Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pimping The Empire, Progressive-Style

Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog (via Zero Hedge) [ht Dale Fitzgerald]
Supporting the central state to protect your favored cartels is simply pimping for the Empire.
The central illusion of both Left (so-called Progressives) and Right (so-called conservatives) is that the Central State's essentially unlimited powers can be narrowly directed to further their agenda.
(I say "so-called" because the "Progressives" are not actually progressive, and the "Conservatives" are not actually conservative. Those labels are Orwellian double-speak, designed to mask the disastrous consequences of each ideology's actual policies.)
Let's begin by stipulating that ideology, any ideology, is an intellectual and emotional shortcut that offers believers ready-made explanations, goals, narratives and enemies without any difficult, time-consuming analysis, study or skeptical inquiry. This is the ultimate appeal of ideology: accepting the ideology relieves the believer of the burdens of analysis, skeptical inquiry, uncertainty/doubt and responsibility: all the answers, goals and narratives are prepackaged and mashed together for easy consumption.
This is one of the core messages of Erich Fromm's classic exploration of ideology and authoritarianism, Escape from Freedom.
And what is the essential foundation of authoritarianism? A central state. This is not coincidental.
What few grasp is the teleology of the centralized state: by its very nature (i.e. as a consequence of its essentially unlimited powers), the central state is genetically programmed to become an authoritarian state devoted to self-preservation and the extension of its reach and power.
The central illusion of Progressives is that an all-powerful central state will not become a self-serving expansive empire, but will be content to wield its vast powers to protect its favored cartels/monopolies and distribute money skimmed from the citizenry to Progressive constituencies such as public unions, healthcare and education.
This is an absurd fantasy. Once you give a central state essentially unlimited power to stripmine income and wealth from its citizens, create and/or borrow essentially unlimited sums of money, protect private (and politically powerful) cartels from competition and project military, financial and diplomatic power around the globe, the state will pursue Authoritarianism and Empire as a consequence of possessing those powers.
You can't cede unlimited, highly concentrated powers to the central state and then expect the state not to fulfill its teleogical imperative to protect and extend its powers. The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to view any citizen that seeks to limit its expansion of power as an enemy to be suppressed, imprisoned or marginalized.
The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to protecting its powers by cloaking all the important inner workings of the state behind a veil of secrecy, and pursuing and punishing any whistleblowers who reveal the corrupt, self-serving workings of the state.
The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to view any other nation or alliance as a potential threat, and thus the state will pursue any and all means to distrupt or counter those potential threats.
The state with unlimited powers will be ontologically predisposed to create and distribute propaganda to mask its self-serving nature and its perpetual agenda of extending its powers, lest some threat arise that limits those powers.
Democracy and a central state with unlimited powers are teleologically incompatible.
Progressives worship the central state and cede it essentially unlimited powers because they want that state to be powerful enough to impose their agenda on others and reward their constituencies.
But it doesn't work that way. Once you cede unlimited, highly concentrated power to the central state, you get an authoritarian empire that is driven to protect itself from any threat at all costs--including democracy, though the state may maintain a facade of carefully managed "democracy" as part of its propaganda machinery.
You cannot have a state with essentially unlimited power and not end up with cartel-capitalism. So-called Progressives defend their favored cartel-fiefdoms of healthcare and education (and the "conservative" banking and defense cartels, too, to insure banks fund their campaigns and to protect their political flank with a "strong on defense" carte blanche to the National Security cartels), yet these cartels are busy bankrupting the nation and destroying the very programs Progressives claim to hold dear.
You can't have it both ways, Progressives: if you support a central state with essentially unlimited power to protect and fund your constituent cartels, you end up with self-liquidating cartel-capitalism, a state bent on protecting itself from the uncertainties/risks of democracy and a global Empire that is teleologically driven to expand its reach and power by any and all means available.
Once you choose to cede essentially unlimited powers to the central state, all decisions after that are made in service of the state. The idea that the state can be limited to helping the needy is illusory.
The only legitimate duties of the state are limited: 1) protect the commons from destruction and exploitation; 2) protect the citizenry from exploitation or oppression by those with superior power or resources; 3) maintain transparency in all governance and 4) maintain a system of sound money.
The so-called Progressives will learn what the teleology of the state means in the real world when the state comes after them. Once you cede unlimited power to the central state, any attempt to limit that power marks you as an enemy.
Supporting the central state to protect your favored cartels and protect your political power over the state's tax revenues is simply pimping for the Empire. You can call it "progressive," but it's still pimping for the Empire.

22 comments:

  1. This is about as short and sweet as possible a way that one can explain our two party political system. The only thing I would have made clear is that the "mainstream" element of both parties are Progressives in the traditional sense of the term, just of different flavors.

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    1. Good point. "The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation" by Richard M. Gamble demonstrates that our present day Republicans are really just warmed-over versions of the horrific Wilsonian era "progressives".

      http://tinyurl.com/lzto84c

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  2. conservative,progressive,libertarian,liberal,vegitarian,etc.........
    balderdash.
    .
    Either one is a dirty violent rotten immoral statist .............or one is a decent person.
    .
    Solzhenitsyn knew.
    .
    “The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. "One word of truth outweighs the world.”
    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    .

