Donald Trump and the Return of Liberalism 13

Let me give you a definition of the word ‘liberal.’…Franklin D. Roosevelt once said…It is a wonderful definition, and I agree with him. ‘A liberal is a man who wants to build bridges over the chasms that separate humanity from a better life.’ – Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. – Noam Chomsky

“Imagine a president who expands affirmative action, actively promotes school desegregation, enacts important new laws in social welfare, environmental protection, occupational health and safety, and consumer protection, supports comprehensive health insurance and a system of guaranteed income for all citizens, and whose Justice Department opposes the RICO Act on the grounds that it gives the government powers that are much too broad and sweeping for prosecuting criminals. In 2011, such a president would be considered far to left of Barack Obama and far to the left of almost everyone in Congress. Forty years ago, such a president was called Richard Nixon.”-Matthew Lyons (“Right-Wing Movements 101“)

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Now that Donald Trump has won an upset electoral victory and will be assuming the office of the presidency in a couple of months, I am going to offer the unconventional and, certainly to many people, counter-intuitive opinion that it was Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton that was the most left-wing of the two major party candidates.

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King Midas in the Post-Modern Age: Sales of Indulgences in Academia 4

By Aleksey Bashtavenko

Academic Composition

“Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? —for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers?” Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

 

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The Latin etymology of the word “religion” emphasizes the act of bringing the community together. In almost all European languages, the word that translates to English as “religion” derived from Latin ligare which meant to bind . As early as 1200 B.C, this word commonly described a sacred lifestyle, commending obedience to divine authority . Above all, religiosity centered on a paternalistic covenant between mankind and God where the former prided themselves on their capacity for total surrender to the higher power. Such circumstances immediately prompted the question of how such a supernatural force can be identified, and more importantly, who can guide mankind to its relationship with God. Although prophets such as Abraham or Moses were revered for having reported to encounter God directly, the mortal sinners were expected to interact with God through a vicar.

In the Catholic tradition, the pope was deemed to be God’s direct representative and in the Eastern Orthodoxy, the tsar served a similar purpose. Under these circumstances, it was presumed that to defy the patriarch of the church was to rebel against the Almighty Himself.

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Thinkers Against Modernity: A New Book from Keith Preston 4

Available from Black House Publishing.

The prevailing sentiment of contemporary intellectuals is that the human condition has never been better. History is regarded as lengthy episode of oppression that human beings have gradually but steadily fought to overcome with considerable success. Evidence of these successes that are commonly offered include increased material consumption, better health and longer life expectancy, technological development and, above all, the ongoing triumph of “democracy” and “human rights.”

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CTR-ALT-Delete: The Origins and Ideology of the Alternative Right 1

This is a new piece published by the leftist “watchdog” group Political Research Associates by Matthew Lyons, who has previously critiqued yours truly (see Lyon’s original critique here and my reply here). Lyons’ latest piece on the Alternative Right is available on the Political Research Associates website. Read it in full here. Lyons’ report includes a discussion of ATS generally and yours truly specifically. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

“…self-described anarcho-pluralist Keith Preston has continued to participate in Alt Right forums, for example speaking at National Policy Institute conferences and on The Right Stuff podcasts. Preston is a former left-wing anarchist who moved to the Right in the 1990s and then founded the group American Revolutionary Vanguard, which is better known today by the name of its website, Attack the System.67 ATS brings together a number of right-wing currents, including National-Anarchist, libertarian, White nationalist, Duginist, and others, among it editors and contributors, but Preston’s own ideology is distinct from all of these.68

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Pension Funds Need Gold before It’s Too Late Reply

By Jp Cortez
Tens of millions of Americans and their employers pour money into pension plans each month, counting those funds to grow and to be there when needed at retirement.

But a time bomb awaits. The bulk of U.S. pension funds are dangerously underfunded, and the assets are often invested in securities that have bleak prospects for providing income that keeps up with a general decline in purchasing power.

