Friday, December 30, 2022

Fletcher Prouty and Our Situation, Part Two


Fletcher Prouty and Our Situation, Part Two

Peter Schultz


            Having tried to delineate what might be called “the perfected-war regime” in part one of this offering, it is worthwhile to ask: What is required domestically in this regime of “perfected” or “limited” war, in this regime that seeks “full spectrum dominance” throughout the world?


            Most importantly, this regime requires that dissent be delegitimized, “pathologized” as C J Hopkins puts it. “Full spectrum dominance” applies at home as well as abroad, meaning that a consensus is required that overpowers dissent, whether the dissent be “liberal” or “conservative,” or “nationalistic” or “socialistic.” Why is this? Because dissent threatens to reveal how savagery, widespread death and destruction, define this regime. As an alternative to nuclear war, that savagery, if exposed, would undermine the regime’s legitimacy. Perfected war is best seen as “surgical,” “clean,” “technologically sophisticated,” and capable of great precision. It should be seen as almost bloodless, where enemies and threats are made to disappear either through renditions or via assassinations.


            But of course, there will be dissent, so the best kind of dissent is that which reasserts the need for full-throated, good “old-time” war making, that which seeks victories by way of the annihilation of enemies. Such dissent is tolerable, even beneficial, insofar as it hides the savagery of the perfected-war regime. In fact, such dissent can make the perfected-war regime look weak, vacillating, anti-American, and even cowardly. And those dissenters who assert the savagery of the new regime may be easily dismissed as “conspiracy theorists” or as anti-American. In one way or another, these dissenters are characterized as irrational and deserving of being “pathologized.” (Check out the James Webb story.) And those who recommend the savagery of the good, old-time variety, e.g., Michael Scheuer, are in fact bolstering the bona fides of that which they claim to oppose. “Making America Great Again” thus serves to fortify those policies which are, allegedly, undermining America’s greatness.


            Moreover, to achieve such a consensus, propaganda, what is now called “public diplomacy,” is requisite and, hence, perfectly legitimate. Propaganda becomes one of the supports for the perfected-war regime. And it is indispensable.


            Given the need for propaganda, “democracy” in any genuine sense isn’t possible in the perfected-war regime. Arguments, conflicts will arise over the legitimacy of the outcomes of particular elections, which may be and most often are fanciful. But that elections are “rigged,” controlled to assure the victories of the partisans of the perfected-war regime is impossible to deny insofar as any such dissenters are marginalized, ala’ Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich. And disenfranchisement is practiced in different ways to lessen the threat of a “popular rebellion” arising via the ballot box. Contra Malcolm X, this disenfranchisement which makes ballots disappear, as it were, ensures that ballots won’t be alternatives to bullets.


            So, the perfected-war regime has far-reaching consequences, both at home and abroad, as all regimes do. It would be interesting to take note of what happened or happens to those politicians who have managed to get elected but then, for a variety of reasons, take on this regime. Whether he did or he didn’t say it, the fact that JFK was said to have promised to break up the CIA into “a thousand pieces,” made him seem like an enemy of the perfected-war regime, as did his opposition to sending US ground forces into Vietnam, to say nothing of his plans to pull out of Vietnam after he was re-elected in 1964. And Richard Nixon, by seeking détente with the USSR and by going to Communist China, sought to defuse what were considered major threats to the US, thereby undermining the arguments on behalf of maintaining the military-industrial complex for the sake of defending the nation’s national security. Those officials who seek to redefine or restructure threats to national security as “non-threats” are working at cross purposes with the perfected-war regime, which needs such threats to justify its policies, to justify its embrace of full spectrum dominance or American hegemony.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Fletcher Prouty and Our Situation


Fletcher Prouty and Our Situation

Peter Schultz


            In his book on JFK, the CIA, and Vietnam, Fletcher Prouty wrote: “By September 2, 1945, this power elite had learned of its monstrous oversight….Unwittingly, they had encouraged their scientists and engineers to design and produce nuclear weapons….War, their most essential and valuable tool….had been taken from them.” [p.42] Oh, if only it had been so. But it wasn’t.


            In fact, instead of a kind of disarmament, there was more, not less, armament and more, not less, war. Why? Because the power elites developed new ways of making war, with new organizations, new weapons, and new tactics – which were hailed as “surgical” or “clean.” With these developments, wars multiplied as they became “limited,” or they, like the US Constitution which promised “a more perfect union,” promised “more perfect” wars, e.g., Rumsfeld’s RMA, Revolution in Military Affairs or counterinsurgency wars.


