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« Heavy use of herbicide Roundup linked to health dangers: study | Main | Gary Null and Richard Gale — Who are the True Progressives? »

Gary Null & Richard Gale - Liberalism’s Death Bell Tolls  

The rudiments of neo-fascism stole into American politics during the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. At that time, government discovered that serving the private corporate sector was more profitable than serving American citizens. The Reagan and Bush regimes told us we must protect the wealth of the elite who profiteered from the free market because it would be from this tiny wealthy and powerful class that jobs would trickle down creating a free market that would benefit everyone. However, according to the Reagan agenda, for this scheme to work it was also necessary to cut back social entitlements, to lessen taxes, and eliminate as many federal and state regulations as necessary.

At the same time, the Reagan/Bush conservatives had no reservations about launching ever larger increases in government and military spending as well as providing tax relief and other subsidies for major corporations including Big Oil, Big Nuclear, Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Ag, and Big Insurance. Meanwhile, American citizens were gradually indoctrinated to believe that either all of the nation’s problems resulted from too much federal spending or, conversely, arose from too little government expenditure.

On the flip side, liberals were historically the champions of the working class, unions, civil rights, social welfare, and the anti-war movement. However, during the Clinton presidency and now under Obama, the liberal agenda has removed firewalls, such as the Glass-Steagle Act, passed regressive free trade treaties (NAFTA and GATT), and now again increasing military spending. These measures ultimately destroyed unions, offshored jobs, reduced the standard of living, continued the Republicans’ ghettoization of America, and granted foreign corporations sovereign rights over the exploitation of America’s labor and resources. While the conservatives have regressed to a pre-Enlightenment, anti-scientific mindset—the denial of climate change being just one example—the liberal left refuses to acknowledge the severity of climate change and its pending catastrophic consequences because it is contrary to the corporate myth of infinite growth and progress that is still perceived as absolutely essential for keeping the US as the world’s most prosperous nation.

In the meantime, the major media, television, magazines and partisan talking heads blame each other for the country’s cultural collapse and its social and economic illnesses. Neither has displayed the capacity to be self-reflective and accept how each has contributed to the problems. Therefore, both corporate Democrats and Republicans, corporate liberals and conservatives, are accused for their complicity in manipulating America’s economic, political and social structures in order to meet financial ends at the expense of the health and well-being of the nation.

How did the liberal left get it so wrong? When did it become so powerless in facing the avalanche of domestic and global crises ahead? At what point did it lose its moral bearing and compromise on its fundamental principles that at one time were truly progressive and democratic?

Starting in the 1960s and continuing for several decades, America witnessed an unprecedented surge of educated young adults in the work force. As the years passed, men and women increasingly saw the neoliberal-corporate agenda as a path to economic prosperity. It seemed to highlight a road map for an American Dream promised by the preceding Great Generation. By the time the Reagan revolution arrived, the political philosophies of Democrat and Republican parties were secondary. What had become primary for the new best and brightest class, who now perceived themselves as intellectually superior, was personal advancement.


Historically, members of the professional educated class occupied positions in the establishment that promised economic security during the course of a career and through retirement. Consequently a large percentage of the professional class became an invisible population of mutes. Following the Peter Principle—a popular publication in 1969—a person would continue to be promoted through the capitalist hierarchy to his or her highest level of competency yet not so high as to to be essential for policy-making decisions. Simultaneously, the person was distant enough from the working class to convince himself that his job was secure. This allowed millions of the professional class to become corporate technocrats.


Then there was the game changer. In the mid-1970s when the heads of multinational corporations and banking firms, the captains of industry and the trust babies—Rockefellers, Fisks, Mellons, et al—were no longer the only privileged class of policy makers who controlled the advancement of those in their industries and set the national, state and local policies, a new class had emerged. These were the vulture capitalists who not only wanted their piece of the pie, but believed they were brighter and more worthy than the industrial and financial moguls from the preceding generation. At the fore of this group were corporate raiders such as T. Boone Pickens, Carl Icahn and Saul Steinberg, equity kings like Henry Kravis, and junk bond traders like Michael Milken. These and others such as Bain Capital, the Carlyle Group and the Texas Pacific Group were among the architects of a new financial paradigm that rapidly changed the way business was done and as a result looted the nation.


The new vulture capitalists took immense risks regardless of how destructive the outcomes were to the livelihoods of others or to the economic health of the nation. In his book The Capitalism Papers, Jerry Mander calls this neoliberal economic ideology “amoral” and undemocratic because its sole purpose is to increase wealth and avoid its distribution. Considering the damage to individuals and society left in the wake of pursuing fortune at any expense, it’s clear that such practices are also profoundly immoral.


