Rob Urie: The End of the World as We Know It

Yves here. Rob Urie describes below how what are increasingly legacy parties in the US are stoking hatred of the other side as the way to redirect well-deserved resentment away from predatory elites. The new model is even more insidious than older forms of capitalism. At least Jay Gould had to hire one half of the working class to kill the other half. In our Brave New World of ever better propaganda, most can be manipulated to operate against their best interest on the cheap.

And speaking of the world, in Davos, the so-called elites are openly expressing their fear of losing control of the lower orders. For instance:

I do have one quibble with Urie’s otherwise very informative and well documented piece. The big trigger for the concerted push started by what then was a small but determined group of right-wingers, led by the likes of the Cohrs and Koch families plus the Birchers, was not very much the growning push for greater social justice but the determination to undo New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society. The Powell memo, which codified this initiative in 1971, overwhelmingly focused on their desire to change American values to be more business-friendly.

By Rob Urie, author of Zen Economics, artist, and musician who publishes The Journal of Belligerent Pontification on Substack

With the Biden administration declaring the American people to be the greatest threat to the continued existence of the US, and Donald Trump proclaiming that ‘our threat is from within,’ the cynical machinations of American institutions during the Trump years are now being inflicted back onto political scapegoats of convenience. Of course, neither putative political ‘leader’ is slandering all Americans. This is a politics of social division, of blaming largely voiceless people for problems they had no part in creating in order to deflect blame for the decline of American empire and the dislocations it is causing.

To the extent that people’s politics align with who they vote for, 98% of self-described ‘Progressives’ voted for Biden in 2020 (chart below). This, as voters have been fleeing both of the duopoly / uniparty parties at moments of political failure for the last two-plus decades. Republicans fled the Republican Party when George W. Bush’s war against Iraq headed south around 2005 (graph below). Democrats fled the Democratic Party once it became clear that Barack Obama was going to save Wall Street on the public dime while leaving unemployment and foreclosures to fester.

Graph: both of the legacy political parties in the US have been losing voters for two-plus decades. Republican voters fled the party when George W. Bush’s war against Iraq headed south around 2005. Democrats began fleeing when it became clear that Barack Obama was going to save Wall Street while leaving unemployment and foreclosures to fester. In both cases, this is evidence that voters have left the duopoly / uniparty because they object to its policies, and not as a fashion statement. Source:

At present, Joe Biden is actively working to dissuade Donald Trump’s supporters from voting for him (Biden) by calling them racists and extremists. And Donald Trump is calling Mr. Biden’s supporters ‘vermin.’ Each is crafting their own sanctimonious cult of culture warriors to vote against the other candidate. This reflects a political culture where defeating the other party is close to all that matters for the zombie death cults that are what remain of the legacy parties after the voters who care about policy fled.

Think about it: in both 2005 and 2010 voters fled (graph above) their respective duopoly / uniparty parties at moments of policy failure, suggesting that they did so because of these policy failures. Moreover, fleeing Democrats could have re-registered as Republicans, and vice versa, if ‘moving right / left’ or ‘sending a message’ were their goal(s). What they did by implication was to shift their allegiance from parties to policy goals that aren’t represented by the duopoly / uniparty. Independents are the ‘none-of-the-above’ party with respect to the legacy party candidates.

Consider: with those who care about policy fleeing the legacy parties, this leaves only people who don’t care about policy, aka party loyalists, running the parties. Suddenly the logic of ‘defeating the other party’ versus winning the ability to govern makes sense. Doing so takes the focus off of policies that were crafted to benefit donors while they were sold as public policy (e.g. ACA). It also explains why party loyalists stand by their candidates no matter how many policy betrayals they encounter. Question: which class doesn’t care about public policy? That would be the beneficiaries of the current distributions of wealth and power.

Graph: despite regular protestations from the self-described ‘radical left’ in the US that its politics differ from those of self-described liberals, this distinction isn’t borne out in voting trends. With 98% of the ‘radical left’ having voted for Joe Biden in 2020, the functional distinction between it and American liberals is that the radical left was far more enthusiastic about Mr. Biden than liberals were. The explanation may be TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome), but TDS is a product of CIA and FBI machinations, not analytical insight. Source:

The question then is how the US got to the point where half of the country is ready to kill the other half, and vice versa. The answer: capitalism. About a half century ago oligarchs and corporate executives decided that they had had enough of liberation politics (e.g. Black Liberation, Women’s Liberation) and they launched a form of corporatism called neoliberalism. While definitions vary, neoliberalism is capitalist imperialism as a class politics, very close in structure to Lenin’s explanation of the capitalist state found in The State and Revolution. In that exposition, the state exists to serve the interests of the rich and powerful.

Compare this to the claim that elections grant political legitimacy to the state through the will of the people. Well, the largest political party in the US— Independents, is functionally precluded from fielding candidates by the duopoly / uniparty. And the ‘right’ of Independents to vote for duopoly / uniparty candidates begs the question of why voters fled the parties if the party candidates were their choice? Moreover, why did these departures coincide with dramatic and well-publicized policy failures? The reasonable conclusion to draw is that the American electoral system is broken. It does not represent the will of the people.

Graph: the oft-stated rationale for implementing neoliberalism was to reverse the fall in the rate of profits for large, Western, corporations. In fact, what neoliberalism has accomplished has been to lower the rate of economic growth, while raising the rate of profit for large corporations. Implied in this arithmetic is that it is workers who have been squeezed. (P = profits, R = Revenues, C = Costs (including wages), and G = rate of economic growth). Let G be a proxy for P.  P = (R – C)). For P to rise in step with R, C must be near constant. And voila, ‘inequality’ is the result. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve.

If you’re a well-trained American, you should be asking what politics could possibly have to do with economics right about now. That Joe Biden launched WWIII to ‘send a message to China’ can be interpreted as a merging of politics with economics. US based oil and gas companies wanted to sell their oil and gas to developed Europe. Russia had already built two pipelines to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe. So, the Biden administration blew up the Russian pipelines to force the Europeans to buy natural gas from US-based suppliers at a higher price.

The problem of economic decline for the majority, whereby the rate of GDP growth has slowed at the same time that connected insiders in business and politics are taking a larger portion of the economic pie for themselves, means that most people are worse off under the current political-economic order than before it was implemented. This tension led to criticism of Mr. Obama’s program to recover the wealth of the rich (the bailouts) while doing very little for everyone else. The net effect of his actions was to further shift the internal balance of power in the US toward the rich and away from the rest of us.

