Posts Tagged ‘Revolution’

via John Galt, Ayn Rand, mega-corporations, mega-government

[https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/01/17/john-galt-ayn-rand-mega-corporations-mega-government/] By Jon Rappoport 01/17/18

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.

Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach.

Check your road and the nature of your battle.

The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.” (John Galt, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand)

Ayn Rand, the most hated and adored novelist of the 20th century.

Her 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, proposes a radical effort by inventor John Galt, and his assembled creative colleagues, to withdraw from society and take their inventions with them.

Civilization is already crumbling, owing to the federal government and its cronies installing a socialism based on top-down domination and the theft of material and intellectual private property.

Galt decides that a head-on struggle with the government would be futile.

Instead, he wants to apply the coup de grace: remove the authentic creators from the scene and let the system implode.

Here are key Galt quotes from the novel:

“You propose to establish a social order based on the following tenets: that you’re incompetent to run your own life, but competent to run the lives of others—that you’re unfit to exist in freedom, but fit to become an omnipotent ruler…”

“Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away?”

“The doctrine that ‘human rights’ are superior to ‘property rights’ simply means that some human beings have the right to make property out of others…”

“You called it selfish and cruel that men should trade value for value—you have now established an unselfish society where they trade extortion for extortion.

Your system is a legal civil war, where men gang up on one another and struggle for possession of the law, which they use as a club over rivals, till another gang wrests it from their clutch and clubs them with it in their turn, all of them clamoring protestations of service to an unnamed public’s unspecified good…”

Galt is the inventor of a revolutionary engine that can provide energy to the whole planet.

He created the engine.

He owns it.

The government, on the verge of an economic collapse, wants to take Galt’s engine from him and use it for “the greater good.”

Galt refuses.

The engine is his.

He knows, of course, that the government could do unpredictable things with that engine—they could, in fact, put it in a vault and bury it.

On the other hand, he could maintain control over his invention and sell the abundant energy—not with the objective of becoming a king or an oligarch—at a price he sets. And eventually, the world would be swimming in energy.

Agents of the government (who resemble CIA types) kidnap him and prepare to torture him, MKULTRA style, to get their hands on his engine—but at the last minute his friends rescue him, and they vanish to Galt Gulch, a hidden valley, where they wait for the government to cave in, collapse, thereby ushering in, by necessity, a truly free market.

Rand focuses on the creative individual and his private property, his own inventions.

This is one reason why leaders of collectivism and their addled followers hate her and her work.

They scream that every good thing in this world must be given away, which means that every good thing will be taken over by men who hate life and freedom and the individual, while pretending to be messianic altruists.

Among the addled followers of collectivism are people who believe they themselves are unable to earn a living, and therefore insist that “everything should be free.”

For decades now, an operation has been underway to convince more and more people (especially the young) to see themselves as dependent. As if that status were righteous, as if that status were a badge of honor.

This is an intense rejection of the free and independent individual.

“You didn’t build that” and “we’re all in this together” and other such inanities are sparks shot by weapons of degraded thought.

They intend to encircle humanity in a wretched fume of pretended helplessness.

Indeed, there is no intention to raise up the individual. Instead, there is a goal of sinking to the lowest common denominator—as if at the bottom of a stagnant lake lies some magic clue to the resurrection of the human species.

There, at last, beyond desperation, is the “sharing and caring” everyone has been seeking.

This is the core of a Church of Failure.

Because at the bottom, there is nothing but sludge.

And in this case, the fishermen of souls are casting their nets for participants in a half-light dystopia of abject need.

Endless need, never to be satisfied—the ultimate spiritual drug.

In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt wins.

Rand wrote about the ultimate victory of the individual, and that is why she is a silver bullet aimed at vampires.

She is called an extreme fantasist, because now we know that society is composed of groups, and each group has special needs and demands, and government exists to satisfy them.

Now we know that the individual is a delusional construction, an outmoded prop in a drama that was played out a long time ago.

The bright new world is collective.

Yes, isn’t it pleasant?

The present-day oligarchs are actually messiahs, and they head up huge organizations.

They no longer wander in the desert.

They own castles.

They collude with each other to manufacture rainbows for the masses.

Behind their masks, they plot greater and greater control of the population.

They even finance and stage protests against…whom?

Against any power that isn’t their own.

