Tuesday, December 05, 2017

How America Is Adopting The Russian System

Can anyone else see this administration getting their orders from a foreign enemy? That’s what appears to be going on. They don't wake up every morning thinking "How can I weaken America today?" but the orders they carry out do just that. Shutting down the foreign service leaves us blind and deaf and mute. What country would do that to itself? Alienating allies isn’t a wise policy. Doing the bidding of a foreign rival in key parts of the world is also unwise but that is what Trump is doing in Europe and the Mideast. The world that used to admire and work with us now distrusts us. (MinnPost's Eric Black writes about the sudden decline in America's standing in the world)

We base our policy on what we know and we secure our safety with intelligence gathering. What do the Republicans do? They shut that down. (Here is a POLITICO article about one piece of that shutting down of our intelligence gathering system) Partly because the intelligence agencies found out that Trump was working under the direction of a foreign enemy, that his national security advisor was on the payroll of that enemy and various other Trump officials were also employed by the Russian spy agencies. The solution, say the Republicans, is to shut down our spy agencies. Why have spy agencies when our orders are coming from the spy agencies of our enemy? OK, I exaggerate, but this year has unfolded in an exaggerated and unlikely fashion. This is the direction we are headed in.

But it isn’t as simple as that. The Republicans’ BIG IDEA has always been to privatize everything. Private schools, private healthcare, privately run roads and public lands and waterways owned and operated by rich corporations run by rich friends. Now the idea is privatized national security. Why have oversight by democratically elected officials when you can have the spies run by rich friends. You’re more likely to gain intelligence that matches your preconceptions and your delusions. Intelligence that you can weaponize without anyone stopping you.

The Intercept has a new article about how the Trump junta is seeking to create its own private spy service, under the direction of Erik Prince, one of the intermediaries who sought to create back channels between Trump and his masters in Moscow)

This extreme privatization of the public sector is the Russian model. After the collapse of Gorbachev the entire Soviet infrastructure was sold off cheap (or given outright) to the cronies of the new leaders. Putin’s oligarchs are the former mobsters who ran the criminal underworld and black market under the Soviet system. Everything now belongs to them, the water rights, the mineral rights, the forests, the land, the industry, the roads, the railroads, the workers, everything. The people are dependent on these things owned by the Putinists so they hear and obey what their new masters tell them. And the new masters hear and obey Putin who can jail and execute any oligarch who crosses him or fails to pay him his kickbacks. This is the new model being set up by the radical Republicans and Trump: a kleptocracy as ugly as any central African state where the oligarchs are obscenely rich and own everything. The biggest, baddest, richest autocrat of them all is now the boss of our president. In effect Vlad Putin is our leader now. Trump, by comparison, is a small time hoodlum and con artist. A petty criminal.

Is it any wonder millennials have doubts about capitalism? (Today's NYTimes column by Michelle Goldberg is about this) Weaponized capitalism is something that’s evolved in recent decades, after the Lewis Powell memo and the Reagan Revolution, as Americans stopped questioning the absolute unquestionable perfection of the capitalists. The Republican tax bill nails down the absolutism of the people who own for a living and the impoverishment and submission of the people who work.

If there were any question about Republicans’ contempt for working people it was clarified perfectly in the comments of Senator Grassley and Senator Hatch. We are now a divided people: a handful of extremely rich people on top and below them, far below them, a rabble of workers half of whom despise the system and half who worship and obey the capitalists without question.

Our history didn’t need to lead us here.

After capitalism failed in 1929-33, FDR saved it and put it on a fairer and stabler footing with the New Deal. Capitalism in this form created several decades of prosperity and contentedness from 1945 to 1980 or so.

Then Reagan began reconverting it into the Harding/Coolidge/Hoover model that triggered the 1929 collapse. This reconversion eventually led to inequality and unfairness and predatory fraud and instability and collapse in 2008, when Obama rescued it again.

After eight years spent blocking Obama’s efforts to restore the fairness and stability we enjoyed for those great decades the Republicans have regained power and are making the final draconian changes that will restore the bad old days. Perhaps they realize they’ll need to uphold this with a fascist government, full surveillance and a removal of free and fair and honest information. Their goal is to make our misery and deprivation and ignorance and deception as profitable as possible.

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