A new governing aristocracy made public deception acceptable

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We live in unprecedented times: With both conventions behind us, roughly three months to the November elections, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the political landscape has radically changed; and not only because both big parties selected highly flawed, even in their own parties relatively unpopular presidential nominees.

Disruptions of traditional American politics goes far beyond that point, and the selection of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as standard bearers of their respective parties, indeed, increasingly looks like only the last step in a decades-long process of declining morality in public policy and politics. It also coincides with a rapidly expanding government, the concomitant growth and ever increasing power of a government-funded administrative “aristocracy,” made up of professional politicians and largely unaccountable government bureaucrats, who no longer listen to the people but believe to have the right to make choices on behalf of the people, while in actuality self-servingly expanding their own interests rather than those of the people.

Administrative “aristocracies” existed throughout history, from ancient Egypt, China and Japan to later European nation states, at times, indeed, similarly to current circumstances in the European Union (i.e. BREXIT) and the U.S. (ratification of the agreement with Teheran by the U.N. rather that the U.S. Congress), more loyal to their “aristocratic” cast members across-borders than to their own nations. This is how, for example, a German rather than British aristocratic family ascended to the British throne creating the House of Windsor or, as recently as in 1921, when a Saudi Arabian “aristocratic” family from Mecca was chosen by the British as rulers of Jordan, creating the Hashemite dynasty that has been in power ever since. Though formal aristocracies lost power in many countries, new administrative “aristocracies” almost always followed. Though, for example, end of aristocratic rule was a declared goal of the French Revolution, Napoleon established elite schools for future government administrators (and politicians), not too dissimilar to how Chinese emperors had ruled their vast empire already in early Chinese dynasties, and thus created a new ruling class (i.e., administrative aristocracy).

Napoleon’s schooling concept has survived in the so-called Grandes écoles of France over a number of French Republics, with the École national d’administration till today seeding governments and the nations administrative as well as business elites, whether from the left or right of the political spectrum. Post WWII, similar administrative “aristocracies” also developed in most other Western European democracies and, when the European Community was established, found its ultimate expression in the Union’s Brussel Bureaucracy, which can be viewed as the principle cause why the BREXIT vote led to the pending departure of the UK from the EU.

Primarily driven by an ever expanding federal government with increasing powers, and by diminished independence of individual states, such a federal administrative “aristocracy” has also been evolving in the U.S. Especially the last 30 years have witnessed exponential growth in the power of this ruling class, at least partially driven by the power of incumbency, offering politicians a high likelihood of reelection, and due to lifetime employment (with practically no legal option of dismissal) for government employees. United by common self-interests of incumbency and ever expanding financial as well as political power, politicians and government bureaucrats now represent our country’s administrative “aristocracy,” not dissimilar to the EU’s administrative “aristocracy” in Brussels. This is why, by income, some of the suburbs of Washington, DC, now are the richest counties in the nation.

Convinced of intellectual superiority, these “aristocratic” bureaucracies create self-perpetuating and self-serving government structures from the ground up by determining what is and what is not politically correct language (and, of course, politically correct thinking); by establishing educational curricula for schools and colleges that “educate” the young, following the old Jesuit dictum, “give me a child until age seven, and I’ll give you the man;by interpreting laws in thousands of rules and regulations, many never intended by congress; in other words, by removing the administration of the country further and further from the direct will of the people.

Since ideologies throughout history never were able to co-exist with traditional religious believes, it is not surprising that these “aristocratic” bureaucracies are usually agnostic, and often even overtly hostile to the exercise of free religions. The empty space of religion is filled with “modern religiosity,” best defined as abstract concepts of thought, which share with religions the indisputable conviction of absolute and, therefore, indisputable truth; yet, like religions, they are also characterized by absence of all provability and, at times, are empirical illogical.

