Bulletin N° 777
Subject : HIJACKING SOCIAL MOVEMENTS FOR A CORPORATIST AGENDA.
16 December 2017
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The populist movement at the end of the 19th Century began as a genuine people’s movement, which generated wide-ranging democratic discussions and policy positions that reflected the real aspirations of millions of Americans. The electoral results in 1892 were modest, but nevertheless enough to frighten large corporate interests. This is when William Jennings Bryan stepped in to hijack the movement and began to speak an ideology that conceled his material interests. He had never showed an interest in the populist movement before the campaign of 1896. But now he began to speak the language of small farmers and organized workers, while systematically serving interests of big business. He ran on the Democratic ticket in the presidential election of 1896, with the support of the Anaconda Copper Corporation and the multimillionaire media tycoon, William Randolph Hearst. Not surprisingly, many of the original demands made by the Populist Party, as they had appeared in the Party Platform since 1890, were dropped in Bryan’s 1896 campaign. They had included the Populist's intention to bring under national ownership the railroad, telephone and telegraph systems; the creation of a government-operated postal savings bank; the establishment of a graduated income tax; state-owned warehouses available to store grain and to advance revenues to farmers for projected sales; and the forfeiture of land given to the railroads in excess of the actual needs for railroad construction.
This populist agenda was incompatible with capitalist ownership, and the financial backers of William Jennings Bryan dropped these items from the so-called “populist" Democratic Platform of 1896, and adopted only those populist policies which were compatible with the corporate capitalist profit motive, like the unlimited coinage of silver dollars; all radical socialist measures were displaced by innocuous capitalist reforms, which aimed at saving the system. Bryan was narrowly defeated by the Republican candidate William McKinley, but his candidacy had accomplished its purpose – he was the useful idiot for the corporate interests and served to erase the memory of authentic Populism; its values of genuine democracy yielded to the capitalist “Cult of Efficiency” – “revolution” from the top down!
Political and social histories are filled with the machinations of co-optation, deception, and betrayal. Things are rarely what they seem to be, and serious analysis requires careful observation of events, as they develop and evolve over time, and sometimes catapult into qualitatively new states of existence, representing pivotal moments for social change. Marxist theory and method can be helpful in understanding developments such as the Populist Movement of 1892, which morphed into the pseudo-Populist Movement of 1896.
The theory of Historical Materialism gives priority to real facts on the ground, as opposed to spurious political theories taken from the thin air. The challenge is to put these facts together in a way that does no violence to the integrity of their original context and at the same time exposes the unique relationships each item represents in a “Gestalt,” which provides the most complete understanding of the event under study. In this way, false premises and wishful thinking do a minimum of mischief. This Marxist theory is based on the premise that “material conditions influence ideas more than ideas influence material conditions” (which is not to say that the two domains - ideas and material conditions – have no reciprocal relationship). Like all theories, historical materialism must be submitted to criticism to be proven, ultimately, “either true or false”.
The method of Dialectical Materialism is not a theory to be proven “either true or false”; instead, it must be evaluated by its utility: it is “either more or less useful”. This method is composed of several steps, which NYU Professor Bertell Ollman has meticulously analyzed in his book, Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx's Method (Chicago, 2003).
In the fifth chapter of this book, Ollman separates Marx’s analytical activities into three categories of abstraction: Extensions, Levels of Generality, and Vantage Points.
An extension may be conducted in time or in space, to include or exclude phenomena according to its relevance. Thus, if we are looking at the tax code in the contemporary United States, we might find it useful to go back one or two hundred years in American history to look at the evolution of tax codes and their social consequences, or we might extend our investigation geographically and look at the various stages of tax codes in Europe and Asia all the way back to the Middle Ages. What we find in these different contexts could become useful elements for our analysis of the contemporary US tax system, as we move back and forth from the specific to the general . . . .
The second abstraction, that of the level of generality, recognizes seven possible levels at which to focus our attention:
1) Unique individual characteristics.
2) Characteristics specific to a certain group (such as teachers, engineers, police, etc…).
