Sam Clemens, Walt Kelly, Al Capp, Will Rogers, Will James, Eric Hoffer and a host of other “down homies.” Although in those days intellectually far above us groundlings in the penny seats, they were amazingly adept at distilling and synthesizing the complexities and convolutions of the human condition into the economies of art, quick wit and homely reason … and … masters of “co-mmunication.”
Respectfully … The Ole’ Buzzard … still sitting on and sifting through his heap of roadkill here https://goo.gl/kgXNXg and here https://justice4all.blog/2018/08/30/so-who-gets-the-dumb-assed-award/
“Oh how I pine for the 40s, 50s, 60s and someone to step up and speak today with the voice and mind of a …”
That is a common sentiment, and one with which I have no sympathy. Peasants always wish for a Winged Savior. They don’t get it. When we decide to again bear the burdens of self-government, irrespective of the cost, then we will find leaders. When we wish for strong leaders to carry us, we will get rulers.
Americans have learned nothing from history.
Rome was an immoral bankrupt, warmongering, tyrannical empire. Now the US is an immoral bankrupt, warmongering, tyrannical empire.
The US stock market crashed in 1929 and the USA made the depression worse by having a trade war. The US economy collapsed in 2008 and now the US will make the depression worse by having another trade war.
The US was stuck in a quagmire in Vietnam and now the US is stuck in quagmires in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Niger.
The USSR was a police state where everything was illegal so the Russians gave up and the Soviet Union collapsed. Now the US is a police state where everything is illegal so Americans have given up and the US will collapse.
“The US economy collapsed in 2008 and now the US will make the depression worse by having another trade war.”
The US economy did not “collapse” in 2008. It was a severe recession. A normal event in the business cycle. There was no depression. The US economy fully recovered and is now in an expansion.
“The US was stuck in a quagmire in Vietnam and now the US is stuck in quagmires in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Niger.”
Magnitudes matter. 9.1 million US military served in Vietnam; 58 thousand died. Comparing the tiny number of US troops in those five countries to Vietnam is nuts. Comparing the even tinier casualties to Vietnam is bizarre. Nor are they quagmires in any meaningful sense.
“Now the US is a police state”
Get a grip. Read about what real police states are like.