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Plutonomy and the Precariat: On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline

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Posted on May 8, 2012
nosha (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch

This piece originally appeared at TomDispatch. Read Tom Engelhardt’s introduction here.

The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development.  Unprecedented, in fact. There’s never been anything like it that I can think of.  If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead—because victory won’t come quickly—it could prove a significant moment in American history.

The fact that the Occupy movement is unprecedented is quite appropriate. After all, it’s an unprecedented era and has been so since the 1970s, which marked a major turning point in American history. For centuries, since the country began, it had been a developing society, and not always in very pretty ways. That’s another story, but the general progress was toward wealth, industrialization, development, and hope. There was a pretty constant expectation that it was going to go on like this. That was true even in very dark times.

I’m just old enough to remember the Great Depression. After the first few years, by the mid-1930s—although the situation was objectively much harsher than it is today—nevertheless, the spirit was quite different. There was a sense that “we’re gonna get out of it,” even among unemployed people, including a lot of my relatives, a sense that “it will get better.”

There was militant labor union organizing going on, especially from the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations). It was getting to the point of sit-down strikes, which are frightening to the business world—you could see it in the business press at the time—because a sit-down strike is just a step before taking over the factory and running it yourself. The idea of worker takeovers is something which is, incidentally, very much on the agenda today, and we should keep it in mind. Also New Deal legislation was beginning to come in as a result of popular pressure. Despite the hard times, there was a sense that, somehow, “we’re gonna get out of it.”

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It’s quite different now. For many people in the United States, there’s a pervasive sense of hopelessness, sometimes despair. I think it’s quite new in American history. And it has an objective basis.

On the Working Class

In the 1930s, unemployed working people could anticipate that their jobs would come back. If you’re a worker in manufacturing today—the current level of unemployment there is approximately like the Depression—and current tendencies persist, those jobs aren’t going to come back.

The change took place in the 1970s. There are a lot of reasons for it. One of the underlying factors, discussed mainly by economic historian Robert Brenner, was the falling rate of profit in manufacturing. There were other factors. It led to major changes in the economy—a reversal of several hundred years of progress towards industrialization and development that turned into a process of de-industrialization and de-development. Of course, manufacturing production continued overseas very profitably, but it’s no good for the work force.

Along with that came a significant shift of the economy from productive enterprise—producing things people need or could use—to financial manipulation. The financialization of the economy really took off at that time.

On Banks

Before the 1970s, banks were banks. They did what banks were supposed to do in a state capitalist economy: they took unused funds from your bank account, for example, and transferred them to some potentially useful purpose like helping a family buy a home or send a kid to college. That changed dramatically in the 1970s. Until then, there had been no financial crises since the Great Depression. The 1950s and 1960s had been a period of enormous growth, the highest in American history, maybe in economic history.

And it was egalitarian.  The lowest quintile did about as well as the highest quintile. Lots of people moved into reasonable lifestyles—what’s called the “middle class” here, the “working class” in other countries—but it was real.  And the 1960s accelerated it. The activism of those years, after a pretty dismal decade, really civilized the country in lots of ways that are permanent.

When the 1970s came along, there were sudden and sharp changes: de-industrialization, the off-shoring of production, and the shift to financial institutions, which grew enormously. I should say that, in the 1950s and 1960s, there was also the development of what several decades later became the high-tech economy: computers, the Internet, the IT Revolution developed substantially in the state sector.

The developments that took place during the 1970s set off a vicious cycle. It led to the concentration of wealth increasingly in the hands of the financial sector. This doesn’t benefit the economy—it probably harms it and society—but it did lead to a tremendous concentration of wealth.

On Politics and Money

Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle. The legislation, essentially bipartisan, drives new fiscal policies and tax changes, as well as the rules of corporate governance and deregulation. Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector.

The parties dissolved in many ways. It used to be that if a person in Congress hoped for a position such as a committee chair, he or she got it mainly through seniority and service. Within a couple of years, they started having to put money into the party coffers in order to get ahead, a topic studied mainly by Tom Ferguson. That just drove the whole system even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector (increasingly the financial sector).

