Ik moest deze bewering een half uurtje laten bezinken voordat ik de portee ervan begon te overzien. Volgens mijn oude vriend Ian lokt de ‘zelfgenoegzaamheid bij links over het eigen morele gelijk een populistische proteststem uit.’ Met andere woorden: als ‘links’ niet zo ‘zelfgenoegzaam’ was, zou het ‘populisme’ niet hebben bestaan, en wel omdat ‘balorig rechts tegen de deugdzaamheid [stemt].’ Dit is geen geringe beschuldiging. Professor Buruma begint zijn stelling als volgt te verdedigen:
Er is een algemeen geaccepteerde verklaring voor de opkomst van rechtse demagogen in de wereld: het zit hem in de vele mensen die het gevoel zouden hebben dat ze zijn ‘achtergebleven’ in een pijlsnel veranderende wereld van ‘globalisme,’ dé-ïndustrializatie, grensoverschrijdende instellingen, enzovoorts. Zij voelen zich verraden door de elites, zij eisen hun ‘land terug,’ en zij lopen achter leiders aan die beloven schoon schip te maken in de corrupte bende van de liberale democratie.
Deze interpretatie is misschien plausibel in de groezelige achterstandswijken in het oude Oost-Duitsland, de uitgeholde Engelse industriesteden, of de verlopen delen van de Amerikaanse Midwest.
Maar niet hier, in het rijke, welvarende en beschaafde Nederland. En dus:
is het succes van een partij als Forum voor Democratie enigszins raadselachtig. Vergeleken bij de meeste landen in Europa, en ook de armere delen van de Verenigde Staten, is Nederland rijk, ordelijk, rustig, en beschermd. Er is geen enkele reden voor een crisisstemming, laat staan dat ‘onze beschaving’ in gevaar is.
Hier impliceert de opiniemaker van de liberale elite dat in ‘de meeste landen in Europa, en ook de armere delen van de Verenigde Staten’ het ‘plausibel is’ van oordeel te zijn dat in de ‘achtergebleven’ gebieden ‘in een pijlsnel veranderende wereld van “globalisme,” dé-ïndustrializatie, grensoverschrijdende instellingen, enzovoorts,’ de gedupeerden ‘zich verraden [voelen] door de elites,’ en zij daarom hun ‘land terug[eisen].’
Het probleem is alleen dat Buruma zich ook hier weer tegenspreekt, want tweeënhalf jaar eerder, begin oktober 2016, was hij van mening dat Hillary Clinton ‘was more right than wrong’ om de Trump-aanhang te criminaliseren als een ‘basket of deplorables.’ Maar hoe kan volgens hem het ‘plausibel’ zijn dat degenen die in ‘de verlopen delen van de Amerikaanse Midwest’ volgens hemzelf ‘achtergebleven’ zijn ‘in een pijlsnel veranderende wereld van “globalisme,” dé-ïndustrializatie, grensoverschrijdende instellingen’ en zich dus begrijpelijkerwijs ‘verraden [voelen] door de elites,’ toch tegelijkertijd in zijn ogen ‘betreurenswaardige’ sujetten zijn?
Hier ontbreekt logica. Die gebiedt namelijk dat wanneer liberals zoals Ian B. de afgelopen vier decennia hun Verlichtingsidealen, inclusief hun exemplarisch Vooruitgangsgeloof, hebben laten vallen, zij het grootste deel van de wereldbevolking, inclusief de westerse bevolking aan zijn lot hebben overgelaten, waardoor het alleszins begrijpelijk is dat deze gedupeerden ‘betreurenswaardig’ zijn, maar dan op een tegenovergestelde manier dan Ian Buruma en Hillary Clinton bedoelen. Waarom zouden al deze ‘deplorables’ enig vertrouwen of respect moeten opbrengen voor een gecorrumpeerde elite die op hen neerkijkt en hen beschouwd als onmensen? Hetzelfde gaat op voor degenen die nu op Geert Wilders en Thierry Baudet gaan stemmen. Deze mensen afdoen als nationaal-socialistische dan wel fascistisch tuig, zoals de geprivilegieerde multimiljonair uit Jorwerd, Geert Mak, doet, is niet alleen stupide maar vooral weerzinwekkend.
