Archive for the ‘Reason’ Category

State Communism was Based in Capitalism and Social Conservatism: 1

March 11, 2018 7 comments

A few months ago, I decided to write a short series about how socio-economic problems which plague post-2008 USA are oddly similar to those which brought down ostensibly “communist” countries in the late 1980s. While I did complete and post the first article in that series, a feeling that I was close to uncovering an even deeper basic similarity between the two allegedly different systems made me hold off writing the second part at that time. While I do plan to finish up that one soon, the topic I am going to discuss today is distinct enough to deserves its own separate post or two.

Let me start by making a claim, which might initially sound rather strange to most of you. It is as follows: ‘State Communism, in both, ideology and practice, is just another flavor of Capitalism in combination with a certain kind of social conservatism’. Some will counter by pointing out that state communism didn’t allow official large-scale private ownership of property or money. Others will highlight that countries under state communism were often socially more progressive than their capitalist counterparts. While both are factually correct, neither one addresses the central reasoning behind my claim.

In my opinion, the key to defining capitalism, state communism, socialism or any other ‘-ism’ lies in observing how that ideology functions in real life and what unspoken assumptions are made by its principal practitioners. With that in mind, let me ask you a simple question- Why was the quality of life for the median person living in countries under state communism in eastern Europe always inferior to those in western Europe? While a good portion of blame can be placed on the design of almost all institutions (functional monopolies) in those countries and “professional managers” who ran them into the ground, it is worthwhile to ask ourselves- How, and why, was all of this normalized and “rationalized” by those in power?

In other words, how did those in power within those countries justify their relative inability to provide their citizens with nice apartments, sweet cars and other consumer goodies? To make a long story short, such glaring deficiencies were usually explained away as being the result of “not enough resources” or “other more pressing priorities”. Oddly enough, this is the same reasoning used by politicians and establishment pundits in USA to explain how the “exceptional” country which spend trillions on useless defense related toys somehow cannot afford to provide universal healthcare, inexpensive higher education and a decent social safety net for its citizens.

So how can countries in western Europe continue to provide all of those goodies to their citizens? Also, why were they generally unable to do that before 1945? What changed? Also, why are public services in first-world countries generally of good quality, relatively inexpensive and universally accessible? Well.. the simple answer to most of those questions is that services which are considered and treated as social goods rather than as opportunities to make ever-increasing amounts of monetary profits end up being inexpensive, universally available and of high quality. Conversely, those treated as avenues for the enrichment of a select few end up becoming expensive, scarcer and of lower quality.

But how does any of this work in systems where official accumulation of wealth and property was banned? Under those conditions, shouldn’t all public services be seen as social goods and be therefore universally available and of high quality?

No.. not really, and here is why. Any official ban on private accumulation of property or money has, by itself, little impact on the practice of capitalist ideology. All laws and regulations will be compromised and circumvented by clever crooks- if they are allowed to get away with it. To understand what I am really talking about, we have to first spell out the end goal of capitalism and the ideology beyond it. The end goal of capitalism and many other -isms is to impoverish others by depriving them of resources while simultaneously accumulating resources created by the labor of others for no reason than to deprive those others.

In that respect, the only difference between capitalism and feudalism is that the later uses overt direct force and appeals to tradition and religion, while the later uses the pretense of “liberal enlightenment”, impersonal violence by a “secular” state appeals to the greed of willing idiots. Have you ever noticed that capitalism did not improve the quality of life for the median person in western countries until after WW1. So why did over a hundred years of unbridled capitalism, “free trade” and the industrial revolution have little positive effects on the lives of most people in the “west”? Maybe we should have given it more time? Perhaps it was not “pure enough”?

And this brings us to why the aftermath of WW1 and WW2 witnessed a lot of progressive and sustained improvements in the quality of life. To (once again) make a long story short, both wars and their aftermath destroyed and discredited old institutions, hierarchies and ways of thinking to the point where a lot of the previous status quo was simply unsustainable. It just happened to be the case that ethic nationalism, “free trade” and laissez-faire capitalism was the previous status quo. And that is also why ‘neoliberalism’ (aka recycled liberal capitalism) did not become respectable till the mid-1980s which is almost four decades after the end of WW2.

