21st Century Machiavellians 3: The Clash of Machiavellians, the Billionaire Class, and an Anti-Machiavellian Politics

By Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.

In the final section of this essay, I will look at the combined effect of the conflicts and collusion between the two types of Machiavellian political actors that dominate the higher offices and influential media organizations in the United States and to a lesser degree in other countries today.  Looking solely and narrowly at one party or the other encourages myopia and the creation of a “voodoo doll” in which all manner of evil is thought to be embodied, i.e. projected onto. Thus our tendencies towards psychological “splitting” from our childhoods are supported by finding the supposedly single locus of “bad”. The process of collapse of our democracy is more complex and encompassing than just the description, criticism and/or demonization of one party or set of actors.

The focus on just one actor as the primary source of political evil has split progressives and the Left in the period 2016 to the present: there are some who focus almost exclusively on the neoliberal Democratic Party and its neoconservative militarist allies as essentially the “worst human beings” in or near seats of political power.  Others focus almost exclusively on Trump, the Trumpist Republicans and/or the far right outside the Republican Party.  These essays here are an attempt at synthesis of what might be called a “two-front” battle for the future of American democracy and, in an era of rapid climate deterioration, generalized to other nations, the future of human civilization on the planet.  I will at the end offer an outline of what an anti-Machiavellian politics and policy orientation would look like.

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21st Century Machiavellians 2: The Gaslighting, Neo-Fascist Gangsters of the Republican Party

By Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.

While describing the machinations of the Democratic Party Establishment creates an repellent vision of political scheming and ethical compromise, today’s Republican Party is a few qualitative steps more repellent, more reactionary, and at the same time simpler to describe.  To compare and create a realistic vision of the current American political landscape, one has to be able to conceive of both “bad” and “worse”, i.e. degrees of moral compromise and turpitude in political (and social-economic) life. 

With the re-mobilization of the anti-New Deal, anti-civil rights, anti-Communist Far Right following its crushing electoral defeat in the 1964 Republican Presidential Election (the aftermath of the Goldwater campaign) and the emergence of the New Right in the 1970’s, the Republican Party has been over a period of decades fully transformed into a party of open reactionaries and racists, determined to defend a couple centuries of sometimes ill-gotten gains and privilege of wealthy white European-origin people on the North American continent, with a massive propaganda campaign and gun-enabled domestic terrorism.

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21st Century Machiavellians 1.2: Elites View the Democratic Party as a Containment Vessel for Popular Discontent

(This is a 3-part essay divided here into a total of 4 installments, with the first part divided into two)

By Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.

Attracting Popular Discontent

The basic structure of concentric circles of the discourse and ideological “space” of a political party or partisan organization, described in the foregoing could apply to almost any political party or for that matter any group with a relatively passionately held set of beliefs against which they believe others are opposed.  Using this schematic diagram of a group, the specific role of “containment vessel for popular discontent” is more likely to be, in the now almost 50 year old neoliberal era, to be slated for a party like the Democratic Party or one of the Parties of the Socialist International, like the British Labour Party, the German SPD, the Australian Labour Party, etc. 

On the other hand, when such center-left parties fail to attract popular discontent and they in agitating outside governing roles or acting in governing roles generate more popular discontent, other political actors, including center-right and far right political actors and movements, can capture popular discontent for their own purposes. Such was the case in 2016 in the United States, in Great Britain through the Brexit process with the emergence of UKIP and then the “Brexit Party”, the Northern League in Italy, the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, the National Front in France, the BJP in India, etc.  Less successfully or durably, other newer left of center parties like Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, La France Insoumise, or various Green Parties have attempted to represent discontents at one point or another which the traditional parties of the Left have failed to address. 

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STATEMENT: House Budget Committee, “Reexamining the economic costs of debt”, Nov 20, 2019

By L. Randall Wray

This blog is based on the testimony I provided to the US House of Representatives. My written statement will be published in the Congressional Record (a version is also at the Levy Economics Institute: http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/statement-of-senior-scholar-l-randall-wray-to-the-house-budget-committee. The full statement was co-authored with Yeva Nersisyan.

I will argue that the Federal Government’s deficit and debt are not so scary as we are led to believe.

Neither the deficit nor the debt ratio is on an unsustainable path. In some sense, chronic deficits and a rising debt ratio are normal.

They are not due to out of control spending—now or in the future. They serve a useful public purpose. In any case they are largely outside the control of Congress.