A pension plan requires an employer to make contributions into a pool of funds set aside for a worker’s future benefit. In 1875, when the American Express Company established the first private pension plan in the United States, the face of retirement was fundamentally changed. Before that time, private-sector pension plans did not exist, as most employers were small “mom-and-pop” businesses.

The innovation at American Express caught on. By 1929, 397 private sector pension funds were in operation throughout the United States and Canada. As of 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of private sector workers are covered by pension plans. At the end of 2015, the value of U.S. pension funds was $21.7 trillion.

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What Trump Wants From the International Order Reply

Trump may be a maverick, but not that much of a maverick.

By Leon Hadar

The American Conservative

We’re all familiar with “slippery slope” arguments. Allow Casual Fridays, and soon enough everyone will be coming to work in shorts and T-shirts. Ban assault weapons, and you’re on the road to repealing the Second Amendment.

In a way, the response of Western elites to the recent election reflects that kind of logic: as Donald Trump prepares to occupy the White House, we are about to see the collapse of the Western alliance and the breakdown of the post-World War II liberal international order. It’s the end of the West. We are closing the last chapter of the Age of Enlightenment.

But then, does anyone really believe that after four or eight years of a Trump presidency, the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan will turn into a new Trump Hotel (as recently proposed, tongue-in-cheek, by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer)? Or that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will shut down their offices in downtown Washington, DC?

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The Trump Speech That No One Heard Reply

Interesting. Sounds like Trump’s faction of the ruling class may favor a foreign policy paradigm similar to that recommended by Bill Lind.

By Mike Whitney

Counterpunch

The US foreign policy establishment is gradually shifting its focus from the Middle East to the Far East, but the unexpected election of Donald Trump has thrown a wrench in the elitist plan to pivot to Asia. Trump wants to fundamentally change Washington’s  approach to policy, that is, he wants to abandon the destabilizing wars and regime change operations that have characterized US policy in the past and work collaboratively with countries like Russia that have a mutual interest in establishing regional security and fighting terrorism.

This has not been warmly received in Washington, in fact, Trump’s recommendations have triggered a firestorm among elites who now believe that he is a serious threat to their interests. Recent attacks in the media and preemptive provocations with Russia, suggest that an effort to remove the new president from office is already underway. We expect that these attacks will only intensify in the weeks ahead. Here’s an excerpt from the speech Trump delivered in Cincinnati on December 1 that is the source of the controversy:

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Does Trump Represent a Factional Division within the Ruling Class? Reply

An interesting interview with leftist anti-fascist Matthew Lyons who argues that Trump may represent a ruling class faction that seeks a new direction beyond neoliberalism. Listen here.

With #DisruptJ20 actions taking place in only a few days, many are wondering both what far-Right forces will do in response to massive protests that are planned in Washington DC and across the country, and how will the insurgent far-Right continue to maneuver now that Trump is in office. Wanting to think critically about these questions as well as how to place Trump politically, we caught up with long time anti-fascist author, Matthew Lyons who writes for Three Way Fightwhich offers analysis on a wide variety of far-Right forces and anti-fascist struggle.

We discuss several topics, including why fighting the far-Right is important, why the Alt-Right has gotten so much media attention the last year, looking critically at the far-Right concept of ‘globalism,’ and also a discussion on Trump and fascism which revolves around this essay from CrimethInc. Lyons does a good job of addressing that within the ruling class there is not always unity and that often there are competing ideas of how to organize capitalism and govern the State. What remains to be seen with Trump is if he only represents only a slightly different face to neoliberalism or if he will try and create something much different along Nationalist and military lines, which Lyons argues is possible.

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Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Confederate Sympathizer; Mikhail Bakunin, Right-Wing Populist Reply

So says a commie critic of anarchism.