Against any power that isn’t the machine of government.

Because the government, you see, is the bringer of help for all who are suffering.

How does that work?

It doesn’t.

It promotes the most profound dependence ever seen on the face of the planet.

Control through “satisfying needs.”

And it’s “free.”

In your dreams.

This “free” is where the individual goes to surrender.

And because she saw that and so much more, and because she wrote about it in incendiary novels, she was hated.

Ayn Rand, 1905-1982.

Atlas Shrugged; The Fountainhead.

And now, as a backgrounder, I want to describe a point that Rand didn’t make with any force—a prime reason for the collapse of the free market she championed.

Government power and corporate power—the false dichotomy

For decades, people on the Left and Right have been arguing about where the real power is.

Corporations?

Government?

Some of these people even cite President’s Eisenhower’s famous warning about the excesses of the “military-industrial complex.”

Well, let’s see. “Industrial” means corporations.

“Military” means government, since the last time I looked the Pentagon was part of the Executive Branch.

So Eisenhower was talking about an ongoing partnership between the public and private sectors.

The federal government isn’t the helpless victim of corporations.

And corporations aren’t wilting under the dominating government.

They’re in it together.

When people on the Left promote their programs for “a better world,” they invoke a convenient case of amnesia about central government and its chronic collusion with mega-corporations.

It is the government, these Lefties believe, that will carry us forward into a more equitable future.

Really?

The same government that has been willingly carving up the country with corporations at its side?

The same government which, for decades, has been signing Globalist treaties and looking the other way, as millions of jobs have gone overseas?

That is the kinder, gentler force that wants only good things for the American people?

Perhaps that means good things for expanding Welfare recipients—but not for Americans who are looking for work and want to work.

Here is just one example of collusion, which occurred under a president many people believed finally understood the “helper” and “better world” role of government.

Barack Obama.

Who makes the huge number of drones and bombs and planes and supplies them to the military (government)?

Defense contractors, otherwise known as corporations.

It’s a comfortable marriage.

Buckle up.

The leftist Guardian (1/9/17):

“In 2016 [under Obama], US special [military] operators could be found in 70% of the world’s nations, 138 countries – a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration.”

“…in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs.

This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.”

“As drone-warrior-in-chief, he [Obama] spread the use of drones outside the declared battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly to Pakistan and Yemen. Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, and automatically painted all males of military age in these regions as combatants, making them fair game for remote controlled killing.”

Obama.

The champ of bombing.

But of course he was the prophet of a better world, a coming glorious revolution in which the downtrodden would be given their due, and past crimes and offenses would be healed.

Sure.

And if Trump had lost and Hillary had ascended to the Oval Office, we would be closer to that “good revolution.”

Hillary, who along with Obama, destroyed the nation of Libya and turned it into a hellhole of chaos.

The weapons of that mass killing were manufactured by corporations.

Vast profits ensued.

Let’s look at one more example of government-corporate collusion, under that same president who best personified “a prophet for a better world and a new age.”

“Let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.” (Barack Obama, 2007, on the campaign trail)

Really?

In the last eight years, the global outcry against toxic Monsanto and the other biotech giants has accelerated—but not a significant peep emerged from the Obama White House.

And then Obama signed the bill dubbed The Dark Act.

It made GMO labels on food an exclusively federal matter—and those labels will be confusing, weak, and therefore meaningless for the majority of Americans.

The Dark Act is basically a free pass for the Monsanto Corporation and the other biotech giants.

After his victory in the 2008 election, Obama filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in GMO food/pesticide issues—the USDA and the FDA:

At the USDA, as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center.

As deputy commissioner of the FDA, the new food-safety-issues czar, the infamous Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto.

Taylor had been instrumental in getting approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.

As commissioner of the USDA, Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack. Vilsack had set up a national group, the Governors’ Biotechnology Partnership, and had been given a Governor of the Year Award by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto.

As the Agriculture Trade Representative, who would push GMOs for export, Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist.

As the counsel for the USDA, Ramona Romero, who had been corporate counsel for another biotech giant, DuPont.

As the head of the USAID, Rajiv Shah, who had previously worked in key positions for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder of GMO agriculture.

We should also remember that Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, once worked for the Rose law firm.

That firm was counsel to Monsanto.

Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. Kagan, as federal solicitor general, had previously argued for Monsanto in the Monsanto v. Geertson seed case before the Supreme Court.

The deck was stacked.

Obama hadn’t simply made honest mistakes.

Obama hadn’t just failed to exercise proper oversight in selecting appointees.

He was staking out territory on behalf of Monsanto and other GMO corporate giants.

And now let us look at what key Obama appointees have wrought for their true partners.

Let’s see what GMO crops walked through the open door of the Obama presidency.

* Monsanto GMO alfalfa.

* Monsanto GMO sugar beets.

* Monsanto GMO Bt soybean.

* Syngenta GMO corn for ethanol.

* Syngenta GMO stacked corn.

* Pioneer GMO soybean.

* Syngenta GMO Bt cotton.

* Bayer GMO cotton.

* ATryn, an anti-clotting agent from the milk of transgenic goats.

* A GMO papaya strain.

* Genetically engineered salmon.

This is an extraordinary parade.

Obama was, all along, a stealth operative working with Monsanto, biotech, GMOs, for corporate control of the future of agriculture.

He didn’t make that many key political appointments and allow that many new GMO crops to enter the food chain through a lack of oversight.

Nor is it coincidental that two of the Obama’s biggest supporters, Bill Gates and George Soros, purchased 900,000 and 500,000 shares of Monsanto, respectively, in 2010.

Obama had been a covert Monsanto partner since the beginning.

Imposter.

Charlatan.

These words fit Obama.

He doesn’t care that GMO food, with their rivers of toxic pesticides, are taking over the country and the world.

He obviously wants it to happen.

Government-corporate collusion and partnership.

Not one.

Not the other.

Both.

Together.

The dichotomy of government vs. mega-corporation is false.

Free market?

In your dreams.

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By John Michael Greer, www.thearchdruidreport.blogspot.comAug 28, 2015

Photo: Jeb Bush, George HW Bush and Barack Obama

There are certain advantages to writing out the ideas central to this blog in weekly bursts. 

Back in the days before the internet, when a galaxy of weekly magazines provided the same free mix of ideas and opinions that fills the blogosphere today, plenty of writers kept themselves occupied turning out articles and essays for the weeklies, and the benefits weren’t just financial: feedback from readers, on the one hand, and the contributions of other writers in related fields, on the other, really do make it easier to keep slogging ahead at the writer’s lonely trade.

This week’s essay has benefited from that latter effect, in a somewhat unexpected way. 

In recent weeks, here and there in the corners of the internet I frequent, there’s been another round of essays and forum comments insisting that it’s time for the middle-class intellectuals who frequent the environmental and climate change movements to take up violence against the industrial system. 

That may not seem to have much to do with the theme of the current sequence of posts—the vacuum that currently occupies the place in our collective imagination where meaningful visions of the future used to be found—but there’s a connection, and following it out will help explain one of the core themes I want to discuss.

The science fiction author Isaac Asimov used to say that violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. 

That’s a half-truth at best, for there are situations in which effective violence is the only tool that will do what needs to be done—we’ll get to that in a moment.

It so happens, though, that a particular kind of incompetence does indeed tend to turn to violence when every other option has fallen flat, and goes down in a final outburst of pointless bloodshed. 

It’s unpleasantly likely at this point that the climate change movement, or some parts of it, may end up taking that route into history’s dumpster; here again, we’ll get to that a little further on in this post.

It’s probably necessary to say at the outset that the arguments I propose to make here have nothing to do with the ethics of violence, and everything to do with its pragmatics as a means of bringing about social change. 

Ethics in general are a complete quagmire in today’s society. 

Nietzsche’s sly description of moral philosophy as the art of propping up inherited prejudices with bad logic has lost none of its force since he wrote it, and since his time we’ve also witnessed the rise of professional ethicists, whose jobs consist of coming up with plausible excuses for whatever their corporate masters want to do this week. 

The ethical issues surrounding violence are at least as confused as those around any of the other messy realities of human life, and in some ways, more so than most.

Myself, I consider violence enitrely appropriate in some situations. 

Many of my readers may have heard, for example, of an event that took place a little while back in Kentucky, where a sex worker was attacked by a serial killer.  

While he was strangling her, she managed to get hold of his handgun, and proceeded to shoot him dead. 