This cycle resulted in a tremendous concentration of wealth, mainly in the top tenth of one percent of the population. Meanwhile, it opened a period of stagnation or even decline for the majority of the population. People got by, but by artificial means such as longer working hours, high rates of borrowing and debt, and reliance on asset inflation like the recent housing bubble. Pretty soon those working hours were much higher in the United States than in other industrial countries like Japan and various places in Europe. So there was a period of stagnation and decline for the majority alongside a period of sharp concentration of wealth. The political system began to dissolve.

There has always been a gap between public policy and public will, but it just grew astronomically. You can see it right now, in fact.  Take a look at the big topic in Washington that everyone concentrates on: the deficit. For the public, correctly, the deficit is not regarded as much of an issue. And it isn’t really much of an issue. The issue is joblessness. There’s a deficit commission but no joblessness commission. As far as the deficit is concerned, the public has opinions. Take a look at the polls. The public overwhelmingly supports higher taxes on the wealthy, which have declined sharply in this period of stagnation and decline, and the preservation of limited social benefits.


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By Alan MacDonald, May 13, 2012 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

Yes! It’s indeed encouraging to see many more videos, articles, and posters at Common Dreams, truthdig, Op Ed News, Alternet, TRN, and many other progressive truth sites openly talking about confronting the Empire—- which can best be accomplished through participating in the “Occupy Empire” movement this ‘Summer 2012 of Real Revolution”, instead of being fooled by another Fall of Obama’s deceitful promises of useless ‘hope for never coming change’ and phony scams of deceit, depression, detention, and wars of destruction.

Yes, the Green Party offers a real chance to save and improve this former country of ours——and Jill Stein is openly and overtly running on a platform “Against Empire”.

The unfortunate reality, that neither the Obama-robot nor the Romney-robot of EMPIRE will ever mention or even whisper is that the corporate/financial/militarist and media EMPIRE, the DGE (Disguised Global Empire), which now has ‘captured’ and fully “Occupies” our former country by hiding behind the facade of its modernized two-party ‘Vichy’ sham of faux-democratic and totally illegitimate government—- is just like the earlier and crude single party ‘Vichy’ party in France tried to hide the Nazi EMPIRE.

But with the Occupy movement now progressing to “Occupy Empire” demonstrations and organizing massive “Occupy the Empire” protests through its revised ‘new strategy’ for election impact in summer 2012, by focusing on educating and energizing the real mass of the 99% to “Occupy Empire”, the Green Party’s Anti-Empire solidarity will drive a massive push by all the anti-war, anti-Wall Street, anti-corporate, pro-environmental and pro-people voters to be able to really ‘change’ the system—- which is something that was never possible with either the stealth and smoothly lying Secret Agent 008, Obama, working for the Disguised Global Empire behind our back, or for the obvious and proto-fascist Romney robot working for the very same Disguised Global Empire (but without wearing as good a mask of deceit as the Obama ‘whore of the Empire’ puppet).

Here’s video of Miichael Parenti, professor and author of the leading educational and revolutionary 1995 book “Against Empire”—- as he educates college student about the fast growing masses of informed middle/working-class Americans who are swelling the ranks of 2012’s “Occupy Empire”—- “Summer of Real Change”.


http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/michael-parenti-occupy-empire/


Best luck and love to the “Occupy
Empire” educational and revolutionary movement.

Liberty, democracy, & justice
Over
Violent/Vichy
Empire,

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By John Steinsvold, May 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment

Korky Day,

Most important to humans are his well being and the
welfare of his family and society in general. The
reward that people inherently seek is image; it is
respect and reverence from their community.

Today, we live in a materialistic society. Material
wealth is a status symbol. Currently in the USA,
wealth directly symbolizes competence, power, and
intelligence. In a way of life without money, we will
all be economically equal (or nearly so; at least
poverty will be eliminated). You will not be able to
tell a CEO from a janitor by the clothes they wear or
by the cars they drive or by the homes they live in.
The aristocracy in a way of life without money will
be those who contribute the most to society in the
way of achievement, leadership & ideas. They will be
held in our esteem.

Perhaps for the first time in history, we, as a
nation and as a people, have the ability to conduct
our internal economic affairs without the need to use
money. We have the necessary democratic government,
we have the abundant resources, we have the
educational facilities and also the technical
knowledge to do so. In light of what is happening in
our economy today, should we not, at least, explore
this possibility?

