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January 27, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-05

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Bay of Pig 2.0?

To enlighten others about the situation in Venezuela you can spread the link to this excellent five minute rant (vid) by Rania Khalek. All the important points are in there.

Yesterday Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, made some interesting comments. He confirmed the recent reporting of Elijah Magnier that Israel will have to fight Syria and Lebanon should Netanyahoo decide to cross specific red lines. The gist of Nasrallah's interview can be found in this thread.

Recommended read: Jonathan Cook on The Failure of the Liberal System:

In one sense, their diagnosis is correct: Europe and the liberal tradition are coming apart at the seams. But not because, as they strongly imply, European politicians are pandering to the basest instincts of a mindless rabble – the ordinary people they have so little faith in. Rather, it is because a long experiment in liberalism has finally run its course. Liberalism has patently failed – and failed catastrophically. ...

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on January 27, 2019 at 18:55 UTC | Permalink

next page »

@ 1

Only disappointing or surprising to those who invent a fake Bernie Sanders in their head and ignore the long running con-artist record of the real one.

Re the Failure of Liberalism:

"The manifesto was penned by Bernard-Henri Levy, the French philosopher and devotee of Alexis de Tocqueville, a theorist of classical liberalism. Its signatories include novelists Ian McEwan, Milan Kundera and Salman Rushdie, the historian Simon Shama, and Nobel prize laureates Svetlana Alexievitch, Herta Müller, Orhan Pamuk and Elfriede Jelinek."

There's the usual suspects all right. I wonder how many US fake radicals would've been willing to sign as well.

Although there's many reasons to reject liberalism (by which I mean the whole classical tradition, not just today's totally rotted corporate liberalism), all I really need to know is that it foresaw the entirety of the ecological crisis and not only did nothing to prevent it but actively, joyously has done and continues to do all it can to drive it to its worst. Liberals just as much as conservatives are the destroyers of the earth.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 27 2019 19:42 utc | 1

b - thanks for a great week of top notch coverage and additionally for the link here to jonathan cooks article!

Posted by: james | Jan 27 2019 19:48 utc | 2

Never Mind the Bollocks @1

Great post for anyone that wants a better understanding how the US political elite play us.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 27 2019 20:34 utc | 3

Thanks, b. I'll echo james @3 for the great coverage. And the commenters here. It all enables a community of knowledge during dark times.


Apropos the Cook article, there's a recent piece in Counterpunch that deserves more exposure. Wiiliam Bowles linked it a few threads back and I had no time to say thanks:

The Yellow Vests, the Crisis of the Welfare State and Socialism

While the various critiques of socialism came out in force this week to demean Venezuela, it was useful to read this structural analysis of what socialism could actually do for France, and how it was in fact the only way forward.

This piece presented a concept I had not encountered, namely that higher taxes to redress the inequality gap don't work in the age of globalization, because the large sources of taxable income simply relocate offshore to other havens. The only way to redress this nowadays is to force the means of production to remain in the country - which means to nationalize them.

I think this paragraph contains an important dynamic to keep in mind as we move forward (my emphasis):

Deficit spending and the redistributive system, on which the welfare state is based, are stretched to their limits, producing the crisis that sparked the protests. Keynesian deficit spending attempts to stabilize capitalism by providing shock absorbers during its inevitable crises [...] redistribution mechanisms would depend on tax revenue, but taxing the wealthy and the corporations, in the globalized economy, just makes them flee the country. The only way to keep companies, factories, and their profits in the country is to nationalize them so they can’t leave. To create a durable “redistribution,” that is, true economic equality, the means of production have to be collectively – that is, publicly – owned.

The full paragraph also includes debt-to-GDP as a barrier to the classical Keynesian remedies. In choosing publicly owned means of production, one would choose public financing also, as I'm sure psychohistorian would agree. I actually think that the only way to effect psychohistorian's call for "money as a public utility" is through socialism, and that because of this, the way to achieve it has already been mapped.

I am increasingly convinced that socialism is the only antidote to capitalism, and that capitalism needs to end, and disappear from human social organization.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27 2019 20:37 utc | 4

What is the alternative to classical liberalism (not corporatism & crony capitalism) that ensures individual liberty of thought, beliefs and property AND recognizes the reality of who we are as humans and all our human frailties? Yes, those essentially human traits chronicled by the philosophers and writers from the Egyptian civilization to the Greek classics have not changed in millennia.

Like corporatism with concentration of production & wealth in monopolies and oligarchies, our experience of state ownership of the means of production have shown that it leads to just another class of oligarchs. The Soviet politburo apparatchik with their lives of luxury and private dachas on the Black Sea or the Chinese Communist Party politburo members worth billions of US dollars while extolling the virtues of the proletariat.

Classical liberalism built the greatest democratization of wealth and protection of individual beliefs in human history.

Posted by: ab initio | Jan 27 2019 21:39 utc | 5

It was an awakening week for me.

May and Elizabeth, the golden girls, have confiscated Maduro's gold bullions. Maduro is a Venezuelan tall guy with a moustache.

Then I realized the thieves were women. I used think the world would be a better place if women took part in politics. Then Hillary, Pelosi, Rice, Haley, well a few more female names came to my mind. Then I thought, hang on a minute, somebody is having me on.

Meanwhile we are MSM forced to look at Trudeau's colourful socks while being pickpocketted. Macron who somehow looks like Trudeau who reminds me of Cipras who reminds me of Guaido who reminds me of Pedro Sanchez of Spain, guys who are all against Maduro openly or indirectly. I wonder if they are all from the same womb.

This week there was full of Venezuela news in my head. There was a coup attempt in Turkey, the country I live in, two years ago. Same gang who tried their chances here (and failed) are having another go in Venezuela. The same gang was successful in Egypt.

Regime change via social media is new to me. Obviously some guys are trying out a new tactic. I wonder why they are so blatant?

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Jan 27 2019 21:57 utc | 6

fyi Given that Israel and Saudi now work so closely together on such things, the agents could be either...

Toronto-Based Citizen Lab, Which Exposed Israeli Spy Software, Targeted by Undercover Agents

"The Toronto-based researchers who reported that Israeli software was used to spy on WaPo journalist Jamal Khashoggi's inner circle before his gruesome death, are being targeted in turn by international undercover operatives, the Associated Press has found..."

Posted by: John Gilberts | Jan 27 2019 22:10 utc | 7

@ ab initio | Jan 27, 2019 4:39:55 PM | 6

„Classical liberalism built the greatest democratization of wealth and protection of individual beliefs in human history.“
Depends a bit on where you live and how old you are. It was true, for may be ca. 5% of the world population that needed ca. 50% of the available ressources. But see that this is over. Not the exploitation. The number of people who is allowed to profit from it is getting smaller. And now the big media players stopped to respect the individual wishes to get the facts first and are engaged in censorship and enforced sales of Fake News. Your status is then to worship some pseudo-religious cult if you do not change your mind with high speed.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Jan 27 2019 22:29 utc | 8

HSBC Bankers Colluded With Militarist Integrity Initiative To Target Fracking Opponents

Executives from the transnational financial institution HSBC contacted British military intelligence to discuss targeting of anti-fracking activists, according to documents released by Anonymous Europe.

Universities pursuing what Ian Cohen, managing director at HSBC Global Management, described as an "anti-fracking agenda," would be targeted and apparently smeared as recipients of Russian funding.

It is unclear whether or not either HSBC or the Integrity Initiative actually believe the debunked and fraudulent claim that anti-fracking organisers are financed by the Kremlin, but it wouldn't be hard to see the multinational bank cynically using the swivel-eyed militarists at II to promote a narrative in line with their financial interests.

According to Frack Off, HSBC has poured billions into Canadian tar sands, Cuadrilla, the company drilling for shale gas near Blackpool in Lancashire, and other projects.

Just yesterday, the bank faced major protests in Doncaster over its decision to increase its investment in IGAS, which recently started drilling in Mission Springs, endangering owl species and risking major earthquakes.

The bank also partnered with Saudi Aramco during the proposed IPO last year. Saudi Arabia declared at Davos its intention to become a "major player" in the US shale gas industry.

Another Davos attendant, fascist Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, saw a huge influx of HSBC money into his country following his victory on a platform of deforestation in the Amazon.

The Integrity Initiative's decision to align itself with "patriotic billionaires" like Ian Cohen of HSBC is based on the organisation's great fears that Russia is trying to undermine "Euro-Atlantic values."

