Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dissidents in American Politics

The year 2016 had become the most depressing and ominous Presidential election year since 1860. Then out of the fog came Michelle Obama....

This is a face and voice of a 20th Century American telling 20th Century Americans what we should already know, that 2016 is the year we decide what life will be like in 2050 for Americans age 16 and younger - telling us that the focus of our nation over the next decade cannot be about the needs of people who voted for Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan.

As Hillary Clinton says:
“Stronger Together” is not just a lesson from our history. It's a guiding principle for the country we've always been and the future we're going to build. So let's be stronger together. Looking to the future with courage and confidence. Building a better tomorrow for our beloved children and our beloved country.

In contrast, in 2016 the 20th Century Republican Party has been declared dead and reborn. Longtime GOP strategist for President George W. Bush and for Senator John McCain, Nicolle Wallace, recently bemoaned that Republican Party candidate is "a man who believes in protectionism, isolationism, and nativism."

(As an aside, we need to note that the Democratic Party survived only because the outsider who attacked it was unsuccessful. Bernie Sanders was never a Democrat and has declared he will continue to serve in the Senate as an independent. Political parties are, of course, private organization whose members and staffs work hard to elect majorities in the Senate, House, and state legislatures where public policy is made.)

One can't help but ponder, to consider the historical context, about how too many 20th Century American dissident voters (and yes, all current voters were born in the 20th Century)  brought America back to where we are today.

It is not like vocal dissidents are a new thing, but what we've seen this year is the worst that is embedded within the American soul. This, at least partially, is the result of an unforgivable ignorance of American and world history, particularly political and economic history.

Voters' attitudes are painfully reminiscent of the "Know Nothing" movement of the 1850's which arose in response to an influx of  Irish and German Catholics and other immigrants, thus reflecting nativist and anti-Catholic sentiment (though in California it was based on opposition to Chinese immigration). It resulted in former President Millard Fillmore running for President in 1856 on the American Party ticket, winning 23% of the popular vote and carrying one state.

It may seem like this is just what happens in America. But history has details that the broad strokes don't tell you.

Yes, if you add to Nicolle Wallace's words "protectionism", "isolationism", and "nativism" the anti-Muslim anti-Hispanic bigotry of Donald Trump's rhetoric and you might think you have Millard Fillmore reborn, just with Islam substituted for Catholicism.

Except that unlike Trump, Fillmore was a knowledgeable, experienced public official who, when it came to government administration and public policy, "had a clue" as they say.

Prior to his run for President on the American Party ticket, Fillmore was an Inspector of the New York Militia's 47th Brigade with the rank of Major, an attorney, a New York State Assemblyman, a Congressman as a Whig Party candidate, a Vice-President as a Whig, and a President as a Whig after the death of President Zachary Taylor.

In Trump we have as a major party nominee someone that spent his life as a con man who gained notoriety as a reality show host. A reality show host....

This happened because we are in a time in which our political discussion has been reduced to the divisiveness of uninformed, dismissive, content-free, frequently hate-filled tweets.

We have literally created in the form of "apps" the mechanism to amplify the worst in ourselves, the worst in America, creating the worst kind of dissidents.

Because those "apps" - whether they are tweets, Facebook posts, or news web sites - generate corporate revenues, they proliferate becoming the source of "The Conventional Wisdom" instead of truthful facts.

For those who do not understand the term "The Conventional Wisdom", economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his 1958 book The Affluent Society prepended "The" to the phrase "conventional wisdom" to emphasize its meaning narrowed to those commonplace beliefs that easily became acceptable and comfortable to society, thus enhancing their ability in the minds of people to resist facts that might diminish or belie them.

In contrast to tweets, I can only offer "for the record" my ruminations on early 21st Century American politics in an historical context, adapting an early-20th-Century-magazine-article-style long-form format divided into 10 more long, though  hopefully provocative and/or informative, blog posts.

Below is a linking "table of contents":
  1. Dissidents in American Politics: "Left", "Right", "Conservative" and "Liberal" are Meaningless Labels
  2. Dissidents in American Politics: 21st Century Political Divisions
  3. Dissidents in American Politics: The Authoritarian U.S. President
  4. Dissidents in American Politics: Who are we angry at?
  5. Dissidents in American Politics: The Shareholder Capitalist Class
  6. Dissidents in American Politics: The Academic Oligarchist Class
  7. Dissidents in American Politics: The Romantic & Mythical in Politics
  8. Dissidents in American Politics: Shareholder Capitalists versus Academic Oligarchists
  9. Dissidents in American Politics: The Prospect of Revolution and Tyranny In the United States
  10. Dissidents in American Politics: Beliefs, Facts, and  Future Shock

Monday, July 18, 2016

1. Dissidents in American Politics: "Left", "Right", "Conservative" and "Liberal" are Meaningless Labels

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the first in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

The political terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799), referring to the seating arrangement in the Estates General:
  • Those who sat on the left generally supported the revolution including the creation of a republic and secularization;
  • Those who sat on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Old Regime including the monarchy and a strong belief structure derived from a revered book of beliefs we call "religious."
In other words, the terms were based on an 18th Century French seating chart.

In many ways it was weird that those terms were incorporated into the political language of the United States; after all, the American Revolution created a secular republic.

If that isn't bad enough, we English speakers then divided into "left" and "right" the two extreme 20th Century implementations of tyrannical, totalitarian dictatorships - Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union - both of which embraced a strong, religious-like belief structure derived from a revered book.

It is even harder to understand logically how we got from there to a broad acceptance of the idea that...
  • the American right is laissez-faire capitalism based on the reactionary writings of Russian immigrant Ayn Rand - Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum. a member of a Jewish bourgeois family born in 1905 and raised in Russia - who, after the Russian Revolution opened universities to women, was in the first group of women to enroll at Petrograd State University and who in her later years was a lecturer at Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Harvard; and
  • the American left is libertarian socialism influenced among others by Robert Owen's experiment in New Harmony, Indiana, by the Nonpartisan League's North Dakota tradition of government rejection of big business, and more recently by the reactionary writings of Noam Chomsky (born in the United States of Eastern European immigrant Ashkenazi Jewish parents) who was educated at the University of Pennsylvania
 ...both of which embrace an economic philosophy that abhors centralized state control of the economy. If Rand and Chomsky had held public office they would have been in America's Academic Oligarchy by virtue of university affiliations, as that term is explained later in these posts.

What is odd is that politics and economics as academic studies somehow became separated in the minds of serious, but confused, people. Perhaps it is time we Americans remind ourselves of something:

In the 21st Century, as it was in the 20th Century and half of the 19th Century, paper (and now digital) money is a central government created and controlled commodity.

For our first 65 years, from the founding of the United States to the passage of the National Banking Act, some 8,000 different entities - mostly state charted banks - engaged in the highly profitable business of issuing currency. In addition to encouraging rampant counterfeiting, this created an unreliable money supply as frequently these banks would fail. It also created a multitude of local economies, interfering with travel even between cities, much less between states.

Without going into all the complexities, by establishing a single national currency during the Civil War, the National Banking Act eliminated the overwhelming variety of paper money circulating throughout the country thereby facilitating a true national economy.

To put it as simply as possible, the central government controls the supply of money through  monetary policy and assures its acceptance as "legal tender" so that payment for labor and goods can be accomplished reliably. Further, the value of an asset - property - is measured by what someone would pay for it in dollars - federal reserve notes - not in pumpkins or "Bank of Nome Alaska" notes.

(As a side comment, Brexit is about money. It is no coincidence the United Kingdom never substituted the Euro for the Pound. The UK was only "sort of half in" when it came to the European Union. Thus in part the Brexit vote ironically reflected the reluctance of those who opposed Brexit to be a full participant in the first place.)