International Relations according to Antony Blinken
by Thierry Meyssan
Washington has little choice: its interests have not changed, but those of its ruling class have. Antony Blinken therefore intends to pursue the line adopted since President Reagan hired Trotskyists to create the NED: to make human rights an imperial weapon, without ever respecting them himself. For the rest, one will avoid getting angry with the Chinese and will try to exclude Russia from the wider Middle East so that the war can continue without end.
Antony Blinken was raised in Paris by an exceptional man, the lawyer Samuel Pisar. At school, he was a classmate of Robert Malley. Later, he returned to the USA and became a neo-conservative. He sees Human Rights as an American weapon and intends to demand them from everyone except his own country.
The Biden Administration performs its first acts of International Relations.
First, Secretary of State Antony Blinken participates in numerous international meetings by video conference, assuring his interlocutors that "America is back. Indeed, the United States is taking up its position in all intergovernmental organisations, starting with the United Nations.
The United Nations
As soon as he took office, President Biden cancelled the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization. Shortly afterwards, Blinken announced that his country was joining the Human Rights Council and was running for president. What’s more, he is campaigning to ensure that only those states that he considers to be respectful of human rights can sit on the Council.
These decisions call for several remarks:
The US withdrawal from the Paris Accords was based on the fact that the IPCC’s work was not scientific, but political, since it is in fact an assembly of senior officials with scientific advisors. They led to, admittedly a lot of promises, but in reality to only one concrete result: the adoption of an international right to pollute managed by the Chicago Stock Exchange. The Chicago Stock Exchange was created by Vice-President Al Gore and its statutes were drafted by the future President Barack Obama. The Trump administration never contested climate change, but argued that other explanations were possible rather than industrial greenhouse gas emissions, for example the geophysical theory formulated in the 19th century by Milutin Milanković. The return of the United States to the Paris agreements has caused fear among US shale oil and gas personnel and companies. The Biden Administration is determined to quickly ban petrol-powered cars, for example. This decision will not only have an impact on employment in the US, but also on its foreign policy since it had become the world’s largest oil exporter.
The US withdrawal from the WHO was motivated by China’s leading role in the WHO. The current Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is a member of the pro-Chinese Tigray People’s Liberation Front. In addition to his UN function, he has also played a central role in supplying arms to the Tigray rebellion. The WHO delegation that went to Wuhan to investigate the possible Chinese origin of the Covid-19 included Dr. Peter Daszak, president of the NGO EcoHealth Alliance, as the only US member. This expert funded work on coronaviruses and bats at the P4 laboratory in Wuhan. He is therefore clearly judge and jury.
Human Rights Council
The US withdrawal from the Human Rights Council was the consequence of the Trump administration’s denunciation of its hypocrisy. In fact, the Council had been used in 2011 by the US itself to hear false witnesses and to accuse the "Gaddafi regime" of having bombed an eastern district of Tripoli; an event that never happened. This memorable staging had been transmitted to the Security Council, which had adopted a resolution authorising the West to "protect" the Libyan population from its infamous dictator. Given the success of this propaganda operation, various states and alleged NGOs have tried to use the Council in turn, particularly against Israel. The United Nations does not understand the term "human rights" as does the United States. For the latter, Human Rights are simply protection from the Reason of State, which implies the prohibition of torture. On the contrary, for the United Nations, the term also includes the right to life, education and the right to work, etc. From this point of view, China has important progress to make in terms of justice, but has an exceptional record in terms of education. It therefore has its rightful place in the Council, although Washington disputes this. Antony Blinken has just enunciated the "Khashoggi jurisprudence". It is a question of no longer granting visas to foreign political leaders who do not respect the human rights of their opponents. But what value does this doctrine have when the United States has a gigantic targeted assassination service and sometimes uses it against its own nationals?
Iran and the future of the Greater Middle East
The Biden Administration is also negotiating a return to the 5+2 nuclear agreement with Iran. The aim is to resume the negotiations that William Burns, Jake Sullivan and Wendy Sherman began 9 years ago in Oman with the emissaries of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Today they have become respectively Director of the CIA, National Security Advisor and Deputy Secretary of State.
At the time, Washington’s aim was to eliminate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and relaunch the Shia/Sunni confrontation in the context of the "war without end" (Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy). For the Khamenei Guide, it was to get rid of Ahmadinejad who had dared to strike against him and to extend his power over all the Shiites in the region.