A good example for such illogical thinking is, for example, the laudable insistence on equality of all religions (i.e., Islam with Christianity and Judaism) while, at the same time restricting the ability of Christians to practice their religion freely. A good example for the results of such illogical thinking is that currently over 50% of U.S. college students allegedly favor socialism over capitalism, even though every student of history would know that in innumerable incarnations socialism has without exception always failed as an economic model, and more often than not, ended up leading to dictatorships and economic misery (see the current Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world). This statistical fact is, however, also a good example how radically this new American “aristocracy” has changed America in recent decades. Even President Obama in his first election campaign, only eight years ago, still categorically rejected the label of being a “socialist” for fear of becoming unelectable. Only eight years later, Bernie Sanders, a declared Socialist would, likely, have become the elected Democratic presidential candidate, had the party leadership not undemocratically conspired against his election.

Looking back in history, considering the more recent political climate in the country, it is really quite remarkable that when the Watergate Scandal broke in the 1970s in the second Nixon administration, Republicans were on the forefront of those demanding his impeachment. Contrast that to what happened during the second Democratic Clinton administration, when the truth no longer mattered and relativity of values, suddenly, ruled the day.

Can anybody imagine that an earlier U.S. president would have politically survived a Lewinsky- like Scandal? And, yet in 1997, only a little over 20 years following Watergate, Bill Clinton not only survived, but became one of the country’s most popular ex-presidents. The political value system of the country in those short years had, obviously, radically changed: Doing the right thing for the country was out; and self-preservation of the ruling “aristocratic” class, based on the relativity of human values, was in. Not one Democratic member of the Senate supported Clinton’s impeachment, and many Republican politicians who had pushed for it, saw their political careers destroyed.

After Watergate, the Lewinsky Affair, likely, became the most decisive political event in recent American history because, for the first time, an American president in a televised broadcast literally looked into the eyes of the nation and outright lied, when stating “I have never had sex with this woman.”

Many, maybe even most presidents before Clinton, of course, also have on occasion been less than truthful; but nobody, except of course Nixon (“I am not a crook”), has in recent history so blatantly lied to the American people as Bill Clinton and, yet, gotten away with it, in the process changing American politics for ever by demonstrating that the modern multimedia world practically always offers the opportunity to relativize the truth of the message (to quote Bill Clinton, “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”).

The political “aristocracy” learned this lesson very quickly and, of course, nobody better than Hillary Clinton. She would never have dared to follow through with the absolute insane idea of establishing her own Internet server while serving as Secretary of State, had she not been convinced that she could manipulate the truth, should it be discovered. Piercing her words, as her husband had done so well during the Lewinsky Affair, she, indeed, has successfully avoided indictment by the Justice Department, even though a majority of Americans, likely, believe that she escaped because of special considerations by Obama’s Justice Department. Completely exposed in her deception by the FBI investigation, she, remarkably, still continues to lie in her statements to the public.

That Hillary Clinton was not indicted also explains why investigations of Fast and Furious and the IRS scandal never went anywhere, why six weeks before national presidential elections the first Obama administration could instruct senior administration officials to claim that the U.S. ambassador’s murder in Benghazi was not caused by terrorists but by a ridiculous irrelevant video produced in Los Angeles. This is also why Hillary Clinton is still a candidate for President of the U.S., even though common sense suggests that she should have been indicted, and why President Obama can with a straight face go on national television, telling the American people that sending 400 million dollars in foreign untraceable currencies on an unmarked plane in the middle of the night to Teheran represents just “routine” government relations between two governments, and had absolutely nothing to do with the concomitant release of four American hostages.

It has quite obviously become routine for senior government officials, including America’s current President, without fear of political or legal retributions, to blatantly lie to the American people. This, of course, does not happen by happenstance: it is a reflection of how much our country’s political morality has changed over the last three decades.

Within the ruling “aristocracy,” loyalty to the ruling class supersedes right and wrong, and even loyalty to the country is only, at best, second. This is why Ms. Lerner took the Fifth when questioned before Congress about the IRS scandal rather than inform Congress on who instructed her to discriminate against potential political opponents of the Obama administration. She knew that she could count on being protected, and that there would be no serious follow up investigation by the FBI. This is also why only one person was fired in the Veterans Affairs Scandal, the Justice Department decided not to defend a law suit this person filed about her dismissal, and the Obama administration announced that it would no longer implement a law Congress passed that allowed the Veterans Administrator to fire government employees for appropriate cause. And this is also why Hillary Clinton had no hesitation of appointing Ms. Wasserman-Schultz to the position of Honorary Chair of her campaign on the day she was forced to resign as Chair of the Democratic Party after public disclosure how the party under her leadership subverted the primary election process in favor of Ms. Clinton. One hand, of course, washes the other; the administrative “aristocracy” protects its own!