            Needing to justify this embrace of war-making multiplied, a switch was made from making war for victories to providing for the defense of the nation. So, the Department of War was replaced by the Department of Defense. Why? Because, among other reasons, defense requires, justifies confronting threats, whereas war justifies confronting enemies, that is, distinct, identifiable people. Moreover, defense privileges bureaucrats, civilians like McNamara’s Whiz Kids, whereas war privileges generals, admirals, and soldiers. The Whiz Kids want to demonstrate their “wizardry” and they don’t know war like warriors do. It’s abstract to them, even virtual or unreal, as in “signature killings” by which those killed are not even known or actually seen. Moreover, defense is perpetual as its requirements never end, while wars begin and end. Defense budgets keep growing. And while “exit strategies” are needed in wars, there’s no need for or even the possibility of exit strategies for defense. There is “No Way Out” of defending the nation. “Peace dividends” never appear. Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” is permanent and perpetual.


            And, lastly, this defense is undertaken in the name of “national security,” not in the name of protecting the United States itself, that is, the country as a physical place. Many are the threats to national security that don’t and can’t threaten the “homeland” itself, e.g., communism in Vietnam, or the USSR in Afghanistan, or even Castro and communism in Cuba. But these threats must be “dealt with,” plans approved for dealing with them, and covert operations – terrorist attacks, like downing Cuban airliners, included – undertaken, all for the sake of national security.


            And, so, the goal of US policies has shifted. The goal is no longer the physical safety, the invincibility of the homeland – America First – but has become what is now called “full spectrum dominance,” because that’s what national security requires: Total dominance. Ipso facto, the US embraces a kind of totalitarianism, a world-wide hegemony including even outer space. And, by the by, the nukes make these policies seem prudent, reasonable, or rational. So, those who oppose this totalitarianism are made to seem imprudent, unreasonable, even irrational. And this while “Dr. Strangelove,” or “loving the bomb,” is seen as rational, along with a “failsafe” system, game theory, and MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction.  


            We have arrived in la la land, a land where no one needs or sees the point of philosophy, of contemplation, or even salvation. The students of philosophers, even some philosophers themselves, become political partisans, ala’ Heidegger, Strauss and their students; that is, they become spokesmen for political agendas. These agendas consume everything, politics consumes everything, even or especially philosophy and revelation. The unending debate  between Athens and Jerusalem disappears, replaced by conflicts between, say, Zionists and fascists, between communists and capitalists, or between GloboCap and something else, something that’s vague and hard to define, espoused by “Trump-like” figures who sound like clowns – because they are.


            After all, we are in la la land, “No Country for Old Men,” where those with principles but no sense of humor are the most powerful. A place where the thumotic – the spirited often posing as bureaucrats – trump the erotic – those lost in a wasteland that never ends, seeking “soulmates” when most don’t have souls worth speaking about any longer. It’s a most interesting situation.


Monday, December 26, 2022

Obama and Trump: Anti-American Patriots


Obama and Trump: Anti-American Patriots

Peter Schultz


            Obama and Trump are anti-American patriots. That is, both espouse anti-Americanism, Obama by apologizing for America’s past sins throughout the world, and Trump by calling the current political order “a swamp” that he was dedicated to cleaning up.


            But their anti-Americanism doesn’t cut very deeply or deeply enough to be illuminating. Rather, it cuts just deeply enough to eventuate in a renewed American patriotism. In other words, their anti-Americanism is a façade behind which is American exceptionalism. Their anti-Americanism doesn’t lead to insights, to what might be called intellectual virtue, but rather it leads to more flag-waving, to moral rather than to intellectual virtue. For both, being a “good American” is sufficient, and much more important than being an intelligent American.


            The virtue of anti-Americanism, insofar as it has any, is that it illuminates the defects of our political and social orders. That is, it shows why being a “good American” is not sufficient, that good Americans participate in or condone corruption or viciousness while being perfectly respectable. Americans can be perfectly respectable while opposing universal health care or condoning “collateral damage” that includes killing civilians, including children. Letting people die for want of health insurance or killing them via drones while they remain unnamed are respectable policies, and those who support them are respectable, are “good Americans.”


