What Politicians and Media Don't Want You to Know
By Dennis Loo (7/21/16)
There's a lot of hopeful talk right now by Trump, and his followers, about how he is going to provide Americans jobs, especially manufacturing ones (as long as they're not Mexicans! Tell that to California whose economy depends on Mexican labor!)
Clinton, for her part, speaks of a working partnership between businesses and employees and of narrowing the huge gap between the rich and the rest. Wall Street is sophisticated enough to know that Clinton doesn't really intend to bridge these gaps, and only must say this now because the Democrats are supposed to sound to the left of the GOP.
Trump says further that he is going to reverse globalization's trends in trade agreements that have gutted Main Street. He promises to "Make America Great (and Safe) Again." Clinton promises to do this non-divisively, unlike her very divisive opponent.
Trump's unexpected win of the Republican nomination that took the GOP establishment and all of the pundits completely by surprise (and their mostly outright hostility, except the bootlicker Christie) and brought a record number in their party to vote for him, and Sanders, who was also expected to be soundly defeated, almost upended Clinton, who's been shooting for the presidency since at least her Wellesley years.
Let's be clear: no one, no matter what their real intentions are, can within the political system undo or even really modify what the economic system's logic drives it to do. As long as America is a superpower and an Empire, only comparable to the Roman Empire at its peak, it can only operate as Empires and superpowers do, which means that wars and globalization will continue under either Clinton or Trump. Police violence against blacks - next to Native Americans the most negatively impacted by these policies - will not end as long as this system remains. Jobs will continue disappearing to where labor is cheapest because it is fundamental to businesses' bottom line. Customer service will overall get worse as corporate America gets bigger and cares less and less about us. Student and credit card debt will continue to soar. And so on ad nauseum.
Forget the hometown rhetoric that the US is a world force for good or stability. The rest of the world knows better: the US is a force of tremendous instability, the cause of the worst destruction, and Clinton, for example, exemplifies real politik by having backed dictator after dictator abroad as Secretary of State. The US' numerous invasions - what Nuremberg called "aggressive war" - and drones raining death on thousands, including hundreds of children, without due process or supervision, under Bush and Obama, along with unvarnished torture, "preventive" and indefinite detention, are a key reason why first al-Qaeda launched 9/11 and then ISIS split off from al-Qaeda, an even more virulent version of al-Qaeda, this whole process beginning under conservative hero Reagan and continued and worsened through Democrats and Republicans alike.
These are the facts. Let the media and politicians continue to cover over these facts, but the facts will not go away or be resolved by any amount of combing over (a la Trump's bald spot). US imperialism is as shaky as Trump's head must look like when he gets up in the morning.
Since the 1980s, governments in the advanced capitalist centers have obliged the interests of globalization, vigorously carrying out successive waves of deregulation and privatization, shredding the social safety net, and opening the floodgates to merger mania. Each successive merger spawned a new mind-bogglingly large corporate giant (like the crab monsters of mid-twentieth century sci-fi movies, produced inadvertently by atomic radiation and bent on ravaging the populace). During the Reagan/Bush years of the 1980s, deregulation was de rigueur. These trends continued overall under Clinton/Gore and accelerated at breathtaking speed and with a vengeance under Bush/Cheney.24 Under Obama the trends continue. In the corporate world, downsizing employment rolls and scaling back or outright elimination of benefits packages have become the rule as globalization of production has proceeded aggressively. [The political policies these reflect are known as "free market fundamentalism" or neoliberalism - letting the market decide all things. Neoliberalism is the political expression of globalization].
Disparities in income and wealth, job insecurity, income volatility, homelessness, and poverty rates have risen sharply. This stands in marked contrast to the years between the 1930s’ New Deal and the 1970s when the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor had actually been contracting. Third World governments have been compelled by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to comply with the policies of neoliberalism, producing widespread and intense immiseration. Diseases such as AIDS,25 devastating in its impact on places such as sub-Saharan Africa, and the looming specter of avian flu that could overwhelm our medical facilities and kill tens of millions or more in the US alone,26 are directly tied to globalization’s nature.
Another way to appreciate the magnitude of these disparities is to consider a few facts about transnational corporations. Transnational corporations are the key economic figures in this new economic order. Due to their immense size and power, they dwarf most of the world’s national economies.27 The world’s top two hundred transnational corporations exceed the combined economic activity of 182 countries, and are only outstripped by the nine largest countries. More than one-sixth of the US’s GDP comes from just thirteen of the largest US corporations. Accompanying the emergence of these megacorporations are the super rich individuals and families who, numbering in the several millions worldwide, collectively command assets of more than $17 trillion, more than twice the annual GNP of the US. In fact, the 85 richest individuals in the world today own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s six billion-plus population.28 Eighty-five individuals versus more than three billion people: whose needs are more important? What kind of arithmetic and what kind of morality is at work that renders these lopsided numbers reasonable or acceptable when every single day more than twenty-five thousand children die in the world from imminently preventable diseases such as diarrhea, because they do not have access to clean water?