The public instinctively feels the growing divide between the ruling administrative “aristocracy” of both major parties and the American people. This is unquestionably a major reason why Congress and both parties have reached a nadir in popularity. The only question remaining is whether the public is upset enough about where the political “aristocracy” has taken the country to revolt, and take the risk in the upcoming election to consider the unknown over the unacceptable. If the answer is yes, then Donald Trump will be the next U.S. president; if the answer is no, then Hillary Clinton will not only be the first female president of the U.S. but, assuming the public’s anger with Washington continues to grow and finally boils over during her administration, she may end up being the first president since Richard Nixon not finishing a full term in the White House.

The Left’s Increasing Trend toward Authoritarianism

CANARY IN THE MINE BLOG - The Left’s Increasing Trend toward Authoritarianism

The world was easy to understand during the Cold War: The evil power of Nazism had been defeated, but the other evil ideology of Bolshevik Communism had to be dealt with. While Stalin did not murder innocent people as viciously as Hitler did, his regime was still responsible for the death of millions, as was Mao Zedong’s in the People’s Republic of China, and as were other Communist leaders’, from Cambodia to North Korea and Cuba. For half a century, the struggle between Western democratic-capitalism and Soviet-style Communist dictatorship defined the two principal eco-political options in the world.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991, the ideology of Communism appeared largely defeated. In 1992 the prominent political scientists Francis Fukuyama published his now infamous book The End of History and The Last Man, in which he concluded that Western liberal democracy had “won” the culture war and likely “represented the final form of human government.”

Only 14 years later, it appears rather obvious that his conclusion was as premature as Karl Marx’s prediction that Communism would replace capitalism in his version of the end of history in his book Das Kapital, between 1867-1894.

During the years of Communist-capitalist ideological confrontations, Western capitalist societies were anything but homogenous. While united in support of a capitalist economic model, liberal democracies developed distinctly different social ideologies from the left (democratic socialism) to the right. Indeed, clearly influenced by Marxist principles, left-leaning, social-democratic parties all over Europe very quickly entered mainstream politics, establishing themselves as alternatives to right-leaning conservative/religious political parties.

In the U.S. a similar constellation evolved, with the Democratic Party representing the left and the Republican Party the more conservative and/or religious right. But until relatively recently the Democratic Party maintained a broad variety of opinions, including a distinctive “right wing” of the party. Since Bill Clinton’s presidency, this right wing of the party has progressively shrunk, and completely disappeared with the ascendancy of President Obama and his allies. As a consequence, the Democratic Party of today is practically indistinguishable from Europe’s social-democratic party model, with different degrees of Marxist leanings.

As long as Communist regimes ruled a significant part of the world, social-democratic political parties found it essential to differentiate their Socialist-Marxist ideologies from dialectic Communism/Marxism. With the defeat of Communism, this distinction became less important and less relevant for political success at the ballot box. As memories of Communist-run nations faded into history, the public’s short historical memory allowed for a rebirth of Marxist utopianism, especially among the young, who have never witnessed the catastrophic failures of the Socialist/Marxist economic model.

Even in the U.S., Socialism is no longer considered a “dirty” word, as so well demonstrated by the surprisingly successful current campaign of Bernie Sanders, a declared Socialist from Maine, for the Democratic presidential nomination. Other examples demonstrating a clear shift to the more radical left are very obvious all around the world in the election of Jeremy Corbyn, a radical Marxist outsider, as new head of the British Labour Party, and by explosive growth of radical leftish political parties in Greece, Spain and elsewhere in Europe.

Shifts toward the Marxist left are, however, rarely only dialectic. Indeed, likely the crucial step for Karl Marx’s transition from Socialism toward Communism was his conclusion that the world will not change simply based on ideas, and that any desired change requires proactive interventions. In other words, an inherent component of Marxist Socialism is the forceful intervention into the democratic process, because setbacks in personal freedoms are a small price to pay for the ultimate “good” of a Socialist utopia. An example of this is Castros’ Cuba, admired as a model for Socialist states across the globe.