Unlike the industrialists from the previous generation, the new elite was solely concerned with making money off of money and developing schemes to leverage debt in order to gain greater profit margins. By securing Wall Street bridge loans for equity partnerships, the new paradigm decimated financially stable private and public firms that at one time contributed to America’s real growth. After saddling financially solvent corporations with unsustainable debt loads that couldn’t be serviced and pushing the limits of downsizing, corporate executives and financers realized it would be more lucrative to ship the work overseas. They could build a company in China and other developing nations, hire cheap labor, export the product back into the US and, in time, destroy the domestic competition. Numerous jobs were lost and the economic destruction of American communities accelerated. Aside from workers being laid off and no longer finding a need for their skills in the US, this downsizing trend remained fairly invisible for years. This was a recurrent pattern by both Democrat and Republican for nearly forty years. Between 2000 and 2010, 58,000 factories were closed, and thousands more shut down going back to the mid-1970s that went silently untracked in partnership buyouts. For the media and policy makers, if they had honestly reviewed how the new financial titans made their profits the full scope of their destructive practices would have been unveiled.


These were the formative years for the shaping of the new elite that we now call the 1 percent. The new elite’s adrenaline was directed towards the numerous opportunities promised from a new global workforce of cheap labor. In the meantime, the big box store phenomena—WalMart and Target—started to proliferate the landscape. The elite flourished through a network of financial firms, corporations, boards, institutions and lobbyist firms with direct access to The Hill and White House. This web guaranteed their wealth and power would increase and paved the way for the rise of the oligarchic 1 percent.


When Clinton entered the White House in 1992, political affiliation was already rapidly turning irrelevant. The best and brightest Democrats and Republicans were now corporatized and together they worked through a grid of coalitions. The rhetoric of liberal versus conservative became a smokescreen as politicians aligned themselves with private industry to further their careers. The signing of the Marrakech Agreement, which formally gave birth to the World Trade Organization, as well as the flurry of neoliberal trade agreements—GATT, TRIPS, NAFTA, etc.— advanced the new elite’s consolidation over domestic and global wealth. Recall how blind most of the liberal left were to the profound flaws in Clinton’s fiscal and economic policies during the boom years? The Clinton administration and the technocrats surrounding him functioned in a fog of corporate interests. With the moral integrity of meth-heads, the Clinton White House and the Bush-Cheney regime to follow advanced the transformation of once vibrant American cities of industry into bankrupt wastelands, rusting factory ghost towns, crumpling infrastructure from the Atlantic to Pacific, and decaying communities and neighborhoods. President Obama has continued this agenda but with even less transparency than his predecessors.


However, the destruction didn’t stop there. The oligarchs of private industry demanded far more control and started to seed think thanks, non profit organizations, legions of educated doctorates and academics, the media networks, and armies of propagandists and lobbyists to shape public opinion. The goal was to assure that government would never side with the American people and would forever serve the immorality of the 1 percent.


Now that the Occupy Movement as a viable challenge to inequality has collapsed, and liberalism has proven to be a failure as a coherent moral and constructive energy for leading the fight for progressive social and political change, the myth of the 1 percent versus a 99 percent needs to be reevaluated. Should the 1 percent only be understood according to how much it is personally worth on tax returns? If President Obama, Hilary Clinton, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and practically every other elected official in Washington pushes for legislation to benefit the 1 percent, then why should it be assumed that they embody the needs of the 99 percent? And why should we believe Obama when he says he is “one of us?”


Weighing America’s domestic social struggle solely as an economic war misses the significance of a parallel morality play for power. The 1 percent should also be considered in relation to the massive army of human resources protecting and supporting its control. TARP and back door bank bailouts, Obama’s NDAA to advance Washington’s police state agenda, exponential growth in the cybersecurity and intelligence industries, the fossil fuel cartel, out of control hydrofracking for natural gas, expanding military bases abroad and building more privatized prisons, agro-chemical agriculture and GMOs, a corrupt medical establishment that provides Americans with the worst healthcare in the developed world, and so much more would not have been possible without tens of millions of people consciously keeping government corruption and corporate interests alive. This includes the 2.1 million civilians working in the federal government; there is an additional 1 million operating within the intelligence agencies; 1.4 million serve in the armed forces, and another 20 million private citizens work in corporations, academic institutions, and laboratories deeply tied to the problems being outlined. Mainstream media, which has the mandate to truthfully report about this vast network of power, venom and hypocrisy instead protects this regime by keeping the public confused and terrified. We are now witnessing the results of this betrayal as democracy is silently being dismantled. Finally another 20 million, one third of retired Americans, are apathetic about the direction of the nation and remain soundless. Although they are financially secure, many live in gated communities and have removed themselves from any form of political and social activism. When we add this support base to the greed and narcissism that frames the 1 percent, we realize the psychopathology extends far beyond the elite alone.