            Insofar as Obama’s and Trump’s anti-Americanism doesn’t challenge “American respectability,” it is little more than hypocrisy. And that hypocrisy means that neither Obama nor Trump would or could act reformers. Obama embraced wars and assassinations, even extending the policies of the Bush/Cheney administration, while “the swamp” Trump promised to drain grew as a result of his administration. The politics of both men reflect the hypocrisy of American moral values, a hypocrisy already visible in the Declaration of Independence, which justified the revolution by proclaiming that “all men are created equal” while enslaving blacks and killing the indigenous.


            Until the hypocrisy of our moral values is recognized, there will not, there cannot be genuine reform in the United States. Our moral virtue is compromised, and our well-being depends on our intellectual virtue, on our seeing clearly that the moral virtues we embrace lead us into war, imperialism, and even oppression.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Michael Scheuer, GloboCap, and Endless Wars


Comments on Michael Scheuer, GloboCap, and Endless Wars

Peter Schultz


            Pax Americana or GloboCap, call it what you will, is built on wars, “limited” or “endless” wars, ala’ Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Kosovo, Palestine, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia/Ukraine, Yemen, and so on. This must be kept in mind to understand US foreign policy over the past few decades, at least.


            Michael Scheuer in his book Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq, accuses the US and its elites of “shortsightedness, negligence, and stupidity” that left the US no more to maneuver after the attacks of 9/11. Basically, the US, because it has voluntarily tied itself to Israel and to Saudi Arabia, had undermined its own independence, its own national sovereignty in order to please the Israelis and the Saudis, the former to ensure domestic political success and the latter to ensure continued access to oil. But while Scheuer skewers our elites for shortsightedness, negligence, and stupidity, leaving them with no room for maneuverability were actually maneuvering? Scheuer even suggests this possibility insofar as “the ideological rigidity and close oil-industry ties of the Bush administration were such that they perceived no need maneuverability.” [31]


            That is, what Scheuer sees as stupidity and/or negligence was actually neither. Rather, the post 9/11 policies of the Bush administration were meant to serve and did serve the administration’s goals.  By tying itself to Israel, the Bush administration, like other administrations, was trying to guarantee that it would enjoy domestic success, that it would remain in power and able to control the government and its policies. And by not seeking energy independence and thereby forming an alliance with the Saudis, the Bush administration, like other administrations, could use the Saudis as a proxy that could do things the Bush administration could not openly do, e.g., control Islamist extremists who sought to destroy Israel.


            Scheuer also points out that from 1982 on, the US stood by, watching the growth of Islamist paramilitary training camps, and doing nothing. These camps, it was well known, were training Islamist insurgents and terrorists. These camps became “the world’s flagship training installations for religiously motivated extremists,” and yet “neither the United States nor any of its allies made any serious, systematic, or sustained efforts to destroy the camps….” [32-33] Reasons, nuances as Scheuer calls them, were always found whenever the intelligence community or the military suggested taking some of these camps out, destroying them.


            Assuming that these policies were chosen deliberately by US elites, how can they be understood as reasonable and not as the results of ignorance, cowardice, or stupidity? Scheuer assumes that the goals of the US involved or should have involved privileging US national security in the sense of protecting the US from attacks. But what if our elites did not view their world in terms of what might be called an “America First” agenda, an agenda that Scheuer clearly and enthusiastically embraces? What if our elites were committed not to an “America First” agenda but to a “GloboCap” agenda? That is, what if our elites were committed to fortifying and extending a global capitalistic order, which would require destabilizing, destroying, and then rebuilding according to neo-liberal principles more than a few nations? As the old saw has it: “You cannot make mayonnaise without breaking some eggs.” So, too, you cannot create or fortify “a new world order” without breaking some heads, without subverting and even sabotaging some nations, especially when those nations are not sufficiently capitalist or “neo-liberal.” George Bush the First proclaimed the creation of “a new world order” as the US attacked and expelled Saddam Hussein’s armies from Kuwait, saying also that “the Vietnam syndrome” was over. What Bush meant was that henceforward, the Vietnam war would be seen as just another war meant to create or fortify the new world order, Reagan’s “noble adventure.”