By definition, an economy depends upon the money supply and in the 21st Century it is the government's responsibility to see that an economy works. Government is controlled by politics. Therefore, politicians facilitate the economy. Remember this fact - politicians facilitate the economy, economists ruminate on the idea of an economy, businesses take advantage of the economy, workers struggle to survive and sometimes they can strive to be comfortable in an economy.

On the other hand, a government has a hard time coping with the impact of what people do with the money they are allowed to keep - after taxes sends some of that money back to its creator. Not to be repetitive, money is a government created commodity in the first place.

It is the dispute over how much wealth (measured in money) individuals and corporations can control versus how much the government controls that supposedly is reflected in the popular labels  "left" and "right."

What that has to do with gay marriage and being "liberal" or "conservative" demonstrates just how confusing these labels are and how little we understand the role of government in our society.

With the advent (the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event) of Brexit into British politics and Donald Trump into American politics, it's time for English speakers to toss the political terms "left" and "right" into the scrap heap of history. And based upon the vote in Britain and the weakness of the parties in the United States, we should reconsider our use of the labels "liberal" and "conservative" in politics.

In the second post of this series, I will discuss proper labels for people actively participating in politics and the economy either as members of "The Establishment" or as "dissidents."

2. Dissidents in American Politics: 21st Century Political Divisions

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the second in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

In the 21st Century, our nation, if not the world, has clarified how to classify people in the context of the political and economic milieu. People engaged in the political/economics milieu fall into one of two divisions and one of four classifications:
  • An Establishment including
    1. Shareholder Capitalists who run the world's economy, and
    2. Academic Oligarchists who run the national governments;
  • Authoritarian Revolutionary dissidents opposing "The Establishment" including
    1.  Romantic Populists who believe that the "virtuous" citizens are being mistreated by a small circle of elites and favor the "proper" division of economic resources through a government imposed sharing society, and
    2. Mythical Reactionaries who believe that "once upon a time" there was a state of society which possessed characteristics such as discipline, respect for authority, etc., that are absent from contemporary society and favor a government imposed return to that state of society.
Politically disengaged persons, typically about 40% of the adult population in the United States, are not relevant to these classifications. Their disengagement becomes relevant only when a revolution is attempted.

In the 21st Century world through experience (See Arab Spring) we have learned that the likelihood of a successful relatively peaceful democratic - non-authoritarian - revolution is slim mostly because of that disengagement. The likelihood of successful non-authoritarian democratic revolutions through violence offered by the American Revolution is also slim as the French learned when their revolution culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon. What we need to understand is that, in most of the world, positive government change towards a non-authoritarian model is achieved in an evolutionary process such as occurred in the United Kingdom.

As we shall explore later, the division of powers within the American Constitution creating a strong central government was necessary to replace a weak, failing national government established under the Articles of Confederation and one of those divisions created the position of President in which intuitive authoritarian powers were vested.

In response to the rise of Donald Trump, early on in this Presidential Election cycle we began to be offered in news commentary and in-depth articles on the 1990's-2000's research of political scientists who have defined "authoritarianism" as a psychological profile of people. Under the right conditions, people will desire certain kinds of extreme policies and will seek or favorably respond to strongman leaders - demagogues - to implement them.

This year the rabid supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have made it clear that a large number of voters desire an authoritarian revolution, though they are somewhat divided in orientation between over-40 reactionary ultra-nationalists (Trump supporters) and the under-40 populist multi-culturalists (Sanders supporters).

From the beginning it rapidly became clear that the rabid Trump supporters are supporters of authoritarian government. It wasn't until the majority of Democratic Party voters selected Hillary Clinton that the rabid Sanders supporters indicated they are also supporters of authoritarian government when they clearly rejected the democratic outcome in favor of imposing their own sense of order and correctness on the majority.

We also saw that generally the younger the voter age, the more likely a dissident will embrace populist multi-culturalism while seeking economic change through authoritarian actions by a President. Generally, the older the voter age, the more likely a dissident will embrace reactionary ultra-nationalism while seeking economic change through authoritarian actions by a President.

This split is at least partially the result of two terms seemingly with a common root - communications and community. (After all, "commune" has two different definitions: (1) a noun, a group of people who live and work together and share responsibilities; (2) a verb, to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc.)

The younger the voter's age, the more likely the voter will have embraced the early 21st Century communications system - the internet and text messaging - which creates a sense of participation in a broad multi-cultural, even international, community, but without actually contacting another human where "contact" is traditionally defined as "the act or state of touching; immediate proximity or association."

In addition, their heavy personal device use reduces direct human interaction within the local geographic community creating a sense of isolation from groups, clubs, organizations, such as the political party system which is structured from local party "central committees" which participate creating the national party.

This has created a misuse of the word "community" where people think a community exists because of interactions on Facebook and the like - where participants have interactions with others for whom they have no responsibility for their well-being as breathing mammals beyond impersonal devices like GoFundMe.

The older the voter's age, the more likely the voter does not use the internet or text messaging, or does not use it as extensively. In the 21st Century these people have continued sense of participation in a geographic community of friends, family, and older co-workers - people they know in person from direct face-to-face interaction.

On the other hand, these older voters are more isolated from. and usually fearful of, the rapidly changing face of the broader American community and the very foreign international community. It creates a sense of isolation from the late 20th Century national political party systems where national leaders in both the national Democratic and Republican parties had a strong sense of internationalism.

Most of these older voters do understand that the grassroots "Tea Party" Mythical Reactionaries have impacted on the Republican Party. However. most Americans do not know that since the 1992  a well-financed sophisticated organization of extremely conservative Shareholder Capitalists - the State Policy Network - has successfully implemented a specific goal of taking over the state governments and Congress using those "tea party" folks.

While age and other factors may tend to divide dissidents into Romantic Populists and Mythical Reactionaries, we need to acknowledge something simply expressed by one American stock market analyst:
There are a lot of angry people almost anywhere you care to look, and that anger isn't simply going to blow over. That's what happened in the late ‘60s and all of the 1970’s, and that is what's happening again now.
Age difference has not created an anger divide; they are all equally angry at "The Establishment" even if for different reasons. An increase in mass anger means an increase in the number of people who become avid Romantic Populists and Mythical Reactionaries as the number of politically disengaged become angry.

This isn't limited to the United States, as observed by a New York Times Editorial Board Opinion Piece which described the Brexit vote results:
It was a cry of anger and frustration from more than half the country against those who wield power, wealth and privilege, both in their own government and in Brussels, and against global forces in a world that they felt was squeezing them out.
The important fact to understand is that most of these angry dissidents are not avid ideologues - most of the large numbers of Romantic Populists and Mythical Reactionaries in the U.S. aren't advocates for some esoteric communist or fascist philosophies which they've studied in detail.

But they do feel the need to immediately and significantly disrupt the complex status quo created by the Shareholder Capitalists who run the world economy as facilitated by Academic Oligarchists who run the national governments. And they want it done by an authoritarian President.

The disengaged really don't care about their country being ruled by an authoritarian President ... until they do.

For ordinary people in Nazi Germany, life was comfortable, and in the period from 1950-1990 many disengaged Germans looked back and remembered accurately their years before 1939 as good years, much better than pre-1932 years. After 1939?  Yes, each day they began to care a bit more when it was too late.

Since many Americans do not understand the historical legitimacy of the authoritarian President, we will explore that subject next.

3. Dissidents in American Politics: The Authoritarian U.S. President

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the third in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

The Whiskey Rebellion, also known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest by dissidents in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. Throughout counties in Western Pennsylvania, protesters used violence and intimidation to prevent federal officials from collecting the tax.

It ended when President Washington rode at the head of an army of 12,950 militiamen provided by the governors of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania effectively suppressing the insurgency. Because relatively few men volunteered for militia service, a draft was used to fill out the ranks. Draft protests were widespread, and conscription efforts resulted in protests and riots, even in eastern areas. That was handled in a clearly authoritarian, violent manner.

