"The United States and Britain are being driven towards authoritarian government but it's not analogous to Germany in the 1930s. There is no Hitler, howsoever Trump may bluster, yet what we face in 2018 is worse than the spread of Nazism and there is no lesson in history to help us stop what is coming."
27th August 2018
TRIBAL POLITICS - MISDIRECTION #1
There's a lot of talk these days about the rise of authoritarian government in the US and the UK, sounding the alarm with extreme emphasis by citing the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany of the 1930s. Trump is often cast, particularly in the anxious mainstream media, as a modern day Hitler in the making, his admiration of dictators like Putin and Kim Jon Un and his derision of moderate politicians like Angela Merkel well documented. The UK government has been hijacked by a cabal of extreme isolationists with self-professed right-wing ideals prepared to use and abuse any mechanism available to consolidate and perpetuate power. In both countries Trump and Brexit Tories, enabled by the 'outer party' stooges too scared to rock the boat, defy an opposition itself divided and chasing its tail coping with one whirligig scandal after another.
The electorate has been driven into tribal entrenched positions, fed by mutually exclusive media outlets peddling the disinformation and propaganda most effective at perpetuating the dysfunctional status quo. Aggrandisement of leaders is a staple, as is stoking fear and insecurity and in-group out-group explanations to make villains of convenient scapegoats like immigrants or opposition policy (and its advocates).
REALITY SHOW WORLD - MISDIRECTION #2
Narratives that serve to distract are shared across the media landscape to leaven this diet of political conditioning: Thai cave boys, celebrity gossip, invented scandals (Antisemitism in Labour, Russian interference in the US election) and certain self-serving themes repeated often enough they become self-referential (insofar as any actual facts in any actual story) like Syrians and far right fascists breaking Europe apart. All in all, it's no wonder the voters - who've little time to devote to picking through these stories and a predisposition to follow agreeable stories - make ill-informed choices, often voting on their worst instincts for the very outcomes that most attack their best interests.
Setting aside the specifics of the disastrous Brexit or the damage done daily by Trump and grossly irresponsible Republications to America's institutions - both get plenty of airtime and column inches already - there are certain under-currents playing out that should concern us far more deeply than they have to date.
LIE IN THE TITLE - MISDIRECTION #3
Fears of authoritarian government - a perpetual Tory fortress Britain in the UK and a Trump-Republican dictatorship in the USA - are well-founded but the analogy of Hitler and the Nazis in pre-war Germany is misleading and dangerously behind the times. The 1930s are an object lesson in general public helplessness in the face of slow corrosion of freedoms by a government bent on enriching itself at any cost while selling as much of the electorate whatever story best ensures their vote.
Where the rise of fascism is not instructive, however, is in trying to disentangle the confusion of lobby groups, political agenda, corporate interests, economic forces that underpin a breakdown in American and British society that's playing out with consistent, methodical and seemingly unstoppable momentum. What exactly is breaking down? Why is there no undeniable visible sign of this schism? What's the engine driving the countries towards authoritarianism? Why are the people, vast majority that they are, more at risk today than the citizens of early 20th century demagoguery?
The 19th and 20th century played witness to hundreds of national experiments trying to implement particular ideologies or govern based on this or that economic model. Communism in Cuba, Leninism and Stalinism in Russia, socialism of myriad flavours, enlightened monarchy, free market theocracy, Keynesian deficit spending, Thatcherism self-interest, New Deal, Bretton Woods, free trade, tariffs, Imperial pillage, labour outsourcing, etc etc. Not a single ideology or economic dogma was the panacea, society is too diverse with too many factors and conflicting interests for any rigidly defined system to work. More than this, the imposition of an uber-ruleset begins compromised, becomes broken and ends in conflict - entrenched conservatism versus neo-whatever progressives.
GOVERNMENT IN NAME ONLY - MISDIRECTION #4
What emerged, once the smoke cleared following the 2009 subprime banking "crisis", was an object lesson in the weakness (or corruption) of extant governments when it comes to dealing with the economic fallout of the evolving global market. This has led to a disarray in the US and UK political systems, government pushed to extremes with the most committed self-interests best able to 'sell' uncomplicated slogan-explanations seeming to take the reigns of power as the bewildered disenfranchised electorate scramble for surety and assurance and leadership in a maelstrom too complex and too nuanced to tell what's sincere from what's disingenuous power-seeking.
The further an electorate (and its political representatives) get from keeping a handle on socio-economic realities, the more a majority will seek to abdicate to simple re-empowering promises and double down on tribal divisions. The political landscape in American and Britain in 2018 reflects this idiot's lantern, where everything becomes political not because the people are suddenly more interested or more insightful but because the more superficial the narrative, the more habitual the cognitive dissonance, the more readily everything gets reduced to fit the 'look' of understanding, fuel for confirmation bias, shorn of contradictions, subtlety and actual understanding. Trump, Brexit, anti-Immigration, identity politics, atomisation sold as consistency by colour to dodge troublesome detail that might require exposition.
