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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 12/27/19

The Impending Ruling Class Mental Breakdown and Riot

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The outcome of the early primaries may erase Joe Biden's "electability" luster and plunge the Lords of Capital into a panic in which all bets are off on what's left of democratic liberties.

The catastrophic defeat of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in last week's elections does, indeed, foreshadow what's in store for Bernie Sanders if the U.S. ruling class believes the self-styled socialist has a real chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

Although the Brexit dispute added deep and unique layers of complexity to the British electoral contest, the sheer magnitude of Labour's loss to a discredited Conservative Party headed by the Trump-class clown Boris Johnson, is the result of a full-court, every-dirty-trick-and-lie-in-the-book campaign by British corporate media, working hand-in-glove with intelligence circles, the trans-Atlantic military industrial complex, and the pro-corporate wing of the Labour Party ("Blairites"), itself.

Sanders faces the same demonic alignment of corporate/media-national security forces in 2020, against an identical "Russiagate" backdrop that has, over the past three years, revealed the fascist face of late stage capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic.

If anything, Sanders is even more vulnerable than Corbyn, whose grassroots supporters controlled the Labour Party machinery. The Democratic Party is firmly in the hands of corporate servants who are dishonor-bound to bring down the self-styled socialist by any means necessary, to blunt the momentum of the super-majority issues he champions: Medicare for All, Green New Deal, living wage, free higher education, and a steep wealth tax.

Together, these measures would spell the death of the austerity "Race to the Bottom" regime that has been imposed over the course of two generations with the collaboration of both corporate parties. The corporate Democrats are, therefore, fully invested in Sanders' demise, since it is their base that presents the greatest threat to the austerity regime, not Donald Trump's race-obsessed deplorables, who threaten only Black, brown and Arab-looking Americans.

The popular anti-corporate groundswell must be strangled in its cradle, the Democratic Party base. Corporate Democrats are, therefore, the first line of the oligarch's defense along with Democrat-friendly media, who play defense for corporate and imperial interests 24/7, and the intelligence/national security services, which have been embraced by Russiagate-era Democrats. The Fading Corporate Hope, Joe Biden, stumbled onto a stage, warning: "Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left."

Yes, look at the spectacle in Britain and its most successful white settler colony. When the ruling class believes it is faced with existential threats, they throw bourgeois democracy out the window. The corporate media abandon all pretense of "objectivity" and non-partisanship (UK-US) and jump feet-and-mouth into the New Cold War to create a general hysteria (UK-US). Generals threaten mutiny if the left is elected (UK) and corporate-promulgated blacklists slander leftists as dupes of foreign powers (US-UK). Super-secret security agency operatives burst into glaring public view to spread alarm at foreign influence within the sacred imperial polity (UK-US) and are hailed as great defenders of "democracy," even as their colleagues plot coups and proxy jihads around the globe. Anti-semitism becomes an all-purpose, silver bullet silencer of dissent (UK-US).

Up to now, the Democrat-friendly corporate media have been content to ignore Bernie Sanders, as if the man who only two years ago was the most popular politician in the country, doesn't exist. But all hell will break loose among the ruling class and its servants if Sanders wins or places very well in the New Hampshire primary (February 11) and Iowa caucuses (February 3) especially if Joe Biden does poorly, as expected, and leaves defense of the oligarchy in the untested, Black-unfriendly hands of Pete Buttigieg. Biden's strength among Black voters -- his ace in the South Carolina hole -- will quickly dissipate if the Old Incarcerator loses his "electability" luster in the early contests. Most Black Biden supporters are not "centrists" in the white sense of the word, and favor Sanders or Warren as their second choice and Sanders and Warren are winning big among Black voters under 40. Blacks make up a quarter of Democratic voters, and virtually none want Buttigieg as the nominee.

That's why billionaire Michael Bloomberg has saturated the airwaves with his noxious face and voice, money-muscling into what has been shaping up as a four-person race (Sanders, Warren, Biden, Buttigieg) that could very well end with Sanders and Warren amassing enough combined delegates to put together a presidential ticket, thus frustrating a super-delegate dictation of the lineup. Bloomberg's money is unlikely to alter this dynamic, as should be evident from polling early in the new year. The data will plunge the ruling class, its media and the whole servile entourage into a panic not experienced in the United States since at least the Great Depression.