Graph: this overly complicated map illustrates a basic truth— that NATO (dark blue-green) has systematically surrounded the Black Sea with the apparent purpose of denying Russia access to its naval fleet in and around Sevastopol, Crimea. The missing pieces from NATO’s perspective are Georgia and Ukraine (powder blue), whose prospective memberships in NATO have been the subject of US world-domination fantasies for a couple of decades now. This is why the US coup in Ukraine in 2013 – 2014 set off alarm bells in Moscow. Were the US to control Crimea, it would control Russian access to the Russian naval fleet in the Black Sea.  Source:

Having missed the moment during his 2020 campaign when Mr. Biden promised to launch a war against Russia while supporting the Israeli genocide in Gaza, these have been explained after-the-fact as responses to unexpected geopolitical emergencies. In fact, here is Democrat Adam Schiff explaining in 2019 that the purpose of US arms shipments to Ukraine was to ‘fight Russia over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here.’ The point: Biden was Barack Obama’s ‘man in Ukraine’ during and after the US-led coup against the elected government of Ukraine. He both ‘couped’ Ukraine in 2013 – 2014, and was busy making plans for war with Russia on inauguration day 2021.

There is an imperialist logic to (‘US-based’) multi-national oil and gas companies trying to cut Russia out of the oil and gas business. However, as stated by Mr. Schiff, the US was already at war with Russia on Joe Biden’s inauguration day. And that war was taking place in Eastern Ukraine, with an army built by the CIA on one side and the Russians on the other. The most straightforward explanation is that the US invaded Ukraine via the coup in 2013 – 2014, after which the CIA organized an army from existing Ukrainian militias and launched a genocidal war against ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine, with the apparent goal of drawing Russia into a war.

That 98% of the self-described ‘radical left’ (chart above) in the US both voted for Biden in 2020 and subsequently promoted the CIA’s theory that the Russian move into Ukraine in February, 2022 was ‘unprovoked,’ certainly looks like a setup. While TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) serves as a partial explanation for the poor quality of that ‘left’ analysis, the CIA, via Russiagate, is uniquely responsible for TDS. In fact, given that the proportion of the ‘radical left’ that voted for Mr. Biden was much higher than the proportion of self-described liberals who did, the ‘radical left’ in the US looks a lot like a CIA psyop.

Graph: Life Expectancy at Birth, the most inclusive measure of how long people are expected to live, fell off a cliff around 2014, the very pit of the Great Recession. In fact, life expectancy has fallen so much more in the US than in similar countries abroad as to suggest that one of the greater social calamities in human history is underway in the US right now. That Democrats are worried about Trump! rather than reversing the healthcare calamity that has their name on it (Obamacare), is further evidence that voters who care about policy long ago abandoned the Democratic (and Republican) party. Source:

As yours truly has been writing regularly over recent years, far more Americans have been dying from preventable causes than are the citizens of peer countries (graph above). In both absolute and relative terms, the scale of these ‘excess deaths,’ or the decline in life expectancy if you prefer, looks quite like a nation in full societal collapse. With the ACA (Obamacare) passed in 2010 and fully implemented in 2015, excess deaths exploded higher. While this isn’t precisely a causal argument— that the ACA caused these deaths, neither did it prevent them. And while excess deaths in the US exploded higher in 2022, health insurance executives saw their best year ever in terms of executive compensation. This has been true every year since Obamacare was implemented.

What would be considered a national emergency on the scale of the Cuban Missile Crisis or 9/11/2001 if it were happening to the rich doesn’t even merit a mention by the political class or the establishment media in the US. Forgotten is that Barack Obama had corrupt, revolving door, hacks like former Senator Max Baucus put a lobbyist for the health insurance industry, Liz Fowler, in charge of writing the ACA. In the neoliberal worldview, who knows how to make the healthcare system better than health insurance lobbyists? Industries were made increasingly ‘self-regulating’ over the prior five decades. That no one is looking back to see if self-regulation ‘worked’ (it didn’t) is telling.

In fact, life expectancy is a function of wealth in the US. The rich live over a decade longer than the poor. This helps explain why ‘policy’ voters have been fleeing the legacy parties for two-plus decades now. The rich— those who live the longest in current circumstances, don’t care about public healthcare because they have their own. Mr. Obama’s shift to a ‘market-based’ system (Obamacare) is based in the oligarchic / neoliberal premise that poor people need rich people to tell them what to do. And the ‘failure’ of the poor to follow the dictates of the rich absolves the rich in their own minds.

Graph: interpretation of the graph is it that changes in economic circumstances have a lagged effect on life expectancy measured in years. Using serial correlation as the metric, changes in economic circumstances take eight – ten years to show up in life expectancy data.  Improving economic circumstances are correlated with rising life expectancy 8 – 10 years hence,

 and declining economic conditions are correlated with declining life expectancy with the same lag. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve,

The problem, of course, isn’t the economic growth rate (graph above), but its distribution. In other words, there would be enough for everyone if a few people weren’t taking it all for themselves. The current concentration of wealth across the West is the greatest in modern history. If the share of GDP growth that has accrued to the rich over recent years (100%) had instead been equitably distributed, the drop in life expectancy in the US would have been much smaller. In the first place, poor and working people wouldn’t have been desperate to the point of self-annihilation. In the second, more people would have been able to afford healthcare. And finally, rebalancing incomes and wealth downward would have rebalanced political power downward as well.

To understand this dynamic in current political terms, Joe Biden supports the genocide in Israel for the same reason that he is oblivious to the world-historic decline in life expectancy for poor and working-class Americans. The people doing the dying are invisible to him. The gamesmanship of geopolitics that he and the ideocracy he surrounds himself with is just that, a game, to the people who see themselves as immune from the consequences of their actions. How enthusiastic toward war would US Senator Linsey Graham be if the major cities of his state (South Carolina) were in ruins and everyone important to him had been killed?

Graph: Left: an Israeli woman mocking the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza by donning Palestinian garb and blackening her teeth to simulate decay. Right: racist caricature of American Blacks by two men in blackface. The lack of self-awareness on the part of the Israelis engaged in racist mockery is evidence of how far removed they are from the consequences of their actions. The same is true of the American political leadership that found Israeli fantasies of murdered babies and mass rapes on October 7th plausible. Source: YouTube,

The irony, paradox, whatever you wish to call it, of Mr. Biden and his party publicly slandering ‘white supremacists’ in the US while publicly endorsing religious supremacists, aka Zionists, and the genocide they are carrying out in Gaza, illustrates an important truth. Israeli actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians are both conspicuously ‘white supremacist’ and Zionist. The two are inseparable given the history. The land that Zionists claim as their own was already occupied by Palestinians when the nation of Israel was created. How can a Zionist state be formed with Palestinians still occupying ‘Israeli’ land?  This is the logic motivating the genocide.

The call for a Christian religious state in the US has long been a project of the American political right. It represents a direct rejection of the liberal principle of a secular state. And while the view here is that liberal principles are more marketing than substance, how would Mr. Biden’s supporters feel if he were to go about ridding the US of non-Christians? Or how about making them second class citizens and putting them into ghettoes to be surveilled, controlled, and when he feels like it, exterminated? Biden has pledged his soul to supplying Israel with the funding, weapons, and battlefield support to continue this exact program against Palestinians in Gaza.

