Stanley Dundee welcomes readers and correspondents for wide-ranging enquiry in post-capitalist studies. New enquiries! Public enterprise takes dedication to service as paramount. Theological engineering applies teachings from comparative religion to design and implementation of a new religion, oriented around stewardship. Other enquiries. A new book review looks at Revolutionary Change by Chalmers Johnson (2nd Ed. 1982). Other book reviews. Our foundational enquiry, Getting Money Right. Newcomers may wish to start here.
2021-08-31: New book review! Withdrawing the Mandate for Revolutionary Change by Chalmers Johnson (2nd Ed. 1982). Inspired to wrap this review by a provocative essay by tinkzorg on the fall of the PMC:
Every ruling class throughout history advances various claims about its own legitimacy, without which a stable political order is impossible. Legitimating claims can take many different forms and may change over time, but once they become exhausted or lose their credibility, that is pretty much it.
2021-08-12: New enquiry: introducing public enterprise, in which dedication to service is paramount and profit is incidental.
For many years now we have been trying to transfer trade to settlements in national currencies. There's a corresponding mechanism which is quite effective. We are switching to the national currency in our trade with other major partners.
2021-03-11: Seems pretty obvious in hindsight but I was unreasonably delighted to realize that asabiyah is pretty much the same thing as solidarity. Sadly, identity politics is a highly effective antidote. What do you think?
2021-03-10: Free-form, listener-supported WFMU is hold their annual fund-raising marathon! Stanley has listened pretty much exclusively to WFMU for going on four decades so he is a big supporter. If you are a WFMU listener and you can spare some funds please consider putting a little something towards another year of great programming. If you're not a WFMU listener, maybe you should be! Check out the live streams on the home page, and explore the schedule for some depth. Note for new listeners: if you don't like what you hear, just turn it off and come back later (or explore the archives via the schedule. Every show is unique. Stanley appreciates any help supporting a truly scrappy community making great radio on a tiny budget thanks entirely to support by listeners.
2021-02-26: Tab sweep continues with my rediscovery of a noteworthy effort by Amber A'Lee Frost assessing the possibility of solidarity between the PMC and the working class. Not a bright prospect, but a great opportunity to revisit the work of Barbara Ehrenreich and muse on solidarity. Divisiveness:
. . . herein lies the tragic irony of the great middle class exodus: even when they fall, and even when they find themselves inLeft spaces,they are still too proximal to management—or at least believe themselves to be—to imagine much beyond human resources liberalism. Very frequently, they view blue-collar workers as inherently illiberal antagonists. (Just look at the response to the failed Clinton campaign by prominent members of the liberal media and academia, who have finally answered their favorite old canard ofWhy do the working class vote against their own interests?with accusations of innate bigotry and misogyny.)
2021-02-21: New quickie tabsweep notice for Chalmers Johnson's text Revolutionary Change and his famous essay on blowback, to characterize the unintended consequences at home of imperial overreach abroad.
for Bill Domhoff's invaluable website
Who Rules America.
Valuable insight into what I like to call
our master class.
Apologies for lack of posting.
Tab-sweeping hopefully will pick up the pace at least for short notices.
Longer pieces in the works.
Wishing for feedback!
Asabiyah in Utah
takes note of Natalie Gochnour's explication of Utah's
religiously-based collective solidarity
for attaining exceptional economic results
for income equality and social mobility.
She calls it
social capital but I call it asabiyah.
Lots to learn from the LDS:
Latter-day Saints . . . are taught from a young age that service to others is a service to God. The Book of Mormon also warns about the problems arising from inequality in society . . . Utah's service-based culture [exemplified bythe Church of Jesus Christ's culture of care for one another] is a cherished state asset that residents continuously strive to perfect. This service-based ethos extends well beyond the Church of Jesus Christ. Utah possesses a strong interfaith community and nonprofit sector.
2020-11-17: Probably I will regret this but here's a new enquiry featuring research and experimention in theological engineering. Roughly speaking, it's applications of comparative religion to design and implementation of a new religion, oriented around stewardship. Mostly old work but possibly relevant in light of pandemic, oncoming economic depression, societal collapse, etc.
What isthe Great Reset? The Great Reset is a massively funded, desperately ambitious, internationally coordinated project led by some of the biggest multinational corporations and financial players on the planet and carried out by cooperating state bodies and NGOs. Its soul is a combination of early 20th century science fiction, idyllic Soviet posters, the obsessiveness of a deranged accountant with a gambling addiction . . .