But, what does any of this have to do with my claim that the ultimate failure of state communism had a lot to do with it being based in capitalist ideology?

Well.. remember how earlier on in this post, I talked about the excuses used by the elite (1%) in countries under state communism to explain their inability to provide enough quality consumer goods to their citizens. You might remember something about how they justified chronic shortages, shoddy products and general deprivation by invoking excuses about “available resources” and “other priorities”. Now tell me, why did they choose excuses that are linked to cost and utility, when the government in those countries was free to create extra money to fund building of new houses, nice apartment blocks, sweet cars and other consumer goodies?

Isn’t that what China did to build up its industrial and consumer base in the last three decades? How could a country like China see the obvious solution and implement it in a manner that eluded all the countries under state communism in eastern Europe? Why did not Russia decide to do something similar in the 1960s and create enough extra money within its border and utilize that to build nice apartments, modern cars and consumer goodies for its citizens? I mean.. they certainly did that for building lots of modern weapons systems and other prestige programs during that time period.

I think that the reason why 1960-ear Russia did not do what 1980-era China did on a large-scale comes down to that counter-intuitive fact that elites in the former believed in capitalism far more than those in the later. The former could not think in ways which violated the sacrosanct beliefs and assumptions of capitalism. The later simply saw capitalism as another make-believe ideology which could be manipulated to facilitate whatever they wanted. And that is why China was able to seamlessly pull off something which the erstwhile USSR failed at, even though it was a far better position to do so.

In the next part, I will write about my thoughts on how the strong urge to enforce conservatism and traditionalism in erstwhile USSR to maintain social harmony and conformity ended up having the reverse effect and contributed to the ultimate failure of state communism in that country.

What do you think? Comments?

Kim Jong-un’s Nukes and ICBMs Finally Got Him Real Respect from USA

March 9, 2018 8 comments

As many regular readers know, I have written more than a few posts about the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of DPRK in the past(link 1, link 2, link 3). I have also written about how grandiose delusions, anti-Asian racism and a general disconnect from reality by policy makers in USA still prevents them from addressing the issue of normalizing relations with DPRK in anything approaching a rational manner (link 4, link 5, link 6, link 7). The main thread running through all those posts can be summarized as the following: DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile program is a highly rational response to american foreign policy in the post-1991 era. In that respect, it is no different from the recent announcement by Putin of Russia developing multiple next-generation nuclear missile systems.

It should be obvious to any rational observer that american foreign policy since 1991 towards the rest of the world can be largely summed as “my way or no way”. Unfortunately for the deep state in USA, developments in the rest of the world within the last two decades have slowly but irreversibly reduced their ability to enforce their writ outside their borders. The epic and costly military failures suffered by USA in Afghanistan and Iraq have sped along this process to the point where the USA cannot even enforce its writ in regions as troubled and historically divided as Syria. The economic crash of 2008, and its aftermath, have also contributed to this permanent reduction in american ability to enforce its rules outside its borders.

But what does any of this have to do with the recent announcement that Kim Jong-un is ready to meet Trump later this year? And what does it really mean, now that Trump has accepted the offer to meet Kim Jong-un in person?

The very short answer to both those questions is that Kim Jong-un has got what he wanted in the manner he wanted. Some of you might think that this is not case based on the ravings of some idiots on right-wing cable TV or a snarky article in an allegedly “mainstream” newspaper. Those charlatans and idiots want you to believe that it has something to do with economic sanctions and Trump acting crazy. However, even a brief overview of DPRK history would show you that its government has repeatedly demonstrated incredible resistance in the face of severe economic sanctions. Moreover, Trump is not the first american president to threaten them with nuclear annihilation.

So why has Kim Jong-un now expressed an interest in talks with South Korea and USA? Also, why was he so resistant to starting talks with either country even a few months ago? What changed? The simple answer to that question is within the last 12 months, DPRK has demonstrated that it has thermonuclear weapons and mobile ICBMs which can reach any part of mainland USA. The government of DPRK rightly figured out that any talks started by them before those successful demonstrations would be from a position of weakness as their bargaining power would be rather limited under those circumstances. Any treaty or agreement reached under those conditions would be very one-sided and against their best interests.