Click on image to see a larger version!

For example, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, two civilians were killed by the federalized militia, an unarmed boy was shot by an officer whose pistol accidentally fired and a man was stabbed to death by a soldier while resisting arrest. Eventually, a federal grand jury indicted 24 men for high treason, ten men stood trial for treason in federal court, only two were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, but were pardoned by President Washington. Pennsylvania state courts were more successful in prosecuting lawbreakers, securing numerous convictions for assault and rioting.

President Andrew Jackson began the Indian Removal Policy which as continued by President Martin Van Buren led to the "Trail of Tears." Subsequent Presidents, as Commander in Chief, continued the genocide of Native Americans over the next 70 years. But the Native Americans weren't the only ones who experienced this fun side of traditional American bigotry.

Click on image to see a larger version!

Religious discrimination has been supported by the authoritarian use of power by a President. The Mormons are well aware of the tradition of authoritarian Presidents as their forebears experienced it as religious discrimination.  The religion's Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, and the alleged murderers were found not guilty by a trial jury was composed exclusively of non-Mormons after the judge dismissed the initial jury, which included Mormons.

Click on image to see a larger version!

To make a long story short, the Mormons moved to the Utah Territory and established a territorial government. Because of a great deal of rumor and innuendo, in 1857 U.S. President James Buchanan sent an army to Utah resulting in the Utah War.

(President's George W. Bush and Barack Obama both worked to avoid the rapid expansion of this kind of religious bigotry toward Muslims.This contrasts with Donald Trump's successful effort to capitalize on the bigotry within America using a promise that isn't far from Buchanan's attitude - a traditional American attitude of religious bigotry that, right behind racial bigotry and ethnic bigotry, has always been the third core element of the American truth, as opposed to the American myth)

When does the use of violent force by the established government become authoritarian in conduct. Juan Linz's influential 1964 description characterized authoritarian political systems by four qualities:
  1. limited political pluralism; that is, such regimes place constraints on political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest groups;
  2. a basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems" such as underdevelopment or insurgency;
  3. minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity;
  4. informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers.
Abraham Lincoln's Republican Presidency clearly fit that description. So let's take a look at the Civil War, not as Northern lefty intellectuals nor Southern Klan members, but as open minded truth seekers.

The U.S. Civil War produced at least 1,030,000 casualties (3 percent of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths. Based on 1860 census figures, 8 percent of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6 percent in the North and 18 percent in the South.

It could have have been avoided, but Americans in the North had latched onto a goodness versus evil belief system about the institution of slavery that ignored the Three-Fifths Compromise part of the U.S. Constitution permitting states to maintain the legality of slavery.

(As an aside, if you think the rule of law is critical, than you would have supported slavery. If you believe in the recently invented moral absolute that human slavery is unacceptable even though we know it was a continuously accepted human condition dating back to at least 8000 BC, than you would have supported killing 1 million Americans to free 4 million slaves. Absolutes in morality are such fun things.)

As is always the case, when a large minority of the U.S. population embraces beliefs contrary to the status quo beliefs of another large minority of the U.S. population, a high level of fear for personal wealth and well-being is created, in this case within The Establishment in the South.

(As an aside, today we have anger because a large minority of the U.S. population embraces beliefs contrary to the status quo beliefs of another large minority of the U.S. population which has created a high level of fear for personal wealth and well-being is created. The solution, of course is for these folks to defend their beliefs irrationally in some manner comparable to the 1860's, justifiably killing 10 million Americans at random.)

Prior to Lincoln assuming the office of President, negotiations over the issues were moving forward. On December 18, 1860, the Crittenden Compromise was proposed to re-establish the Missouri Compromise line by constitutionally banning slavery in territories to the north of the line while guaranteeing it to the south. Here is the map they were arguing over. Red states were slave states, blue states were free states, the green line is the Missouri Compromise line. The gray indicates territories that would become states.

Click on image to see a larger version!

The adoption of this compromise likely would have prevented the secession of every southern state apart from South Carolina, but Lincoln and the Republicans rejected it.

It was then proposed to hold a national referendum on the compromise. The Republicans again rejected the idea, perhaps because they knew a majority of both Northerners and Southerners would have voted in favor of it. (This self-righteous minority group also self-swaddled themselves in ignorance choosing to believe that even if there was a Civil War it would be over in months - something anyone informed about the other side would never have believed.)

Click on image to see a larger version!

By the definition discussed in a previous post, Lincoln's Republicans were Romantic Populists who believed "virtuous" people were being mistreated by a small circle of elites wrongly holding economic power.

History has been so twisted that it is not bothersome to most Americans that with an 82.2% voter turnout, Lincoln won with only 39.9% of the popular vote but still led Americans into a Civil War assuming authoritarian powers and refusing compromise.

Lincoln is an American hero who could be a model for authoritarian action for Donald Trump's deportation program.  In case you didn't know this, here is a history lesson:
In 1861, John Merryman, a state legislator from Maryland, was arrested for attempting to hinder Union troops from moving from Baltimore to Washington during the Civil War and is held at Fort McHenry by Union military officials. His attorney immediately sought a writ of habeas corpus so that a federal court could examine the charges. However, on May 25, 1961, President Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus in the United States, and the general in command of Fort McHenry refused to turn Merryman over to the authorities.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court
Roger Taney issued a ruling that President Lincoln did not have the authority to suspend habeas corpus. Lincoln didn’t respond, appeal, or order the release of Merryman. But during a July 4 speech, Lincoln was defiant, insisting that he needed to suspend the rules in order to put down the rebellion in the South.

Five years later, a new Supreme Court essentially backed Chief Justice Taney’s ruling. In an unrelated case, the Court held that only Congress could suspend habeas corpus and that civilians were not subject to military courts, even in times of war.

This was not the first or last time that a U.S. President imprisoned Americans at will. Pursuant to Executive Order 9066 issued by another revered President, Franklin Roosevelt, hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps and denied the right to
a writ of habeas corpus.
Indeed if a President Trump were to imprison Muslim Americans after persuading Congress to declare war on ISIS, he could become a revered hero like the extremely authoritarian Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt.

Looking at the Crittenden Compromise map, in hindsight many argue that slavery would have ended without the Civil War but not for a number of decades. If so do you think those decades were worth the 1+ million casualties? Without arguing about what the people thought at the time, what does it say about you if you believe the Civil War was justified?

It doesn't matter because a minority Party of an authoritarian President rejected compromise thereby initiating the killing 620,000 soldiers and tens of thousands of others, all Americans fighting because of the true believers and the truly fearful.

By the time the Civil War was over, authoritarian actions of Presidents had been validated beginning with Washington and continuing until Lincoln who gave a permanent home in the Presidency for what is clearly defined as authoritarianism.

Of course, in the end the Civil War was a testing ground for modern total warfare. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant casualties. Americans perfected it in WWII.

Feeling a bit guilty about mass casualties in the Vietnam War, we've recently applied technology to our warfare with President's authorizing the use of drones to kill evil radical Muslim terrorists foreigners and even evil radical Muslim American terrorists in foreign lands.

Since that worked so well, following the model of the authoritarian U.S. Presidency, domestic police forces now use a variation on that technology (robots carrying small bombs) within the United States to kill alleged terrorists. It's far less of a video media embarrassment than all those police in body army carrying assault weapons riding around suburban Boston in armored military vehicles.

Just think. Instead of shooting all those holes in that bystanders boat and not killing the suspect, resulting in a long expensive trial, they could have just blown up the suspect and the boat. Soon we won't need to worry about all those Constitutional rights. After all, the Presidents don't.