The US is currently in social, cultural, economic, and political decline, and seems intent on taking the rest of the world down with it. Further national decline isn’t inevitable except to the extent that a major realignment of power is effectively precluded. ‘We’ had about fifteen minutes around 2008 – 2009 when the rich were a lot less rich and politicians were looking around at the carnage that Wall Street had wrought for a path forward. The rich and PMC perceived Mr. Obama’s political program to have been ‘successful’ for the very reasons that it wasn’t.

A successful program would have rebalanced power away from corporate executives, oligarchs, and their toadies in the political class to recover something like a New Deal. This would have been the ‘moderate’ path forward because it would have placed social, economic, and political stability above the neoliberal goal of making rich people richer. The MIC would no longer decide when the US goes to war. Wall Street would no longer be using public money to control the housing, food, and healthcare on which Americans are dependent. And one half of the country wouldn’t be trying to kill the other half, and vice versa.

Last, there is no slander of the (political) left contained herein. The slander relates to the American left, which now apparently includes the CIA, FBI, NSA, DNC and Joe Biden. I strongly support the work of Michael Hudson, Richard Wolff, Brian Becker, and the younger commenters who are foregoing to descriptor ‘left’ for the reasons stated above and more. ‘We’ are at a point in history when people will either engage politically or they should begin planning their own funerals. At the rate that history is accumulating, there may be no one left to bury the dead.

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  1. Henry Moon Pie

    Urie makes a strong case against neoliberalism, but I’m disappointed to find him accepting the premise that GDP growth is a good thing. The Left must reject that canard and move toward a new formulation along the lines of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics. Society’s provisioning for the essential needs of its members does not require GDP growth. To believe otherwise is to endorse trickle-down economics. We already produce more than enough to make sure everyone is housed, fed, educated and cared for. The issue is distribution.

    Jason Hickel does a good job of laying this out as well.

    1. Alice X

      There is Jason Hickel with degrowth and Nate Hagens with post-growth. The former where society rationally downsizes vs where it doesn’t. I always thought David Suzuki had a good (though chilling) explanation of where we are headed.

      1. John Steinabch

        Monthly Review has been advocating for a Socialist version of de-growth as essential for human survival.

      2. Jabura Basaidai

        haven’t read it yet but in the in-deck pile is “Post Growth Life after Capitalism” by Tim Jackson – and Naomi Klein takes excellent aim at growth capitalism and the effects in “This Changes Everything Capitalism vs The Climate” – have always loved David Suzuki even going back to when we Detroiters had channel 9, we were lucky in having that access before cable – i’m guessing you’re referring to Hickel’s most recent book “Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World” – what book of Hagens would you recommend?

        1. Alice X

          Just thinking of Hagen’s many interviews and ventures into the idea that humanity is not going to come to terms with finite resources and prepare accordingly in time.

    2. Skip Intro

      Calling the expansion of value extraction from the productive economy by the rentier layer ‘GDP growth’ in the first place is a pretty impressive bit of mental gymnastics only possible due to deep internalization of neoliberal framing.

    3. TimD

      GDP is just an economic measure and the Neoliberals proclaimed that, “A rising tide floats all boats.” That would imply a country which embraces Neoliberalism would experience faster economic growth. Well, if we look at Real GDP growth since the end of WWII, we can see it started declining in the 70’s and the rate of decline accelerated around 2000. In numbers, Real GDP averaged over 4% from WWII to the start of the 70’s, then it declined to 3.2% through to the end of the 90’s and since 2000 it has averaged 2.1%. Is it a good thing that the rate of growth has declined? To me, it shows how Neoliberalism works. It scuttles most of the boats so the remaining seaworthy ones can float higher.

      One bit that could add to this article is addressing explosion of national debt since 2000 – we are talking $28 trillion in additional debt. This money, when pumped into the economy should have made it grow at over 5% per year, but since only some of the boats floated,taxpayers are left with the bill while others have never been more wealthy. For example, in the last year the Biden Administration added $2.6 trillion into the economy and during that period the economy grew by 2.9% or about $550 billion. I am so curious about what happened to the rest of that money.

      1. Oh

        The wealthy had the boats that could float and be lifted by the tide. The middle class and the poor have leaky boats that sink with each tide.

      2. digi_owl

        GDP is the epitome of “when a measure becomes a target, it seize being a good measure”. I think recently China has moved away from using it internally, focusing on measuring the quantity of outputs and inputs in the various industries instead.

      3. Kuhio

        Making the banks whole again while scuttling the bottom half’s boats to the tune of 28 trillion dollars … that’s where the money went. And the continued growth of financial capitalism appropriated by a neoliberal financial industrial complex since the late ’70’s has enshrined its self as the extant owner of the (un)free world of the 99% of all other boats sinking.

    4. Rob Urie

      Explaining something is different from endorsing it.

      My point, as I believe I stated clearly, was about the distribution of GDP, not its value as an economic fetish.

      In 2017, and a meaningful number of times since, I endorsed degrowth as the only workable solution to climate crisis.

      The problem then is to explain how a decline in the rate of economic growth won’t crush poor and working people.

      This is a problem of economic distribution, not of the rate of economic growth.

      Here is the link to that piece:

      1. Felix_47

        Agree. I would observe that massive immigration as we see in Germany increases GDP especially for the PMC. There is a need for more dentists and oral surgeons (dental care in the third world is often deferred), psychologist and psychiatrists to diagnose and treat PTSD. lawyers to defend asylum claims ,landlords to collect government rent for housing, contractors to renovate said housing often on a yearly basis (my brother in law is making bank redoing Asylanten housing often once a year on the same places), social workers, language teachers, school teachers, drivers, hospitals, surgeons (a lot of total joints and back surgery on the older ones) drug rehab, prison guards and prison construction and on and on. The Burgergeld that is paid to the migrants cycles through the retail system. This has been called the Asylindustrie. It is quite lucrative and does not generate the CO2 of factories and workshops or farming and the amounts of money are a ready source for politicians. The Asylindustrie is a lot like the defense budget or US healthcare budget. Something is produced at public expense and ultimately it is not economically useful. The proletariat has had no improvement in living standards while the PMC is prospering. This may be operative in the US as well. One thinks of the thriving hotel industry in the northeast US. I was there on a trip a few months ago and the prices were breathtaking. And as one rode the elevator there were migrant kids with backpacks going to school from the 300 per night hotel rooms they and their parents were living in. The rate the government was paying for housing them set the rate that travellers had to pay in a number of places in the northeast from what I could tell. And resisting more migration is politically very easy to condemn as racist and evil which simply generates more spending that can flow into the upper levels. If anything the Asylindustrie is better than the war industry in that it can be sold to everyone as morally sound.