            Scheuer argues that our elites for past few decades don’t know what they are doing, that their policies are the results of “shortsightedness, negligence, and stupidity.” Far from it. Our elites know what they are doing, and they know that to do what they want to do, they have to foment and engage in war, lots of wars, perhaps even endless wars. To do this, they need enemies and, so, they are not committed to eradicating – as Scheuer is – Islamist insurgents and terrorists. As Scheuer points out, “For the US governing elite, Islamists were not a threat to US national security but a lethal nuisance that could be defeated at the pace and moment and with the means decided by the United States.” [20] As 9/11 illustrated, this was quite a gamble. But for the sake of fortifying a global capitalistic order, our elites rolled the dice, which came up snake eyes on 9/11. But even this didn’t displease our elites because 9/11 became our Pearl Harbor, that is, a clarion call to mobilize, to weaponize, and to get on with constructing our new world order. Insofar as war lay at the foundation of this order, we can expect that it will be a recurring feature of that order. And so, one may ask: Which would be better, whether the new world order succeeds or whether it fails? Neither alternative seems particularly appealing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Some Comments on C J Hopkins


Some Comments on C J Hopkins

Peter Schultz


            Hopkins writes: “…following the collapse of the USSR…the goal was not to conquer and colonize the former Soviet and Soviet-aligned territories; the goal was to aggressively destabilize, restructure, and privatize these territories, and absorb them into the global market.” This seems to me correct. But Hopkins doesn’t seem aware that such behavior had been going on for a long time before the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War.


            The key to understanding this is the Lockean concept of “property.” It might be said that Locke created our concept of property, with all its political and social implications. What creates property, according to Locke, is labor or what might be called “development.” That is, nature in its original condition doesn’t have value and only acquires value when it is “developed.” And the more developed it is, the more value it has. This means that the developers acquire ownership, are entitled to ownership, and can do with their property as they wish.


            Punch this up on the social screen to see what it means. Who has more of a right to, say, that land which is labeled “Vietnam,” the Vietnamese “peasants” who have lived on it for centuries, or those who would develop Vietnam by way of “modernization?” What do we Americans think? I doubt many have even raised this question because don’t we just assume that the developers have a greater claim than the Vietnamese themselves? Isn’t that the assumption we made to justify our “invasion” of Vietnam? By modernizing Vietnam, we would increase its value, make it more valuable, even though that value would accrue less to the Vietnamese themselves than it would to the capitalists who were the developers. And if it proved necessary to wage a war in Vietnam and kill quite a few Vietnamese in order to modernize it, then so be it, because, as the old saw has it, “you can’t make mayonnaise without breaking some eggs.”


            So, a new kind of imperialism arises, based not on conquest but on absorption and displacement. Traditional societies are absorbed into a worldwide capitalist order and traditional peoples are displaced, both figuratively and physically, one way of another. In other words, what Hopkins calls “GloboCap” was implicit in Locke’s creation of what we call “property,” a concept with revolutionary implications. Hence, the problems we are dealing with are not due to particular people or particular political parties being powerful; they are due to Locke’s political philosophy. Our problems are not political problems; they are philosophic problems. And until we deal with those philosophical problems, we will be unable to solve our political problems.


            This helps explain why, as Hopkins points out, although “Trump, Johnson, Corbyn, and Sanders were never actually a threat to GloboCap…in any material sense,” the capitalist classes saw and see the need to “crush” these unthreatening persons and their “populism.” Left “uncrushed,” the possibility exists that the real issue, viz., Lockean political philosophy, will be exposed. That issue needs to be disguised or disappeared; for example, by creating what was called “the Cold War;” that is, by manufacturing a conflict, said to be “existential,” between “the Free World” and “the Communists.” And when the Cold War ended with the demise of the USSR and absorption of Communist China into the global economy, another “existential conflict” was needed and, lo and behold, one was manufactured in the Global War on Terror, where it was claimed that an accountant living in caves could bring down the global capitalistic order. Further, Donald Trump had to be turned into another “existential threat” to American democracy, along with other alleged threats like Jeremy Corbyn and right-wing militias. And of course, now, Russia, always a useful pinata, is the monster that is about to undo the global capitalistic order.


            As Hopkins points out, our capitalistic worldwide order presents itself as non-ideological. “It has no need for ideology…ideology is rendered obsolete. Its ideology has become ‘normality,’ ‘reality,’ or ‘just the way it is.’” As a result, dissent is pathologized and dissenters are treated as pathological persons, who should be censored because they are dangerous. They represent “clear and present dangers” and, as a result, should be censored. If they persist, they should be institutionalized. They are “abnormal.”


