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Vorocracy: 3: Investing in Fascism

→ Vorocracy 2: Conflict of Interest as the Structural Engine of Economic Ecstasy

Investing in the Axis

The addiction of industrial capital to war profits is a largely ignored factor in the causes that led to World War II; it may, in fact, be its primary cause.

German industry, after World War I, faced enormous problems. Big business was losing money for a variety of reasons that included loss of revenue from the outbreak of peace, being saddled with onerous war reparations, and dealing with a tremendously invigorated and emboldened working class demanding structural changes. Daniel Guerin, in his excellent "you-are-there" 1934 book Fascism and Big Business, explores this in detail. Here, in a nutshell, was the problem:

When the hour of peace struck, war orders ceased overnight, the domestic market vanished, and the established foreign outlets disappeared...The big business interests had reached the point where only the aid of the state could make their enterprises profitable again. It was up to the state to help them break working-class resistance and cut wages; it was up to the state to refloat their sinking enterprises, grant them subsidies and tax exemptions, assure them greater tariff protection, and keep them going with armament orders.

But it wasn't only the economic threat of peace to large industries that drove business to support the Nazis. An excellent wikipedia article on Nazism gets it right: "nazism arose out of a resistance to the bolshevik-inspired insurgencies." A backlash from Big Business against the enormous successes of labor after WWI figures importantly as well. Guerin states:

...the workers and peasants won vital economic and political advantages: the extension of universal suffrage to both sexes, the eight-hour day, general recognition of union agreements, unemployment insurance, elected "shop committees," etc. The farm laborers, employed by the great landowners of the East, won for their part the right to organize and they crowded into the unions...
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These gains impaired the interests and the prestige of both the industrial and the landowning dynasties of Germany.
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The great industrialists were particularly hard hit: their enormous fixed capital burdened them with extremely high fixed costs which they had to carry even when their plants lay idle. They reached the point where only state aid could artificially revive their profits. It was up to the state to help them reduce the worker's wages, raised during the deceptive prosperity of "rationalization." But in order to lower wages, they first had to smash the system of union contracts, which in 1931 applied to ten million workers and almost two million office employees. Hence they had to reduce to impotence not only union organization but its projection in the factory, the "shop committee." It was up to the state to restrict "social expenditures," which resulted in excessive taxation. It was up to the state to refloat the sinking enterprises, grant them subsidies and tax exemptions, and nourish them on its orders. The crisis was no less severe in agriculture, and the great landed proprietors demanded one state "emergency subsidy" after another, and import duty piled on import duty.

Workers and the poor made great advances after WWI, and demanded many concessions from business. Business, fearful and angered at the prospect of losing their money and power, didn't trust the democratic parties to help them. To regain their lost money, power, and prestige they decided to aid the fledging nazis since their goals dovetailed in many ways: to reinvigorate Germany, to smash bolshevism, and to shed Germany of its shame and make it strong and proud again are a few of their goals. To make a long story short they got behind Hitler and the Nazis, funding them to their eventual success.

1934 Germany, or 2006 America?

The keystone of capitalism is profit. As long as capitalism was growing, the bourgeoisie was able to tap ever new sources of profit through ceaseless development of production and the constant expansion of domestic and foreign markets. After WWI, capitalism as a whole began to decline. To the periodic economic crises of the past there has been added a chronic crisis, involving the whole system and threatening capitalist profit at its very source.
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When the economic crisis becomes acute, when the rate of profit sinks toward zero, the bourgeoisie can see only one way to restore its profits: it empties the pockets of the people down to the last centime. It resorts to what M. Caillaux, once finance minister of France, expressively calls " the great penance": brutal slashing of wages and social expenditures, raising of tariff duties at the expense of the consumer, etc. The state, furthermore, rescues business enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing the masses to foot the bill. Such enterprises are kept alive with subsidies, tax exemptions, orders for public works and armaments. In short, the state thrusts itself into the breach left by the vanishing private customers.

But such maneuvers are difficult under a democratic regime. As long as democracy survives, the masses, though thoroughly deceived and plundered, have some means of defense against the "great penance": freedom of the press, universal suffrage, the right to organize into unions and to strike, etc. Feeble defenses, it is true, but still capable of setting some limit to the insatiable demands of the money power. In particular, the resistance of the organized working class makes it rather difficult to simply lower wages.

And so, in certain countries and under certain conditions, the bourgeoisie throws its traditional democracy overboard and conjures up with its invocations -- and its subsidies -- that "strong state" which alone can strip the masses of all means of defense, tying their hand behind their backs, the better to empty their pockets.

     —Daniel Guerin. Fascism and Big Business

But given the grave state of their economy, German Capital couldn't do it on their own. They needed outside funding. And so American money came to the rescue.

When the mark was definitely stabilized and the Dawes plan came into effect, American capital began to flow to Germany. Until 1931, the "most enormous investment operation in financial history" was taking place. It reached the figure of 30 billion gold marks.

(I haven't been able to find a way to convert that figure into contemporary dollars, but I bet it's a very big number.)
The German and Italian industrialists and landowners believed that they could tame fascism, just as they had tamed the workers and prevented a full-fledged bolshevik revolution. Of course things turned out a bit differently than they had expected. Even though Mussolini is reputed to have said "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power" — which is understably cited to demonstrate that America is now a fascist state — this statement was largely tactical to cement business's support of the fascist regimes. (People forget that fascism was originally a working-class, nationalistic, anti-bolshevik phenomenon that sought to raise the station of the working and underclass but without adopting revolutionary bolshevism. The parallels to various demographic sectors of America's working and underclass support of the republican/right-wing christian agenda should be noted.)

But politicians, it should be remembered, are known to say things they don't necessarily believe in order to achieve their ends: goals can easily be re-justified when power is sought. Thus the fascist's relationship with business was a matter of mutual convenience: business used the fascists to tame the working class while increasing their own profits; the fascists treated business much the way Bush treats Blair — happy to exploit them for their own ends, but not feeling beholden to give them anything in return.

Thus there came a point at which the interests of Capital and those of the Nazis diverged. Guerin once again:

The big "democracies" do not always tell the truth. They fought Hitler, not, as they claim today, because of the authoritarian and brutal form of the National Socialist regime, but because German imperialism, at a given moment, dared to dispute with them the hegemony of the world. It has been too generally forgotten that Hitler was hoisted to power with the blesssings of the international bourgeoisie. During the first years of his rule, Anglo-American capitalism from the British aristocracy to Henry Ford gave him, according to all evidence, their support. They viewed him as "the strong man," who alone was capable of reestablishing order in Europe and saving the continent from Bolshevism...
Only much later, when the capitalists of the "democratic" countries found their interests, their markets, their sources of raw materials menaced by the irresistable expansion of German imperialism, did they start to preach against National Socialism, to denounce it as "immoral" and "un-Christian." And, even then, there were capitalists and princes of the Church, who, more anxious to ward off the "red peril" than the German peril, remained partial towards the policeman of Europe.

(We'll return to the "red peril" at a later point -- it's a major piece of the puzzle of modern vorocratic history, as we shall see.)
Ultimately, as Guerin suggests, American business abandoned Hitler when Germany's imperial aims diverged from those of their American investors.

I'll let David Abraham have the last word from the conclusion of his intensely controversial book The Collapse of the Weimar Republic:

It is important to point out that although there were some active Nazi ideologues among the leading figures of industry...the important question is not how "fascist" was industry, nor how intimately involved were its leaders in the backstage events leading to Hitler's appointment. The bourgeoisie saw no other way out of the crisis; it decided "consciously" in favor of the Nazis. The various middle strata, urban and rural, that the Nazis had attracted seemed to be the proper support classes for reestablishing a modified version of the prewar Sammlung [an historical bloc alliance between agrarian and heavy industry interests] under the leadership of heavy industry. These strata, including some salaried employees, were bearing a disproportionate share of the economic costs of the Depression, because the unions and SPD [Social Democrats] had succeeded, at least to a minimal extent, in protecting their employed industrial workers from the requisite cuts in wages and state-welfare assistance.
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...the Nazis in cooperation with industrialists had by 1936 accomplished most of the tasks necessary to stabilize capitalism -- the functional equivalent of the New Deal... They could not choose to increase consumption and return to peaceful capitalism because, without a place in the process of production, there would have been no future for them. Instead, through the mobilization for war, Nazi autonomy increased.

So basically, once Capital signed a deal with the Devil to keep the profits rolling in, they put the keys in the ignition and started up a vehicle-of-war that didn't have any brakes.