They, therefore, decided to first develop their thermonuclear weapons and mobile ICBMs to the point where they possessed a credible capability to nuke cities in USA. The development of such a deterrent greatly restricts the military options available to USA on the Korean peninsula. It also creates a wedge between South Korea and USA, since the former is no longer certain about whether the later will always support it or alternatively make things worse. So far, the overall scheme appears to have worked and South Korea now seems to be interested in reaching some sort of deal to stabilize the situation with them. But that is not the biggest PR triumph achieved by Kim Jong-un under this new strategy..

Since 1991, DPRK has tried to ‘normalize’ diplomatic relations with USA in a way that would not destabilize the current regime. Kim Jong-un’s father and grandfather did try, on multiple occasions, to arrange public meetings with serving presidents of USA (Clinton 42, Bush 43 and Obama 44). While Clinton and Carter did visit DPRK after finishing their presidential terms, DPRK has not yet been able to get a serving american president to publicly meet their leader or even obtain such a commitment. Well.. yesterday, Trump accepted Kim Jong-un’s invitation to meet him sometime in the next few months. Some of you might say that Trump makes lots of promises which he does not, or cannot, keep.. and this may be one of them.

But make no mistake, Kim Jong-un has achieved within a few years what his predecessors could not, over many decades.

To be clear, I am not implying that this meeting will occur within the next few months or that it will result in denuclearization of DPRK. In fact, it is highly unlikely that DPRK will make any concessions beyond temporary and conditional freezes on future nuclear and missile tests. Countries which have spent so much effort and resources on developing nuclear weapons and ICBMs will never give them away, especially when it was their acquisition which led others to treat them with respect. It is more likely that such a meeting, if it were to occur, would be a major PR coup for Kim Jong-un and perhaps a starting point for realistic negotiations between DPRK, South Korea and USA.. though the later outcome is still unlikely.

What do you think? Comments?

Why Internet “Activism” Against the NRA Will be Counterproductive: 1

March 4, 2018 13 comments

Just over a week ago, I wrote a post about why frequent mass shootings are almost unique to the USA- at least among allegedly “developed” nations. The very short version of that post is that the USA is, and always has been, a third-world country.. albeit an affluent one. The way things work in USA, especially as it concerns how people view each other and the institutions around them, is similar to what one might see in Mexico or Brazil rather than Japan, France or Canada. People in USA, therefore, behave and react in a manner similar to those in the former group of countries than the latter.

But what does any of this have to do with the recent wave of manufactured internet “activism” targeting the NRA and gun owners? Why do I think that this wave of internet “activism” and worthless corporate displays of virtue are manufactured? And what makes me think that it will backfire in a spectacular manner, perhaps destroying the chance for the democratic party to win either the house or senate in the 2018 election? Also, why now and not after the Oct 31, 2017 Vegas shooting? Let us start by talking about supporters and enablers of this alleged wave of internet “activism”.

So.. what makes this incident different from that one which occurred about four months ago and resulted in the deaths of three times more people (59 vs 17) and many more injuries (422 vs 14)? Isn’t it odd that the corporate media and certain internet companies did not promote the views of those killed and injured in the Oct 31, 2017 Vegas shooting to even a tiny fraction of what they did for this one? What accounts for the manufactured fascination and promotion of certain students in that school by the corporate media? The short answer to that question is the corporate media will only provide free promotion to those who will support whatever agenda they want to push.

That is why the corporate media does not like to talk about the ongoing genocide perpetrated by Saudi Arabia in Yemen but is totally willing to give tons of airtime and publicity to a 7-year old girl in Syria who allegedly tweets in perfect English though she can barely comprehend that language. Long story short, the first example casts a negative light on the policies of their masters while the later is a desperate attempt to legitimize western (mostly american) military intervention in the ongoing Syrian conflict. But what does this have to do with the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting?

I cannot be the only one who noticed that certain students from that high school who supported gun control were intensively promoted by the corporate media within less than 24 hours of the shooting? I mean.. how come something like this never happened after the Oct 31, 2017 Vegas shooting? Also, how do you account for the almost simultaneous publication of articles by corporate media which push the exact same narrative (example 1, example 2, example 3) about these “activist” students? And isn’t it peculiar that their small protests and meetings with state politicians were unusually well covered by the corporate media (example 4, example 5, example 6).

