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 Book ReviewsText View
In a new book, “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed,” I argue that Donald J. Trump is the quintessential post-constitutional candidate. In the “Opening Statement,” titled “Welcome To The Post-Constitutional Jungle,” oldies will recognize a nod to the Guns N' Roses classic, “Welcome to the Jungle,” as well as to broadcaster Mark Levin's coinage. We inhabit what Levin has termed a post-constitutional America. The libertarian (and classical conservative) ideal—where the chains that tether us to an increasingly tyrannical national government are loosened and power is devolved once again to the smaller units of society—is a long way away. Where the law of the jungle prevails, the options are limited: Do Americans get a benevolent authoritarian to undo the legacies of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and those who went before? Or, does the ill-defined entity called The People continue to submit to Demopublican diktats, past and present? The quintessential post-constitutional candidate, Trump’s candidacy is for the age when the Constitution itself is unconstitutional. Like it or not, the... Read More
We who seek to promote rational immigration policy have set out on a road both long and hard. Arrayed against us is the mighty political-commercial power ofcrony capitalism which has, in the post-industrial West, filled the vacuum left by the collapse of socialist ideology. The culture of our age is also against us. In North America, immigration romanticism—famine ships,huddled masses, sweatshops—runs strong. Layered on this today is a peculiar racial death-wish afflicting white people everywhere in the West: a sickly blend of ethnomasochism and xenophilia, colored by guiltover slavery and colonialism. However, the gods of Reason and Truth do not send us unarmed to face the enemy. We have some impressive assets of our own. Among them are two brilliant polemical journalists, both female. By vigor of presentation, force of personality, and good instinctive judgment (better than mine, alas) as to how much reality humankind can bear, these two ladies have managed to keep themselves acceptable to major TV and publishing outlets. Ann Coulter struck lightning through the fog of... Read More
The Disasters of Neoliberalism
The following is a transcript of CounterPunch Radio – Episode 19(originally aired September 21, 2015). Eric Draitser interviews Michael Hudson. Eric Draitser: Today I have the privilege of introducing Michael Hudson to the program. Doctor Hudson is the author of the new bookKilling the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy, available in print on Amazon and an e-version on CounterPunch. Michael Hudson, welcome to CounterPunch Radio. Michael Hudson: It’s good to be here. ED: Thanks so much for coming on. As I mentioned already, the title of your book – Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy – is an apt metaphor. So parasitic finance capital is really what you’re writing about. You explain that it essentially survives by feeding off what we might call the real economy. Could you draw out that analogy a little bit? What does that mean? How does finance behave like a parasite toward the rest of the economy? MH: Economists for the last... Read More
What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me About the American Empire
[Republished from April 1, 2008] With an occupying army waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, with military bases and corporate bullying in every part of the world, there is hardly a question any more of the existence of an American Empire. Indeed, the once fervent denials have turned into a boastful, unashamed embrace of the idea. However, the very idea that the United States was an empire did not occur to me until after I finished my work as a bombardier with the Eighth Air Force in the Second World War, and came home. Even as I began to have second thoughts about the purity of the "Good War," even after being horrified by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even after rethinking my own bombing of towns in Europe, I still did not put all that together in the context of an American "Empire." I was conscious, like everyone, of the British Empire and the other imperial powers of Europe, but the United States was not seen in the same way. When,... Read More
It’s Safe to Be Paranoid in the U.S.
