AMERICA NEEDS A MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY

Occupy Deathstar

TO ANYONE WITH EARS TO HEAR AND EYES TO SEE, THE 2016 PSEUDO-ELECTION DEMONSTRATED THAT FOR OUR REPUBLIC TO REMAIN FREE AND A DEMOCRACY, WE NEED MORE THAN TWO PARTIES TO CHOOSE FROM IN ELECTIONS.

 

In the 2016 Democratic Party primaries, the level of vote-rigging, voter fraud and general hacking of machines and votes reached an unprecedented level that would have put even Boss Tweed to shame. It was not the Russians, as the CIA and the Corporate Media would have you believe who did it–it was the corrupt Neo-Liberals of the DNC who were guilty.

There were numerous online bloggers and a few remaining honest journalists present to document that fact, if one were willing to hunt these sources down online. Of course, if your source of news is the Corporate Media–the so-called Mainstream Media–you would have heard or seen none of this primary fraud. Thanks to Bill Clinton’s “reform” of the laws governing media ownership in the ’90’s, the United States went from about fifty different news and media sources down to five. The information highway, so-called, is controlled by a handful of Corporate conglomerates, who in turn have the fingers in the military-industrial government pie.

Stuffing-The-Ballot-Box

Case in point: the Washington Post, currently being lionized in the movies for releasing the Pentagon Papers in the 70’s, (which exposed the lies, collusion and fraud which the Pentagon and CIA engaged in to gin up the Vietnam War), was bought by Jeff Bezos with money obtained from a lucrative contract with the CIA. The WaPo then proceeded to shill for Hill and when Bernie Sanders became a serious threat to her coronation, began churning out attack pieces on Sanders, propaganda disguised as news, at a furious pace. In one day alone they vomited 18 attacks. Hillary, Wall Street’s choice for Democratic Party candidate, had the money, the power and the media behind her, as well as the CIA pulling propaganda strings behind the scenes. Yet still she lost to what is generally agreed as the worst POTUS in US history (sorry Millard Fillmore & James Buchanan you were bad, just not this awful). With the WaPo in the back pocket of the CIA, don’t look for it to ever do an expose such as they did with Watergate and the Pentagon Papers in the ’70’s.

trump_wedding_clintons 2006

As the DNC and Podesta emails proved beyond a reasonable doubt, not only was the Democratic primary rigged in advance, the Clinton machine–with Mainstream Media collusion–actually promoted the Trump candidacy in the GOP primaries. They called it “the Pied Piper” strategy: engineer the worst possible candidate into the role of GOP presidential candidate and the voters of the United States will be forced to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

Kevin & Bill sexperts in league together
Pervs of a feather fly the Lolita Express together to Jeff Epstein’s Under-Age Fantasy Island. The one with the hidden video cameras to use to blackmail the rich and famous later.

Despite many non Clinton dems urging for HER to go out and campaign in the contested states, Hillary and her acolytes were so sure she would win by a landslide they not only did not actively campaign in the field where it was most needed, they went out of their way to insult and degrade the Sanders wing of the party, which arguably was more than 50% of Democratic Party stalwarts. Well, as we know too well, the American electorate, given the choice of two evils, chose what they perceived was the lesser evil–Trump!

 

Bill Clinton & Harvey Weinstein
Two sexual predators compare notes and gloats.

I would like to gloat over the monstrous hubris of the Clintonites, but unfortunately the entire country–the entire world–is having to suffer the consequences. The Clintons, with their billions of graft and “donations” extorted from third world strongmen and dictators (including Vladimir Putin), can sit back and roll in their ill gotten money; most Americans however will suffer from the dangerous incompetency, the meanness and arrogance of Bill Clinton’s golfing buddy and fellow sex perv, Donald, “grab pussy” Trump.

Thomas Nast dead elephant and Donkey over cliff

There are many causes of how the American political system became so dysfunctional and in future articles I will delve into some aspects of the decline of Democracy and death spiral our Republic seems to be in. But for the present, let me just state the obvious: had the American public been presented with viable alternatives to the Hillary-Trump axis–or Wall Street Blue vs Wall Street Red as one pundit framed it–we would certainly be far better off for the next four to eight years.

Clowns to the left Jokers to the right

Third parties have arisen, but generally they have never attempted to build a party infrastructure county by county that can deliver votes in congressional elections. Once every four years for a charismatic candidate is not enough to turn the Republic’s death spiral around.

What America needs to restore democracy is not three, but at least four and perhaps even six legitimate parties, each of which would appeal to a broad swath of the American electorate. Most issues today are framed in a left vs right duopoly, as if there were no middle ground between either camp.

How many right to life advocates would argue that, if a woman’s life were in immanent danger due to a pregnancy, that she should be made to die rather than to save her life? Conversely, it is estimated that as many as 80% of all gun owners are for reasonable restrictions to keep guns out of the mentally ill, career criminals and terrorists. What they are not for is to have their constitutional rights taken away.

