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11 November 2019

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fredw

"... the most consistent neocon ideological theme is that the great unwashed masses are not to be trusted, so power must be arrogated to themselves." Isn't that the real ideology of all these factions? To my mind the rest is all just tactics.

I am genuinely unsure what the real distinctions are. The present American "conservative" idolizing of democracy and free market economics seems about as sincere as the Communist ideal of economic control by the working classes. Many years ago I argued with a (captured) VC political officer that the Vietnam war was just a fight between two elites over who would get to run things. He was appalled by the idea. His claim to the moral high ground was based on two factors: the personal honesty of the Viet Cong cadre and the party discipline that that guaranteed it. These seemed plausible at the time. Both went up in smoke almost as soon as the victory had been won.

How different were the results of the war from those to be expected from a Southern victory? I haven't followed the subsequent history in detail, but American Vietnamese acquaintances tell me that 40 years later everything is being run by Southerners. Not identically the same Southerners, but ... And does anyone believe that a southern government securely established would not have set about expelling the Chinese population that had accumulated during the years when the Vietnamese could not control their own borders? (American media never said much about it, but the boat people were overwhelmingly Chinese victims of longstanding hatreds.)

So how different is the neocon vision from a Trotskyist vision in a world where direct control is no longer possible?

ex PFC Chuck

The dots I have yet to connect are those that trace the path by which the neoconservatives wandered from their socialist roots to become the enforcers of the Western world’s fundamentalist neoliberal ideology of political economy. How many of the dots pertaining to the latter came to be embedded in the western industrialized world and most of the Global South were tied together for me by the recent book Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, by Quinn Slobodian. Several points jump from the author’s narrative. The neoliberal movement traces its origins to two citizens of the Austrian Empire who came of age in the decades immediately before its collapse: Ludwig von Mises* (b 1881) and Frederick Hayek (b 1899). Both were of un-landed noble families that had been promoted to that status just a generation or two before. Slobodian argues that the Empire’s uniqueness as a multi-cultural, multi-national entity held together by a common market with no internal tariffs and free migration within the empire led them (and especially Hayek) to envision a similarly structured world economy. They and their disciples and successors saw the making of that structure happen as their lives’ work. The goal remained constant but the means of achieving it changed with the times. First they saw the League of Nations as the potential vehicle until its collapse during the Second World War. Next was the United Nation until it was “overrun” by new nations emerging from colonialism. The goal was largely achieved in the late 20th century when General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) morphed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994.
The most salient features of a neoliberal political economy are: free movement and safety of capital and protections for the ownership rights of investors across borders; free migration of people across those same borders; also tariff-free trade among countries; and the removal of economic policies and relationships from the purviews of sovereign countries and subordinate jurisdictions within them.
Slobodian elaborates how as the neoliberal ideology became embedded in the world economy during the 20th century it was believed by the movers and shakers (mostly implicitly but in some cases explicitly) that the lagging development status of the peoples of the recently decolonized emerging countries were the results of racial and/or cultural weaknesses. There was little recognition of the impacts of the cultural carnage and wealth extraction that were part and parcel of colonial enterprise. As a result, as the institutions of radical neoliberalism took shape they consigned a secondary economic status to the countries of what is now known as the Global South. The USA has been the leader in putting this ideology in place and has been aggressively looking out for its own interests in the process, which is understandable.* However an unintended consequence has been an economically lagging global south that has been prevented from industrializing enough to employ the millions of people whose farms have become uncompetitive with highly industrialized USA and European agribusiness. These folks move off the land either to the growing megacities of the Global South or, increasingly, into countries of the Global North by means either legal or illegal. Thus the Democratic Party establishment’s Kumbaya on immigration is not all sweetness, light and harmony. They’re also doing the bidding of their neoliberal masters.
https://www.greenlightbookstore.com/book/9780674979529

* Michael Hudson has written extensively on this subject, especially in Superimperalism, which was first published in 1972 and substantially updated about 2003. You can download the full text in PDF format here: https://michael-hudson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/superimperialism.pdf


Mathias Alexander

Perhaps the journey trotskyist to neo-con happened because trotskyist thought that world revolution could only follow capitalism's arrival at its final form and subsequent colapse, so that their strategy was to encourage capitalism towards its final form. This gave them a reason to find well paid jobs with pensions.

