Books

In most studies of the United States government, critical components—such as class power, the nature of the economic system, and the impact of powerful commercial interests on the political system—are left out. Indeed, many popular texts and college-level critiques which claim to explain American politics do so with little consideration of the most important forces that move the political system. In order to more fully understand American government, this book examines the political and economic dynamics of the United States political system which, in turn, helps to shape the political, economic, and social reality for hundreds of millions of people in the United States and billions more around the world.

There have been more than 100 private military firms (PMFs) operating in Iraq during the Iraq War (2003-present) employing ten-times the number of contractors than during the Persian Gulf War of 1991, with some of the top-earners such as Kellogg, Brown, and Root “earning” federal contracts in excess of $20 billion dollars.  With close ties to the federal government the existence PMFs has made it possible for the United States to carryout a policy of war in Iraq which has seen an ever-decreasing amount of support by the American people and has never been formally "declared" as required by the Constitution.

A book of poems and short stories dedicated to all those who have loved, lost, suffered, and died. And, to all those who will.

Articles

Neoliberalism (as is true with capitalism itself) places into motion the most basic law of wealth accumulation and poverty creation through a simple formula: the owning class pays the working class less than the value of the commodity or service that they produce. Even if there are different degrees of wealth distribution between companies and countries, there are no exceptions to the relationship between the owning class and the working class. The more capital the owning class takes for itself the less there is for everyone else.  To not see this is to be awake but not see the sun. However, when the relationship between those that own and those that work is not taught in our schools and universities, revealed by our news media, nor whispered in the once hallowed institutions of our government then it is clear that a conspiracy of silence in understanding power has reached our culture. In so doing, our society has lost its ability to generate fundamental truths about itself from the very institutions that are supposed to provide them. Nevertheless, global capitalism (and one of its recent modifications—neoliberalism) with its opposing classes, remains the dominant economic system embraced or imposed upon nearly the whole of the world. Aside from its unequal distribution of class power, this system of capital accumulation has caused a whole series of national and planetary concerns.

In ancient Rome, Consul Marcus Licinius Crassus (115 BC–53 BC), one of the wealthiest men in Roman history who put down Spartacus’ (111 BC–71 BC) slave revolt and made his money through real estate speculation helped turn the Roman republic into an empire. The United States is already the world’s empire—more powerful than Rome ever was—and today we have our own Crassus who made his money in the exact same way as the wealthy Roman Consul once did. At the moment, we watch as he and his party do everything they can to undo the last good parts of our republic and turn the empire into the most powerful and brutal one ever known to man. Without a doubt, this demagogue who is so often mistaken as a populist by the media and the people, is trying to reverse the whole idea of Robin Hood by stealing from the poor to give to the rich while growing the military to heights never seen before and is daily making sure that he will go down as the most despised (and possibly the most dangerous) president in history.

The great Greek philosopher, Plato, more than 2,000 years ago, argued that a democracy will eventually deteriorate into an oligarchy (or a plutocracy, i.e., a society that is ruled by the rich, where wealth is valued over goodness) which, in time, will further degenerate into a dictatorship. Unfortunately, with the election of Donald Trump, the great-ancient philosopher seems to have been proven correct.

What are the consequences of our republic being in the grasp of economically powerful forces?  Whether it is global warming, income inequality, privatized healthcare, financial bailouts, a military budget that is second to none or an ever-growing national debt, rule by the rich has almost always increased hardships for the American people and often people around world.  While seeming to be separate problems, the above list of concerns are all the result of an economic system which has one single-minded ambition.  To be sure, the capitalist economic system (and today its more extreme manifestation, Neoliberalism) has only one drive, one impulse, one pursuit – the accumulation of capital.  Without doubt, the economic system is structured toward the gathering of more and more wealth for those who own the commanding heights of the economy.   This quest for evermore riches, to accumulate more and more capital is the only virtue (or vice) of the system.  In fact, that is the problem with capitalism, it has no other ethic. 

Today, with the impact of that system being felt around the world and with US troops spread across the entire planet to enforce it – a thoroughly fooled and frustrated American working class put into power a mean-spirited man with no shame who has every institutional (and personal) requirement necessary to become the first American dictator.  Without a doubt, we now have the worst kind of man with the worst kind of power sitting atop the entire political and economic system, itself.  Yet, it is possibly even worse than that.  To be sure, Trump with his hands on “the wheel of history,” may very well bring down the whole idea of the United States and what it means to be “an American.”   And, at the same time this “New America” – this vicious, violent, and stupid beast that is unfolding before our eyes – will replace not only the dying American republic but will make the empire more powerful and more dangerous than it has ever been before.  