            People shouldn’t be surprised by this state of affairs. After all, it was visible to some a long time ago; for example, Alexis de Tocqueville gave an account of what he considered to be one of the end states of modern democracy, viz., “soft despotism.” This was not the despotism of the boot heel, but rather of a tutelary power that provided material comfort for the many while rendering them soulless, content to conform and consume, a nation of well-behaved pigs, as it were. It might even seem to some that Tocqueville got it right.

Friday, December 16, 2022

CJ Hopkins and Our Current Situation


CJ Hopkins and Our Current Situation

Peter Schultz


            CJ Hopkins argues that in the face of what he calls “Global Capitalism,” which is a “global-hegemonic system” with “no external enemies,” we are “experiencing throughout the West . . . a neo-nationalist insurrection against Globalism.” In response to this insurrection, GloboCap has employed “official propaganda … designed not to deceive the public… [but] to be absorbed and repeated no matter how implausible or preposterous it might be.” GloboCap has propagated “an official narrative” that creates “a defensive ideological boundary between ‘the truth’ as defined by the ruling class and any other ‘truth’ that contradicts their narrative.”


            Hopkins’s account of our current situation is attractive, even seductive insofar as it claims that parts of the public see through the claims of GloboCap, having “lost all faith in the electoral system,” and know they are “living in a sham republic controlled by global corporations and obscenely wealthy individuals….” But what if this insurrection that Hopkins sees and defends is a fabrication of the ruling classes that Hopkins despises? After all, Hopkins knows the global capitalists need enemies against which to wage war because GloboCap is “a hard sell” given its unconcern with the public. And, so, first there were the Communists and the Cold War; then there were the jihadists and the Global War on Terror; and now there are the “Putin-Nazis,” as represented by Donald Trump, et. al.


            What Hopkins misses, however, is that this global-hegemonic system is an edifice that not only tolerates dissent but encourages it, incorporates it as part of the edifice. It may even be said that GloboCap – as even Hopkins says at times – creates its enemies, fabricates forces that are said to be existential threats to globalism. For example, after 9/11, Bush claimed that bin Laden, et. al., wanted to destroy “the West” out of hatred, when what bin Laden wanted was for the US to leave the holy lands, for “the West” to leave Muslims to live in peace. Bin Laden would have accepted co-existence with the West, ala’ the situation that existed in Europe pre-1492. But without existential enemies, global capitalism is harder to defend and maintain.


            So, for example, Trump’s “insurrection,” what Hopkins calls the “neo-nationalist” insurrection, actually fortifies global capitalism, as do other “enemies” or “insurrectionists.” Why? Because globalism is not only totalitarian; it is also consensual. It’s despotic, but it is an illustration of Tocqueville’s “soft despotism,” a disguised despotism that for the most part sits easily on the public. As Hopkins puts it, “the majority of Putin-Nazis don’t see themselves as Putin-Nazis. They see themselves as just regular Americans;” that is, as Americans who don’t mind living in “a profoundly authoritarian society [because they] worship leaders, police, soldiers, and, basically, anyone wearing a uniform or a Giorgio Armani business suit.” And if those “suits” went to an Ivy League university, like Yale or Harvard, so much the better.


            So, there is not a real insurrection against globalism, just as there was no real insurrection on 1/6 in Washington, D.C. – which is one reason it was allowed to happen. Like other phenomena in the United States, e.g., the war on drugs, the war on crime, and the war on poverty, Hopkins’s alleged insurrection against GloboCap is all smoke and mirrors. In totalitarian or “profoundly authoritarian” societies, a politics of smoke and mirrors is essential to disguise or soften the despotism that exists. But although disguised or softened, it is still despotism.


[To see through the smoke and mirrors, to see “real reality,” it is helpful to spend some time with the likes Cormac McCarthy, who knows and can convey the emptiness of our modern world.]

Wednesday, December 14, 2022




Peter Schultz


            Holocausts are not the result of hatred, although they are accompanied by hatreds. They are the result of self-righteousness and self-righteousness characterizes those who (1) are convinced they know what justice is and (2) are convinced that they embody that justice. So armed, even torture and mass murder are acceptable, are justified.


            Hitler’s holocaust encompassed more than killing Jews. It encompassed the British, the French, most of Europe, Russia, and communism. It was the result of Hitler’s conviction that he knew was justice was and that he embodied that justice. “Heil Hitler!”