Very similar, in fact, to the vehicle that is now starting to barrel out of control before our very eyes...

One thing about the fascists -- they were good teachers in techniques of modern social control. And BushCo turned out to be very good students.

Are BushCo Fascists, Nazis, or What?

Of course saying that bankers, industrialists and financiers were critical factors in the rise of the Nazis is not to equate them with Nazis. To say such a thing is guilt by association. Just because a whore fucks a battalion of Brown Shirts doesn't make her a Nazi -- it just provides her with an income stream. Those who point to this historical record to condemn BushCo as fascists are, however understandably, too quick to invite such a comparison.

Others have detailed the important role played by Wall Street in general (Antony C. Sutton: Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler), and the Bush Family in particular (Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin: George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography) in the rise of the Nazis, so I will refer interested parties to them. After all, it's no secret that Prescott Bush amassed much of his fortune by being one of those American Capitalists whose investments helped the Nazis rise to power. (There's an an ever-growing plethora of resources one can pursue to learn about these things.) Grosz: Eclipse of the Sun But before condemning BushCo as Fascists (or even Nazis) by association one should keep in mind that a banker is in the business of funding profitable ventures. Investors may have played a decivise role in bringing Hitler and the Nazis to power, as well as being a decisive factor in bankrolling German rearmament, but that does not mean they were Nazis, does it? Profit is profit and money is money — it's all just business, right?

I think the best summation of the role of American business generally (and BushCo's role specifically) in the rise of the Nazis is from this article by David Niewert:

...the questions around the Bush family's connections to the Nazi regime are relevant today. The episode does not point to some secret ideological affinity for fascism so much as it reveals a willingness to empower them if it furthers their ends. The really interesting question raised by the "Bush-Nazi connection" is not so much a hidden skeleton in the family closet as what the episode says about American society's willingness to ignore inconvenient truths of history, and how that affects the ethos of current public policy.
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...While it is true that certain American figures -- notably Henry Ford -- faced even greater degrees of culpability for their overt support of fascism, the people who gladly profited from providing essential cogs to the Nazi war machine cannot escape accountability by merely claiming that it was "just business." This defense for all kinds of atrocities is common among American capitalists, and it is at base corrupt and amoral. Indeed, it continues to serve as a handy excuse for the kind of foreign policy that has been practiced ever since the war, and which was specifically shaped by the same self-interested forces that gave way to the Holocaust. [em. mine]

This is very well said, and captures at one stroke both the history of the world after WWII, and gets to the heart of just what a vorocrat is. Later in the article he says:

Simpson [Christopher Simpson in his book The Splendid Blond Beast: Money Law and Genocide in the Twentieth Century] delves even deeper into this point and ultimately concludes that when it came time for accountability in the mass genocide sponsored by corporatists, international tribunals were stymied by the same machinations of privilege and power that were in fact responsible for the problem. The elites whose fortunes were at stake found that the structure of international law was weak and easily manipulated so that they could simply "get on with business."

The reason America is not fascist is because business does not need to form an alliance with political power to maintain their wealth and privilege — because, now, they are that political power.

While it's true that they have learned the tools of social control from the Nazis — techniques of propaganda, effective suppression of dissent, promulgation of cultural mysticism (eg: Jesus; American Exceptionalism), competitive individualism as a way to bring about conformity, etc — the difference between the way the tools of social control were deployed by the fascists and the way they're deployed by BushCo is fundamental and decisive: the fascists, deep down, believed in their cultural and nationalistic exceptionalism. They were, technically speaking, ideocrats:

Ideocracy is a political system whose activities are pursued in reference to the tenets of a monistic ideology. More specifically, the legitimacy of the political system is derived from the monistic ideology, which establishes a universal frame of reference for the participants of the system.

The concept of ideocracy combines two root terms: cracy and ideo. Cracy is a Greek word meaning political rule. Ideo derives from ideology. Hence ideocracy involves political rule in the name of a monistic ideology. We may define ideology as an integrated set of assertions, theories, and aims that constitute a general program for the organizaton of social life. It contains a view of the past, the present, and the future from which the program of political action is derived.

So say political scientists Jaroslaw Piekalkiewicz and Alfred Wayne Penn in their book Politics of Ideocracy.

The difference between an ideocratic and a non-ideocratic belief-system behind a given political power is that

the ideology of ideocracy is of a specific character — it is monistic. Monism is the doctrine that reality may be understood as one unitary, indivisible whole; thus a monistic ideology posits that this reality can be interpreted by a universally true and exhausitve system of ideas.

An ideocracy, then, is a worldview that is essentially exhaustive and absolute, one that believes it possesses The One Truth about reality, and which politically seeks to enforce this worldview on a social scale. The Taliban is an infamous modern example of this.

A Fascist Ideocrat Speaks

Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity
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The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative. Individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State. Instead of directing the game and guiding the material and moral progress of the community, the liberal State restricts its activities to recording results. The Fascist State is wide awake and has a will of its own. For this reason it can be described as 'ethical.'
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The Fascist State expresses the will to exercise power and to command. Here the Roman tradition is embodied in a conception of strength. Imperial power, as understood by the Fascist doctrine, is not only territorial, or military, or commercial; it is also spiritual and ethical. An imperial nation, that is to say a nation which directly or indirectly is a leader of others, can exist without the need of conquering a single square mile of territory. Fascism sees in the imperialistic spirit -- i.e. in the tendency of nations to expand - a manifestation of their vitality. In the opposite tendency, which would limit their interests to the home country, it sees a symptom of decadence. Peoples who rise or rearise are imperialistic; renunciation is characteristic of dying peoples. The Fascist doctrine is that best suited to the tendencies and feelings of a people which, like the Italian, after lying fallow during centuries of foreign servitude, are now reasserting itself in the world.

     —Benito Mussolini

Grandpa Bush and other American investors of the time helped fund the rise of the Nazis because it was in the interests of Capital 1) to quash bolshevism, and 2) to reap profits. As such they didn't need to subscribe to the ideology of Nazi Utopianism. It's a commonplace that a businessman does not have to believe in his product to sell it: any great salesmen can sell just about anything (like, for instace, a war based on obvious lies). What does a war profiteer care about the reasons his customers buy his product? Why not double your profits by selling to both sides in a conflict, like America did during the Iran/Iraq war.

That's why it's innaccurate to call BushCo fascists -- they have mastered the political techniques of the fascists, though without subscribing to a belief in The State's transcendent immanence. In fact, quite the opposite: for them, The State is a tool of oligarchic control and nothing more. Unlike the Fascists there is no utopian ideology undergirding their authoritarianism. They are not "ideocrats." All they are is hungry — preternaturally hungry — for more: more wealth, more power. There is no ethic, no morality, no ideology at work here: it is simply an insatiable drive to acquire, at all costs. Here Piekalkiewica and Penn help us differentiate between ideocracies and authorianisms:

Authoritarian government does not aim at converting people to its own faith; it desires only to rule them.

Hence the use of the megaphone as a tool of social control in America rather than the use of overt force (for now). The goal of social control in America is not to force a unitary belief system, it is to keep the citizenry docile and pliant. BushCo only seeks social conformity and obedience 1) to make it easier to commit their white collar crimes, and 2) to factionalize society the easier to divide and conquer it.

All this talk about American Exceptionalism, and America is God's Chosen Land, is certainly a useful tool as far as it goes. But these beliefs cannot tap into the passionate cultural recidivism that inheres in more homogenous cultures, and thus they can never succeed as truly effective tools of social control in America. Shinto, for example, was easily appropriated by Hirohito to merge his nationalistic goals with the Japanese character; the Nazis had an easy time appropriating Teutonic myths and imagery to use racial exceptionalism to unite the citizenry. America has to make do with a weird, phony, and historically invalid amalgam that attempts to paint America as a Christian Nation, or to conflate Freedom™ with American Patriotism, and it's not a good fit: hence the difficulty the corporate oligarchs have at getting people to buy into it with the necessary religious fervor, precisely because America is comprised of a heterogeneous immigrant population.

The methods of social control that BushCo learned from the Nazis are thus pragmatic tools, rather than the ideological seductions (and truncheons) of the fascists. Yes, of course, BushCo would love for all citizens — not just Americans, mind you, but all the world's citizens — to behave like apple-pie-eatin', flag-salutin', jesus-prayin' Ozzie-and-Harriet pod-people. But unlike ideocrats, BushCo ultimately doesn't care what people truly think: they just want to be able to commit their white-collar crimes unhindered. It would just make their job easier if everyone believed the same bullshit.