NATO's Stratcom division defines "Euro-Atlantic values" as support for free market economics, individualism over collectivism, and belief in NATO, among other dubious worldviews rejected by massive sections of the UK and US public.

But these values are widely backed by corporations like HSBC and IGAS. The belief that regulations should be minimised shields them from all accountability when their dirty projects devastate wildlife and localities.

The idea that people can band together as groups or collectives is an existential threat to the companies, as fracking is overwhelmingly unpopular and can be resisted effectively by solidarity-minded communities.

As for NATO membership, the pumping up of a Russian threat on the border with Ukraine has allowed U.S. gas exporters to claim that fracking gas from across the pond is safer and in the national interest of European states, even though it is far more expensive than Russian gas, and any gas dangerously pollutes the environment, creating a vast security risk to ordinary people far more real than a Russian spectre.

Is there any wonder, then, why HSBC would be "patriotic?"

Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Jan 27 2019 22:53 utc | 9

This long article is well worth a read re: Syria and the stages of US involvement. Perhaps a little favorable to Obama but points out obvious mistakes: a) bringing the military attache when Ambassador Ford went to an opposition rally in Hama; b) the chemical weapons red-line was begging for a false flag (and it notes that the intelligence on the 2013 attack was not considered "a slam dunk"), and d) Kerry made mutually inconsistent statements on the same day.
It did not get into the likely very early involvement of the CIA, but it was clear that Assad has considerable support even among many Sunnis (a rare admission on anything published in the US; the author must be a Putin agent /s).
The comments about Obama's thoughts are very similar to a NYT article last year; he was deeply ambivalent about US involvement and asked for a still classified report on how often proxy wars succeed (the answer was likely almost never) and asked "tell me how this ends" when asked for more US involvement.

Posted by: Schmoe | Jan 27 2019 22:56 utc | 10

@ Posted by: ab initio | Jan 27, 2019 4:39:55 PM | 6

No. There was never universal suffrage under classical liberalism. Vote was men only and censitary (i.e. only rich men could vote). What we today call "Western Democracy" or "Representative Democracy" comes from a historical process of syncretism between the ruins of classical liberalism and socialism during the inter-war period (1918-1945).

Classical Liberalism died with the First World War, in 1914. Nostalgia for the period persisted for those who lived well during the time -- that's why, in some countries, the late period of the 19th Century until 1914 is often called the "Belle Époque".

Posted by: vk | Jan 27 2019 23:37 utc | 11

@ ConfusedPundit | Jan 27, 2019 4:57:21 PM | 7 - I wonder if they are all from the same womb.

FWIW, I would include Obama in that womb; Guaido at the podium reminds me very much of Obama-- they share a certain handsome, lean-faced earnestness.

Their respective opponents, GW Bush and Maduro look nothing alike, but I think that both Obama and Guaido hope that their looks and demeanor will present a refreshing deceptive contrast to the incumbents they strove, or strive, to unseat.

Obama certainly fooled too many people too much of the time.

I hope there's a Venezuelan equivalent to the saying, "Handsome is as handsome does."

Posted by: Ort | Jan 28 2019 0:38 utc | 12

Posted by: ab initio | Jan 28 2019 1:20 utc | 13

In regards to Cook's piece. There seems to be some confusion, or conflating liberal with neoliberal. Or maybe liberals are neoliberals. How would I know?

Posted by: Just Me | Jan 28 2019 1:21 utc | 14

@6 ab initio... thanks for the very black and white view... stick with the financial-military industrial complex where the goods on your table steadily shrink.. don't bother to read jonathan cooks article, as it would offer a different alternative and one you clearly aren't interested in..

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2019 1:26 utc | 15

Capitalism gets a bad wrap IMO. Reason for that is todays Capitalism has been corrupted since the Fall of Bretton Woods and the beginning of the Trilateral Technocratic Neoliberal era.

I recommend a recent book named The Myth of Capitalism:Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathon Tepper

“Ordoliberalism argued that capitalism requires a strong government to create a framework of rules that provide the order (ordo in Latin) that free markets need to function properly. The Ordoliberals thought state intervention through antitrust was an essential ingredient to make markets function. Government had to maintain a level playing field to allow competition to flourish. To Ordoliberals any competitor disappearance can harm consumers because it reduces consumer choices and strengthens the dominant firm. Competition, in their view, was the best way to prevent excessive private or public concentrations of power. Competition was the best guarantee of political liberty, as well as providing a superior economic mechanism”

Since the Reagan administration monopolies and cartels have been encouraged and industries have been allowed to flout antitrust and anticollusion laws. Horizontal shareholding has increased where the same institution own significant shares in a dwindling number of companies in the major industries encourage collusion. This has significant adverse effect on consumers and labor.

As for the Federal Reserve, it is blamed for everything under the sun but at the end of the day the real problem was Congress ending caps on usury in the 80’s and enriching the rentier class while punishing the productive economy and encouraging it to move offshore.

Grieved mentioned the problem with debt/GDP and globalization as a reason Keynesian economics can not work. Hogwash. Debt is only a problem when you owe it in a currency you dont control. 100% of US govt debt is in USD. As for controlling US companies , thats easy. US companies can be made to pay taxes on their global profits. Raise taxes on overseas profits (currently half what they are in US) , curtail tax agreements (limit amount of overseas taxes that can be deducted from us tax payments) and increase enforcement. To avoid companies leaving reinstate capital controls which Keynes thought essential , and which JFK was trying to strengthen before he got knocked off.

Any well run economy must have a mix between socialism and competitive but regulated capitalism. There is even a case to be made a limited number of industries to have a monopoly , but a well regulated monopoly.

None of this is rocket science but it requires government regulators and elected officials to be working for the best interests of all the people and not just the 1%. Keeping money from influencing elections is essential

Unfortunately change does not happen by wishing it . No savior will come and rescue you. Power is not relinquished easily by those holding it.

Posted by: Pft | Jan 28 2019 2:04 utc | 16

Thanks to b for the Personal Info upgrade of a while back and for the ongoing view into various aspects of humanities situation.

@ Grieved with the comment about socialism versus capitalism

The only part that I disagree a bit with is the capitalism going away entirely. If you mean private finance, I agree a thousand percent. But there is more to that spark of personal driven creativity that, IMO, socialism does not respect "properly". I believe we need creative outlets for people that pure socialism does not provide inherently.

Going to space to give mankind a frontier would be one effort to address that but also in my ideal of a social system there is room for and boundary challenge encouraged for individual/social involvement. We need to totally redefine and set in place methods to evolve contributions to and benefits from our social agreement. From the little I can see and understand China is trying to do that very thing right now.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 2:15 utc | 17

. . .from Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, another honest man bites the dust.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the resignation of Canada’s Ambassador to China, the Honourable John McCallum:
“Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s Ambassador to China. “For almost two decades, John McCallum has served Canadians honourably and with distinction. He held many positions in Cabinet over the years, including Minister of National Defence, Minister of Veterans Affairs and, most recently, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. His work as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in bringing in over 39,500 Syrian refugees remains an inspiration to Canadians and an example to the world. I thank him and his family for his service over the past many years.// . .here

McCallum was fired after the ambassador said an executive from Huawei Technologies had "good arguments on her side" to avoid extradition to the United States.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 2:30 utc | 18

@19 He also said it would be nice if the charges were dropped. That's bordering on straight talk.

Posted by: dh | Jan 28 2019 2:38 utc | 19

@ Pft with their opinions about how the world works

Capitalism only exists in theory and is another of those ism things that get confused with reality

Reality says we have global private finance tools that I don't need to repeat about again. These tools have given the owners the ability to control all aspects of Western society which they have done for the past hundreds of years. To the extent that you describe that " isn't rocket science." makes me wonder if you are intentional about your seeming ignorance.

To the issue of socialism versus capitalism which I redefine as sharing versus competition, let me repeat that I think we need both but each will need its own evolving "regulatory" envelope to keep abuse by the outliers.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 2:39 utc | 20

McCallum is Honourable to Canada, but Expendable to Trudeau's master USA, so he's gone. Why does Ottawa have to suck up to Washington? Is it wall avoidance?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 2:47 utc | 21

@15 Just Me,

Perhaps the one is the logical conclusion of the other.

