Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The critical civics lesson America & Trump needed
  21st Century Ideologies in America &
  the Government$ of the United States

    At the end of WWII, the United States and the world had experienced 16 years of economic and social upheaval which closed with the most appalling mass bloodshed in human history topped off by the development and use of the most nightmarish weapon imaginable.
    All of this was because of failures and actions by governments which were unable to adapt to the changes in political thinking - to ideologies - brought about by the impact of the Industrial Revolution. The problem is that "ideology", coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796, was born in the highly controversial philosophical and political debates and fights of the French Revolution. Ideological philosophy evolved after the beginning of European and American democracies which occurred within agrarian economies.
    Underlying the failure was the concept of Weltanschauung - Worldview - a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology referring to a framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it. Worldview remains a confused and confusing concept in English, used very differently by linguists and sociologists. Core worldview beliefs are often deeply rooted, and so are only rarely reflected on by individuals, and are brought to the surface only in moments of crises of faith.
    A subset of a Weltanschauung is a political ideology, a comprehensive set of normative beliefs, conscious and unconscious ideas, that an individual, group or society has. And it is out of this German (Prussian, Austrian) philosophical milieu of the late 19th and early 20th centuries addressing the failures of the Industrial Revolution that we see Marx and Engles and Heidegger and Hitler among many, many more.
    Karl Marx, in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844) laid out for the rest of humanity an observation about the economics of the Industrial Age that underlies the Weltanschauung that creates furor among various ideological groups:

    The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. Tthe increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion to the devaluation of the world of men. Labour produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity -- and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally.
    In his 1943 book The Menace of the Herd, Austrian scholar Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn described Hitler's goals as to quash individualism in furtherance of political goals:
    When Hitler and Mussolini attack the "western democracies" they insinuate that their "democracy" is not genuine. National Socialism envisages abolishing the difference in wealth, education, intellect, taste, philosophy, and habits by a leveling process which necessitates in turn a total control over the child and the adolescent. Every personal attitude will be branded—after communist pattern—as "bourgeois," and this in spite of the fact that the bourgeois is the representative of the most herdist class in the world, and that National Socialism is a basically bourgeois movement.
    Hitler in Mein Kampf repeatedly speaks of the "masses" and the "herd" referring to the people. The German people should probably, in his view, remain a mass of identical "individuals" in an enormous sand heap or ant heap, identical even to the color of their shirts, the garment nearest to the body.
    The reality is none of this means much to the ordinary citizen.  Until it does - when a political ideology becomes a dominantly pervasive component within a government.
    Ordinary citizens impacted by the disruptive Industrial Revolution were not spending their "off time" contemplating political philosophy. Nor are today's ordinary citizens impacted by the equally disruptive Digital Revolution spending their "off time" contemplating political philosophy. However....
    For the past 40 years, two ideologies have struggled for dominance in the governments of the United States - Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism.
    Neoconservatives have walked the corridors of power at the federal level for several decades reaching maximum influence during the George W. Bush administration as regularly noted in the press. They will make an impact during the Trump Administration, though how great a one is unclear.
    On the other hand, while no one was looking Neoliberals, led and funded by the extensive efforts of the Koch brothers and others, have taken control of most state governments.
    Offered at the end of this post is an excerpt from a very significant speech not reported in the media delivered about a month before the election that should clear up any mystery as to why the Koch's and the Neoliberals refused to back Donald Trump.
    The purpose of this lengthy post is to increase an awareness of those two ideologies because the United States has reached the Until it does time.

In Donald Trump's world he has his opinion which, when it came to replacing ObamaCare, ran head-on into some ideologues. He responded as Trump does:

While other media covered the responses to Trump's threats, some targets of his tweets chose to have their responses published in the Heritage Foundation-backed Daily Signal March 30 article After Trump Threatens to ‘Fight’ Freedom Caucus, Conservatives Vow to ‘Keep Promises’ which was followed the next day by the article Leading Conservative Groups Stand With Freedom Caucus After Trump Attacks.