Why was so little attention given to the fact that the Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, was responsible for the botched response to that shooting in addition to inadequate followup of all those previous tips and complaints against Nikolas Cruz. You might remember that he was busy talking to everyone in the media, in the first few days after that shooting, about how ‘police should be given more power’ and how ‘he supported sensible gun control’. You might also remember how they initially cheered him on and then dropped him like a hot potato after the level of his incompetence and corruption was accidentally exposed.

But it gets worse.. or more darkly hilarious. Many of you might have heard or read about all those noises made by the corporate media about how big corporations are “cutting their links to the NRA”. First of all, the vast majority of such virtue signalling by corporations is meaningless bullshit. For example, one airline which stopped a program to give small meaningless discounts to NRA members had to acknowledge that only 13 people had used that particular discount in the previous calendar year. In other words, most of the manufactured news about how “corporations are cutting their ties with the NRA” is hogwash.

Secondly, all those breathless “news reports” about how certain large box stores deciding to stop selling ‘scary assault rifles’ or put new illegal age-limits on selling guns and ammunition are also meaningless because of the sheer number of small and medium size private business who will continue to do what they have been always doing. Also expect the big box retailers to quietly walk back from their current position within a few months or get sued and lose in court. Did I mention that this type of empty “moral” posturing by corporations has occurred many times in the past- especially in the aftermath of mass shootings.

Then there is the issue of banks and financial institutions trying to enforce gun control by de-platforming gun sales. Once again, there is the pesky issue of legal challenges to such actions. However, the far bigger problem for such actions is that many elected officials would lose their seats and political careers if they did not vigorously oppose such actions. Also, guns and ammo are far cheaper than cars and houses and therefore cash transactions would simply replace those through neoliberal financial institutions. And this brings us to the major problem with fallout of such pathetic attempts to use internet “activism” against the NRA.

Attempting to enact gun control in 2018 or 2020 is political suicide for democrats as well as “moderate” republicans. As many of you know, democrats are hoping that Trump’s failure to follow up on his populist election promises and generally ineffectual governance will result in a windfall during the 2018 cycle. That belief is however too optimistic, because they still have not come up with a better message than “Trump is a bad, bad man”. Given that control of the house depends on winning a number of very close electoral races, pissing off a fairly large body of single-issue voters who will come out in large numbers and vote against you seems like a really bad idea.

In the next part of this short series, I will talk about why every historic attempt at “targeting the NRA” has made it and the pro-gun lobby stronger and how these attempts have paradoxically led to the loosening of regulations on guns.

What do you think? Comments?

“Official” Scientific Research about Nutrition is Mostly Fabrication

February 28, 2018 14 comments

In the past, I have written more than a few posts about why an increasing number of people no longer believe in the pronouncements of “professionals”, “experts” and “scientists”. As I wrote in some of those posts, a majority of scientific research performed and published today is highly exaggerated, purposefully misrepresented or just plain outright fraud. To make a long story short, all those purported breakthroughs published everyday in both scientific journals and the general media no longer result in any worthwhile improvements in our ability to solve those problems.

There are many reasons why progress in scientific research (as measured by our ability to do useful and hitherto impossible things) has stagnated since the 1970s and 1980s, or why no truly novel and groundbreaking technologies have emerged since the mid-1990s. A good part of the blame can be placed on the infiltration and domination of neoliberal ideology in both public and privately funded research. The current centralized and fickle nature of financial support for researchers also has a negative effect on research. We cannot also forget the effect of perverse incentives on the overall process.

“Scientific” research into nutrition and health is one of the areas where this rot is highly visible- even to the general public, and for good reason. As many of you know, the most embarrassing public failures attributed to medical research (and remembered as such) by the general public concern the many solipsistic, dishonest and often outright fraudulent examples of dietary recommendations pushed by “scientists” and “experts” over the last few decades. In case you have forgotten some of the stunners, let me refresh your memory.

