How we came to live under fascism…

2001-12-05

Richard Moore

Bcc: a few colleagues.


Friends,

Someone sent me a paper which included the following
paragraph. As so often happens, in responding to someone
else's comments, I found myself led to expressing some ideas
in a clearer way.  I hope you find the outcome useful.

regards,
rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

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    K.> If Marx showed us how the social relations of production
    act as so many fetters on the development of the productive
    forces, those social relations today take the form of
    territorial states seeking to maintain established privilege
    by constraining the movement of people, goods, money and
    information in a world society that is both more integrated
    and divided at the same time. Transnational capitalism,
    complemented by grassroots democratic movements of all
    kinds, today leads the way in challenging old national and
    regional structures, in much the same way that national
    capitalism underpinned liberal revolutions in the 18th and
    19th centuries.

Dear K.,

What you say here is largely 'true', in a literal sense, but
from my perspective it seriously mis-characterizes the
various relationships and forces in question.

I believe that your 'social relations today'
characterization applied 'fully' up to 1945, and 'mostly'
until about 1980.  Since then we've been in the throes of a
full-fledged takeover by transnational capitalism by means
of the neoliberal revolution, now in its final globalization
phase.

You say these changes have been 'complemented by grassroots
democratic movements', which has been sometimes true at a
surface level. I'd say rather that the neoliberal
revolutionary propaganda has been aimed at those with
progressive sentiments, deceiving them into believing that
globalization will move things in a direction they would
favor.  Your characterization becomes even less applicable
post-Seattle. Grassroots democratic movements the world over
have now rejected the neoliberal party line and have become
largely counter-revolutionary in that regard.  Not that they
are effective, but they no longer 'complement'.

As you say, the situation is parallel to that of the earlier
national liberal revolutions.  And in those liberal
revolutions as well, any complementarianism was based less
on mutual interest than on deceit of the masses.  In both
cases, the main event was a shift in power among elites,
with the people being pulled along from an old prison to a
newer one.  The liberal revolutions shifted power from
monarchic hierarchies to networks of commercial-baron /
financier cliques.  It also replaced divine right, as a
justification for governmental authority, with 'popular
sovereignty', presumably expressed in our pseudo-democratic
institutions.  Over the subsequent two hundred years the
natural forces of capitalism led to a concentration of
global wealth and power into the hands of an elite Western
clique.  The neoliberal revolution leaves that same clique
in power, but it brings a cataclysmic shift in power
relationships nonetheless, and an equally cataclysmic
transformation of societies.

The power shift can be compared to a corporate
reorganization.  Think of a conglomerate which is made up of
a number of semi-autonomous companies.  Then one day the CEO
announces that he's installing a centralized administration
to micro-manage each operation, disempowering local
managements.  Pre-neoliberal Western nations were like the
semi-autonomous companies; globalization strips them of
their autonomy and relegates governments to the status of
Mandarin functionaries - subservient to the WTO / IMF
administrative regime and to the whims of corporate
operators, banks, and financial traders.

As regards the substance of democracy, this reorganization
brings no change - those at the bottom are still controlled
by those at the top. The administrative machinery has been
altered, but the democracy-quotient was zero before and
remains zero afterwards.  The false rhetoric of democracy
continues mostly unchanged, but becomes each day less
credible - the emperor's clothes become increasingly
transparent.  The anti-globalization movement arises from
those who have seen through the veils.

But the era of the 'great liberal democracies' (1798-1980)
was stabilized less by the rhetoric of democracy than by the
reality of middle-class prosperity.  The empowerment that
really mattered was that which could be carried in wallets -
together with a faith by the middle classes in the future
continuance of that empowerment for themselves and their
children.  Neoliberal globalization became a necessity
precisely when capitalism could no longer afford to support
the middle classes in the fashion to which they had grown
long accustomed.  The elite perception of this necessity
crystallized around 1973, as memorialized in Huntington's
'Crisis of Democracy' paper.

Elites were waking up to the fact that the continuation of
capitalism was not compatible with then existing democratic
institutions.  As long as middle-class prosperity could be
continued, elites had little problem manipulating the
political process to get precisely the policies they wanted.
But if the middle classes were to be abandoned, then the
democratic institutions would become a potential threat to
elite power.  There was too great a risk that an effective
independent political party might arise and turn the
rhetoric of democracy into a reality.  When the middle
classes find common cause with workers and ethnic
minorities, et al - and if sovereign governmental
institutions are available - then elites could have a real
revolution from below on their hands.