President Trump is getting a critical civics lesson. Like most Americans, he probably thought the American political scene could be described more or less as represented in this image:

Within this framework, many think that Congressional Freedom Caucus is much like the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues which is supported and monitored by issue oriented groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the other 88 issue oriented feminist organization listed in the Wikipedia page.

That is simply not the case. In fact, Trump is surrounded by warring, though sometimes confused and confusing, ideologues. And The Freedom Caucus is about ideology, really about an ideological movement, one that has been very successful amassing power in state government$.

If someone announced that a small group of people committed to an ideology which rejected your politics was about to take control of the United States government, would you be alarmed and, with others, act to stop them?

What if someone announced that a small group of wealthy people committed to an ideology which rejected your politics was going to systematically take control of the 50 state governments of the United States over the next 70 years using the established democratic processes, would you be alarmed and, with others, act to stop them?

In the post-Johnson era, Neoconservatives have held significant positions of power in the White House relative to foreign and monetary policy. And to some degree their view is strongly represented on the Supreme Court.

But over a period of 70 years, between 1947 and 2016, one group of ideologues - the Neoliberals - achieved effective control of most state government$ in the United States and, at this time somewhat less effectively, taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And to some degree their view is strongly represented on the Supreme Court.

In fact, the shift from 1976 to 2016 within the important government$ of the United States, the state legislatures, looks like this (focus on Nebraska which has a unicameral legislature that is supposedly non-partisan):


At a surface emotional level, 21st Century American feelings about ideology are derived from the cartoon-like characterizations of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin - fascism versus communism as implemented in Germany and Russia in the first half of the 20th Century. That is totally irrelevant today but nonetheless we are taught and repeatedly inundated with "scary" noise represented in this cartoon:

In fact, most Americans do not understand ideologies, particularly the dominant ideologies competing in the United States today. In order to insure a shared understanding, it seems important to define "ideology" and in particular political ideology.

    Ideology (from Greek ιδεολογία) is a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group, or society relating to human behavior and the expected (and unexpected) outcomes from that behavior. An ideology differs from a religion in that an ideology does not try to relate humanity to the context of existence except when the ideology requires a belief in an established societal religion
    Implicitly, in societies that distinguish between public and private life, every political or economic tendency entails ideology, whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought. Commonly, ideological beliefs refers to the system of abstracted meaning applied to public matters, thus making this concept central to politics.
    A political ideology is a defined set of ideals, principles, doctrines, myths, or symbols of a social movement, institution, class, or large group that explains how society should work, and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order....
    Political ideologies have two dimensions:

  1. Goals: how society should work
  2. Methods: the most appropriate ways to achieve the ideal arrangement
    An ideologue is an adherent of an ideology, especially one who is uncompromising and dogmatic.
    An ideocracy is when a political ideology becomes a dominantly pervasive component within a government, though some of us think of it is idiocy.
    Finally, for the sake of clarity we need to visualize the ideologies of the world as a globe surrounding the political discourse. One needs to think of each curved line on a side of the globe running from North to South as a specific ideological range. For example, let's take an ideology not currently politically competitive in the United States - socialism. (Sorry Bernie, but had you been the Democratic candidate, you would have been clobbered by anti-socialist rhetoric.) The Socialist Ideological Compass would at the North be Totalitarian Communism, at the Equator, Democratic Socialism, and somewhere in between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn you would find Roosevelt "New Deal" ideas to various Scandinavian country implementations. As you approach the South end you find communal collectives such as a kibbutz, ashram, or other planned commonly-owned community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork which sometimes leads to an extreme cult.
    It is using this view of a globe of ideology that allows a proper understanding of the situation in the 21st Century United States.

In the 21st Century government$ of United States we have a compass, not a spectrum, to represent the expressions of ideological perspectives as follows:

Near the southerly point of the Compass is the Ethnocentric Chauvinism ideology of racist, nativist, extreme views of Americans in "Alt-Right" groups like the KKK, League of the South, Minutemen, et al.