Some of you may might have heard about a pompous and greedy ivy-league creature called Ancel Keys cherry-picked data to show that dietary fats, rather than carbohydrates, was linked to atherosclerotic heart disease. It is also no secret that during the 1960s-1990s, many large corporations marketing carbohydrate based food funded scientific “research” which then “proved” that carbohydrates were “healthy” while fats were “unhealthy”. This was also the era when cigarette manufacturers funded studies which allegedly showed smoking to have no link with an increased risk of lung cancer or emphysema.

In other words, all those “acclaimed” and “objective” scientists in ivy-league league universities were (and are) as corrupt as the proverbial crooked inspector in a third-world country. I could go on and list tons of other cases where dietary guidelines reached after “extensive studies” proved to be worse than useless and were later found out to be based on highly irregular data analysis. For example, average levels of salt-intake have no worthwhile association with blood pressure in most people. And yes.. I am aware that 10-15 % of the population is more sensitive to salt intake than the remaining 85-90%.

My point is that population-wide reduction in levels of smoking, better treatment of hypertension and heart disease have been the principal reasons behind the decrease in mortality and morbidity from cardio- and cerebro- vascular diseases. The effect of these factors is most obvious when you start correlating the chronological decrease in the incidence of these diseases with the introduction of better anti-hypertensive drugs, statins and improved methods and protocols for treating strokes and heart-attacks. Dietary guidelines based on biased “studies, on the other hand, have made people fatter and less healthy that would otherwise be the case.

A recently uncovered example of the inherently fraudulent nature of “official” nutrition research involves uncovering of highly questionable stuff going in the research group of Brian Wansink at Cornell, where he hold an endowed chair. Wansink also just happens to be the former head of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the USDA. While I encourage you to read the link in the previous sentence and this one for the long-form version of this story, the short summary is as follows. This “respected ivy-league” professor strongly and often directly encouraged his graduate students to start with a media-friendly headline and then statistically torture data to fit whatever the wanted to publish.

He wanted his graduate students and postdocs to make up scientific “facts” based on manipulated data to justify whatever he thought was fashionable or would result in more grant money and fame. It is especially damning that he casually joked about doing this for many years in email exchanges with his students. The degree of openness and candor he displayed also suggests that doing “research” in this manner was pretty common in this area. Some of you might see this case as an exception, however my experience in research over the years suggests that he was just unlucky enough to get caught. And this brings us the next question- what if his “usual research practices” had never been uncovered?

Well.. if Wansink had never been exposed, he would still be regarded as a highly respected academic with impeccable credentials whose “research” would continue to be published in “respectable” peer-reviewed journals and form the basis of various policies concerning “healthy eating” and “nutrition”. Some of his graduate students would go on to be appointed to the faculty of other universities and keep performing what is basically scientific fraud and be rewarded with tenure, pay raises and fame. The biggest losers in this whole scheme would be all those credulous idiots who kept believing in the “objectivity” of scientific research- especially as it concerns the field of nutrition.

What do you think? Comments?

Mass Shootings Occur in USA Because It is a Third-World Country

February 22, 2018 11 comments

Regular readers of my blog would be aware that I have written numerous posts on the causes of mass shootings in USA (link 1, link 2, link 3) as well as the futility of gun control (link 4, link 5) in this country. While I encourage you to read the above linked posts, as well as others on related topics, we often keep coming back to the same question- Why are mass shootings and incidents of gun-related violence common in USA but almost unheard of in other first-world countries? Why is the USA so.. exceptional?

Well.. the headline of this post does provide a very brief answer to that question. Moreover, I am not the first to make the connection between socio-economic conditions in this country and mass shootings. Over a decade ago, Mark Ames wrote a reasonably well-known book on that topic. To make a long story short, he makes the case that social atomization and alienation combined with extreme capitalism, an inadequate social safety net and a system which takes pride in crapping on its arbitrarily chosen “losers” are the perfect conditions for creating spree killers with nothing to lose.

One of my older posts on this topic (link 6) put forth the idea that post-1980 USA is far closer to being a third-world banana republic that most supposedly “serious people” are willing to acknowledge. In the remainder of this post, I will develop that idea further and show you how USA is a third-world country, in all but name, for its median citizens. But before we go there, let us briefly talk about what I mean by terms like ‘first-world country’ and ‘third-world country’. While some believe that those labels correlate with skin pigmentation of people who reside in those countries, the reality is rather different.