No, the people currently running the show are not Nazis, and they are not fascists (in the political science sense), no matter how tempting and easy it is to paint them with the same brush. They are — if they can be characterized in such a way — the anthropomorphic apotheosis of Capital itself, they are greed personified. They are, simply, boardroom crooks who have adopted fascist tactics the easier to increase their portfolios.

Whatever else can be said about fascists like Hitler and Mussolini, they definitely believed in what they were talking about: listening to, watching, or reading the speeches of Hitler, Goerring, Hess, Mussolini -- any of the panoply of the fascist leaders of the time -- one gets the distinct impression that even if much of the spectacle was rehearsed (Hitler spent hours in front a mirror getting his gestures and expressions right), they nonetheless believed what they were saying. They were zealots embracing an ideology of cultural (or racial) exceptionalism wherein The People and The State were One in their Transcendent Immanence. And, with the aid of intellectuals like Goebbels (who learned his lessons from early PR experts like Edward Bernays) and Carl Schmitt, they mastered a variety of techniques of social control to help infuse their society with this belief.

BushCo sometimes seems to believe in something. They certainly seem to believe that America is exceptional, that it is overdetermined to fulfill a historical role that puts it above the ethical norms of international law. And it would be hard to argue that the neoconservatives, the dominionists, and the neoliberals -- the confluence of the three ideological rivers that comprise BushCo -- are not comprised of ideological zealots.

But their zealotry has a different flavor to it. There's something...a bit too pragmatic about it. The element of religious fervor that comes naturally to an ideocrat is completely absent from them. (Except for the dominionists -- they're just fucking nuts.) BushCo may be comprised of zealots, but they seem to lack an ideology other than one that justifies doing whatever it takes to fill their own pockets. The phenomenon at work here may have evolved from rabid anti-communism (which is a vitally important piece of the puzzle we'll get to), but it's a force that is pathological rather than ideological, psychological rather than spiritual. (Though it could be argued that ideocrats, like any zealot, are, by definition, pathological. But I don't wish to split semantic hairs right now.)

Vorocracy — A Quick Definition

I think we need a new word for this phenomenon. I suggest vorocracy, from the latin word devoro: to devour.


  1. The political philosophy of insatiable appetite
  2. Society structured around the need to pathologically consume until it self-destructs
  3. A society at the service of those with such a drive
  4. Government of the greedy, by the greedy, and for the greedy

A vorocracy exists for no reason other than to amass. A vorocracy develops belief systems to justify the means and ends of satisfying an insatiable greed. In a vorocracy, greed determines the ideology which justifies it's pathological goal of eternal and infinite acquisition. For a vorocrat there is no worldview other than "more".

In fact, for a vorocrat there is really no ideology — there is only hunger.

Where BushCo Intersects Nazism

Herbert Marcuse is, in my opinion, one of the great thinkers of the last century. Here, in one of the most fascinating essays I've ever read — State and Individual Under National Socialism (from Technology, War, and Fascism: Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse: Volume One) — he makes some astounding and myth shattering assertions about fascism and nazism. Here's my favorite:

The National Socialist state is not the reversal but the consummation of competitive individualism. The regime releases all those forces of brutal self-interest which the democratic countries have tried to curb and combine with the interest of freedom...The coordination of individuals into a crowd has intensified rather than abolished their atomization and isolation from each other, and their equalization only follows the pattern on which their individuality has been previously molded...The individuals know little of each other; they are suspicious and shrewd, and have learned to be silent. They are susceptible to manipulation and unification from above because they are stripped of everything that might transcend their self-interest and establish a real community. They are led to entertainment, they rest and holiday in masses...Reduced to that brute and abstract instinct of self-preservation which is equal in all of them, they are easily forced into masses which, by their mere weight, prevent any articulation of a common interest.

Let's read that again.

The National Socialist state is not the reversal but the consummation of competitive individualism. The regime releases all those forces of brutal self-interest which the democratic countries have tried to curb and combine with the interest of freedom...The coordination of individuals into a crowd has intensified rather than abolished their atomization and isolation from each other, and their equalization only follows the pattern on which their individuality has been previously molded...The individuals know little of each other; they are suspicious and shrewd, and have learned to be silent. They are susceptible to manipulation and unification from above because they are stripped of everything that might transcend their self-interest and establish a real community. They are led to entertainment, they rest and holiday in masses...Reduced to that brute and abstract instinct of self-preservation which is equal in all of them, they are easily forced into masses which, by their mere weight, prevent any articulation of a common interest.

Sound familiar? Ring any bells? (Go here for a more in-depth analysis of how hyper-individualism creates zombie communities.) Next time you're watching a "reality" TV show like Survivor, or Fear Factor, or The Apprentice, or Hell's Kitchen, keep in the back of your mind the potential ideological functions such shows serve.

Marcuse wrote this article in 1941 shortly after he left Germany, so he has an intimate understanding of that which he speaks. And it is absolutely germaine to understanding the similarities and differences between the Nazis and BushCo. I think this article is so vitally important to understanding where America is that I shall quote extensively from it. First, some fascinating tidbits on some of the tools of social control employed by the Nazis:

...National Socialism tends toward direct and immediate self government by the prevailing social groups over the rest of the population. And it manipulates the masses by unleashing the most brutal and selfish instincts of the individual.

Ie: divide and conquer: to better control people turn them against each other by emphasizing their selfish needs.

Law made subordinate to such standards as the feeling of the racial community in reality to political expediency, serves to heighten existing social and political privileges. The promulgation of retroactive laws destroys the calculability and rationality of the administration of justice. Law is no longer an established and generally known reality which balances the social and political interests, it is rather the direct expression of these interests themselves, constantly changing as social and political requirements change.

Ie: Law is no longer meant to apply universally to society as a whole, but becomes fluid and arbitrary the better to serve the interests of those in power. (Eg: Bush's notorious "signing statements")

...the National Socialist state has been casting away the last remnants of independence from the predominant social groups — it is becoming the executive organ of the imperialist economic interests.

Ie: Government no longer even pretends to serve the middle class, it serves only the wealthy.

Hitler and his official spokesmen have frequently expressed the view that they consider the state merely as a part of a much more comprehensive scheme. Wherever they have refrained from ideological glorification, they have stated that this scheme is set and determined by the expanding needs of German capitalism.

Ie: Government may exist as an expression of its citizenry, but it nevertheless functions to serve the need of Capital.
Marcuse explores this notion in detail:

Industrial expansion and, with it, the social order based on this expansion could be maintained only through the transformation of the democratic state into an authoritarian political system.
This may sound like an extremely one-sided interpretation, but it is the explanation of National Socialism which Hitler himself has given... According to this principle individuals as well as social groups and nations receive a share in the social product measured by their performance in the competitive struggle — regardless of the means through which this performance has been achieved, and regardless of its ends, provided that they keep within the established social pattern. To Hitler, modern society is perpetuated by ruthless competition among unequeal group and individuals: only the most ruthless and most efficient competitor can get along in the world. The first task of National Socialism is, therefore, to restore Germany's position as a powerful competitor on the international market.

The State, then, serves the interests of Capital because, left to its own "free" market devices, Capital would wither and die. Capital must continually expand, and, to do so, it must enlist the State to assist it. Marcuse then quotes at length one of Hitler's speeches, from which I will quote an interesting snippet:

"...there have been times when the volume of certain products in the world exceeded the demand...there has arisen such an increase in product capacity that the present possible consumption market stands in no relation to this increased capacity. But if Bolshevism...tears the Asiastic continent out of the human economic community, then the conditions for the employment of these industries which have developed on so gigantic a scale will be no longer even approximately realized..."