John Steinsvold

The true business of people should be to go back to
school and think about whatever it was they were
thinking about before somebody came along and told
them they had to earn a living.
~Elizabeth Barlow

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By Korky Day, May 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

If “John Steinsvold” knows how his nameless money-less society would prevent people from cheating each other, I would like to know how.  Weren’t people immoral before money?

I agree that the problem is systemic, but I see more potential in electoral and democratic reform.  That includes democratic control over the economy and finance.  Europe now seems to be rejecting austerity with the votes in Iceland, Greece, and France.  Those are democratic countries compared to the pseudo-democratic USA.

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By John Steinsvold, May 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Korky Day,

Yes, our capitalistic system can work wonderfully well if we were all moral; but this simply is not the case! If people have a choice between being honest and economic gain, which do they choose? The answer is obvious. Perhaps if you are middle class or wealthy, you can afford to be honest? How sad!

John Steinsvold

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By Korky Day, May 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

I read “John Steinsvold’s” medium-length article at the link he provides, even though it teasingly refuses to mention its idea in its title.  The idea is a vague plan for a country to live without money.  Doesn’t sound too practical.  I don’t see why we can’t establish democracy and fairness and still use money.  But I keep an open mind.

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By John Steinsvold, May 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew
about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed:
“There is no alternative”. She was referring to
capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still
persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism
for the American people to consider. Please click on
the following link. It will take you to an essay
titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by
the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

http://evans-
experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and
expecting a different result.”~ Albert Einstein

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Whites will die before giving up their complacency.

And MY beef is they will take most of the other life forms on this planet with them.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

In case you’re curious further, my First Nations relatives are Mohawk, Oneida, Tsimshian, and Taino.

And to get to the root of peoples’ curiosity on this question, while I agree that White people are more likely to be unsavoury and to dismiss other races’ righteous arguments, I prefer to consider the individual.  I think we need as many allies as possible with overlords overwhelmingly sinister and powerful.  Nevertheless, among would-be allies, a few contemptuous anti-White words occasionally are good to startle Whites out of their complacency.  That’s why I like to hear from “americanme”.

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

You are NOT addicted to changing the system.

You are a masochistic voter.

And if you are voting absentee, forget that foolishness, as those ballots are routinely tossed in the wastecan.

The only way to change the system in the US is to get rid of it.

And that means a revolution.

Which will never happen.  Pigs could fly first.

I am not doing a statistical anything—I am responding to someone with a culturally white attitude.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

I’m addicted to changing the System.
In case you’re doing a statistical study, I come from a family with a few different races.  I myself have ancestors from Europe and Asia.

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, we are diferent: I am not addicted to The System.

Maybe another difference might be that you are white?

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

I like “americanme”.  We both left the USA.  We both recognize the on-going genocide of the First Nations, descendants of slaves, people living above oil deposits, and others.
Our strategies are just a little different.

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Give it up, kork:  I left the US twenty years ago.

You are trying to sell snake oil to someone who is allergic to snakes.

You will be ruled by the “winner” that was picked by Big Guns, Big Oil, Big Bucks and Big Drugs.  period.

The only option is to make a revolution and you guys do not have the guts to do that.

So suffer.

You will receive no sympathy from me.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

If you abstain from voting without having first determined that your abstention movement is big enough to succeed, you are practically acquiescing to be ruled by the “winner”, whether the election was democratic and fair or not.
Therefore, another strategy is to propose state and federal constitutional amendments that say what happens if the voter turn-out is below a specified threshold.

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

I said I was done.

D O N E.

You are hopeless.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

“americanme” wrote also, “Pro-rep is silly, anyway.  Democracy works when it’s participatory—not when it’s representational.”

There is a range of options, including those.
We can work for many of them simultaneously, as I do for pro-rep and for “participatory” governance, such as referenda.

Choose among the options in a poll called
“Democratic reform USA 2012.”
http://www.demochoice.org/dcballot.php?poll=DemoRefUS

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

I’m done Korky.

You are an addict, and I know that if I come between you and your addictive substance you will begin to get really MEAN.