3) Conditions characteristic of life in the modern capitalist world over the past 50 years (such as rapid technological innovations, social inequality, the spread of weapons of mass
destruction, etc…) .
4) Conditions characteristic of life in a class-divided society over the past 500 years (such as social inequality, labor exploitation, uses of police and military force, administrative
systems and political networks, etc…).
5) Properties and characteristics of human society over the past 5,000 years (such as kinship, loyalty, cooperation, competition, resistance, etc…).
6) Properties common to all animals (such as instincts, habits, physical functions, etc…).
7) Properties common to all material objects (such as weight, size, color, odor, etc…).
According to this analysis, liberal capitalist culture tends to focus mostly on the 1st and 5th levels – i.e. on unique individual characteristics and on the universal human characteristics – while revolutionary socialist culture looks mostly at the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th levels – i.e. at group characteristics, at features of life under modern capitalism, and at conditions of life in class-divided society, seeking understanding of how capitalism could be replaced, instead of looking for distractions of human interest. It might seem obvious to many of us, for example, a policy of limiting public access to communication networks can best be understood in terms of Republican Party discipline, social class interests, and corporate capitalist influence (levels 2, 3 and 4 of the above abstractions).
And the third abstraction, vantage point, enables us to make a subjective choice of locations from which to view our subject of study. Typically, the adoption of only one vantage point from which to study a subject would produce “Ideology.” Vantage points such as “Production,” “Distribution,” “Exchange,” and “Consumption,” offer different perspectives on the system and structure of society. To understand the working class, one might look at society from the vantage points of labor, office work and factory conditions, wages, and benefits, technology and machinery; while to understand the owners of capital, we might wish to start from locations, such as consumption, prices, investment opportunities, and profit rates.
It is axiomatic that governments come and go, but the state remains more or less permanent. It’s also widely held, among Marxists, that the state serves as the “executive committee” of the ruling class, making the necessary decisions to secure profits for private corporate investments, sometimes legally with the help of law-makers, and other times outside the law, until new laws can be passed to legitimize the action. The corporate interests of the state are dictated by the dominant capital interests at any moment. The ideological trimmings used to decorate this process, might make it more palatable for some people, but all ideologies are derived from specific interests and accordingly can be easily modified to suit changing needs. Here we have the asymmetrical image of the cart and the horse, posing the question: which will move which –will it be our class interests or theirs that initiate policy, and to what effect? The hallmark difference between liberal individualist capitalism and fascist corporate capitalism is that the dominant ideology of “individual freedom” is displaced by an esprit de corps - usually nationalism or some similar form of “identity politics.” In both of these pro-capitalist ideologies class conscious struggles are off the radar screen – they simply are overlooked !
The 25 items below will further inform CEIMSA readers about the sordid history of capitalist growth, which has now bumped against its social limits - whether recognized or not - and which today is producing growing conflicts between the haves and the have-nots . . . . Legitimacy has all but collapsed, giving way to rapport de force, pur et dur . . . !
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Avoiding Nuclear War Is Our First Priority
Paul Craig Roberts
Chossudovsky, a distinguished professor in Canada,
directs the Centre for Research on Globalization and the website Global
Research, a font of important information unavailable from the presstitute Western media. In this article he
tells us that if we do not focus on peace instead of war, we are all going to
Professor Chossudovsky makes an important point, made to me some years ago by my colleague Zbigniew Brzezinski and recently by former Secretary of Defense William Perry. Professor Chossudovsky reminds us to “bear in mind that mistakes are often what determine the course of world history.” A US attack on North Korea would be a mistake that could precipate a nuclear war. There is no doubt that Chossudovsky is correct. Additionally, the continued demonization of Russia, China, and Iran could precipate a nuclear war.
In other words, we are surrounded by very real threats created by Washington that receive no attention from Western governments and the presstitute media. As I wrote on December 5, we are “walking into Armageddon.”
From: "The National Security Archive" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard
“Some call it treason”
Weapons Went From The CIA To ISIS In Less Than Two Months
by Tyler Durden
(Dec 15, 2017 12:38 PM)
· Mainstream media in 2013: "Conspiracy Theorists!"
