Thursday, July 30, 2015

Damn! Did You Ever Imagine It Would Come To This?

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

"In other words, this is a bullshit report written by neocons in order to foment war with Russia."

What did Marriner Eccles say?

Marriner Eccles gloomy last speech, 1977:
"... the wrong road was taken every time we had a chance to alter course ... "
That's from a lifelong Republican, mind you, who was for the New Deal, for normalizing relations with China in 1950, and against the Vietnam war.

Didn't Khrushchev say something very similar to Marriner's words, as soon as Stalin died? "We could have been a great country."

Institutional momentum = tangents to evolution .... over-adapting to transient context (aka, playing with death).

In a country this big & talented ... we have much better things to do than waste time conquering other countries & looting their natural resources. Our best return comes from investing in all of our own talents (not just in weapons to use on others).

NeoCons:  If they can't find it (reality), they must be hiding it from themselves. 


John said...

Talented is an understatement. The top one hundred universities are nearly all American; nearly all the top medical, scientific and technology research institutions are American; nearly all best the tech and biotech companies are American.

There has never been a country in the history of the world like the United States. For all its advantages - natural and intellectual - it has one supremely great disadvantage: its political establishment is criminally insane and will set the country and the rest of the world alight before submitting to reason.

Tom Hickey said...

it has one supremely great disadvantage: its political establishment is criminally insane and will set the country and the rest of the world alight before submitting to reason.

Watch what is likely to happen as China rises through its Eurasia strategy. The US simply won't accept that their system is being eclipsed. It will result in psychological breakdown and irrational reaction.

John said...

Tom: "It will result in psychological breakdown and irrational reaction."

The breakdowns and reactionary backlash are in full swing.

Rubio and Cruz have somehow concluded that Colonel Kurtz is a mighty political thinker who was ahead of his time. Huckabee and Santorum are going one better by channeling their inner David Koresh. Rick Perry has early onset Reagan. Trump's position is that he'll just say the first thing that comes into his head: I'm looking forward to him championing Mussolini, which can't be too far away. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham is doing the best impersonation of the weird uncle no parent wants to leave their child with.

What a freak show.

Dan Lynch said...

Well said Roger. And John. And Tom. :-)

Roger Erickson said...

Well, Dan,
Now that we're saying things that some feel are well ..... how do we get millions more to share the same "aha" moment?

We're at step one ... building perspective among ourselves, a small audience. That's a necessary but not sufficient stage of reaching step (n).

So what's next?

Dan Lynch said...

I don't know, Roger. Most people are tuned out, and easily brainwashed. I'm afraid things will have to get a lot worse before there is a serious effort to change course.

If change comes, it'll come from the young people, as it always does. We're raising a generation that will have no "buy in" to the system. They're loaded down with debt, can't afford the American dream, and are struggling at dead end jobs.

Eccles was a remarkable man. Not only in economics, but also in foreign policy and social science in general. Of course there are still remarkable people in America, but they're not allowed to get near a position of power.

lastgreek said...

The top one hundred universities are nearly all American; nearly all the top medical, scientific and technology research institutions are American; nearly all best the tech and biotech companies are American.

Yet, John, young American adults compared to young adults in other industrialized countries rank at the bottom when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological competence. Just sayin' ;)

Trump's position is that he'll just say the first thing that comes into his head

Occasionally Trump nails it.

"Rick Perry wears glasses to seem smart."

For the elections to get interesting, you need to have a 4-person race -- two independents along with the usual democrat and republican. As for the two independents, I'd like Trump and Sanders. I say Trump because I can see him doing this. And Sanders as the other because he'd actually bring some real change with Kelton on his team. Plus both are popular enough to each split the votes of the main parties. Pretty decent odds that either Trump or Sanders could pull it off. The thing is, unfortunately, that Sanders will not run as an independent. He;s said he is totally committed to the democratic party -- which means that when he loses all his support will go behind that vile woman Hillary.

John said...

"Yet, John, young American adults compared to young adults in other industrialized countries rank at the bottom when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological competence."

That's a reflection of the dysfunction of the economic and political system. Many young Americans, and much of the working class and increasingly the middle class, are considered surplus to requirements. As is, they don't and can't serve a useful function for those who own the country. Rather than being seen as a great human resource that can be put to use in creating a fairer and more prosperous society, they are seen as a terrible burden who may as well be left to rot.

The US has unparalleled, historically unique, literally unheard of advantages. The standard of living of the average American should make rich Scandinavians envious, but that would require a rational politics. It may not be rational for the majority of Americans, but it is all very rational for those who own the country.

Peter Pan said...