ANOTHER RADICAL doctrine developed during the period of the 1830s– anarchism. Anarchism is often considered to represent current of radical thought that is truly democratic and libertarian. It is hailed in some quarters as the only true political philosophy freedom. The reality is quite different. From its inception anarchism has been a profoundly anti-democratic doctrine. Indeed the two most important founders of anarchism, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Michael Bakunin, developed theories that were elitist and authoritarian to the core. While later anarchists may have abandoned some of the excesses’ of their founding fathers their philosophy remains hostile to ideas of mass democracy and workers’ power.

It is certainly true that anarchism developed in opposition to the growth of capitalist society. What’s more, anarchist hostility to capitalism centered on defence of the liberty of the individual. But the liberty defended by the anarchists was not the freedom of the working class to make collectively a new society. Rather, anarchism defended the freedom of the small property owner–the shopkeeper, artisan and tradesman–against the encroachments of large-scale capitalist enterprise. Anarchism represented the anguished cry of the small property owner against the inevitable advance of capitalism. For that reason, it glorified values from the past: individual property, the patriarchal family, racism.

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Keith Preston: Trump to use ‘one China’ policy as leverage in trade talks Reply

PressTV. Listen here.

Incoming US President Donald Trump will only use his opposition to the “one China” policy as a bargaining chip in trade talks with China and to the extent that would not disrupt relations with Beijing, says a political commentator.

 

Trump, who will officially take the oath of office on Friday, said he was not committed to a longstanding agreement with China known as the “one China” policy. Under the agreement adopted by the US in 1979, Washington has been recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and maintaining only unofficial ties with Taiwan.

In an interview with Press TV, Keith Preston, the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com said Trump would be using the issue “as leverage” in trade negotiations with China.

“He is looking for things he could potentially use against the Chinese as a means of encouraging a settlement in terms of the currency issue and trade issues that Trump is concerned about,” the analyst said.

Trump started questioning China’s claim over Taiwan just after his election in November, when he took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen in a major break from US diplomatic protocol in 37 years.

Beijing warned Trump on Monday against using the “one China policy” as a bargaining chip in trade talks.

Preston, however, said the incoming president would not go “so far to really disrupt the relations between the United States and China,” because according to him there is a very “important trade relationship” between the two countries.

He explained that the US foreign policy has always been “oriented to a peaceful co-existence with China for obvious strategic and geo-political reasons.”

“Even during the Cold War, the United State was very dependent on China as a source of manufacturing and labor and America imported a great deal of the consumer goods from China,” he added.

During his presidential campaign, Trump consistently complained about “unfair competition” with the Chinese, Preston said, adding that new president wants to “negotiate trade agreements that are more favorable to American business interests.”

The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer 2

By Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.

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Keith Preston: Intel services seek to cause ‘friction between US and Russia’ Reply

Press TV. Listen here.

The American intelligence community is seeking to cause “friction” between the United States and Russia as President-elect Donald Trump has signaled willingness to improve relations with Moscow, says a political analyst.

Keith Preston, the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com, made the remarks on Wednesday in an interview with Press TV when asked about new legislation introduced in the Senate to impose sweeping new sanctions on Russia.

Five Democrats and five Republicans unveiled the new punishments on Tuesday after the intelligence community concluded in a report that the Russian government had sought to influence the outcome of the November election through cyberhacking and a smear campaign, a claim that Trump and Moscow have both rejected.

“It’s extraordinarily foolish for the American Congress to try to impose any kind of sanctions on Russia on the grounds that Russia has supposedly interfered in the American election, that has not been proven,” Preston said.

“The intelligence services are trying to create a greater degree of friction between the United States and Russia, and the Democratic Party is going along with this, in part because they want to blame the Russians for their loss in the election,” he added.

The proposed legislation would solidify many of the sanctions President Barack Obama’s outgoing administration has imposed against Russia and limit Trump’s ability to improve relations with Moscow.

Preston said, “the intelligence services and the political establishment are trying to undermine (Trump)’s efforts to bring the United States closer to Russia,” adding, “they have allies in Congress, particularly in the Democratic Party” to help them achieve their goal.

