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How Now, the "Political Revolution"?
This is a question I have pondered a lot lately. 

Bernie Sanders, as we all know, peppered his stump speech throughout his quixotic campaign with the phrase "political revolution."  As appealing as his siren call for revolution was, I would characterize his grab bag of policy proposals as reform, not revolution--a new New Deal, as Noam Chomsky and others observed.  To his credit, however, at least Bernie Sanders broached the possibility of some kind of political revolution.  As for his rivals on both sides of the political divide, nary a word.  To my knowledge, Hillary Clinton mentioned the word revolution in her DNC acceptance speech, but only as a reference to the American Revolution, hardly a "call to arms."  Unless I'm mistaken, Trump never mentioned the word; it only came up as a threat by certain of his unhinged supporters if the "rigged election" kept him out of the Oval Office.  

Americans are not terribly disposed to revolutions to begin with.  A socialist revolution--or a fascist reaction, for that matter--was certainly possible in the midst of the Great Depression, but Americans thankfully opted for real reform, not an overthrow of the government, under the leadership of FDR.  The last "revolutionary moment" in America--and abroad--took place in the late Sixties and early Seventies, its epicenter being the chaotic year 1968.  A cultural revolution was launched and largely succeeded over time, but no way did a political or economic revolution prevail, certainly not the overthrow of capitalism once envisioned by militant groups, such as the Weathermen or the Black Panthers.  

A definition of revolution is in order.  There are several possible definitions but, for purposes of this thread, I much prefer the succinct and flexible definition provided by The Free Dictionary online:

    n. the overthrow or repudiation of a regime or political system by the governed

This simple definition allows for revolutions ultimately accomplished by means of either passive resistance or armed struggle.  So the Indian independence movement would qualify, as well as the American and French revolutions--and the various socialist revolutions of the 20th century.

What underscored my interest in this topic is an article published this week by University of Connecticut professor, Peter Turchin, a political theorist whom mikebert has liberally referenced on this forum: "So This Is How the US 'Revolution' Will Unfold"

The article:

In late 2012, Peter Turchin, a professor at the University of Connecticut made a startling claim, based on an analysis of revolutionary upheavals across history.

He found there are three social conditions in place shortly before all major outbreaks of social violence: an increase in the elite population; a decrease in the living standards of the masses; and huge levels of government indebtedness.

The statistical model his team developed suggested that, on this basis, a major wave of social upheaval and revolutionary violence is set to take place in the US in 2020. His model had no way to predict who would lead the charge; but this week's election gives an indication of how it is likely to unfold.

Let's take the first condition, which Turchin calls "elite overproduction,” defined as "an increased number of aspirants for the limited supply of elite positions.” The US has clearly been heading in this direction for some time, with the number of billionaires increasing more than tenfold from 1987 (41 billionaires) to 2012 (425 billionaires). But the ruling class split between, for example, industrialists and financiers, has apparently reached fever pitch with Trump vs. Clinton.

As Turchin explains, "increased intra-elite competition leads to the formation of rival patronage networks vying for state rewards. As a result, elites become riven by increasing rivalry and factionalism." Indeed, based on analysis of thousands of incidents of civil violence across world history, Turchin concluded that "the most reliable predictor of state collapse and high political instability was elite overproduction.”

The second condition, popular immiseration, is also well advanced. 46 million US citizens live in poverty (defined as receiving an income less than is required to cover their basic needs), while over 12 million US households are now considered food insecure. While this figure has been coming down consistently since 2011 (when it reached over 15 million), it remains above its pre-recession (per-2007) levels.

Trump's policies are likely to sharply reverse this decrease. Trump's second promise in his 'contract with voters' is a "hiring freeze on all federal employees,” amounting to a new onslaught on public sector jobs. This is in addition to what seems to be a promise to end the direct funding of state education (to, in his words, "redirect education dollars to...parents"), and to end all federal funding to so-called 'sanctuary cities', that is cities which do not order the state harassment of immigrants or force employers to reveal the nationalities of their workers. These cities are some of the most populated in the country, including NYC, LA, Dallas, Minneapolis and over two dozen others.

In concert with his avowed intention to lower taxes on the wealthy, including slashing business tax from 35 to 15 percent; to smash hard fought workers' rights (under the mantra of 'deregulation'); and to scrap what little access to healthcare was made available to the poor through Obamacare - not to mention his threat to start a trade war with China - poverty looks set to skyrocket. It is not hard to see how social unrest will follow.

As for the third condition - government indebtedness - it is hard to see how the massive tax breaks Trump has proposed can lead to anything else.

Turchin writes that "As all these trends intensify, the end result is state fiscal crisis and bankruptcy and consequent loss of military control; elite movements of regional and national rebellion; and a combination of elite-mobilized and popular uprisings that manifest the breakdown of central authority."