Given the cluttered landscape of the last 14 years, can you even faintly remember the moment when the Berlin Wall came down, the Cold War ended in a stunned silence of shock and triumph in Washington, Eastern Europe was freed, Germany unified, and the Soviet Union vanished from the face of the Earth? At that epochal moment, six centuries of imperial rivalries ended. Only one mighty power was left. There hadn’t been a moment like it in historical memory: a single “hyperpower” with a military force beyond compare looming over a planet without rivals. Under the circumstances, what couldn’t Washington hope for? The eternal domination of the Middle East and all that oil? A planetary Pax Americana for generations to come? Why not? After all, not even the Romans and the British at the height of their empires had experienced a world quite like this one. Now, leap a quarter of a century to the present and note the rising tide of paranoia in this country and the litany of... Read More
How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
Let’s start with the geopolitical Big Bang you know nothing about, the one that occurred just two weeks ago. Here are its results: from now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations -- the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union), the AIIB (the new Chinese-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), and the NDB (the BRICS' New Development Bank) -- whose acronyms you’re unlikely to recognize either. Still, they represent an emerging new order in Eurasia. Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi have been actively establishing interlocking security guarantees. They have been simultaneously calling the Atlanticist bluff when it comes to the endless drumbeat of attention given to the flimsy meme of Iran’s "nuclear weapons program." And a few days before the Vienna nuclear negotiations finally culminated in an agreement, all of this came together at... Read More
A review of Ron Paul's exploration of the American malaise
Dr. Ron Paul has written many books but I would highly recommend his latest, Swords into Plowshares: A Lifetime in Wartime and a Future of Peace and Prosperity, for those who are particularly interested in how his political views developed and what his assessment of today’s political landscape might be. As the title suggests, the focus of the book is on turning America’s apparent love affair with foreign wars into something much more responsible, notably a nation self-confident and secure enough to desist from intervening in other peoples’ quarrels and turning instead to the development of the type of liberty rich republic envisioned by our country’s founders. I have long been a great admirer of Dr. Paul and was, full disclosure, one of his foreign policy advisers when he ran for the Republican Party nomination for president in 2008. I have always respected the clarity of his vision and his willingness to address issues that other politicians avoid with an unflinching honesty. Indeed, during his long tenure in Congress he... Read More
Two historical summits are taking place this week: the crisis talk in France and Germany about the Greek crisis and the simultaneous meeting of the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries in Ufa, Russia. These two meetings could hardly be more different. The Eurobureaucrats are scrambling to prevent a domino effect in which Greece would leave the Eurozone and set a precedent for other Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain or even France. But there is really much more at stake here than the comparatively small Greek debts, the solvency of European banks or even the future of the Euro. What is really at stake is the credibility and future of the entire “Euro project” and thus the future of the oligarchy which created it. The EU elites have put an immense amount of political and personal capital into the creation of what one could call a “Bilderberger Europe”, one run by the elites and on behalf of the USA promoted New World Order. Just like the US elites... Read More
Have US tactics played into Islamist hands?
The “Islamic State” is stronger than it was when it was first proclaimed on 29 June last year, shortly after Isis fighters captured much of northern and western Iraq. Its ability to go on winning victories was confirmed on 17 May this year in Iraq, when it seized Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and again four days later in Syria, when it took Palmyra, one of the most famous cities of antiquity and at the centre of modern transport routes. The twin victories show how Isis has grown in strength: it can now simultaneously attack on multiple fronts, hundreds of miles apart, a capacity it did not have a year ago. In swift succession, its forces defeated the Iraqi and Syrian armies and, equally telling, neither army was able to respond with an effective counter-attack. Supposedly these successes, achieved by Isis during its summer offensive in 2014, should no longer be feasible in the face of air strikes by the US-led coalition. These began last August in Iraq and... Read More
Down the Iraqi Rabbit Hole (Again)