Most Americans, no matter what their declared party affiliation is, often take a variety of stands on a variety of issues: yet the two oligarchic parties restrict our choice to Column A and Column B. Bernie Sanders, a self avowed Socialist, was able to work with Ron Paul, a Libertarian, to force the Federal Reserve to do an audit of its holdings, revealing millions of dollars unaccounted for. That is an example of how independent politicians with different political philosophies can work together for the common good.

Ron & Bernie the political Odd Couple
politics makes for strange bedfellow, but at least they’re not underage.

It may be hard to fathom today, but the Republican Party started as a party whose rank and file were composed of Socialists of one ilk or another. Karl & Abe Book

The Republicans of the 1850’s and 1860’s not only abolished slavery, but redistributed millions of acres of land to the landless, set up a system of FREE higher education, had government intervene in building a transcontinental transportation system (a socialistic program if ever there was one) and many other reforms we now take for granted and don’t even recognize their socialistic origins.

 

 

The Democratic Party used to be the party of the working man and woman and under FDR and the New Deal, farmers, laborers and common folk in all parts of the country looked to the party of Jefferson and Jackson to defend their rights and expand democracy.

Since the mid-eighties, however, that party has been taken over by plutocrats disguised as liberals–the so-called Neo-Liberals–who are definitely NOT Liberals but who are basically Wall Street operatives in sheep’s clothing. More and more, Neo-Liberals’ main goal is to maintain control of the party–and the flood of money coming in from lobbyists and special interests–and less and less with actually winning elections. After all, their logic goes, who are union workers and minorities going to vote for–the Republicans?  With at least 40% of the electorate now identifying themselves as independent, clearly the answer is: NONE OF THE ABOVE

Bernie resistance.

We desperately need more than these two old and corrupt parties to choose from.  If comic book heroes can dwell in a multiverse, so too can the American voter. The electorate can handle more than two choices for not just the Presidency, but the House and Senate and, especially, for state and local offices. The Duopoly–that cabal of rich plutocrats who pretend to be for democracy but who really wish to keep American voters in the thrall of Wall Street–don’t want to give the voters a real choice at the polls. To be sure, those Americans who remain brainwashed by the Left-Right delusion, may think they are voting “Conservative” or “Liberal” when they go to the polls, but how often do they find that what they thought they were voting for never comes to pass?

Reality Pill
THE WORLD THAT HAS BEEN PULLED OVER YOUR EYES TO BLIND YOU FROM THE TRUTH

Wall Street Red and Wall Street Blue will continue to function for a long time to come, but many of the people now part of either party are not happy with their masters and if they were presented with viable alternatives, gladly bolt the failed duopoly that serves neither their needs nor their values.

In future articles I will go into detail as to what these parties should look like. Bear in mind, I do not necessarily subscribe to the values of such parties; but there are large numbers of Americans who would and whose voices would be best heard outside of the stifling political strait-jacket that now exists of Democratic v. Republican tickets. In a true democracy we do not always get what we want; but we are given clear and honest alternatives to choose from.

Delacroix Liberty at the Barricades
DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING?

In the past, America has had other parties than the Democrats and the Republicans and in some cases we had a genuine multi-party Presidential election. The one time we had a four-way Presidential election, the choice of the voting was arguably one of the country’s greatest Presidents: Abraham Lincoln.  We need more politicians like him today–and a multi-party system is the way to do it.

 

Theodore-Roosevelt

 

 In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt left the corruption of the Republican Party to form the Progressive or “Bull Moose” Party, the best expressions of the Progressive political movement in the 20th century. He beat the GOP candidate in the popular vote, but lost to Woodrow Wilson, a virulently racist Democrat, who pretended to be Progressive but was anything but, and who later dragged America into a war to defend Wall Street & London Bankers’ financial investments.

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FUCK NEOLIBERALISM

The following is a guest column by Australian academic Simon Springer, a geographer/anarchist. The title of the essay leaves little doubt about his attitude towards the pseudo-progressive ideology that currently infects the Democratic Party and which, under different disguises, is rapidly enslaving much of the world. It is not too much to say that unless the Democratic Party purges itself of this malicious Corporatist infection, it is likely to go the way of the Whig Party; hopefully some party which is truly on the side of working men and women will replace it. We don’t need two parties dedicated to enriching the 1% at the expense of the rest of the country; in the best of all scenarios, the GOP would also wither away and be replaced by a party more in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln. This essay does not discuss Neo-Liberalism’s evil twin, Neo-Conservatism, but I gather from his other published works that professor Springer is not a fan of that poison apple either. This essay is republished through Creative Common license and I claim no ownership or copyright of it. I do not necessarily agree with all the author’s opinions, but I believe his views are worth airing on as many forums as possible. You can contact the author through the Academia.edu portal or via his website.  