All "democratic" bets will be off, and the ensuing corporate cyclone of propaganda, mayhem and dirty tricks will make the preceding years of Russiagate look as wholesome and pristine as a grade school civics class. Bernie Sanders could wind up more vilified than Jeremy Corbyn. Or it could be much worse. A ruling class mental breakdown, an oligarchs' riot, in which real institutions and people get broken under threat of a Sanders/Warren nomination is a much more dangerous prospect than four more years of Trump, an outcome that is also much preferred by the Lords of Capital and their corporate Democrat servants.

It is impossible to predict what the ruling class will do to keep the Race to the Bottom on track, since austerity is their only strategy for capitalism in decline. But it is absolutely clear both here in the belly of the global superpower beast, and in the old empire on the Thames that every bourgeois liberty is "on the table" for elimination when the oligarchs feel existentially threatened. If you think they went crazy over the election of Trump, an impulsive and undependable member of their own class, imagine what they will countenance when an austerity buster threatens to take leadership of the other half of the electoral duopoly, and then contest for the presidency.

For the record, and as every conscientious reader of BAR should know, none of the editors at Black Agenda Report are Sandernistas. Our job is political analysis, and our fight is for socialism and Black self-determination. If you read any pro-Democratic or other corporate party bias in our work, then you are reading wrong. The Democratic Party is a hopeless trap from which Black America must escape if it is to cast off its own misleadership class and exercise any real political agency. But fear of the GOP White Man's Party's brand of Dixie-born fascism locks African Americans in an alliance with the modern corporate fascist Democrats and their national security and mass incarceration, oligarch-serving state. The same goes for millions of progressive white folks and other Americans.

It is clear that such a separation will not occur, except in extreme crisis. The crisis may soon be upon us.

 

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Glen Ford is aveteran of Black radio, television, print and Internet news and commentary. He is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com and was co-founder of BlackCommentator.com.

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Richard Burcik

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WHY DO MOST EGALITARIANS GET THEIR HISTORY OF SOCIALISM COMPLETELY BACKWARD?

Background

Many "levelers" (economic egalitarians or collectivists) believe that "Socialism is the total opposite of capitalism/imperialism. It is the rejection of empire and white supremacy. Socialism is the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat, and the eradication of the social system based on profit. Socialism means control of the productive forces for the good of the whole community instead of the few who live on hilltops and in mansions. Socialism means priorities based on human need instead of human greed. Socialism creates the conditions for a decent and creative quality of life for all." Of course, the number of admitted adherents to this definition diminishes when these collectivists learn that this rendering of socialism comes from the Weather Underground in its 1974 Prairie Fire Manifesto. [Note: Their chagrin only multiplies when they learn the motto of Vladimir Lenin's newspaper, "The Left Voice" was "A single spark can start a prairie fire".]

Ayn Rand defined collectivism in 1944 magazine article ("The Only Path To Tomorrow") as "... the subjugation of the individual to the group ... Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called 'the common good'".

Currently, there is an almost endless drumbeat of anti-capitalist and pro-socialist articles in almost all newspapers, magazines and on many websites. One goal of these numerous essays is to mislead the American electorate regarding the history of socialism both in the US and around the world. Perhaps several examples will suffice to demonstrate this point. The New York Times on July 6, 2019, in its Sunday Review section printed Sitaraman & Alsort as follows: "The struggle between capitalism and socialism is back." And that "Americans don't need to resign themselves to vicious capitalism ..." In the Aug. 12, 2019 edition of the Los Angeles Review of Books Prof. Christian Fuchs cited three left-wing authors to his readers to remind them that "... liberalism and capitalism have inherent fascist potential (and) that fascism is a terroristic version of capitalism."

Inexplicably, many (most?) redistributionists apparently choose to ignore the clear-cut results of socialism's many actual historic experiments which can be handily recounted.