These negotiations led to the manipulation of the Iranian presidential election of 2013 and the victory of the pro-Israeli Sheikh Hassan Rohani. As soon as he took office, he sent his foreign minister, Mohammad Djavad Zarif, to negotiate in Switzerland with Secretary of State John Kerry and his adviser Robert Malley. This time it was a question of closing the Iranian military nuclear file before witnesses, which everyone knew had long since been completed. Then came a year of secret bilateral negotiations on Iran’s regional role, called to resume the role of Middle East policeman under Shah Reza Pahlevi. Finally, the nuclear agreement was signed with great pomp and circumstance.
But in January 2017, the Americans elected Donald Trump, who questioned the agreement. President Rohani then published his project for the Shiite and allied states (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Azerbaijan): to federate them into a great empire under the authority of the Guide of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It is on this new basis that the Biden Administration must henceforth negotiate.
But the United States can only position itself in the broader Middle East once it has decided what it is going to do with its two rivals: Russia and China. The Department of Defense has appointed a Commission that is working on the subject and will issue its recommendations in June. In the meantime the Pentagon intends to continue what it has been doing for 20 years: the "war without end". The aim of the war being to destroy any possibility of resistance in the region, and thus to destroy all state structures, whether friendly or enemy, there was no a priori question of accepting the Rohani project.
Washington began contacts in November, three months before President Biden took office. This is exactly what the Trump administration had done with Russia, which led to legal action under the Logan Act. This time it is different. There will be no lawsuits because the Biden administration is unanimously supported by everything that matters in Washington.
Moreover, the Iranian-US negotiations are taking place in the East. Tehran and Washington are holding hostages to keep pressure on each other. Each one arrests spies, or if they are not tourists, and imprisons them for the duration of an investigation that is dragging on for a long time. It has to be said that they are better treated in the West than in Iran where they are subjected to constant psychological pressure.
To begin with, Washington maintained its sanctions against Iran, but lifted those it had taken against the Houthis in Yemen. It has also turned a blind eye to the South Korean channel that allows Iran to circumvent its embargo. But that wasn’t enough.
From February 15 to 22, Iran launched - through its Iraqi affiliates - commando actions against US forces and companies in Iraq; a way of showing that it is more legitimate in that country than Uncle Sam is. For their part, the Israelis accused Iran of having caused an explosion in a tanker belonging to one of their companies in the Gulf of Oman on February 25.
The Secretary of State responded by sending the Pentagon to bomb installations used by Shiite militias in Syria, a way of showing that the United States is illegally occupying this country whose authorities are suffering from Iranian sectarian aid - today Iran is not helping the Syrians, but those of them who are Shiites - and that they will have to come to terms with it.
The dominant position of the United States is not threatened by China, but by its development. Despite all its cynicism, Washington does not have the heart to play British-style colonialism and send the Chinese back to starvation. It should logically lay down competitive rules between itself and the "factory of the world". It can, as President Trump has shown, but it won’t do it any more because the present ruling class personally benefits immensely from these unequal exchanges. Didn’t Secretary of State Antony Blinken himself create the firm WestExec Advisor to introduce US TNCs to the Chinese Communist Party?
The truth is that there is only one option left: to let the US economy sink as slowly as possible and contain Chinese military and political power within a limited area of influence.
This is why, in his first telephone conversation with President Xi, President Biden assured him that he was not questioning the membership of Tibet, Hong Kong and even Taiwan in the People’s Republic of China. However, he hinted that he was still contesting China’s resumption of its pre-European colonial sovereignty over the entire China Sea. The threat to the Spratly Islands and other abandoned islets will therefore continue.
Beijing doesn’t care: it continues to pull its people out of underdevelopment, further and further inland. Tomorrow, the tiger will be pulling out its claws, but it will already have spread out along the new silk roads. No one will be able to impose any more.
The Russians are a special case. This people is capable of enduring the worst privations, it keeps a collective consciousness that always brings it back to life. Their mentality is incompatible with that of the Anglo-Saxon elites; always capable of atrocities to maintain their standard of living. These are two opposing conceptions of honour: one based on pride in what one has done, the other on the glory of victory.
Even thirty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Russia’s conversion to capitalism, Russia remains an ontological enemy for the Anglo-Saxon elites; proof that the differences in economic systems were only a pretext for their confrontation.
Therefore, whatever they say, Pentagon officers only envisage war with China in the distant future and are ready to fight Russia today. The first bombing of the Biden mandate will have been in Syria - as explained above. In accordance with their "deconfliction" agreements, the US General Staff has given advance warning to its Russian counterpart. But it did so only five minutes before the shots were fired to ensure that Moscow would not have time to warn Damascus. Above all, they took no steps to ensure that they would not injure or even kill Russian soldiers.
