We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, August 6, 2018

Some thoughts on liberal democracy as a deceptive term

Click here to access article by Jim O’Reilly from his blog Comments on Global Political Economy. (Unfortunately, I am not a natural writer. There was much needed editing to clarify my arguments at 9:55 PM CT and 8:35 AM CT on 8/7/2018. So, if you have read my commentary before these edits, I recommend that you read my commentary again.)

This British born and educated American has had a career in banking, and knows about the key role that bankers have played in the capitalist era. In this article he reflects on the frequent use of the term "liberal democracy" and what Ishay Landa's important book entitled The Sorcerer's Apprentice has to say about it. Landa shows how the capitalist class with its ideology of liberalism has attempted throughout its era of hegemony to pursue two basic conflicting strategies--economic and political liberalism. O'Reilly quotes Landa:
Political liberalism splits apart from economic liberalism and effectively undermines it, since the logical economic upshot of democracy is not capitalism but its antithesis, communism.
Ideology, as has been used by ruling classes throughout the history of humans (roughly the last 10,000 years--roughly 2% of human existence), is nothing more than an attempt to legitimate class rule by a tiny minority over the vast majority. Since fascists and their ideologues started appearing in the 20th century with their attacks on liberals and liberalism, Landa reveals that the ruling capitalist classes have had a love/hate relationship with them, but mostly that of accommodation. (Initially Anglo-American capitalists loved fascists; but when Germany and Japan attacked first Britain and then the USA in their efforts to build their own empires, they represented a major threat to the British Empire and their friends. This forced the Anglo-American ruling capitalist classes into a collaboration with their arch-enemy the Soviet Union.)

Landa in his book exposes fascists for what they are: they intended to deal with this contradiction in liberalism by destroying political liberalism. But when they began constructing self-justifying ideologies, they had considerable difficulty. He examines the writings of various fascist ideologues and finds gross deceptions and contradictions as they go to great lengths trying to pretend that their ideology serves the people as a whole, rather than strictly the capitalist class.

On the other hand, Landa likewise exposes the deceptions of liberalism (to fool the vast majority of people) and shows how their ideology evolved over time from the early stages when they were still battling the rule of feudal authorities until the 20th century when they were confronted by the increasing strength of democratic forces that political liberalism had spawned: the rise of unions and the spread of suffrage to greater parts of Western societies. 

Although the author, O'Reilly, of this article uses Landa's research to bolster his thesis that the term "liberal democracy" is a contradiction, unfortunately at end of this article he prefers the term  "oligarchy", the term that simply means rule by the powerful few rather than the much more accurate term "capitalism": rule by a specific oligarchy--by capitalists. This current term (oligarchy) has become fashionable with many political writers and analysts because it obscures the fact that in our age the term capitalist ruling class means a powerful few who are the dominant owners of financial, industrial, and commercial property. I can only imagine that this error of O'Reilly is psychologically necessary to defend his life-long career in banking.

Since WWII and the ascendance of the US-led transnational capitalist Empire there has been a dearth of ideological writings while, at the same time, there has been an abundance of pro-capitalist propaganda. This was, I believe, intentional because of the confusion about liberalism. It appears that our masters wanted to end the efforts to construct a self-justifying ideology. In 1992 this was accomplished formally by a member of the ruling class in a book entitled The End of History and the Last Man by a prominent neoconservative, Francis Fukuyama, who argued that the worldwide spread of liberal democracies and free market capitalism of the West was the end point of humanity's sociocultural evolution. Nowadays, writing about ideology in conventional media, and much of the left media, has become passé if not taboo, rather like farting in public.    

I don't know where Landa is going with this analysis because I am only half way through the book. However, it appears to lend solid support for my view that fascism is always the final stage of capitalism because sooner or later the capitalist class must turn to the means of violence, or the threat of violence, to maintain their rule.