Tag Archives: populism

Populism is reshaping the West. Here’s what we can expect to get.

Summary: Suppressed for generations, the greed and incompetence of the West’s elites allowed populism to re-emerge. But few understand it. Many confuse it with progressivism. Elites consider it “the bad thing”, when the proles slip their leash. Populism is reshaping western nations. We should understand it. To help us, here is a clear introduction in which a professor at Oxford reviews a new book about populism by a professor at Princeton.


Is Europe Disintegrating?

By Timothy Garton Ash.

Excerpt from the London Review of Books,
19 January 2017.

A review of What Is Populism?
by Jan-Werner Müller.


I have used the word “populist” several times without pausing to define it. But isn’t it just a woolly, catch-all term for parties, movements, and presidential candidates we don’t like? What is populism? This is the question addressed in an excellent short book by Jan-Werner Müller, a German scholar who now teaches at Princeton. Müller recalls that Richard Hofstadter once gave a talk titled “Everyone Is Talking about Populism, but No One Can Define It” {at the London School of Economics, 1967}, yet he makes the best effort I have seen to give the term a coherent contemporary meaning.

Populists speak in the name of “the people,” and claim that their direct legitimation from “the people” trumps (the verb has acquired a new connotation) all other sources of legitimate political authority, be it constitutional court, head of state, parliament, or local and state government. Donald Trump’s “I am your voice” is a classic populist statement. But so is the Turkish prime minister’s riposte to EU assertions that a red line had been crossed by his government’s clampdown on media freedom: “The people draw the red lines.” So is the Daily Mail’s front-page headline denouncing three British High Court judges who ruled that Parliament must have a vote on Brexit as “Enemies of the People.” Meanwhile, Polish right-wing nationalists justify an ongoing attempt to neuter Poland’s constitutional court on the grounds that the people are “the sovereign.”

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Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%

Summary: Trump appoints an all-plutocrat “Strategic and Policy Forum”. No need to guess what comes next. Congratulate Trump for running as a populist, the most effective political con in US history. It is the inevitable next step as our elites explore and exploit our gullibility. This can inspire us to push for reform of American politics, while we still can.

“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
— Joseph de Maistre (lawyer, diplomat, philosopher), Letter #76 dated 13 August 1811, published in Lettres Et Opuscules Inédits.

Project New America

In 2008 the world saw the strange spectacle of the Left fantasizing about the coming era of Obama. Elected despite his minimal experience in office, they saw him as The One bringing hope and change, to “begin the process of changing our politics and our civic life“. This culminated in the mad award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him in October 2009. In 8 years he broadened our wars, beginning unprecedented programs of surveillance, assassination, and suppression of whistle-blowers — plus the giving the health care industry the unaffordable cornucopia of ObamaCare (covering more people, but with health care spending projected to grow at over 2x faster than GDP).

Now the Right does the same. Elected as a populist, he prepares to rule as a ring-wing plutocrat, assisted by solid conservative majorities in both Houses of Congress — one of the largest political cons in US history. We need not guess what comes next. His executive appointees for domestic policy are mostly billionaires and far-right activists. In Washington people are policy.

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Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.

Summary: Seeing the truth in politicians’ intentions ranges from difficult to impossible. But people are policy. Watch Trump’s appointments to learn what to expect. So far the indications are that we are in big trouble, and Trump’s talk of populism and throttling back our wars was just another Trumpian con. Here’s the scoop so far. We’ll know for sure in a few weeks.

“Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss.
— “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who.

Donald Trump - thumbs-up

Opening hints: meet the transition team

The Chicago Tribune reports “Meet Frank Gaffney, the anti-Muslim gadfly reportedly advising Trump’s transition team“.  Jessica Schulberg at HufPo said that Gaffney “Is Even More Anti-Muslim Than Donald Trump” — “Here are some of the most Islamophobic theories spun out of the mind of Frank Gaffney.”

That’s small-time madness. For the big time see Trump’s new Chief Strategist: “This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World” by J. Lester Feder at Buzzfeed — “The soon-to-be White House chief strategist laid out a global vision in a rare 2014 talk, one where he said racism in the far right gets ‘washed out’ …” It seems that Trump lives in a Breitbart world, quite different than the real one.

