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“Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianis

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Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
George,

quote:At the risk of again "chiming in with pessimistic ideas", would you care to suggest why Susan Jacoby and Al Gore and a host of others are comparing present-day discourse in "America", from the White House on down, with the public's interest in ideas at the time of the American Revolution.

I don't understand your question. You want me to comment on others' comparisons between today and revolutionary America ?

quote:
The "founding fathers" - you know, framers of the constitution, etc. - are compared with the current crop.
Anyone suggesting that its all been an improvement since '76 can only be compared to the churchmen who found something positive in the Lisbon quake and that inspired Voltaire to pen Candide.

I wouldn't say that everything has improved but certainly individual wealth and well being has improved overall.

quote:


When current rabble (2008 variety)are discussing books, the vitality of ideas, the apparent reaction to those ideas, their relevancy on a planet where another million of George W.'s "folks" are added to the already crowded scene every five days (oh I know, pessimism again)it sure as hell has to be "okay" to quote frightening old Al(Gore) if reality means anything at all.
Perhaps fiction is your thing? A Pride and Prejudice world, or that of Emma, removed from the cannons of Wellington's peninsular campaign, far from the channel fleet and other such nastiness?

My God, your posts are equally tortured and sophisticated. I didn't take enough English to get the references... Sorry... Seriously. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

The quality of dialogue among the learned classes may be in decline, as I myself probably exemplify. But the learned classes didn't include the millions of people that they include today.


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
quote:What fatuous nonsense MH.

How so ?

I can't imagine going back in time and explaining to Arthur Evans (I'm related to him btw) that we're fighting for pay-per-view TV.


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007
If the writings of Jane Austen are unknown territory, perhaps fiction is not your thing.

But it would be oh so helpful to see a response to some figures, like Voltaire and his Candide to be reassured that you read anything at all?

What DO you use as a base for your tendentious and tedious little homilies? [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]


N.Beltov
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Joined: May 25 2003
MH, your remarks come across as obtuse. Que-jumping by rich people, in regard to medical treatment that they get ahead of others, who die, is public knowledge. It prolongs the lives of those who can afford it and ends the lives of those who can't afford it. There are plenty of other examples in which the "relative" differences between the rich and the super-rich on the one hand, and the rest of us, on the other hand, is a very serious matter.

Trivialize it all you like. That reflects more on the shallowness of your own views, however.

[ 21 May 2008: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
GV,

quote:If the writings of Jane Austen are unknown territory, perhaps fiction is not your thing.

But it would be oh so helpful to see a response to some figures, like Voltaire and his Candide to be reassured that you read anything at all?

What DO you use as a base for your tendentious and tedious little homilies?

Figures as in "numbers" or figures as in "public figures" such as yourself ?

I use my observations of the world in general as a basis for my opinions, sifted through many years of wisdom and foolishness. I find it hard to believe that people who remember the bygone years can think that they were "better" than what we have today.

Of course, our goal is perfection. We all want Nirvana - not the band. Peace on earth. Milk and honey. Soy milk.

We shouldn't get despondent over the failure to achieve perfection, though.


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007
Nobody's despondent at this end. And only the unread would suggest that there was anything better about "life chances" back when.

But it has been suggested (above) that rationality and reasoning have had a better day.

Your "figures" response, MH, is testimonial to that concern.


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
quote:But it has been suggested (above) that rationality and reasoning have had a better day.

I don't know if I should be taken as a general sign of decline. As a particular example of decline, sure. My friends and family constantly remind me of this fact, as do passers by.

The thread, though, is about this idea of inverted totalitarianism. Maybe part of that phenomenon is about the decline of rationality and reasoning but surely not all of it.


George Victor
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Joined: Oct 28 2007
Love to end with agreement on that point at least MH
[img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

jeff house
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Joined: May 7 2001
quote: The East German Stasi never dreamed of having the NSA's ability to tap phone calls, mail, and a range of personal communications amounting to extreme monitoring and violations of privacy

It doesn't surprise me that you are privy to the dreams of the Stasi! I think there is a true fit there, birds of a feather and all that.