Posted by: Jonathan | Jan 28 2019 2:47 utc | 22

@ psychohistorian | Jan 27, 2019 9:39:56 PM | 21
Capitalism only exists in theory
Really? I didn't know that.
capitalism: . . an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

On that subject, I see China replacing the US in world economic primacy, with China's trade and industry controlled by the state, not private owners.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 2:58 utc | 23

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 27, 2019 9:58:34 PM | 24

capitalism: . . an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

On that subject, I see China replacing the US in world economic primacy, with China's trade and industry controlled by the state, not private owners.

That's not the definition of capitalism. The whole "private owner" thing is misdirection. The essence of capitalism is surplus value extraction and metastatic cancer, aka economic "growth". In principle, industrial communism is merely a strain of capitalism, with the state as monopoly capitalist. In practice "communist" systems have been public-private hybrids, especially China. All are still capitalist.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 28 2019 3:14 utc | 24

Schmoe @11: [Obama] was deeply ambivalent about US involvement [in Syria]

Doubtful. AFAICT he did everything he could to support toppling Assad - including ignoring words of caution from the IC after the 'red line' false flag. He would've bombed Syria if Russia had not pushed hard for disarming Assad instead. After being blocked from bombing, Obama made a willful decision (as per Flynn) to allow ISIS to grow and prosper.

Obama told us why he had such a hard on for Syria he said: I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. And it wasn't just Syria. Obama overthrew governments in Libya and Ukraine too.

But his flimflam ambivalence was widespread:

- bragging about his drone targeting;

- supported TPP;

- allowed Clapper to lie to Congress;

- wouldn't hold CIA/NSA accountable;

- and much more.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 28 2019 3:32 utc | 25

@ Russ | Jan 27, 2019 10:14:07 PM | 25
That's not the definition of capitalism. The whole "private owner" thing is misdirection. The essence of capitalism is surplus value extraction and metastatic cancer, aka economic "growth".
Baloney. There are a multitude of corporations, privately owned, who take care of many of our needs in our communities. You want to provide the groceries and mend the plumbing? . . ."Value extraction and metastatic cancer" is poppycock.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 3:47 utc | 26

ai@ 6 said;"Classical liberalism built the greatest democratization of wealth and protection of individual beliefs in human history."

Rewriting history won't change that. Trouble is, it's been replaced by the new feudalism, also called neo-liberalism...

Posted by: ben | Jan 28 2019 3:56 utc | 27

@11 & 26
Obama worked to "advance a political transition in Syria" for five years, w/o success. Obama's SecState -- "I'm giving you my best" -- H. Clinton worked on the "Syria National Council" until about 2012, with meetings in Egypt and Qatar, and then when that bombed they came up with the "Syria National Coalition".
...from the files...

George Sabra, a former member of the Stalinist Syrian Communist Party, was elected president of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in Syria, in November 2012 and later became acting president of the Syrian National Coalition on 22 April 2013.
The Syrian National Coalition has named veteran dissident George Sabra as caretaker leader of the main opposition grouping, following the resignation of Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib. Sabra "was assigned today to carry out the functions of the head of the Coalition until elections for a new president," one of the Coalition's main constituent groups, the Syrian National Council, said in a statement on Monday. The announcement came a day after the widely respected Khatib submitted his resignation for a second time. Sabra, who until now led the Syrian National Council, will be the Coalition's caretaker leader until at least May 10, when the Coalition is scheduled to meet for leadership elections. A Christian and long-time communist, his prominence within the opposition is seen as a strong message to the international community of pluralism on the rebel side. He was born in Qatana near Damascus in 1947 and studied geography, going on to teach in the United States.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 3:59 utc | 28

@ Don Bacon and Russ with comments about capitalism

You continue to confuse the social science of economics with the reality of global private ownership of the tools of finance.

The social science of Western economics has as its goal the obfuscation of the folks behind the screen of their capitalism myth moving the levers.

The difference between China and the West is that China has created and executed thirteen 5-year SOCIALIST plans over the past 70 years and the West plays its socialize the losses and privatize the profits game as it uses Might-Makes-Right to extend and maintain its empire.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 3:59 utc | 29

@ psychohistorian | Jan 27, 2019 10:59:16 PM | 30
So how do we provide the groceries and mend the plumbing w/o capitalism?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 4:03 utc | 30


James - how do you know if ai read or did not read Cook's article? He was writing about political philosophies and making a claim that classical liberalism is unmatched among competing philosophies in terms of providing the broadest distribution of wealth? What has MIC got to do with that? You seem rather one-dimensional.

Posted by: JackB | Jan 28 2019 4:14 utc | 31

@31: Capitalism works just fine as long as it's controlled, and not allowed to run rampant.

Here's an alternative;

Posted by: ben | Jan 28 2019 4:18 utc | 32

@ Don Bacon with the focus on the term capitalism to describe a for of exchange of services and other things.

I suggest you drop the capitalism term and describe the "economic activity" in non-ism terms. I think usury is especially repugnant and you would call that an element of capitalism as would I. That said, humanity does need to have arrangements around investments at risk to establish costs and responsibilities with clear risk/benefit analysis and performance criteria around benefits.

Back to the Socialism myth/reality. I have mentioned in comments here before that I grew up in Tacoma, WA that is served by a good example of socialism called Tacoma Power. I suggest readers google it and see the kind of socialism that exists all around us and is a good working model for the provision of many of humanities core needs.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 4:44 utc | 33

ben @33

Yes! When the government works FOR THE PEOPLE, then it regulates properly. When it works for the wealthy and well connected, then it devolves into an oligarchy that presides over a toxic form of capitalism that is known variously as crony capitalism/neo-liberalism/fascism/corporatism.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 28 2019 4:45 utc | 34

Classical liberalism that was built on ideas from the end of the 18th century . My interpretation is it meant liberty of the property class (elites) and protection of wealth from government and lower classes, all of it tempered by Christian social values until they could destroy Christianity

American social liberalism of the left developed in the early 20th century along with the socialism movement making them indistinguishable to some, so non-socialist liberals were smeared as socialists by conservatives. Liberalism focused on defending social civil liberties and workers rights.

In the 1970’s , starting with Carter , the left adopted Classic Economic Liberalism joining forces with the right. Together they form the cult of neoliberalism.

The left pretends to still be social liberals , but its all talk because action on this front contradict their neoliberal beliefs and risks the money that comes in from their neoliberal backers. They disguise their lack of social liberalism by substitution with the cultural marxism that is the LGBT movement and white racism.

The rights conservative Christian liberalism has been corrupted by Christian Zionism and social darwinism. With the total control of government by the elites they no longer oppose Big Government. All thats left is their belief that the rich get richer is good for them, and their hatred of liberals and minorities, plus the eagerly awaited End Times.

One of Thomas Hobbes's theories is that government was created to protect people from themselves. I suspect he really meant protection of the elites from the lower classes. Charles Beard wrote a book showing how the constitution was written by elites to protect the property class (elites) from government and the multitude of the non property class (lower class).

Today government is simply the agent of the elites to protect their interests. The bigger the better. Both parties are controlled and thus so is government. Might be a handful of uncontrolled individuals who are allowed to exist for the sake of the illusion that someone is fighting for the little guy , but they are tolerated only so long as they are not too effective

So social liberalism is dead. Neoliberalism is very much alive and growing stronger. Those countries who dont kneel at the alter of neoliberalism are attacked on a multitude of fronts.

Utopia for elites. Dystopia for the rest.

Posted by: Pft | Jan 28 2019 4:49 utc | 35

@ psychohistorian | Jan 27, 2019 11:44:44 PM | 34
I suggest you drop the capitalism term and describe the "economic activity" in non-ism terms.
Okay you don't like to classify the local corporations who provide groceries and mend plumbing as capitalism, but Merriam-Webster disagrees:
Definition of capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.
This includes the corporations that provide the groceries and mend the plumbing, and a thousand other goods and services in our communities so we shouldn't knock it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 4:56 utc | 36

@ ben and Don Bacon with other alternative organizations

There is an employee-owned grocery chain called WINCO on the US West coast that I frequent. And then there is the evolution of food Co-ops and local farmer's least that is what I am seeing.

And then there is the northwest outdoor co-op REI which was great for years but has failed from success somehow in the intertube age.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 5:04 utc | 37

bad news department:
CNN White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny said Sunday on CNN's "Inside Politics" that Clinton told people "as recently as this week" that she isn't "closing the doors to the idea of running in 2020."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 5:11 utc | 38

@ psychohistorian | Jan 28, 2019 12:04:29 AM | 38
REI has been "co-op" in name only, also mismanaged so they're not doing as well.