Marcuse then explains the consequence of this for Hitler:

Under the prevailing external and internal conditions, the German economy is no longer capable of functioning by means of its own inherent forces and mechanisms. The economic relations must therefore be transformed into political relations, economic expansion and domination must not only be supplemented, but superseded by political expansion and domination. Hitler promises that the new state shall become the executive agent of the economy, that it shall organize and coordinate the entire nation for unhampered economic expansion, that it shall make German industry to run down its competitor and to open up the required markets, namely the most formidable army in the world. And 8 years after Hitler's promise, Robert Ley, the leader of the German Labor Front, happily declares that Hitler has fulfilled his promise: "Capitalist economy had reached a barrier which it could not overcome by its own means. The risk of conquering new economic territory was so great that it could not be taken by private capital; capital had retreated and merely defended its previous position. It thus happened that, on the one side, gigantic productive capacities, while, on the other side, millions of men were barely able to avoid starvation. Then, National Socialism ventured on the successful attempt to open up new ways for an economy which was frustrated and had reached the limits of its own power." The National Socialist state itself assumed the risk which the private entrepeneur no longer dared to assume, or, in Ley's words, the state undertook to provide new space for the initiative of the entrepreneur.
This, however, could not be accomplished within the framework of the established state. In the speech we quoted, Hitler frightens the industrialists with the statement that 50% of the German population have become bolshevist. He means that 50% of the German population were not willing to sacrifice their wants and perhaps their lives for imperialist expansion, and that the democratic state gave them the means of effectively expressing their unwillingness. To secure industrial capacity and its full utilization all the barriers between politics and economy, between state and society had to be removed, the intermediate institutions which mitigated the oppressive social and economic forces had to be abandoned, the state had to identify itself directly with the predominant economic interests and order all social relationships according to their requirements.
...The increase of industrial capacity on an imperialist scale meant the exclusion of all inefficient enterprises from the productive process, the transformation of the remaining independent middle classes into vassals of the monopolies, and the enslavement of the atomized working class. Never before have the interests of the predominant social groups been so strikingly at odds with the interests of the majority of the population — a population which had just experienced fourteen years of democratic liberty.

(cf: The economic benefits of "growing worker insecurity" in America.)
All this is, of course, a direct consequence of divorcing the economic sphere from the social sphere. War is the natural and inevitable expression of Capital, which must appropriate the medium of political power to find its expression. And it seems that America is enacting an instant replay of the Nazi's economic mechanism to expand its own "entrepreneurial initiatives": the removal of America's social safety net, the privatization of public resources, the transfer of funds from social welfare to military and security forces, the increased police and surveillance apparatus, are all America's way of abandoning the barriers removing the "intermediate instutitions" that protect society from "oppressive social and economic forces." It's the very reason why the BushCo class warriors have worked so hard, and so successfully, to demonize labor, democrats and liberals — no less to practically criminalize society's more progressive forces.

And yet for all BushCo's success in their social rollbacks, there are some vital differences between them and the Nazis. For one thing, German culture was homogenous. American culture is irremediably heterogeneous. Thus BushCo's project is doomed to failure for different reasons than the Nazis. An Ideocrat A Vorocrat One need only compare Hitler's impassionate calls that identified The State with the Will of the People to BushCo's barely articulate telemarketer attempts to unite the country in its hatred of ter'rists to get a feel for the difference. People truly believed in Hitler with a fervor that is incomprehensible to us. No one believes in BushCo, even those who do. Hitler was a God to his followers, he was worshipped, he was personified as the essence of the German people, the saviour of their country; Bush is... well, not so much, really.

Hitler and the Nazis, for all their political expediency, did truly believe in something more than money. They were visionaries for whom ideology preceded and determined action. BushCo, on the other hand, is comprised of boardrooms executives who care about nothing but money, their ideology justifying their greed. The Nazis tapped into a culture's spirituality from a place of understanding and used it for their own ends; BushCo sells products from a brochure to try to get you to sign up.

Plus, the National Socialists expanded the economy and sought full employment for its citizens. BushCo doesn't give a shit for the masses, and doesn't care a fig for unemployment rates.

Hitler and the Nazis were ideocrats, motivated by ideological unpinnings regarding their view of the essence of human nature. They believed in more than simply increasing their own wealth. At some level they actually sought to improve life for its citizens (which, granted, made up only a portion of the entire population):

The integral mobilization of labor power could not be carried through without compensating the individual for the loss of his independence. National Socialism has offered two compensations: a new economic security and a new license. The fact that the imperialist economy of the Third Reich has created full employment and thus assured basic economic security for its citizens is of utmost importance. The liberty enjoyed by the individual in the pre-Fascist era was, for the majority of the German population, equivalent to perpetual insecurity. Ever since 1923 militant efforts to establish a truly democratic society had ceased and there came in its stead the pervasive spirit of resignation and despair. No wonder, then, that the liberty was not a high price in exhange for a system offering full security to every member of every German family. National Socialism transformed the free into the safe economic subject; it obscured the dangerous ideal of freedom with the protective reality of security.

This security, however, binds the individual to the most oppressive apparatus modern society has ever seen. The open terror, to be sure, strikes only against "the enemies", the aliens and those who do not or cannot cooperate. But the hidden terror, the terror behind the total supervision and regimentation, war and scarcity, reaches everyone. The regime cannot enhance economic security so far that it may become the foundation of freedom; that is to say, it cannot increase the standard of living so that the individual has the possibility to find proper uses for his abilities and satisfaction for his desires. For such a liberation would be incompatible with social domination based upon imperialistic economy. The National Socialist emphasis on the duty of sacrifice has more than ideologic significance; it is not only a propagandistic but also an economic principle. National Socialist security is essentially bound up with scarcity and oppression.

This is the crux of the difference between BushCo and the Nazis. BushCo doesn't give a flying fuck for compensating anybody anything, except for their cronies. In fact, BushCo welcomes "perpetual insecurity" for its citizens. BushCo wants it both ways -- remove people's independence and their economic security, giving nothing in return. That's the difference between a vorocrat and an ideocrat: an ideocrat believes in something, and seeks to improve the life of the community (in their monistic view); a vorocrat only thinks about their own interests.

(And can anyone imagine BushCo calling for sacrifice? The notion is laughable. They want people to overspend, charging their newest SUVs on their MBNA Visa card. Murka is a consumer-driven society, and during times of National Emergency the most patriotic thing a citizen can do is shop, remember?)

Nazi's also offered a bit of R&R to their citizens.

Economic security, if it is any compensation at all, must be supplemented by some form of liberty and National Socialism has granted this liberty by abolishing certain fundamental social taboos.
The abolition of highly sanctioned taboos is one of the most daring enterprises of National Socialism in the field of mass domination...
...The Third Reich has done away with discimination against illegitimate mothers and children, it has encouraged extra-marital relations between the sexes, introduced a new cult of nudity in art and entertainment, and dissolved the protective and education functions of the family.

Though Marcuse explores the abolition of these taboos in their relation to increased social control, it nevertheless also serves to highlight the lack of imagination in the repressed little world of BushCo. After all, what such liberating compensations does BushCo offer? No pre-marital sex contracts? Just say No? Shop 'till you Drop? Fox TV?

Finally, Marcuse has this to say:

They [the National Socialist ruling elite] know that they can keep their efficiency only through aggressive expansion, and that they have to carry on the war and win the war, regardless of costs. They will do everything to that end, and they do not need a plan to unite their efforts. The investment is risky, but it is the only possible investment, and the eventual profit is worth the risk. Hitler has promised them continents as their exclusive markets and the whole populations of conquered territories as compulsory customers and suppliers. The German army is on the march to make good these promises. The present rulers of Germany do not believe in ideologies and in the mysterious power of the race, but they will follow their leader as long as he remains what he has hitherto been, the living symbol of efficiency.

Does this ring a bell? Shades of Iraq?

This excerpt brings up two important issues. He states that "the present rulers of Germany do not believe in their ideologies and in the mysterious power of the race, but they will follow their leader..." This is not to say that the leaders themselves weren't ideocrats, for they certainly were. This is more in reference to the rulers who, like the Roman senate, or like America's own senate and congress, happily go along with whatever winds the leader passes for their own self-interest. (House Resolution 921 is a superb example of this, which passed by a vote of 410-8. Next time you're wondering why the world hates America so much just remember this resolution.) Ideocrats are leaders who are driven by their monomania to rule society to make it conform to their worldview. Politicians, on the other hand, have, throughout human history, seldom been more than spineless whores, happy to go along with their leaders if they get a few crumbs in return.

The other issue to note is that there is one more, very important thing that BushCo has in common with the Nazis. The aggressive expansion of imperial powers will eventually be met with countervailing forces. Other nations will get tired of appeasing the irrational bully and will, in their own self-interest, unite against it. And others nations of the world are currently preparing for that day, quickly becoming Allies against a new modern day Axis of America and Israel. Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and other countries are busily cementing ties. Europe, understandly, after being the vortex of two world wars, hesitates, trying to find ways, like England's Chamberlain, to give the bully his way hoping it will mollify him so he'll end his aggression.

Well, we saw how well that worked then. There's no reason to think it will work any better this time.

Next: Vorocracy 4: It's All Just Business → coming soon


Risk, WWIV Variant

It may be, in the short view, that Israel is losing. But a good game player always takes advantage of an opening. Right now pieces are being strategically positioned on the gameboard while the diplomacy is heated. The next few moves will be decisive.