In your case, you are addicted to voting for the system that fucks you over.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

I don’t see how voting Green, possibly for “americanme” as one of our candidates (which sounds good to me!), endorses the System.  Nowhere on the ballot does it say, “And if my candidate loses, I agree to be tortured by Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.”

A movement to abstain from voting has never forced the genocidal rulers to invalidate an election or to act humane, not in the USA or Canada, anyway.

But if you insist on that strategy, at least do it properly.  Sign up enough people before the election who are willing to try it if enough others do, too:
http://www.PledgeBank.org
For a presidential election, you might need 66 million pledges (half the eligible voters).

We Greens are not perfect, but we have more support and candidates from the First Nations than any other party, as far as I know.  Join us.  Make our party better and stronger.

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

korky korkykorky:  You don’t get it!

Anytime you VOTE, PERIOD, you pledge allegiance to the statem that fucks you over.

Pro-rep is silly, anyway.  Democracy works when it’s participatory—not when it’s representational.

And I don’t, as an indigenous person, see that the Green party has caused diddly squat in the way of improvements to a course barrelling like a runaway train to extinction of most of the life forms on this planet.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

“americanme” writes “The best solution is NOT TO VOTE FOR THE SYSTEM that ***** you over.”

I don’t vote for that system.  On the contrary, I voted in an official referendum to change the System to proportional representation (pro-rep).  We lost.

I also vote Green, which will lead to changing the System in that and other ways.

“americanme” is also working to educate the public, (at least those reading TruthDig), which is one of the other options in the poll.

As of today, 2012 May 10, these 5 actions are winning the poll:
Elections & political parties.
Media, publicity, education.
Occupy.
Referendum campaigns.
Random acts of kindness.

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

The best solution is NOT TO VOTE FOR THE SYSTEM that fucks you over.

I don’t know why it is so hard for your folks to get that….

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

Troy Davis (2012 May 9, 10:16 am) wants “solutions to the American march towards fascism”.
People are trying lots of solutions.
Vote at a small, non-profit poll site for the best solutions:

http://www.demochoice.org/dcballot.php?poll=StratgyChg

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Well, TruthDig “found” my lost comment.
Sorry for the duplication.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

TruthDig lost my comment again when I submitted it, and I forgot to save it for myself first.

So I’ll try again to write my comment:

Chomsky is excellent, as usual.

One little quibble, though.
It’s a contradiction to want faster trains and reduce fossil-fuel use.  Plane travel must be greatly reduced, too.

Also, faster trains are inherently more dangerous.
And if we put our capital into speeding the trains, we’ll neglect the more important job of re-expanding the train routes to what they were when Chomsky was a newly-wed.

Enjoy a relaxed ride on a spacious train while reading a Chomsky book or reading TruthDig on your computer.

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By Korky Day, May 10, 2012 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

Chomsky is great, as usual. 

My only quibble is his contradiction between wanting faster trains and burning fewer fossil fuels. 

Also, faster trains are more dangerous, other factors being equal.  Also, speeding up some routes of the trains probably means holding back on expanding the routes back to what they were when Chomsky was a newly-wed. 

We should not even think about high-speed until almost all our energy is sustainable.  And we should drastically cut back on jet travel.  Relax on a spacious medium-speed train and read a book by Chomsky or read TruthDig on your laptop.

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By Rixar13, May 10, 2012 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

“The developments that took place during the 1970s set off a vicious cycle. It led to the concentration of wealth increasingly in the hands of the financial sector. This doesn’t benefit the economy—it probably harms it and society—but it did lead to a tremendous concentration of wealth.”

I am the 99%....

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By John Poole, May 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chomsky TODAY is totally irrelevant. I was content with Lords and Vassals and to
try and keep his linguistic creds he comes up with “precariat”. How fucking lame
is that?  Move over, retire, you’re too rich to count Noam. Burn down the fucking
obsolete higher education monument you sequestered in for decades and tear up
your pension and emeritus position.

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By Troy Davis, May 9, 2012 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

@hetero:

“well, we no longer have a constitutional framework that supports white
supremacy, so it doesn’t much help to discuss that.”

Actually, the white supremacist power structure is still in full force. The fact that fascism is being implemented as I type these very words, under the auspices of a capitalist economic model under corporate [fascist] domination and control does not negate the white power structure.