    .

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    1. JT

      I will never forget the night I read "A Day in the Life of Aleksander Denisovich" 25+ years ago. I had to read it for a High School class, and put it off. I read it in one sitting, on a Sunday night, and it changed my 14-15 year old mind. It helped me see the evil of government (no matter how benign it pretended to be) and set me on a course to Rand, and then Mises. I became the bane of every government and politics teacher I had for the next decade!

      Dale Fitz

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    2. Conflated Alexander and Ivan- should be IVAN Denisovich. Mea Culpa!

      Fitz

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    3. Anon@9:12.
      I discovered the great Russians a little later in life.
      One of the most fascinating novel of all times is Bulgakov's The Master and Margerita.
      If you understand what he was crypto referencing ............delicious.
      Every immoral deluded statist should be required to read "the Forsaken".
      A tale of all of the ignorant Americans that fled to the communist utopia of Russia during the great depression.
      (actually, eventhough I abhor violence......this book should be beat into the brains of every rotton statist in America.)

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  3. Though I agree with the sentiment of this piece, I must ask... WTF? :

    "The only legitimate duties of the state are limited: 1) protect the commons from destruction and exploitation; 2) protect the citizenry from exploitation or oppression by those with superior power or resources; 3) maintain transparency in all governance and 4) maintain a system of sound money."

    1) The state by nature of it's existence is an exploiter and eventually a destroyer
    2) The state is the one with the superior power whom exploits in most cases, and as far as resources are concerned at what point is one's level of resources considered dangerous or 'superior'? The State as well plays a critical role in skewing the allocation of resources in the society it controls.
    3) The state is NEVER transparent and will always seek secrecy...
    4) Only the free market can 'maintain' a system of sound money. Once money enters the nexus of state governance it is no longer sound but subject to 'adjustments'.

    I'm surprised this wasn't criticized at the end of the piece. In a sense I feel this passage was a huge blow to the article itself.

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    1. Exactly.
      His description of what a state is "supposed" to do is in itself fairy tale thinking that is completely contradictory to his own REAL description of what the state actually is.
      No matter how you twist and turn it, the state has been, is, and always will be a monopoly of force and therefor will look to expand itself at the expense of all else.
      Why is it that these kinds of people always conveniently seem to forget how America *started* and what it has turned into? Why does this never seem to serve as proof that once you give political power to the state in ANY amount, it will always grow precisely because of that power? The checks and balances upon unlimited power blew away like a leaf in the wind because they are an illusion in the face of power.

      The author needs to read the works of Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock.

      The state HAS no legitimacy and cannot be a defense against force and exploitation, because it must by definition itself be based on force and exploitation.

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    2. AMEN, Tony! You stole my thunder....but that's OK, as long as it got said.

      The short version of this article comes from Nock, himself:

      "... 'democratic' State practice is nothing more or less than State practice. It does not differ from Marxist State practice, Fascist State practice, or any other. Here is the Golden Rule of sound citizenship, the first and greatest lesson in the study of politics: you get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it; and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you. A citizenry which has learned that one short lesson has but little more left to learn."

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  4. Mr. Hugh-Smith is describing Authoritarian Statism (Poulantzas). The Orthodox-Anarchist Marxists already saw this coming. Shame that most [liberal] free-marketers so decisively askew a competing ideology.

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    1. Are you saying that "liberal free-marketers" should adopt an ideology? If so, perhaps you might want to re-read this essay's opening stipulation.

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    2. "Shame that most [liberal] free-marketers so decisively askew a competing ideology."
      .
      Would you care to elaborate?
      Are you saying that Orthodox-Anarchist Marxists are fellow travelers to freedom?

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    3. Chris: everyone has an ideology. To think that one can be "ideologically neutral" or "ideologically free" is naive.

      JT: Yes, to a certain degree, they certainly are. Moreover, and on a more technical note, I am saying that using multiple methods of analysis--liberal individual methodology, conservative class theory, etc--tends to create a more accurate picture of our world in all its complexity. It is still a sore point to me that so many free-market ancaps will not even dare be in the same room as a book that is [watch out for the boogeyman] "Marxist". It's the same irrational fear and demonisation that we see today with "terrorists", only, in the previous--Cold War--generation. There is much to be learned from them, especially on financialisation and monopoly capitalism (Authoritarian Statism). Economically speaking, I prefer coke to pepsi, but I am not so assured of my preference for perpetuity to eradicate pepsi as a viable option when I am thirsty.

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    4. "Mr. Hugh-Smith is describing Authoritarian Statism..."

      Isn't the entire point that the term, "Authoritarian Statism," an oxymoron? I mean, is there any other kind of statism?