Walking home last night I saw a headline announcing that the US is pushing for a NATO presence in Lebanon. My very first thought was of the way nations dragged each other into World War I based upon their previous alliances and treaties, and that if the US successfully pulls NATO onto Israel's side to quell Hezbollah then the gates of WWIV will officially open.

But then, when I saw a headline this morning about the US wants Peacekeepers: Bold proposal sees international force deployed across breadth of Lebanon I finetuned my initial reaction, and thought immediately of Syria. (I also thought of the way the US always seeks legal cover and friends to join them in their criminal enterprises...)

I've notated elsewhere the degree to which BushCo has long planned for a "regime change" in Syria. If BushCo succeeds in getting an international force NATO deployed as a "peacekeeping" force in Lebanon the "international force would be right up to the Syrian border". The US would then have forces stationed on the west in Lebanon (within rocket range of Damascus), on the east in Iraq, and, if NATO is pulled in, from the north in Turkey. It doesn't take a huge leap to figure out what comes next: fabricate some lame and transparent excuse to invade Syria, just as Israel did to invade Lebanon (or the US did to invade Iraq (or Afghanistan (or Nicaragua (or Haiti (or Cambodia (or the Philippines (or ...))))))). I expect that part of Dr. Rice's vision for a "new" Middle East includes a lot more pain, death, tragedy and grief for innumerable people to help soften up the road to Damascus.

It's hard to say right now who's using whom to further their objectives. I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that one of the reasons for Israel's incursion into Lebanon was to put into motion both Israel's and the US's long-term objective to finally go after Syria: Israel razes Lebanon, the US comes in to "secure the peace", then together they go after the first of their two prime objectives. (ie: after Syria, Iran) Not only do I think it's reasonable to believe this, I think we're watching the next big play on the Risk gameboard unfolding right now, a joint play by both Israel and the US. (The disgusting insouciance with which BushCo pro-actively repudiated any efforts to stop Israel's aggression suggests that BushCo was waiting for (and providing the space for) Israel to finish its move before making their own. Dr. Rice, waiting offstage in the green room, has finally received her cue and is now onstage to put the next move in play.)

It's like a global WWF tag-team match, with Israel and the US against the rest of the world. Unfortunately the match will be a long one, with a great many losers and no clear winners — except, of course, for the Vorocrats.

Alexander Cockburn, easily one of my favorite journalists, provides some vital history to what's going on. It's essential reading. He also mentions a site that provides wrenchingly painful images of what war does to real people (including little children) — it's very graphic and disturbing, full of images you will not see on CNN, and which may very well burn permanent scars in your brain.


Pariah State Lashes Out

Like most of the rest of the 'reality-based' world, I am outraged and sickened by the atrocities Israel is committing in the Middle East. I don't know which sickens me more, Israel's outrageous crimes (against both the Palestinians and the Lebanese), the deafening silence greeting their crimes, or the wall of propaganda that blames the victims and exonerates the psychopath.

The pariah state of Israel is out of control, gleefully hoping to kickstart WWIV to the rapturous joy of both BushCo's neocon hawks and the Rapture Ready™ crowd.

I began an article sometime ago about Israel's obvious and criminal intent at "ethnic cleansing" — including speculations about Sharon moving Jewish settlers out of Gaza the easier to effect this cleansing — but I little expected them to use some lame excuse to deliberately bomb the shit out of a sovereign nation, trash its infrastructure, and indiscriminately kill civilians. It's like a parent burning down an elementary school in session because he's pissed that his house was egged one too many times by some truants — he was going to burn it down anyways, and just wanted a good excuse.

There are so many things to comment up, like the bogus complaint "they're launching rockets made in Syria and Iran" from the "don't sue the gun-manufacturers for gun-related crimes" crowd (not to mention "this Israeli weapon brought to you by Murkan tax dollars!"), but I just don't have the heart nor will to write it. I'm too sickened by the whole thing. I'll just steal the thoughts of others...

Mike Whitney

Israel's Shameful attack on Gaza

The account of Palestinian suffering and victim-hood rarely finds its way into the mainstream press, but in the present case, it has been completely ignored. In fact, none of the media provide any context for the current invasion at all. Israel's blockade of food and lethal provocations have been going on for months, and yet, the accounts from Gaza would have the reader believe that history began on the day that the Israeli soldier was captured.
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...UN special-rapporteur, John Dugard is headed off to Gaza to investigate the Israeli military's "disproportionate use of force against civilians". Dugard said, "It is clear that Israel is in violation of the most fundamental norms of humanitarian law and human rights."

His comments have not appeared in any American newspaper.

Virginia Tilley

Starving in the Dark

Wednesday, Israeli war planes repeatedly bombed and utterly demolished Gaza's only power plant. About 700,000 of Gaza's 1.3 million people now have no electricity, and word is that power cannot be restored for six months.

It is not the immediate human conditions created by this strike that are monumental. Those conditions are, of course, bad enough. No lights, no refrigerators, no fans through the suffocating Gaza summer heat. No going outside for air, due to ongoing bombing and Israel's impending military assault. In the hot darkness, massive explosions shake the cities, close and far, while repeated sonic booms are doubtless wreaking the havoc they have wrought before: smashing windows, sending children screaming into the arms of terrified adults, old people collapsing with heart failure, pregnant women collapsing with spontaneous abortions. Mass terror, despair, desperate hoarding of food and water. And no radios, television, cell phones, or laptops (for the few who have them), and so no way to get news of how long this nightmare might go on.

But this time, the situation is worse than that. As food in the refrigerators spoils, the only remaining food is grains. Most people cook with gas, but with the borders sealed, soon there will be no gas. When family-kitchen propane tanks run out, there will be no cooking. No cooked lentils or beans, no humus, no bread the staples Palestinian foods, the only food for the poor. (And there is no firewood or coal in dry, overcrowded Gaza.)

Tanya Reinhart

The IDF is Hungry for War

...To control the West Bank, Israel needs full control Gaza. The new form of control Israel has developed is turning the whole of the Strip into a prison camp completely sealed from the world.

Besieged occupied people with nothing to hope for, and no alternative means of political struggle, will always seek ways to fight their oppressor. The imprisoned Gaza Palestinians found a way to disturb the life of the Israelis in the vicinity of the Strip, by launching home-made Qassam rockets across the Gaza wall against Israeli towns bordering the Strip. These primitive rockets lack the precision to focus on a target, and have rarely caused Israeli casualties; they do however cause physical and psychological damage and seriously disturb life in the targeted Israeli neighborhoods. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the Qassams are a response to the war Israel has declared on them. As a student from Gaza said to the New York Times, "Why should we be the only ones who live in fear? With these rockets, the Israelis feel fear, too. We will have to live in peace together, or live in fear together."
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...In Israel's view, the Palestinians elections results is a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel's demands.

Since ending the occupation is the one thing Israel is not willing to consider, the option promoted by the army is breaking the Palestinians by devastating brutal force. They should be starved, bombarded, terrorized with sonic booms for months, until they understand that rebelling is futile, and accepting prison life is their only hope for staying alive. Their elected political system, institutions and police should be destroyed. In Israel's vision, Gaza should be ruled by gangs collaborating with the prison wards.

The Israeli army is hungry for war.

Robert Dreyfuss

Neocons Rise From Mideast Ashes

First, Israel's actions in no way can be seen as a legitimate response to the small-scale attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah. Instead, what Israel has done has used the pretext of those pin-prick attacks — a couple of border raids and a handful of errant rockets — to launch a strategic attack whose goals are to crush Hamas and the remaining institutions of Palestinian self-rule and decapitate and destroy Hezbollah politically and militarily in Lebanon.

Second, it's clear that Israel would never have launched this war without having made the calculation that it would win the support of the United States. The rest of the world is solidly aligned against Israel's outrageously disproportionate attacks, but none of that matters...

Third, by invading and bombing Lebanon and acting brutally to crush the Palestinian Authority, Israel has created a unified field theory of the Middle Easts crises, uniting the escalating world showdown with Iran, the unraveling civil war in Iraq, the crisis over Syrias role in Lebanon, and the Arab-Israeli conflict itself into one big tangle. To be sure, all of those conflicts were always linked. But now they are as one. And in each case, the United States now faces a huge dilemma.

Uri Avnery

The Real Aim

THE REAL aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government.

That was the aim of Ariel Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It failed. But Sharon and his pupils in the military and political leadership have never really given up on it.

As in 1982, the present operation, too, was planned and is being carried out in full coordination with the US.

As then, there is no doubt that it is coordinated with a part of the Lebanese elite.