The corporations who include their employees as owners is definitely a good thing, but one basis of US freedom is for any individual to identify a need and to fill it by founding a corporation to furnish the required goods or services. (been there, done that) Then including employees in profiting beyond a salary is an option, not a requirement. Nothing wrong with that. This business model has well served the country and its citizens in a myriad of goods and services, for many years, with no end in sight.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 5:29 utc | 39

@32 jackb... we don't... i never said we did either... post more frequently so i can get to know you.. at present your comment is very one dimensional.. and if you want to know the truth i thought his post @6 was very troll like..

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2019 5:37 utc | 40

@ Don Bacon with the capitalism hammer that he can't seem to put down

There are other ways to organize people to do things other than for profit, right Don?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 5:38 utc | 41

@32 jackb.. furthermore, if making a claim that classical liberalism is unmatched factors in the need for exploiting others without restraint, including the use of force - endless wars or threats of war, such as we witness with the usa and the west today, then either that ain't classical liberalism, or cl needs to die and soon... it's killing the planet! we can come up with a philosophy that doesn't have to exploit others 24/7, or cultivate a new form of slavery - what we have now with this bullshit classical liberalism you speak of..

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2019 5:43 utc | 42

@ psychohistorian | Jan 28, 2019 12:38:00 AM | 42
There are other ways to organize people to do things other than for profit, right Don?
There are organizations who do charity work, I love and support Father Joe, but the main drivers of the US economy are for-profit corporations. If WINCO can't make a profit it won't survive, same for Safeway, Ralph's and Publix. Profits rule the US economy, especially regarding stock prices. You may wish it away, but that doesn't change reality.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 5:48 utc | 43

Ok, Don, lets move on to the question of whether you think that there is any place in our world for organizations that provide services like my Tacoma Power example. or maybe local government.

Do you think all streets should be private?

How about power, water, sewage treatment, communication (US postal service)?

What about education, health care?

How about as a society we decide which of those we want to organize ourselves to take the PROFIT out of for the common good. Does that makes us bad in your eyes Don?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 5:51 utc | 44

@ psychohistorian | Jan 28, 2019 12:51:51 AM | 45
How about as a society we decide which of those we want to organize ourselves to take the PROFIT out of for the common good.
Okay, tell us what profit-based US corporations you would like to nationalize, and then suggest a way to accomplish that, with a rationale regarding any resulting operational improvement.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 6:03 utc | 45

You walked into that Don @ number 46

Global banking/financial services, please and thank you. Do I need to detail the "operational improvements"...grin

There is a theory called MMT that I suspect you could map to what China is doing minus the Western banking kink to their style

One accomplishes it by waking up the zombie public to the reality of the Western form of social organization

Thanks Don

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 28 2019 6:12 utc | 46

Jonathan Cook has written one of the best articles I've ever read on the topic of liberalism. Only a few things to add to his brilliant piece:

- The dissenters Cook mentions are called the Left - communism, socialism, anarchism. The myth of liberalism is rooted in the elite counter-revolution against the Jacobins with the Thermidor Reaction of 1794. Liberals have whipped up fears of instability, mass murder, and "totalitarianism" against anyone who wants to change the world to this day. Since 1989, we have been in a 30-year Thermidor, with collectivism (communism) criminalised and eternally slandered.

- He leaves out the current promotion of "classical liberalism" by tech giants and elites, rooted in figures like Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin. The decision to promote these people is not a mistake, as they represent the fusion of liberalism and the far-right, soon to be locked in a struggle with the dissenters. Macron and company are drawing on Marshall Petain and letter signatories like Applebaum who promote Ukrainian fascist ideology, and none of this is a coincidence.

-"Anti-Semitism" smears play a crucial role, perhaps essential, in the current liberal order, in attacking anyone who opposes it. Neoconservatism and Zionism are ideological seedlings fertilised by "Liberal Democracy" and anti-socialism. Slavoj Žižek thus rightly points out how the enemy of humanity is "democracy" even more than capitalism. Attempts to reveal these origins must be blocked at all costs by the elite because it would expose their fraudulence.

-Liberalism is the no. 1 political choice of the rich because global investments require politics that do not make any sudden changes that might spook investors. The inclusion of Bolosonaro as Davos's keynote speaker is a sign that they're running scared and have to move on to their no. 2 political choice.

"All of them are looking towards methods of dictatorship, authoritarianism, repression, censorship and outright fascism as a means of defending their wealth and rule."

Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Jan 28 2019 7:00 utc | 47

I am increasingly convinced that socialism is the only antidote to capitalism, and that capitalism needs to end, and disappear from human social organization.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27, 2019 3:37:34 PM | 5

I would enthusiastically second you on that.
The utter rubbish demonizing socialism is vehemently, even violently spawned by Capialists.
Socialism scares the hell out of them; they would no longer be able to plunder the poor and downtrodden.

Posted by: V | Jan 28 2019 7:09 utc | 48

@41 & 43 james

If someone does not agree with your viewpoint then they are a troll?

@6 - ai makes a point that Classical liberalism as a philosophy has provided the greatest democratization of wealth and protection of individual beliefs in human history. If you disagree why don't you provide an example of a political philosophy that has provided greater democratization of wealth and protection of individual beliefs. Why don't you argue the point instead of calling someone a troll? Or are you the troll?

"Classical liberalism is a political ideology...which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom."

Classical liberals argued for what they called a minimal state, limited to the following functions:

A government to protect individual rights and to provide services that cannot be provided in a free market.
A common national defense to provide protection against foreign invaders.[17]
Laws to provide protection for citizens from wrongs committed against them by other citizens, which included protection of private property, enforcement of contracts and common law.
Building and maintaining public institutions.
Public works that included a stable currency, standard weights and measures and building and upkeep of roads, canals, harbors, railways, communications and postal services.[17]

Posted by: JackB | Jan 28 2019 7:25 utc | 49

Jack B 50
The level of understanding - generally - in the Anglo world of Marxism is inadequate .
There are many reasons for this ! Marx himself was frustrated ( ironically ) by this reality .

Peace studies at Universities for example are no substitute for the dialectic thrust and dynamic of HISTORY studies. As Marx said the reality and concept of 'Surplus Value ' is the keystone to all . Capital IS history !

Posted by: ashley albanese | Jan 28 2019 8:44 utc | 50

We like to conflate private property with capital. They overlap to an extent, but the whole purpose of a limited liability corporation is to draw a distinction between personal private assets and capital.

And we like to conflate "legal persons" with "people". The distinction being that people do not need a body of legislation that allows them to exist.

When a company is Too Big to Fail, it is also Too Big to be Unregulated.

We failed to learn that lesson in 2008 and are going to pay for it again and again until we fix it.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 28 2019 9:44 utc | 51

Ab initio @ 6, James @ 41, 43, Jack B @ 50:

The goals that (as Jack B lists) "classical liberalism" - actually, modern liberalism - regards as worth striving for are actually not incompatible with public ownership of natural resources and utilities (water, electricity, energy), hence classical liberalism and what some would call moderate socialism could co-exist. In such a society, people would be allowed to own some property or to rent it from the government for x number of years if all land is publicly owned, and they could use this land for residential purposes or for business purposes, or some combination of the two. Land tax would be charged for the use of the land.

Most of what Jack B lists @ 50 are not even acknowledged by so-called neoliberals (or neofeudalists as they should be called) as proper goals. In their view, governments cannot run anything properly so all institutions, even government itself, should be privatised. Some would even advocate that only those who own property, or a certain minimum amount of property, should have voting rights and only those who have voting rights are worthy of police protection or protection against foreign invaders.

Historically those democratic rights and beliefs in democracy that we in the West used to enjoy had to be fought for by trade unions and socialists; they did not arise naturally out of industrialisation or the economic system and the ideology underpinning it that developed in Britain in the 19th century. While Britain was the richest and most industrially developed country in the world then, and had the largest empire, the vast majority of people in that empire, including Britain itself, lived in wretched poverty right throughout the century and well into the 20th century. Even in Scandinavia, trade unions in the 1930s fought governments to achieve political rights for their members and for working people generally.

In many parts of the Western world, including the United States, democratisation of wealth occurred only because Western governments realised they had to share the national wealth with the publics to ward off the attraction of Communism and forestall mass protests, demonstrations and uprisings. Democratisation of wealth is thus a relatively recent phenomenon.