Socialism (millenarian collectivism) traces its roots to 1789 and the French Revolution which is commonly known as "The Terror". Of course, this led solely to tyranny and ultimately to the guillotine.[One must recognize that the vast majority of those who were beheaded in France were from the middle and lower classes and not from the aristocracy.] (See: "Tyrants" by Waller Newell) Beginning in the 1820s there was a wave of cooperatives (socialist experiments) formed in the US and Europe led by men like Robert Owen but most had failed by 1840. The average life span of these many "co-ops" was only two years. [See: .c-span.org/video/?460856-1/heaven-earth ].
The Socialist Party of America was formed in 1901 by Eugene Debs and Mr. Debs (from 1904 till 1920) never got more than 6% of the vote in any presidential election. From 1924 through 1948 Debs was replaced by Norman Thomas whose election results were also always in the low single digits. [Note: Interestingly, Mr. Thomas was always (like George Orwell) rabidly anti-communist and some fear that their combined virulence may not have rubbed off on many of today's left-wing collectivist authors since it is suspected that some of these socialists may actually hold neo-Marxist views.] Since 1948 the Socialist Party in the US has only steadily faded away. [See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America ]. In fact, the Democratic Socialists of America today boasts of less than 60,000 members which are a paltry few although their membership has grown from only 6,000 to 56,000 in just two years. [See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Party_of_America ].


Economic historians cite three face-to-face "experiments" since WW II in which capitalism and socialism can be directly compared and these are West Germany vs. East Germany after 1945; China vs. Taiwan after 1949 and North Korea vs. South Korea after 1952. Suffice it to say that socialism has never measured up very well anywhere. [Note: Some experts in economic history are today examining Venezuela vs. Chile and many are reaching the very same conclusion.] On the other hand, capitalism has lifted over one billion people out of abject poverty in just the last 12 years. [See: click here ].

All of this might lead some to ask -- What took capitalism so long to work its magic on much of the developing world? And economic history is also quite clear on this point. In 1947 India after its independence from Great Britain opted for socialism. Indeed, socialism is mandated by the Indian Constitution and for more than 40 years India was the world's largest social democracy. [See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_in_India ]. In 1949 China followed suit but of course, selected only collectivism and not democracy. Obviously, capitalism could not work its wonders in a socialist nation.
In 1978 after Mao's death China adopted market-based reforms and one need not recount the upward explosion in human economic well-being that followed. India saw the resulting skyrocketing increase in overall living standards in China and instituted market reforms of their own starting in 1991. Since then these two nations have lifted a combined one billion of their citizens out of subsistence poverty. [See: .worldbank.org/en/country/china/overview ].

In 1945 Clement Atlee defeated Winston Churchill in Great Britain and quickly proceeded to nationalize most of that country's major industries. By the 1970s the whole world was talking about the "British Disease" and the "Sick Man of Europe". This led to the election in 1979 of Margaret Thatcher who insisted that "No theory of government was ever given a fairer test or a more prolonged experiment than democratic socialism received in Britain. Yet it was a miserable failure in every respect..." [See: wikipedia.org/wiki/The_British_disease ]. Indeed, Mrs. Thatcher insisted that "To cure the British disease with socialism was like trying to cure leukemia with leeches." [See: .brainyquote.com/quotes/margaret_thatcher_127092 ].

Israel is another instructive example. This new country's founding principles (Zionism) took a socialist form of communal organization (kibbutzim). In the early 1980s, Israel suffered from hyperinflation (445% In 1984). In 1985 Israel adopted an Economic Stabilization Plan (wage and price controls) which failed. Then Bibi Netanyahu, during his first term (1996 - 1999) began instituting market-based reforms. In 1999 he lost and upon his later return as Prime Minister, he slashed public sector spending, privatized and deregulated industry. He also drastically cut taxes and reformed Israel's labor laws. Today Israel has risen from a relatively poor country to a growing wealthy nation. [See: click here ].

During the 1960s much of sub-Saharan Africa chose collectivism and all of these nations then entered a period of rising abject poverty. A single set of statistics tells the entire story regarding socialism in sub-Saharan Africa. When the British and the other colonizers left Africa the poverty rate stood at 11%. By 1998 under their new indigenous socialist governments this figure had skyrocketed to 66% and now as some of these nations have begun to re-introduce market-based reforms this percentage has fallen to 20% today. Still way too high but currently moving in the right direction. [See: click here ]