That's the main thing. Everything else is noise and propaganda.
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The calculation now is that if the Israeli Air Force rains heavy enough blows on the Lebanese population - paralysing the sea- and airports, destroying the infrastructure, bombarding residential neighborhoods, cutting the Beirut-Damascus highroad etc. - the public will get furious with Hizbullah and pressure the Lebanese government into fulfilling Israel's demands. Since the present government cannot even dream of doing so, a dictatorship will be set up with Israel's support.

That is the military logic. I have my doubts. It can be assumed that most Lebanese will react as any other people on earth would: with fury and hatred towards the invader.

Aljazeera Interview with As'ad AbuKhalil

'Lebanon crisis an international conspiracy'

Aljazeera: What are Israel's goals? What are Hezbollah's goals?

As'ad AbuKhalil: I think that Israel often acts in revenge. The Zionist movement is a vengeful movement; it always has been.

It wants not only to implement UNSC 1559 to disarm Hezbollah, but it also wants, as it did in 1982, to pave the way for the installation of American puppets as rulers of Lebanon. These plans never work: All grand plans for Lebanon strike the rocks of deep sectarian divisions in the country.
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Aljazeera: Dozens of civilians have been killed on both sides but there has been little movement in the international community. Is there a feeling that mediation or efforts to bring about a ceasefire will be fruitless?

As'ad AbuKhalil: The silence of the so-called international community, which has been under the control and in the service of the US government since the end of the Cold War, has been most painful for those in Lebanon who have been told in the last two years that the international community cares about Lebanon and its people. Now people know better.

I do believe that the same racist impulse that considers Israeli lives worth more than Arab lives is at play here. I have no doubt that the lives of Arabs never meant much for the descendants of colonial powers in the region.

And it is important that we don't allow Israeli propaganda to present an image of symmetry between the two sides: There is no symmetry between the two sides in this conflict.

Not only in terms of Israeli military superiority, but also in terms of massive killings by Israel of largely innocent civilians.
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Aljazeera: As the main power-broker in the Middle East, what role can the US play to end the violence?

As'ad AbuKhalil: You have to be either ignorant or foolish or both to consider the US interested in ending the current conflict. The US has clearly endorsed an unconditional Israeli aggression on Lebanon and Palestine. The US will leave it to Israel to decide not only the manner of killing of Arabs, but even to determine the number of Arabs that Israel wishes to kill.

Marjorie Cohn

Israel Creates Humanitarian Crisis

Hundreds of Israelis protested outside Olmert's home, denouncing the government as war criminals and demanding an end to the Gaza invasion. "We call for our government to stop targeting Palestinian civilians — the targeting of civilians is a war crime — and start negotiating with the elected Palestinian leaders, not to arrest them," said Yishai Menuhin, a spokesman for the peace group Yesh Gvul.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz commentator Gideon Levy also criticized the Israeli actions. He wrote, "A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization."

Kathleen Christison

Atrocities in the Promised Land

A nation that mandates the primacy of one ethnicity or religion over all others will eventually become psychologically dysfunctional. Narcissistically obsessed with its own image, it must strive to maintain its racial superiority at all costs and will inevitably come to view any resistance to this imagined superiority as an existential threat. Indeed, any other people automatically becomes an existential threat simply by virtue of its own existence. As it seeks to protect itself against phantom threats, the racist state becomes increasingly paranoid, its society closed and insular, intellectually limited. Setbacks enrage it; humiliations madden it. The state lashes out in a crazed effort, lacking any sense of proportion, to reassure itself of its strength.

The pattern played out in Nazi Germany as it sought to maintain a mythical Aryan superiority. It is playing out now in Israel. This society no longer recognizes any boundaries, geographical or moral, wrote Israeli intellectual and anti-Zionist activist Michel Warschawski in his 2004 book Towards an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society. Israel knows no limits and is lashing out as it finds that its attempt to beat the Palestinians into submission and swallow Palestine whole is being thwarted by a resilient, dignified Palestinian people who refuse to submit quietly and give up resisting Israels arrogance.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Israel's path to total war

One of the most malignant aspects of the new chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict is the myth of Israel as the assaulted party, lavishly propagated by the White House and the infinite pro-Israel pundits in the US media, including the editors of the New York Times, who have labeled Israel's blatant aggression against the nation of Lebanon as "legally and morally justified".

M. Shahid Alam

Israel, the US and the New Orientalism

What makes this repackaged Orientalism new are its intentions, its proponents, and the enemy it has targeted for destruction. Its intention is to mobilize the United States behind a scheme to balkanize the Middle East into ethnic, sectarian and religious micro states, a new system of client states that would facilitate Israel's long-term hegemony over the region...
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...Anstruther MacKay, military governor of part of Palestine during World War I, wrote that the Zionist project would "arouse fierce Moslem hostility and fanaticism against the Western powers that permitted it. The effect of this hostility would be felt through the Middle East, and would cause trouble in Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India. To this might be ascribed by future historians the outbreak of a great war between the white and the brown races, a war into which America would without doubt be drawn (italics added)." We are now living in the future predicted by Gibbons and MacKay. The Islamicate resistance has been slow in developing but now its has spread in one form or another beyond Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt and India to the farthest corners of the Islamic world--and even into the Islamic diaspora in the West.
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History is the ally of tormented peoples; they can tell it as it was. It is the tormentors who deny their history; they have to make it up to deny the torments they have inflicted. They must speak constantly, unremittingly of the need to put down insurgencies, terrorist attacks, threats to world peace, and violence against the civilized order. We too must constantly revisit the history of Western depredations over the past four centuries to connect the world's present miseries to this infamous history. Only a deepening consciousness of this history, constantly renewed, carries hope that the powers that use stealth to manufacture terror can be stopped.

Michael Lerner

Israel in Gaza; Israel in Lebanon

Who are Israel's friends and the friends of the Jewish people? Those who support [the] path toward peace and reconciliation. Who are its enemies? Those who encourage it to persist in the fantasy that it can "win" militarily or politically. Just as the objective enemies of America in the 1960s were those who egged it on to persist in the Vietnam war, and those who were its objective friends were those of its citizens who actively opposed that war, so similarly today the friends of the Jewish people are those who are doing everything possible to restrain it from cheerleadng for Israel's militarist adventures and refusal to treat the Palestinians as equally entitled to freedom and self-determination as the Jewish people.

Who are Palestine's friends? Those who encourage a path of non-violence and abandoning the fantasy that armed struggle combined with political isolation of Israel will lead to a good outcome for Palestinians. Who are its enemies? Those who preach ideas like "one state solution" or global economic boycott without offering the Jewish people a secure state in Palestine--paths that will never produce anything positive but continued resistance by Israel and world Jewry.


Vorocracy: 2: Conflict of Interest

→ Vorocracy 1: Why Did BushCo Invade Iraq?

Creating A Demand For Your Product

Or course the first thing you must do if you're seeking to sell a lot of your product is to create a demand for it. And if you're in the business of war what better way to do that than to invade some non-threatening country, bomb peoples' homes, decimate their villages, take away their livelihoods, ruin their environment, destroy their infrastructure, kill off their children, torture their parents, trash their cultural artifacts, trample their sacred spaces, plunder their resources, etc etc etc...all to the hurrahs and hosannahs of the cretinous yahoos at home cheering on the stormtrooping hometeam. Cheney's RictusYou have now created a booming business for your death products, with plenty of new and guaranteed customers both at home and abroad, for as far into the future as you can see. You can almost see the drool flowing out of Cheney's rictus when he says (hopefully) that this will be a "war that won't end in our lifetimes."

But war profiteering isn't just about destruction. It's also about construction. What Raytheon and General Dynamics destroy, Bechtel and Haliburton rebuild — with investment companies like The Carlyle Group and the Saudi Binladin Group reaping profits from them all. It's a veritable money machine, with death and misery going in one end and mountains of cash coming out the other — all courtesy of taxpayers like you.

Indeed, the war invasion of Iraq is a $300,000,000,000+ (and ever growing) transfer of wealth from taxpayers to war profiteers. It is reverse Robin-Hoodism run rampant.

If one wants to understand the invasion of Iraq one needs to first read the Project for the New American Century's [PNAC] report Rebuilding America's Defenses. Then one needs to look at the incestuous relationships between the corporations poised to reap enormous profit from the destabilization of Iraq, and the revolving door that exists between them, the current administration, and numerous right-wing think tanks.

And it's not just Iraq. Iraq is only the beginning of their Blofeldian plan. The plan is to extend this strategy to the entire world. (Qv: Contained within the PNAC's notorious blueprint for world domination (mentioned above) the phrase 'US global leadership' recurs with great frequency. This is simply their euphemism for world domination.)