To my mind, her action was morally justified. 

Once he attacked her, no matter what she did, somebody was going to die, and killing him not only turned the violence back on its originator, it also saved the lives of however many other women the guy might have killed before the police got to him—if they ever did; crimes against sex workers, and for that matter crimes against women, are tacitly ignored by a fairly large number of US police departments these days.

Along the same lines, a case can be made that revolutionary violence against a political and economic system is morally justified if the harm being done by that system is extreme enough. 

That’s not a debate I’m interested in exploring here, though.  

Again, it’s not ethics but pragmatics that I want to discuss, because whether or not revolutionary violence is justified in some abstract moral sense is far less important right now than whether it’s an effective response to the situation we’re in. 

That’s not a question being asked, much less answered, by the people who are encouraging environmental and climate change activists to consider violence against the system.

Violence is not a panacea. 

It’s a tool, and like any other tool, it’s well suited to certain tasks and utterly useless for others. 

Political violence in particular is a surprisingly brittle and limited tool. 

Even when it has the support of a government’s resource base, it routinely flops or backfires, and a group that goes in for political violence without the resources and technical assistance of some government somewhere has to play its hand exceedingly well, or it’s going to fail. 

Furthermore, there are many cases in which violence isn’t useful as a means of social change, as other tools can do the job more effectively.

Pay attention to the history of successful revolutions and it’s not hard to figure out how to carry out political violence—and far more importantly, how not to do so. 

The most important point to learn from history is that successful violence in a political context doesn’t take place in a vacuum. 

It’s the final act of a long process, and the more thoroughly that process is carried out, the less violence is needed when crunch time comes. 

Let’s take a few paragraphs to walk through the process and see how it’s done.

The first and most essential step in the transformation of any society is the delegitimization of the existing order. 

That doesn’t involve violence, and in fact violence at this first stage of the process is catastrophically counterproductive—a lesson, by the way, that the US military has never been able to learn, which is why its attempts to delegitimize its enemies (usually phrased in such language as “winning minds and hearts”) have always been so embarrassingly inept and ineffective. 

The struggle to delegitimize the existing order has to be fought on cultural, intellectual, and ideological battlefields, not physical ones, and its targets are not people or institutions but the aura of legitimacy and inevitability that surrounds any established political and economic order.

Those of my readers who want to know how that’s done might want to read up on the cultural and intellectual life of France in the decades before the Revolution. 

It’s a useful example, not least because the people who wanted to bring down the French monarchy came from almost exactly the same social background as today’s green radicals: disaffected middle-class intellectuals with few resources other than raw wit and erudition. 

That turned out to be enough, as they subjected the monarchy—and even more critically, the institutions and values that supported it—to sustained and precise attack from constantly shifting positions, engaging in savage mockery one day and earnest pleas for reform the next, exploiting every weakness and scandal for maximum effect. 

By the time the crisis finally arrived in 1789, the monarchy had been so completely defeated on the battlefield of public opinion that next to nobody rallied to its defense until after the Revolution was a fait accompli.

The delegitimization of the existing order is only the first step in the process. 

The second step is political, and consists of building a network of alliances with existing and potential power centers and pressure groups that might be willing to support revolutionary change. 

Every political system, whatever its official institutional form might be, consists in practice of just such a network of power centers—that is, groups of people who have significant political, economic, or social influence—and pressure groups—that is, other groups of people who lack such influence but can give or withhold their support in ways that can sometimes extract favors from the power centers.

In today’s America, for example, the main power centers are found in what we may as well call the bureaucratic-industrial complex, the system of revolving-door relationships that connect big corporations, especially the major investment banks, with the major Federal bureaucracies, especially the Treasury and the Pentagon. 

There are other power centers as well—for example, the petroleum complex, which has its own ties to the Pentagon—which cooperate and compete by turns with the New York-DC axis of influence—and then there are pressure groups of many kinds, some more influential, some less, some reduced to the status of captive constituencies whose only role in the political process is to rally the vote every four years and have their agenda ignored by their supposed friends in office in between elections. 

The network of power centers, pressure groups, and captive constituencies that support the existing order of things is the real heart of political power, and it’s what has to be supplanted in order to bring systemic change.