East Germany was a deep-died police state. Here'swhat wiki says:

quote: The Stasi infiltrated almost every aspect of GDR life. In the mid-1980s, a network of civilian informants, Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators), began growing in both German states; by the time East Germany collapsed in 1989, the Stasi employed an estimated 91,000 employees and 300,000 informants. About one of every 50 East Germans collaborated with the Stasi — one of the most extensive police infiltrations of a society in history. In 2007 an article in BBC stated that "Some calculations have concluded that in East Germany there was one informer to every seven citizens."

And The New York Review of Books has a good review of a STASI-themed film going the rounds:

quote: In that larger scheme of things, East Germany, unlike Nazi Germany, was but a sideshow. The Stasi was modeled on the KGB and not, as many people vaguely imagine, on the Gestapo. As the archives of other Soviet bloc states are opened, we find that their secret police worked in very similar ways. Perhaps the Stasi was that little bit better because it was, well, German; but there are so many larger horrors in the files of the KGB. And we should not forget that the subtle psychological terror of the Stasi state depended, from the first day to the last, on the presence of the Red Army and the willingness of the Soviet Union to use force. When that went, the Stasi state went too.

But the apologists for the police state live on.


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005
jeff house wrote:
It doesn't surprise me that you are privy to the dreams of the Stasi! I think there is a true fit there, birds of a feather and all that.
....

But the apologists for the police state live on.

What a vile and completely unwarranted attack on another babbler!

Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by jeff house:

But the apologists for the police state live on.

Aint it the truth, Jeff. They even hired real Nazis to run the spy ops out of West Germany. We welcomed actual war criminals into the west with open arms and denied Soviet and Israeli extradition requests for decades. One war criminal told a 60 minutes reporter that brandishing his SS tattoo was proof enough of his anticommunist credentials for British and Canadian immigration officials at the end of the war. Thousands of them should have been lined up against a cement wall at dawn, no cigarette or blindfold. sieg HEIL! sieg HEIL!! sieg HEIL!!!

The Soviets never hid the fact that their's was a high security militarized state. 30 million dead Russians after western aggression against the revolution part two. In that country, "never again" meant just that after moving the line of defence westward by the same layer of countries they liberated from the Nazis. The Soviets never apologized for it. Not once, and you'll never prod or cajole the likes of me into apologizing for that slice of history either, Jeff. It was what it was, and I don't agree with either your one-sided version or personal opinion of it.

And so besides a certain person with whom we're both familiar with in this thread, who do Yanqui imperialists believe they are fooling today? The USSA is the most highly militarized, nuclear-powered repressive gulag state in world history. But unlike their former cold war adversaries, Yanquis refuse to admit it. And that's what's so insidious about this Orwellian state to the south of us, our largest trading partners in crime.

[ 21 May 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:

This is a complete exaggeration. The idea that things are worse now than in the past is crazy.

We're not living in capitalism, we're living in modified capitalism.

I understand that things are quite different here since before WWI when capital reined supreme. Certain concessions were made to working class North Americans between then and the 1960's to early 70's. Many, many Canadians and Americans were martyred by a terrible economic depression and two world wars. Capitalism is predatory by its ideological nature. Linda McQuaig described in All You Can Eat how those concessions were beginning to be won from powerful capitalists at a time when full voting rights weren't yet in place. And babblers have argued convincingly that our democracy needs updating today still. What is amazing is how those social and economic concessions have been eroded since the 1980's, and since dissolution of the USSR. America's cold war era fiction author Robert Ludlum described how we in the west have lost certain freedoms since the end of the cold war. People don't feel quite as free anymore and for good reasons.

Edward S. Herman describes just three countries' electoral democracies that were interfered with and managed in recent times. And there were dozens more before them. Have you ever wondered why North Americans could buy things like coffee and bananas and sugar as cheaply as we were able to for so many years? We were never paying workers like "Juan Valdez" the real price for those things during the cold war era, either here or among what represented about two-thirds of the countries of the world, the so-called "free world" A brief history of the vicious empire for Michael's eyes only.

[ 22 May 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
Of course it would be ridiculous to say that the fight for peace and prosperity has been won.

But looking at the links reveals a lot of examples from the cold war, which seems to back up my point that in absolute terms certain aspects of life today are better than they were.

Let's back up a bit. What metrics do you think should be used if we were to objectively try to measure some kind of long term improvement of the world's social situation ?