The ratchet is a simple, ubiquitous, ancient bit of machinery. . . . What the ratchet does is permit rotation in one direction but not in the other. . . . The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties — Republicans and Democrats — play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation. The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward. The Democrats' role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don't resist the rightward movement — they let it happen — but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.
2020-10-06: New notice for Michael Pettis' Global Capital Is the Tail That Wags the U.S. Economic Dog in Foreign Policy journal! Pettis argues for restrictions on the flow of global capital and recognizes that global capital flows have been weaponized for class war:
. . . there is little to justify the fetish for unfettered capital movement. In a world already flooded with excess savings, it doesn't result in more productive investment; it encourages global savings imbalances by allowing wage suppression in trade surplus countries to be exported abroad; it forces up either unemployment or debt in trade deficit economies; and it weakens the negotiating power of workers and exacerbates income inequality everywhere. The only ones who benefit from unfettered capital flows are international bankers and the very wealthy owners of movable capital.
The accusations of the elites of Venezuela are a form of projection: they are the corrupt parasites who for generations have fed off the productive people of Venezuela, as in all nations. . . . this is why we hear so much aboutcorruptionin Venezuela: an utterly worthless class of human beings is angry that some small share of the wealth they used to skim exclusively for themselves is now being distributed with just a bit more equity across social lines.
. . . there is a base from which one can make a critique of capitalism even at the same time that capitalism constantly subsumes all those alternatives to it. It's not like everything we do corresponds to a logic of capitalism. There are those who've argued that only 30–40% of what we do is subsumed under the logic of capitalism. Communism already exists in our intimate relations with each other on a million different levels, so it’s a question of gradually expanding that and ultimately destroying the power of capital, rather than this idea of absolute negation that plunges us into some great unknown.
I take the liberty of rephrasing, channelling Grover Norquist: we need to shrink capital down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.
2020-09-09: The lamentable death of David Graeber had the synchronistic consequence of passing me his insights in Ferguson and the Criminalization of American Life just when I could really use them. The whole essay is illustrations of oversuck, mainly police-related, but also ranging over banks, higher ed, etc. Graeber:
Almost every institution in America—from our corporations to our schools, hospitals, and civic authorities—now seems to operate largely as an engine for extracting revenue, by imposing ever more complex sets of rules that are designed to be broken. And these rules are almost invariably enforced on a sliding scale: ever-so-gently on the rich and powerful (think of what happens to those banks when they themselves break the law), but with absolute Draconian harshness on the poorest and most vulnerable. As a result, the wealthiest Americans gain their wealth, increasingly, not from making or selling anything, but from coming up with ever-more creative ways to make us feel like criminals.
Another skeletal new enquiry:
losses borne due to an irremediable power imbalance.
Related to tactics of crapification,
and spoils of class war.
Culture wars which pit various factions of the poor and working classes against one other are almost always created by and waged for the ultimate benefit of the oppressive oligarchy.
2020-08-17: New notice to Jeffrey Snider's Low Rates Aren't a Central Bank Providing Accommodation, in which Snider tackles the interest rate fallacy:
Low interest rates aren't a central bank providing accommodation, they are instead its worst nightmare being shoved right back in their face.
2020-07-29: New notice to Scipio Sattler's How Warren, and the Professional Class Left Undermined Sanders 2020, a fascinating account of the professional-managerial class (PMC) and its ideology in the context of Liz Warren's 2020 backstabbing of Bernie Sanders, and the embrace of her by what passes for the Left in America. Sattler refers to the PMC as the professional class:
The professional class is a distinct social class, antagonistic to workers and amenable to elites. Downwardly mobile, but elite aspiring, professionals tear each other down like crabs in a bucket as they climb up the corporate ladder. The bottom-up anarcho-orthodoxy of professional ideology is more effective than a top-down imposition of an orthodox party line as in the late Soviet Union or present-day China. At least the American version provides the illusion of freedom.I call the PMC minions.
On top of an unprecedented criminal past under the tenure of Jamie Dimon . . . the bank has the dubious distinction of being called out as the riskiest bank in the U.S. by one of its federal regulators.
Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes that nation's laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most conspicuous and sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of Parliament and of democracy is idle and futile.
2020-06-17: A new enquiry introduces balanced trade, in which bilateral currency swaps between counterpart central banks are proposed as an alternative to utilization of a global reserve currency for cross-border trade.
in which I spew some snark
in response to William J. Broad's
long war against American science,
which I do not recommend reading.
Perhaps not my most respectful notice.