The authoritarian U.S. Presidency has become an accepted tradition. Since the Civil War, as examples we've had:
  • the Pullman Strike of 1894 with military and U.S. Marshal intervention ordered by President Grover Cleveland:
  • the 1902 Coal Strike in which President Theodore Roosevelt fearing that the "attitude of the operators" would "double the burden" of those who stood against "Socialistic action" continued the practice of intervention in labor disputes though this time achieving success with on the threat of using force; 
  • the 1932 Bonus Army incident of President Herbert Hoover;
  • the 1942 internment of Japanese Americans ordered by Franklin Roosevelt; 
  • in 1950, in anticipation of a crippling strike by railroad workers, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order putting America’s railroads under the control of the U.S. Army; 
  • and more.
For an analysis of how this expansion of Presidential powers has continued in more recent times, read The Washington Post article Donald Trump and the expanding power of the presidency.

Perhaps one thing needs to be made clear. An Authoritarian Revolution strikes at the heart of a democratic republic government which depends upon compromise in the recognition that the give-and-take in such a political system is a substitute for violence being used to secure a preferred outcome (such as killing a million people in the Civil War).

In the United States there usually is a block of reasonable citizens, about 40% of the voters, who at some level understand and prefer that give and take decision-making system. A problem arises, however, when the system is hijacked and brought to a halt.

In the past 20 years the Mythical Reactionaries, never representing more than a small minority of Americans, frequently have succeeded in bringing that give-and-take system to a halt. At that point, the patience of the reasonable citizen erodes, and some of those 40% of the voters become unenthusiastic Mythical Reactionaries or Romantic Populists.

A further review of the four groups of people can help understand our political system. But first, we need to examine recent developments in our economy that have amplified the likelihood of an authoritarian Presidency.

4. Dissidents in American Politics: Who are we angry at?

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the fourth in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

As previously noted, people are angry...well, some people are angry.

Certainly, not the rich, whoever they are. They are who the angry are angry at or angry about. Maybe we need to know who the rich are.

Recently, we've begun to talk about the 1% . But we tend to get lost in discussions about income and wealth which are two different things. Wealth, or net worth, is the sum of all assets minus the sum of all liabilities.

Sometimes it's easy to think of the rich in terms of Forbes 400 wealthiest individuals. According to an Economic Policy Institute report The State of Working America’s Wealth, 2011: Through volatility and turmoil, the gap widens: "In 2009, the price of admission to the Forbes 400 was just short of $1 billion, and the collective net worth of these 400 individuals was $1.3 trillion."

But this isn't reflective of the 1%, even though the 400 are in the 1%. In 2009, when The Great Recession impacted personal wealth the most ("recession" ...uh... more about that later),  the report tells us: "Average wealth of the top 1% was close to $14 million in 2009..."

That pretty much defined the top 1% in terms of wealth in 2009 - a household net worth that can be rounded to a number that exceeds $10 million. That's substantially less wealth than that $1 billion mark.

It is important to keep in mind that if we use wealth (net worth) as the measurement, the impact of The Great Recession was somewhat uneven according to that report:
On average, the top 20% lost 16.0% and the bottom 80% lost 25.1% of their total wealth in 2008 and 2009. Average wealth of the bottom 80% was just $62,900 in 2009...slightly less, in inflation-adjusted terms, than it was more than a quarter-century ago in 1983.... The lowest 20% had -$27,200 of wealth in 2009. Since 2001 there has been a continual erosion of wealth for this class regardless of cyclical timing.
Of course, most of the loss in The Great Recession was housing value with many homes "under water", meaning that the value of the house was less than the mortgage.

As you might guess, many of those angry folks are in the bottom 80% whose average net worth dropped from almost $105,000 at the peak to about $63,000 as the result of The Great Recession.

Another way of defining the 1% is in terms of income. Since The Great Recession according to this chart we in the 99% have something to be angry about even though the economy is starting to provide some income growth to them:

Click on image to see a larger version!

In terms of income, the 1% are not the same folks as those with 1% of the wealth. In a 2010 piece titled The United States of Inequality we learned:
The American aristocracy is less different from you and me than it was in Fitzgerald's day. ...The top of the heap are overwhelmingly job-holders deriving most of their income from their wages. Did it become posh to have a job? Not exactly. Having a job—the right job, anyway—became the way to get posh. That's encouraging in one sense: To roll in the dough you now have to work for a living. But it's discouraging in another sense: You can't blame enormous income disparities on non-working coupon-clippers who exist outside the wage structure (and reality as most of us understand it). The wage structure itself is grossly misshapen.
The author divided the rich into three groups, "Sort of Rich, Rich, and Stinking Rich." And he explained that "it’s useful to think of the top 10 percent as the 'sort of rich,' the 1 percent as the straightforward 'rich,' and the 0.1 percent as the 'stinking rich.' "

In a more recent article Who Gets to Be “Rich”? And why do most people seem to think they are “middle class”? we are offered this piece of information: "...A household income of about $113,000 lands you at the top 10th, while $394,000 makes you a bona fide member of the 1 percent." What he then goes on to explain is:
...More than 76 percent of Americans get to experience the joys of a six-figure household income for at least one year, just more than half will make $150,000 or more at some point, and about 20 percent hit the $250,000 mark at least once, which these days would put them within the top 2 percent of earners.

... Just half of Americans hit six figures for five or more years, and only one-third manage it for a decade total. Meanwhile, less than 2 percent cross the quarter-million-dollar threshold for at least 10 years of their lives. Just 1 percent do it for 10 consecutive years.

Why do our incomes rise and fall so much? People get sick and leave work. They get bonuses. They spend a year pulling enormous amounts of overtime. Parents leave their careers to care for children or cut down to part-time hours. Life isn’t a steady march, and nor are our incomes. This, I think, should complicate our idea of class. Quite a few of us get our 15 minutes of affluence, but sustaining it is hard.
And yet we're told "the bottom 60 percent earned a maximum of $59,154 in 2010, the bottom 40 percent earned a max of $33,870, while the bottom 20 percent earned just $16,961 at maximum" in Who are the 1 percent?

To confuse matters more, we are offered this chart in How Much Income Puts You in the 1 Percent if You're 30, 40, or 50?:

Click on image to see a larger version!

The point is that if you make $135,000 a year and your age 27-31, you are in the top 1% of your age group. If you are 50+ you need to make $340,000±.

From all this, what we know is that if you are 40 making $285,000 a year, you're in the top 1%. Likely you'll be in that group for no more than five years of your life.

Then you may slip into the group of angry people.

You could easily find yourself making 30% of that and still be in the upper 40% income group - a middle class income.

And you might retire in the bottom 40% income group earned a max of $33,870 but still middle class. And still angry.

So who is this 1% we're angry at? The Forbes 400? People with a household net worth of more than $10 million.  Or a 30-year-old techie making $135,000 a year. Heck, they are all in some version of the 1%.

Are we angry at them or angry at "The Establishment" because these 1% folks exist without "me" being among them?

Are we angry at Congress and the state legislatures because they don't tax these people enough?

Are we angry, really? Yes we are.

As I wrote here in the post The effect of the white white-collar Democrats' class war against white blue-collar American women there was The Great Recession and afterwards government and corporations "didn't do much to help restore to their prior status predominately white unionized blue collar age 40+ industrial workers who were used to making upper middle class incomes."

Here is where things get confusing. Economists have created lots of interesting terms about the ups and downs of an economy.  We have economic downturns, recessions, and depressions.

An economic downturn is a general slowdown in economic activity over a sustained period of time in a specific region  or on a global scale. It's a little hard to distinguish an economic downturn from a recession. The key features of an economic downturn include:
  • Negative or very low economic growth
  • Rising unemployment
  • Falling asset prices – shares and house prices
  • Low consumer confidence and falling investment.
  • Rising spare capacity (negative output gap)
  • Increasing government borrowing due to higher government spending on benefits and lower tax revenue.
Usually economic downturns are temporary and part of the economic cycle.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines an economic recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales."