Next take Sweden, once one of the most socialistic of the Nordic countries, as another case study. Some years ago the Swedes opted for social democracy and since 1981 Sweden' annual GDP growth rate has averaged only 0.56%. [See: dingeconomics.com/sweden/gdp-growth ]. In other words, the growth in human economic well-being in Sweden was virtually stagnant. Then in 1992, a major financial crisis hit Sweden as interest rates soared to a brief high of 500%. [See: click here ]. As a result, the Swedes became very disenchanted with the results of their collectivism and began converting their economy back to a more market-based system. The Swedes cut their income tax. They also abolished their wealth tax, their inheritance tax, and their property tax. They reduced the corporate tax from 28% to 22% and the new coalition government has recently promised to make further reductions. This one-time social democracy has lowered its tax to GDP ratio from 52% (one of the world's highest) to 45% and the new government has announced still more cuts for 2020. The overall result is that in 1975 fifty percent of Swedish companies were government-owned and today this figure has been cut in half and Sweden is now the fourth richest country in the world in trems of per capita wealth. [See: .org/articles/is-sweden-socialist-no-but/ ].
Turning to Denmark, while Lars Lokke Rasmussen was Prime Minister he stated that "I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a planned economy. Denmark is a market economy." [See: click here ]. Indeed, according to the Economic Freedom Index, all of the countries in Scandinavia are far more capitalist than socialist. [See: .heritage.org/index/ ]. All Nordic countries have no minimum wage and each offers full school choice. In addition, Denmark and Sweden have greatly reduced unemployment benefits.

Some redistributionalists still cling to Norway as the final redoubt of Nordic democratic socialism but this tiny country adheres to its mix of capitalism and socialism solely because of that nation's massive offshore oil and natural gas deposits. In May of 1963 Norway claimed the petroleum reserves off of its coast and in 1969 they struck oil which now produces 1,600,000 barrels per day. As a result, Norway's GDP rose from $12 billion to $65 billion in only ten years. The government wisely formed a sovereign wealth fund which today is worth $1 trillion the largest in the world. [See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Norway ].

No socialist in France had won the presidency from the inception of the Fifth Republic in 1958 until 1981 when Francois Mitterrand ascended to that high office. As president, Mr. Mitterrand quickly implemented a program of nationalization coupled with an economic stimulus designed to jump-start France's flagging economy. His election could not have come at a worse time. The world was suffering from a new phenomenon called "stagflation" and in less than two years after his election, President Mitterrand was forced to sharply curtail his collectivist efforts. [See: .sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/socFrance.htm ].

Even the well known Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, (who is a self described "political radical") admits that "Social democracy is of another era" and that "A simple return to old (20th century) social democratic welfare states can not work" due to "digitalization through new forms of science (and) new forms of liberal capitalism." [See: .youtube.com/watch?v=U7JgfB8PaAk ].

From 1998 to 2015 fifteen Latin American countries elected socialist presidents in a trend called the "Pink Tide". [See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_tide ]. Now, Oxfam reports that Latin America has remained the most unequal region in the world. [See: click here ]. Also, according to the Igarape Institute, Latin America has persisted in being the most violent place on the planet. [See: click here ]. The UN asserts that Latin America has had no reduction in poverty and that extreme poverty has increased to its highest level since 2008. [See: click here ]. Corruption has continued unabated and all of this has led to a counter wave that includes new conservative leaders in Brazi, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Columbia, Chile, Peru, and Paraguay. [See: .youtube.com/watch?v-f0nfQyi4 ]. Some of the people of Latin America who tried collectivism did not like what they got. This is especially true in Venezuela.

Let's examine Iran. The 1979 revolution promised three things: independence, social justice, and democracy & freedom. After 40 years there has been a 17-fold increase in the number of Iranians living in slums. Iran's Gini coefficient has remained high while a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration forcefully erupted in the Green Movement in 2009, as well as, another upheaval in 2017-2018. [See: click here ].

Arab socialism (Ba'athism) began in Syria in the 1940s and later spread to Iraq but neither emphasized pure Marxism nor class struggle. In the 1970s neo-Ba'athism evolved and morphed into Assadism and Saddamism with their accompanying fascism and racism. Since then Saddam has been removed while Assad's son has been fighting a prolonged civil war against rebels who strive for freedom and economic growth. [See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba%27athism ].
The book, "Heaven on Earth" (2nd edition 2019) summarizes all of this with "Socialism was man's most ambitious attempt to supplant religion with a doctrine claiming to ground itself in 'science'. Each failure to create societies of abundance or give birth to 'The New Man' inspired more searching for a path to the promised land: revolution, communes, social democracy, communism, fascism, Arab socialism, African socialism. None worked and some exacted a staggering human toll. Then, after two centuries of wishful thinking and bitter disappointment socialism imploded in a fin de siècle drama of falling walls and collapsing regimes. It was an astonishing denouement but what followed was no less astonishing. After a hiatus of several decades, new voices were raised, as if innocent of all that had come before, proposing to try it all over again."