A little North on the East side we find Tribes that have become more closed cult-like and paranoid than normal societal groups which can result in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act prior to the events of September 11, 2001, the The Jonestown Massacre of The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ.

A little North on the West side you find we find more isolated Individuals who become "loners" and paranoid - such as the Unabomber.

As we move in a Northerly direction beyond the Ethnocentric Chauvinism, the United States has always sustained populist tensions between between Cultural Tribalism and Cultural Individualism - what in the 21st Century we would call "lifestyles" not ideologies, perhaps something that could be studied as behavioral psychology.

From the beginning we had Cultural Tribalism epitomized by the Puritan and Quaker pioneers setting up their "Cities Upon the Hill", people sheltered and constrained by tribal religious/cultural rules/traditions. Ultimately in the 21st Century, Americans have included that traditional Cultural Tribalism into the ideological core of Social Conservatism which seeks enforcement of the tradition of the assimilation of "the others" into the one national culture, a view generally known as the "Melting Pot."

Social Conservatism is the East Point on the Political Compass, adjacent to the Cultural Tribalist-leaning population of America.

From the beginning we also had Cultural Individualism epitomized the Fur Trappers/Pathfinders like Jim Bridger, people who flourished by avoiding the constraints of any one tribal religious/cultural tradition. Bridger is a classic example.

Born in 1804, Bridger's parents moved from Richmond, Virginia, to St. Louis, Missouri, then died when he was 13. Later in his 30's while repeatedly traversing from the Canada–US border and the southern line of the Colorado, from the Missouri River westward to Idaho and back to Missouri, either as an employee of or partner in the fur trading business, Bridger married a woman from the Flathead Indians tribe and after her death the daughter of a Shoshone chief. In 1843, Bridger and Louis Vasquez, also a mountain man and trader and the son of a Spanish father and French mother, built a trading post, later named Fort Bridger, on the west bank of Blacks Fork of the Green River to serve pioneers on the Oregon Trail.

Ultimately in the 21st Century, Americans have included that traditional Cultural Individualism into the ideological core of Social Liberalism - a view that individuals "free of the shackles of society" observe the peaceful expression and sharing of a variety of cultural traditions with no restrictions, generally known as the multicultural milieu.

Social Liberalism is the West Point on the Political Compass, adjacent to the Cultural Individualist-leaning population of America.

The significant difficulty for Americans is that the espoused ideologies of political candidates do not comfortably fit with the cultural preferences within the American electorate who like to pick and choose the various elements that form the two ideologies.


As you move towards the North Point on the East side of the Compass you find Tribes that have become Economic Conservatives, nationalistic with a corporate economic view which becomes more protectionist, expansionist  and militaristic until it becomes Totalitarian.

The ideological seeds of Economic Corporatism were planted in the 19th Century American belief of Manifest Destiny the effects of which are well expressed by John Gast’s painting “American Progress” containing images of government subsidized railroads and homesteaders taking advantage of the various Homestead Acts...

...which includes the darkness of the genocidal American Indian Wars, the permanent occupation resulting from the Mexican American War, and the Imperialism of the Spanish American War which was reflected in this political cartoon of the time...

As explained in the Wikipedia entry, Manifest Destiny:

    The legacy is a complex one....
    The belief in an American mission to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, as expounded by Thomas Jefferson and his "Empire of Liberty" and Abraham Lincoln, was continued by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Under Harry Truman (and Douglas MacArthur) it was implemented in practice in the American rebuilding of Japan and Germany after World War II. George W. Bush in the 21st century applied it to the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tyner argues that in proclaiming a mission to combat terror, Bush was continuing a long tradition of prophetic presidential action to be the beacon of freedom in the spirit of manifest destiny.
    President Woodrow Wilson continued the policy of interventionism in the Americas, and attempted to redefine both manifest destiny and America's "mission" on a broader, worldwide scale. Wilson led the United States into World War I with the argument that "The world must be made safe for democracy." In his 1920 message to Congress after the war, Wilson stated:

    ... I think we all realize that the day has come when Democracy is being put upon its final test. The Old World is just now suffering from a wanton rejection of the principle of democracy and a substitution of the principle of autocracy as asserted in the name, but without the authority and sanction, of the multitude. This is the time of all others when Democracy should prove its purity and its spiritual power to prevail. It is surely the manifest destiny of the United States to lead in the attempt to make this spirit prevail.
    This was the only time a president had used the phrase "manifest destiny" in his annual address....
    "Manifest destiny" is sometimes used by critics of U.S. foreign policy to characterize interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In this usage, "manifest destiny" is interpreted as the underlying cause of what is denounced by some as "American imperialism." A more positive-sounding phrase devised by scholars at the end of the twentieth century is "nation building," and State Department official Karin Von Hippel notes that the U.S. has "been involved in nation-building and promoting democracy since the middle of the nineteenth century and 'Manifest Destiny.'"

In a peculiar "spin" twist, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a German Jewish refugee from the Nazi's, claimed to have been a non-ideologue who was guided by Realpolitik which was seen as a most practical means of securing national interests. It was thought Realpolitik often entailed compromising on ideological principles because for all intents and purposes ideology was popularly and erroneously defined as communism and fascism, as explained above.

In fact, in the 1970's Kissinger was empowering, if not creating, the ideology of the Neoconservative. As outlined in Wikipedia, Neocons "typically advocate the promotion of democracy and American national interest in international affairs, including by means of military force and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism. Many of its adherents became politically famous during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Neoconservatives peaked in influence during the administration of George W. Bush, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq."

In the 21st Century, the ideology that has continued the Manifest Destiny tradition is Neoconservatism at just East of North on the Compass.

When you gain an understanding of the Northeast quarter of the Compass you begin to note several things consistent with the concept of Tribes. First there is Social Conservatism which has no qualms about government supporting tribal religious/cultural rules and traditions. It is where you find Economic Corporatism which is "the sociopolitical organization of a society by major interest groups, known as corporate groups, such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labour, military, patronage, or scientific affiliations, on the basis of their common interests." Here, government intervention in favor of corporate tribes (almost never equally balanced for all) is encouraged and even government participation is required in some cases (the American military in the Military-Industrial Complex equation for instance).

From a Neoconservative view, government exists not only to promote of democracy and American national interest in international affairs, American-based corporate groups define the American national interest in domestic and international affairs.

In terms of economics, Wikipedia notes that Neocons "tend to reject the Hayekian notion that the growth of government influence on society and public welfare is 'the road to serfdom.'" And so the acknowledgement that Neoconservatism rejects "Hayekian" thought brings us to the Northwest quarter of the Compass.


The map below indicates which among the 50 U.S. states at the beginning of 2016 had
  1. a Democratic Governor and 
  2. Democrats in control of its legislature. 

In addition to California which has Democratic super-majorities in both houses of the its legislature and eight of eight elected executive offices filled by Democrats, the other five Democratic states are Oregon, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.

This map, and the map of the government$ of the United States in 2016 presented in the first portion of this post above, are not indicative of a routine shift between political parties in the United States. It is the result of a 70-year effort by dedicated Neoliberal ideologues, an international movement actually begun by these two guys in 1938:

Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises are the Founding Fathers of the most successful ideological movement in the United States. Yet most Americans have no idea who they are and did not hear the term Neoliberal or Neoliberalism mentioned once on any news show on TV in the entire year of 2016. Neocon maybe. But Neoliberal, no.

The informed American should know what the Neoliberal ideology is and how, over a period of 70 years beginning in 1947, dedicated, well-funded organizers, not particularly enamored with either political party, were able to utilize our political system to take control of most state government$ in the United States. And, at this time somewhat less effectively, they have taken control of the U.S. Congress, less so of the U.S. Supreme Court, and are in a power struggle in the U.S. Executive Branch. Let's begin with an examination of the Northwest quarter of the Compass.