    5. NYMutza

      You are asking Urie to take on too much. He is actually optimistic that things can be turned around IF we all get involved. I am not so optimistic. I think we are all screwed and that things will continue to get worse until everything collapses to some nightmarish dystopia.

      1. digi_owl

        As long as the managerial strata is isolated from the effects of their own consumption, nothing will change.

  2. Froghole

    Indeed. Wasn’t it Gore Vidal who called the Democrats and Republicans the left and right wings of the same party: the property party?

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      a buzzard with 2 right wings, flying in circles into the ground.
      cousin keeps referring to dems(woke, etc) as “the left”…and i keep rejcting that,lol…but whats the alternative descriptor?
      and what do i call myself?…a new dealer/anrcho-socialist who agrees more with tucker carleson…or frelling jackson hinkle…. than with bernie sanders,lol.
      we desperately need new words.

      1. elissa3

        and what do i call myself?

        I’ve used “nonidentarian” as a personal label for the past several years. Just the basics: 1) member of a species called “Homo sapiens” (yes, the sapiens part is sometimes in question); 2) birth genitals; 3) current geographical habitat. All the rest seems to me to be open to endless discussion. Identity based on religion and/or ideology has the potential of disastrous consequences. The “other”. If I subscribe to any belief–I’d hesitate to call it a dogma–it is that every member of our species has equal dignity and an equal right to exist. Social and cultural identification is another matter, and one that I’m still trying to work out.

      2. Arkady Bogdanov

        Your views seem pretty close to my own, and to family and friends, I have been an avowed anarchist for my entire adult life, but outside of that circle, when I am asked to describe myself by the many people who seem interested in discussing politics with me, I use the term “libertarian left”. They seem to grasp and respect that, and like you, I live in a very rural, conservative area, and I find that most see my views and statements in a positive light, when I am given the opportunity to articulate them. Once they hear that I am a leftist who despises liberals, and that has a poor view of Bernie Sanders, I am consistently surprised at how closely they listen to what I have to say, and they are surprised at how willing I am to converse with them and listen to, as well as agree with most of their concerns. We are not as divided as most with media platforms would have us believe- there is clearly a very strong effort to prevent us from conversing among ourselves and finding common ground- that, I very much agree with.

        1. JR

          This is very interesting! I believe that if we look up and down, rather than to false right and left narratives, there is a lot more unity in the country than many would believe. One of the most important steps to having the important conversations Arkady describes is to get over the initial eye-roll that snuffs out conversation. I further think that terms like progressive, for many reasons, no longer have much in the way of meaning and that labeling oneself as a progressive does induce the eye-roll.

          While I’m not sure that I am on board with the term “left libertarian,” that term , based on Arkady’s comment, does allow one to get into a conversation. Well done!

          So I leave reading the comments on Mr. Urie’s article with the question: what political label(s) would/could one use to characterize the views one often sees in the NC comment section? I ask b/c, it seems to me at least, that many NC commenters would be able to connect (as Arkady has) with many, many other people.

    2. eg

      I am fond of Julius Nyerere’s formulation: “The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.”

      1. Feral Finster

        Of course. Much smarter to use Tweedledee and Tweedledum to distract the public and act as lightning rods for criticism.

    3. Rubicon

      Gore Vidal
      :”The unfed mind devours itself.”

      Here’s an eye-opening article related to Vidal’s quote….. In 1919, the great skeptic, H.L.Mencken greatly lamented that while Western Europe, England developed high quality literary writers, theologians, scientists, critical thinkers, book publishers, mechanics, teachers, attorneys. But America became populated with poor colonists, and successive ways of impoverished emigres; ending up with a motley crew of folks unable to rise to the ranks of becoming doctors, poets, critical thinkers, attorneys, college professors,
      In other words, “Civilization” never developed itself.It was an “ad hoc” system while it gave free range of con artists, sales people, eventually banker and politicians to run roughshod over the illiterates.

      We should have realized that in those early years, America was set up for how it operates today.

      1. Tony

        Mencken was a cynic of the worst kind. My father, an orphaned Italian emigrant, raised three children whom he insisted go to college, even if it didn’t “pay off.” He hated capitalism and the u.s. empire with all his might, as did my mother and us children. I married a women whose father was, as she puts it, often on strike and the family on government cheese, and was told to just go away and die when the steel plants “shut down.” These were the glory days of the empire. And the start of the collapse.
        My wife graduated first in her class in every school she attended, including medical school. She was denied admission to Columbia and Penn because she might not know what fork to use at a formal dinner.
        We raised three children, two M.D.s and a patent attorney. Despite graduating from
        “top schools” with top grades, in their “careers” under capitalism they are treated like any other proletarian. They must sell their labor, and can be used and discarded as the owners see fit.
        This is a very partial story of two “poor colonists” families “unable to rise to the ranks.” A bit more: an uncle dragooned to kill Koreans and then spending the rest of his life on “skid row.” Two cousins dragooned to kill Vietnamese who returned not the same guys. I warn my son that they will come for his two sons if they need “meat.” That’s my answer to clever men like Mencken.

      2. c_heale

        I think the development of the professional middle class and of professional writers and artists in England was connected to the Industrial Revolution and to Empire.

        The US became an Empire after WW2 through the control of oil. I can think it can argued that culturally the US has been the most important country in the world since then – although I think that there is some evidence it is not going to continue. H.L. Mencken was too early to see this development.

        1. Fred

          Most important in what regard – striving for world domination by way of predatory neoliberal capitalism and an ubiquitous military war machine. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde – America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without any civilization in between.

  3. zagonostra

    The hope that people will “either engage politically or they should begin planning their own funerals” is unfortunately unrealistic. Maybe even the opposite is more effective, disengagement, though I don’t think for me personally it’s morally possible for me to do.

    In Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The formation of Men’s attitude (1965) he identifies how propaganda works and I don’t think the “left/right’ or any other group is equipped to deal with the sophisticated means, amplified and extended by modern technology, at the disposal of the Power Elites. Gaetano Mosca in his The Ruling Class (Elementi di Scienza Politica) posited one of the fundamental “elements” to a science of politics, that the few control the many whether in communism, democracy, aristocracy, timocracy, etc.

    From the introduction to Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda:

    Most people are easy prey for propaganda…[it] operates with many different lands of truth— half truth, limited truth, truth out of context. Even Goebbels always insisted that Wehrmacht communiques be as accurate as possible.