Summary

Thus the economic record is clear. Over the last 230 years, socialism has caused only poverty, misery and human suffering. [See" click here ] While capitalism (in the opinion of many, humankind's greatest invention since the wheel) has been slashing poverty as the next graph clearly documents.


In a 2018 article in Foreign Affairs Magazine the esteemed historian, Prof. Walter Russel Mead, offered that over a 35 year period our nation had been plagued by "Ineffective politicians, frequent scandals, racial backsliding, polarized and irresponsible news media, populists spouting quack economic remedies, growing suspicion of elites and experts, frightening outbreaks of violence, major job losses, high profile terrorist attacks, anti-immigrant agitation, rising inequality and the appearance of a new class of super-powered billionaires in finance and technology-heavy industries." But, Prof. Mead was writing about the period in American history from 1865 till 1901 after the end of the US Civil War. Like the movie "Groundhog Day" history only repeats itself but no one ever seems to notice that human economic improvement and overall well-being only continue to spiral ever upward. Does anyone really want to go back to living in caves eating nuts, berries, and roots, scavenging dead meat and consuming an occasional fresh kill where everyone is mostly equal? Given an informed choice, almost all of us would, one strongly suspects, opt for individualism and capitalism every time.

Submitted on Friday, Dec 27, 2019 at 4:03:53 PM

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John Zwiebel

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How interesting that all of the failed Socialist states you mention are being attacked and have been attacked for decades in years why the capitalist nations like the UK and US. I am sure there is no connection. Ha

Submitted on Friday, Dec 27, 2019 at 10:45:01 PM

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Don Smith

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Richard, you should consider making your comment into an article. Also, please write an "executive summary" at the start. Why is it that socialist writing is always so verbose????

Submitted on Friday, Dec 27, 2019 at 11:50:06 PM

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Poor old Dirt farmer

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Sorry but cherry picked facts.

Fdr raised the top rate on income tax to 90%.

Poverty dropped substantially.

The Latin American analysis is completely untrue. Poverty rates drop and education levels rise when a leftist president runs the countries. Of course that happens by taxing the ultra wealthy or stopping their monopolistic, predatory behaviors.

Of course the record is rife with example after example of a School of Americas coup, or guerrilla funded insurgency.

Or even just Economic sanctions- no country can survive those and keep a decent economy.

You did write a lot though. Too bad most of it factually incorrect.

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 28, 2019 at 10:23:57 AM

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George W.Reichel

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I seriously doubt that pure capitalism or pure socialism exist anywhere.In term of the monies involved the US is likely the most socialistic nation on earth.Government is our single biggest employer.US government has the largest budget on earth as well as the largest deficits,especially now under the bankruptcy king(bankruptcy is socialism).Property taxes and civil asset forfeiture are socialist.Our military is socialist.Public schooling is socialist.Indeed there is more Constitutional support for government sponsored healthcare than public schooling.Then there's the income tax.I could go on and on but I think you get my drift.

Oh and "We're keeping the oil",which is neither,just pure theft.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 1:19:53 PM

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Don Smith

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Glen Ford reminds me of Chris Hedges. Both preach apocalyptic gloom, and both are quite convincing. I love Bernie's policies, but, as both Noam Chomsky and Ford say, if Bernie gets the nomination the oligarchs will do everything in their power to stop him. It doesn't help that Bernie unnecessarily calls himself a socialist when he's really just a social democrat, as numerous experts have pointed out.

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Harsh, but I appreciate the sincerity and plausibility however stark to any version of candy-coated hopes and dreams.

What I frankly fail to understand is what the elite, 0.01 percenters are so afraid of. Other than a full out "off with their heads"-style revolution that they seem to be hell bent on bringing on themselves, I cannot imagine a scenario where they still don't wind up with a thousand times the wealth, power and priviledge of the rest of us.

Of course, letting them live with that much only ensures that the game of dominence will begin again.

I must be hopelessly naive. Is this world really too small for us? If it must it be us or them, so be it. FDR, if you're listening. Now time to save Capitalism for your class's progeny. For myself, I think Capitalism, if not money itself, is among mankinds' worst innovations.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 4:17:11 PM

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