"Classical liberalism" takes a very dim Hobbesian view of humans as purely self-interested and incapable of self-reform. Political freedoms are viewed negatively (that is, they are viewed as being free from restraint or regulation). Modern liberalism - the liberalism that developed in the mid to late 19th century - draws on Enlightenment views of humans as capable of reason and having the ability to improve and transform themselves. Under modern liberalism, political freedoms (improvement, transformation, uplifting an entire society) are viewed as goals to strive for to the extent that societies may deny certain negative freedoms (from restraint) to achieve such positive freedoms.

Posted by: Jen | Jan 28 2019 10:18 utc | 52

A lot of confusing comments here.

Classical liberalism was a doctrine, the loose ideology of early capitalism. Long story short, it was all about individual rights and private property. That was understandable at the time, since thinkers of classical liberalism were fighting against feudalist forces. It was never about democracy (on the contrary, it resisted universal suffrage until its end): if you read Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Malthus et al you can clearly see the working classes are invisible as a people, their self-determination don't matter for capitalism to function.

Classical liberalism culminated with WWI, the moment where it died. The period of its dominance is often called Belle Époque by its late apologists. It is often portrayed as a glamorous, adventurous and mysterious time, by contemporary movies (the majority of which are about the British Belle Époque, the Victorian Era). But that's an ex post facto rationalization: it was an era of mass hunger, colonization, slavery, malnutrition and high mortality rates. Life was worse than in late feudalism -- and that's where the first socialist movement was born: from the late feudalist artisans. These socialists, now called utopian socialists, had as its most prominent intellectual Proudhon.

I was only after the death of classical liberalism that the so-called "golden age" of capitalism could begin. The irony is that this "golden age" only happened because, by the end of the 19th Century, the (scientific) socialist movement was at its apex, and the devastation of the inter-war and WWII period risked a revolutionary moment. The golden age proper (1945-1975)only happened because the risk of a socialist revolution in the European Peninsula was imminent.

The fact that the best part of capitalism only happened because it had to mix with socialism is so glaring that the ideologues of neoliberalism (Hayek, Popper et al)made it clear in their manifesto in Mont Pelerin that social-democracy was communism (and, if you read the Communist Manifesto, you'll see that it is the first document to advocate for universal education, healthcare and universal suffrage). The root of neoliberal doctrine is precisely the return of the liberal era: everything that happened from 1914 until 1975 was an abortion of History and should never have happened.

Capitalism is the system where capital is the dominant mode of social reproduction. Capital is the process where labor, in the value for, self-valorises; value that valorises itself. This can only be achieved by extraction of surplus value.

Nobody here is stating capitalism wasn't a gain for humanity in relation to feudalism/manorialism. The problem is a social/economic system is never a closed system: it has a revolutionary phase, an apex and a decline. It never lasts forever.

Posted by: vk | Jan 28 2019 10:34 utc | 53

psychohistorian says:

There are other ways to organize people to do things other than for profit

yeah, apparently we've regressed since the era of barn raising, but i suppose the long slog towards an empathetic civilization is unstoppable.

however, as antithetical as it may seem, i'd suggest that we could speed things up a bit by marching our psychopathic overlords to the edge of the ice flow...

like the Inuits.

Posted by: john | Jan 28 2019 11:46 utc | 54

Liberalism hasn't failed. It has been enormously successful for its intended beneficiaries, the 1%. Even if the economy drops to 1% of its current level, they will still have enormous assets.

Posted by: Yonatan | Jan 28 2019 12:07 utc | 55

Took the bait, didn't you? ab initio makes one frankly ridiculous comment and off we march, divided against ouselves.

Divide and conquer works every time.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jan 28 2019 12:31 utc | 56

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 27, 2019 10:47:41 PM | 27

"There are a multitude of corporations, privately owned, who take care of many of our needs in our communities."

That's a lie. We'd do a much better job providing everything needful and desirable if corporations were abolished. And we'd get rid of all the things we don't need.

"Value extraction and metastatic cancer" is poppycock."

Now there's cutting commentary! IOW you know I'm right and can't reply. In truth to call "growth" cancer not only is a metaphor of high precision, it's also physically true since your economy which spews industrial poisons in such a massive deluge has been causing the modern cancer pandemic.

"You want to provide the groceries and mend the plumbing? . . ."

I do, stupid. I've been a farmer, grow a bug garden, and am active in the community food movement. I also write as an abolitionist of corporate industrial agriculture. That system is not physically sustainable anyway, for many reasons, and the Earth itself will soon abolish it. Then let's see you get your food from the corporations and supermarkets, where by your own idiotic testimony you think it comes from.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 28 2019 12:35 utc | 57

Re: The Failure of the Liberal System

(apologies, this was first posted on the Venezuela thread, by mistake)

Bernard-Henri Lévy (who goes by BHL) has been leading the charge against the working class Gilets Jaunes resistance in France

BHL, a fake philosopher who was born to wealth and is worth over 600 million euros, has been calling the Yellow Vests, the GiletsBruns (Brown Vests), and accusing them of “anti-semitism” (we’ve never heard that one before!) implying a link with historical fascism

The Jewish Chronicle, and the Union of Jewish Students of France, have also joined the rich working in media, Big Tech, government and Finance, by declaring their hostility to the Gilets Jaunes.

They're trying by all means possible to crush this working class resistance.

BHL’s screed has been signed by 30 elite members of the upper class, expressing alarm.

Why don’t these low life workers just die if they’re not as rich, happy and successful as we are?

Elites are afraid this revolt might unravel the great bureaucratic leviathan that benefits themselves, while crushing workers, and it was hoped the leviathan (aka, the European Union) would suppress European identity forever

Battle lines are drawn

Considering they have Media, Big Tech, Finance and government on their side, then barring a miracle, the elites will probably succeed in crushing this revolt, and then going on to suppress European identity (and the possibility of another working class revolt) forever, but it's not quite over. Not yet....

First they have to stop the Gilets Jaunes movement, before it spreads, then quickly replace native Europeans with millions of more compliant immigrant slaves, before they risk a more serious revolt, one that might actually bring down the rich bankers who who control France, and all of Europe

Posted by: etienne | Jan 28 2019 12:36 utc | 58

That should be "big garden", though I do use agroecological practices to attract beneficial insects. Not only makes for healthy, high-quality food, but unlike using poisons, controlling pests through biodiversity balance works.

But that's anathema for the corporate demon-lovers since it's not good for concentrating power and profit.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 28 2019 12:38 utc | 59

Posted by: JackB | Jan 28, 2019 2:25:28 AM | 50

"ai makes a point that Classical liberalism as a philosophy has provided the greatest democratization of wealth and protection of individual beliefs in human history."

By now the historical record proves all too clearly that neither of those was a goal worth seeking in such a maximalist way. Traditional peoples who care far more about health, happiness, and freedom than wealth not only lived much better but lived as part of the Earth, rather than attempting to murder it the way your liberal civilization has.

"If you disagree why don't you provide an example of a political philosophy that has provided greater democratization of wealth and protection of individual beliefs."

Sorry, you don't get to violently destroy alternatives and then claim they didn't/couldn't work. But the very fact of your civilization's genocidal destructiveness toward traditional societies, anarchism, etc. is strong evidence of how much this civilization fears that people will desire those alternatives.

That was evident from the start. Cortes admitted he had to post guards around the camp perimeter, not so much to provide warning against Indian attacks, but to prevent his own men from defecting to the Indians, their way of life was so obviously preferable to the Western way. That didn't change with the advent of liberalism.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 28 2019 12:55 utc | 60

Liberalism has provided democratization of wealth? Wait, what? Can anyone write something that blatantly ridiculously wrong with a straight face?

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Jan 28 2019 13:26 utc | 61

“Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice; socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality”

— Mikhail Bakunin

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Jan 28 2019 14:23 utc | 62

Lies and inaccuracies about Venezuela? - b previous thread.

Chavez, now Maduro, aka Venezuela, are often vilified in the Anglosphere because communist or socialist - “socialism doesn’t work!” etc. All depends on interpretation, slant..

Imho Venezuela is not particularly ‘socialist’ as compared to say France, the US, Switzerland, one being generally thought to be so a tad and the other two, not.

The top tax rate (individ. + corp) is 34%, the tax is progressive, VAT is lower than OECD average? or so - this is standard ‘liberal’ and even rather low as comp. to overall rates, many incl. US and F. The social security contrib. of employees is around Swiss level, somewhat less than France (overall), and with the US it is hard to compare because scams / different states / indiv. status (401Ks, Gvmt. pensions vs. none, Medicare vs. no health insurance, etc.) The devil is in the details, and application, which Idk about in V.