    A second basic misconception that makes people vulnerable to propaganda is the notion that it serves only to change opinions.
    That is one of its aims, but a limited, subordinate one. Much more importantly, it aims to intensify existing trends, to sharpen and focus them, and, above all, to lead men to action (or, when it is directed at immovable opponents, to non-action through terror or discouragement, to prevent them from interfering)…

    A related point, central in Ellul’s thesis, is that modem propaganda cannot work without “education”; he thus reverses the widespread notion that education is the best prophylactic against propaganda. On the contrary* he says, education, or what usually goes by that word in the modem world, is the absolute prerequisite for propaganda…Ellul follows through by designating intellectuals as virtually the most vulnerable of all to modem propaganda, for three reasons: (1) they absorb the largest amount of secondhand, unverifiable information; (2) they feel a compelling need to have an opinion on every important question of our time, and thus easily succumb to opinions offered to them by propaganda on all such indigestible pieces of information; (3) they consider themselves capable of “judging for themselves.” They literally need propaganda. In fact, the need for propaganda on the part of the “propa- gandee” is one of the most powerful elements of Elluls thesis. Cast out of the disintegrating microgroups of the past, such as family, church, or village, the individual is plunged into mass society and thrown back upon his own inadequate resources, his isolation, his loneliness, his ineffectuality.

    Propaganda then hands him in veritable abundance what he needs: a raison, personal involvement and participation in important events, an outlet and excuse for some of his more doubtful impulses, righteousness —all factitious, to be sure, all more or less spurious; but he drinks it all in and asks for more. Without this intense collaboration by the propagandee the propagandist would be helpless.

    Always appreciate seeing and reading a Robert Urie article here at NC.

    1. djrichard

      Interesting reference Zagnostra. Initially I was going to comment on how this philosophy of propaganda gives a whole different flavor to what it means to be a “consumer”. The intelligent consumer is the “best” consumer, aren’t we But then I parked my thoughts as I so often do.

      Anyways later this evening I happened to be watching deadwood (the TV series) tonight, an episode where a female protagonist who lucked into a gold mine from her deceased husband gets it into her head that she can be a player and approaches a real player in the gold mining business to parley about a deal. Only to find out that the other player is more ruthless than she realized, somebody who doesn’t deal in parleys unless they have the other side at their mercy.

      Which kind of brought your post back to my mind. It makes me wonder if propaganda makes us think we can be players. If not to hang with the big boys at least be a part of their campaign: a bit player in the game. Faking it til we make it. The TV show seems to suggest that the end game of that is to be the most ruthless.

      Kind of contrasts to being a “consumer” – somebody who partakes of the same food but doesn’t have their skin in the game. A more passive participant. Either way, it’s theater.

      Thanks for sharing. Look forward to reading.

    2. sidd

      Thanks. I do not think of Ellul often enuf. “The Technological Society” was another educational book for me, and there are very good interviews with him on youtube.


  4. Arkady Bogdanov

    I have some problems with a couple of items here that I had to address before continuing further:
    “With 98% of the ‘radical left’ having voted for Joe Biden in 2020, the functional distinction between it and American liberals is that the radical left was far more enthusiastic about Mr. Biden than liberals were.”

    “half the country is ready to kill the other half”

    Just….no. Now, there was a bit higher turnout in the last presidential election, but as a rule, about half of REGISTERED voters refuse to cast a ballot, and before you even get to that half of REGISTERED voters that cast a ballot, only about 60% of the population eligible to do so, is ACTUALLY REGISTERED (leaving 40% that refuse to even take this step). So only about 30% (half of the 60% that are registered) of the eligible voting population are casting ballots, and given that most elections are squeakers at the executive level, this means that only about 15% of voters that could do so are casting a ballot for one “side” or the other. That is before you get into those using a LOTE strategy when they vote (the minority of actual voters that are also actual swing voters- so party loyalists are somewhere below the level of 15%, but we can use 15% for argument’s sake). So, society wide, only 15% of the voting age population supports one party or the other enough to cast a vote for them. It really irks me when it is assumed that this society has divided into competing halves. Most people, and indeed, most “radical leftists” do not vote, let alone vote for Biden, Trump, or anyone else. I am really sick of these people that take these positions. There is a small minority stirring all of this up, and that is the portion of society that the media, and also writers like Urie choose to focus, ignoring the actual positions of everyone else while at the same time projecting the actions of the minority onto everyone else- he started out well, discussing independents and the shift away from the parties, but then makes the same assumption that all other media in this country makes, and that is that so-called independents can only ideologically exist “between” the conservatives/Republicans and liberals/Democrats, and that “radicals” being at the ends of the left-right spectrum must then by default support the parties. This is a ridiculous assumption and I see no facts in evidence to support it. Words, facts, and rhetoric matter, at least for readers on a site like this one.

    1. Arkady Bogdanov

      And I will add further- you can clearly see that the poll Urie references polled only actual voters- completely ignoring the opinions of everyone that withheld their votes- and that would include many of those on the “radical left”.
      You don’t get to make statements like that and then put a disclaimer at the end stating that you are “not slandering” the left. He most certainly did. Urie does not get to piss on me and then try to tell me it is just raining. It is not our fault that he agrees with or accepts the constant re-defining of words in this society in order to present moving targets that are clearly meant to confuse the population and marginalize dissenters. He makes many other cogent arguments, but, as he has done in other writings of his that I have seen, he seems obsessed with projecting fault onto people who are not demonstrably at fault.

      1. Aleric

        What confused me is that he refers to the “self described radical left”, but the graph is labelled “progressive left”. Was there supposed to be a different graph? Radical and progressive have the opposite meaning.

        1. jefemt

          I can find the radical right. But the radical left that is the subject of panic and derision… scarce as hen’s teeth/ non-existent on the ground and to meaningful effect on policies- local, regional, national, or international. Davosman is firmly in the lead and holding the marionette strings.

          1. Arkady Bogdanov

            I think there are far more leftists, as well as anti- authoritarians in our society, than most people understand. They have just learned to stay quiet and keep their heads down lest they be attacked. I used to think otherwise, until I saw a particular piece of evidence that blew my mind back in 2020.
            What was that evidence you may ask?
            The bail funds. Not the donations to the local BLM groups or the national (scam/agent of acquisition) BLM org – the bail funds. No corporation is going to donate money to free people that were perceived to be arrested for “looting”- they gave money to the BLM orgs to publicly signal their virtues (and I dare say this doubly goes for most liberals too). The bail funds came from everyday people, and when even the moderately sized cities accumulated donated bail funds in the multi-millions of dollars, with larger cities accumulating bail funds in the tens of millions, that should send us a very strong signal. It astounds me how little that was discussed, even in dissident circles. That should tell you something about the left in this society- in my opinion it is seething just below the surface, biding its time, waiting for an opportunity to break loose. I just hope I am alive to see it when it happens, and I can tell you this much- my kids’ generation is astoundingly politically aware. I am ashamed at the failings of my generation, but I have high hopes for them, and I think we should be doing everything we can to nurture their potential.

            1. playon

              I believe that Gen-Z is more politically aware than many would think. For one thing, they don’t tend to get their “news” from television.

            2. hk

              To be fair, are these people “leftists”? I realize that this quickly becomes a semantics game, but I am pretty confident that, to the degree that these folks hold opinions over a diverse array of issue areas, they would not necessarily register as what “intellectuals” construe as “left.”.