United States Secretary of State and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director (2017 - 2018), Mike Pompeo, admitted to an audience from Texas A&M University on April 15, that the agency especially trains employees tolie, cheat and steal.When I was a cadet, what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment,Pompeo boasted as the audience laughed and celebrated the statement.
for Danny Sjursen's How Do You Prefer Your Empire: Coarse or Polite?:
You have owners; a corporate, political, and media elite
charged with maintaining the military-industrial behemoth.
And your owners have only allowed you the illusion of choice, of democracy.
2020-03-20: New notice for Jeffrey Snider's Neither the Crisis Nor Its Timing Is Random. Repo is the basis for the global reserve currency, and collateral is the basis for repo. When collateral goes wrong, the system fails.
2020-03-05: Well that's a long time for nothing new! I have been digging into issues related to the Eurodollar, global trade, and the reserve currency. Here's something that turned up in that research, a lovely quote from J. M. Keynes on the differential consequences of inflation and deflation, courtesy of Jeffrey Snider. Hope to be back soon!
2019-12-27: New book review! At the Mercy of the Market for The Volatility Machine by Michael Pettis (2001).
2019-12-03: New notice for Max Forte's review of Peter M. Phillips' Giants: the Global Power Elite. Also refactored recent notices for an individual page for each notice. Will expand to old notices as time permits.
2019-11-25: Recommended: a motivational message from witty and erudite Russia analyst Patrick Armstrong:
[Strategic Culture Foundation] has attracted a large stable of writers; by and large, most of the time, generally speaking, we agree with each other pretty well. The point of view of most of the writers is counter Establishment. In today's frenzied Russophobia that opens us to the charges of being Putinbots but, in truth, we write against the prevailing WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian view on many subjects. . . . On the other side of the divide are the writers and readers of the WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian established media. They also generally agree with what they read, approve of each other's writing and nod their heads in agreement. They are in their comfort zone. Two solitudes — two bubbles. An agreeable agreement bubble for each: different bubbles to be sure but the same warm comfortable feeling of reassurance that they’re well-informed. So what’s the point of writing?
[Billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky], widely seen as Ukraine's most powerful figure outside government, given his role as the patron of the recently elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has experienced a remarkable change of heart: It is time, he said, for Ukraine to give up on the West and turn back toward Russia.With assessments by John Helmer, Moon of Alabama, and Patrick Armstrong.They're stronger anyway. We have to improve our relations,he said, comparing Russia's power to that of Ukraine.People want peace, a good life, they don't want to be at war. And you— America —are forcing us to be at war, and not even giving us the money for it.
New notice for remarks
by Rep. Juan Vargas
in questioning Mark Zuckerberg
regarding Facebook's proposed privatized currency, the Libra.
to the importance of the dollar as tool,
a tool of American power,
when something threatens the dollar,
we get very nervous, and I think we should be
(starting around 45:10).
Indirectly via Mike Krieger's Our Currency, Your Problem!.
Serious observers have long understood that when Washington and its minions accuse Moscow of something it's an admission that they are already doing it
2019-09-06: Updated notice for DARPA's SemaFor project, adding Matt Taibbi's The Pentagon Wants to Use DARPA to Police Internet News.
2019-09-05: New notices for CJ Hopkins' The Future of the Spectacle ... or How the West Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Reality Police and Caitlin Johnstone's WaPo Warns USA Needs More Narrative Control As Pentagon Ramps Up Narrative Control, responding to U.S. Unleashes Military to Fight Fake News, Disinformation.
2019-08-22: New notice for Peter Lee's The Trillion-Dollar Grift: The Long-Term Plan for US-China Decoupling.
2019-08-21: In view of the increasing liklihood of another debt crisis over the horizon, a new notice for Steve Keen's Instability in Financial Markets: Sources and Remedies. An excellent introduction to Minsky and valuable insight into the causes and consequences of financial crises.
2019-07-17: A new notice for Robert Willman's Alex Acosta let the cat out of the bag: the Justice Department knew all about the Jeffrey Epstein Florida plea deal . Hat tip to Vicky Ward also.
2019-07-09: Updated Macronies with new photos supplied by my on-the-spot daughter in Paris:
2019-06-18: Oh dear, it's been a while! Apologies to my patient readers. In the interests of trying to be more timely I am introducing a notices section in which I will just take note of interesting stuff I've come across in my trawling around the web.