‘Low’ tax does not in itself mean ‘not socialism’ - that depends on what exactly the wage-structure is, state control, banking, investments (and more), who owns the means of production (not the workers, for sure.. read the V. constitution!), power nexus, etc.

Health care, complicated. Much of medical equipment - machines, drugs, etc. is imported (yes, the docs from Chili.) Med. care was localised -> free neighborhood clinics, free meds, etc. - but not properly instituted, in the sense of not being stitched into local finance circuits, sadly dependent on ‘central’ funding, which diminished, then collapsed. (??)

*One* ex. of USA state aid:

WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.

More than half the parents in the US need Gvmt. help (direct payments / services) to feed their babies, tiny tots. This ain’t fancy health care or snazzy pre-school, just survival sustenance.

Parents aren’t earning enough to adequatly feed (> money, time, knowledge, availability of food) the babbos. Socialistic! Why can’t the parents get better jobs, they must be dead beats! (/sarc.)

(The US prefers a ‘charity’ scheme which can be manipulated rapidly.)

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 28 2019 15:30 utc | 63

"Nobody here is stating capitalism wasn't a gain for humanity in relation to feudalism/manorialism."
Let me be the first then. For most of the world the destruction of the old system and its replacement by capitalism was disastrous. India and China are still in the process of recovering.
The notion that capitalism was an improvement on the old system depends upon the belief that it was the only alternative to the evolution which was characteristic of the old system. It wasn't. And the coming of capitalism was fought hard by those who predicted exactly where it was leading.
It is time that we recognised that Marx's version of stages theory, derived from the Scottish Enlightenment was, as its authors were aware, nothing more than speculation and in no sense a description of what actually had occurred in history.
Most of the problems that capitalism is credited with solving-such as mass impoverishment and 'underdevelopment'- were in fact caused by it and did not exist before it created them.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 28 2019 15:54 utc | 64

Feudalism wasn't destroying the physical basis for our literal existence (and that of all other animals and plants) the way modern productionism-consumptionism (including but not limited to capitalism) is.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 28 2019 16:05 utc | 65

"That was evident from the start. Cortes admitted he had to post guards around the camp perimeter, not so much to provide warning against Indian attacks, but to prevent his own men from defecting to the Indians, their way of life was so obviously preferable to the Western way. That didn't change with the advent of liberalism."
Russ, you make an excellent point. My own view is that the average European coming to America did not regard it as a New World so much as the Old World that his parents recalled, a world before the incipient capitalism evidenced around them in enclosures, the destruction of common property and commodity production.
It is not hard to understand, for example, the sense of relief with which a French soldier, prevented at home from 'poaching' wild animals or collecting firewood from the forest, looked upon the lives led by the Hurons or Algonkians, and longed to join them.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 28 2019 16:11 utc | 66

I haven't seen a rational explanation for What Went Wrong With Capitalism, which is the real $64,000 question. So here's my version
(it's less tedious/ irrelevant than some of the other drivel in this thread, imo).

Capitalism (as defined in the dictionary) worked OK in the West in the 1950s, '60's and '70s. When the Beatles rose to fame in the early '60s Brits in the top income bracket were subject to Estate Tax/ Death Duties and paid 95% tax on income above their bracket threshold. In the same era the top marginal income tax rate in Oz was 67% on all income above the bracket threshold. There were also Death Duties on high value estates. Investment income was taxed at the same rate as income to dissuade wealthy folk from putting profitable investments in the names of their under-age children.

Prices for services in Oz such as banking and insurance were constrained by the active participation of Government-owned, consumer-friendly, Commonwealth Bank, State Banks and State Insurance Companies. There was an established tradition of State Banks offering the cheapest (bank) housing loans for ordinary working people and home ownership was within reach of any family with one member holding down a steady full-time job on the National Average Income. The State Insurance Companies provided essential insurances such as motor car and house & contents insurance at the cheapest rates.

All utilities (gas, water, electricity and sewerage) were govt owned, and controlled. Bus services were mostly privately owned and govt regulated and (often) subsidised. There were two privately owned major airlines (QANTAS and Ansett) and one govt owned (ANA). Responsibility for Highways, Roads and Streets was shared between the Commonwealth, States and local govts. Local govts levied homeowners for the cost of paving the street and footpath outside their home.

All that convenient orderliness and predictability began to change after the Whitlam Govt (Labor, union-friendly) was toppled by Malcolm Frazer (neo-Liberal, union-hating, worker-loathing, investor-friendly) in 1975. Neo-liberalism was embraced with a vengeance by the Corporatised political class and by the early '80s Bob Hawke (Labor, bribed) told striking airline pilots to GF Themselves and approved their sacking. Neo-Liberalism (Privatise Everything) and insane levels of political bribery, Tax Law Revisionism, and a "look the other way" attitude to tax avoidance-evasion became Official Oz Govt Policy.

A version of this path was followed by most, but not all, so-called Western (Christian) Democracies worldwide at around the same time. The harm caused was a direct result of the "Small Government" Vampires/ Mafia selling a gullible electorate the fairy tale that there was no room for Govt Interference in Totalitarian Capitalism's money-making schemes in the Thoroughly Modern Deregulated World of Small Govt.

Unfortunately, the Neo-Libs 'forgot' to mention that the Govt in a democracy WAS the representative of The People who voted it into power - which is why Privately Owned (bribed) governments don't listen to The People any more. And it's getting worse.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 28 2019 16:33 utc | 67

@50 jackb... if a poster - ab initio - makes a comment and then skips having a conversation, in spite of the fact many other posters have responded to his comment says as much.. yeah - very troll like..and in reference to your stupid questions - i never said they were a troll, but you can have fun twisting what i said.. the previous thread with Charles Clifford Burgess is another case in point.. clearly you are different! you come back and appear to want to have a conversation... great!

philosophies are just that - philosophies... they might sound good in theory, but they require people to follow thru with them and that is the hard refer to classical liberalism as advocating "civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom." where is the rule of law when it comes to all the wars the west has been responsible for the past 50 or more years? where is it with regard to the usa and west sanctioning other countries and wanting to overthrow the leadership of other countries? these are the so called countries following thru on this ''philosophy'' of classical liberalism you refer to....

and, i do agree with @53 jen, @56 yonantan @61 russ, and many others here regarding knowing something by the fruit or end result of these lofty sounding philosophies..

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2019 16:41 utc | 68

Thomas Walkom at the Toronto Star seems to have forgotten what he wrote about Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland less than 9 months ago. It's possible that he was referring to different grandfathers but...

On April 5,2018, Walkom wrote "The only trouble with all of this is that the Russians were telling the truth. Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was a Nazi collaborator during the Second World War."

Today, in the same newspaper, Walkom quotes Freeland as saying “Force is, of course, always a last resort. But the principled use of force, together with our allies and governed by international law, is part of our history and must be part of our future.” Walkom then adds, without comment, that "[Freeland] cited her grandfather, who volunteered to go to war against Hitler because he understood “intuitively” that it was the right thing to do."

Posted by: spudski | Jan 28 2019 16:45 utc | 69

@68 hoarsewhisperer

There is a difference btw small gov't and a castrated gov't.

No one would argue that the US is lacking in gov't and taxation rates, at least before DJT, as the US is sitting on an overreaching gov't that has flipped the role of itself from safeguarder of liberties and protection against monopolies/price-fixing, into neoliberal exactor of punative measures on the little-guy, whether forced vaccinations, carbon-taxes, or going after a duly-elected pres. candidate with the full weight and power of the whole federal branch.

Perhaps in Aussie-land, your big gov't was altruistic and self-regulating enough, but big gov't here is the wrecking ball against which small institutions and the little guy is crushed.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 28 2019 16:53 utc | 70

Hahaha...what did I say..

Russia is committed to the security of Israel, Russian official says

Will the same suspects here still deny that Putin is a zionist that support Israel?

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 28 2019 17:01 utc | 71

Spudski @70 I think that Walkom-I haven't read the column- was probably, like freeland herself, taking advantage of the fact that she had two grandfathers.
One, Freeland, was a Canadian who did indeed volunteer to join the Army.
The other, a Ukrainian fascist, worked for the Nazi gauleiter of Poland producing an anti-semitic, anti- communist propaganda sheet after he had been given control of the paper by the gauleiter.
There is going to have to be a re-definition of the word Chutzpah.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 28 2019 17:02 utc | 72


Thanks. Chutzpah indeed. As above, last April he specifically referred to her "maternal grandfather Michael Chomiak" as a Nazi; today, it's "her grandfather" who opposed the Nazis. I just thought Walkom would have clarified.