Names of rumored candidates for high posts on Team Trump

Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary — appointed

Mnuchin (Wikipedia) is a the former Goldman Sachs banker who became Trump’s national finance chairman and is said to be the top candidate for Treasury secretary. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, is also rumored to be a contender for the job. Marie Bartiromo of Fox reiterated those rumors today on Twitter.  Reuters said…

“A Trump transition team source told Reuters that Dimon is “pitching hard” for the Treasury role. Another source said Dimon was not interested in the job. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. …Although Dimon has said repeatedly and publicly that he would not want the job,”

It is a choice of Tweedledum or Tweedledee. If Trump appoints a banker as Treasury Secretary, then we know the “populism” talk was just a scam.

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An anthropologist reminds us why Trump rose & how populism will survive his crash

Summary: Now that Trump has self-destructed and the inevitable landslide (which I predicted in August) looms, the Left believes it can forget the forces that brought Trump close to victory. FAILure to learn is our national affliction. Anthropologist Maximilian Forte reminds us why Trump arose from nothing and why populism might survive Trump’s crash.

Tiago Hoisel: surreal image

Tiago Hoisel: surreal image.

Terminal Condition: Neoliberal Globalization

By Maximilian C. Forte from Zero Anthropology, 13 March 2016.
Reposted with his generous permission.

After decades of protests and riots against neoliberal structural adjustment; after anti-globalization mass movements flourished across North America and Europe; after a large portion of Latin America and the Caribbean elected socialist governments; after waves of anti-Western cultural and religious revitalization movements (some violent, some not) have spread from Indonesia to Europe; after nationalist and nativist movements have achieved unprecedented political prominence in Europe since the 1930s; and, with entire libraries of research produced to show all of the illogic and injustices of corporate globalization which make sense only as the orchestration of the most massive transfer and concentration of wealth in history – after all of this, it would have been surprising if we were not yet in a position to speak of the impending death of neoliberalism.

The neoliberal elites know this, and they are seized by an absolute panic as they see the fundamental tenets of neoliberalism come under mass, electoral repudiation in the heart of the international capitalist system, the US itself. Discussion of the collapse of the neoliberal imperial disorder is therefore far from premature; it is overdue.

Nobody should have believed that the end of neoliberalism would be smooth, peaceful, harmonious or pleasant. There is absolutely nothing to say that movements that are politically right-wing cannot be the ones to bring an end to this order. Once we put these two forms of wishful thinking aside, that is, that there will be a peaceful transition and it will be led by “progressives,” we can be better prepared to grasp current realities.

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The hidden details of the October surprise about Trump’s “sexual assaults”

Summary: As expected, an October surprise has arrived to tilt the vote. Key developments in the election (Circus 2016) are lost in the media frenzy about this new Trump soundbite, things which reveal much about America today — and our future.  Let’s drag them into the light.

October surprise


  1. Clinton’s real platform.
  2. About the morality of US presidents.
  3. Our elites find an effective smear on Trump.
  4. Our elites: “No need for Americans to vote!”
  5. Implications of this October surprise.
  6. The Anything But Issues election.
  7. For More Information.

(1)  Clinton’s real platform

Clinton has wisely decided to run against Trump on the Anything But Issues platform instead of her program of supporting Wall Street and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (does anyone seriously believe her public dithering about it?) plus aggressive foreign wars and domestic social engineering. This is folly. Avoiding these issues — and Trump’s more popular ones (described here, here, and here) — is ineffective against Trump — as the polls show – and gives her no mandate if she wins.

(2)  About the morality of US presidents

Many high US officials have been adulterers and even serial adulterers. More spectacular was the soap opera-like White House of President Franklin Roosevelt, the cousin he was having an affair with, the cousin he was married to, and her girlfriend and Kennedy’s festivities with women (including naked pool parties).