But Trump is also preparing for that. Exempt from his public spending cuts, of course, are police and military budgets, both of which he promises to increase. And when questioned on the issue of police brutality last year, Trump said he wanted to see the police be given more powers. In other words, the tacit impunity which currently exists for police violence looks set to be legalized. And history shows that there is nothing like police impunity to spark a riot.

Meanwhile, as his policies fail to deliver the land of milk and honey he has promised, the demonization of scapegoats will continue. Having already vowed to round up and deport two million immigrants, and to ban Muslims from entering the US, it is already clear who these scapegoats will be. However, as well as migrants, popular anger will also be directed toward whatever namby-pamby liberals have blocked him from waging his promised war against them: be it Congressmen, judges, trade unions, pressure groups, or whoever. A combination of increased executive powers plus the use of his newly mobilized mass constituency will be directed toward purging these 'enemies within'.

"My model suggests that the next [peak in violence] will be worse than the one in 1970" says Turchin, "because demographic variables such as wages, standards of living and a number of measures of intra-elite confrontation are all much worse this time". All that remains to be seen is - who will win.

I have long speculated that the 2016 election would not be a change election, as I assumed Hillary--and the neoliberalism that the Clintons represent--would become president.  But the improbable victory of Trump raises the possibility of transformation.  I stress possibility.  Neoliberalism is broken--here and in the West--but it may well go into hyper-drive now that Trump has won with a GOP Congress in tow, as columnist Chris Hedges recently suggested.  If that comes to pass, neoliberalism--regressive tax cuts, privatization, entitlement reform, etc.--may well enjoy an undeserved "last gasp" these next four years.  Make no mistake, neoliberalism is the dying political and economic order that must be overturned.  If not by reform, then by revolution.

[Image: spcr.gif]
It can happen here

Over the past decade, I, along with millions of my compatriots, watched an illiberal populist leader commandeer every lever of power in my country of origin, Turkey, by systematically dismantling constitutional safeguards and intimidating society into submission. Having secured less than half of the popular vote in successive elections, Erdoğan proceeded to jail journalists, activists, judges, prosecutors, generals, and members of parliament. To stay in power, he has reignited a dormant civil conflict, stoked ultranationalist violence, allowed extremist movements to flourish, orchestrated military incursions into two neighboring countries, and shredded the rule of law. In hindsight, the signs of his authoritarian intentions were there all along; many of us just didn’t think the republic would succumb so easily.

Those of us who witnessed illiberal populist movements take hold in Turkey, Russia, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, and elsewhere are watching the election of Donald Trump with a particularly acute sense of foreboding. With this difference: unlike the United States, none of these countries have ever stood out as a beacon of liberty. To many Americans, this means that however autocratic his leanings, Trump’s designs will fail. But this is exactly the wrong conclusion to draw. It is precisely such overconfidence in the United States’ long and illustrious tradition of liberty that could lull the American public into a false sense of security and facilitate the rapid destruction of that very tradition.

Confidence in the exceptional resilience of American democracy is particularly misplaced in the face of today’s illiberal populist movements, whose leaders are constantly learning from each other. Trump has a wide variety of tried and tested techniques on which to draw; already, he has vowed to take pages out of Putin’s playbook. Defenders of liberal democracy, too, must learn from each other’s victories and defeats. Below are some hard-earned lessons from countries that have been overrun by the contemporary wave of illiberal democracy. They could be essential for preserving the American republic in the dark years to come.

We have at least four years of a nightmare in America.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.

Just a reminder. Read it and weep:

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - "Make America Great Again!"

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Donald's open sanctioning of torture

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - Muslims or Mexicans take your pick.

Supremacy of the Military - N/A

Rampant Sexism - Donald's sexism is a matter of public record

Controlled Mass Media - Donald is advocating being able to sue any media outlet that writes something bad about him.

Obsession with National Security - Donald has played the terrorism card over and over again.

Religion and Government are Intertwined - Donald frequently questions the faith of his opponents and has even had a fight with the Pope over faith.

Corporate Power is Protected - One look at Donald's economic plans will show you that.

Labor Power is Suppressed - Donald favors taking down the unions.

Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - In fairness Donald shows a lot of disdain these are just among them

Obsession with Crime and Punishment - A major part of his campaign

Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - N/A

Fraudulent Elections - Donald hasn't directly been involved but his party is frequently responsible for fraudulent elections and stealing voter's rights.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.

Will Trump's incompetence trump his authoritarianism?
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
(11-15-2016, 06:49 PM)Eric the Green Wrote: Will Trump's incompetence trump his authoritarianism?

Maybe the Constitution will.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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