He said one reason they do not want better ties with Russia is that “the military industrial complex wants to expand NATO right up the Russia’s border and they also want to circle Russia with military bases in Central Asia.”

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US Intel Agencies Try to Strong-Arm Trump into War With Russia Reply

Mike Whitney

Counterpunch

Powerful elites are using the credibility of the US Intelligence agencies to demonize Russia and prepare the country for war. This is the real meaning of the “Russia hacking” story which, as yet, has not produced any hard evidence of Russian complicity.

Last week’s 25-page report, that was released by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, illustrates to what extent intelligence is being “fixed around the policy”.  Just as the CIA generated false information related to Weapons of Mass Destruction to soften public resistance to war with Iraq, so too, the spurious allegations in the DNI’s politically-motivated report are designed to depict Russia as a growing threat to US national security. The timing of the report has less to do with the election of Donald Trump as President than it does with critical developments in Syria where the Russian military has defeated US-proxies in Syria’s industrial hub, Aleppo, rolling back Washington’s 15-year War of Terror and derailing the imperialist plan to control vital resources and pipeline corridors across the Middle East and Central Asia. Russia has become the main obstacle to Washington achieving its strategic vision of pivoting to Asia and maintaining its dominant role into the next century. The Intelligence Community has been coerced into compromising its credibility to incite fear of Russia and to advance the geopolitical ambitions of deep state powerbrokers.

he “Russia hacking” flap shows how far the Intel agencies have veered from their original mandate, which is to impartially gather and analyze information that may be vital to US national security. As we have seen in the last two weeks, the leaders of these organizations feel free to offer opinions on  issues that clearly conflict with those of the new President-elect. Trump has stated repeatedly that he wants to reduce tensions and reset relations with Russia, but that policy is being sabotaged by members of the intelligence community, particularly CIA Director John Brennan who appeared just last week on PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

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Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List Reply

Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

By William Blum

The Empire Report

  • China 1949 to early 1960s
  • Albania 1949-53
  • East Germany 1950s
  • Iran 1953 *
  • Guatemala 1954 *
  • Costa Rica mid-1950s
  • Syria 1956-7
  • Egypt 1957
  • Indonesia 1957-8
  • British Guiana 1953-64 *
  • Iraq 1963 *
  • North Vietnam 1945-73
  • Cambodia 1955-70 *
  • Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
  • Ecuador 1960-63 *
  • Congo 1960 *
  • France 1965
  • Brazil 1962-64 *
  • Dominican Republic 1963 *
  • Cuba 1959 to present
  • Bolivia 1964 *
  • Indonesia 1965 *
  • Ghana 1966 *
  • Chile 1964-73 *
  • Greece 1967 *
  • Costa Rica 1970-71
  • Bolivia 1971 *
  • Australia 1973-75 *
  • Angola 1975, 1980s
  • Zaire 1975
  • Portugal 1974-76 *
  • Jamaica 1976-80 *
  • Seychelles 1979-81
  • Chad 1981-82 *
  • Grenada 1983 *
  • South Yemen 1982-84
  • Suriname 1982-84
  • Fiji 1987 *
  • Libya 1980s
  • Nicaragua 1981-90 *
  • Panama 1989 *
  • Bulgaria 1990 *
  • Albania 1991 *
  • Iraq 1991
  • Afghanistan 1980s *
  • Somalia 1993
  • Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
  • Ecuador 2000 *
  • Afghanistan 2001 *
  • Venezuela 2002 *
  • Iraq 2003 *
  • Haiti 2004 *
  • Somalia 2007 to present
  • Honduras 2009
  • Libya 2011 *
  • Syria 2012
  • Ukraine 2014 *

Chicago 1969: When Black Panthers aligned with Confederate-flag-wielding, working-class whites Reply

By Colette Gaiter

The Conversation

In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won the white vote across all demographics except for college-educated white women. He did especially well among working class white voters: 67 percent of whites without a college degree voted for him.