These twin behemoths of the new order, transnational corporations and the super wealthy, are both the driving motive force behind, as well a product of, globalization. In the face of this kind of concentrated wealth and power, compared to which most nations are merely small fry, and the fact that these corporate giants and super wealthy reside in the most prosperous and powerful nations, what kind of power would you reasonably expect political institutions to exercise over these giants? ...
Insecurity and Coercion
The very logic of globalization dictates ever-higher levels of job and social insecurity for all but those at the very highest levels. Globalization and neoliberalism’s mantra is to privatize that which has been public; outsource that which has been in-house and in-nation; deregulate so that the “free market” may be unfettered; ceaselessly downsize the workforce, cutting payroll and reducing benefits, making job security and a secure, guaranteed retirement things of the past. Not surprisingly, the inevitable outcome of these measures means that insecurity—the more, the better— is the ineluctable, inevitable, desired outcome. From the standpoint of corporations, the more perilous the jobs and the economic status of the labor force overall the better, since this will compel employees to accept less in return for working ever harder and longer.
Leonard[’s]. . . six-figure salary and benefits are all that he ever could have wanted. But . . . the pressure accompanying his twelve-hour workdays and managerial responsibilities . . . have left him feeling more like a survivor than a star. . . .
“The philosophy now is you have to squeeze more and more out of people . . . .
“Earlier this year, they laid off a hundred people in my division. The philosophy was you probably have a hundred people who probably aren’t up to par . . . .
“We do this year after year. We squeeze. We squeeze. People are starting to feel expendable. But if you try to argue, then you are not stepping up.
“Layoffs are not good. People keep telling me, ‘Len, there is a contradiction here. You tell us that things are better than ever. But the layoffs and cost cutting keep happening. Does this mean that at any time, no matter what, it could happen to me? Anything could happen to me?’”29
The connection between these economic changes and state policies governing business practices on the one hand, and the persistence and increasing stinginess or outright threatened elimination of governmental programs such as social security, welfare, and so on, on the other hand, has to some extent been chronicled and analyzed by others. What has not been well explored is what these dramatic economic changes imply withrespect to social control and to the matter of the stability of the social order and the heightened probability of violent reaction/counteraction. Since the basis for people to cooperate, to behave normatively (for example, to abide by the law) is constantly and deliberately undermined under neoliberal regimes, and since, for the most dispossessed, even less of what was available to them in welfare states with Keynesian economic policies is now offered, governments must increasingly rely upon coercive means with spending on “security” (law enforcement, military, immigration control, prisons, surveillance and so on) rising inexorably. This point bears underscoring: more repression and more coercive means of social control are not principally a policy choice in the sense that people might think of the GOP favoring more coercion and the Democrats less. The overall direction of neoliberal regimes dictates that more coercion [governmental volence] will be required, regardless of the party in power and the individuals in office. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 50-54)
Read that last sentence over again: "The overall direction of neoliberal regimes dictates that more coercion will be required, regardless of the party in power and the individuals in office."
The political arena and system rest upon and operates in correspondence with the economic system. If the two were somehow out of kilter with each other, then they would forcibly be brought into cooperation with one another, with the political system serving the economic one, and not vice-versa. The widespread belief that the political sphere determines the economic sphere is an error. No amount of politicians' rhetoric to the contrary changes this essential truth. You can see that historically that no matter what previous or the current president has promised to do, if you look past their hands like a magician uses his or hers, they have always acted to preserve and protect the capitalist system. This is even true of FDR who faced the greatest previous capitalist crisis in the Great Depression and in relatively more private moments confessed that he had to carry out certain reforms in order to save the system itself. Obama's black melanin notwithstanding, his actions and even a close examination of his actual wording shows his fidelity to this tradition of misdirection by the POTUS. There is a reason, after all, why Obama sided with the banks against the public and bailed out the bankers who caused the crisis instead of the mortgagors. There is a reason why while talking about the seriousness of global warming that he instructed the US' UN delegation to nix the carbon tax, the one thing that he could have done that would have actually helped the environment. There is a reason why he keeps falsely claiming that Congress is blocking his closing of GITMO when he himself has the power to close it. And on and on and on.