First world countries are defined by the quality of life enjoyed by their median resident, as are third world countries. For example- Japan, South Korea, France, Germany etc are seen as first world countries because of the high quality of life for their median residents. Living in such countries is characterized by things such as excellent universal healthcare, fairly stable and well-paying jobs for the majority of its residents, reasonably good formal and informal social safety nets and an overall lack of extremely poor and desperate people. In other words, life for the median resident in these countries is very good and even the less fortunate are doing better than treading water.

Now contrast this to the overall quality of life in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, India and yes.. USA. While these countries have no shortage of billionaires and lesser rich people with fabulous lifestyles- things are pretty shitty for their median residents. Most people in these countries have precarious jobs and livelihoods which often do not pay enough for the ever-increasing costs of sub-standard housing, healthcare and education. The government in these countries work solely for the benefit of the rich minority and do not provide adequate social goods such as healthcare, education, housing, sanitation or a usable social safety net.

Then there is the issue of state-sponsored or abetted repression and murder of its residents. First world countries tend to have very low rates of incarceration, favor restorative justice over revenge-based version and are not full of militarized police who go about robbing, raping and shooting the people they are supposed to protect. In contrast to that, third-world countries often have high rates of incarceration (for non-rich people), a justice system that is basically useless to average people and cops who act as if they are the law. Channeling money and power from everyone else to a few rich people is the main function of legal systems in third-world countries.

But what does any of this have to with the unusually high frequency of mass shootings in USA? And how is it connected to the certain failure of attempts at gun control in USA.

Let us compare rates of homicide by guns in USA versus other countries. If you follow this link, and go to the column titled ‘Homicides’ you will see that most first-world countries have very low rates (below 1 per 100,000 persons/ year) of such incidents compared to USA (almost 4 per 100,000/ year). Some of you might see this as an argument for gun control. But wait.. have a look at the rates of homicide by guns for Mexico (6-7 per 100,000/ year) and Brazil (20 per 100,000/ year). I should remind you that both of these countries have far stricter regulations for gun ownership than USA, and yet.. both have very high of rates of gun-related homicides. But why?

Why do tough gun control laws in first-world countries seem to correlate with low rates of gun-related homicides but have basically no effect on that rate in third-world countries? Also where do people in those countries get their guns from? The answer to the first question is linked to understanding why anybody would kill someone else, in the first place. The vast majority of people with stable, comfortable and secure lives have too much invested in maintaining the status quo to go around killing other people. People living precarious lives with little to no hope for a better future, on the other hand, have nothing to lose by breaking the rules.

Now apply that concept to attempts at gun control in USA. Do you really think that passing inane laws restricting scary-looking guns is going to change the overall downward trajectory for the average person in USA? Is it going to provide them with freedom from worrying about medical bills, housing costs, student loans etc? Is it going to provide them with stable, well-paying jobs or livelihoods? Is it going to change how american social system treats its non-rich members? To summarize, creating socio-economic conditions similar to third-world countries will always results in replication of other less savory statistics from those countries.

And by the way, most privately owned guns found in those countries were either “lost” from government arsenals or procured from some place half-way around the world. Are you so sure that something along those lines would not occur in USA in the aftermath of attempts at gun control?

What do you think? Comments?

First Thoughts on Trump’s Recently Exposed Extra-Marital Affairs

February 17, 2018 14 comments

While corporate media outlets are desperately, and unsuccessfully, trying to connect Trump with ‘Russia’ and ‘Putin’ in the public mind, they seem to have largely ignored recent disclosures about Trump’s extra-marital affairs. To be clear- I am not suggesting that harping on Trump’s extra-marital affairs, or “character”, is a winning strategy as even the most ardent boot-lickers of HRC know only too well. Analyzing Trump’s extra-martial sexscapades and their utter lack of impact on Trump’s supporters and overall ratings is however an amusing diversion from the “russian interference in our sacred elections” bullshit pumped out by corporate media every single day.