              In fact, I would wager that, on top of their distrust in law enforcement and other government institutions, they probably hold widely varying viewpoints on many issues, assuming they hold definable and persistent views at all. So they would not register as “extreme leftists” the way pollsters define them, which is holding stereotypically “leftist” views on as many issues as possible. In fact, if they hold extreme left and right views, at least “conventionally” defined, they may even be identified as “moderates” if they (sort of) cancel each other out, even if they hold many radical views.

              This implies that there is a vast number of politically inactive people who can be mobilized with the right combination of message and messenger who deviate from the usual political tropes. What form this may take is unclear: maybe it’s the suitably “suave” insider like Obama, or a huckster-cum-faux-revolutionaries like Trump (or, before him, Tea Partiers–although the latter were really the right wing version of Obama, in a way–insiders wearing a peculiar version of “suave.”)

              1. Lambert Strether

                If you don’t believe that the working class should own and control the means of production — i.e., capital allocation, done democratically — then you’re not on the left. And the left has no representation whatever in any of our institutions. And no wonder!

                1. hk

                  That, of course, is not how pollsters define left: they will ask a battery of questions of what, given the “current conventions,” people who profess to be on the “left” claim they believe, and if the respondents check off all the boxes consistently, they are the “radical/extreme left.” Not necessarily defending their methodology, but the old “fashioned” Marxian definition of what is Left and not has been lost to most people, and, in fact, the definition as people in polling business/academia uses, has become tautological and the pollsters’ (non-)definition is largely what people mean when they talk about “ideologies” in American society these days, if only because they can point to numbers and charts.

        2. Alice X

          Though you put it in quotes, in the piece I cannot find ‘self described radical left’ except for your usage. In the piece I do find: 98% of self-described ‘Progressives’ voted for Biden in 2020 (chart below). The words lose meaning.

        3. Lefty Godot

          I had the same reaction. “Progressive” in today’s US is far from radical and not even really left when you look at most of the big progressive concerns. So he’s using Trump’s language (“radical Communist left”) to describe people who are milquetoast slightly left of center culture warriors.

          People want a government that makes their lives better and less precarious. What they get from both parties is a list of people to blame for their predicament (who they are encouraged to believe should be punished severely) but no help for the worsening circumstances of their lives.

          The Russia situation also boils down to not just wanting to take their oil and gas market away, but ultimately breaking up the Russian state or installing another Yeltsin, so Russia’s natural resources can be plundered for the benefit of American corporations and the investing class. The CIA and assorted NGOs that serve as its foot soldiers not only overthrew Ukraine’s government but are busy trying to stir up unrest in Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, and Kazakhstan, all with the aim of putting hostile governments on Russia’s borders (soon to be followed by US missile bases). Far from being the unprovoked aggressor that wants to revive the Russian Empire (or the USSR), Russia is fighting for its continued existence as an independent state. So no matter how nasty their leaders may be, the motives for what they’re doing are totally understandable.

        4. JonnyJames

          The nomenclature has shifted and become Orwellian:

          Back in the day, the “radical left” wanted a violent revolution to overthrow the bourgeois-capitalist state. They were pro working-class, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-war etc.

          Now, both the so-called left and right are pro war, racist, imperialist, pro-oligarchy, anti working -class, neoliberal finance capitalists.

          “The US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”

        5. Jams O'Donnell

          Not sure what dictionary you use as a reference, but none of mine have ‘radical’ and ‘progressive’ as opposites. Rather, they are in part synonyms. Really though, the problem is the indiscriminate and pejorative use of the word ‘left’ in the US, to apply to anyone/thing that is not ‘extreme right’.

      2. Skip Intro

        The Dem.s systematically eliminate any candidate with palatable policy on their side, and contrive to install what they consider the most offensive opponent possible. In these circumstances the support for Biden by those did vote can hardly be construed as policy support. Maybe not even LOTE, but MFOTE. (more familiar, not the other MF)

        Your first point about that 15% shows how important the process of polarization and division are to get anyone scared or angry enough to bother voting in the first place. Pushing a few % more over the edge can make all the difference.

      3. Vandemonian

        Here in the down under it’s compulsory to turn up to vote. Your name gets crossed off the electoral roll as they hand you your ballot papers. You can choose not to vote by not filling in the papers. You can also choose not to vote by not turning up, but then you get to pay a modest fine.

        That doesn’t mean that our electoral outcomes are much better than those in the US.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      your figures are borne out in my county level anthropological efforts over the last 30 or so years.(small population, where its possible to be at least wave-to acquainted with everybody)
      the vast majority do not vote…or even pay attention.
      the true believers are a tiny sliver of the population…but they get all the attention, and are assumed to be, somehow, representative of the bifurcated majority.
      and that tiny sliver also manages to get heard/have influence, to the exclusion of everyone else.
      glossing this over gives unwarranted cover for the evil bastids who run the show, local, state and federal.

    3. Tommy S

      Yes, jumped right out at me too Arkady. He ignores the over 60% that don’t vote. Which is very much defined by class. He’s a great writer, but to ignore that huge organizing opportunity of actually a majority of this country, in order to create dual power, or just simply bottom up insurrection to force some crumbs, is sad. Thanks for clarifying. These numbers are easily researched on FEC….dot gov org…as well as just looking at turnout in the big elections compared to VAP,,..etc.

    4. Rob Urie

      I’ve written your exact analysis at least a dozen times over the last dozen years.

      You can find those at Counterpunch if you look.

      You apparently weren’t there when the leading lights of the American left, starting with Noam Chomsky, went to the mat to get Biden elected in 2020.

      Here is what I wrote at the time as a response

      Further, with the exceptions of Nakedcapitalism, Consortiumnews and The Grayzone, the left press in the US went all in on Russiagate and the US war against Russia in Ukraine.

      None of these websites describes their slant as left or radical left. The ones that do, and I’m not going to make trouble for present company by naming them, were all in on Russiagate, TDS, and the US war against Russia.

      This background, plus that which I’ve not gone into, provides ‘conditioning’ information for the specifics of the piece.

      Any text on Bayesian statistics will explain what conditioning information is.

      Intuitively, it is a way to get at the truth of a situation by taking the broader context into account.

      My guess is that if you spend some time with that concept, you will understand why I did things the way that I did them here.

      Past that, believe anything you want to believe.

      Thanks for the comment.

      1. JonnyJames

        Good points. I agree that Consortium News, Grayzone, NC, Ben Norton, Chris Hedges, the late John Pilger, Craig Murray, the folks at Code Pink etc did not go along with the warmongering, anti-Russia, pro-Ukraine nonsense.

        It is too bad that Counter Punch did. I have seen many Russophobic hit pieces and one-sided swipes on CP than I care to recall Especially Eric Draitser and Joshua Frank.