The United States is unable to accept Russia’s return to the Middle East; a return that partially paralyses the "war without end".
Biden is doing a lot of the things Trump did, and yet he isn’t being called Literally Hitler.
2nd March 2021
Is Joe Biden a Nazi? I only ask because he’s doing a lot of the same things that the previous incumbent of the White House did, and that guy was always being called a Nazi.
Remember when Donald Trump’s administration incarcerated kids who had illegally crossed the Mexican border? That was literally fascism. These children-packed detention centres were ‘concentration camps’, said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Trump is taking the world ‘back to the 1930s’, said a breathless scribe at the Guardian.
Or how about when Trump dropped bombs on the Middle East? He was branded an insane warmonger. This is the imperial logic of his alt-right leanings, we were told. As for his administration’s targeting of Iranian forces – in particular Iran’s top military commander, Qasem Soleimani, killed by an American bomb in January last year – that was held up by some leftists and liberals as proof of just how deranged Trumpism had become. #WorldWar3 trended on Twitter. ‘Could tension between the US and Iran spark World War 3?’, asked one headline. Trump was always either embodying the evils of the Second World War or propelling humanity into a third.
As for his bully-boy tactics with the press – for journalists in particular this was technicolor evidence of his fascistic tendencies. Trump’s mockery of CNN and the New York Times – whom he frequently wrote off as ‘fake news’ – was straight out of 1930s Germany, apparently. (If someone can dig out footage of German journalists questioning and ridiculing the Fuhrer to his face in daily press conferences, I’d love to see that.) Trump’s war of words against ‘fake news’, his niggling desire to punish and censor the press for allegedly promoting ‘misinformation’, made him Literally Hitler. Hitler also used ‘the idea of the “Lügenpresse” (“fake news”) to attack journalists’, Yale prof Timothy Snyder solemnly informed us.
And now? Well now, Biden and some of his top advisers and supporters are doing all of the above – caging kids from Mexico, bombing the Middle East, demanding that the fake-news media be ‘reined in’ – but apparently it isn’t fascism anymore! It’s normal politics. It’s sensible policy. Isn’t that amazing – that policies can switch from being literally Nazism to being standard American government action depending on the name and party of the person signing them off?
Yes, the Biden administration really is doing all of the above. Unaccompanied youths who cross the border from Mexico are being incarcerated. Kids aged 13 to 17 are being banged up. Towards the end of February the Biden administration reopened detention centres for immigrant kids in both Texas and Florida. ‘Kids in cages?’, I hear you ask. Of course not. These are now youths in ‘overflow facilities’.
That’s the language being used. Out has gone CNN’s handwringing over ‘kids in cages’ and those staged photos of AOC weeping outside ‘concentration camps’ and those broadsheet editorials about how putting child migrants into camps has ‘echoes of the 1930s’, etc etc. Now all the talk is of ‘overflow facilities’ designed to ‘assist’ unaccompanied young arrivals. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Democrat New York mayor Bill de Blasio described the Homestead facility in Florida as a ‘prison camp’ when the Trump administration was putting unaccompanied youths in there. He hasn’t said a word since the same facility was reopened by the Biden administration for the same purpose. It’s almost as if he doesn’t actually have any principles.
And don’t fall for the claims being made by self-styled fact-checkers – those modern-day monks who fancy that they are the guardians of the truth – who insist there is a massive difference between what Trump did at the border and what Biden is doing. The Trump administration separated kids from their parents, as well as incarcerating unaccompanied kids, whereas the Biden lot are only doing the latter, so shut up. That’s their message. This is so unconvincing. The unhinged, 1930s-exploiting fury over the Trump administration’s antics at the border was not only about family separations; it was also about the very act of incarcerating young people. It was about the ‘prison camps’ themselves, as de Blasio, AOC and thousands of weeping journalists referred to them. And now these same people are saying nothing, or are nodding along with the idea that it is fine to put children in ‘overflow facilities’. Those are the facts.
Last week Biden bombed Iranian-backed forces in Syria. At least 22 people were killed. World War 3? Nope. This was a nice military attack, one of those decent Democratic ones. ‘So different having military action under Biden’, said left-wing American author Amy Siskind. ‘No middle-school level threats on Twitter. Trust the competence of Biden and his team.’ Hey, American presidents, it’s fine to kill foreigners, just don’t write a childish tweet about it, okay? One of Ms Siskind’s online followers agreed. ‘Such a quiet attack’, she said. I’m guessing it was actually a pretty noisy attack for the scores of people killed and injured.