The wealthiest Americans are still white males and they represent the top tenth percentile that controls the vast majority of wealth through interlocking corporate entities that manipulate the economy to insure that the power of the wealthy elite is never undermined.

Solutions. I want to hear solutions to the American march towards fascism [virtually a fait accompli]with the ultimate goal of global multi-national corporatism driven by capitalism.

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By balkas, May 9, 2012 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

het,
the two atom bombs were used in amero-japanese war.
yes, i shld have used descriptive language regarding use of a-bombs: it was
a tactical warfare in the amero-japanese war; with the wish/plan to obtain a
huge strategic gain for u.s.
but one shld not have to spell this out in detail every time to observers.
it’s ok to use a short cut now and then when posting to people who know
the history of amero-japanese rivalry and conflicts.

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By kerryrose, May 9, 2012 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

If anyone has ever driven (or parked) on I-95 anywhere from Richmond through DC, NJ, NYC to Boston– the lack of high speed alternatives to the millions of dinosaurs that are lined bumper to bumper becomes painfully obvious.

I feel like we are all complete and total suckers as we sit on a major interstate bumper to bumper.

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By heterochromatic, May 9, 2012 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

well, we no longer have a constitutional framework that supports white
supremacy, so it doesn’t much help to discuss that.

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By heterochromatic, May 9, 2012 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

balkas—- occasionally I’m quite silly, but WWII was not a nuclear war.

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By Troy Davis, May 9, 2012 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

@Jeffrey Perry:

I think it is a valuable area for discussion. The question seems to be: “Can America have a genuine, egalitarian democracy with liberty and justice for all within the constitutional framework that supports and promotes white supremacy?”

Clearly, from the founding of the nation, white supremacy was codified into law within the constitutional framework of the original constitution.

Slavery was codified into law giving moral authority to the buying, selling, trading and ownership of African human beings brought here against their will and forced into lives of slavery.

Clearly, the white power structure uses racism, particularly the fear of the loss of white supremacy to effetively prevent genuine, egalitarian democracy from taking root in America.

The wealthy elite are more than willing to account for “elite”  wealthy blacks s0 long as that elitism poses no genuine threat to the White Supremacist power structure and adheres to the dictates of it.

The wealthy elite, particulare those who represent the White Supremacist power structure, use racism very effectively to divide, subdue and conquer all the minorities by pitting them against each other in an unending war that diverts attention from the White Power Structure that continues to exploit them.


The United States of America was by, of, and for White privileged males and although tremendous efforts have been made over the 234 year history of America, we still live in a society wherein the wealth and power is retained primarily in the hands of white males who continue the pretense of a constitutional democracy.

This is changing, though, and now multinational corporate [fascist] interests under the auspices of global capitalism are poised to form an alliance based solely on wealth, wherein race will only be used to continue to oppress the great mass of people who are treated like any other commodity be it corn, cattle, cotton or human beings.

It is GREED [Get Rich Eviscerating Everything Democratic] in the name of the accumulation of material wealth exemplified by the profit motive that forms the hallmark of corporate [fascist] governance in the 21st century.

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By balkas, May 9, 2012 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

true, NC makes some interesting points in a very interesting piece but it cld have been made more interesting and more to the
point if he wld have finally also posited the cause for what happens in u.s and what u.s does or did to many indigenous peoples,
such as american, palestinian, korean natives.
NC has written, i think, couple of dozen very interesting books and many well-written articles, but THE POINT had always been
left out in all his writings that i read thus far.
surely, everything is caused! constitution, bill of rights, laws, WMD, exploitation, 1% or .1% or 30%, or 99%, u.s numerous
invasions, federal reserves, stand your ground, u look suspicious to me, i don’t don’t what ur deal is, sanctions, deep racial-
ethnic divides, ignorance, disinformation, lack of healthcare, use of atom bombs, etc., are CAUSED and all these aspects of one
reality is very aimful, systemic, etc.
so, what is his and moore’s, nader’s, hedges’ deal when they so steadfastly reject to even postulate cause for all that happens in
u.s, let alone affirm the first cause?
forever dwelling ONLY on symptoms is like a man who plows and plows and never sows—persian proverb.
the problems are systemic. nothing ever happens that is not of the system. the system, itself, is founded on the right of a person
to control/command another person for all times.
so, that’s the FIRST CAUSE!
remove it, and one solves all major problems.
of course, provided it is not already too late to expect any betterment whatever!