Some post-election analysis marveled at how the white working class could vote against its own interests by supporting a billionaire businessman who is likely to support policies that cut taxes for the rich and weaken the country’s social safety net. Since the New Deal, the Democratic Party has been seen as the party of working people, while Republicans were considered the party of the elites. Donald Trump was able to flip this narrative to his advantage. Election 2016 balkanized issues and made it seem impossible to work on racism, sexism, poverty and economic issues all at once. A core question moving forward for social justice advocates and the Democratic Party is how they can move beyond identity politics and attract working-class voters of all races, building stronger coalitions among disparate groups.

One place to look for inspiration and instruction might be 1960s social movements that understood the power of alliances across identities and issues. During this period, a radical coalition formed that might seem impossible today: A group of migrant southerners and working-class white activists called the Young Patriots joined forces with the Black Panthers in Chicago to fight systemic class oppression.

So how did this alliance form? And how can its lessons be applied to today’s political moment?

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The Real Face of Washington (and America) Thank You, Donald Trump Reply

By Tom Engelhardt

TomDispatch.Com

Know thyself. It was what came to mind in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory and my own puzzling reaction to it. And while that familiar phrase just popped into my head, I had no idea it was so ancient, or Greek, or for that matter a Delphic maxim inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo according to the Greek writer Pausanias (whom I’d never heard of until I read his name in Wikipedia). Think of that as my own triple helix of ignorance extending back to… well, my birth in a very different America 72 years ago.

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Climate change: Fact or fiction? 1

Some scientists say the earth’s climate changes constantly and naturally, but the vast majority of them believe the current rise in global temperature is man-made, and could be catastrophic for the planet. But is all this but a case of extreme ‘climate alarmism’? Climate change sceptic Richard Lindzen is challenged on his view that concern about global warming is alarmist nonsense.

After the Hysteria Reply

An assessment of Trump by libertarian-decentralist-populist Bill Kauffman, whose take on Trump pretty much mirrors my own.

By Bill Kauffman

The American Conservative

Gore Vidal once said that the three saddest words in the English language were Joyce Carol Oates. “President Hillary Clinton” would have dislodged the exophthalmic novelist from that epigram, but as for “President Donald Trump”… the jury is not only still out, the crime hasn’t even been committed yet, despite the drama queens caterwauling on the campuses.

(For 13 years college snots sat on their lazy asses while the U.S. government waged immoral and unconstitutional wars, but now they take to the streets because the candidate of the proles defeated the candidate of the 1 percent? Gimme a break!)

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Debate/Discussion: Should Libertarians Support a Basic Income Guarantee? 1

An interesting discussion of this question between Matt Zwolinski (pro) and  Tom Woods (con). Listen here.

Some voices in the libertarian world have argued that a basic income guarantee for everyone would be better than the current welfare state from a pragmatic point of view. Matt Zwolinski adds that it is morally required, given the dubious origins of so many existing property titles. Result: an engaging exchange of ideas I know you’ll enjoy. But be sure to listen all the way to the end, since that’s where the best parts can be found.

About the Guest

Matt Zwolinski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego and a co-director of the University’s Institute for Law and Philosophy.

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Reinventing Politics via Local Political Parties Reply

These ideas might be particularly relevant to the United States where the two-party duopoly is particularly difficult to crack.

By David Bollier

P2P Foundation

It’s an open secret that political parties and “democratic” governments around the world have become entrenched insider clubs, dedicated to protecting powerful elites and neutralizing popular demands for system change.  How refreshing to learn about Ahora Madrid and other local political parties in Spain!  Could they be a new archetype for the reinvention of politics and government itself?

Instead of trying to use the hierarchical structures of parties and government in the usual ways to “represent” the people, the new local parties in Spain are trying to transform government itself and political norms. Inspired by Occupy-style movements working from the bottom up, local municipal parties want to make all governance more transparent, horizontal, and accessible to newcomers. They want to make politics less closed and proprietary, and more of an enactment of open source principles. It’s all about keeping it real.

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