Put another way: neither Trump nor Clinton nor anyone else for that matter, can do what they are promising to do. Trump and Clinton know this and are saying what they are saying because they know that if they told people the truth now that people would desert this system in droves. Trump's nomination itself reflects a degree of disaffection that took the GOP leaders and pundits by surprise and Bernie Sanders won nearly as many votes as Clinton, similarly promising his followers a faux-version of "socialism," minus anything that genuine socialists would actually offer such as nationalization of the oil companies, a radical departure from fossil fuel dependence, an end to the imperialist interventions and wars, and so on.
Trump is no "outsider" who is going to fix a "broken system." He may be a political novice, but the system is working the way it's supposed to and intended to: to widen the gap between the owners of capital (the so-called 1%) and the rest of us and to render us more and more insecure. This is going to be true no matter who is elected. The political promises being made by both parties is merely somewhat desperate window-dressing, designed to keep people from mass disaffection with the very system that is causing these problems, as consistent with its system's logic.
Systems are what we live in and under, not principally ruled over by individuals but by the systems that the individuals who lead these systems personify. Clinton, Trump, Sanders, Pence: they are all bound to this logic and cannot and will not escape from it. The only solution is a radical change in the system, not who is running that same system, through the eventually masses in their millions rising up and upending this system, dismantling it and replacing it with wholly different institutions designed for entirely different purposes. The police, for example, would be eliminated, to be replaced by organs of people's power in which protecting the people as a whole would be their actual jobs rather than reigning terror over the most oppressed on behalf of the rich and powerful.
Ask yourself given all of this: do you think we can solve anything (e.g., global warming or worker's exploitation) under this system? Is this system not creating a catastrophe everyday through its very ordinary workings? Is it an indication of how all-powerful and everlasting their system is that a complete outsider (Trump) and a "socialist" set the overall terms of the presidential campaign? Is it not a sign of deep trouble for that same system that their political representatives must lie so shamelessly that they will fix the very outcomes that the system they persolify are responsible for? The leaders of both parties and the media have made these needed changes the centerpiece of their campaigns and the sixteen GOP candidates that Trump was running against could not and did not channel the degree of anger and despair that is so very widespread. Does this betoken public stupidity or a deeply troubled system? If the latter, how "impossible" does it now seem making revolution? Does it not make the only real sense? It's not where most people are at at any given time that matters most. It's what the system they live in will be compelled to do that matters and whether there is a leadership and organization in that vacuum that can lead hundreds, then thousands, and eventually millions, in a path that can truly fix these problems that will otherwise never go away.
24 See Michael Allen Meeropol, Surrender: How the Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1998).
25 From Benardo Useche and Amalia Cabezas, “The Neoliberal Model in Timesof AIDS,” EnviroDigital.org, No. 289, August 2005, http://www.envio.org.ni/articulo/3029.
In recent decades, US governments and their closest allies have promoted globalization under neoliberal principles and “free trade” economic policies and imposed them on the nations of the world mainly through the international agencies under their control—the IMF and the World Bank—as a supposed panacea for all social problems. Neoliberal ideology found its perfect application in the World Bank and IMF structural adjustment programs that have devastated Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean over the last 20 years. Promotingprivatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, market liberation and the cutting back of the state, these programs have increased and globalized poverty, migration, unemployment and temporary work contracts and produced extremely polarized income and living conditions across the world to the exclusive benefit of big capital.AIDS was incubated and has been propagated in this ecosystem of social inequity and it will be impossible to prevent and combat it in any effective way without going after the conditions that are generating thepandemic and continuing its expansion throughout the world.
26 See Mike Davis, The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (New York: New Press, 2005).
27 Of the top one hundred largest economic entities, as of 2000, 51 were transnational corporations, 49 were countries. GM, the world’s largest corporation, was the 23rdlargest economic entity in the world, larger than Denmark and bigger than 162countries, including Poland, Greece, and Israel. Walmart was the 25th largest economic entity in the world. Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, “Top 200: The Riseof Corporate Global Power,” Institute for Policy Studies online, December 4, 2000, http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/top_200_the_rise_of_corporate_global_power.
28 As reported by Oxfam’s 2014 Report “Working for the Few,” based upon Credit Suisse 2013 data.
29 Jill Andresky Fraser, White Collar Sweatshop: The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001) .
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Second, in order to get at the truth and because the ways in which humanity's historic striving for understanding and its capacity to wonder and imagine are very rich and diverse, we seek to reflect that richness and diversity on our site. See "About Us" on navigation bar. We intend to be engaging and compelling, as the best investigative journalism and art are, and relentlessly scientific, rigorous, and direct, as those who cherish the truth are. We believe that we can be both accessible and sophisticated. As Loo lays out in his book,
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)