When this additional 44 million people, or 15 percent of the population, are added to the formula for who controls the major stakes of power, wealth, influence and policy making today, we can more easily understand why Obama can break almost every campaign promise and consistently deceive Americans openly yet not be held accountable by his base. Without the additional 15 percent passively serving the most powerful 1 percent and not holding them accountable, life in the US would be far more democratic and safe today. This is the economic and political atmosphere that has given birth to a new face of fascism.



How the Liberal Left Became Irrelevant


In 2012, liberalism handed Obama a second opportunity to honor his earlier campaign slogan “change we can believe in”. And once again, following Obama’s inauguration and State of the Union speeches, the liberal left fell for the Obama charm. It forgave Obama for his many broken promises during his first term; it forgot his habit of saying anything to please anyone in order to win support. What is obscene in this gesture was the liberal faction’s hubris in pardoning Obama for a litany of betrayals, policies, executive orders, and secretive negotiations against the American people for which the president never sought forgiveness. This was supposed to be the administration that would be unquestionably committed to accountability and transparency. However, the Obama regime has already far exceeded its GOP predecessor in the number of documents classified secret and the number of Freedom of Information Act requests denied; almost half a million were denied between 2008-2009 alone.


Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan, wrote “Charm is the ability to insult people without offending them” and this is the kind of disdain Obama has displayed towards American citizens who have kept him in power. As 40,000 people stood in the cold on the National Mall to demand that the administration take dramatic steps to tackle climate change before the planet reaches a point of catastrophic environmental free fall, Obama judged that golfing with Tiger Woods should be a higher priority. The irony of these polar images represents the arrogance and self-obsession Obama has shown towards power and domination and his callous disregard for the voices of environmental sanity that can see the big picture over and beyond the technocrats hovering about the White House’s inner sanctum.


Central to Obama’s agenda of hope for America were his proclamations about political party compromise. Since the GOP, the FOX network and neocon media, the billionaires behind the Tea Party, ALEC, and the private corporate elite controlling the political right already proved themselves morally bankrupt and traitors of democracy and freedom, why would compromise be thought as a means to inaugurate the kind of urgent changes necessary to restore balance and harmony and lessen the inequality gap? So, we must ask, what happens when ideas that are sensible and life-affirming (e.g., Obama’s first campaign promises) compromise with failure and deception (e.g., the GOP and the agenda of the 1 percent)? This is the real Obama deception: a charm and intellect that shields a deep and frightening moral weakness to act according to the higher ideals of tolerance, compassion and justice that could truly change the direction of the nation and lessen the insanity, psychopathology and maliciousness that has become our national anthem. Moreover, the duplicity that now characterizes the Obama White House is equally rife throughout corporate liberalism.


In 2008, candidate Obama ran on a promise of stronger government accountability and greater transparency. His promises also included government making private industry accountable on condition of receiving public funding. Wherever we find corruption in the world today, a lack of accountability and transparency is close at hand. This is the code behind all criminal cartels and syndicates.


During a TED Talk, Trinidadian economist and activist Afra Raymond defined “corruption” as “abuse of trust for the benefit of yourself, friends and financers.” In a democracy, which relies on the expenditure of public funds, corruption manifests when the government secretly funds programs against the will of the people. In such cases, tax dollars go directly to corporate and corporate-sponsored entities that threaten the quality of life rather than protect and preserve it.


Having again rallied around Obama, the faux liberal media—Huffington Post, the entire MSNBC lineup, The Nation, Democracy Now, Alternet, Mother Jones, Daily Kos and others—has in Chris Hedges’s words, “betrayed the core values they [liberals] use to define themselves—the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars.”


During the early decades of the twentieth century, these ideals and causes would have been a standard platform of causes to define the progressive agenda with a liberal perspective. Modern progressivism’s roots began with La Follette’s Weekly, a publication founded by Senator Robert La Follette in 1909. Today the magazine is known as The Progressive, and still remains a leading voice against war, militarism and the oligarchic demands to keep the death machine functioning in Washington. How many major corporations and financial institutions have publicly expressed opposition to the escalation of America’s wars and the new lethal military technologies, such as air drones and bioweapons, that have earned the US such disdain and condemnation from other nations and populations around the world? Such companies can’t be found because in a full blown oligarchy and during a war economy they are the government’s partners in crime and among the building blocks of fascism.