Fuck Neoliberalism

Simon Springer

Department of Geography, University of Victoria simonspringer@gmail.com
Abstract: Yep, fuck it. Neoliberalism sucks. We don’t need it.
Keywords: fuck neoliberalism; fuck it to hell

Fuck Neoliberalism. That’s my blunt message. I could probably end my discussion at this point and it wouldn’t really matter. My position is clear and you likely already get the gist of what I want to say. I have nothing positive to add to the discussion about neoliberalism, and to be perfectly honest, I’m quite sick of having to think about it. I’ve simply had enough. For a time I had considered calling this paper ‘Forget Neoliberalism’ instead, as in some ways that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve been writing on the subject for many years (Springer 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015; Springer et al. 2016) and I came to a point where I just didn’t want to commit any more energy to this endeavor for fear that continuing to work around this idea was functioning to perpetuate its hold. On further reflection I also recognize that as a political maneuver it is potentially quite dangerous to simply stick our heads in the sand and collectively ignore a phenomenon that has had such devastating and debilitating effects on our shared world. There is an ongoing power to neoliberalism that is difficult to deny and I’m not convinced that a strategy of ignorance is actually the right approach (Springer 2016a). So my exact thoughts were, ‘well fuck it then’, and while a quieter and gentler name for this paper could tone down the potential offence that might come with the title I’ve chosen, I subsequently reconsidered. Why should we be more worried about using profanity than we are about the actual vile discourse of neoliberalism itself? I decided that I wanted to transgress, to upset, and to offend, precisely because we ought to be offended by neoliberalism, it is entirely upsetting, and therefore we should ultimately be seeking to transgress it. Wouldn’t softening the title be making yet another concession to the power of neoliberalism? I initially worried what such a title might mean in terms of my reputation. Would it hinder future promotion or job offers should I want to maintain my mobility as an academic, either upwardly or to a new location? This felt like conceding personal defeat to neoliberal disciplining. Fuck that.

It also felt as though I was making an admission that there is no colloquial response that could appropriately be offered to counter the discourse of neoliberalism. As though we can only respond in an academic format using complex geographical theories of variegation, hybridity, and mutation to weaken its edifice. This seemed disempowering, and although I have myself contributed to the articulation of some of these theories (Springer 2010), I often feel that this sort of framing works against the type of argument I actually want to make. It is precisely in the everyday, the ordinary, the unremarkable, and the mundane that I think a politics of refusal must be located. And so I settled on ‘Fuck Neoliberalism’ because I think it conveys most of what I actually want to say. The argument I want to make is slightly more nuanced than that, which had me thinking more about the term ‘fuck’ than I probably have at any other time in my life. What a fantastically colorful word! It works as a noun or a verb, and as an adjective it is perhaps the most used point of exclamation in the English language. It can be employed to express anger, contempt, annoyance, indifference, surprise, impatience, or even as a meaningless emphasis because it just rolls off of the tongue. You can ‘fuck something up’, ‘fuck someone over’, ‘fuck around’, ‘not give a fuck’, and there is a decidedly geographical point of reference to the word insofar as you can be instructed to ‘go fuck yourself’. At this point you might even be thinking ‘ok, but who gives a fuck?’ Well, I do, and if you’re interested in ending neoliberalism so should you. The powerful capacities that come with the word offer a potential challenge to neoliberalism. To dig down and unpack these abilities we need to appreciate the nuances of what could be meant by the phrase ‘fuck neoliberalism’. Yet at the same time, fuck nuance. As Kieran Healy (2016: 1) has recently argued, it “typically obstructs the development of theory that is intellectually interesting, empirically generative, or practically successful”. So without fetishizing nuance let’s quickly work through what I think we should be prioritizing in fucking up neoliberalism.

The first sense is perhaps the most obvious. By saying ‘fuck neoliberalism’ we can express our rage against the neoliberal machine. It is an indication of our anger, our desire to shout our resentment, to spew venom back in the face of the noxious malice that has been shown to all of us. This can come in the form of mobilizing more protests against neoliberalism or in writing more papers and books critiquing its influence. The latter preaches to the converted, and the former hopes that the already perverted will be willing to change their ways. I don’t discount that these methods are important tactics in our resistance, but I’m also quite sure that they’ll never actually be enough to turn the tide against neoliberalism and in our favour. In making grand public gestures of defiance we attempt to draw powerful actors into a conversation, mistakenly believing that they might listen and begin to accommodate the popular voice of refusal (Graeber 2009). Shouldn’t we instead be done talking? Here is the second sense of ‘fuck neoliberalism’, which is found in the notion of rejection. This would be to advocate for the end of neoliberalism (as we knew it) in a fashion advanced by J.K. GibsonGraham (1996) where we simply stop talking about it. Scholars in particular would discontinue prioritizing it as the focus of their studies. Maybe not completely forget about it or ignore neoliberalism altogether, which I’ve already identified as problematic, but to instead set about getting on with our writing about other things. Once again this is a crucially important point of contact for us as we work beyond the neoliberal worldview, but here too I’m not entirely convinced that this is enough. As Mark Purcell (2016: 620) argues, “We need to turn away from neoliberalism and towards ourselves, to begin the difficult – but also joyous – work of managing our affairs for ourselves”. While negation, protest and critique are necessary, we also need to think about actively fucking up neoliberalism by doing things outside of its reach.