· Mainstream media in 2017: "ISIS Got a Powerful Missile the CIA Bought!"
Years late to the party, mainstream media outlets like USA Today, Reuters, and Buzzfeed are just out with "breaking" and "exclusive" stories detailing how a vast arsenal of weapons sent to Syria by the CIA in cooperation with US allies fuelled the rapid growth of ISIS. Buzzfeed's story entitled, Blowback: ISIS Got A Powerful Missile The CIA Secretly Bought In Bulgaria, begins by referencing "a new report on how ISIS built its arsenal highlights how the US purchased munitions, intended for Syrian rebels, that ended up in the hands of the terrorist group."
business interests come first!
Trump Forfeits US Mideast Mediator Role,
Russia Should Step In
President Donald Trump’s announcement this week that the US is henceforth recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will have many harmful repercussions for the entire Middle East.
But out of the ashes of US policy, something better can arise. Russia should step in to give badly needed leadership.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was among many world leaders who warned that Trump’s intervention will likely derail peace prospects, not just for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but for the region as a whole.
Palestinians, Arabs and Muslim nations are infuriated by what they see as Trump’s betrayal of a righteous cause for Palestinian statehood, with East Jerusalem being the future capital of that state.
By declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Trump is effectively pre-empting any negotiated settlement to a conflict which has raged for 70 years.
5 Palestinians were killed by Israelis last week.
Palestinians killed as world protests over Jerusalem
Chris Hedges and Cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh on the Israeli Occupation of Palestine
Nasrallah Urges Severing of Arab Ties with Israel,
Calls for Mass Rally in Dahieh
by Naharnet Newsdesk
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday slammed U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration on Jerusalem as a “new Balfour Declaration,” urging Arab states to sever “public and secret” ties with Israel.
“Trump's decision on Jerusalem is a new Balfour Declaration and we will soon hear Arab voices trying to downplay its importance,” Nasrallah warned in a televised address dedicated to commenting on the U.S. president's move.
“Israel does not care about what the Arab states, Europe, Russia or China would say, and it is only concerned with the U.S. stance,” Nasrallah added, noting that Trump's move would encourage Israel to further violate “international resolutions and conventions.”
“The Israelis were maybe building a limited number of settlements, but from now on we will witness an unrestricted construction process,” Hizbullah's chief lamented.
He warned that the holy sites in Jerusalem are “under an extreme danger.”
Syria - ISIS Is Defeated - The U.S. Is Next In Line
The Islamic State in Syrian and Iraq is officially defeated. The UN resolution which allowed other countries to fight ISIS within Syria and Iraq no longer applies. But the U.S. military, despite the lack of any legal basis, wants to continue its occupation of Syria's north-east. The attempt to do so will fail. Its Kurdish allies in the area are already moving away from it and now prefer Russian protection. Guerrilla forces to fight the U.S. "presence" are being formed. The U.S. plan is shortsighted and stupid. If the U.S. insists on staying there many of its soldiers will die.
Two days ago the Syrian Arab Army closed the last gaps on the west bank of the Euphrates. Having fought all the way from Aleppo along the river towards the east the Tiger Force reached the liberated Deir Ezzor from the west. All settlements on the way are now controlled by the Syrian government. The remaining Islamic State fighters were pushed into the desert where they will be hunted down and killed.
Alienation at home
Facebook reacts to alarming studies about social media use
Facebook announced new features on Friday in reaction to a number of studies that suggest social media usage is linked to a higher depression and loneliness rates — studies which have speculated that social media may relate to growing suicide rates among teens.