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By balkas, May 9, 2012 at 6:14 am Link to this comment

het, don’t go silly on my watch—i need your full attention and alertness.
anyway, i don’t know what you deal is!
are u up to sumting no good? u look very suspicious to me. why are
walking around and looking about in this gated community?
are u a hit man? i suspect u r!

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By Jeffrey B. Perry, May 9, 2012 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

While Noam Chomsky makes some important points I think his article would have been strengthened by discussion of the role of white supremacy in shaping the current situation (see for instance the National Urban League’s “Equality Index” in The State of Black America 2012). Chomsky’s article would have been further strengthened if it included discussion on how white supremacy was used to undermine struggles from below related to previous major crises in the U.S. (such as those of the 1870s, the 1890s, and the 1930s). White supremacy has been a principal retardant to previous progressive social change efforts and struggle against it should be a central component of our future efforts. Readers interested in more on this may want to look at the article “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (“Cultural Logic,” 2010) at
http://clogic.eserver.org/2010/2010.html

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By Jeffrey B. Perry, May 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While Noam Chomsky makes some important points I think his article would have been strengthened by discussion of the role of white supremacy in shaping the current situation (see for instance the National Urban League’s “Equality Index” in The State of Black America 2012). Chomsky’s article would have been further strengthened if it included discussion on how white supremacy was used to undermine struggles from below related to previous major crises in the U.S. (such as those of the 1870s, the 1890s, and the 1930s). White supremacy has been a principal retardant to previous progressive social change efforts and struggle against it should be a central component of our future efforts. Readers interested in more on this may want to look at the article “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (“Cultural Logic,” 2010) at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/ (top left).

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By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

balkas—- when was the first nuclear war?

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By balkas, May 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

yes, we need support of world’s 99% in order to stop mending the old pants and getting selves
a brand new pair.
yes, we need to stop yammering, bitching, complaining, demonstrating, marching, begging
and start doing lots of organizing, educating, walking door to door to deliver the message of
hope and better life.
actually i have done some of that.
===
however, second nuclear war is an ERGODIC [having zero chance of not occurring in infinity of
time] event.
btw, second nuclear war may not be limited like the first one.
and it may be too late to avert disastrous consequences of our rich way of living.
so, shall we give up? i say NO!

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By balkas, May 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

NC: but it’s going to be necessary to face the fact that it’s a long,
hard struggle [for the 99%]
yes, i agree. it cld even be bloody! on the other hand relatively short, say
a decade—and useless, if restricted to just nagging the 1-30% of the
pop.
mark these words: useless if apolitical and much useful tho long
[decades, a century] if also political.

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By Alan MacDonald, May 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment

Chomsky concludes with this truism:

“There are going to be barriers, difficulties, hardships, failures.  It’s
inevitable. But unless the spirit of the last year, here and elsewhere
in the country and around the globe, continues to grow and becomes a
major force in the social and political world, the chances for a decent
future are not very high.”

Yes, Noam, and the biggest barrier is propaganda induced mis-understanding—- which is highest in the US not surprisingly because the US is the headquarters of the Disguised Global Empire, and is better at fooling people than any other advanced country.

The French just climbed out of the cloud of misunderstanding and Empire deceit when they knocked off the not-so-slick Sarkozy, who could not fool them anymore into more austerity.

But as Chomsky says, there’s a “huge propaganda system” through which the camouflaged corporate/financial/militarist (and media) Empire fools 99% of the American people into believing that they still live in a democracy, when they actually are trapped inside the belly of a Disguised Global Empire.

Naturally, Obama is the best deceiver in the world on this score, fooling nearly all the people all the time for the Empire that placed him in office, and this has resulted in “a pervasive sense of hopelessness, sometimes despair”, which Chomsky admits is “quite new in American history.”

Chomsky goes on to admit that “There has always been a gap between public policy and public will, but it just grew astronomically” and that’s because the hidden Empire and not the the people has total power to control so-called “public policy”, and also; foreign policy, war policy, economic policy, (which BTW Nobel Economist George Akerloff described as early as 2001 as “Not normal government economic policy, but rather a form of looting”).