Remember that Hayekian notion that the growth of government influence on society and public welfare is "the road to serfdom." When you look at the Northwest quarter, you cannot escape the realization that the range runs from Individualism to Anarchy. Slightly West of Anarchy is Neolibralism and somewhat South of that is Economic Individualism which rises up out of Social Liberalism. The history of how this evolved will be discussed below.

But for clarity's sake, it should be understood that the role of government in any Northwest direction ideology is minimal except to, through...
  • freedom, 
  • democracy, 
  • private property ownership, and 
  • the rule of law, 
 assure the rights of the individual
  • to live life among, 
  • to receive an education from, and 
  • to engage in commercial trade with 
...other individuals around with world.

As explained by the web site of the Mises Institute located in in Auburn, Alabama, supporting one of the two divergent branches of thought from the Austrian School of Economics:

   The story of the Austrian School begins ... when the followers of St. Thomas Aquinas, writing and teaching at the University of Salamanca in Spain, sought to explain the full range of human action and social organization.
    These Late Scholastics observed the existence of economic law, inexorable forces of cause and effect that operate very much as other natural laws. Over the course of several generations, they discovered and explained the laws of supply and demand, the cause of inflation, the operation of foreign exchange rates, and the subjective nature of economic value—all reasons Joseph Schumpeter celebrated them as the first real economists.
    The Late Scholastics were advocates of property rights and the freedom to contract and trade. They celebrated the contribution of business to society, while doggedly opposing taxes, price controls, and regulations that inhibited enterprise. As moral theologians, they urged government$ to obey ethical strictures against theft and murder.

The Mises Institute is, of course, named after Ludwig von Mises who in 1938 in Paris with fellow exile from Austria Friedrich Hayek, discovered a shared belief that social democracy was a manifestation of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism, as exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state.

At that time they coined the term Neoliberalism as a label for their view. Thus Neoliberalism came into being. Except that in 1938 it was a discussion between economic theorists in an academic setting. To avoid the Nazi's, Mises ended up in the United States and Hayek in Britain.

It is not a coincidence that the quote above discusses the University of Salamanca during the 16th and 17th Centuries. What happened there is the foundation for Neoliberalism and, irony of ironies, it was as much the result of the discovery of the Americas as the settlement of North America by the English Puritans and Quakers.

The effect of precious metals arriving in Spain and other European countries from the Americas created a new look at the relationship between individuals and wealth when it was observed that in the countries where precious metals were scarce, prices for them were higher than in those where they were abundant. As explained by Wikipedia:

    The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, with a revindication of liberty not habitual in Europe of that time. The natural rights of man came to be, in one form or another, the center of attention, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life, economic rights such as the right to own property) and spiritual rights (the right to freedom of thought and to human dignity).
    The School of Salamanca reformulated the concept of natural law: law originating in nature itself, with all that exists in the natural order sharing in this law. Their conclusion was, given that all humans share the same nature, they also share the same rights to life and liberty. Such views constituted a novelty in European thought and went counter to those then predominant in Spain and Europe that people indigenous to the Americas had no such rights.

The economic theories included not only the right to own property with the exclusive right to the benefit from that property but, in recognition of the evolving entrepreneurial spirit, the right to borrow and loan money with interest previously prohibited as usury. Given that borrowed money was no longer strictly for consumption but for production as well, it could not be viewed in the same manner.

Further, contrary to the prior view that the value of goods should be based on the cost of production as the sole determinant of a just price, in the new economy just prices would arise from mutual decisions in free commerce, barring the distorting effects of monopoly, fraud, or government intervention in the process effectively introducing the concept of a free market economy.