Posted by: spudski | Jan 28 2019 17:24 utc | 73

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 28, 2019 12:01:53 PM | 72
(Russia is committed to the security of Israel, Russian official says)

Ha ha ha indeed.
I know you won't have noticed, but I can assure you that the word 'security' means whatever the person using it wants it to mean.
And it's beyond ironic that you've ascribed a positive meaning to its use in an "Israeli" context - "Israel" being by far the worst abuser of the 'flexibility' mentioned above.

If/when you can afford to sacrifice half a day, watch Oliver Stone's Putin Interviews 1 to 4. And then come back and tell me which statement from Putin, in which episode, supports your conviction that he's committed to letting "Israel" get away with murder?
And I'll try not to laugh...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 28 2019 17:45 utc | 74

Thank you b, for focusing on Jonathan Miller's critique of the 'liberal manifesto' which I have just looked at. I appreciate his analysis but I slightly disagree that the problem is individualism. Nor, as a liberal arts scholar back in the day, do I think liberalism should be blamed. The problem to me is 'elitism' if one can call it that. Way back in my day people like me, who do not come from the 'higher echelon' of wealth and inherited class status, were fortunate enough in a more egalitarian system of education, to be included among liberal arts scholars. And that is as it always should be.

Unfortunately, in the US, as I aged I saw this system of equal scholarship relegated to the dustbin. At my own alma mater the costs soared prohibitively and scholars such as myself became, if still given a chance to succeed, the rarest of token individuals in any graduating class.

I always take to heart that Socrates, the pillar of philosophy, did not take money for teaching the youth, went around Athens barefoot, and critiqued the sophists who did expect fame and wealth to accrue to themselves. That is what Plato's dialogues are all about - how to discern the true teacher from the false one. That's what is at the heart of it - not any particular ideas, but who is practising the art of educating for its own sake or using it for the sake of profit and power. Know thyself, said the oracle. Not 'Get rich by fooling others.'

It doesn't have to do with being an individual. Thinking for oneself is liberalism and is a good thing. The people in this manifesto give liberalism a bad name, but they think they are superior; that is evident.

They are not.

Posted by: juliania | Jan 28 2019 17:48 utc | 75

Pardon me, in my haste I said Jonathan Miller - It should have been Jonathan Cook, of course.

Posted by: juliania | Jan 28 2019 17:56 utc | 76

Grieved @5--

Marx was very enthusiastic about Capitalism and its necessity as it would eventually evolve into Socialism. What's been ongoing since his observations is a conscious attempt to keep that evolution from occurring, which is why we see the contradictions growing ever larger daily. What will eventually cause Marx's predicted evolutionary change to occur is the rapidly escalating crisis of Environmental Overshoot, of which Climate Chaos is but one component. That crisis, however, will also affect the sort of Socialistic Economy humanity can afford as economic growth based on ever expanding resource extraction peaks and depletion commences, thus forcing some form of Steady-State Economy onto humanity. That's what the future holds unless it gets decapitated by Nuclear War. If some portion of humanity manages to survive, they will have no other choice but to adopt a Socialistic Steady-State Economy. Assuming we avoid Nuclear War, by 2050-2080--if not sooner--Ecological Overshoot will become so acute that change will be demanded--that demand is already being made in Europe, which relies on more imported resources than any other global region. The Paradigm Shift is upon us, and its mounting chaos is occurring as some predicted but were never listened to or deliberately ignored.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 28 2019 18:04 utc | 77

Posted by: bevin | Jan 28, 2019 11:11:55 AM | 67

"It is not hard to understand, for example, the sense of relief with which a French soldier, prevented at home from 'poaching' wild animals or collecting firewood from the forest, looked upon the lives led by the Hurons or Algonkians, and longed to join them."

It must've looked much better to lots of them. The governor of the Jamestown colony had to institute the most horrific forms of death-by-torture for colonists who deserted to the Indians and were recaptured. That level of terrorism was needed to intimidate people, otherwise far more might've left.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 28 2019 18:11 utc | 78

juliania @76--

No wonder we're on the same wavelength so often. What I propose as the goal for individuals within a steady-state socialist economy is the accrual of knowledge and wisdom since that represents real wealth, not the ephemeral wealth of materialist accumulation. In an economy not distorted by the attempt to gain more at the expense of others--the way the vast majority of humanity's existed for the past 14,000 years--the person possessing knowledge and wisdom will always be in demand to provide those assets to others. In such a system, it may well be possible to have highly benevolent philosopher kings rather than power-mad despots as we have today.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 28 2019 18:19 utc | 79

@70 spudski... send him a note and ask him.. let us know if he gets back to you!

@76 juliania... i agree with you on that... with regard to the education system - it is now an all 'for profit' industry and if there is no ''profit'' in it, they stop offering the courses and etc. etc... no surprise they aren't giving out scholarships as they had in the past... this goes with the idea that school is meant for churning out jobs, as opposed to learning... again the idea of liberalism has been ravaged by the profit motive as i see it... thru psychohistorians comment - we are serving the god of mammon is quite apt.. so much for liberal ideas about the beauty of education for education sake..

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2019 18:20 utc | 80

Russ @79--

You relay an extremely well hidden aspect of the colonial past. I was enlightened about it through my Native American studies that revealed a large percentage of indentured servants abandoned their owners to join tribes as did escaped black slaves.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 28 2019 18:25 utc | 81

Great response by Iran against Putin's support for Israeli strikes on them and Syria:

Iran Slams Russia for Deactivating S-300 during Israeli Airstrikes on Syria

Russia side with Israel on Syria and Iran once again that is.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 28 2019 18:32 utc | 82

Unfortunately, the Neo-Libs 'forgot' to mention that the Govt in a democracy WAS the representative of The People who voted it into power - which is why Privately Owned (bribed) governments don't listen to The People any more. And it's getting worse.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 28, 2019 11:33:13 AM | 68

Thank you, Hoarsewhisperer for your comment. I realize what you delineate is from a British point of view, but it could be followed step by step here in the US as well. I agree with you that nothing comes from debating one 'system' against another, because in human affairs the conflicts represented in the abstract always come up against the vagaries of human nature. Socialism looks like a perfect system in many respects, but when it comes down to hard facts, and when it was attempted to replace monarchy in Russia, such violence and hard times were suddenly upon that country that indeed what saved it could be thought to be the individual 'capitalists' on a very small scale who provided for their families and had surplus to sell in markets - they were more able than the state farms, just as today organic farmers in the US are more profitable and treat the land better than do the agrobusinesses.

We had a mixture of social welfare and capitalism with restraints in the US also - it must be a mixture! The corruption can be traced - monopolies were regulated until they were not. People were given more equality until they were not. Money wasn't speech until it was. Unions had power until they didn't. These were all power plays that took away a balance that had been there. This country, even if founded by elites to some extent, had the will of the people enshrined in its Constitution. Balance was enforced, until it was not.

Presently it is Russia which takes the best of both worlds. It's not easy, and rules must be put on private companies that prevent them from taking over the government. That's not capitalism per se, which is an abstract; that's oligarchy, which is not.

The yellow vests are the People. Government needs to be of the People, by the People, and for the People. Simple as that.

Posted by: juliania | Jan 28 2019 18:33 utc | 83

@81 James

I sent him an e-mail at 12:01 today. No response yet. I'll post his reply if he deigns to answer. Cheers.

Posted by: spudski | Jan 28 2019 18:37 utc | 84

@ etienne # 59

Bernard-Henri Lévy is no philosopher, he’s a clown, or worse, a total fraud

and look at some of the names who signed his Manifesto. Ian McEwan, ffs, who supported the war in Iraq, who never questioned the official version of 9/11, and who writes boring novels about upper class London professionals, with their comfortable lives in gated communities

Here's what it means to be a philosopher, in Heidegger’s own words (translated to English)

“Philosophy, then, is not a doctrine, not some simplistic scheme for orienting oneself in the world, certainly not an instrument or achievement of human Dasein.

Rather, it is this Dasein itself insofar as it comes to be, in freedom, from out of its own ground. Whoever, by stint of research, arrives at this self-understanding of philosophy is granted the basic experience of all philosophizing, namely that the more fully and originally research comes into its own, the more surely is it "nothing but" the transformation of the same few simple questions.