RosaL
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Joined: Mar 4 2007
The whole trend worries me somewhat. References to "what we have lost as a nation" seem to suggest a belief that the American project is fundamentally good and that the thing to do is recover it, that "managed democracy" is a corruption rather than a natural working out of the original project.

It's kind of like that slogan, "Take back America". Take back? It's a backward-looking politics, a "return to the sources", a return to some kind of "pure" capitalism, rather than a rejection of it.

But if American liberals have begun to notice one or two things, maybe that's a good thing [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] At least they have publishers and an audience....


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
Of course it would be ridiculous to say that the fight for peace and prosperity has been won.

But looking at the links reveals a lot of examples from the cold war, which seems to back up my point that in absolute terms certain aspects of life today are better than they were.

There are links describing Honduran-style death squads and "Salvador option" in Iraq.

The U.S. still interferes in Central and Latin America. Rumsfeld announced increased military aid to Latin America several months ago. U.S. Liberal Democrats have made sure that the world's foremost school for export of torture and terror is still open for business:http://www.SOAW.org

quote:Let's back up a bit. What metrics do you think should be used if we were to objectively try to measure some kind of long term improvement of the world's social situation ?

This is a good question, and I think babblers will provide a lengthy-long list of concessions that need to be won back and won for the first time. I think we start with the need to modernize our electoral systems in North America followed by democratization of banking and finance. Autocracies and plutocracies are well short of the mark.


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
RosAl

Well, I would say that most people agree with the American project, at least at the beginning.

Are you a monarchist ?


RosaL
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Joined: Mar 4 2007
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
RosAl

Well, I would say that most people agree with the American project, at least at the beginning.

Are you a monarchist ?

Maybe they do. That's a tribute to "managed democracy" in my view!

No, I'm not a monarchist [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
Hey Fidel,

quote:This is a good question, and I think babblers will provide a lengthy-long list of concessions that need to be won back and won for the first time. I think we start with the need to modernize our electoral systems in North America followed by democratization of banking and finance. Autocracies and plutocracies are well short of the mark.

This is good, but I'm looking for as much of an objective take on things as possible. I want to look at new data first, then form an opinion.

Calling them 'concessions' seems to be a bad first step. [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
Hey Fidel,

This is good, but I'm looking for as much of an objective take on things as possible. I want to look at new data first, then form an opinion.

Most of the authors of those short web essays are independent Canadian as well as American journalists. Some are retired U.S. State Department officials, Can-Am university professors, former U.S. military officers, and one or two defectors of the CIA, specialists on Latin America and Europe who left "the company" due to their consciencious objection to "the American project" as they observed first-hand during the cold war through to today as private commentators.

quote:Calling them 'concessions' seems to be a bad first step. [img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

Yes perhaps. Globalization and deregulation are the Trojan horse, the justification for creating "U.S. interests" in every country, and at the same time, removing power of democratically-elected governments to act in sovereign economic and other affairs. And wepve come to understand what the implications are for sovereign nations once the vicious empire gets its hooks in through lop-sided trade deals and remote control of their economies by IMF appointed central bankers. Canada today looks more like a resource-rich northern colony governned by successive weak colonial administratorships and autocratic governments in Ottawa. Canada has become an experiment in decentralized right-wing Libertarian economy for feeding cheap energy resources to corporate America. We elect cosmetic governments in both countries with real control of the U.S. by embedded bureaucrats, Pentagon capitalists and permanent shadow government. Cheney, Rumsfeld and some number of these chickenhawks today were embedded in U.S. government decades ago. Most of them are pathological liars and sociopaths to the extreme. They are what's left of the scum of the earth from the cold war era. For centuries, money chased power. With the "American project", it's just the opposite, and U.S. and British hawks represent the largest threat to democracy everywhere.

[ 22 May 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]


Lard Tunderin Jeezus
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Joined: Aug 27 2001
quote:I want to look at new data first, then form an opinion.
What, exactly, is 'new data'?

And why is a long-term historical perspective seemingly being discounted?


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
LTJ

By 'new data' I mean new to me...

I do want to see long-term data...


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
RosAl

Well, I would say that most people agree with the American project, at least at the beginning.

Are you a monarchist ?

Do you mean the original colony that was founded by the English version of the Taliban. Look up Cromwell if you don't understand the reference.

