Saturday, August 08, 2020
Perhaps America's fate will be the same as Ancient Rome's. It too was ruled by two powerful political blocs---the Optimates and the Populates which were the approximate equivalent of the Republicans and Democrats respectively which in turn were dominated by Rome's powerful and wealthy elites. But, after 482 years, the Republic fell and Rome became a dictatorship although the facade of a Republic was allowed to continue for a few more decades.
What happened to Rome (and indeed, to most of History's previous republics) was not so much the result of an external threat, although that happened, be it "illegal migration" or the near perpetual wars Rome fought throughout its history. Rome's fatal weakness was internal. It was the corruption, greed, arrogance and incompetence of its ruling class, which by definition, shouldn't have existed in a Republic.
It was partly the diversion of resources to serve the needs of the wealthy rather than the poor. It was the undermining of Rome's middle class, the backbone of the Republic, through over taxation. It was Rome's slowly decaying infrastructure as its attention focused on putting out fires throughout the edges of its empire. Even Rome's social safety net became to great of a burden. Rome also suffered under the weight of slavery while we bear the weight of a different form of slavery---debt.
For the average Roman, there was no sudden "thud" as the Republic, or centuries later, the Empire collapsed. The fall of nations are rarely sudden or dramatic except in time of war or some unexpected economic implosion (unexpected to all but those paying attention). The fall is typically gradual. Roads or bridges aren't repaired as fast or the repairs are of inferior quality. The quality of education becomes worse. In place of innovation, a mentality of "good enough" develops. Taxes seem to spiral ever upward but with less and less to show for it. The last thing to be affected is almost always the military.
Ironically, the last to experience the collapse are those at the top. They're so insulated from reality they have little concept of the seismic political shift occurring under their feet. They believe that the same old platitudes and appeasement will keep working (ie: "let them eat cake") and allow them weather out the storms. Even when some of the "lesser" rats start deserting the ship, they don't fully realize that the "ship of state" has hit the proverbial iceberg and there are no more lifeboats.
A few, if they are very lucky, manage to escape ahead of the pitchforks on the last plane or ship out, laden down with trunks of cash, furs, jewels, and whatever else they can grab as they head out the door (usually after having first transferred as much of the nation's wealth out of the country as possible). Names like Marcos, Batista, Amin, and Iran's Shah come to mind while others go the way of Hussein and Gaddafi.
Unlike Rome which, after a series of social upheavals, transformed from a Republic into a militaristic dictatorship under a single powerful leader, America has turned into an Oligarchy pretty peacefully. But, to be more specific, we've become a Corporatocracy, which I suspect is a term that many of you have never heard of before. That's about to change.
A Corporatocracy is quite simply a form of government controlled by either corporations or corporate interests, which, in turn, is a type of Plutocracy or rule by the wealthy. Who in their right mind can deny that Washington, as well as every state capitol or local city hall isn't dominate by the wealthy few? Money buys power. Power makes money.
Washington has near 15,000 lobbyists representing corporate interests while you and I pretty much have none. These lobbyists provide the money (and perks) needed to make elections happen. They ensure that those who cooperate remain in office and those who don't are defeated. These same lobbyists "help" write legislation either directly or through so-called experts they retain. In a nutshell we actually have are two political cliques who are beholden to competing corporate interests (think of it as Coke vs Pepsi arrangement but cooperate to keep out any competitors).
The goal of a Corporatocracy is to remove any and all barriers which interfere with corporate profits. Through their control of government which includes not just those selected (err, I mean "elected") but also the governmental bureaucracy itself via appointments, the judicial system, and even the military to enforce their economic objectives. They use "think tanks" to direct domestic and foreign policy and the media to manipulate public opinion.
The one thing a Corporatocracy abhorrers more than anything is chaos, be it social, political, economic, or fiscal. The only exception to that is the chaos which comes from bringing a country in line by their adoption of a policy or access to some domestic resource. If the country refuses, then a subtle but mounting media campaign to discredit its policies, government, and leaders is undertaken.
Along with the negative propaganda (which often centers on alleged human rights abuses which were previously either ignored or even unofficially supported as we did in 1950's Cuba, 70's Iran or 90's Iraq). At each stage, not only does the political rhetoric increase but so does the saber rattling. However, the stick usually requires a carrot to work, so offers of foreign aid (which includes military hardware) as well as low or no interest "loans" are used to help quiet the dogs of war.
The virus is being sold as some amorphous death cloud lingering around the next corner while neo-Marxist BLM and Antifa anarchists are planning to impose socialism (or worse Communism) on unsuspecting Americans. Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters are nothing more than better dressed versions of the Nazis!
The truth of matter is that both BLM and Antifa have jumped onto two high profile incidents which should never have happened and turned them into political events. It's true that both groups are neo-Marxist. It's also true that BLM has a strong racist bent to it and Antifa behaves more like the old Nazi "Brownshirts" they allegedly opposed (as an aside, the Communists of that era had their own group of thugs called the "Red Front" and fought the Brownshirts blow for blow). Social order is a precondition for capitalism and democracy to function properly, and that includes Corporate capitalism. Normally, this type of chaos would have the ruling class quaking in their Gucci's, but it's not and I'll tell you why.
First, there will be no "socialism" or "Communism" despite what political front groups tell us on social media. Neither are conducive to the neo-fascism that a Corporatocracy needs to operate in. Both systems require total government ownership of everything, and that ain't gonna happen. The elites will never willingly surrender their wealth or control over government and the economy, but they will use the fear of these political system as bogeymen to scare the people into demanding that the government "do something" to protect them. Historically, people have always been willing to sacrifice freedom for security.
In 1933, it was the Reichstag fire which Hitler used to push through the "Enabling Act" which ultimately gave him near absolute power in Germany. But before that it took a volatile economy, a political climate where the use of scapegoats were plausible, a series of assassinations, a high crime rate, mounting external threats and finally the fire itself to make the Enabling Act possible (not to mention the subsequent trial of three Bulgarian communists and a 24 year old Jewish Dutch Communist willing to admit to setting the fire to bring it to a head). They each played their part of (to borrow from Lenin) "useful idiots" just as BLM , Antifa, and their supporters are now.
How? I talking about term limits; a level political playing field that allows all parties and individuals the same ballot access and inclusion in debates; ending Citizens United and taking unlimited corporate money out of politics; ending corporate participation in writing legislation; allowing nationwide voter referendums; ranked choice voting; mandating the former government officials not be allowed to engage in lobbying directly or indirectly for a minimum of ten years after they leave office; voter approval for tax, fee, rate, or salary increases of elected officials. Lastly, require that all elected officials resign from whatever party they're a member of once they are sworn in. The only interest they need represent is the people. Only then can we restore America back to the People.
The U.S. is an Oligarchy? The Research, Explained
Lobbying Data Summary
The 20 companies and groups that spent the most money to influence lawmakers