There is a peculiar form of insanity in which a veneer of rationality distracts attention from the madness lurking just beneath the surface. When Alice dove down her rabbit hole to enter a place where smirking cats offered directions, ill-mannered caterpillars dispensed advice, and Mock Turtles constituted the principal ingredient in Mock Turtle soup, she experienced something of the sort. Yet, as the old adage goes, truth can be even stranger than fiction. For a real-life illustration of this phenomenon, one need look no further than Washington and its approach to national security policy. Viewed up close, it all seems to hang together. Peer out of the rabbit hole and the sheer lunacy quickly becomes apparent. Consider this recent headline: “U.S. to Ship 2,000 Anti-Tank Missiles To Iraq To Help Fight ISIS.” The accompanying article describes a Pentagon initiative to reinforce Iraq’s battered army with a rush order of AT-4s. A souped-up version of the old bazooka, the AT-4 is designed to punch holes through armored vehicles. Taken on its... Read More
*The past after the word* If science is hard, history is harder. Harder in that the goal is to understand what happened in ages which are fading away like evanescent ghosts of our imagination. But we must be cautious. We are a great storytelling species, seduced by narrative. The sort of empirically informed and rigorous analysis which is the hallmark of modern scholarship is a special and distinctive thing, even if it is usually packaged in turgid and impenetrable prose. It is too pat to state that history was born fully formed with the work of Thucydides (or Sima Qian). In fact Thucydides' pretensions at historical objectivity despite obvious perspective and bias lend credence to the assertions of those who make the case that the past is fiction (in this way Herodotus may actually have been more honest). The temptation is always great to paint an edifying myth which gives succor to national pride or flatters our contemporary self-image. The fact that modern nation-states in the technological age have vigorous... Read More
Every society has people of limited ability who need employment and historically many of these folk worked the land. It was a simple and effective solution: you don’t have to be especially smart, even industrious, to herd cows, pick fruit or otherwise help put food on somebody’s table. Nor did society have to spend millions to train farm workers and provide them with modern-day benefits. Alas, thanks to the mechanization of agriculture and the growth of a world-wide economy, this handy employment option is dwindling. In 1840 the US population was about 17 million and approximately 9 million worked in agriculture (69%). By 1900 population rose to 76 million but the percent in agriculture fell to 58%, still lots and lots of jobs. By 1930, the proportion in agriculture had declined to 21% and by 1990, it was 2.6%. There are now 3 million employed in farming, one-third the figure of 1840. So, where can we find gainful employment for those who once milked cows? The glib answer is “send... Read More
Life in the New American Minimum-Wage Economy
There are many sides to whistleblowing. The one that most people don't know about is the very personal cost, prison aside, including the high cost of lawyers and the strain on family relations, that follows the decision to risk it all in an act of conscience. Here's a part of my own story I've not talked about much before. At age 53, everything changed. Following my whistleblowing first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, I was run out of the good job I had held for more than 20 years with the U.S. Department of State. As one of its threats, State also took aim at the pension and benefits I'd earned, even as it forced me into retirement. Would my family and I lose everything I'd worked for as part of the retaliation campaign State was waging? I was worried. That pension was the thing I’d counted on to provide for us and it remained in... Read More
America's Role in the Creation of the State of Israel
The immediate precursor to today’s pro-Israel lobby began in 1939[1] under the leadership of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, originally from Lithuania. He created the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), which by 1943 had acquired a budget of half a million dollars at a time when a nickel bought a loaf of bread.[2] In addition to this money, Zionists [adherents of “political Zionism,” a movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine] had become influential in creating a fundraising umbrella organization, the United Jewish Appeal, in 1939[3], giving them access to the organization’s gargantuan financial resources: $14 million in 1941, $150 million by 1948. This was four times more than Americans contributed to the Red Cross and was the equivalent of approximately $1.5 billion today.[4] With its extraordinary funding, AZEC embarked on a campaign to target every sector of American society, ordering that local committees be set up in every Jewish community in the nation [for decades the larger majority of Jewish Americans had been either non-Zionits or actively anti-Zionist]. In... Read More