But those who wish to transform must bear within themselves the power of a fidelity that knows how to preserve. And one cannot feel this power growing within unless one is up in wonder. And no one can be caught up in wonder without travelling to the outermost limits of the possible.

But no one will ever become the friend of the possible without remaining open to dialogue with the powers that operate in the whole of human existence. But that is the comportment of the philosopher: to listen attentively to what is already sung forth, which can still be perceived in each essential happening of world.

And in such comportment the philosopher enters the core of what is truly at stake in the task he has been given to do. Plato knew of that and spoke of it in his Seventh Letter:

'In no way can it be uttered, as can other things, which one can learn. Rather, from out of a full, co-existential dwelling with the thing itself - as when a spark, leaping from the fire, flares into light - so it happens, suddenly, in the soul, there to grow, alone with itself.”

― Martin Heidegger

Posted by: anon | Jan 28 2019 18:37 utc | 85

@84 - juliania - i 2nd your comment that highlights @68 hoarsewhisperer... same deal here in canada.. we now have a corporatocracy, as opposed to a democracy...

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2019 18:38 utc | 86

I'll just add that in the Preamble to the Constitution, when it says " order to form a more perfect Union..." it doesn't say "perfect Union" but "...MORE perfect..." It is never going to be perfect! But it can be more perfect - and boy, does it need to be now!

Posted by: juliania | Jan 28 2019 18:53 utc | 87


Indeed, BHL is merely a front man and corporate/MEDEF confection to pose as a new Sartre, except Sartre was anti-American imperialism and anti-liberal. An attempt to steer the debate towards un-French ideas alien to the national tradition. The Yellow Vests know what he's been up to, and he's been even more hysterical than usual as a result, calling Jean-Luc Mèlenchon, Jeremy Corbin, and the Yellows fascists and part of an "illiberal international." Should be a point of pride to face his wrath.

Posted by: Anne Jaclard | Jan 28 2019 18:59 utc | 88

@bevin @james

my e-mail

"Just read your article today about liberal hawks. The part about Ms Freeland’s grandfather seems at odds with your column of last April when you wrote "The only trouble with all of this is that the Russians were telling the truth. Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was a Nazi collaborator during the Second World War."

Different grandfathers? If so, some clarification would have been useful.


just got his response

"Different grandfather."

Posted by: spudski | Jan 28 2019 19:05 utc | 89

Thank you so much b, for all of this. MoA is one of my very favorite places.

Thanks also to everyone, for the comments, links, info, and range of views.

Posted by: mourning dove | Jan 28 2019 19:08 utc | 90

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 28, 2019 1:25:47 PM | 82

"Russ @79-- You relay an extremely well hidden aspect of the colonial past. I was enlightened about it through my Native American studies that revealed a large percentage of indentured servants abandoned their owners to join tribes as did escaped black slaves."

Very well hidden. I sure never heard about it in school. I still need to do more research on that.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 28 2019 19:30 utc | 91

The mil-blogs where I usually hang out are inevitably pro-establishment, more money for more war, so I was shocked and pleased to see this at Breaking Defense, written by a combat veteran.
Donald Trump: Breaking With The Past (The Beltway Ain’t Happy)

President Trump is breaking with the past. He’s arguing that Washington must cut its losses, withdraw its forces, climb out of the Middle Eastern and Afghan money pits, and acknowledge that Seoul (with U.S. backing) won the war on the Korean Peninsula. Washington hates him for doing these things, but most Americans and future generations of Americans will love him for it.

The first quality of a great leader is the courage to break with the past when the facts change. For President Trump, facing facts means change. But real change—ending the Korean War, disengaging forces from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan—is anathema to just about everyone inside the Washington Beltway.

It’s tempting to view the recent attacks from within his own party on Trump’s decision to leave Syria or the public wounds inflicted on the president by an ungrateful national security advisor as unique in American history, but that’s not the case. In 1969, when President Richard Nixon first confided his intention to seek a rapprochement with China—three years before Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing—members of his own Administration were not enthusiastic. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 19:47 utc | 92

Don Bacon @93--

The writer begs the question in the 2nd cited paragraph: What facts have changed?

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 28 2019 20:12 utc | 93

Posted by: juliania | Jan 28, 2019 1:33:24 PM | 84

Thanks for the +ive response. A couple of points, and a quibble...

Being from Oz, I was almost offended by your "I realize what you delineate is from a British point of view" but realised you were right, given that the Oz I was born into was a British colony and QEII was my Gracious Queen, too. 90%+ of the books I devoured by the dozen as soon as I could read were published in England and were, without exception, fastidiously edited for spelling, grammar and syntax although I never quite mastered the formal technical terms and rules of "parsing."

Today, we agree that a blend of socialism and Capitalism would probably have continued to be good enough if the greedy anti-commie Pigs had been convicted and punished for bribing politicians.

The quibble is that, imo, this began in AmeriKKKa with the loose coalition of Smedley Butler's "20,000 new WWI millionaires." Their profits from WWII would probably have made the desire and temptation to buy the USG from under the noses of The People, irresistible and well worth the glitches caused by the McCarthy era 'anti-communist' witch-hunts which effectively silenced opponents of the 1%'s superimposed Privatise Everything dogma.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 28 2019 20:29 utc | 94

@90 spudski... thanks... honest obfuscation, lol...

Posted by: james | Jan 28 2019 20:31 utc | 95

@ karlof1 | Jan 28, 2019 3:12:24 PM | 94
The writer begs the question in the 2nd cited paragraph: What facts have changed?
I don't know, but I guess the "changed facts" include (finally) the realization of military defeats in the three countries. Until very recently in Afghanistan it supposedly was a draw. Syria was similar, and Iraq was still an ally. Again, supposedly. Really, not.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 20:37 utc | 96

Don Bacon @97--

Thanks for trying to answer for the writer. I wouldn't say "the facts have changed;" rather, I'd have stated recognizing reality finally happened but is still being tenaciously denied.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 28 2019 20:48 utc | 97

@ karlof1
agreed . . It's a result of corrupted thinking not only by civilians but also by the parade of lying generals who have promoted various continuing farces. It's pure Smedley Butler:

"War is a racket. . .the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2019 21:10 utc | 98

AOC echoes Nader, 2000:

"We need to realize that our democracy does belong to us, and when we don't participate in it, when we don't invest in it, when we don't put our own energy into it, what we are doing is we are giving it away to somebody else."

During his 2000 presidential campaign, Ralph Nader said almost the exact same words plus others to describe our dilemma/crisis at that time which has only worsened/escalated. In response, someone at Nader's #1 civic NGO Public Citizen tweeted:

".@AOC is right. It’s easy to think Trump himself is the source of all our problems, but it goes much deeper. So long as a handful of rich donors have outsized influence over who's elected and what's debated in Congress, our democracy will remain broken."

Unfortunately, still just the retweet of Ro Kanna to Dick Durbin to get any inkling of her position on Trump's illegalities toward Venezuela. Which is to call her out given what she said above about not participating. Walk the Walk if you're going to Talk the Talk!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 28 2019 21:15 utc | 99

@ Anne Jaclard #89

I agree with you about BHL, and also that the Yellow Vests know what he's up to

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a "philosopher" who has promoted regime change in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

He once became the butt of intellectual ridicule after extensively quoting a leading authority on Immanuel Kant who, it turned out, was a completely fake philosopher and a modern-day hoax.

BHL launched an attack against the philosopher Immanuel Kant, calling him unhinged and a "fake".

To support his claims, BHL cited a certain Jean-Baptiste Botul, who he described as a post-War authority on Kant.

But a journalist pointed out that Mr Botul did not even exist: he was a fictional character created in by a contemporary satirical journalist, Frédéric Pagès.

Alarm bells should have rung given that Mr Pagès, a journalist with Le Canard Enchaîneé, a satirical weekly, had only written one book under the Botul pseudonym entitled The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant.

He had even given rise to a school of philosophical thought called Botulism – a play on words with the lethal disease – and has created a theory of "La Metaphysique du Mou" the Metaphysics of the Flabby.

But somehow BHL missed ALL of these alarm bells, and still considered the fake Botul to be a leading post-war authority on Kant.

Yet he still calls himself a "philosopher"

No, he's a clown

Posted by: anon | Jan 28 2019 21:36 utc | 100

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