FREE MARKET FORCES - MISDIRECTION #5
This furore rumbles on. Social media and mainstream media and who-the-fuck-knows media peddling flavours of distraction that wrongly seem to represent a diversity in the same way elected representatives play to their audiences without much connection to their actual activity. Much smoke, little fire.
Market forces have been the fundamental arbiter of human society (and socio-economic progress) since the breakdown of the feudal hegemony and the industrial revolution. Capital versus labour was an early political consequence, compounded by capital tending to be held by the inheritors of feudal power and privileges (i.e. the European aristocracies and upper middle class merchant-barons).
Markets dictate economic reality. This is the only robust reality. Politics ebbs and flows, ideologies gain power and lose power, individual actors step out of the crowd then recede or get overthrown or inevitably die. The markets are always responsive, always on the money, always the most effective crucible of ideologies that matter to people. The markets absorb power and reflect the influence of wealth, agnostic when it comes to who does what and where, as comfortable playing out a transaction between neighbours as a vast flow of trade in and out of a nation state.
This isn't to say free markets unfettered by regulation is itself an ideology worth pursuing. To focus here is to miss the bigger picture. The market is agnostic about regulation, too. The market is agnostic about profit and loss. The market doesn't know a communist from a capitalist except insofar as the former has no choice and the latter has the appearance of choice.
This is the rub: the market is, by definition, a manifestation of current conditions (as they are) and people (rich to poor) taking into account every transaction of every exchange where human agency, precedent and expectation is expressed.
THE FOLLOWING IS JUST NOTES, FOR INTEGRATION OR FOR ANOTHER SCRIBBLE AS WE'RE ALREADY AROUND THE 1200 WORDS MARK ABOVE THE LINE.
ARTIFICIAL SUPER INTELLIGENCE - MARKETS
-- markets make for a de facto super intelligence juggling all the innumerable variables and working out efficiencies answering the profit/self-interest. If that criteria covers the needs of society and the individual, it's a perfect system, especially pre-computers.
-- need to explain how it's market forces making the dominance structure, embodied in immortal corporations that don't care about human life and don't have conscience and always know what the moral choice is because it's a morality of profit and that's always unequivocal
FREE MARKET EXCLUSIVE DIVIDE AND RULE
-- in-group / out-group reality, make your choice or enjoy what's left of your days of freedom
-- talk about the removal of the middle class as the development late 90s/early 00s with 2008/9 and the capitalation to wealth emboldening the NWO to strike out and make it decisiv
-- technology helps in all this, re: Facebook's info gathering, effective Cambridge Analytica, but this is infancy compared to China and the social-media civic-enforcement regulation of people, a model that can repilicate to control billions, while the politburo are the super wealthy (quote some figures)
-- need to talk about press complicity, voter apathy, how the solution is still with us and this is more proximate than climate change and more easily dealt with; but will be the more comprehensively lost if it IS lost since slavery once the manacles get welded on, like any prison, is going to be permanent.
FREE MARKET ABANDONED - BY FREE MARKET WINNERS
Roosevelt State of the Union 1944 - Second Bill of Rights. This recognised the economic corporate dominance was at least as big a threat as dictators and totalitarian regimes. Military Industrial Complex and corporate crony-capitalism, fraternity of profit motive playing out the logic of that prime directive year on year. Why be surprised if they're taking over government to hand over taxpayer revenue to themselves? It's not evil, it's profitable.
Market is people choosing and doing and enduring and extravagant (ING) - spectrum of personalities, scales no matter how big population is.
Because of this, the market defines the point where narrative meets reality and can go no further.
Market strips away lies about how things are.
Market is inevitably a powerful momentum that's resistant to truth just as much as lies, being very practical. Ideology means nothing unless it plays out in choice or action.
THE FASCISM COIN: FREE MARKET? COMMUNISM?
-- markets aren't perfect for human society of individuals, they're perfect for the acquisition of profit but agnostic about individual versus non-individual identity (which is why corporations as if an extant entity is such a bad legal principle). Profit is best served by monopoly, by power, by exclusivity. None of these best serve human individuals (or society, mostly).
-- markets are, ironically, an analogue for artificial super intelligence not only because they calculate with a transhuman fidelity the variables and outcomes and practical reality best marshalling the components into most effective profit arrangement, but because they leave out the inherent illogical value of the individual human being; which is precious to most of us (however much we may be able to compartmentalize and dismiss strangers/outgroup human beings). Markets don't care about life, unless profit and serving life coincide, which is a dangerous faith - every bit as risky as the communists thinking human government best for directing society, resources and citizen lives. Faith is a bad idea.
"Necessitous men are not free men."
Articles 22-27 universal healthcare, free education, economic freedoms - taken from the Roosevelt second bill of rights.