Why would a consummate narcissist snap a "selfie" of himself at the funeral of Nelson Mandela? How was it that a random gesticulator---and a very cool, creative guy, if you ask me---officiated as a sign-language interpreter at the Mandela memorial? What could possibly have driven the handshake between dictator numero uno (the uncrowned king of the killer drones) and dictator No. 2 (Raul Castro)? These are some of the weighty---evidently inexplicable---questions with which mainstream media are currently preoccupied in their ongoing Mandela monomania. My homeland South-Africa is a dominant-party state where might makes right. However, due to the same malfunctioning media's remedial revisionism, a "Rambo Nation" has been marketed to the world as the mythical "Rainbow Nation." To the American media, mining Mandela's legacy has meant repeating the man's fortune-cookie profundities and warmed-over wisdom. RT TV, however---"Cross Talk," in particular---has endeavored to dig deeper into the deceased leader's legacy. The price I paid this week for smashing RT's "Cross-Talk" set, so to speak, was this: Despite twice providing producers with... Read More
A Trip Through the Negev Desert Leads to the Heart of Israel’s National Nightmare
From the podium of the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seamlessly blended frightening details of Iranian evildoing with images of defenseless Jews “bludgeoned” and “left for dead” by anti-Semites in nineteenth century Europe. Aimed at U.S. and Iranian moves towards diplomacy and a war-weary American public, Netanyahu’s gloomy tirade threatened to cast him as a desperate, diminished figure. Though it was poorly received in the U.S., alienatingeven a few of his stalwart pro-Israel allies, his jeremiad served a greater purpose, deflecting attention from his country's policies towards the group he scarcely mentioned: the Palestinians. Back in November 1989, while serving as a junior minister in the Likud-led governing coalition of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, a younger Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan University, “Israel should have taken advantage of the suppression of demonstrations [at China’s Tiananmen Square], when the world’s attention was focused on what was happening in that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the Territories. However, to my regret, they... Read More
Much of the Western world just honored the millions of soldiers fallen in the two world wars. But we also need to look beyond postwar myths and understand the tragic political mistakes that sent these soldiers to die in wars that might have been avoided. In his powerful new book, Hitler, Churchill and the Unnecessary War, veteran politician and author Pat Buchanan challenges many historic taboos by claiming that Winston Churchill plunged Britain and its empire, including Canada, into wars whose outcome was disastrous for all concerned. Other writers, me included, have made the same point for decades, but Buchanan has marshaled a formidable array of facts and historians to support his case. For me, World War I was the most tragic 20th Century conflict. It was triggered by Serbia and Austro-Hungary. After Russia and France began gearing for war, Germany was dragged into the conflict by the doomsday machine of troop mobilization schedules. Britain could have halted the war, or let the continental powers fight until they came to... Read More
Stephen J. Sniegoski’s The Transparent Cabal would be the book of the year in a less manipulated society than our own. I suggest as much in my introduction; and former Congressman Paul Findley, who wrote the foreword, lavishes equally high praise on this monument to diligence. Almost as interesting as the book’s content are certain facts about it: for example, that the only publisher the author could find was the far rightwing Catholic IHS, and that political magazines, including “conservative” ones professing to be critical of our invasion of Iraq, would not touch Steve’s work with a ten-foot pole. The question has occurred to me why the attack on AIPAC by J. J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt made a prodigious media splash, while Sniegoski’s study, although it is selling well, has trouble finding reviewers. As I point out in my introductory comments, Steve’s monograph revisits some of the same themes as the earlier work, and it is also better focused. Unlike Mearsheimer-Walt, this criticism of American Zionists seems consistently packed... Read More
The Greek historian Plutarch bequeathed to later generations a comparative study of Greek and Roman heroes known as Parallel Lives. This book was a favorite of one of my subjects, the very recently departed Samuel Francis (1947-2005). He gave it as a gift to my younger son. Plutarch's masterpiece is intended to teach us about human defects and heroic virtues. The groupings include Caesar and Alexander,Theseus and Romulus, Demosthenes and Cicero, Lycurgus and Numa,and Solon and Publicola. All of the dyads culminate in sugkriseis, critical comparisons. The author, as he tells us, does "not shrink back [ouk apokneteon]" from chastising as well as praising his subjects. It is in the spirit of this ancient experiment that I am looking at two political journalists who have influenced my life: Francis and the still intermittently active William F. Buckley. The source materials for the two are quantitatively different. Whereas Buckley has published a Literary Autobiography and has been the subject of numerous biographical studies since the 1970s, Francis is known, beside his... Read More