Yes, Noam it will be a very difficult task to climb out of this new ‘dark ages’, as Morris Berman correctly noted in his 2006 book, “Dark Ages America; The Final Phase of Empire”.

But the absolutely essential tool for all 99% of Americans understanding, rallying, uniting, and climbing out of this confusing death-spiral is that they know the name of their common affliction, pathology, and deceiver——and that name is not in academic and intellectual language above their heads, like “Plutonomy and the Precariat”, but in the simple word that united and motivated the first Americans to confront EMPIRE.

Noam, I have to be honest with you and with the Occupy movement.

Until Occupy becomes the easily understood rallying cry of “Occupy the Empire” no where near the 99% of Americans will understand anything that you or any other intellectuals are calling for.

Best luck and love to the “Occupy Empire” educational movement.

Liberty, democracy, equality & justice
Over
Violent/Vichy
Empire,

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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By balkas, May 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

NC: for the 1% and even less-.1%-it’s just fine.
ok, NC knows what goes in u.s much more than me, but i still dare say
that is quite fine also for cia/fbi agents, police, army echelons, msm
columnists/editors, sport people, singers, actors, et al or roughly 20-
30% of the pop.
or even the usual 98% of balllot casters who will most likely once again
vote for the .1% or the 30%.

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By balkas, May 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

NC: the issue is joblessness.
why isn’t work the issue? and the issue shld also be who decides what must be done, what
has to wait, and what shld never be done?
after all, there may or may not be jobs for all, but there is always enough work for all.
isn’t a job just a unit of work; arbitrarily made up by socalled job givers?
work, on the other hand, involves many tasks or units of work; ie, jobs.
and we all create work and are dying to do it. work makes us free; it is exhilarating,
uplifting, happy making, etc.
on the other hand, jobs are created by just a minority of people
and most jobs are hated, dangerous, unsatisfying, stultifying, etc.

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By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Jeff—-  see Chomsky’s para#5 in this piece for example of what I mean…..

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By Jeff N., May 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

hetero- what in christ do you mean by “metaphysical dubieties”?  Was there ever a more useless phrase?  As far as I can tell, Chomsky is one of the most accurate and meticulously sourced writers I’ve ever seen.  Have you looked at the notes sections of his books before?  This guy is a machine.

Americanme- This site has always been dirty, but I suspect it fills the void for people who never tire of ankle-deep policy analysis and the sweet little nothings that Obama whispers into our ears every couple weeks to keep the lefty establishment eating out of his hand.

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By Big B, May 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

Sorry mrfreeze, I must have forgotton my “reaganisms”. We all know that anyone who is poor and starving and homeless is because they want to be!

Anyone who is not already a millionaire in america is just too damn lazy!

And every black person is on welfare and drives a cadillac to the casino.

And what’s up with those asian drivers?

Thank you, you’ve been a wonderful audience.

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By americanme, May 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

They should be made to scrub toilets at Taco Bell with no benefits, no medical coverage and no retirement plan—ever.

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By mrfreeze, May 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

Big B - Don’t be silly…..there are a number of TD commentators (and plent of other Americans) who would tell you that you’re exaggerating the “pain” that Americans are feeling these days. The current economist “framing mantra” is that we are living in a golden age of material, technological and economic plentitude! If only all the poor would quit choosing a “poor lifestyle,” pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work even harder…....the American Dream will be theirs.

I do like your vivilante idea, but instead of shooting the executives a far more terrible punishment would be to make them work real jobs for a change.

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By americanme, May 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

Why was it re-posted days after it appeared in La Jortnada?

That is my question and that was not answered by your infantile post.

I want to know who is vetting what is published or republished or re-posted or warmed over on this site?

I believe this site is dirty.

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By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

this is a repost, moonie, and previously appeared in English elsewhere….....which
is what the attribution to TomDispatch should have told you.

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By americanme, May 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

And truthdig’s posting mechanism is screwed up again—big time lag, or some posts that never appear—about 30% of the posts I receive emails on in my ebox never have appeared on these threads.