Effective revolutionaries know that in order to overthrow the existing order of society, they have to put together a comparable network that will back them against the existing order, and grow it to the point that it starts attracting key power centers away from the network of the existing order. 

That’s a challenge, but not an impossible one. In any troubled society, there are always plenty of potential power centers that have been excluded from the existing order and its feeding trough, and are thus interested in backing a change that will give them the power they want and don’t have. 

In France before the Revolution, for example, there were plenty of wealthy middle-class people who were shut out of the political system by the aristocracy and the royal court, and the philosophes went out of their way to appeal to them and get their support—an easy job, since the philosophes and the nouveaux-riches shared similar backgrounds. 

That paid off handsomely once the crisis came.

In any society, troubled or not, there are also always pressure groups, plenty of them, that are interested in getting more access to the various goodies that power centers can dole out, and can be drawn into alliance with a rising protorevolutionary faction. 

The more completely the existing order of things has been delegitimized, the easier it is to build such alliances, and the alliances can in turn be used to feed the continuing process of delegitimization. 

Here again, as in the first stage of the process, violence is a hindrance rather than a help, and it’s best if the subject never even comes up for discussion; assembling the necessary network of alliances is much easier when nobody has yet had to face up to the tremendous risks involved in revolutionary violence.

By the time the endgame arrives, therefore, you’ve got an existing order that no longer commands the respect and loyalty of most of the population, and a substantial network of pressure groups and potential power centers supporting a revolutionary agenda. 

Once the situation reaches that stage, the question of how to arrange the transfer of power from the old regime to the new one is a matter of tactics, not strategy. 

Violence is only one of the available options, and again, it’s by no means always the most useful one. 

There are many ways to break the existing order’s last fingernail grip on the institutions of power, once that grip has been loosened by the steps already mentioned.

What happens, on the other hand, to groups that don’t do the necessary work first, and turn to violence anyway? 

Here again, history has plenty to say about that, and the short form is that they lose. 

Without the delegitimization of the existing order of society and the creation of networks of support among pressure groups and potential power centers, turning to political violence guarantees total failure.

For some reason, for most of the last century, the left has been unable or unwilling to learn that lesson. 

What’s happened instead, over and over again, is that a movement pursuing radical change starts out convinced that the existing order of society already lacks popular legitimacy, and so fails to make a case that appeals to anybody outside its own ranks. 

Having failed at the first step, it tries to pressure existing power centers and pressure groups into supporting its agenda, rather than building a competing network around its own agenda, and gets nowhere. 

Finally, having failed at both preliminary steps, it either crumples completely or engages in pointless outbursts of violence against the system, which are promptly and brutally crushed. 

Any of my readers who remember the dismal history of the New Left in the US during the 1960s and early 1970s already know this story, right down to the fine details.

With this in mind, let’s look at the ways in which the climate change movement has followed this same trajectory of abject failure over the last fifteen years or so.

The task of the climate change movement at the dawn of the twenty-first century was difficult but by no means impossible. 

Their ostensible goal was to create a consensus in the world’s industrial nations that would support the abandonment of fossil fuels and a transition to the less energy-intensive ways of living that renewable resources can provide. 

That would have required a good many well-off people to accept a decline in their standards of living, but that’s far from the insuperable obstacle so many people seem to think it must be. 

When Winston Churchill told the British people “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” his listeners roared their approval. 

For reasons that probably reach far into our evolutionary past, a call to shared sacrifice usually gets a rousing response, so long as the people who are being asked to sacrifice have reason to believe something worthwhile will come of it.

That, however, was precisely what the climate change movement was unable to provide. 

It’s harsh but not, I think, unfair to describe the real agenda of the movement as the attempt to create a future in which the industrial world’s middle classes could keep on enjoying the benefits of their privileged lifestyle without wrecking the atmosphere in the process. 

Of course it’s not exactly easy to convince everyone else in the world to put aside all their own aspirations for the sake of the already privileged, and so the spokespeople of the climate change movement generally didn’t talk about what they hoped to achieve. 

Instead, they fell into the most enduring bad habit of the left, and ranted instead about how awful the future would be if the rest of the world didn’t fall into line behind them.

On the off chance that any of my readers harbor revolutionary ambitions, may I offer a piece of helpful advice? 

If you want people to follow your lead, you have to tell them where you intend to take them. 