Not many people seem interested in explaining this odd journey.

Their promotion of democracy is a promotion right wing dictatorship and IMF loan sharking.

confusedponderer

Eric Newhill,
you make a good point. Pushed to extremes in policy and freed from the necesity of reality or truth, egomaniacs like Johnson, Farage, Orban, Salvini, Le Pen or Erdogan are in it for power and ego.

That's the goal and everything else is about how to get there. If it would be useful I daresay they likely would be happily be communists, fascists, capitalits, evangelicals, muslims - or democrats and liberals - if only it gave them that power.

As Erdogan once said with some clarity along these lines: Democracy is a bus. It brings you to the destination and then you get out.

The question here is naturally if he would go voluntarily if ... "diselected". IMO unlikely.

That's to me as creepy as when someone, say, happily flirts with the idea that presidency for life is splendid thing (perhaps because of life long immunity?) and that Xi and China had a really bright idea with that.

To me that makes clear that is not so by any means. In contrary, folks like that only underline how sensible it is to strictly limit times in office.

J

Seems that the MI6 persona running the Syrian White Helmets, fell off his balcony in Istanbul. Whoops.

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/white-helmets-mi-6-co-founder-found-dead-turkey

Peter

It is striking how often the connection is ignored between the facts that a large majority of leaders in the Bolshevist party, the Cheka, the Trotzkists in the West and in Russia and later the NeCons were actually of jewish origin, not adherent necessarily to Judaism but secular Jews of Ashkenazi origin.
Is it a legacy of the pogroms in Russia that has caused this hatred that resulted in actions by the Bolsheviks and Trotzkists- as long as they had some standing before eliminated by Stalin - against the Russian population and later the development of the neocon ideology that took hole in the USA?
The funny thing - the media and of course Jews tore one off of Solzhenitsyn when he elaborated on the misdeeds in Russia by the largely Jewish Revolutionaries, not against the fact but directed against him that he mentioning and elaborating this fact art all.

One has to also keep in mind that Hitler's anti Jewish stance had very much to do with his assessment that - true to fact - the Bolshevist Revolution (which had little if anything at all with any of Marx' theories) was mostly lead by Jews in Russia.
That is why he condemned this Revolution as a "Jewish conspiracy" and wanted to uproot the Jews from Germany to prevent Germany from ever suffering the same fate. His anti Jewish stance was not so much rooted in the ethnicity itself but in the role members of this ethnicity played in almost destroying Russia.

BABAK MAKKINEJAD

The difference between a Vietnamese elite running things in Vietnam and an American elite running things is quite substantial.

artemesia

Rabbi Henry Abramson produces a video series of lectures on leading Jewish figures. He's covered Theodor Herzl several times, including this lecture:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OEesHwLEK8
Don't bother trying the link: it's now marked "Private, . . . sign in to verify that you've been granted permission to view it."
As far as I can tell, this is the only one of Abramson's several dozen videos that is marked Private.

From my notes from back in 2012, Abramson said this (among other things):

Two different types of Jews -to-USA: a. “golden period,” 1880 - 1920: assimilate, fit in, adapt “opened themselves to new country” WWII era: ‘refugees,’ “did not come of their own choosing, forced because of devastation forced to leave; refugees had the attitude I resent coming to America, this is a safe haven for me and I’m glad we have this place but with reality, “I won’t change for America, America is going to have to change for me.” @15 min: “the first Jews to USA came as immigrants. They assimilated thoroughly — they did not teach their children Yiddish, were fully American. Those Jews who came in the WWII era were refugees. They had been forced to come; especially the Orthodox — they intended that US should change to accommodate them.