The liberal media today finds itself incapable of reporting to Americans the true state of the nation’s affairs. Liberalism has failed and will continue to botch efforts to create a reliable story because it has not been able to move beyond the Red-Blue divide. Its downfall has been its inability to accept and support alternative choices. For this reason, liberals continue to blame Ralph Nader for Bush’s victory and remain irrationally apologetic to Obama and the Democratic party. According to the progressive platform, this lunatic argument reconfirms how impoverished liberalism has become.


No longer should we rely on what the liberal left or the conservative right tells us about the state of the nation and America’s role in the world. Both institutions are bereft of ethical and spiritual substance. The right suffers from pre-rational superstition and anti-intellectualism that has turned the US into a laughing stock among developed countries. The left suffers from a highbrow intellect and a poverty of spirit that was once, and could be again, a moral and revolutionary force to relieve suffering and fight on behalf of peace and human and civil rights.



J’accuse la gauche libérale


It is past the time for liberalism to continue to function without a human face. It is time for it to stand accused alongside the conservative and religious right as an ideology dedicated to disaster capitalism, ecological demolition, environmental collapse and unending warfare. Progressive ideals and values, which today are nowhere to be found in our halls of power, need to frame the discussion for solutions. These values will not be found in corporate America, Wall Street, and Washington DC. It is a gross perversion to associate Obama with anything that is vaguely progressive.


In the 1890’s, the French author Emile Zola accused the French army and then French President Felix Faure of anti-Semitism, corruption and a cover-up that resulted in the wrongful sentencing of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer charged with treason. Zola’s letter entitled J’accuse, and published in a popular Parisian newspaper, fueled a national controversy known as theDreyfus Affair, which divided France. Many parallels can be drawn between the Dreyfus Affair and the current US political predicament. In both cases, there is a clash between tyrannical forces of power aiming to repress democracy in favor of security, and progressives who believe freedom and the pursuit of happiness trump federal and oligarchic paranoia and megalomaniac economic and social control.


In a recent interview on the Progressive Radio Network, religion scholar Andrew Harvey remarked, that “fierce truth is very hard to speak in America… people are absolutely terrified of the truth at the moment. Yet finding ways to tell this truth,” Harvey continued, “is the name of the game and to keep on telling it because the lies ranged against it are now hysterical.” Zola found his voice, as did Occupy Wall Street, and many dedicated progressive journalists and scholars who found the courage to speak against government corruption and untruths.


Appearing on Tavis Smiley’s program, Prof. Cornell West stated the hard factthat the majority of Americans refuse to accept. “Let us not be deceived: Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals,” West said. “They have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they’re suspending the law, very much like Wall Street criminals. The law is suspended for them, but the law applies for the rest of us.” Similar accusations have been made repeatedly by international legal scholars such as the international war crime expert Francis Boyle, former president of the National Lawyer’s Guild Marjorie Cohn, and many other progressives who have moved beyond the Blue-Red divide of partisan politics and champion human rights, non violence, economic equality and right of humans to have access to resources essential for life.


Although most alternative liberal media such as the Huffington Post, Democracy Now, and The Nation disagree on particular policies coming forth from Obama, when election time arrived, they abandoned their principles and chose to bolster the president’s image as the lesser of two evils and our only viable choice. Given the ease with which they betray their stated ideals, we must call into question the integrity of the liberal establishment altogether and ask whether it is wise to compromise. Just as there is deception behind Obama’s doctrine of compromise, so too liberalism has compromised on its higher moral values and has exposed its intellectual conceit and gross defects in character.


If you joined the liberal media and voted for Obama, then by extension this is what you have condoned and that you are now being accused of:


  • Denying the severity of threats due to climate change and global warming and therefore accepting there is no urgency to take drastic measures to curb the rate of greenhouse gas emissions;


  • Supporting the Keystone XL tar sand pipeline from Canada to the Texas coast that will destroy the health of countless Americans and result in unimaginable environmental disaster and the pollution of natural resources;


  • Supporting the construction of new nuclear power reactors, believing in the myth and propaganda of clean coal, condoning indiscriminate hydrofracking in environmentally sensitive areas and allowing these industries to be subsidized by the taxpayer;


  • Tolerating illegal wiretapping and a systematic surveillance of Americans by government intelligence agencies in allegiance with private cyber-security corporations;