In Canada we don't waste time conquering other countries, although we do loot their natural resources. Most of our politicians appear sane by comparison to our southern neighbours. Yet we're in the same pickle. We waste our potential. Canada needs MMT.

lastgreek said...


We do, unfortunately, on occasion tag along with our southern neigbbours as they conquer other countries. After he left office, former PM Jean Chretien in a televised interview discussed why he sent Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan. He basically said that it was not to upset the US -- BUT he made sure that Canadian soldiers were not put in a combat role. He was furious when his successor, PM Paul Martin, changed policy and put Can. soldiers in a combat role. Of course, then the Canadian bodybags started arriving home :(

Peter Pan said...

Sadly, this is true and Canada's reputation has suffered as a result. The heroic narrative that is built around soldiers serving their country is also disgusting. Poor rationale to sacrifice the young for geopolitics. Questioning that narrative is taboo.

Roger Erickson said...

This sounds rather ominous. Maybe a repeat of the French revolution ... this time across all of the eurozone

'Donald Tusk, the EU president, concedes that a pre-revolutionary mood is taking hold across much of Europe, comparing it to the Left-Right alliances of the late 1930s. “It was always the same game before the biggest tragedies in our European history," he told the Financial Times.

Yet he could not bring himself to admit that the root cause of the populist uprising is the deformed structure of monetary union that has led to six years of mass unemployment and incubated this new tragedy. Nor could he admit that the deal he himself brokered after "water-boarding" Mr Tspiras in Brussels for 17 hours perpetuates the same vicious cycle.

So we now have a Europe where the political temperature is rising to boiling point: where the EMU elites are refusing to shift course; and where mischievous lawyers are concocting criminal charges against anybody daring to explore a way out of the trap.

This is a recipe for a European civil war.'

What's today's Bastille?

Dan Lynch said...

Eccles 1951We were bewildered by the causes of this greatest of all depressions .... the watchword of that day was "balance the budget and restore confidence."

We had not even then learned to conquer the problem of unemployment, how to distribute the abundance that our .... skills could produce.

Today's paradox is that huge defense expenditures appear to be the only cure for mass unemployment.

The common fault and cause of these failures lies not in our democratic institutions, not in our ability to produce ... but in our thinking.... the failure is due to our inability to deal with the basic causes of political and social upheavals ... that lead to war.

We are too prodigal in diverting our human and material resources to military preparations for war .... and too conservative about using them to alleviate human misery on which communism and aggression both feed.

lastgreek said...

This is a recipe for a European civil war.

If you mean western/southern Europe, I respectfully disagree. The young 'uns are too spoiled and life is too good, and that is a good thing when it comes to war. Besides, aren't most of the European countries in the NATO alliance -- you know, an attack on one is an attack on all ;)

P.S. Israel may be in the middle east, but it's not much different than any other western country. In the 2006 Lebanon war, as well as in Gaza last year, the Israeli government did everything but send in the troops. Why? No stomach for it. They realized that this current generation doesn't have the toughness of previous generations -- young 'uns are spoiled, life is too good, Hence, massive air campaign.

Dan Lynch said...

We are a long way from storming the Bastille. People riot when they have no food to eat. That's why our rulers tolerate the Food Stamp program.

But add climate change and stir. It's coming.

lastgreek said...


In a frank interview Sanders gave a few months ago, he said not to expect much from him. What he meant was that you have to force the President to make change by hitting the streets and protesting, like during the 60's. Unfortunately OWS never reached the 60's level. No leadership maybe?

Tom Hickey said...

Unfortunately OWS never reached the 60's level. No leadership maybe?

The Sixties was still a liberal period in the US as the passage of the civil rights act shows, In that case, government was with the protestors. The government response to antiwar protests was strong in some cases but generally not anywhere as vicious as today, although some people did die then. Moreover, the protestors then were highly motivated by the Vietnam War and as the protests grew there was increasing strength in numbers.

I think that government learned some lessons from that experience and the deep state was committed not to allow a repeat.

Moreover, 9/11 changed everything when constitutional liberties were suspended "in extremis," and the US is still operating on quasi-martial law.

So the Occupy protests were viciously attacked in many places and the assault was coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, which is similar to notorious ministries of the interior in repressive states. The US had no such institution in the Sixties.

The context is quite different, although I can't figure out why young people aren't manning the barricades based on the future in store for them.

lastgreek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Erickson said...

Dan Lynch,
re: "Eccles 1951"

Thanks. An amazing find & series of statements. Thanks for taking the time to wade through the Marriner Eccles files.

I truly wonder why so few listened.

lastgreek said...

Tom, you had COINTELPRO.

Dan Lynch said...