Though news to some commentators and scholars, wealth and poverty are natural consequences of global capitalism functioning exactly as it is designed to do. The more the owners of the commanding heights of the economy take for themselves, the less there is for everyone else. Though poorly understood or even discussed throughout much of US society, this planetary-wide system generates two basic classes: the owning class and the working class. Either you own the productive forces of the economy or you work for someone that does. And, the relationship between the two classes is exploitative by nature as the owning class lives off the surplus value (or profit) created by the working class. Indeed, though almost never acknowledged in the media or even at the university the wealth of capitalist society is produced by working people. Yet, they do not enjoy the fruits of their labor. Instead, those who produce nothing (and often do nothing to add to the value of the commodity produced, i.e., the owning class) reap the lion’s share of the wealth that is created by the workers. Just as the slave owner sat on his porch drinking tea while the slaves labored in the fields to make him wealthy, the capitalist sits in his office while the workers, often in distant lands, labor for mere dollars a day to create great wealth for him. That is how the system works. The wealth generated by workers for owners may vary but not the relationship between the two classes.

No country on the planet is untouched by the United States government.  In fact, the US has the most powerful military on Earth and arguably the most powerful military in the history of the world.  There is no more important “affair of the state” during the life of a nation than its participation in war.  Yet instead of defending the country, the United States government often uses the military, the CIA, and a variety of international organizations to intervene in foreign affairs on behalf of powerful US based multinational corporations often to the detriment of the great majority of the people in the United States and billions of people around the world.  

Though the politics are ugly, the heart of our nation’s troubles is more than just a crass (and, possibly treasonous) political leader. Instead, the driving force behind the existing government’s willful ignorance and their desire to privatize seemingly everything is rooted in the guiding principle of the capitalist economic system itself: the accumulation of capital. We used to know this. It was taught in one of our most sacred institutions – the church. We knew it as, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” But, we seem to have forgotten this lesson. Indeed, though its purpose and contradictions are poorly understood by our society, making sense of capitalism is fundamental to understanding the current state of the world.

Make no doubt about it, it is both the rich and this radical version of the Republican Party (the Democrats aren’t much better) that are bankrupting the republic—and it is Trump, this “man against the people”—who is the most grotesque and extreme example of global capitalism and American power. Yet, even with him, what has become crystal clear to anyone with eyes to see is that his greatest threat to the world is not that of a man of wealth but instead a man who operates the levers of the most powerful nation to have ever existed with the mind of a child. If we do nothing to end the rule of this modern-day Crassus and the American Optimates who are selling us all out then when the republic’s downfall finally does come there may well again be a bitter harvest—just as there was in the mid-1800s—for us all to reap. This time instead of slave against master it will be a massive-sized American poor that will be forced to rip the state and the productive forces of our society away from the rich and give them back to the people.

In the United States the American working class has seen itself become increasingly involved in fighting imperialistic wars abroad, financing a growing military budget, and losing its social safety net at home yet at the same time regularly acting politically inconsistent with their own class interests.  This has been to the gain of US-based multinational corporations and to the detriment of working people.  Until the working class in the United States realizes that the predominantly corporate-controlled state does not serve their personal and class interests they will not see any significant improvement in their lives.   On the contrary, as long as working people continue to support the two major parties they can expect to see many more years of corporate dominance of the United States political, economic and social system.  The primary issue that working people must address to resolve this problem is the question of false consciousness.

Edward Gibbon concluded in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that one of the marks of the decaying culture of ancient Rome was the “widening disparity between very rich and very poor.” The disparity between rich and poor in the United States is as great as it has been since the “Roaring Twenties.”  The ever-increasing concentration of wealth during that time-period into the hands of the few ultimately gave way to the “Wall Street Crash of 1929.”  The “Crash” was followed by a long-lasting global-wide depression.  The hardships that came with it, overwhelmingly, were experienced by working people and the poor in the United States and around the world.  In fact notably, and maybe most concerning for all, the Great Depression did not relent until the global economy was reignited by World War II.

© 2018 Jeremy Cloward          Pleasant Hill, CA 94523          (925)-323-1452