2019-04-22: Updated Macronies to address the meteoric trajectory of our latest Democratic hopeful, Pete Buttigieg. Nathan Robinson has been a leader in putting Mayor Pete in his place. Here's his Macrony alert:
Do not be deceived . . . Look into the actual records of these candidates. Get their shitty books and scrutinize them closely. A lot of money is going to be flowing toward tricks like this, as frantic Democratic elites try to push someone like Buttigieg in order to prevent a Sanders nomination. They know Buttigieg is one of them; they seeMcKinseyand realize they'll come to no harm. But they hope you don't see what they see. It has been the same over and over: Hey kids, Tom Perez isn't any different from Keith Ellison! No need to do anything rash now! At every turn, bandwagon-hopping frauds are going to mouth the latest slogans. . . . Demand the evidence. Examine the record. We have got to learn to see through this stuff. You have to look at what they did and said before it was politically opportune to say what they're saying now. Five minutes ago, Pete Buttigieg wasthe management consultant making the South Bend sewers run on time.Now he's suddenly a radical who want to pack the Supreme Court. From Mitt Romney to Eugene Debs in a single news cycle. . . . [W]e can't afford to make this mistake again. No more Bright Young People with their beautiful families and flawless characters and elite educations and vacuous messages of uplift and togetherness. Give me fucked-up people with convictions and gusto. Give me real human beings, not CV-padding corporate zombies.
Most of the time, you'd be correct to believe the opposite. Especially, when all the outlets are telling you the same thing. It's always good to ask yourself cui bono: who's getting what benefit out of making you believe something? It's quite depressing how successful the big uniform lie is: even though the much-demonised Milosevic was eventually found innocent, even though Qaddafi was notbombing his own people, similar lies are believed about Assad and other Western enemies-of-the-moment. Believe the opposite unless there's very good reason not to.
I feel secure in predicting that someone, somehow, somewhere will be affronted by something I say. I beseech that person in advance to constrain the urge to slap me silent, call me names, or impugn my moral integrity. Instead I recommend the Iroquoian response of a good-natured hearing, with no limits on what a speaker might say. I know that forbearance crosses the scholarly grain. For all the lip service regarding free speech, prickly irritation and indignant interuption at the merest slip of a lip is the stance most lauded in academia today, but I confess to being weary of highly credentialed cry-babies. I much prefer the etiquette of the Iroquois, who contend that anyone old enough to enter a public forum is mature enough to have developed a seven-span skin, i.e. a skin as thick as seven thumbs together, too thick to be needled into easy outrage by the sly, wry, or satirical jabs of another Speaker. The Peacemaker, himself, set up this discourse rule in establishing the Great Law of Peace, decreeing that thethickness of your skin shall be seven spans—which is say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions, and criticism.Thus I don't care what they told you at the culture wars; it is important that everyone not grinning hideously and brandishing sharp implements be countenanced in the public space. It will be your turn to speak soon enough. (pp. 8-9)
2019-02-13: Apologies for neglect! Exciting activities In Real Life have predominated lately. Happy to be back and I hope I was missed! I've added summarial enquiries and reviews to help with overall site orientation.
The prospect of US withdrawal from Syria has taken the use of doublespeak by frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers to a new level. Here to help the confused observer is a glossary of some of the most frequently used key terms and their true meanings, along with guidance on usages deemed taboo in Western policy-making and media circles.
Thanks for reading and please know that correspondence would be hugely welcomed!
Young Beto O'Rourke casts himself as theanti-Trump. But his father-in-law, it turns out, is a billionaire property developer with a contentious relationship with non-white residents — not unlike the President. Beto's more the proto-Jared Kushner.
Beto O'Rourke: oligarch approved!
2019-01-02: Happy New Year to All! Ken Silverstein had a rough year following the loss of his mother but despite the loss his journalistic accomplishments are considerable. His conclusion is rings true for me:
So that's it for 2018. Onward to 2019 comrades, I feel optimistic about my personal and political future, and that's unlike me. I truly believe capitalism has run out of steam — it has always been evil and very good at exploiting most everyone while generating immense profits for the privileged few and their political serfs — but now our rulers have run out of ways to keep the system running. All they can do now is ratchet up the ruthless exploitation of the 99 percent; at some point this shit is going to blow, and I very much hope to see it and be part of the history we will make together.
At the first debate with Reyes, O'Rourke criticized Reyes for not offering concrete ways to cut the federal budget, and then turned to Social Security.We need to look at things like means testing,he said.We need to look at a later age at which my kids are gonna retire.
2018-12-20: Updated Macronies with some detail on Beto O'Rourke, calf-cramping New Democrat. Citing Zaid Jilani at Current Affairs, David Sirota at The Guardian, Sludge on Oil Change USA, and, of course, the infamous Beto Sex Tweet by Leah McElrath. Enjoy!