Talking exclusively about what’s going to happen if they don’t follow you will not cut it. 

Rehashing the same set of talking points about how everyone’s going to die if the whole world doesn’t rally around you emphatically will not cut it. 

The place where you’re leading them can be difficult and dangerous, the way there can be full of struggle, sacrifice and suffering, and they’ll still flock to your banner—in fact, young men will respond to that kind of future more enthusiastically than to any other, especially if you can lighten the journey with beer and the occasional barbecue—but you have to be willing to talk about your destination. 

You also have to remember that the phrase “shared sacrifice” includes the word “shared,” and not expect everyone else to give up something so that you don’t have to.

So the climate change movement entered the arena with one hand tied behind its back and the other hand hauling a heavy suitcase stuffed to the bursting point with middle class privilege. 

Its subsequent behavior did nothing to overcome that initial disadvantage. 

When the defenders of the existing order counterattacked, as of course they did, the climate change movement did nothing to retake the initiative and undermine its adversaries; preaching to the green choir took the place of any attempt to address the concerns of the wider public; over and over again, climate change activists allowed the other side to define the terms of the debate and then whined about the resulting defeat rather than learning anything from it. 

Of course the other side used every trick in the book, and then some; so? 

That’s how the game is played. 

Successful movements for change realize that, and plan accordingly.

We don’t even have to get into the abysmal failure of the climate change movement to seek out allies among the many pressure groups and potential power centers that might have backed it, if it had been able to win the first and most essential struggle in the arena of public opinion. 

The point I want to make is that at this point in the curve of failure, violence really is the last refuge of the incompetent. 

What, after all, would be the result if some of the middle class intellectuals who make up the core of the climate change movement were to pick up some guns, assemble the raw materials for a few bombs, and try to use violence to make their point? 

They might well kill some people before the FBI guns them down or hauls them off to life-plus terms in Leavenworth; they would very likely finish off climate change activism altogether, by making most Americans fear and distrust anyone who talks about it—but would their actions do the smallest thing to slow the dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the resulting climate chaos? 

Of course not.

What makes the failure of the climate change movement so telling is that during the same years that it peaked and crashed, another movement has successfully conducted a prerevolutionary campaign of the classic sort here in the US. 

While the green Left has been spinning its wheels and setting itself up for failure, the populist Right has carried out an extremely effective program of delegitimization aimed at the federal government and, even more critically, the institutions and values that support it. 

Over the last fifteen years or so, very largely as a result of that program, a great many Americans have gone from an ordinary, healthy distrust of politicians to a complete loss of faith in the entire American project. 

To a remarkable extent, the sort of rock-ribbed middle Americans who used to insist that of course the American political system is the best in the world are now convinced that the American political system is their enemy, and the enemy of everything they value.

The second stage of the prerevolutionary process, the weaving of a network of alliances with pressure groups and potential power centers, is also well under way. 

Watch which groups are making common cause with one another on the rightward fringes of society these days and you can see a competent revolutionary strategy at work. 

This isn’t something I find reassuring—quite the contrary, in fact; aside from my own admittedly unfashionable feelings of patriotism, one consistent feature of revolutions is that the government that comes into power after the shouting and the shooting stop is always more repressive than the one that was in power beforehand. 

Still, the way things are going, it seems likely to me that the US will see the collapse of its current system of government, probably accompanied with violent revolution or civil war, within a decade or two.

Meanwhile, as far as I can see, the climate change movement is effectively dead in its tracks, and we no longer have time to make something happen before the rising spiral of climate catastrophe begins—as my readers may have noticed, that’s already well under way. 

From here on in, it’s probably a safe bet that anthropogenic climate change will accelerate until it fulfills the prophecy of The Limits to Growth and forces the global industrial economy to its knees. 

Any attempt to bring human society back into some kind of balance with ecological reality will have to get going during and after that tremendous crisis. 

That requires playing a long game, but then that’s going to be required anyway, to do the things that the climate change movement failed to do, and do them right this time.

With that in mind, I’m going to be taking this blog in a slightly different direction next week, and for at least a few weeks to come. 

I’ve talked in previous posts about intentional technological regression as an option, not just for individuals but as a matter of public policy. 

I’ve also talked at quite some length about the role that narrative plays in helping to imagine alternative futures. 