All member states of the European Union including the United Kingdom define an economic recession as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, as measured by the seasonal adjusted quarter-on-quarter figures for real GDP.

A severe recession (GDP down by 10%) or prolonged recession (three or four years) is referred to as an economic depression.

According to the US National Bureau of Economic Research (the official arbiter of US recessions) The Great Recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, thus extending over 19 months. By virtue of the way they measure "economic growth" which includes the flow government spending including the bank and GM bailouts, The Great Recession never became a depression.

Sure, as explained in economist talk in Wikipedia:
The distribution of household incomes in the United States has become more unequal during the post-2008 economic recovery, a first for the US but in line with the trend over the last ten economic recoveries since 1949. Income inequality in the United States has grown from 2005 to 2012 in more than 2 out of 3 metropolitan areas. Median household wealth fell 35% in the US, from $106,591 to $68,839 between 2005 and 2011
In other words, as measured the GDP quit declining, the banks finished foreclosing on family homes and sold them to corporate landlords and real estate flippers, and some people found jobs at much lower wages than before causing the unemployment rate to drop.

 As I explained in the post here The inane bigotry of the educated is the reason why Trump's “I love the poorly educated!” is a winner, construction employment is still 1.6 million jobs short of its 2007 level, manufacturing has 1 million fewer jobs than it did before the recession, and, compared to pre-recession employment levels, office and administrative support occupations have experienced the second-highest decline in jobs - 1.4 million.

Evidence is mounting as explained in Is the Middle Class Being “Disrupted” Into Extinction? that educated professionals of all types - tech, legal, education, journalists, nurses, "are falling prey to an unstable new America." Recently a study indicated that the leading tech companies expect that in the next three years automation and machine learning will replace 5% of their workforce.

The author has coined a new term derived from combining "proletariat" and "precarious" - the Middle Precariat. We all know what that "precarious" as defined by Dictionary.com (first definition) means "dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; unstable; insecure.". The "proletariat" is a term  in a capitalist society for the class of wage-earners whose only possession of significant material value is their labor-power, their ability to work.

Which brings us back to the anger. GDP means Gross Domestic Product. It measures productivity in terms of the value of output of goods and services. It doesn't measure whether workers contribute to or share in the wealth created by that output.

That's ok for economists to talk about. But it's not ok in real life for real people, particularly including politicians.

You see economists may think The Great Recession didn't turn into a depression because GDP stopped falling in less than two years. But when median household wealth fell 35% in the US between 2005 and 2011, that's six years. And when in 2013, real median household income was 8.0 percent lower than in 2007 that's six years.

The reality to be faced by the Shareholder Capitalists and the Academic Oligarchists - and by Congress and state officials - is that in 2008 for somewhere between 60% to 80% of American households a recession began that has not ended. For real people, not economists, in fact The Great Recession turned into a depression because real people don't care what happens to corporations, they care about what happens to people.

To give the situation a term, what happened in 2008 was an Economic Collapse built upon an earlier economic decline for which according to Wikipedia "there is no precise definition." Instead, Wikipedia offers a description of symptoms (emphasis added):
The term has been used to describe a broad range of bad economic conditions, ranging from a severe, prolonged depression with high bankruptcy rates and high unemployment (such as the Great Depression of the 1930s), to a breakdown in normal commerce caused by hyperinflation (such as in Weimar Germany in the 1920s), or even an economically caused sharp rise in the death rate and perhaps even a decline in population (such as in countries of the former USSR in the 1990s).
The crux of the matter is that an Economic Collapse means a period of a few months that results in the long term significant loss (greater than 10%) of personal wealth (net worth) for the 80% of the households having the lowest wage income. That means most of the people.

As indicated in Wikipedia "often economic collapse is accompanied by social chaos, civil unrest and sometimes a breakdown of law and order."

As discussed in posts here, we not only have had prolonged unemployment and other symptoms of an Economic Collapse that really began with the burst of the dot-com bubble which took place during 1999–2001, but we now know that we likely have an economically caused sharp rise in the death rate as "white women have been dying prematurely at higher rates since the turn of this century, passing away in their 30s, 40s and 50s in a slow-motion crisis driven by decaying health in small-town America."

And that is what the election of 2016 is all about - ignorance among the best educated people among us about the 21st Century Economic Collapse. They have been literally Economic Collapse deniers because it really didn't impact them for any length of time. And frankly the revolt is, in part, because of the one type bigotry not recognized by and deeply ingrained in the college-centric politically correct police as explained in detail in The Atlantic article The War on Stupid People:
"When Michael Young, a British sociologist, coined the term meritocracy in 1958, it was in a dystopian satire. At the time, the world he imagined, in which intelligence fully determined who thrived and who languished, was understood to be predatory, pathological, far-fetched. Today, however, we’ve almost finished installing such a system...."
What the article explains is that a dystopian, predatory, pathological system of economic and social discrimination has been put in place since the 1960's that strongly favors 20%± of the population and seriously dispossess 60%± of the population, while leaving the remaining 20%± feeling a great deal of unease. In the article we are told: "From 1979 to 2012, the median-income gap between a family headed by two earners with college degrees and two earners with high-school degrees grew by $30,000, in constant dollars."

Of course, 1979 was the beginning of the Information Age. Shareholder Capitalists and Academic Oligarchists were enthralled with the advent of the Digital Revolution/Information Age precisely because it created a preference on intelligence, as they defined it, as opposed to wisdom which can be possessed by anyone and has no direct correlation to intelligence scores.

Shareholder Capitalists and Academic Oligarchists seemed to have lost touch with even modern history. For instance, there is a line, albeit not completely straight, that runs through intellectuals Hegel, Marx, Kerensky and Lenin leading to Joseph Stalin who began his method of taking control by ousting Molotov and Shlyapnikov as editors of the newspaper Pravda because he had an understanding of, and control of, then modern media coverage and because he understood how really unwise intellectuals are.

So let's take a deeper look at the four groups, particular the Shareholder Capitalists and Academic Oligarchists who the rest of us are angry at. Let's begin with the Shareholder Capitalists.

5. Dissidents in American Politics: The Shareholder Capitalist Class

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the fifth in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

A "Shareholder Capitalist" is the year 2000 version of the year 1900 "Robber Baron." Robber Barons were business leaders in the United States, avaricious rascals who for personal gain habitually cheated and robbed workers, investors and consumers, corrupted government, fought ruthlessly among themselves, and in general carried on predatory activities comparable to those of the robber barons of medieval Europe but without violent armies.

Shareholder Capitalists tend to be more removed personally from their business presence than the Robber Barons of 1900. Shareholder Capitalists depend upon and reinforce the beneficial effectiveness and sanctity of the faceless "corporation" which:
  • exists independently of its owners for the primary purpose of accumulating unlimited corporate wealth (not wealth for its owners, hence the reluctance to pay significant dividends);
  • exists within a capitalist economic system and within an infinite time structure removed from the limits of a human life spans;
  • operates worldwide without regard to international boundaries seeking to maximize revenue while minimizing the cost of productive labor and taxes; and 
  • combines with others of its kind when needed for purposes of efficiency and market domination.
It is at this point that we again need to understand that regarding corporations politics and economics have become separated in the minds of serious, but confused, people. Perhaps it is time we Americans remind ourselves of something:

This is a typical incorporation document from the State of Delaware in which a lot of corporations are incorporated. It's similar to such documents in most states. Notice Article III which reads as follows:
The nature of the business or purposes to be conducted or promoted is to engage in any lawful act or activity for which corporations may be organized under the Delaware General Corporation Law ("DGCL").
Along with the confusion about money discussed in the first of this series of numbered posts, there seems to be a lot of confusion about corporations. Corporations can only exists if laws passed by legislative bodies permit them to exist. And they can only do what those laws permit them to do.