Even supposedly more radical people were soft on Biden after he dropped his first bombs. They didn’t take to the streets to denounce this evil president for potentially stoking up World War 3. No, they made memes saying, ‘You should be writing me a stimulus cheque, not bombing the Middle East’. The narcissism, hypocrisy and phoney anti-imperialism of the Trump-obsessed left summed up.
Then there’s the Biden lobby’s assault on ‘fake news’. They are literally doing this – waging a war of words against the lying press, or the Lügenpresse, one might say – and no one is kicking up a fuss. AOC says Congress must ‘rein in’ media outlets that ‘spew disinformation and misinformation’. That’s an overeducated person’s way of saying ‘fake news’. Last week two top Democrats – Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney – wrote to all the major cable companies demanding to know why they are hosting such filthy, lying news outlets as Fox News.
These people make Trump look like a rank amateur when it comes to reprimanding the press. Sure, he might have barked insults at CNN correspondents and tweeted abuse about the MSM. But some Democrats seem determined to cancel what they view as ‘fake news’, to have these alleged lowlifes taken off the airwaves. And yet – it’s getting predictable now, I know – there has been no pushback, no talk of the 1930s, no Timothy Snyder columns about Hitler. When Trump slams the ‘fake media’, it’s fascism; when Democrats do it, it’s fine.
This is the Orwellian duplicity of the world we live in now. Political language, Orwell said, can be twisted ‘to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable’. And so it is that ‘kids in cages’ are now ‘youths in overflow facilities’; and bombs are now ‘quiet’ and ‘competent’ rather than reckless and dangerous; and what was denounced as a fascistic attack on the free press when Trump was doing it is repackaged as a necessary ‘reining in’ of ‘misinformation’ now that Democrats are doing it. Reality is putty to the new elites, something they must mould to their own tastes and interests. Their self-serving dishonesty and self-aggrandising propaganda must not go unchallenged.
In answer to the question posed at the start of this article: no, of course Joe Biden is not a Nazi. But neither was Trump. Those of us who take a grown-up approach to politics know that it is wrong to brand everything as fascism. We also know it is wrong to abuse language and truth in order to depict yourselves as the good guys even when you’re doing exactly what the ‘bad guy’ did.
Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy
For those interested, the Institute for Palestine Studies has published my in-depth essay on the BDS movement, including an up-to-date analysis of the state of the movement, its impact and the challenges and opportunities ahead:
Why more people than ever are living alone – and what this means for the environment
Globally, households are shrinking – more and more people are living alone. In 2016, almost two thirds of all households in the EU were composed of one or two people, with shrinking households also prevalent around the world. As countries move up the human development index, households are expected to continue to shrink.
As households have got smaller, homes are getting larger. This increases energy and resource use, domestic waste and greenhouse gases. After all, most households have similar appliances like stoves and fridges, and cooled or heated spaces, regardless of how many people live there.
There is also a tendency to share less within apartment buildings compared to previous decades. In Sweden, where once sharing a laundry room was the default, now more than 80% of newly built apartments have their own washing machine. Smaller households simply don’t benefit from the sharing potential of larger households. So it’s no wonder that shrinking household size is emerging as a fundamental challenge to reducing resource consumption and mitigating climate change.
So why do more and more people live alone? In a study recently published in the journal Buildings and Cities, we found that there may be different reasons. But some key trends include young people leaving home to study or work, couples living apart for longer before moving in together (if at all), the dissolution of a partnership or death of a partner.
Early, middle, late
Early in life, it is most often delaying partnering and childbearing that increases solo-living. Across Europe, North America, and Africa, young men are more likely to live on their own. This is a transitional phase where forming a partnership is delayed in order to focus on education or building a career. Living alone is also common in countries where rural youth migrate to urban centres for work and form their own household. Among young adults, men take longer to get married or move in with partners compared to women.
In later life, the gender trend reverses dramatically, and women live alone two to four times more often than men across 113 countries looked at in one study. This can be explained by women living longer than men on average, resulting in more widows living alone. Increasing life expectancy, dissolution of partnerships and death of a partner tend to be the main drivers behind trends in elderly one person households.