Direct action beyond neoliberalism speaks to a prefigurative politics (Maeckelbergh 2011), which is the third and most important sense of what I think we should be focusing on when we invoke the idea ‘fuck neoliberalism’. To prefigure is to reject the centrism, hierarchy, and authority that come with representative politics by emphasizing the embodied practice of enacting horizontal relationships and forms of organization that strive to reflect the future society being sought (Boggs 1977). Beyond being ‘done talking’, prefiguration and direct action contend that there was never a conversation to be had anyway, recognizing that whatever it is we want to do, we can just do it ourselves. Nonetheless, there has been significant attention to the ways in which neoliberalism is able to capture and appropriate all manner of political discourse and imperatives (Barnett 2005; Birch 2015; Lewis 2009; Ong 2007). For critics like David Harvey (2015) only another dose of the state can solve the neoliberal question, where in particular he is quick to dismiss non-hierarchical organization and horizontal politics as greasing the rails for an assured neoliberal future. Yet in his pessimism he entirely misunderstands prefigurative politics, which are a means not to an end, but only to future means (Springer 2012). In other words, there is a constant and continual vigilance already built into prefigurative politics so that the actual practice of prefiguration cannot be coopted. It is reflexive and attentive but always with a view towards production, invention, and creation as the satisfaction of the desire of community. In this way prefigurative politics are explicitly anti-neoliberal. They are a seizing of the means as our means, a means without end. To prefigure is to embrace the conviviality and joy that comes with being together as radical equals, not as vanguards and proletariat on the path towards the transcendental empty promise of utopia or ‘no place’, but as the grounded immanence of the here and now of actually making a new world ‘in the shell of the old’ and the perpetual hard work and reaffirmation that this requires (Ince 2012).

There is nothing about neoliberalism that is deserving of our respect, and so in concert with a prefigurative politics of creation, my message is quite simply ‘fuck it’. Fuck the hold that it has on our political imaginations. Fuck the violence it engenders. Fuck the inequality it extols as a virtue. Fuck the way it has ravaged the environment. Fuck the endless cycle of accumulation and the cult of growth. Fuck the Mont Pelerin society and all the think tanks that continue to prop it up and promote it. Fuck Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman for saddling us with their ideas. Fuck the Thatchers, the Reagans, and all the cowardly, self-interested politicians who seek only to scratch the back of avarice. Fuck the fear-mongering exclusion that sees ‘others’ as worthy of cleaning our toilets and mopping our floors, but not as members of our communities. Fuck the ever-intensifying move towards metrics and the failure to appreciate that not everything that counts can be counted. Fuck the desire for profit over the needs of community. Fuck absolutely everything neoliberalism stands for, and fuck the Trojan horse that it rode in on! For far too long we’ve been told that ‘there is no alternative’, that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, that we live in a Darwinian nightmare world of all against all ‘survival of the fittest’. We’ve swallowed the idea of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ hook, line and sinker; when in reality this is a ruse that actually reflects the ‘tragedy of capitalism’ and its endless wars of plunder (Le Billon 2012). Garrett Hardin’s (1968) Achilles’ heel was that he never stopped to think about how grazing cattle were already privately owned. What might happen when we reconvene an actual commons as a commons without presuppositions of private ownership (Jeppesen et al. 2014)? What might happen when we start to pay closer attention to the prefiguration of alternatives that are already happening and privileging these experiences as the most important forms of organization (White and Williams 2012)? What might happen when instead of swallowing the bitter pills of competition and merit we instead focus our energies not on medicating ourselves with neoliberal prescriptions, but on the deeper healing that comes with cooperation and mutual aid (Heckert 2010)?

Jamie Peck (2004: 403) once called neoliberalism a ‘radical political slogan’, but it is no longer enough to dwell within the realm of critique. Many years have passed since we first identified the enemy and from that time we have come to know it well through our writing and protests. But even when we are certain of its defeat, as in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent Occupy Movement, it continues to gasp for air and reanimate itself in a more powerful zombified form (Crouch 2011; Peck 2010). Japhy Wilson (2016) calls this ongoing power the ‘neoliberal gothic’, and I’m convinced that in order to overcome this horror show we must move our politics into the realm of the enactive (Rollo 2016). What if ‘fuck neoliberalism’ were to become a mantra for a new kind of politics? An enabling phrase that spoke not only to action, but to the reclamation of our lives in the spaces and moments in which we actively live them?

What if every time we used this phrase we recognized that it meant a call for enactive agency that went beyond mere words, combining theory and practice into the beautiful praxis of prefiguration? We must take a multipronged approach in our rejection of neoliberalism. While we can’t entirely ignore or forget it, we can actively work against it in ways that extend beyond the performance of rhetoric and the rhetoric of performance. By all means let’s advance a new radical political slogan. Use a hashtag (#fuckneoliberalism) and make our contempt go viral! But we have to do more than express our indignation. We have to enact our resolve and realize our hope as the immanence of our embodied experiences in the here and now (Springer 2016a). We need to remake the world ourselves, a process that cannot be postponed.