an audience member said [heavy accent], “My people were not eager to come to America. Finally someone at the embassy would sell him visas, but he still wasn’t sure. But the man told him, “Look, We’re changing America, we’re changing america.” So it was then OK to take your family there.”
Abramson: That’s a good point. (big smile)

Fascinating that Russian Jews sought to escape from a system with the full intention of replicating it, which, in fact, seems to have occurred.
Also intriguing that Abramson has blocked access to that particular video.
---

The Trotskyite - neocons that Harper listed seemed to closely match the participants in the Jerusalem Conference of 1979, hosted by Benzion and Benjamin Netanyahu, but I was wrong: only Norman Podhoretz appears in International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, the book that Bibi edited that records the speakers and their speeches.

It is my stubbornly held belief that that conference, held on the 3rd anniversary of the July 4, 1976 Raid on Entebbe in which Bibi's older brother was the only Jewish casualty, was the official roll-out of blueprint for the neocon-led GWOT, and that USA was represented by mostly second generation neocons: Scoop Jackson, Richard Pipes, Jack Kemp, George Will, Midge Decter, Ben Wattenberg, George H W Bush (among others).


different clue

I remember once reading something Alexander Solzhenitsyn had written about Trotsky. I can't remember the exact wording, but the basic point was that if Trotsky had won the power-struggle against Stalin for rulership of the USSR; Trotksy would have had vastly more people killed because Trotsky would have used his verbose intellectuosity to invent vastly more whole categories of people to kill.

Is there such a thing as a non-harmful intellectual? Professor Stephen Cohen of Princeton is clearly non-harmful. Can we say that he is an intellectual? He clearly knows many things in detail about the "greater Soviet space" and the "greater post-Soviet space" of today. If Prof. Cohen is an intellectual, then should we get to work on how to tell the harmful intellectuals from the harmless intellectuals, and how to name and shame the harmful intellectuals and degrade and attrit their influence and decision-affecting power?

fredw

"actual genealogies of these people"

A valid point, but it shifts the focus from ideas to people. People that you (and I) don't much like, but how important was their false coloration to the ideology of US domination? I would deny any theory that traces all such notions to that group. The ideas and attitudes have many sources. An obvious and common alternative genealogy for the ideas is the influence of Leo Strauss and the players that he influenced. And even he hardly seems necessary. Imperialism disguised as altruism hardly started with him either. The notion that America should set the standards and control the world seemed near universal in the very non-liberal mid-western world that I grew up in. Did Kermit Roosevelt in Iran need any ex-Marxists to justify his attitudes toward Iranian political conflict? I doubt he would have known what you were talking about.

I think that the value of knowing the story of this group is specifically to understand that ideology has very little to do with their certainty that they should control the world. Nor, I think, does it have much to do with other people's similar notions.

turcopolier

fredw

What Harper (gone abroad just now) is talking about is this particular group of people not the universe o Americans. The neocons ARE a group. They are not a tendency.

different clue

One could go into even greater depth and layers of understanding on this subject of " the USA" and the "industrial consolidation of agriculture". What the end of your second-to-last paragraph describes as done against the Peasantry and the Yeoman Farmers of the "Global South" was first done against the Yeoman Farmers of the USA itself. And it was done by the Free Trade Party acting to kill the idea of American society as semi-self-contained and arranged to allow all its members to provide eachother a living by playing their separate balance-providing parts within an inter-sectorally-balanced economy. And part of the way to kill the idea was to kill the reality and keep the reality killed long enough that the killers could then circle back and kill the idea as well.

There is a book about the history of farming and economics-as-practiced in America up to the time of the formulation and implementation of the Free Trade plan to kill the Yeoman Farming Sector of America itself . . . and then a detailed history of how that Free Trade plan was sanctified and weaponised for application and dissemination throughout American society and then carried out in detail.