Middle-aged adults’ solo-living is more complex. According to a Canadian panel survey, employed men and those living in vulnerable communities are less likely to stay living on their own compared to unemployed men and those living in less vulnerable communities, respectively. Among women, those with poor health and medium-level of education are more likely to live alone compared to women with excellent health and lower education.
In countries with high value placed on the individual, living alone is more common than countries with high value of family co‐residence. For example, in Sweden and across the Nordics living alone has become a norm through a “culture of individualism” and a welfare state which enables people to access affordable housing and public services independent of family support.
Many societal factors underlie trends toward living alone: culture, economic means, demographic developments, health, policy and institutions all play their role at different life stages. As households continue to shrink, there will be new challenges to provide necessary services, particularly in poorer countries where communication technologies are less developed and welfare states are weaker, with a host of associated environmental challenges.
The wave of solo-living currently sweeping many different countries, and about to sweep many more, will lead to increasing environmental impacts without focused policy attention. Policies might address both less environmentally impactful ways to live alone or ways to promote more people living together.
Though living alone is a growing trend, this does not necessarily mean that more people are permanently living alone – it can also imply that people at different stages of their life are living alone. Very different types of sharing or co-housing may ultimately be required to provide an attractive alternative.
We often hear that we live in a 'post-truth world' and, around the globe, unscrupulous and opportunistic politicians are banking on people being so confused or disenchanted that they close their eyes to injustice and cruelty. More than ever we need a diversity of voices. To help us provide those, please consider supporting us.
De grote Russische filosoof Nicolaj Berdjajev wees in Das Schicksal Des Menschen In Unserer Zeit (1935) met nadruk op het volgende:
Het individualisme betekent in het algemeen niet persoonlijke originaliteit, persoonlijk denken en creëren, maar slechts egoïsme, verslaving aan winst, afzondering, wederzijdse vervreemding, het gebrek aan een positieve relatie met naasten, en het afstand doen van saamhorigheid. Met klem dient men het individualisme te onderscheiden van personalisme. Het individualisme is een eigenaardige vorm van kuddegedrag en van collectief bestaan.
Ik moest hieraan denken toen Geert Mak met een even verbijsterende oppervlakkigheid als schaamteloze pedanterie beweerde dat:
plotseling de wolf nu werkelijk voor ons [staat], pal voor onze neus. De wolf staat voor ons als binnen een politieke partij, druk in het nieuws, vrolijk wordt gesproken over de ‘internationale pedonetwerken van de Joden.’ De wolf staat voor ons als een andere politieke partij, die ernaar streeft om, als het even kan, het land te zuiveren van een bepaalde bevolkingsgroep, in de peilingen als tweede uit de bus komt. En de wolf staat, in duizendvoud, voor ons op Facebook, Twitter en Whatsapp. Maak eens een wandelingetje door de achterbuurten van het huidige internet. De stank en de bagger slaan je tegemoet.
Geert Mak en de meeste andere sociaal-democraten hebben zichzelf decennialang wijs gemaakt dat ‘de wolf’ definitief vernietigd was, niet beseffend dat het fascisme nooit is weggeweest, maar onderhuids als een ziektekiem bleef sluimeren. Maar zolang de sociaal-democratie de maatschappelijke onlustgevoelens met materie wisten af te kopen, leek niets aan de hand te zijn. En dus besefte de westerse intelligentsia ook niet dat Ian Buruma’s oproep aan Europa om een deel van het Amerikaanse gewelddadige ‘dirty work’ op zich te nemen, in de praktijk de steun betekent aan het hedendaags fascisme om de schrijnende ‘wereldwijde ongelijkheid’in stand te houden, waarbij '71 percent of the world holds only 3 percent of global wealth,’ terwijl ‘the world’s wealthiest individuals,’ die slechts ‘8.1 percent of the global population’ uitmaken, ‘own 84.6 percent of global wealth.’ Wat de mainstream-pers zich eveneens niet realiseert, is dat als Geert Mak -- na alle Amerikaanse terreur in bijvoorbeeld Vietnam, Afghanistan, Irak -- ‘Amerika’ prijst omdat het, volgens hem, ‘decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent’ in de wereld ‘fungeerde,’ eveneens deze oude vriend van mij een uiterst gewelddadige fascistische wereldorde bejubelt. Zowel Buruma als Mak figureren hier als ‘de wolf,’ een rol, die laatstgenoemde Wilders en Baudet verwijt. Berdjajav had in het interbellum gelijk toen hij schreef:
In de individualistische vorm van bestaan van de burgerlijke samenleving werd de mens gesocialiseerd en geobjectiveerd, aan de macht van het geld en de industriële ontwikkeling onderworpen en aan de burgerlijke mores ondergeschikt gemaakt; terwijl hem werd gesuggereerd dat hij als ‘economische mens,’ die door zijn economische activiteiten zijn egoïstische belangen najaagt, tegelijkertijd ook de samenleving, de natie en de staat dient.