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    5. Philip-
      .
      I understand.
      Afterall, the Marxist dialectic ends with the complete abolition of the state.
      Maybe that is why the worst statist criminals of history have claimed to be Marxists.
      (not unlike the current crop of statists claiming to be libertarians).
      To discredit it.
      But.........you sir..........are much braver than I.

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    6. Philip: there is a distinction between principles and ideology. To presuppose that everyone is inexorably subject to the latter is pessimistic and narrow-minded. You may nonetheless believe this, but if so you've missed a key point of the essay: "Let's begin by stipulating that ideology, any ideology, is an intellectual and emotional shortcut that offers believers ready-made explanations, goals, narratives and enemies without any difficult, time-consuming analysis, study or skeptical inquiry."

      An honest person's core principles do not offer such a shortcut but instead serve as the foundation for analysis and skeptical inquiry. The NAP serves well in this regard as the base for a lifetime of inquiry and examination. Careful adherence to it--along with constant and honest self-examination--can go a long way towards mitigating against any tendencies to ideological thinking.

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    7. JT: I'd say only that having more resources at your disposal, tends to make a better product.

      Chris: I would readily admit to use of a slightly differently conceived notion of ideology than the author.

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  5. The central illusion of Progressives is that an all-powerful central state will not become a self-serving expansive empire, but will be content to wield its vast powers to protect its favored cartels/monopolies and distribute money skimmed from the citizenry to Progressive constituencies such as public unions, healthcare and education.

    Illusion? That's exactly what we have. A quarter of GDP or more in most western countries is dedicated to "healthcare" (which is apparently one word now), education, and paying off rentseeking trade unions.

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  6. To Catch a Trader
    FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith goes inside the government’s ongoing, seven-year crackdown on insider trading, drawing on exclusively obtained video of hedge fund titan Steven A. Cohen, incriminating FBI wiretaps of other traders, and interviews with both Wall Street and Justice Department insiders.

    http://video.pbs.org/video/2365150175/

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  7. I read charles hugh-smith everyday, he has helped to shape my worldview over the past 5 years BUT he doesnt have the Rothbardian framework with which to view the world.

    His last passage about "The only legitimate duties of the state" almost made me puke as he is buying into the same Progressive narrative that he just finished destroying. Someone could take that passage and easily defend every progressive/conservative agenda out there today. Just as they use the vague language in the Constitution to defend their agendas.

    All that being said, I would still recommend reading his blog everyday.

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  8. U.S. Markets Rigged by its Own Authorities–It Blows the Mind


    Dr. Paul Craig Roberts says, “We have a situation where all the markets are rigged. All the markets are manipulated.” As an example, Dr. Roberts points to the stock market. Dr. Roberts contends, “We have a stock market at all-time highs, and where is the economy? There’s not one. There’s no recovery.” Dr. Roberts goes on to say, “53% of Americans earn less than $30,000 per year. Well, the poverty rate for a family of four is something like $24,000. . . . If there is no income to drive the economy and there is no credit expansion to drive the economy, then how does it go anywhere? You can’t possibly have a recovery.”

    When asked how long can this go on, Dr. Roberts replied, “How long can they fool people?”

    http://usawatchdog.com/dr-paul-craig-roberts-u-s-markets-rigged-by-its-own-authorities-it-blows-the-mind/

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  9. PE Firm LLR Hires Former Asst Secretary Of State Hillen

    Philadelphia and Arlington, VA-based private equity firm LLR Partners has hired a former assistant secretary of state.

    John Hillen, who becomes an operating partner at LLR, served from 2005 to 2007 as assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, responsible for coordinating America’s diplomatic strategy with its military operations. He also oversaw the State Department’s policies for international security, security assistance, military operations, weapons removal and abatement and defense trade.

    Hillen was most recently president and CEO of Sotera Defense Solutions, formerly Global Defense Technology & Systems. Prior to his term as assistant secretary of state, he served as president of CGI Federal, the cleared American subsidiary of Canadian IT firm CGI. Before that he headed the $415 million defense and intelligence business at American Management Systems which was sold to CACI International in 2004.

    Prior to his business career, Hillen worked as a military policy expert and served for 12 years as an army officer.

    In his role at LLR, Hillen will help evaluate new investment opportunities in the security, defense & government services sectors, as well as support the leadership and strategy development of LLR's existing portfolio companies.

    “John is a thought leader within the government contracting industry and a deeply experienced executive. He has executed the same growth strategies and led businesses through the same challenges that our companies face today,” said Dave Stienes, partner at LLR. “John built a sub-$100 million business into a $300 million business, while dramatically diversifying the company and placing it in areas of importance within its government client community. The depth of his operational and industry experience will make John an invaluable advisor, board member and mentor to our portfolio company CEOs.”

    LLR Partners invests in middle market growth companies with proven business models in a broad range of industries, including business services, consumer and education, financial services, government services, healthcare services and software and IT services. Currently investing out of its fourth fund, which has $929.6 million in capital commitments, LLR provides capital for growth, recapitalizations and buyouts.

    http://www.finalternatives.com/node/25767


    ReplyDelete