        It seems the CIA have co-opted elements of the “left”, and made it into “the compatible left”

      2. Arkady Bogdanov

        I am familiar with Chomsky, and I saw how many websites did the things you refer to. No doubt you have even more familiarity with them, but it seems I can see something that you cannot- their financial and class interests. Just because these people/platforms, who are comfortable and will utilize leftist analysis whenever their comforts are not at risk, tell us leftist mopes to vote for Biden, it does not mean that run of the mill leftists will pay any heed to them, and I doubt very much that you can produce any evidence that shows otherwise. These people running such websites may personally agree with the left, but they also draw their audiences from liberals (who tend to have more money than leftists, the ability to donate/subscribe, & are targets for ad revenue), and they are not going to put their income or platforms at risk by advising or exhorting their audience to withhold their votes or to do something genuinely harmful to liberal power structures. These people and platforms all have financial interests tied to liberals. You are not going to lay the blame for this at the feet of the mass of regular leftists on the street (who do indeed exist) that are quite capable of seeing these people for what they are, and who will reject their demands to vote for Biden, I’m sorry. Heck, my wife, who volunteered for that POS Sanders, when his e-mail hit her inbox demanding she support Clinton, angrily denounced him and stated that if Sanders himself appeared at her door asking her to cast a vote for any Democrat, would tell him to (family blog) off, and slam the door in his face. Sanders may have had an obligation to do what he did (once again, note material interests) but most did not, and do not exist in such a compromised position like Sanders and the people/platforms you refer to. You are conflating these people with the rank and file left, when there are very important differences that drive behavior. Your assertion that the “radical left” voted for Biden, especially in greater numbers than liberals, does not hold water.
        Thank you for your reply.

  5. Kurtismayfield

    The people that are engaged politically are tribalists.

    The rest of the population is being controlled by electronic soma, drugs, and soon to be gambling addiction.

    There is very little hope for the majority of the US to have an honest political discussion about definitions, let alone discussing policy. The only hope would be a major depression changing people’s economic conditions.. but I don’t want that and the powers that be will just print their way out of that again squeezing labor more.

    The frogs won’t realize they are boiling until it happens.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Agree about the gambling. It is amazing to me how the NFL colludes in pushing gambling, with a Super Bowl in Vegas this year to boot. They are going to get so burned when the inevitable scandals happen.

      1. Wukchumni

        In the lead up to the French Revolution, gambling was rampant among the populace, just like here in the USA.

        For the young adults captured by it, they’ll have to reject the prospect of really ever wagering again, in order to cure themselves.

        It doesn’t help when celebrities such as the rapper Drake or local kid & kick streamer Adin Ross, who use their huge gambling losses in order to get more people interested in them, instead of looking inward at what they’ve become, rather hopeless compulsive gamblers.

        Drake’s Stakes: The Canadian Rapper Who Wagered Over $1 Billion In 2 Months

        1. Lefty Godot

          Wasn’t the stock market speculation that led up to the ’29 Crash basically a form of legal gambling back then, one which even the lowliest proles of that era were encouraged to jump in on?

          1. Wukchumni

            Legalized casino gambling only began in Nevada in 1931, so yes, stocks were the wager in many ways.

      2. Kurtismayfield

        The after effects of the legalization of gambling and the family damage that will occur is going to be just as bad as the opioid crisis.

        1. Wukchumni

          The difference being that a gambling addict looks pretty normal, other than when they are getting their fix.

          Unlike opioids, there isn’t much chance of you suddenly dying, it’s more of a slow drip as you rob Paul to play Peter’s parlay.

      3. Arkady Bogdanov

        Yes, I am noticing this problem too. In my region there is a spreading chain of gas station/convenience stores, and when it was legalized in my state, extra floor space was added to all of them, and in those rooms were placed a bunch of computer gambling games. I drive around the region a lot and when I stop in these places, unless it is in the AM, the seats are almost always full. This in northern Appalachia, where poverty is rampant, and where the opioid OD epidemic has hit very hard. It is enraging for me to see every time I enter one of these establishments.

  6. Carolinian

    Always enjoy the big picture but I think most of the readers of this blog know what the score is. The question is what to do about it and that’s very murky indeed. Since the political system is indeed rigged and broken and the supposed referee function of the media also rigged and broken then where to turn?

    Trump the egotist thinks the solution is to “make America great again.” However it could be becoming great, after world warring Europe wrecked themselves, was the source of our problem. The Russians and the Chinese and others are now working on taking us down a peg and may have the agency that the American public have not. But the now weakened and threatened elites, with their enthusiasm for war, make this a danger to us all. Perhaps the best we flyovers can do is to stay genuinely informed and know when to start digging those bomb shelters. Perhaps we already should have started.

    1. JonnyJames

      The US doesn’t need Russia or China to take us down a peg, the oligarchy in the US is doing a great job of that. The short-sighted hubris, greed, and blood-lust of the US will bring about the fall of the US empire, hyperpower, hegemonic power, or whatever we call it. The global majority only need to wait it out a bit, as long as the desperate empire doesn’t start a nuclear war.

      As Mr. Urie indirectly points out: the US left/right, one-dimensional political spectrum has been recreated into two factions of far-right, authoritarian warmongers. The only difference between the two are emotional/cultural/religious “wedge” issues to maintain the illusion of choice and to get the plebs to fight among themselves: abortion, guns, LGBTQ and superficial race issues.

      The fact that two geriatric, senile sociopaths, DT and JB are STILL shoved in our faces every day, is a great indicator of kakistocracy and the decline of the US

  7. Mikel

    “…We’ had about fifteen minutes around 2008 – 2009 when the rich were a lot less rich and politicians were looking around at the carnage that Wall Street had wrought for a path forward. The rich and PMC perceived Mr. Obama’s political program to have been ‘successful’ for the very reasons that it wasn’t.

    A successful program would have rebalanced power away from corporate executives, oligarchs, and their toadies in the political class to recover something like a New Deal….”

    It’s about the entire executive branch.
    The loudest dog whistle (of many) was Obama picking the Senator of Delaware as running mate. Then other party-like-it’s-1999 cabinet choices came along.

    FDR’s running mate for a New Deal – Henry A. Wallace. ‘Nuff said.
    Well, the divisiveness of electoral politics is about to go off the charts.
    Lay-offs are ticking up and making the news. It will be more than 2022ish period.
    The masters of disasters and their supplicants want that “easy money” monetary policy back. They expect layoffs to help lead there. And down the road they are going to spin the tale that it is “AI productivity gains.”
    But the masters of disasters don’t really need to worry because they can also park the cash in higher yielding “safer” assets while the screws are put to the pleebs. That works for them as well.

  8. Neutrino

    Counting the days until the next election. There are so many retirements coming from those who see the carnage and want to preserve whatever legacies they imagine that they might have. A survey of America now shows pervasive rot and dysfunction that was preventable.