De westerling zit nu hermetisch gevangen in een virtuele werkelijkheid, en ook daarin had Berdjajev al 86 jaar geleden volkomen gelijk toen hij schreef:‘Wij gaan een totalitair collectivisme tegemoet, waarin iedere differentiëring verdwijnen zal.’ En dus blijven in de'corporate press'alleen de Buruma's en Makken over, en al die andere collaborateurs.
'Authoritarian capitalism is where the U.S. is heading,' says Yale historian
CBC Radio ·
Ideas53:59Money Rules: Is Capitalism Destroying Democracy?
*Originally published on November 2, 2020.
By Bruce Livesey
Is capitalism destroying democracy and fostering the rise of authoritarian regimes around the globe?
With the election of right-wing populist governments and leaders in Hungary, Poland, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Turkey, India, Italy and the United States, the prospect that the answer is "yes" is gaining credence.
"Authoritarian capitalism is what China has under the aegis of the Communist party; authoritarian capitalism is what Russia has with no particular ideological content," asserts Timothy Snyder, historian at Yale University and author of On Tyranny.
"And authoritarian capitalism is where the United States is heading… I think it is much more closely connected to a certain kind of capitalism — a capitalism which says: it's okay for there to be radical inequality."
The belief capitalism and democracy always go hand-in-hand is historically inaccurate.
"Capitalism is basically an economic system that can function, and has historically functioned, within the context of a number of different political systems, ranging from democratic to extremely authoritarian," explains Jacques Pauwels, a Canadian historian and political scientist.
The most dramatic example is the role big business played in the rise of fascism in Europe during the 1920s and '30s.
In Germany, the combination of the hardships imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of militant labour unions and left-wing parties, as well as the fallout from the Russian Revolution, frightened Germany's business class. And when the Great Depression began in 1929, they began throwing their money and support to the nascent Nazi party, which blamed the country's woes not on capitalism but on a familiar scapegoat, the Jewish community.
"(The left's) explanation for the misery caused by the Great Depression was that it was the fault of the capitalists; whereas Hitler's explanation was that, no: it's all the fault of the Jews," explains Pauwels, the author of the 2017 book Big Business and Hitler.
By the early 1930s, German industry and banks were pouring their money and support into the Nazi party, companies like: Siemens, Krupp, IG Farben Dresdner Bank and Commerzbank. Steel magnate Fritz Thyssen was an early supporter of the Nazi party. American corporations and banks followed suit, with Henry Ford being an open admirer of Hitler's.
"Every single big German company, and I should say every single, big company active in Germany, which means not necessarily German companies, but foreign companies that have subsidiaries that had branch plans in Germany, [supported the Nazis]," says Pauwels.
During the Second World War, German corporations profited from the use of slave labour provided by concentration camps.
Yet after the war, Western governments, with rare exception, refused to prosecute German industrialists and bankers for their financing and collusion with the Nazis.
Capitalism and authoritarianism after WWII
Capitalism and authoritarianism took a different twist in the post-war era.
"At the end of the Second World War, the United States looked around the world and told itself: 'We are the only important country that has not been sapped politically, economically, morally and militarily by this war'," observes Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, author and academic.
"Therefore, it's our 'obligation' to lead the world."
In 1947, the U.S. government established the Central Intelligence Agency. And for the next 40 years, the CIA and successive American administrations intervened in 80 elections around the world, and invaded or initiated coups in numerous countries.
When you look at the governments we've overthrown, in many cases they're more democratic than the governments we support.- Stephen Kinzer
Yet the vast majority of these interventions were designed to further American corporate interests, according to Kinzer, author of All the Shah's Men.
"The U.S. has always preferred authoritarian governments to ones that are democratic and open," says Kinzer.
"In fact, when you look at the governments we've overthrown, in many cases they're more democratic than the governments we support. And we often replace them with governments that are harsher and more authoritarian. So if there's an image out there that we overthrow bad regimes and help democracies, history actually shows that the opposite is usually true."