The decade of the 1980s was used to lay the foundations for
the new neoliberal world order, aimed at eliminating the
risk of an outbreak of democracy.  While corporate operators
were looting public assets, they generated enough economic
activity to provide a bubble of pyramid-scheme prosperity to
the middle classes.  This masked the shift of power that was
happening behind the scenes, while simultaneously providing
accelerated elite wealth accumulation during the decade.

As the nineties began, the groundwork had been laid, and
events began to reveal the realities of the new world order,
so dubbed by Daddy Bush.  The new order brought intensified
imperialist interventionism, of both the military and IMF
variety, (Iraq, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Ethiopia, Rwanda,
Brazil, Korea, etc. ad infinitum).  Particularly significant
were the machinations around 'internationalizing' these
interventions, and creating an aura of legitimization for
them - quite outside the bounds of established international
law and of sound economic policy.

By '93, we had the Uruguay Round, transforming GATT (a
treaty initiative) into the WTO (an administrative body). 
During the decade the global administration laid down its
policy structures and began to exercise its power in a
scattering of precedent-setting test cases (hormone beef,
bananas, Ethyl additives, ...).

Also during the eighties and nineties, another program was
afoot.  That was the intentional development of
international terrorist networks and the encouragement of
Islamic fundamentalism.  From the installation of the
Ayatollah, to the encouragement of Israeli excesses, to the
creation by the CIA of the Taliban and its predecessors and
competitors in Afghanistan - the USA did everything it could
to create an 'extremist terrorist threat' to replace the
Cold War's demon communism.

As the new millennium dawned, the new world order was fully
established and ready to start playing hardball.  At the
same time, the global economy was moving into serious
doldrums, requiring that such play begin.  All that was
needed was an appropriate trigger event, an appropriate
agent to throw the ritual first pitch.  For this purpose, as
I read the evidence, some secret inner CIA team began
nurturing a particular group of terrorists who had a vision
of using airliners to destroy major buildings.  The group
was so clumsy that it came to the attention of the FBI, who
had to be shooed off the case by orders from Washington. 
Whether the group actually controlled the planes on 9/11 is
doubtful, but the evidence they left behind them made it
easy to lay blame where intended, and was adequate (barely)
to cover up the fact that the event was primarily an inside
job.

This elite-arranged trigger-event strategy is of course
nothing new, having been used frequently by the USA
(Battleship Maine, Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, etc.). by Nazi
Germany (faked invasion by Polish troops, Reichstag fire),
and many other times in history.

So now we are in the era of hardball global capitalism.  In
order for capitalism to continue, i.e. for GDP-measured
'economic growth' to continue, the scale and nature of
exploitation (of people and resources) must be greatly
expanded.  Alaskan and Caspian fossil fuels must be tapped;
cloning and other biotech must be harnessed; unproductive
populations must be eliminated through genocide.  In the
third world, imperialism needs a heavier fist; the second
world needs to be pushed down to third-world status; in the
first world, there must be a severe decline in the quality
of life and political / economic activism must be brought
under tight control.

The so-called War on Terrorism, while doing little to thwart
dedicated terrorists, serves very well to enable this new
scale of mega exploitation.  First-world expectation levels
have moved down a notch or two on the Maslow scale,
descending to concerns with bare survival and security. This
has created a climate (in the 'land of the free') where the
Constitution can be abandoned, and Gestapo-style arrests and
arbitrary executions can be carried out.  The cleansing of
the Internet has begun, with precedent-setting shutdowns of
a few progressive websites. The anti-globalization movement
had already experienced fascist-style repression in Genoa,
even before 9/11.  With expanded definitions of 'terrorism',
and with the ubiquitous presence of Black Bloc provocateurs,
it is clear that the anti-globalization movement cannot
continue in the form whose momentum had been growing since
Seattle.

One cannot describe this fascist emergence as being
'complemented by grassroots democratic movements of all
kinds'.

yours,
rkm

-- 

============================================================================
Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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