@lastgreek, IMHO any progress made during the 60's was partly due to the fear of riots, partly due to a morbid fear of communism, partly due to economic boycotts, and partly due to leaders who had a sense of noblesse oblige. We lost the fear of communism when the Berlin wall came down. Noblesse oblige has been replaced by Ayn Rand-ism. Economic boycotts are still possible but tough to pull off. Realistically the only weapon we have left is the riot, and we usually botch riots by rioting in our own neighborhood instead of rioting in TPTB's neighborhood.

OWS never actually occupied Wall Street, they only occupied Zuccotti park. They got some publicity and changed the national conversation, but were never a serious threat to the powers that be.

TPTB view peaceful protests like OWS as a mosquito bite. Peaceful protests are irritating and embarrassing to TPTB, but not a serious threat.

Ian Welsh explains what you must do if you want change: "what can the people do when the elites won’t allow direct referendums, and when there are elections you can only vote for parties which are all in favor of austerity?

Make them fear you. Start as follows, which is what was done in Argentina: find their cars, those nice expensive cars, and trash them. Every time you see someone in a suit coming from the airport, surround the car and slash the tires.

And if you’re going to riot, don’t do it in your own neighbourhoods. Go to the parliament buildings, the bank HEADQUARTERS or to the neighbourhoods in which the rich live, and riot there.

If you insist on some form of pure nonviolence (which the European left and right don’t) then you must chain and twist tie yourselves around important areas. Go to the headquarters and shut them down by tying yourself up to all the entrances. ... The elites will only respond when they feel your pain. And they will only feel it if you make them feel it.

I don't see our Bastille moment approaching soon. Americans know the system is broken, but most of them have their jobs and their McMansions, so that's just too bad about the ones who are struggling. There is no revolutionary ideology in America that people are currently willing to die for, or willing to go to jail for, and that's what it is going to take. Either that, or mass starvation. When you have no food to eat, you become a radical real quick.

Our job, as I see it, is to create an ideology that people will be willing to die for. As Uncle Milt said Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.

Tom Hickey said...


That's true, but like most Germans regarding the disappearance of the Jews, most people were not aware of the level of repression of non-white dissidents at the time. We were aware that something was going on, for example, Booby Seale was originally indicted for conspiracy with the seven whites that came to be known as the Chicago Seven, which was orignailly the Chicago Eight. But not the extent of it at the time. Of course, most of us read Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver, etc, so we weren't in the dark. Frantz Fanon was required reading, too.

We also knew that the FBI had infiltrated the antiwar movement and we were also aware of agents provacteurs.

But there was very little known at the time as it happened. Our chief means of communication was through the alternative newspapers called the "free press" because they were free. Very little appeared in the mainstream media and what appeared was heavily biased against the protestors.

We didn't get pepper sprayed, but we did get tear gassed.

lastgreek said...

And if you’re going to riot, don’t do it in your own neighbourhoods. Go to the parliament buildings,...

Dan, thinking of the Bonus Army.

Today, would a President send his wife like Roosevelt did or send in the army a la Hoover?

Dan Lynch said...

They would send in the local militarized police, with DC calling the shots.

Tom Hickey said...

They would send in the local militarized police, with DC calling the shots.

The deep state, neoliberals, and neoconservatives have had lost of time to plan a combined surveillance and militarized police response to dissent. The first step would be to either disappear any identifiable leadership or arrest leaders on terrorism charges.

I don't think that they are thinking of "if" as much as "when," and to some degree it is already happening and has been happening for decades, both domestically and abroad.

The only way to deal with them is asymmetrically rather than confrontationally. They aren't good as dealing with asymmetry as many resistance movements have shown.

Tom Hickey said...

Another factor is that when a government attacks or suppresses its own people, it loses legitimacy unless it can maintain control of the narrative, which is increasingly more difficult in an information age when suppressing information is a huge transgression of governmental authority. The US government has already begun to lose legitimacy. So far it has managed mostly to control the narrative domestically but has lost it to a degree internationally and control of the narrative is eroding domestically, too.

Dan Lynch said...

Well, we see what happened to the Black Panthers -- local police took them out, with the Feds pulling the strings behind the scenes. And if you believe the rumors, local police took out Martin Luther King with the Feds working behind the scenes to make it happen.

The original Black Panthers had an effective ideology that its members were willing to die or go to jail for. That's rare. Just because people are willing to die for an ideology doesn't mean it's a good ideology -- ISIS is a case in point -- but it's a prerequisite for a long, difficult struggle.

I should add another factor in the success of 60's movements was the ability to triangulate the North against the South. Northern politicians and Northern media were sympathetic to the civil rights movement in the South. But when MLK tried to organize protests in Chicago, he couldn't get any traction. And when he spoke out against the Vietnam war, the Northern media turned against him.