We’ve willfully deluded and disempowered ourselves by continuing to appeal to the existing political arrangement of representation. Our blind faith has us waiting endlessly for a savior to drop from the sky. The system has proven itself to be thoroughly corrupt, where time and time again our next great political candidate proves to be a failure. In this neoliberal moment it’s not a case of mere problematic individuals being in power. Instead, it is our very belief in the system itself that epitomizes the core of the problem. We produce and enable the institutional conditions for ‘the Lucifer effect’ to play itself out (Zimbardo 2007). ‘The banality of evil’ is such that these politicians are just doing their jobs in a system that rewards perversions of power because it is all designed to serve the laws of capitalism (Arendt 1971). But we don’t have to obey. We’re not beholden to this order. Through our direct action and the organization of alternatives we can indict the entire structure and break this vicious cycle of abuse. When the political system is defined by, conditioned for, enmeshed within, and derived from capitalism, it can never represent our ways of knowing and being in the world, and so we need to take charge of these lifeways and reclaim our collective agency. We must start to become enactive in our politics and begin embracing a more relational sense of solidarity that recognizes that the subjugation and suffering of one is in fact indicative of the oppression of all (Shannon and Rouge 2009; Springer 2014). We can start living into other possible worlds through a renewed commitment to the practices of mutual aid, fellowship, reciprocity, and non-hierarchical forms of organization that reconvene democracy in its etymological sense of power to the people. Ultimately neoliberalism is a particularly foul idea that comes with a whole host of vulgar outcomes and crass assumptions. In response, it deserves to be met with equally offensive language and action. Our community, our cooperation, and our care for one another are all loathsome to neoliberalism. It hates that which we celebrate. So when we say ‘fuck neoliberalism’ let it mean more that just words, let it be an enactment of our commitment to each other. Say it loud, say it with me, and say it to anyone who will listen, but most of all mean it as a clarion call to action and as the embodiment of our prefigurative power to change the fucking world. Fuck Neoliberalism!

 Acknowledgements

I owe my title to Jack Tsonis. He wrote me a wonderful email in early 2015 to introduce himself with this message as the subject line. Blunt and to the point. He told me about his precarious position at the University of Western Sydney where he was trapped in sessional hell. Fuck neoliberalism indeed. Jack informs me that he has since gained employment that is less precarious, but seeing the beast up close has made him more disgusted and repulsed than ever. Thanks for the inspiration mate! I’m also grateful to Kean Birch and Toby Rollo who listened to my ideas and laughed along with me. Mark Purcell motivated greatly with his brilliant delight in thinking beyond neoliberalism. Thanks to Levi Gahman whose playful spirit and support demonstrated an actual prefiguration of the kinds of ideas I discuss here (“Listen Neoliberalism!” A Personal Response to Simon Springer’s “Fuck Neoliberalism”). Peer reviews from Farhang Rouhani, Patrick Huff and Rhon Teruelle demonstrated tremendous unanimity giving me reason to believe that there is still some fight left in the academy! Special thanks to the translators Xaranta Baksh (Spanish), Jai Kaushal and Dhiraj Barman (Hindi), Ursula Brandt (German), Fabrizio Eva (Italian), anonymous contributor (French), Eduardo Tomazine (Portuguese), Haris Tsavdaroglou (Greek), Sayuri Watanabe (Japanese) and Gürçim Yılmaz (Turkish), as well as Marcelo Lopes de Souza, Myriam Houssay-Holzschuch, Ulrich Best, and Adam Goodwin for helping to organize the translations. Finally, thanks to the many people who so kindly took the time to write to me about this essay and express their solidarity after I first uploaded it to the Internet. I’m both humbled and hopeful that so many people share the same sentiment. We will win!