With that in mind, I’ll be using the tools of fiction to suggest a future that zooms off at right angles to the expectations of both ends of the current political spectrum. 

Pack a suitcase, dear readers; your tickets will be waiting at the station. 

Next Wednesday evening, we’ll be climbing aboard a train for Retrotopia.

https://www.popularresistance.org/the-last-refuge-of-the-incompetent/

To Topple US ‘Oligarchy,’ Sanders Calls for Publicly Financed Elections

Featured image

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton responds to question about big money in politics with ‘a flavorless mush of platitudes’.

By Deirdre Fulton – Aug 3, 2015

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign stop in New Orleans on July 26, 2015. (Photo Credit: Nick Solari/flickr/cc)

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has been vocal on the campaign trail about the scourge of big money in politics, said on Sunday he would push legislation in Congress to provide public funding of elections.

“We’re going to introduce legislation which will allow people to run for office without having to beg money from the wealthy and the powerful,” Sanders told a crowd of about 300 people at a town meeting in Rollinsford, New Hampshire.

“We are increasingly living in an oligarchy where big money is buying politicians.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sanders blasted the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that gutted limits on campaign funding and paved the way for the über-wealthy to spend unlimited sums to influence election outcomes.

His criticisms echoed those voiced last week by former president Jimmy Carter, who said on the Thom Hartmann Program that the U.S. is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.”

Referring to Citizens United, Sanders said on Sunday:

“We must overturn that decision before it’s too late. We are increasingly living in an oligarchy where big money is buying politicians.”

The senator from Vermont compared politicians to NASCAR drivers with their sponsor’s logos emblazoned on their uniforms, suggesting some politicians should wear signs saying, “I’m sponsored by the Koch brothers” or “I’m sponsored by Big Oil.”

In his own presidential campaign, Sanders has eschewed support from super PACs, which the Citizens United ruling spawned.

Instead, Sanders has relied overwhelmingly on small donations from individual contributors.

Altogether, more than 76.5 percent of all contributions—totaling more than $10.5 million—came from individuals who donated less than $200.

Meanwhile, as The Intercept reported Monday, Sanders’ chief rival, frontrunner Hillary Clinton, has been more vague and less inspiring when it comes to the matter of big money in politics.

Video released Monday by Democracy Matters, a national student organization with a focus on campaign finance reform, shows Clinton responding to a question about campaign finance with what The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz described as “a flavorless mush of platitudes.”

It’s all well and good for Clinton to state her support for publicly funded elections, Schwarz argued—but she has yet to walk the walk.

It’s always better to have big-time politicians say the right thing than not.

And Clinton may in her heart “believe” in publicly financed elections.

But Lance Armstrong may also truly “believe” in clean, no-doping professional cycling.

And just as Armstrong did what he felt he had to to win, Clinton has declined to participate in the presidential public financing system, because it places limits on how much candidates can spend.  

She did not take the available matching funds in her 2008 primary campaign.

Nor is there any indication she will for the 2016 primaries or (assuming she’s the Democratic nominee) the presidential campaign.

It’s defensible for her not to want to unilaterally disarm for the 2016 general election, since the public financing system would limit her campaign’s total spending to only $100 million.

(Romney spent almost $500 million in 2012, even without counting outside spending, and the 2016 Republican candidate will surely spend far more.)

It was perhaps legitimate for her to opt out for the 2008 primaries, since Obama did as well.

But Clinton could participate in the public financing system in the 2016 primaries versus Bernie Sanders et al.

She won’t.

“If Clinton truly does support public financing,” Schwarz wrote, “the most important thing she could do would be to strongly endorse the Government By the People Act—which would create a significant public financing system for Congress—and use her campaign to educate people about it.”

To that end, Democracy Matters posted several “follow-up” questions for Clinton, including this one:

“While it is great news that you ‘believe in public financing of elections,’ those of us interested in restoring a fair democracy for all Americans are anxious to hear your specific legislative plans. Do you support John Sarbanes’ Government by the People Act? Would you make its passage a top priority of your administration from day 1?”

For his part, Sanders has signed the organization’s “Democracy Pledge” which states:

“I support restoring democracy by publicly financing elections and taking big money out politics.”

Clinton has yet to do so.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/08/03/topple-us-oligarchy-sanders-calls-publicly-financed-elections