Or maybe the merchants revolt that was fueled at its outset by paying for mobs to burn down the Loyalist press?

I am not a monarchist but I do hold a deep and abiding distrust of the country whose history includes ethnically cleansing my ancestors, invading my country and various sabre rattlings like 54 40 or Fight.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
Confessions of an economic hit man John Perkins

quote:Basically what we were trained to do and what our job is to do is to build up the American empire. To bring -- to create situations where as many resources as possible flow into this country, to our corporations, and our government, and in fact we’ve been very successful. We’ve built the largest empire in the history of the world. It's been done over the last 50 years since World War II with very little military might, actually. It's only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort. This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation, through cheating, through fraud, through seducing people into our way of life, through the economic hit men. I was very much a part of that.

The vicious empire has managed to do exactly what it accused the Soviets(the evil empire) of trying to do wrt world domination. Corporate cannibalism has spread to and infected just about every part of the world today. The only problem is if the other 85 percent of humanity adopts our way of life, we'll strip world resources bare in nothing flat and choke on the pollution. They lied to us constantly throughout the cold war for the sake of pushing a monstrous political and economic ideology on the whole world. Consumption economies based on consumerism will be mankind's "road to serfdom", and scientists are telling us it's a one-way ride at some point.


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
K1951,

quote:Do you mean the original colony that was founded by the English version of the Taliban. Look up Cromwell if you don't understand the reference.

No...

quote:
Or maybe the merchants revolt that was fueled at its outset by paying for mobs to burn down the Loyalist press?

Yes ! That's the one.

quote:
I am not a monarchist but I do hold a deep and abiding distrust of the country whose history includes ethnically cleansing my ancestors, invading my country and various sabre rattlings like 54 40 or Fight.

Ah well.... I did say "most people"...

If you had to choose - was the American Revolution a good thing or bad thing ?


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
quote: Consumption economies based on consumerism will be mankind's "road to serfdom", and scientists are telling us it's a one-way ride at some point.

Wait... no...

What I want to ask is: What is a non-consumption economy ?

[ 22 May 2008: Message edited by: Michael Hardner ]


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003
It is one that is not predicated on creating a social environment which is about keeping up with the jonesers.

Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
So eating is "keeping up with the Joneses" ?

I guess it is, in a way... [img]confused.gif" border="0[/img]

Criminey... sometimes it seems we just so want to be against something...


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Michael Hardner:

What is the opposite of a "consumption economy" ?

Services. GATS negotiators have been all over this definition as they tell signatory countries what constitutes unfair public subsidies and public monopolies of health care, education, daycare etc. These three services alone are worth well over $6 trillion dollars in public spending worldwide. The writing is on the wall for widget capitalism, and big business wants to marketize and deregulate our health care in Canada. U.S. and Australian companies are waiting offshore to big boxize child daycare in Canada.

And what are the implications for big business funding universities and research? American consumer advocate Ralph Nader says mulitinationals and military contractors have no business in our universities. Ralph says military industrial contractors have outsourced weapons research to UCAL's Lawrence Livermore labs. Will it result in the most deadly biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction ever conceived? Universities were originally intended to be incubators of independent thought and places where young people go for several years in order to learn how to learn. Scientists themselves are saying that they cannot do objective science after having signed non-disclosures and handing over intellectual property rights to corporate officials motivated by profit.


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003
Its a specific definition used comonly in political discourse to described commodities as fetishized items used to establish social status, not as practical needs. The status is what is being sold. It is not necessarily that you buy a car, but that the kind of car you buy is important. Also it is the sale and consumption of products, purely for the sake of driving the economy.

I hope you are simply being deliberately obtuse as opposed to asking a serious question. Next time you are in doubt about something like this, try google. I use the word in question, and then type "definition".

In this case, I arrived at this web page: Answers.com.

Hope that helps. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 22 May 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]


Michael Hardner
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Joined: May 1 2002
quote:
I hope you are simply being deliberately obtuse as opposed to asking a serious question. Next time you are in doubt about something like this, try google. I use the word in question, and then type "definition".

In this case, I arrived at this web page: Answers.com.

You seem to be chastising me for asking what a 'consumption economy' is. I don't see what is wrong with asking that. Go ahead and google 'consumption economy' and you'll see that no one clear answer comes back.


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