    There are so many in the Uniparty to blame that they should all join those retirees. The entire system is rigged, starting with the so-called parties. That has played out for all to see in recent elections. Add in the funding, without accountability, and there is a perverse self-sustaining mechanism to keep those in power doing what they do for themselves and their parties but not for their constituents. Supporting that requires increasingly audacious and pathetic lies that people see through even with media spin. Academia does its part with suppression of non-acceptable thoughts, particularly in the neoliberal family-blogging family bloggers field of economics.

    Voices aren’t crying out in the wilderness so much now, and are getting louder, so there is hope.

  9. spud

    i have a friend i have known since jr. high, we still keep in touch, he is retired and has TDS really really bad. he is very radicalized.

    he was screwed really badly during the bill clinton reign of terror. as soon as the ink was dried on nafta, the factory he worked at basically cleaned out his pension, or else they were going to mexico. he keeps bringing that up, as he rages against trump. i keep reminding him that trump had nothing to do with that, it was bill clinton, the hammer of the right.

    he shots back why aren’t they trying trump for his crimes!

    the real left was and is still in deep deep slumber, worrying about the fascist trump and gay rights, whilst supporting fascism themselves, and have been since carter.

    carter gave us reagan, clinton gave us bush, obama gave us trump, biden is giving us trump again.

    the TDS crowd just can’t figure it out.

    we cannot be reformed after what bill clinton did, its to late.

    but i was very glad to see the article in the jacobian the other day. the starting point to even get the so-called left to realize who the fascists really are, and to quite supporting them is a tiny start.

    really so far i have not seen trump as a fascist, yet. he is someone who can be pushed to the right, or the left, and that is the real reason why they can’t let him in again.

    the real left knows that you cannot secure social rights, till you have secured economic rights.

    that was the real core of the new deal, smoot-hawley, GATT, and LBJ’s great society.

    today the real GDP must be measured not in profits, but in real wealth creation which is not profit driven. otherwise china and russia will end up carving us up.

    1. Dessa

      Considering the job our US leadership has been doing, I, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords.

    2. Bobby Gladd

      I call Trump #NielsenMandela. The only “ist” accurately applicable to him is Trumpist. His main preoccupation these days is getting his ratings-shattering Perp Walk. Melania You-Can’t-Fake-Pretty Habba is doing her level worst to make that happen.

  10. Wukchumni

    It isn’t difficult to get the feeling the future of humanity will depend upon an undiscovered tribe in the Amazon, oblivious to what else is happening in the world as the cookie crumbles.

  11. SufferinSuccotash

    Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.
    Rosa Luxemburg

  12. JonnyJames

    As Mr. Urie and others have detailed, US global power is declining, and the US domestic economy, and social fabric are rotting away as well.
    It seems the oligarchy is asset-stripping the decaying US “homeland”, the BigMoney has given up on the US and is moving assets elsewhere. In the meantime, the deteriorating social and economic conditions of the vast majority of US dwellers will likely lead to political violence. The CIA (As Mr. Urie mentioned pysops) and MassMedia Cartel also promote the phony divisions. A nation of armed, misinformed and desperate people is not a good place to live in. The only political “choice” they have is to “vote” for one of two far-right, authoritarian sociopaths.

    As a half-joke (or no joke) some folks want to build more walls on the border. However, this is more likely to keep the gringos from escaping as the violence and dysfunction increase. We can give the Israelis more billions to build these walls, they are really good at it.

  13. Oh

    Rob, thank you for your write up and thank you Yves for posting it.
    I’ve always enjoyed reading your articles in Counterpunch but I don’t read that web site any more because they bought Russiagate and the Democrats’ propaganda too much.
    Keep up the good work.

  14. David in Friday Harbor

    With 8 billion human lives in simultaneous being, all of humanity is presently engaged in a struggle to profit from hegemony over the means of living a comfortable, well-nourished, well-hydrated lifestyle that is cool in summer and warm in winter. Urie describes this well in his graph of declining GDP in the face of elite hoarding.

    In America (as discussed in yesterday’s comments on Neuberger), this struggle has led to the rejection of the faith traditions that teach that salvation comes from “good works” and to the elevation of the gambler’s world-view that “grace” comes from a roll of the dice. This is the fundamental difference between “left” and “right” in nearly all world civilizations.

    I take issue with Urie’s description of the “self-described progressive left” voter as “radical left.” The radical left — people who believe that their salvation depends on “good works” — makes up a large portion of the 33% (2020) to 50% (1996) of eligible voters who choose not to participate in the “election” charade.

    Those who do show-up for elections have mostly been brainwashed by the greed-head libertarian ideology injected into our culture by Milton Friedman, Joe Coors (not Cohrs), the Kochs, and others, politically metastasized by the example of Reagan and the Clintons — politicians defined by their cravenness to wealth. This the gambler’s mirage of “grace” in a culture defined by ever-diminishing resources and growing precarity.

    ‘We’ are at a point in history when people will either engage politically or they should begin planning their own funerals.

    Put me in the latter camp.

  15. Susan the other

    There is a word in our language, “generosity,” that we do not understand at all. Words are like trees, they have deep bifurcated roots and tall branches so that the concept they represent can exponentiate easily, as necessary, to meet reality. So how has the word “generosity” actually exponentiated? If we had given generosity a chance in 1960 it would have taken on a life of its own, as they say, and by now we would all be accepting and supporting each other and we would have efficient networks to protect the environment and be able to ask for and receive the trust of every population. Profiteering, for lack of a better word (selfishness), is the cause. And the great tragedy of it all is that money and its retarded cousin, profit, is not valuable. Only the dynamic it can serve is valuable. So, Choose your dynamic carefully.

  16. Gulag

    Rob, you should take a careful look at some of the arguments made by Aurelian in his recent essay “What’s Left…And What’s Left?

    I will highlight a few of his points:

    “After all the traditional parties of the Left, now run by comfortable–
    off university educated good thinking managerial politicians almost entirely separated from the concerns of the real world but heavily influenced by theory, are simply behaving as one would expect them to…”

    “I am very much afraid that the real left may turn out to have been an unrepeatable phase in the evolution of political societies. It relied on clear and obvious injustices that needed addressing, on clear and obvious political and economic targets that needed attacking, on a mass working class base, on communities organized around the workplace, on a discourse of class-based solidarity and economic justice, on middle class supporters and on politicians close to the concerns of ordinary people. None of that now exists.”

  17. alfred venison

    The EC president actually told the assembled oligarchs at Davos that “misinformation” and “disinformation” are the greatest threat to the world.
    In other words, they cannot think of anything—any threat, any danger—worse than their inability to control what you think.

    Reminiscent of chasing people hither & thither and burning them for printing unauthorised Bibles. Gutenberg solutions for post-Gutenberg problems. (re-reading (again) Marshall McLuhan & Harold Innis (Empire and Communications)). -a.v.

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