In other words, as with money by definition corporations are created and controlled by government. Without corporation law there would only be individual people doing business with all the attendant major personal risks and significant financial limits. It's interesting that many Americans think government involvement in the economy is wrong. There would be no economy without government. This isn't even something that is debatable.

In other words Shareholder Capitalists wouldn't exist and can't do anything without government. Now that we've cleared that up...

Shareholder Capitalists include people or families who own or control (sometimes through an investment business) hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate stock and who likely serve on the board of directors of a number of corporations. Typically, the corporations involved employ more than 3,000 people.

A true shareholder capitalist within the corporation looks to achieve corporate profit goals without regard to the well-being of persons. Minimized compensation is made for the use of individual abilities required to further corporate goals. Since corporations have no personal prejudices, a true shareholder capitalist also ignores any and all labels that may apply to other persons related to nationality, religion, politics, race, ethnic group, class, age, gender, sexual preference, etc. Assets are assets and as the graphic above says "people are assets" like machinery and furniture.

Any "people" - person - can choose to be affiliated with Shareholder Capitalists by working as senior management within a corporate organization or by acquiring stock in corporations at share ownership quantities that have no meaningful impact on shareholder voting. If you are among either of those two groups and your personal situation has not led you to anger, you may choose to see your interests as coinciding with the interests of Shareholder Capitalists. Occasionally they are, but not always and not forever. And about outrage over CEO pay, you may want to read this election year article Beware big talk about the tax code.

Beyond becoming affiliated, the only way to share in the benefits of corporate success is to be an employee of a corporation or a vendor of supplies or services purchased by a corporation, but with the understanding that the corporation's goal will be to compensate you the least it can consistent with its goals and to that end may, and likely will, terminate your relationship at any time because of its goals - nothing personal, you understand, you're an asset and there's nothing "personal" about machinery or furniture or you. You may see yourself as affiliated with Shareholder Capitalists, but they rightly know you are delusional.

For Shareholder Capitalists there is little meaning in an Economic Collapse as defined in the previous post. In recessions where the GDP drops, Shareholder Capitalists worry and so economists also wring their hands and opine. But where you have an Economic Collapse meaning the net worth of the lower paid 80% dropped significantly, if the GDP comes back who cares?

Primarily driven by the profit motive, today Shareholder Capitalists manipulate the world's economy and ours.

Successful 21st Century tech entrepreneurs are Shareholder Capitalists who have capacity and willingness to develop, organize, and manage a new business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit. Usually the most successful are seen as "innovative" meaning they bring some new product or service into the marketplace. Some attempt to mitigate the depersonalizing impact of Shareholder Capitalism through charitable activities.

We may need them to do more charitable work, because in a recent report about the tech industry KPMG stated (emphasis added):
...As part of this strategic priority to successfully integrate disruptive technologies to create unique customer value propositions and new ways to compete, tech CEOs say they are investing heavily in talent development, workforce automation and machine learning. The majority of technology companies plan to increase their human workforce at least 6 percent over the next three years while adding cognitive systems to create a new class of digital labor that can enhance human skills and expertise, allowing employees to innovate constantly.
Despite plans to grow their companies' worldwide human workforce 2% a year for the next three years, as expressed in this graphic the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people with whom they share the revenue by automating as much of the tech industry as possible replacing workers with "digital" labor.

Click on image to see a larger version!

They've already been very successful doing that for the manufacturing of their tech devices as they did for other manufacturing corporations and within their administration support workforce and they did for other corporations generally.

Given the report's comment that "U.S. Tech CEOs indicate India and the U.S. have the greatest potential for new market growth over the next three years followed by Brazil and China" it is unclear where the 5% of the workforce will be replaced and the 6% growth will occur. But it is clear that the greatest savings would come from reducing their U.S. workforce.

For a more extensive review of workforce impacts of Shareholder Capitalists in recent decades read the posts

There are some parts of the economy that are outside that world controlled by Shareholder Capitalists. Small businesses, typically those that cannot become an employer of more than 3,000 people, are outside that world. Shareholder Capitalists, for instance those who control the banking system, do interface with these small business owners. And to an extent they attempt to persuade the small business owner that they all function in the same environment - capitalism. But they don't.

Agriculture is a peculiar sector of the economy. Only in recent times have Shareholder Capitalists managed to gain control in this sector. Despite the Industrial Revolution, the agrarian system  - which values rural society as superior to urban society, the independent farmer as superior to the paid worker, and sees farming as a way of life that can shape the ideal social values - resisted the Shareholder Capitalist. In the 20th Century, that changed, partly as a result of government policies established by Academic Oligarchists who found it easier to deal with Shareholder Capitalists than individual farmers.

Historically Shareholder Capitalists refrained from involvement in the political system except for lobbying.  They would work with the Academic Oligarchists in the executive branches of national and state governments and use the court system as needed.

That has changed. We will explore the change after reviewing the Academic Oligarchists class.

6. Dissidents in American Politics: The Academic Oligarchist Class

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the sixth in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Academic Oligarchists advocate control of government executive and judicial power by people who can be trusted to act on behalf of the "common good." They can be trusted because they have shared ties and knowledge gained through higher education, meaning colleges and universities they have attended.

Membership into the American Academic Oligarchy can automatically derive from holding a degree from an American Ivy League school (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale) plus a few others (College of William and Mary, University of Chicago, Duke, Georgetown, Stanford, Wellesley, and the three military academies).

It is important to recognize that Academic Oligarchists are not employed by a university or college, except on a temporary basis or when semi-retired. Nor are they employed regularly in the private sector. Rather they work as elected or appointed public officials.

While the focus here is on the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century, the American Academic Oligarchy assumed control at the creation of the United States. Of course our first six Presidents attended one of those colleges:
  • George Washington - College of William and Mary
  • Thomas Jefferson - College of William and Mary
  • John Adams - Harvard
  • James Madison - University of Pennsylvania
  • James Monroe - College of William and Mary
  • John Quincy Adams - Harvard
And among the Supreme Court Justices appointed by those Presidents were:
  • John Jay - Columbia
  • Oliver Ellsworth - Yale, Princeton
  • William Paterson - Princeton
  • William Cushing - Harvard
  • John Blair, Jr. - College of William and Mary
  • Bushrod Washington - College of William and Mary
  • John Marshall - College of William and Mary
  • William Johnson - Princeton
  • Henry Brockholst Livingston - Princeton
  • Joseph Story - Harvard
  • Smith Thompson - Princeton
In reality it began with the Declaration of Independence as the signers included:
  • John Hancock - Harvard
  • William Hooper - Harvard
  • Samuel Adams - Harvard
  • Robert Treat Paine - Harvard
  • Elbridge Gerry - Harvard
  • William Ellery - Harvard
  • William Williams - Harvard
  • Oliver Wolcott - Yale
  • Philip Livingston - Yale
  • Lyman Hall - Yale
  • Carter Braxton - College of William and Mary
  • Benjamin Harrison V - College of William and Mary
  • Benjamin Rush - Princeton
  • Joseph Hewes - Princeton
  • Thomas McKean - Princeton, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania
  • Francis Hopkinson - University of Pennsylvania
  • James Smith - University of Pennsylvania
  • James Wilson - University of Pennsylvania
  • William Paca - University of Pennsylvania
It's even more complicated than that.

We all know that Benjamin Franklin, like so many of his time, was educated more informally. That might make you think he wasn't involved in the Academic Oligarchy. What you may not know is the Academy and College of Philadelphia located in Philadelphia was founded in 1749 by a group of local notables that included Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, the first president of the board of trustee, drew up the constitution for the academy, which was notable for its emphasis on modern languages and science in place of Latin and Greek. It was reorganized in 1791 as the University of Pennsylvania.