So, any shift toward Marxist dialectic will automatically be accompanied by increasing trends toward authoritarianism. And this does not only apply to what we observe in third world countries, like Venezuela, where the political shift toward Marxism has led to a de facto dictatorship. Increasing authoritarianism can also be seen in democracies like Argentina and even in the U.S., where President Obama attempts to legalize hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens by decree, even though, as a constitutional lawyer, he must have known that such a step without Congress’s approval is likely unconstitutional (he, indeed, had made statements to that effect in public, and a judge’s temporary restraining order has halted the process).

An even more authoritarian political step was the agreement that the Obama administration signed with Iran, in which Obama circumvented Congress by inappropriately declaring it an Executive Agreement between governments rather than a “treaty” (only treaties require congressional approval). Then he also had his allies in Congress block a debate of a disapproval motion with only a minority of votes in both houses. In doing this, the president imposed what may turn out to be the most consequential international agreements for the nation’s security in decades, even though a majority of Congress in both houses opposed the agreement (and, indeed, based on opinion polls, two-thirds of the U.S. population did as well).

But, likely the most egregious evidence of authoritarianism is the selective interpretation of prosecutorial powers under the Obama administration. Not even under the Nixon and Clinton administrations was the Justice Department as politicized and corrupted as in the Obama administration in failing to prosecute very obvious abuses of power and in using the criminal justice system in pursuit of political goals. None of the scandals that have come to light during the administration were ever pursued by the Justice Department: not the IRS scandal, not the Veterans Affair Scandal, and not the Bengasi scandal (where, totally overlooked by the media, the real question is not where was Hillary Clinton and the degree of her involvement but where President Obama was, and the degree of his involvement). And yet on the other extremes, perfectly-timed threats of prosecutions or actual prosecutions have silenced political opponents more than once (General Petraeus and Senator Menendez are good examples, and Hillary Clinton may become one).

In order to equalize economic conditions for the underclass, the ultimate aim of all permeations of Socialism, of course including Marxism, has historically been “revolution.” Only a revolution of the masses can against the capitalist system can end their discrimination (under Communist dogma, the masses are represented by the “proletariat” under a professional leadership), and initiate the masses’ ascent to power. Since the power of the masses represents the ultimate achievement of any form of Socialism, it should not surprise that such revolutions rarely voluntarily transfers government power back to opposition forces. As contemporary Venezuela well demonstrates, once in power, Socialist/Marxist governments become increasingly authoritarian. They are supportive of liberal democracy as a tool to obtain power but, once in power, quickly dispose of democratic pretense.

Though these movements are often corrupt and outright anti-democratic within their own areas of power, even within the Western capitalistic system, political parties on the left demonstrate strong allegiances to revolutionary movements (see new York’s openly Socialist Mayor de Blasio, a longstanding supported of the Marxist Sandinista movement in Nicaragua or the new Labour Party’s Chief in the U.K., Jeremy Corbin, an avowed supported of Hamas, which is not only radically anti-democratic and homicidal, but also religiously fanatical). Allegiance to the internationalist Marxist view of worldwide solidarity between Marxists and poor, mostly brown and black exploited people, very obviously supersedes any defense of humanitarian and/or democratic principles on the extreme left. As class warfare all around the world appears to come into fashion again, the world will, therefore, witness increasing authoritarianism, while liberal democracies will find themselves under increasing siege.

Though in his upbringing and belief system he is very clearly a Marxist Socialist, President Obama avoided these labels in his election campaigns, and on multiple occasions even went so far as to demean opponents who described him as a Socialist. But in his very obvious contempt for Congress and especially the Republican opposition, he increasingly demonstrates the authoritarianism of his Marxist ideology, characterized by the dictum that ultimate goals have to be achieved by whatever means. His party appears to support him. The party discipline Democrats have exhibited in support of Obama’s policies is indeed remarkable, but better fits Soviet than U.S. parliamentary history. This country can expect considerable authoritarian tendencies from the president in his last 14 months in office.