2018-12-19: Introducing Macronies, for designating youngish, good-looking, articulate neoliberals with limited public records and soothing speechifying who are meant to block the possibility of genuine reform. Been thinking about this one for quite a while but was inspired to actually write something by Benjamin Studebaker.
2018-10-31: While planning for a little essay on class war, I went looking for a provocative essay I vaguely remembered from a few years back (2012) by Michael O. Church, which has sadly disappeared from its original source. Thankfully it can be found using the Wayback Machine. Church proposed a three-ladder system of class in the US which is a bit baroque but does have lots of useful explanatory value. He also provides some excellent insights into class war strategies, although I have my doubts about his celebration of what he calls the Gentry. Here's the lede:
Typical depictions of social class in the United States posit a linear, ordered hierarchy. I've actually come to the conclusion that there are 3 distinct ladders, with approximately four social classes on each. Additionally, there is an underclass of people not connected to any of the ladders, creating an unlucky 13th social class. I'll attempt to explain how this three-ladder system works, what it means, and also why it is a source of conflict. The ladders I will assign the names Labor, Gentry, and Elite. My specific percentage estimates of each category are not derived from anything other than estimation based on what I've seen, and my limited understanding of the macroeconomics of income in the United States, so don't take them for more than an approximation. I'll assess the social role of each of these classes in order, from bottom to top.
Naked Capitalism is the first site I visit when I turn my computer on in the morning. . . . the best and most distilled guide to today's global financial malaise, the most egregious neoliberal threats from Washington, the floundering Democratic Party, the bank jungle and Wall Street scandals, scams and frauds. . . . Piercing the shell of neoliberal doublethink in today's financial End Time is an art. That is why it is so important to give what you can to keep NC thriving. Think of it as subscribing to the best daily paper.Invaluable daily resource for me; many thanks to Yves, Lambert, and all the Naked Capitalism crew. Bless the commenters too!
2018-08-28: Taxes do not fund sovereign spending. Inspired by Why I Am Not Wildly Enthusiastic about Sanders' Plan to Tax Amazon. Lambert says:
Let me now turn to the problems with Sanders' plan to have a plan... The framing reinforces the notion that Federal taxespay forFederal spending, so Sanders traps us in the austerity box... Federal taxes do not pay for Federal spending, nor do taxpayers... It is not true, as Sanders says, thatyou pay for it.You don't... Unfortunately for us all, the implications of Sanders' framing are horrific, whether for the left, or liberals of good faith, if any... Thefiscal myththat taxes pay for Federal spending is already being used to attack #MedicareForAll. When Sanders asks and answersYou know who pays for those programs? You do,he's teaching an entire constituency a falsehood that actively works to undermine working class interests in universal concrete material benefits! Why on earth would Sanders do this?
2018-07-17: Revisions to argument.
2018-06-26: Brief remarks on argument, reflecting the rather unsatisfying course which so many conversations seem to take.
2018-06-19: A brief meditation on respect, corresponding to remarks I often make to my liberal friends.
2018-04-20: Happy 4/20 to all! Over at Naked Capitalism, Lambert is fundraising for the Water Cooler. If you've got it to spare, be sure to give. Nobody works harder to bring us real news and original analysis.
2018-04-15: A short piece on lies.
2018-03-12: Greetings to our new readers, and thanks for your visits and your consideration. New material coming soon, I promise. Apologies for outages as our shoestring operation was subject to power and internet losses in the recent spate of Nor'easters. Possibly another tonight!
2018-01-24: Austerity is a policy choice (abstract).
2018-01-23: Fiat money is unbounded.
2017-12-19: Huge shout-out to Zero Anthropology on their 10th anniversary! Max Forte provides carefully researched, superbly argued challenges to conventional wisdom that have been a major influence in my ongoing program of study of indigenous cultures and neoliberalism, colonialism, imperialism, and globalization. And I really appreciate the style of posting:
[Our] current pattern of production...is very slow, very deliberate, with comparatively long articles that are as well researched as possible... our engagement withHighly recommended. Old news...social mediahas been substantially pared down in recent years and months, not to devote our free labour to inflating the value of an environment dominated/censored by US interests and US corporations -- and because most of the important realizations and understandings are not produced a dozen per second instreams,feedsandtimelines.Release early, release often,I slowly came to realize is the slogan of those who prefer instant recognition and constant gratification, likely inspired by asocial mediaenvironment dominated by the celebrity-activist-journalist type.