Two women have so far definitely indicated that they had affairs of various lengths with Trump after he married his current wife in 2005. One of them, an adult performer named Stormy Daniels, did initially attempt to deny a relationship with Trump. She had been apparently paid about 130,000 dollars by Trump’s lawyer to sign a NDA about her affair with his client. However, it appears that Michael Cohen broke his end of the NDA by publicly confessing to paying her. Consequently, Stormy Daniels is now shopping around for venues to broadcast her side of the story– for a nice amount of cash, I am sure.

The second woman who has confirmed that she had an affair with Trump is Karen McDougal, a former playboy nude model. To be honest, neither of these two stories about Trump’s extra-martial escapades are exactly new. Rumors about imminent public disclosure of both these (and other) stories have been floating around the internet since Trump became a front-runner during the 2016 republican presidential primary. While neither of these two women publicly came out with their stories in 2016, it is highly doubtful that such disclosure at that time would have changed the outcome of that election.

Face it.. Trump’s interest in attractive young women not currently married to him has been a fixture of pop culture for over thirty years. As long as he did not physically force them to have sex, even the disclosure that he made those women dress up to resemble his eldest daughter would not have a worthwhile negative effect on his public image. In fact, the public would be far more shocked to find out that Trump was a one-woman man than if photos and videos of him having sex with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal at the same time were released. So far, I have largely restated known and obvious facts about this situation. Let us now try to analyze the situation as we understand it today and try to make some predictions about where things might end up.

1] Trump’s current wife, Melania, has almost certainly known about her husband’s philandering since the very beginning of their relationship. It is fairly well understood by the public that her marriage to Trump occurred largely because he was a billionaire and she was a single model past her late-20s. She got to play a billionaire’s wife and he got a trophy wife who was decades younger than him. Many of you might have noticed that their relationship appears to be far closer to quid pro quo business interaction than anything resembling a typical marriage. Then again, it is what it is.

But, will Melania leave Donald before his first presidential term is over? Perhaps.. but not because of his philandering. The simple fact is that she is a nobody without her marriage to Trump. While she could certainly live a very comfortable existence after divorcing Trump, it would pale in comparison to the status and attention she has received since marrying him. Without him, she is just another wannabe NYC socialite with an European accent, lots of plastic surgery and a face-full of Botox.

2] One of the main idea promoted by websites and YT channels about “Game” or the “PUA” lifestyle is that male looks and style matter a lot. While I do not deny that looks do matter for men, it is clear that status, money and fame matter as much if not more than looks. An old tall obese guy with an atrocious hair weave seems to have no problems getting fairly attractive and much younger women to have sex with him. More importantly, they do not care that he is already married or not buying them unusually expensive gifts. How many men who resemble Trump but work in “middle-management” at some faceless company in your local suburban office park would get the time of day from these same women?

In other words, Trumps’s success with women is largely a consequence of him being a loud rich asshole with some talent for inserting himself into mediocre controversies. And guess what.. he is not alone in that segment. If you have been alive for more than two decades, you must have seen many examples of this strategy succeeding- albeit on a smaller scale. The simple and somewhat unpleasant fact is that possessing money, status, fame and the willingness to be brazen about them will always beat looks, dress style, devotion, kindness and all that other bullshit which many men still seem to believe in.

Will write another one about this topic based on comments and future developments.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Rise of NeoLiberalism in West During the 1968-2008 Era: Part 2

February 15, 2018 14 comments

A few months ago, in the first part of this series, I wrote about a confluence of factors responsible for very high rates of support for neoliberal ideas and policies among whites in USA during the 1968-2008 era. To make a long story short, white support for neoliberalism (in USA) was largely due to a combination of post-WW2 prosperity, desire for continuing racial discrimination as well as a delusion that people in the ‘rest of the world’ could never catch up with them. As we all know, things did not turn out as expected towards the end of that era- and it has been clearly downhill for them since the early 2000s.

Neoliberalism, did however, spread past the boundaries of USA into other countries- especially those in western Europe. However, most popular accounts of neoliberalism tend to ignore, or give very little attention to, its spread in European countries (other than in UK). But why? Well.. there are some reasons. Firstly, the spread of neoliberalism into the institutions and popular psyche of those countries was never as thorough as in USA. Even today, people in those countries enjoy universal healthcare coverage, a largely functional social safety net, affordable higher education and many other things which CONservative idiots in USA believe to be ‘pipe-dreams’.