References

Arendt, H. (1971). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Viking Press.
Barnett, C. (2005). The consolations of ‘neoliberalism’. Geoforum, 36(1), 7-12.
Birch, K. (2015). We Have Never Been Neoliberal: A Manifesto for a Doomed Youth. Alresford: Zero Books.
Boggs, C. (1977). Marxism, prefigurative communism, and the problem of workers’ control. Radical America, 11(6), 99-122.
Crouch, C. (2011). The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism. Malden, MA: Polity Press
Gibson-Graham, J. K. (1996). The End of Capitalism (as We Knew It): A Feminist
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Graeber, D. (2009). Direct Action: An Ethnography. Oakland: AK Press.
Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162(3859), 1243-1248.
Harvey, D. (2015). “Listen, Anarchist!” A personal response to Simon Springer’s “Why a radical geography must be anarchist”. DavidHarvey.org. http://davidharvey.org/2015/06/listen-anarchist-by-david-harvey/
Healy, K. (2016) Fuck nuance. Sociological Theory.
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Heckert, J. (2010). Listening, caring, becoming: anarchism as an ethics of direct relationships. In Franks, B. (ed.). Anarchism and Moral Philosophy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 186-207.
Ince, A. (2012). In the shell of the old: Anarchist geographies of territorialisation. Antipode, 44(5), 1645-1666.
Jeppesen, S., Kruzynski, A., Sarrasin, R., & Breton, É. (2014). The anarchist commons. Ephemera, 14(4), 879-900.
Le Billon, P. (2012). Wars of Plunder: Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources. New York: Columbia University Press.
Lewis, N. (2009). Progressive spaces of neoliberalism?. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 50(2), 113-119.
Maeckelbergh, M. (2011). Doing is believing: Prefiguration as strategic practice in the alterglobalization movement. Social Movement Studies, 10(1), 1-20.
Ong, A. (2007). Neoliberalism as a mobile technology. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 32(1), 3-8.
Peck, J. (2004). Geography and public policy: constructions of neoliberalism. Progress in Human Geography, 28(3), 392-405.
Peck, J. (2010). Zombie neoliberalism and the ambidextrous state. Theoretical Criminology, 14(1), 104-110.
Purcell, M. (2016). Our new arms. In Springer, S., Birch, K. and MacLeavy, J.
(eds.). The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge, pp. 613-622.
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(eds.). The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge, pp. 592-602.
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Ambrose Bierce on Immigration

Ambrose-Bierce
Ambrose Bierce.  Cynic, observer of the human condition, disappointed idealist.

 

“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.  And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” Robert Fulghum

It seems like some issues in American politics never go away, they just change their context.  One such issue is the question of Immigration Policy.

This election year we hear the Republican candidate spewing racial stereotypes and absurd solutions to the problem of illegal immigration.  While members of his own party have condemned his statements, the truth is that for the last eight years their own stand on illegal immigrants has not been that much different than his.  Before the Great Recession of 2008, moreover, they positively welcomed “undocumented” immigrants because, they said, “we can’t get Americans to do hard work” and similar excuses for allowing cheap unskilled labor to undercut the American worker.

Conversely, the Democratic Party has embraced illegal immigrants–supposedly–even as President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessors combined.  To be sure, some humane immigration policies have been temporarily put in place by the present POTUS, but this is like putting a topical anesthetic on the skin to cure an internal tumor.

The truth is, many American blue collar workers have seen their good paying jobs disappear over the years, only to be replaced by low wage, no benefit jobs.  Americans are not lazy, nor they unwilling to do hard work; they simply want to be paid a decent wage, something the multinational corporations who run our government and who are writing the international “Free” Trade deals that continue to ship whole factories overseas don’t want.  What most working class Americans don’t understand is that each wave of illegal immigrants flooding into our country are the byproducts of these phony trade deals, which are neither free, nor even much about trade.  NAFTA spurred a flood of illegal Mexican workers, displaced by the deal, who came north seeking work; CAFTA did the same thing to Central Americans, also desperate for work at any price.  Nothing spurs ethnic animosity like the perception that these new arrivals are here to take your already substandard paying job.

The moral philosopher and humorist, Robert Fulghum, once observed that “All I Really Need to Know, I learned in Kindergarten.”  Consider, if you will, the game of Musical Chairs; every time the music stops, everyone scrambles for a chair and someone ALWAYS LOSES. Then another chair is taken away and the music starts again;  again and again, the music stops and another chair is taken away, until only one person wins.  Do you all remember how many fights and arguments broke out over that game?  I do.  Our “rigged” economy is very much like that game of Musical Chairs.  So, yes, a lot of working class Americans are bigoted against immigrants, legal or illegal, because they blame them for the loss of their once prosperous and affluent lifestyle, without ever stopping to think who it is that is really manipulating the music and the chairs.

What has all this got to do with Ambrose Bierce?  Actually, precious little; but in the late nineteenth century many “real Americans” were also concerned about immigration and worried that the furriners were going to ruin our country. Having delved into Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce’s life and works for over six years as I worked on my current book, whenever I see a current political issue heatedly debated, it naturally reminds me of something Bierce said or did.  For you edification, therefore, I present Bierce’s take on immigration:

“America has issued a general invitation. Whether that may have been judicious or not is not for them to say who have accepted it. If we keep open house, we do not need, neither will we tolerate, an intimation from a guest that the company is not sufficiently select.” In other words, only Native Americans have a right to complain about more recent immigrants.”  AGB

Things have changed greatly from the day Bierce uttered his observation, but I would aver that his words still contain much wisdom.

 

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Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife, due out in 2016 and available at all the better bookstores.

 

 

 

 

 

Brexit: Why Brits Made the Right Choice

EU Democracy
Metternich would be proud of you.

As the Corporate (actually Corporatist) Media goes into Chicken Little mode after smugly assuming for weeks that the citizens of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom would “do the right thing” and reject separation from the European Union, I thought it timely to provide a contrarian view of what is clearly a major political and economic world event.