For example, the CIA and British intelligence engineered a coup in Iran in 1953, overthrowing the democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh.
Mossadegh had come to power with the mandate of nationalizing Iran's oil fields, which threatened American and British oil interests. After overthrowing Mossadegh, the CIA then installed the Shah as the new ruler, who ran a repressive and corrupt regime.
This set of events, in turn, led to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
"That revolution brought to power a clique of fanatically anti-American mullahs who proceeded to spend the next 40 years intensely, and sometimes quite violently, opposing American interests all around the world," says Kinzer.
At the same time it was active in Iran, the CIA also engineered a coup in Guatemala, overthrowing the democratically-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz, on behalf of the United Fruit Company, the American multinational famous for producing Chiquita bananas.
Arbenz had wanted to expropriate unused plantation land and give it to agricultural workers. The coup installed a military junta, which led to decades of repressive rule by the Guatemalan army. More than 200,000 people were killed over the 36-year-long conflict.
The end of the Cold War saw a slowdown in such foreign interventions. The collapse of the Soviet Union witnessed the country transform from socialism into a chaotic form of capitalism, presided over by then-president, Boris Yeltsin. In 2000, Yeltsin was replaced by Vladimir Putin.
"So under President Yeltsin in the 90s, Russia was a much freer country," says Snyder.
"There was much greater freedom of press. And there were rival clans of oligarchs. What Mr. Putin has done is assert himself as the oligarch-in-chief and use the organs of the state to crowd out all the oligarchs who didn't come to an acceptable deal with him.
"He's created a semi-permanent form of oligarchy where there's just one clan rather than competing clans and that one clan controls both politics and the economy. I would characterize it as an oligarchy with moments of Christian fascism."
A billionaire's game
The rise of right-wing populism arrived in America in 2016, when former Goldman Sachs executive, Steve Bannon, a proponent of the alt-right and head of Breitbart News at the time, went looking for a candidate to run for the Republican nomination. He found developer, Donald Trump.
But long before Trump's ascendency, corporations and the ultra-wealthy had been using their resources to undermine American democracy. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for unlimited corporate money to enter the political system through a ruling called Citizens United.
"It cannot be overstated what a deleterious effect on American political discourse the Citizens United decision has had," explains Andrea Bernstein, a New York-based investigative journalist and author of American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power.
"After Citizens United… it became possible for money to just flood into the system."
Indeed, President Barack Obama commented on the dangers of the ruling: "There aren't a lot of functioning democracies around the world that work this way. Where you basically have millionaires and billionaires bankrolling whomever they want and however they want and in some cases undisclosed. And what it means is ordinary Americans are shut out of the process."
Building democracy into existence
In recent years, the Republican Party and its wealthy backers have been attempting to undermine the U.S. electoral system by gerrymandering Congressional districts and engaging in voter suppression methods aimed at constraining the ability to vote among minorities, especially African Americans.
"And in 2016, for example, certain urban areas, college campuses had many fewer voting places," says Bernstein.
"We saw in 2018 that there were just cases where busloads of people going to the polls were just literally turned around. So there's been a very quick, deliberate and open effort by the Republican Party to keep people from voting and to dilute the political power of their opponents."
Bernstein focused her research on the Trump and Kushner families because she felt their rise to power underscored the growing oligarchic nature of America.
"The Trump family business model has acted in an oligarchic way since its inception, since the birth of the Trump business," she explains.
"Fred Trump, Donald Trump's father, understood very early on, at a very young age, that the way that he was going to be successful as a builder in New York City was by getting governments to do what he wanted. And he understood that the way to do that was to make donations and make connections and play the game."
Her conclusion is sobering.
"I think something we've come to learn is just how fragile democracy is. And how it's not something that comes up everyday like the sun. It has to be constantly built and constantly willed into existence.
"And when you have a president and the people around him who are willing to break all those systems, I think we see just how fragile it is."
Guests in this episode:
Timothy Snyder is the Levin professor of history at Yale University and author of On Tyranny and The Road to Unfreedom.
Jacques Pauwels is a Canadian historian, political scientist and the author of Big Business and Hitler and The Great Class War 1914-1918.
Stephen Kinzeris a former New York Times foreign correspondent and the author of Bitter Fruitand All the Shah's Men.
Andrea Bernsteinis an investigative journalist with WNYC New York Public Radio and the author of American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps and the Marriage of Money and Power.