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By americanme, May 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

This chomsky piece was in Spanish in Mexico days before showing up here.

What’s the deal?

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By americanme, May 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

How odd:  Chomsky’s pieces appear in Spanish translation in my Mexican newspaper days before they appear on truthdig!

This site is in the toilet—news that’s a week or more old (Evo nationalizes the electricity grid) and now this Chomsky piece.

Who is vetting what is printed here—the FBI?

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By heterochromatic, May 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

I enjoy the writings of Chomsky and if you don’t know enough to catch the
inaccuracies and the metaphysical dubieties, he can be persuasive.

Overall, though, he always has some nuggets that make for enriching reading.

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By Billy Pilgrim, May 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

To Big B: The “vigilantes” would never get past
security.

To Troy Davis: Chomsky has written many times about
Reagan and the ascent of benign fascism in America. Do
a little more research. The fact that Chomsky doesn’t
live in a cave somewhere and earns a nice living
writing about how corrupt our nation has become does
nothing to denigrate the important work he does.

To Surfboy: WTF?

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By berniem, May 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

Again, no one will mention it but the root cause of the global mess we’re in is ever increasing population pressure on every component necessary to adequately sustain life on the planet! I remember years ago a co-worker complaining that no matter how much he worked, he always fell behind. Of course having seven kids had nothing to do with it! Finally, another co-worker tired of hearing the same old whine finally told the guy that he should have thought about the future before he f—ked himself away from the table! More people+technology+greed=misery for the masses not endowed with good genes, silver spoons, or location, location, location….The best way to stop the exploitation of labor is to quit producing more people than what can be realistically accomodated. Also, we must come to the realization that the only way that the powerful cede anything is when confronted by the threat of force. Does anyone really believe that current proposed legislation eviscerating social safety nets in favor of increased military(defense-HA) spending has anything to do with protecting “we the people”? Wake up! When it all hits the fan guess which way the guns will point! Serve And Protect, My Ass!!!Perhaps a good start would be to boycott the electoral process altogether and force the ruling elite’s hand by forcing it to rule as an unelected/ultra-minority regime. Could such an entity legitimately claim to be representing the people and would the people be bound by its dictates? An interesting constitutional question! A revolution is coming and hopefully it will occur on a global scale, the machinations of the powers that be promoting fear and loathing not withstanding! Really, doesn’t it make you queasy seeing the smirks on the faces of the Koch Bros. or listening to the patronizing platitudes of so many of our “elected” officials? Personally, I’ve had it with the fear and hate mongers of every political stripe and every day I feel more and more that I would so love to see their heads in the bottom of a basket! FREE BRADLEY MANNING!!!!!

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By Troy Davis, May 8, 2012 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

This article manages to present a historical perspective on the slow march towards fascism in the United States without ever mentioning the historical significance of the Reagan Revolution or Reaganomics.

How can anyone claime to present an historical perspective on the rise of fascism and exclude the entire decade of the 1980’s in which fascism, under the guise of free market capitalism came to be the economic theory used to reestablish the financial ascendancy of the ruling elite?

Finally, Chomsky as revealed himself for he is, a puppet and pawn of the wealthy elite for whom he has toiled endlessly under the guise of opposition to the fascism that is engulfing us all, while he makes a very lucrative living within the context of his alleged opposition to the ascendancy of fascism under corporate multinational control.

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By Big B, May 8, 2012 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

I have made a living in peoples homes for the last 30 years. I have noticed a change among the poor, and it is a potentially dangerous trend. About 30 years ago, poor people looked sad, but kept at it, believing that if they were honest and worked hard, that there lives would turn around. About 10 years ago, they looked angry. But now, it has taken a turn. Now they look DESPERATE. Most are just begining to realize that there was never any such thing as the american dream. Or that it was exactly that, a dream.

No matter how much i hope, the bottom line is that we are coming to a crossroads, a perfect storm. I just can’t see this thing ending well anymore, for desperate people do desperate things.

Imagine what would happen in our nation if a gang of vigilantes raided the Goldman-Sacks building one day, dragged the CEO and board of directors out into the street, and shot each one, one at a time. While I hope it doesn’t go down that way, we are after all Americans. And we are an impatient lot (and armed to the teeth).

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