That book is called Unforgiven. Here is a tiny tribute to it.
http://www.heritech.com/pridger/unforgiven.htm
And here is the current source of where the book can be bought from, together with a similar tiny-teaser paragraph explaining the history and purpose of the book.
https://www.acresusa.com/products/unforgiven

Charles Walters Junior himself was descended from a family from among the Volga Germans who had settled in Ness County of western Kansas some time before. He knew farming and farm history from having done it and lived it. ( It has been years since I have actually read his books but at some point I will read them again).

I bring this up because part of what he writes about was the stealth-forcible expulsion of millions of farmers and farm families from their land and their internal exile into America's own huge cities. The forced-expulsion was successfully "stealthed" by making it happen slowly over decades and by making it look like the impersonal playing out of economic forces.

A smaller book about a tiny corner of this subject which took place more recently is titled Night Came To The Farms of the Great Plains. It is about the Farmer Cleansing waged against farmers in the plains and prairie region under cover of the "Farm Crisis".
https://www.acresusa.com/products/night-came-to-the-farms-of-the-great-plains

different clue

I used to read Commentary Magazine many long years ago. I didn't understand about things like "NeoConservatism" at the time. But I could tell that Commentary was getting so pro-Israel as to take leave of its basic senses.

Two particular time stand out in memory. Back in my younger days when I was very "No Nukes!" I saw a toss-off line in a Commentary article about how if I wanted to support Israel I had to support Nuclear Power in order to weaken the Arab Oil Economy. I had my doubts about that, but realised that if that was really true, that I would choose "No Nukes!" against " support Israel". (Separately, the serious and sincere Global De-Warmer is going to HAVE to RETHINK a reflexive opposition to nuclear power).

The other time was where some author-or-other in Commentary said that Israel was a geo-strategically crucial ally to America because Israel was the only American Ally Country between America and Australia and if we lost Israel, we would have nothing to secure our access to Australia. "Say whahh . . . ? We can go from Hawaii or even California right straight to Australia across the Blue Pacific without any other country getting in the way at all."

That started me on the process of learning the difference between Intellectual and Intelligent. Irving Crystal was an Intellectual. Albert Einstein was Intelligent. See the difference?

BABAK MAKKINEJAD

An intellectual, for me, means a person for whom ideas are alive and tries to understand the world in terms of those ideas.

Well, to answer your question: I fancy myself as a non-harmful intellectual. And I have many friends whom I could categorize as such; a lector in Italy, a businessman in Spain, a venture-capitalist in US.

But non-harmful does not mean a dead-dog liberal.

ex PFC Chuck

Thanks, DC, for the informative comment and the book suggestions. I grew up in the corn belt of southern MN and my sister and her husband farmed there. I recall in the '70s a lot of their neighbors who had leveraged to buy more land went broke when farm prices crashed due, IIRC, to sanctions on the USSR. My fiscally conservative sister and brother-in-law hadn't done that but it was still a tough time. They hung in there, thanks in part to her teaching job.

Cortes

A couple of John Sandford novels cover effects of MN farm crashes.

“Extreme Prey” portrays the radicalisation of a woman whose husband killed himself after the foreclosure. The other novel was, I think, “Bad Blood” which explores how family farmers can be herded into planting fad crops with disastrous effects.

Sandford grew up in a small Iowa community.

catherine

''Revolutionary movements have always drawn opportunists who saw them mainly as a shortcut to gaining power for themselves.''

Exactly.
Doesnt matter if its capitalism, socialism, communism,etc.,etc.....there will always be 'rulers' at the top of any system.

Thirdeye

I've long thought that the Vietnamese adherence to communist ideology was shallow, and your experience with the VC officer seems to be an example of that. His arguments weren't ideological, they expressed loyalty to his comrades-in-arms as good people. It didn't take Vietnam long to flip back to capitalist ways. Communist ideology was adhered to as long as it was aligned with nationalist objectives, then it fell by the wayside.

It's worth asking how much Communist influence there would have been in the Viet Minh and Viet Cong had it not been expedient for gaining the support of the Soviet Union. Other than the ideological component, Soviet support was of a piece with French support for the American Revolution, a move in a game between great powers.