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ALTERNATIVE PATHS TO MMT

[ed. This was part Randy’s Talk at ICAPE.]

By L. Randall Wray

First I’ll clearly state what MMT is and then outline four paths that lead to MMT’s conclusions: history, logic, theory and practice.

What is MMT? It provides an analysis of fiscal and monetary policy that is applicable to national governments with sovereign currencies.

There are four requirements that identify a sovereign currency: the national government

a) chooses a money of account;

b) imposes obligations (taxes, fees, fines, tribute, tithes) in the money of account;

c) issues a currency denominated in the money of account, and accepts hat currency in payment; and

d) if the National government issues other obligations, these are also payable in the national government’s own currency.

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21st Century Machiavellians 1.1: Elites View the Democratic Party as a Containment Vessel for Popular Discontent

(This is a 3-part essay divided here into a total of 4 installments, with the first part divided into two)

Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.

The on-again, off-again political war now being waged inside and around the Democratic Party between a new generation of progressives and the Democratic Party Establishment requires a new or expanded lens to help understand what is going on.  This quite intense “war” of varying intensities is being waged in an era when simultaneously the Democrats represent the only established political vehicle within the United States to unseat the monstrous Trump Administration and the Republican Party that backs them.  Perversely, it seems, the Democratic Establishment has tried and continues to try, at almost every turn, to suppress enthusiasm for ideals and policies as well as the representatives that most nearly embody those policies and ideals that would be its own political energy source, the basis for Democratic political identity.

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PARABLE for the New Decade

By J.D. ALT

With the essential collapse of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid (“Climate meeting goals go unmet” Washington Post, 12-16-19) we now approach the first day of 2020 with much less to celebrate, much more to fear, and much more to accomplish. Here’s a little parable for the coming New Decade: Continue reading

Lawrence O’Donnell Aims at Buttigieg, But Hits New Democrats

William K. Black
December 16, 2019     Bloomington, MN

On December 5, 2019, Lawrence O’Donnell made an impassioned attack on Pete Buttigieg on his “The Last Word” program on MSNBC.  Buttigieg’s statements criticizing the Democratic Party as historically soft on deficits enraged O’Donnell.  The context was Buttigieg’s effort to signal to New Hampshire voters that he was the most conservative Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination.  Nothing signals ‘responsible’ so well to ‘New Democrats’ and the media as a candidate screaming ‘deficits’ in a crowded meeting room in a small New Hampshire town.

O’Donnell correctly pointed out that Buttigieg’s claims about Democrats and deficits are ‘Republican lies.’  The truth is that New Democrats have been the only group in America dedicated to inflicting austerity on our Nation.  Republicans only pretend to care about deficits when Democrats have power.  Buttigieg knows this, but his political interests in portraying himself as a stalwart emerging leader of the New Democrats caused him to position himself (falsely) as unique among New Democrats in his dedication to inflict austerity.

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How White Collar Criminals Get Away with Murder

White-collar crime prosecutions are at a 33-year low. Corporate leaders can cause environmental disasters, economic crashes, and the deaths of thousands and still walk free. But there’s a way out. NEP’s Bill Black talks with The Real News Network about this. You can view with a transcript here.

The People’s Money (Part 4)

Inflation & Consumption

By J.D. ALT

Let’s quickly recap: I outlined, in PART 3, an argument that modern society has evolved in ways that necessitates a dramatic increase in public enterprise—yet, at the same time, we’ve doubled down on an old-world narrative about “money” that makes it mathematically impossible to meet that need. In PARTS 1 & 2 we reconfirmed a “modern money” perspective by simply observing the actual operations of the Federal Reserve—and reconfirmed, as well, how this new perspective holds out the opportunity to actually confront, through the efforts of public enterprise, the new challenges modern society faces.

It was my intention, at this point, to focus on the unfolding reality that climate change will soon prove to be the most dramatic challenge modern society is facing—and will be the challenge that necessitates, by far, the greatest need for goods and services produced by public enterprise. More to the point, climate change will generate the greatest need—by far—for implementing and managing a “modern money” perspective in America’s economy. While I still intend to pursue this argument, comments addressed to PART 3 have led me to change sequence: I realize now it will be ineffective (and perhaps futile) to discuss the extraordinary level of public spending that climate-change will necessitate without, first, attempting to address two related issues: (1) the stridently insistent warnings about “inflation,” and (2) the conundrum of the necessity for increased “consumption.”

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