Twenty-one members of the Continental Congress were graduates of Benjamin Franklin's school, and nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were either alumni or trustees.

Given the times, as we might expect many signers not listed were educated in Great Britain. As an example, John Witherspoon attended the University of Edinburgh but emigrated from Scotland to New Jersey in 1768 to become the sixth President of the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton University.

While holding a degree from any university, any person can become affiliated with American Academic Oligarchists by working in a senior position for a President, or Cabinet Member, or even a State executive official who is an Academic Oligarchist.

Most significantly, the American Academic Oligarchy controls the U.S. Presidency and Supreme Court. Oh. And did I say that they believe they work to achieve "the common good" which in the 20th Century was defined by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a documents most Americans don't even know exists. On other hand, how to achieve "the common good" is the subject of political disputes.

Here is a list of the American Presidents who first entered the office after the adoption of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and their alma maters:
  • Barack Obama - Columbia and Harvard Law School
  • George W. Bush - Yale and Harvard Business School
  • Bill Clinton - Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale Law School
  • George H. W. Bush - Yale
  • Ronald Reagan -  Eureka College
  • Jimmy Carter -  U.S. Naval Academy
  • Gerald Ford -  Yale Law School
  • Richard Nixon -  Duke University School of Law
  • Lyndon B. Johnson - Texas State University
  • John F. Kennedy -  attended Stanford and graduated from Harvard
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower - United States Military Academy (West Point)
Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson were not automatic members of the American Academic Oligarchy.

As we know, Lyndon Johnson accidentally became President after the assassination of Jack Kennedy and immediately was surrounded by members of the American Academic Oligarchy who were part of the Kennedy administration. Ironically, because of timing the American Academic Oligarchy in 1964 had to use Johnson, whose leanings were toward being a Romantic Populist, to stop a Mythical Reactionary movement led by  Barry Goldwater. Johnson only recently has been posthumously "embraced" by Academic Oligarchs.

By the time Ronald Reagan entered the Office of the President he too was surrounded with automatic members. But he had served two terms as Governor of California 1967–75 with Ed Meese as his Chief of Staff.  Meese was a Yale graduate. It is in examining the people like Meese around Reagan's political career that we can gain a clearer picture of what it means to be an Academic Oligarchist.

For instance, a classic example of an Academic Oligarchist associated with Reagan was Caspar Weinberger, who held a BA and a law degree from Harvard.
  • Governor Ronald Reagan named Weinberger chairman of the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy in 1967 and appointed him State director of finance early in 1968. 
  • Two years later Weinberger became chairman of the Federal Trade Commission where is credited for having revitalized the FTC by enforcing consumer protection. 
  • Weinberger subsequently served under President Richard Nixon as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. 
  • Weinberger then became vice president and general counsel of the Bechtel Corporation in California directly working in the world of Shareholder Capitalists for what is today the largest construction and civil engineering company in the United States, ranking as the 5th-largest privately owned company in the United States; it was and is a major contractor working for the U.S. Government which, as of July 2015, leads a consortium that manages three national security-related facilities in the U.S.: the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the combined Y-12 National Security Complex/Pantex Plant..
  • Weinberger then served as Secretary of Defense for the first six years of Reagan's Presidency. 
  • Afterwards Weinberger joined Forbes, Inc., in 1989 as publisher of Forbes magazine, and in 1993 he was named chairman. 
  • In he early 21st Century Weinberger was a member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute of Oxford University.
Regarding Ronald Reagan as California's most conservative Governor, the presence of Academic Oligarchy thinking in him or around him led to some rather non-conservative policies:
  • In 1968, he signed the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, establishing collective bargaining for California's municipal and county employees which is consistent with his history as a union leader;
  • During his term as Governor, he oversaw adoption of sweeping tax packages at least four times larger than the previous record California tax increase obtained by Governor Brown in 1959;
  • In 1970 he signed the landmark California Environmental Quality Act; he worked with Nevada Republican Governor Paul Laxalt to establish the Lake Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to protect the Lake from irresponsible development; he signed the bill that created the California Air Resources Control Board; and he opposed a major federal highway construction project through the southern Sierras, literally putting on his cowboy hat and riding his horse through the John Muir Wilderness to publicize his opposition;
  • He signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act, making California the third and largest state to allow for abortion in cases such as rape, incest, or where pregnancy would impair the physical or mental health of the mother, though he did struggle with this bill personally as explained in this story.
By the time his term as Governor ended, Academic Oligarchists accepted him one of their own. As a Presidential candidate, Reagan was an experienced union executive and governor who throughout his life regularly sought the advice and counsel of automatic Academic Oligarchists.

Regarding the Supreme Court, here is a list of the current Supreme Court justices:
  • John Roberts - Harvard and Harvard Law School
  • Anthony Kennedy - Stanford and Harvard Law School
  • Clarence Thomas -Yale Law School
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Cornell University, Harvard Law School, and Columbia Law School
  • Stephen Breyer - Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School
  • Samuel Alito - Princeton and Yale Law School
  • Sonia Sotomayor - Princeton and Yale Law School
  • Elena Kagan - Princeton, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School
In terms of the future of the Presidency we have a strong challenge to the Academic Oligarchist tradition:
  • Hillary Clinton is the model Academic Oligarchist who graduated from Wellesley in 1969 and received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale in 1973, and has held the positions of U.S. Senator and Secretary of State. Her Vice-Presidential nominee Tim Kaine also is a model Academic Oligarchist who holds a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard, has specialized training as an Academic Oligarchist from the Coro Foundation, and has held the positions of City Council Member, Mayor, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, and U.S. Senator.
  • The challenge comes from Donald Trump who did graduate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, Penn's business school, but has never held any governmental office having always been a Shareholder Capitalist. His Vice-Presidential nominee Mike Pence is an anti-Academic Oligarchist as a long-time member of the State Policy Network (we will discuss that further in the next post) who has held the position of the president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a conservative talk radio show host, Congressman and Governor.
Regarding Donald Trump's alma mater, there is a certain irony that has to be noted given his bombastic anti-China demagoguery which can be seen if you click on the image below:

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to look at the lists above and think: "Yes, the evidence indicates that the American Academic Oligarchy dominates the  U.S. Presidency and Supreme Court."

However, Academic Oligarchists do not dominate the law-making or budget-adoption roles in the United States. That function is left to Congress and the state legislatures, members of which are directly elected and are therefore responsible to the voters.

If members of the public do not like our laws and budgets, they need only look in the mirror to find someone to blame. Academic Oligarchists only have review and veto power, and do control administration of the laws and budget.

Like the Shareholder Capitalists, they do try to influence the direction of policy-making pursuant to those laws.The views of  Academic Oligarchists, particularly in the context of seeking a common good as defined by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, frequently do conflict with those of Shareholder Capitalists. We need to examine that conflict and how resolution is achieved.

But first we need to look at the other two classes - the dissidents.

7. Dissidents in American Politics: The Romantic & Mythical in Politics

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the seventh in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Romantic Populists

Populism is a political position which holds that the "virtuous" citizens are being mistreated by a small circle of elites, who can be overthrown if the people recognize the danger and work together.

The elites (aka The Establishment) are depicted as trampling in illegitimate fashion upon the rights, values, and voice of the "legitimate" people. The "legitimate" people are, of course, the Romantic Populists who rarely constitute more than 20% of the population, plus everyone else they believe they have the right to speak and think for.

One of the reasons as an American I call it "romantic" populism is that most of the American adherents, who appear out of the ether every four years, seem to believe that solely by winning the Presidency that will have solved all their problems by having overthrown Academic Oligarchists in a revolution.