The cherry on the top of this history is Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern. Feminists would have crucified a GOP president for that, doubly so for his team’s attacks on Monika Lewinsky — smearing her as “a ‘stalker’ and that the President was ‘the victim’ of a predatory and unstable sexually demanding young woman“. They would have done so a second time after revelation of his perjury in defense of his sexual misconduct (i.e., employer to young woman). Only her blue dress brought the truth out. Plus the accusations of sexual assault and even rape (Juanita Broddrick). Believe the victim when you are told to do so!

Trump’s serial adultery would add to this American tradition. The crudity of Trump’s conversation rivals that of LBJ (who famously involved his dick, “Jumbo” in the lives of his staff and visitors). Much worse, imo, is Trump compulsive lying. His own lawyers meet with him in pairs because Trump lies so much (caught by Southpaw from a 7 April 1993 deposition of Patrick T. McGahn (see p. 58, numbered page 77).

I worry about the Republic when its people like leaders such as Clinton and Trump (Trump is, of course, far worse in every sense).

“CNN’s Erin Burnett recounts an incident told to her by a friend she has known for years who alleges Donald Trump allegedly tried to kiss her.” — From CNN. A capital crime!

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Did Trump have a perverted attraction to 12-year old Paris Hilton? Details of a smear.

Summary: Every week Campaign 2016 becomes more obviously Circus 2016, as the latest smear of Trump shows. We must understanding how and why this happened in order to retake the reins of America. Ratings are one reason, the needs of the 1% is another. The second is obvious, the latter is hidden.

Paris Hilton


A new smear: Howard Stern interviews Trump

Here is a fine example of clickbait journalism in the service of Clinton, from the “objectively pro-Trump” media: “Trump Admits He Found 12-Year-Old Paris Hilton Attractive” by Alana Horowitz Satlin (editor) at the Huffington Post. Congratulations are due to the Huffington Post’s attorneys. It is skillfully written. Here is the text that Alana finds so awful.

Trump: “Now, somebody who a lot of people don’t give credit to but in actuality is really beautiful is Paris Hilton. I’ve known Paris Hilton from the time she’s 12, her parents are friends of mine, and the first time I saw her she walked into the room and I said, ‘Who the hell is that?’”
Stern: “Did you want to bang her?”
Trump: “Well, at 12, I wasn’t interested. I’ve never been into that. I’ve always stuck at that 25 category.”
Stern: “But even at 12 you…”
Trump: “I saw her at 12, she was beautiful. Honestly, Paris gets knocked at a lot, but she is very beautiful.”

Satlin also mentions that Trump “admitted that he had watched her sex tape.” As had millions of other Americans. This was picked up by the liberal echo chamber, such as in People and at Mediaite (“a trusted source on the intersection of politics and media”).

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A solid leftist shows why Trump might win

Summary: Trump’s virtual tie with Clinton in the polls baffles the Left. They own writings provide the solution to this puzzle. Trump might win if Clinton shares their thinking. Let’s hope more empathetic voices are heard in her campaign.

The Left’s mantra in Campaign 2016Greatness through righteous

Too see one reason why Trump and Clinton are roughly tied in the polls see “What are the sources of Trump’s support?” by Paul Campos (Prof of law at U CO-Boulder) at Lawyers, Guns, and Money — Excerpt:

“How is it possible that he’s polling even with Clinton at present? Potential explanations, from least to most disturbing:

  1. A general anti-establishment mood in the electorate, that’s hurting uber-establishment candidate HRC. …
  2. Low information partisan responses. …
  3. Hatred of Clinton …25 years of GOP hysteria with its endless fake scandals… misogyny. …
  4. Ethno-nationalist nativism, soft version. ‘I’m not a racist but …’ …
  5. Ethno-nationalist nativism, hard version. ‘I believe in white supremacy. If that makes me a racist then I guess I’m a racist.’”

How wonderful to be so right, and have your political opponents so evil! Campos cannot see even one logical or moral reason to vote for Trump. This is a Manichean world view, a cartoon-like vision of people as good or evil. It’s a feel-good way to lose elections. Building coalitions requires some empathy for people who disagree with you, to identify common beliefs that can be built upon. Calling them ignorant racists gives them as a gift to Trump.

In January Molly Ball at The Atlantic listed some similarities between Sanders and Trump, things that Campos probably agrees with.

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