Conflicts Of Interest, the GDP, Neoliberalism, and the Permanent War Economy

There's a great old Fleischer Popeye cartoon entitled The Paneless Window Washer in which Bluto, a professional window cleaner, soils windows in order to drum up some business. Neoliberalism in Action

The Gross Domestic Product [GDP] is like a rating economists use to get a snapshot evaluation of the economic health of countries. The logic of the GDP assesses the ultimate value of anything and everything in terms of "wealth creation." By the logic that sanctifies the GDP as the economic equivalent of fundamentalist Biblical Truth, anything that increases the GDP is necessarily deemed positive. Thus, for example, a factory that pollutes is good because its production increases the GDP; when taxpayers pay to clean up the pollution that's also good because this boosts the GDP too. (This viewpoint makes comprehensible the premise behind a bumper sticker on a BMW I once saw in a parking lot at Yale University: "Environmentalists Are Wrecking Our Economy." Cf: Eg: BushCo's refusal to sign Kyoto.) Thus death, war, natural calamities, illness, etc. are, from an economic point of view, all good because they boost the economy and generate profit — it gets money flowing and "creates" "wealth". Human misery can be very very profitable.

This disconnect between standards by which to evaluate quality of life versus wealth creation is a serious problem for living under corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism's need to convert all of life to numbers on a ledger is, perhaps, the greatest unspoken phenomenological reason behind the unpleasant state of the world today — the reduction of all of existence, all of reality, to quantifiable economic units; to "know the price of everything and the value of nothing." (Such a disconnect is rectified with the Genuine Progress Indicator [GPI], a much more realistic and accurate economic indicator that is fortunately making some inroads.)

Susan George says in her remarkable book The Lugano Report:

In such a system [ie: economic growth = economic well-being], a forest razed and sold for logs, sawn timber, charcoal, furniture, and so on is counted only on the positive side of the ledger. The destruction of the natural capital represented by that forest and the 'services' it provides, such as its capacity to absorb CO2, to stablise, the soil, to shelter species diversity, are nowhere to be found.

Air, water and soil are counted as free, or nearly free, goods; their scarcity value is not recognised or calculated. Depletion of fish stocks, topsoil, minerals, the ozone shield, wildlife species, rare plants, and so on is either regarded as income or compensated by subsidies to the very producers intent on further depletion (such as agribusiness and natural resource companies).

Like Bluto dirtying windows so that he can profit from cleaning them, our entire economy is structured on a conflict-of-interest known as the broken window fallacy. Simply put, a little boy breaking a window engenders economic benefits for everyone in town due the need to replace the window. Modern corporate capitalism is the institutionalized economic establishment of this schizophrenic ethos, one that perversely constitutes the social good by creating an insoluble ontological fracture between the economic and social spheres of society. This fracture began, of course, before modern times: even Aristotle warned about the consequences of divorcing economic motivations ("money-making") from their concrete social relationships ("householding proper") in his Politics. But such a divorce was consecrated in modern times by a practically offhanded statement of a Supreme Court justice that magically elevated corporations to the status of personhood, thus permitting corporations to function (by proxy) as actors in America's "democratic" system, endowed with the same rights as human beings. This led to essentially institutionalizing greed as society's operating principle by handing corporations the reins of political power. And so, as a historical consequence of this, we now live in a system of global gangster capitalism, complete with its own evangelically held utopian notions regarding what is fundamentally a schizophrenic approach to "wealth creation": with the insoluble divorce between the economic and social spheres of society, "wealth" can be "created" by taking advantage of conflicts of interest that find profit from deleterious social effects, and which necessarily result in the benefitting of the few at the cost of the many.

Chicago gangsters like Al Capone and Curly Humphreys instinctively understood this kind of capitalism. They embraced the awesome profit-potential of conflict-of-interest to their advantage. To quote Gus Russo in his fascinating history The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America:

The essential elements of a labor racket consisted of terrorizing small businesses into needing protection (euphemistically called a trade association), for which they paid a percentage of their gross income. Simultaneously, as perfected by Humphreys, the racketeer represented the workers (a union in name only) in their grievances against their employers and their trade associations. It was perhaps the most laughably obvious conflict-of-interest arrangement that ever existed.

Throughout the book Russo details the many ways The Outfit profitted from insider information and conflicts-of-interest. As you read further and further into the book you realize that the only difference between these underworld gangsters and what they call the "upperworld" gangsters (ie, "legitimate businessmen" aka "robber barons") is the size of their crimes.

(Speaking of "insider information", every so often Capital requires some high-profile sacrificial victim to prove that the system "works", that it can actually police itself to prevent abuses. But Wall Street is nothing but an institutionalized high-stakes casino run entirely on insider information. For a simple — though not very well known — illustration of this do some research on the trading of United and American Airlines stocks shortly before the 911 show. Wouldn't you think that any tremendously anamolous trading on these stocks shortly before airplanes from these companies crashed into buildings would provide some clues as to the culprits behind it? No, probably not — that's doubtless why investigations into the matter were quickly dropped.)

One of the primary ways money is tranferred from the public into businessmens' pockets is through privatizing public services and resources. The neoliberal zeal for privatization is, ultimately, due to the cosmic profits that unbridled conflicts-of-interest can generate for the greedy and unscrupulous by simply handing over public services and resources directly to the private sector (can you say "Enron"?), which, more often than not, means that it's handed over to friends of well-placed policy makers (can you say "Ken Lay"?). Here pedagogist Henry Giroux, in his excoriating tirade The Terror of Neoliberalism, lambasts the notion of privatization:

Under neoliberalism everything either is for sale or is plundered for profit.
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Within the discourse of neoliberalism, the notion of the public good is devalued and, where possible, eliminated as part of a wider rationale for a handful of private interests to control as much of social life as possible in order to maximize their personal profit. Public services such as health care, child care, public assistance, education, and transportation are now subject to the rules of the market. Construing the public good as a private good and the needs of the corporate and private sector as the only source of investment, neoliberal ideology produces, legitimates, and exacerbates the existence of persistent poverty, inadequate health care, racial apartheid in the inner cities, and growing inequalities between rich and poor.

There are enormous profits to be made by making the world an increasingly unpleasant place. For an example of privatization profiting from a social conflict-of-interest — one made possible precisely by exploiting the divorce between the economic and social spheres — here is an excerpt from a recent article about the increasing privatization of the prison industry:

"The drug war has been the main cause of profits for private prisons," said University of North Florida criminologist Michael Hallett. "We've gotten so extreme in overusing incarceration that we have for-profit industries with an interest in high crime rates."

It's thus only natural that once a sector depends on profits from certain channels it has a vested interest in seeing those channels continue. (Not to mention what the growth of a privatized prison industry portends for the average American citizen, especially given the loss of social safety nets, loss of jobs & job security, etc. Can you say "Gulags for Profit"?)

(As a side note, speaking of conflict-of-interest and the drug war, the drug war has been a tremendous success. Certainly not for the countless families ruined by it, but for both the security and enforcement industries that have come to be addicted to the windfalls of cash it generates through unconstitutional property seizures and tax-payer largesse, not to mention the greatly expanded police powers and cross-department cooperation it has engendered. The Drug War has been a vital tool in furthering and solidifying America's police-statehood.)

This is what is fundamentally at the root of the zealous and fanatical theology of "free marketism," known today as neoliberalism. ("...neoliberalism is an ideology and politics buoyed by the spirit of a market fundamentalism that subordinates the art of democratic politics to the rapacious laws of a market economy that expands its reach to include all aspects of social life within the dictates and values of a market-driven society." —Henry Giroux.) And like junkies looking for the next fix, business is addicted to influxes of money. It's only natural: a businessman wants to keep his business going.

And if you're in the business of war then peace is a threat to the survival of your industry. Thus like private prisons and other security agencies that benefit from high crime rates, so do many industries (and their executives) benefit from war: peace is disastrous for them. Modern capitalism is addicted to a permanent war economy. Susan George puts it succinctly: "The most efficient way to increase GNP [Gross National Product] rapidly is probably to wage war."

This points out the crux of the problem for those seeking lasting peace. Corporate Capitalists, wedded to profit, are, of course, loathe to simply relinquish their money-making machines in the interests of humanity. Removing the profit motive from war will not end war as one of our species' tragic realities; but for those who seek peace, removing the profit motive from waging war is a vital step in humanity's social evolution, for doing so will remove war's most painfully misanthropic and absurd modern rationale.