The followers of Bernie Sanders primarily fall into that category (as do many of those who voted for Brexit) because the bulk of financial benefits of 21st Century economic growth have gone to upper middle class (in terms of per person income over $80,000 a year) and wealthy (in terms of asset value per owner over $10 million).

Romantic Populists are, of course, delusional dissidents when they see Academic Oligarchists as the The Establishment that has brought about the dysfunctional growth of economic inequality by its failure to restrain the Shareholder Capitalists.

To understand how that inequality came about they would need to take a quick look in the mirror, then in recognition of the truth turn off their iPhones and contemplate them. They should see in their phones the $181 billion held offshore by Apple to avoid taxes on wealth accumulation by the corporation, wealth from profits not distributed to shareholders. They should see the manipulation of consumers by Steve Jobs.

If they thought about it, even that lack of distribution of profits may seem illogical based on theoretical capitalism. But remember that a true Shareholder Capitalist within the corporation looks to advance corporate wealth without regard to the well-being of persons. And, after all, the shareholders are the owners of the $181 billion which has been set aside to assure longer term corporate goals which will enrich the corporation they own, so its all good.

Romantic Populists think the Academic Oligarchists controlling the power of the Presidency could correct this situation. But in fact that kind of governmental policy must come from laws passed by Congress which, as we know, is not controlled by Academic Oligarchists.

Rather it is controlled by other people elected to their positions by voters, voters who were persuaded to elect them by publicity and advertising bought by Shareholder Capitalists involved in the State Policy Network (more on that group below).The key elections regarding that kind of governmental policy occur two years after each Presidential election when the Romantic Populists seem to disappear, even from the voting booth.

Through their ignorance of American history, Romantic Populists seem to forget that at the beginning of the 20th Century, the Robber Barons were the target of a number "progressive" changes to be instituted by Academic Oligarchists (Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Harvard) which, of course, the new Shareholder Capitalists had rolled back or bypassed with the cooperation of Congress and the state governments by the end of the 20th Century.

For American Romantic Populists to achieve economic egalitarian change without a violent socialist revolution, they would have to never again buy an iPhone, symbolically rejecting the current world of Shareholder Capitalists and particularly the current world of entrepreneurial Shareholder Capitalists. They would have to spend much of their time every day working to elect new members of Congress and state legislatures, new members who also reject the current world of Shareholder Capitalists.

Or they can pretend it is enough to get enthused about a Presidential candidate once every four years and spend the rest of their time streaming "Game of Thrones" on their Apple TV, which is certainly ironic.

Mythical Reactionaries

A reactionary is a dissident who holds political views that favor a return to a previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that are negatively absent from the contemporary society.

Those who voted for Brexit to "take back" Britain - mostly white folks - did have a real time to remember. At least those over 500 years old had a real time to remember. It was before the British Empire. Britain was just a little island with no significant wealth, generally fighting wars with the French and each other. What they think they remember is a time that was before the industrial revolution and before immigration from the colonies.

The followers of  Donald Trump primarily fall into that category also. The reason I call them "mythical" reactionaries is the previous political state of American society with the characteristics they long for never existed.

In some cases American Mythical Reactionaries believe that there was the "Leave It to Beaver" 1950's  - when "fairly" paid hard working men went home to a three bedroom, two bath home they owned where their homemaker wives and 2.6 children greeted them. Their economic situation was the result of their hard work and adherence to values. In this mythical time all that happened without unions and without having had The New Deal government intervention or the myth wouldn't be mythical enough.

In other cases, American Mythical Reactionaries believe that there was a time like the 1880's in the West where brave hardworking pioneers made it on their own. This was achieved without having the government pushing in railroad capitalism and pushing out the Native Americans using genocide when necessary or the myth wouldn't be mythical enough.

At that time governmental intervention was necessary, of course, to offer government benefits to the European immigrant ancestors of the Mythical Reactionaries. The benefits were the various Homestead Acts giving those immigrants land specifically to take pressure off an economic unstable Eastern United States, a time in which Catholic immigration was a significant disruptive force.

Mythical Reactionaries among the general population too suffer the delusion that by overthrowing the Academic Oligarchists through winning the Presidency, some outsider will solve all their problems.

However, over the past two decades, unlike the Romantic Populists who are too busy to be bothered with uninteresting people like members of Congress and their state legislatures, some Mythical Reactionaries have been effective in electing a Congress and state legislatures that push for social policies they think will return America to one of those mythical previous state of society.

Unfortunately for the Mythical Reactionaries from the general populace,  members of Congress and the legislatures they have elected are catering to the economic interests of Shareholder Capitalists. This is not an accident. Their success was facilitated by the State Policy Network, a consortium of conservative and libertarian groups which focus on state-level politics funding a successful ongoing coordinated strategy across 34 states (the other 16 states are pretty much blue despite their best efforts) which was a blueprint for the Mythical Reactionary conservative political success.

In December 2013, The Guardian, in collaboration with The Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald, obtained, analyzed, and published 40 grant proposals from SPN regular member organizations. The grant proposals sought funding through SPN from the Searle Freedom Trust. According to The Guardian, the proposals documented a coordinated strategy across 34 states, "a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014." The reports described the grant proposals in six states as suggesting campaigns designed to cut pay to state government employees; oppose public sector collective bargaining; reduce public sector services in education and healthcare; promote school vouchers; oppose efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions; reduce or eliminate income and sales taxes; and study a proposed block grant reform to Medicare.

A month earlier, the State Policy Network was tied to the billionaire Shareholder Capitalists Koch Brothers. This year the Koch Brothers have offered clarity as noted by The Washington Post:
The Koch political network, which has steadfastly refused to engage in the 2016 presidential contest, plans to invoke Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in paid messages to voters as part of its campaigns supporting GOP Senate candidates, top officials said Saturday.

“We are going to tie the Democrat candidates to Hillary Clinton and the failed policies that she supports, and highlight the differences with the Republican candidates that we favor and that we’re supporting,” said Mark Holden, chairman of the board of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the network’s funding arm.

But Holden said the network has no plans to run an explicit campaign opposing Clinton’s efforts to reach the White House, saying: “We are going to differentiate on policies alone. It’s not going to be anti-Hillary.”

The plans to invoke Clinton in Senate ads come as the network is under pressure from some of its wealthy donors to get off the sidelines and use its national field infrastructure and paid advertising capacity to back GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. But Koch Industries chief executive Charles Koch has refused to budge, repeatedly expressing his dismay with Trump's tone and policy positions.

But the billionaire Shareholder Capitalists Koch Brothers not withstanding, the Mythical Reactionaries candidate to assure replacement of the Academic Oligarchists in the Executive and Judicial Branches is Donald Trump, a Shareholder Capitalist who ironically qualifies as an automatic Academic Oligarchist.

He will be helped by his Vice-Presidential Candidate Mike Pence who in 1991 became president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, an organization that is part of the State Policy Network.

Pence was placed in the Vice-President candidate position under confusing circumstances and generally dismissed by the press as someone there to appeal to the religious right. Of course he will appeal to the religious right, but he likely will have a significant role in facilitating the State Policy Network agenda with support from Congress and the States. As The Washington Post article notes: "Still, the invocation of Clinton in Koch-backed ads is another way that the operation could end up indirectly boosting Trump."

As a Shareholder Capitalist Trump has embraced some of the worst abuses and misuses of the corporation, turning the impersonal into personal, and showcasing it on television. It's hard to imagine how he and Pence will perform, what goals they will have, where up to now the standard is how best to achieve the goals of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But even the Koch Brothers have serious problems with Trump.

It would, of course, be against the wishes of a substantial majority of Americans. However, protests movements can easily be shut down by an authoritarian President.

Let's now take a look at how the Shareholder Capitalists and Academic Oligarchists struggle with issues that place them on opposite sides.