  • Overriding privacy laws so that no citizen is protected from surveillance through monitoring email, mobile phones, the internet, etc, because every citizen in the government’s eyes is a potential threat to the country’s security in its hysterical war against terrorism;


  • Permitting the end of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 that forbids the US military from being deployed on domestic soil and acting against American citizens;


  • Allowing the US to transform into a police state as state, county and township police departments are increasingly militarized by the US armed forces and become extensions of the Department of Defense;


  • Ordering the silencing and prosecution of whistleblowers in government who come forth publicly to warn of criminal activities and corruption in government agencies that have an adverse effect on American’s well being and freedom of speech;


  • Shredding habeas corpus and condoning the arrest and indefinite detention of American citizens based upon suspicion of terrorist affiliation;


  • Transforming the civil court system into a military court model that erodes the legal rights of citizens against government tyranny upon which our legal system is based;


  • Continuing the failed war on drugs, the rising incarceration of Americans for small misdemeanors, the privatization of a prison system that relies upon an infinite growth model of inmates, and the criminalization of poverty;


  • Acting against the rights of workers and unions, favoring treaties such as NAFTA, GATT and the forthcoming Trans Pacific and Trans Atlantic partnerships that will further sell out American workers in return to greater profits to be overseas for the 1 percent;


  • Giving preferential treatment to the medical insurance industry, which contributes nothing to the prevention and treatment of disease, and to write the healthcare laws for the country;


  • Allowing every child and American to be screened for psychological illnesses to support a psychiatric industry that is based on fraudulent science and conflicts of interest with federal health agencies;


  • Allowing the private agro-chemical industry headed by Monsanto and Dupont to write the agricultural laws in the country so that genetically modified crops and organisms are wrongfully considered safe for human and animal consumption and carry no risk to the environment;


  • Denying the Federal Reserve’s role in demolishing America’s middle class and protecting the Wall Street oligarchy’s control over the Fed and US Treasury at the public’s expense;


  • Judging Wall Street banks more worthy of forgiveness to receive debt relief and assistance from taxpayers than debt forgiveness to Americans who are underwater in their mortgages, credit, student loans and small business debts;


  • Ignoring the laundering of drug money and criminal funds through major Wall Street banks and the federal government’s willingness to prevent the prosecution of bank executives who oversee these financial transactions;


  • Increasing America’s military budget at home and abroad rather than feeding the nation’s starving children and dealing with the growing number of homeless who have suffered at the hands of the government’s compliance with Wall Street disaster capitalists;


  • Ignoring the need for Congressional investigations and hearings into the former Bush-Cheney administration’s invasions of sovereign countries and their subsequent crimes against humanity;


  • Condoning torture against the international rules set forth by the Nuremberg trials and the Geneva Convention;


  • Contributing to the thousands of homicides and suicides committed by American soldiers and veterans who have been abused and forgotten by the US government during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars;


  • Ordering the murder of numerous children, women and elderly in drone attacks;


  • Backing despotic regimes with dismal human rights records such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Georgia and Israel’s apartheid of Palestine;


  • Launching sanctions against Iran that are responsible for untold suffering of Iranian citizens and children without any international proof that Iran poses a nuclear threat;


  • Fueling hatred of America by nations around the world who now perceive US military aggression as the world’s greatest threat to world peace;


From the perspective of universal values and higher spiritual ethics, these are among the many faults the Obama administration can be charged with. Many of Obama’s supporters will perceive these charges as indicators of progress compared to the Bush years. However, since the liberal media claims to align itself with progressive values, it must be held accountable for its blind ignorance of the Obama regime’s abuse of power as well as its attacks on alternative candidates who espouse the values of true liberalism.


Nobody considers whether the triumph of Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein triumph over Obama would have signaled a dramatic conquest of good over evil. Neither Anderson, Stein, or Gary Johnson would have continued the majority of Obama’s policies during the past four years. Obama’s NDAA would be stripped, military bases would be closing and negotiations would replace our current alpha aggression of military chest beating and economic threats as the major feature of US foreign policy. The rich and powerful would be paying their fair share and we would witness the gradual cessation of subsidizing corrupt, polluting industries. In addition, America would likely join other developed nations with a quality national healthcare system that is less expensive and available to all.

Until Americans summon the courage to stand up and demand an end to the corporate stranglehold on our institutions of power, we are almost guaranteed to head down a path that will send our nation, like every imperial power before it, straight into the dustbin of history.

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and the former head of communications for the State of the World Forum and the Gorbachev Foundation. Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on natural health and the environment and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including War on Health: The FDA Cult of Tyranny (2011) and Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOS (2012).