Before I expound my own views on the subject, however, let me address the foremost objection a European reader might have to what I may say: being on the other side of the Big Muddy, I have no deep knowledge of the situation in the Euro Zone.  There is a grain of truth in this criticism, but only a grain.  True, American media has virtually ignored the issue, with the exception of BBC America and a few alternate media sites on the internet, even as it been the subject of intense discussion in Britain.  But I would argue that one can be too caught up in the minutiae of an issue to assess it properly, especially if one is firmly aligned in what has clearly been a partisan political event.  It is easy to be myopic in one’s outlook and overlook broader aspects of the vote.  Distance gives one perspective and that I humbly provide in the following paragraphs.

BREXIT FLAG

One headline in this morning’s news suffices to point out all that is wrong with the European Union, as it is presently constituted.  The headline this morning–quickly taken down because it was apparently too honest–had German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying “We must save our European Union.” The headline, if accurate, is very telling: save the European Union, but from whom?  The citizens of its constituent nations? Apparently Herr Steinmeier and a select circle of EU oligarchs are greatly afraid of similar referendums in other Euro Zone countries, where a popular vote by the majority of the nation’s citizens may also go against the supra national–and, apparently, in many ways undemocratic–EU government apparatus.  Is Herr Steinmeier’s possessive “our European Union” referring to the select circle of EU officials who make economic decisions which can–and have–adversely affected millions of average European citizens?

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Since Steinmeier’s inadvertent honesty, pronouncements emanating from him have been more diplomatic in tone but also edged with a coercive subtext: he and fellow EU patricians have stated that they want Britain gone as quickly as possible and that Prime Minister Cameron needs to be pressured to begin the process immediately, if not sooner.  Cameron, who opposed the exit, has already announced his intention to step down as head of the Conservative Party in October and, quite rightly, expressed the opinion that it should be up to his successor to carry out the process of separation.  The Lisbon accords, which created the EU, allowed for its constituent members to leave and provided for up to two years for an orderly withdrawal.  Apparently some of the EU oligarchs officials want a speedy divorce and some have even talked about making it as punitive as possible to Britain, as an object lesson to other nations whose citizens may also be unhappy with the way the EU is being run.

Wisely, Chancellor Angela Merkel was not among those wanting a nasty “divorce.”  Apparently talking in opposition to her foreign minister, the Chancellor opined that the European Union has “no need to be particularly nasty in any way” in the negotiations with Britain about its exit from the Union and called for an orderly separation.  Britain had previously opted out of surrendering its own currency to the Euro and instead recognized both currencies as legal tender, a prescient move in light of what the EU did to Greece when it dared to assert its own autonomy a little while back.

It should be remembered that the Euro Banksters–who colluded with Wall Street in bringing the world to the brink of fiscal collapse in 2008 by selling worthless paper and then providing easy credit to buy their worthless paper–when their self created bubble collapsed, demanded their pound of flesh from Greece and others nations who fell for their deceit. Greece was then forced into enacting programs detrimental to its own economic self interest; the EU colluded with the banks and forced upon a nation which could ill afford it crippling interest rates and counterproductive economic measures.  In this scenario the banks may be seen as Mafia Dons, acting as loan sharks, while the EU served as their “enforcer” ready to (figuratively) break the bones of Greece, or any other nation of the EU that dared defy them.

It should be borne in mind that during this same time frame, “Austerity” was not pushed on the American economy by the Obama Administration as it had been by the EU and their bankster colleagues, and while the American recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and uneven, with the top 1% benefitting most from a rigged economy and the rest of us only benefitting marginally, the US, unlike Cameron’s Britain, did not suffer any subsequent recessions, still less than Southern Europe, which remains nearly as bad off as it was in 2008.

Greece, after it had endured all it could from the Euro Bankster imposed Austerity, rebelled against its economic exploitation by the EU, in response to which the EU abruptly cut off the money supply.  It was an object lesson designed, not only to punish Greece, but to intimidate all other southern European countries to remain subservient to the EU or else suffer a similar fate.  Because Greece had surrendered its own currency when it joined the Union and relied solely on the Euro for its money, Greek banks were forced to shut down and those in Greece still with jobs not destroyed by Austerity went unpaid.  Finally, the reformist Greek government was forced to surrender to the economic imperialism of the EU.

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By comparison, Britain is far better off, not only by wisely retaining its own currency, but also because it possesses a stronger industrial base better able to weather the ill effects and bad economics of Austerity.  Hopefully, with David Cameron’s departure the counter-productive doctrine of Austerity will also be gone–and that can only be a good thing for Great Britain.

The idea of European unity is fundamentally a good idea; Europeans not murdering each other in local wars that mutate into world wars is also a GOOD THING.  Likewise, the European Common Market, as originally formulated, made a great deal of sense when it promoted trade that was both fair and equitable across national borders.  Similarly, the idea that neighboring countries, living on good terms with one another and sharing a common cultural heritage should having relatively easy transit of people back and forth, also makes a great deal of sense.  But when a handful of bankers and powerful but unscrupulous trans-national corporations, hiding behind the curtain of European Union, adversely control the lives of millions of people and coerce punitive economic agreements from their national governments against their own citizens best interests and their nation’s economic well-being, that is neither democratic nor fair, nor just.