So why did neoliberalism spread, albeit in a limited manner, in western Europe? But perhaps more importantly, why was it never able to gain the sort of popular following it achieved in USA (except, maybe in UK)? Why were politicians, elites and capitalists in those countries never able to successfully push for neoliberal changes of the magnitude seen in USA? Why did neoliberalism fail to change the belief systems of a majority in those countries, unlike the USA? How could corporations in those countries remain relevant and profitable without jumping on the Anglo-American neoliberal project? What, exactly, was different over there?

1] The first reason for the relative inability of neoliberalism to spread in Western Europe comes down to a simple, if very unpleasant, fact about the nature of USA as a society and nation-state. Modern west-European nations states, unlike USA, have never been racially segregated societies. Also, unlike USA, they never allowed race-based slavery to occur on their own soil. Consequently, one of the most important boosters for public support of neoliberalism based policies such as shredding the social safety net, job precarization and union busting (in post-WW2 era) never existed in those countries. USA until 1968, in contrast, practiced legalized race-based Apartheid in a form identical to the now defunct pre-1994 state of South Africa.

Now, some of you might say that it has something to do with “racial diversity causing low trust societies”. But was that really the case? Widespread public acceptance of neoliberalism in USA came in the era before large-scale non-white immigration. That is right! The population of USA was somewhere between 85-90% white as late as the early 1980s. Reagan was elected in 1980 by an electorate that was close to 90% white. So why did they vote for him? In case you do not remember, he won because he promised to restore law and order (screw over “uppity” blacks) and make america great- like “it used to be”.

Which brings us to an odd question.. why was a self-identified and dominant (at that time) group making up almost 9/10ths of the population so concerned about the quest for equality by a historically marginalized group making up the other 1/10th? While it is possible to come up with many clever sounding reasons to explain this behavior, the most straightforward, if tasteless, explanation is that a significant percentage of 9/10ths enjoyed screwing over the 1/10th for reasons that had nothing to do with self-interest or money. Maybe they were getting off by screwing more vulnerable people- which leads to the next reason for Europe’s partial immunity to neoliberalism.

2] Most people looking at Europe today forget that it was once a hotbed of nationalism, racism and support for mass murder at a level that makes USA today look tame in comparison. But then WW1, numerous conflicts after WW1 and WW2 happened. While these wars and conflicts killed tens of millions of people in that part of the world, they really cut down the numbers of young CONservative minded men (also known as ‘useful idiots’) in those countries. Many of you might have noticed that the strongest non-rich supporters for neoliberalism in USA are almost always white men of average intelligence and mediocre ability who are delusional enough to believe that they too can become rich by following and defending the rich.

In contrast to that, american casualties in WW1 and WW2 were (sadly) minimal and too many men of a CONservative mindset, average intelligence and mediocre ability were left alive after those wars. It certainly did not help that post-WW2 economic growth and prosperity reinforced their beliefs about things “ought to be”. That is why USA as a society embraced neoliberalism so thoroughly when it was near the peak of its relative prosperity in the 1960s and 1970s. It was easy money, not hard times and non-white immigration, which made white american society embrace neoliberalism. Remember, Reagan was elected as governor of a very prosperous California in the 1960s, before he was elected president in 1980.

Even today, older white voters who grew up during the “good times” in USA are far more likely to vote for republican or establishment democrat candidates (aka neoliberals). The point I am trying to make is that the lack of large-scale casualties in WW2 along with immediate post-WW2 prosperity for even the most average and mediocre cannon-fodder is why neoliberalism took such firm roots in USA. That is also why even larger west-European countries which took heavy casualties in both world wars, such as France and Germany, ended up becoming and remaining more socialistic after WW2.

In the next part of this series, I will share my thoughts on why neoliberalism in European countries took off in the private sector after the late-1980s, but was not able to start dominating it till the early 2000s. Will also write about why UK went neoliberal about a decade earlier, and far more systematically, than neighboring countries.

What do you think? Comments?