High-Profile Women Break the Silence on Sex Assaults,
But Low-Wage Workers Still Vulnerable to Abuse
Trump-Russia investigation : The key questions answered
Everything you need to know about the inquiry into Russian hacking, alleged collusion and Donald Trump, plus the latest news
The High Cost of Denying Class War
by Yanis Varoufakis
Following passage of Senate tax bill, US ruling class takes aim
at Social Security and Medicare
The passage by the Senate of the Trump administration’s tax bill is a landmark in the decades-long ruling class offensive against the working class in the United States. With no serious opposition from the Democrats, and with final passage of a tax bill by the end of the month following negotiations with the House all but assured, congressional Republicans are moving on to the next stage of the class war agenda: the gutting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The Racist Right Looks Left
At Richard Spencer’s secret conference, white supremacists denounce corporate capitalism.
by Donna Minkowitz
On the way to Richard Spencer’s top-secret white-supremacist conference on November 19, a young African-American woman drove me in her Uber from Washington, DC, to the rolling hills of Maryland horse country. On the peaceful drive past large, beautiful estates, she told me how she’d had to work three jobs—as a DHL courier, Amazon-warehouse deliverywoman, and Uber driver—just to continue to live in ever-more-expensive DC, where she’d grown up. When we finally got to the winery that Spencer’s National Policy Institute had booked, Mike Enoch of the Daily Shoah podcast, who promulgated the slur “dindu nuffins” for African Americans, was holding forth on the horrors of “corporate neoliberalism.”
More Graphic Videos of Murder with Impunity,
Execution of Daniel Shaver
Black Leaders Boycott Trump Photo Op at Civil Rights Museum:
“Why Should Our Legacy Be Tarnished?”
Senior Loeb Scholar lecture: David Harvey
It is David Harvey’s contention that the production of space, especially the distribution and organization of the territory, constitutes a principal aspect of capitalist economies. His writings on this theme have contributed to the ongoing political debate on globalization and on the different spatial strategies associated to global processes. A foundation of Harvey’s intellectual project is his “close reading” and interpretation of Karl Marx’s Capital, which he has taught and read for decades and documented in his Companion to Marx’s Capital (2010). But Harvey’s work is distinguished by the way he has brought Marxism together with geography with productive results for each discipline. For instance, he has approached the overaccumulation of capital by way of its reflection in spatial expansion in order to demonstrate its causative role. His book Limits to Capital (1982), which traces this argument, is a mainstay of the contemporary understanding of capitalism’s perennial economic crises (among others are Ernest Mandel’s Late Capitalism (1972), Giovanni Arrighi’s Long 20th Century (1994) and Robert Brenner’s Economics of Global Turbulence (2006)). Among other ideas, Harvey is known for his critical interpretation of the ideas of Henri Lefebvre and his own formulation of the “right to the city.” His book Spaces of Hope (2000) explores a role for architecture in bridging between the human body and the uneven development that is characteristic of globalization. Asked to single out a favorite of Harvey’s books, Dean Mohsen Mostafavi refers to Harvey’s book Social Justice and the City (1973) as “an important articulation of the relationship between the city as a physical artifact and its social consequences. His writings have provided an acute analysis of our society and provide an indispensable framework for new forms of spatial imagination." David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology & Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), is the 2015–2016 Senior Loeb Scholar.
Right to the City: Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey
Global Conflicts to Watch in 2018
“The U.S. is now the most unpredictable actor in the world today.”
Congress took $101 million in donations from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry — here’s how much your lawmaker got
Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and others spread their money far and wide to influence your government
by T.C. Suttee and The Center for Responsive Politics
The FCC is about to give massive internet service providers the power to divide the internet. It is at risk of becoming unrecognizable. A vital global utility that has been a boon to creative and economic freedom for people around the world may be turned into a twisted land of tolls and corporate control.
Why the Documentary Must Not Be Allowed to Die
by John Pilger
I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny.
The Entire Russian Hacking Narrative Is Invalidated In This Single Assange Tweet
by Caitlin Johnstone
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has been very active on Twitter lately, even for him. Between his frequent posts about the fight for Catalan independence from Spain and about WikiLeaks’ latest release on Russian domestic surveillance tactics, it’s easy to inadvertently skim past a single post unrelated to either of those topics when reading through his Twitter page. Luckily due to its immense significance it’s enjoying some circulation, and my primary goal with this article is to get even more eyes on it.
Think our governments can no longer control capitalism? You’ve been duped
by Larry Elliott