Britain was certainly a beneficiary in many aspects of the European Union; it may seem to many on the continent that the UK’s action was precipitous and unjustified.  But the Brits are not the only voices of dissent in the EU; there are similar voices of dissent in the Netherlands, Italy and France.  In Spain, in the wake of the Bankster created Great Recession, hundreds of thousands of families were evicted from their homes. In 2013, for example, firefighters in Coruña were called on to break down the door of an 86-year-old woman who was to be evicted; in that case they refused to do the bidding of the Banksters. But in the majority of cases the banks have had their way and the EU has been there all through it to make sure that their will is obeyed without question.

In the EU, vulnerable nations like Greece have been forced to eliminate jobs, cut pensions and privatize, privatize, privatize. Who benefits from all this?  Certainly not the citizens of the countries coerced into such policies.  The Euro bankers, like their Wall Street counterparts, reap in massive profits at the expense of individuals, cities and whole states.  Spain, in particular, is a prime example of the adversity imposed from above by the EU and the bankers who run it behind the scenes.  Eight years after the beginning of the Great Recession, Spain’s unemployment remains at over 20% nationwide, while the unemployment rate for those under the age of twenty-five is a whopping 45%!  Explain to me how Spain being in the EU has benefitted its citizens?  Could they be any worse off if they were independent?  Perhaps, if it did not have to follow the dictates of a remote, undemocratic, essentially oligarchic entity for the supposed benefit of European unity, the Spanish people might have been free to pursue other solutions better suited to their individual needs.

The United States would be in the same situation if, in 2008, our nation had been in the control of the Republican Party who, no sooner were they out of power suddenly preached balanced budgets and smaller government.  This is the same political party that spent like a drunken sailor for eight years, cut taxes for the ultra rich and got the nation involved in an unprovoked war in Iraq which added trillions to the deficit.  Yes, it is a good thing to maintain a balanced budget and pay your bills on time; in prosperous times a nation should maintain a healthy economic balance and even accumulate a “rainy day” fund.  But when one has a severe economic downturn, that is the absolute worst time to demand a balanced budget; still less do you go about laying off thousands or millions of people to adhere to a theoretical economic dogma.

Europe during this same period has been in the thrall of economic oligarchs, who used the shield of the EU to impose “Austerity” as a solution to the same economic downturn.  The net effects of this dogma have been devastating and have retarded most of Europe’s recovery unnecessarily.  Behind the smokescreen of this supposed solution to the Great Recession lies a hidden agenda.  The banksters have used the dogma of Austerity as an excuse to roll back long established social benefits and economic rights, many of which Americans would envy if they could but experience them even for a short time.  The Banksters have also used Austerity as an excuse to privatize publicly owned institutions for their own personal gain; they have similarly hidden behind the shield of the EU to engage in myriad other actions designed to enrich a junta of international banks and corporations.

Since the 1990’s in the United States, one after another so-called “Free Trade” agreement has been pushed through by politicians who touted its economic benefits to an uniformed public.  Without exception, these agreements have resulted in millions of good paying jobs leaving the United States to impoverished third world nations, often controlled by military dictatorships.  Ironically, these same impoverished nations have not benefitted from the influx of manufacturing jobs; rather, waves of immigration ensue, as local economies are also disrupted by these same “Free Trade” deals.  NAFTA, CAFTA and now the TPP, are not about trade at all, much less are they free; they are about a handful of trans-national corporations acting in collusion to adversely control the economic resources of nations and subordinate those nations’ sovereignty to the will of a Corporatist oligarchy.

Lest Europeans think they are immune to this type of corporate economic imperialism, just remember that after the oligarchs have rammed the Trans Pacific Partnership through a corrupt lame-duck session of our Congress, they are coming after Europe with the TTIP to do the same to you.  When they promise economic prosperity and jobs creation as its benefit, remember that the U.S. has suffered over twenty years of these empty promises and now Americans on both the right and left are wise to the lies.

At the present time, Europeans may be upset with the British for wanting to retain their own economic and political sovereignty; some Brits may be upset at their fellow nationals for what they perceive as being against “progress” or guilty of a perceived xenophobia. Perhaps they may be right in some regard.  In the greater scheme of things, maybe the wiser course would have been for Britain to stay within EU and pull the fangs of the oligarchs and banksters who have been manipulating things behind the scenes, and make it more responsive to the will of the citizens of its constituent countries.

Instead of blaming the bearers of bad tidings, however, the citizens of those nations which remain in the EU should take stock of the situation and demand real reforms to an organization which has proven to be unresponsive to the needs of many of its constitutents. The voters of these same nations should also reflect on the nature of the leadership of the EU, whose first instinct is to punish any nation that may wish to emulate Brtain.  Remember what the EU did to Greece; then reflect on whether the Brits were totally unjustified in the course they laid.