One important difference between neocons and Trotskyists is that the neocons have real power while Trotskyists are decidedly irrelevant groups mainly preoccupied with historical woulda-coulda-shouldas and practicing scholasticism.

turcopolier

thirdeye

In my second tour part of my duties was recruiting NVA officer prisoners out of the Vietnamese National Interrogation Center to work for us. This was a place where significant enemy prisoners were held. In that role I spent a lot of time talking to quite a few of them. It was clear that some officers were heartfelt communists and others were more nationalist than anything else. In the first category I would place the political officers (commissars) who at every level of command exercised joint command with the CO. They had to countersign orders and were there to indoctrinate the troops. The Trots we are talking about are in the ancestry of today's neocon movement. Separate Trot groups are largely insignificant.

Donald

Sloppy history makes for a nonsensical analogy.

Trotsky opposed socialism in one country from the outset in 1924 (not the late 1930s) and formally broke with the Stalinist Third International in 1933 after Hitler's ascent to power due to its policy of refusing to allow a united front of German social democracy and the German communist party to defeat Hitler's rise.

Irvine Howe was not a neocon.

Does the permanent warfare of today's neocons differ in any real way from the Trotsky idea of permanent world revolution?

They could not be more different. Neocons want world intervention to protect capitalism and US dominance and maintain inequality. Trotsky called for permanent revolution in less developed countries to be led by the working class, instead of national bourgeoisie, to end capitalism and inequality.

casey

Any idea who did it and why now?

casey

I've been thinking a lot about a comment you made recently in another post about Americans not being evil, which I very much agree with. As individuals, Americans seem in general to be friendly, generous, over-fed and capable (or were capable?) of tackling very large technical problems (Panama Canal comes to mind) that had useful outcomes.

Maybe Americans as individuals are guilty of depraved indifference to the suffering their leadership causes, but that's not actively "evil," in my mind, as much as media-induced sociopathy or willing ignorance. And yet, I find it hard not to see America, as a nation of individuals who have had their best qualities and vast quantities of money hijacked by an evil parasite, or mind virus, to put it "novelistic" terms, which is the "lens" through which I see things. Did Paperclip bring something evil back? Where did Hans Kammler end up? When did everything begin to go so horribly wrong?

Yes, of course, nuking civilian populations to threaten Moscow was profoundly evil, no argument, as was sanctioning 500k Iraqi kids to death (Albright is certainly the poster child for evil) but those examples of evil raise the problem of the gigantic divide between leadership and individuals.

How does a non-evil populace of a country hold together, I often wonder, when it clearly has any number of evil, soul-sucking, Satan-loving parasites firmly lodged in its over-fed bowels? Maybe it doesn't, for long. As a parent of three, I hope that's not where we are now, but damned if it doesn't look that way. Sometimes I don't know whether to shit or go blind.

Jimmy_W

CP, Sir,
Jonshon/Salvini/LePen are nationalists, or at least populist demagogues. Whether they are also foolish imperialists a la Erdogan, too, is yet to be determined.
Neocons are unaffiliated imperialists, yes. Whether they sympathizes with socialism or the various religions, that is less clear. (Probably socialists of one type or another though.)

Thirdeye

Ironically, the modern identity politics that grew out of Gramsci's ideas via the Frankfurt School and the New Left tend to veer into the same sort of blind group solidarity exhibited by fascists. If there is any group that acts like fascists today, it is the "woke left" that the Democratic Party panders to. Wimpy fascists, but still fascists.

BABAK MAKKINEJAD

You are entitled to your opinion.

So now a silly adolescent girl has become your icon?

What happened to such stalwarts as La Pasionaria?

To your last point:

Intellectual is not an honorific, it is only a description.

The most successful Spanish statesman since Olivares was Franco - who was not an intellectual.

The most successful American statesman since Jackson was Franklin Roosevelt - also not an intellectual.

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