But of course war profiteers are not going to cooperate with policies that mean their industries will be rendered defunct and their fortunes dried-up. World War II is an excellent example of this.

Vorocracy 3: Investing in Fascism → coming soon


Vorocracy: 1: Iraq

From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it, since its goal is far beyond all it can attain. Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.

     —Emile Durkheim

Why did BushCo invade Iraq?

A recent article in the Washington Post entitled Security Costs Slow Iraq Reconstruction got me thinking. Here are some excerpts:

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Efforts to rebuild water, electricity and health networks in Iraq are being shortchanged by higher-than-expected costs to provide security and by generous financial awards to contractors, according to a series of reports by government investigators released yesterday.

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"It's quite clear that we've got massive amounts of taxpayer money funneled into Iraq, with very little oversight and a substantial amount of waste and abuse," said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND). "These are very discouraging reports."

Dorgan said the high costs associated with providing security are particularly troubling.

The government does not know how much it spends on private security contractors in total, the GAO said. But it is more than expected. "Contractor officials acknowledge that the cost of private security services and security-related equipment, such as armored vehicles, has exceeded what they originally envisioned," the GAO said.

The Pentagon estimates there are 60 private security firms with as many as 25,000 employees in Iraq. Some elite personnel make $33,000 a month. But there are no industry standards, and soldiers are not taught in advance how to interact with the armed contractors, according to the GAO.

The use of contractors has led to occasional conflicts with the military. In May, the Marines detained 19 contractors for three days, claiming the contractors fired at them. The contractors, who worked for Zapata Engineering of Charlotte, denied firing at the Marines and said they were roughed up while in custody.

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In a separate report yesterday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported that more money than necessary may be going into the pockets of government contractors involved in the rebuilding process.

A review by auditors of 18 reconstruction contracts found that the formula used for doling out special monetary awards, which are above and beyond basic fees, tended to skew them too high.

For instance, the inspector general's office found that a contractor that received an evaluation of "average" performance won award fees of $1.67 million but could have been given just $309,436 under another widely accepted awards system. In a second case, a contractor won no award fees but ended up being paid $439,145 after it appealed because it had not received feedback on its work from the government.

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The reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan together represent the largest U.S. assistance efforts since World War II. In Iraq alone, the GAO said, the United States has allocated $24 billion and has spent $9 billion since 2003.

A moment's reflection will invite the realization that someone's making shiploads of money from this whole debacle. Then a bit more reflection will lead to the question "Well, just who is profiting from this?" Then you gather the names of the companies involved, determine their executives, find the ways these various executives and various companies are incestuously related to each other and their revolving door relationship to government officialdom and maybe you come to the realization that this was all just a monstrous way to funnel tax dollars from the public directly into the pockets of BushCo and their cronies. And then maybe, just maybe, a light goes off in your head that perhaps this whole Iraq war is actually going according to plan.

(As an aside, the above mainstream (ie, corporate) article, with one minor exception, neglected to mention (of course) just who these security services and contractors are; or where, precisely, the money is being "wasted." Quite an omission, isn't it? But is money ever really "wasted"? Maybe to those who lose it, but certainly not to those who acquire it. According to the GAO someone's getting a hell of a lot of your "wasted" money, money that just seems to somehow — unaccountably (literally) — vanish. Who's getting it? Don't you think that would be a good question for a journalist to ask? or perhaps even a better one to answer?)

Who, aside from the neocon zealots and the chronically gullible media consumer, could have actually expected that entering a war with an inadequate force, relying on precious Guards & reserves (ie, cheaper "part-time" soldiers), would have been a cakewalk? I personally know some such zealots who truly believed the ridiculous promises that the Iraqis would greet their liberators with flowers and candy and "sing great songs about us", and crowed about the success of "Operation Iraqi Freedom, baby!" when they saw Hussein's statue toppled for the cameras.

But anyone with any connection to lived-reality easily predicted the complete and utter disaster that this war invasion would bring to the Iraqi people specifically, and the world-at-large in general; and it would also serve to polarize the invading force's citizenry as well as hasten its economic decline. What such an attitude doesn't account for — because such a 'reality-based' attitude is often in tune with universal humanitarian ethics — is that perhaps this may have been the desired goal of the entire endeavor to begin with. You see, conflict is always profitable — at least for those who know how to feed off of it.

Those who think the invasion of Iraq was all about the oil are on the right path; but as Paul Craig Roberts asks:

Why did Bush invade Iraq?

Cynical Americans say the answer is oil. But $300 billion would have bought the oil without getting anyone killed, without destroying America's reputation in the world and without stirring up countless terrorist recruits for al Qaida.

He's right. That's because oil, like WMDs, was, as Hitchcock would say, a MacGuffin, a plot device, a distraction, as it were, to move the plot along. Of course securing oil is the crown jewel of contemporary geopolitics ("He who controls the Spice, controls the universe!"), and thus was certainly the determining factor in choosing to invade Iraq over, say, Rwanda — given the coming global energy crisis and the geopolitical necessity of appropriating Iraq as a military base in the PNAC's plan for global conquest, they would use its oil reserves as political leverage to assume their Blofeldian plans for global hegemony. But in the bigger picture oil is merely a means to an end — a vitally important means, but it's nonetheless the icing on a cake. The cake itself is another matter. Journalist Pratap Chatterjee, in his book Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation, discusses his belief for the rationale for attacking Iraq:

I do believe that the war took place for two reasons: to distract the public's attention from the Bush administration's failure to rebuild crumbling domestic infrastructure — schools, hospitals, and social security — and to strengthen the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. Oil was a factor in the invasion, but also proved incidental to that action. After all, the United States was one of the biggest buyers of Iraqi oil before the war and still is after the war...In fact, Halliburton does not control the oil wells nor hold any oil concessions. It is simply an oil services company, providing expertise to oil companies who own such concessions. The biggest, somewhat less conspiratorial, question regards its military contracts in Iraq, worth ten times those of its contracts in the oil sector.

While his second reason is a given, I don't agree with Mr. Chatterjee's first reason: though, like a magician's wand, starting a war certainly is a great distraction, the policy to invade Iraq was formulated long before BushCo assumed office. It can also be argued that such an excuse is moot because it implies that they even acknowledge or care about America's crumbling infrastructure. (Indeed, BushCo, as the leveraged buyout executives they are, actively seeks to dismantle America's infrastructure so as to pocket the profits from doing so.)

As we shall see there is another, deeper reason for invading Iraq. For now it can summarized as desiring to replace a client state's executive because the state was functioning a bit too well outside the neoliberal model. Ie: the puppet had a few ideas of his own that directly benefitted his own people (at least those he wasn't torturing) over and above the needs of his masters. And so they decided it was time to oust their puppet and just install themselves, the better to oversee their investments.

Later Mr. Roberts asks:

Will President Bush ever tell us the real reason why he committed America's treasure, the lives of American soldiers and the reputation of our country to war in Iraq?

Does he even know?

The answer is "no" and "yes". Bush will never divulge the real reason because people would not understand nor believe it. Does Bush himself even know? Most likely, though he probably doesn't have the language with which to express it: are chameleons conscious of their own camouflage? Chameleons just instinctively hide in plain sight without knowing the hows and whys of their doing so.

The PNAC neo-con zealots who are helping to flush America down the toilet as they pursue their insane plan of global American hegemony brought about an eternal war against of terror because, quite simply, war means money — a great deal of money, cosmic amounts of money. (Plus, they seem to believe, like other hubristic psychopaths before them, that they are impervious to Imperial Overstretch, which always seems to lead to the death of an empire.) They themselves may not see it this way since their self-professed religion is one of American Exceptionalism, and thus they have a zealot's faith in their cause. But that doesn't alter the fact that their geopolitical theology is practically indistinguishable from the interests of capital. Power and money have, since time immemorial, been politically wedded together. And, in modern America, the line between its two contemporary theological apologetics — neoconservatism and neoliberalism — is very fuzzy indeed since their interests intertwine so organically.

Ultimately, it's all about power, and, even moreso, money. ("Money is power" as the old saw says.) And nothing unites these two in connubial bliss more than war: it provides illegitimate power its ultimate raison d'etre while it funnels money into the coffers of its henchmen. With BushCo these two forces are joined at the hip, comprising a monstrous, pathological conjoined twin. "Out of war a few people make huge fortunes," as Marine Major General Smedley "I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Butler says in his book War is a Racket.

And, if war is hugely profitable, then it follows that an eternal war would be eternally profitable.

Vorocracy 2: Conflict of Interest as the Structural Engine of Economic Ecstasy →