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Political Delusions, Deadly Delusions




Political Delusions, Deadly Delusions

Peter Schultz


Below are quotes from an article in the Washington Post, today, 7/12/2022, which wants to distinguish those who would not bake cakes for gay weddings from those who would deny service to those who don’t agree with the LBGQT agenda, based on religious beliefs. Of course, this is delusional. And it is quite interesting that the alleged “liberals” are defending those who, in public restaurants, refuse to some people based on their political beliefs or what they assume are their political beliefs. And despite what Ms. Sepper asserts, this is about denying some Christians the rights enjoyed by non-Christians, because that is the only distinguishing characteristic of the group in play here. Certainly, there are people, non-Christians, who share the thoughts of these Christians regarding gay rights. But they, of course, would be served because how would the restaurant know of those beliefs? So, yes, it Christians being singled out here and Ms. Sepper is no more persuasive than was President Bush when he said the war on terror wasn’t a war on Islam, as he attacked several Islamic nations.


In fact, though it is even worse than that. The principle enunciated here by Ms. Sepper and others is the same principle that allows President Obama to assert that he has the right to incinerate any Muslim-appearing young man between the ages of 20 and 30, without any evidence of wrong-doing, assassinations labeled “signature assassinations” by our military. If this isn’t waging war against Muslims, I can’t imagine what you’d call it. Ms. Seppers is asserting that restaurants can make “signature refusals of service” based, not as she claims on “the group’s actions,” but on the fact that they are Christians of a certain type. “Oh, you are a member of that church? Yes. Well, you can’t eat here.” This is as clearly discrimination against certain groups based on their religious beliefs as is Obama’s “signature assassinations.” I wouldn’t be surprised, though, that those who refused to serve these Christians support Obama’s incinerations of Muslim young men and wouldn’t mind serving Obama his dinner.


It’s stuff like this that makes it impossible to take these allegedly “humanitarian warriors” seriously. Their “humanitarianism” is just as biased, just as characterized by rage and hate, as those they consider their enemies. And because of that, their “humanitarianism” leads to totalitarianism, where those who dissent are demonized and ostracized.  


The Quotes and the link:


“In her blog post, Cobb likened the restaurant’s move to establishments that refused to serve Black customers in the 1950s and ’60s, and she decried what she called a “double standard” by liberals who think a Colorado baker should not be allowed to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.”


“Legal experts say neither of those are apt analogies. While it’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of their race or religion, the restaurant’s refusal had to do with the group’s actions, said Elizabeth Sepper, a professor at the University of Texas. “It’s about the overall positions and policies the group has taken — it’s not about Christian vs. non-Christian,” she said.”

Monday, December 5, 2022

Jack Beatty's Age of Betrayal


Jack Beatty’s Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900

Peter Schultz


            Here are some interesting passages from Beatty’s book, showing its relevance for us today.


            “While ‘industrialization adds immensely to national power, and may also promote the long-term betterment of the material conditions of the mass of the population. . . it also involves the creation of structures of power, and, indeed, conquest. This turn requires the economic and cultural subordination of the mass of the population and the redefinition of the terms of their social and cultural existence.’”


            This subordination was difficult in the United States because of democratic politics and mass suffrage, which had appeared before industrialization had achieved full power. Hence, the need for disenfranchisement of the people. New York State tried to do this formally by limiting the franchise, but this failed. But “It wasn’t necessary to assault democracy so frontally.”


            The party system was used to insulate America’s industrializing elites “from democracy through a politics of distraction, based on the manipulation of real hatreds and sham issues. ‘Parties as they exist today are bellowing imposters and organized frauds,’ a former Populist lieutenant governor of Kansas asserted in 1898, when his own party had decayed into an organized fraud. ‘They are either reliable machines of the plutocracy and corporations, or they are the handy tools of hypocrites and harlequins, and are as much responsible, through the deceptions they have practiced and the corruption they have defended, for the servitude of the masses to plutocratic usurpers, as are the lawless exactions of organized capital for their plundering.’ Distraction, deception, corruption – the editor omitted only force.” [pp. 22-23]


            That industrialization “requires the economic and cultural subordination of the mass of the population and the redefinition of the terms of their social and cultural existence,” helps me make sense of Teddy Roosevelt’s intense concern, while was police commissioner of New York City, with redefining the social and cultural lives of the working classes in the city. It also helps explain what our “cultural wars” are all about, viz., redefining the social and cultural lives of the mass of our population. These wars are part and parcel of the informal disenfranchisement of our democracy, a disenfranchisement required to insulate our oligarchic or plutocratic elites from the masses deemed to be “beneath” them.