Of course, as one moves towards the American Revolution - and that Tea Party - the most influential economic theories come from Adam Smith, a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment era, who wrote The Wealth of Nations first published in a year familiar to Americans - 1776 - and which explores the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, covering such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets. As summarized by Wikipedia:

    An important theme that persists throughout the work is the idea that the economic system is automatic, and, when left with substantial freedom, able to regulate itself. This is often referred to as the “invisible hand.” The ability to self-regulate and to ensure maximum efficiency, however, is threatened by monopolies, tax preferences, lobbying groups, and other “privileges” extended to certain members of the economy at the expense of others.

Lest one think that Smith was some unknown Scot with no influence on America, Wikipedia explains:

    James Madison, in a speech given in Congress on 2 February 1791, cited The Wealth of Nations in opposing a national bank: "The principal disadvantages consisted in, 1st. banishing the precious metals, by substituting another medium to perform their office: This effect was inevitable. It was admitted by the most enlightened patrons of banks, particularly by Smith on the Wealth of Nations". Thomas Jefferson, writing to John Norvell on 14 June 1807, claimed that on "the subjects of money & commerce, Smith's Wealth of Nations is the best book to be read, unless Say's Political Economy can be had, which treats the same subject on the same principles, but in a shorter compass & more lucid manner".

Adam Smith is generally regarded as the founder of modern economics. Adam Smith advocated the capitalist free enterprise system, based on the belief that men are motivated by rational self-interest. Wealth of Nations became a standard text book for economists throughout the Western world. One could, of course, write extensively about the influence of Smith and even the Chicago school of economics.

  In a 1944 book Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. In 1947 he, with Mises and others, founded in Switzerland the first organization to spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – supported by billionaires and their foundations. Charles Koch, one of the famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) Koch brothers, is a long-standing member.

On the international level, we have Sir Antony Fisher, whose mother was an heir to part of the wealthy Astor family, who introduced battery chicken-farming techniques to Europe and made many millions of dollars through his Buxten Chicken business. He had smuggled special quick-fattening, highly selected eggs into post-war Britain. These had been bred for battery-hen breeding and could survive without exercise of foraging which allowed intensive farming. He turned chicken from a luxury to a staple food in war-impoverished Britain.
After founding the Institute of Economic Affairs in London in 1955,  Fisher helped to establish the Fraser Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Pacific Research Institute in the 1970s. In 1981 Fisher conceived of  the Atlas Network as a means to connect various think tanks via a global network through which the organizations could learn best practices from one another and "pass the best research and policy ideas from one to the other, and so avoid the need to reinvent the wheel." Atlas has been described as "self replicating, a think tank that creates think tank."

In addition to the Pacific Research Institute, California members of the Atlas Network include the Hoover Institution, the Ayn Rand Institute, the Benjamin Rush Institute, the California Policy Center, the Claremont Institute, the Independent Institute, Liberty International, the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Reason Foundation, Seasteading Institute, Smock Media, and Taliesin Nexus.

Which brings us to the United States, where Neoliberal wealthy corporate interests created a national network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists who always hid under the traditional label "conservative." They funded academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia, plus a series of think tanks. The latter include among others The American Enterprise Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute (founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974), the Pacific Research Institute, and The Heartland Institute.  In 1992 they established a network of state-level think tanks across the United States called the State Policy Network (SPN) which include (links to the websites of all of the following can be accessed from the SPN website):

  • Alabama: Alabama Policy Institute
  • Alaska: Alaska Policy Forum
  • Arizona: Goldwater Institute
  • Arkansas: Advance Arkansas Institute, Arkansas Policy Foundation
  • California: See the 13 listed above.
  • Colorado: Independence Institute
  • Connecticut: Yankee Institute for Public Policy
  • Delaware: Caesar Rodney Institute
  • Florida: Foundation for Government Accountability, James Madison Institute, Friends of Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Georgia: Georgia Center for Opportunity, Georgia Public Policy Foundation
  • Hawaii: Grassroot Institute
  • Idaho: Idaho Freedom Foundation
  • Illinois: Illinois Policy Institute, Heartland Institute, Institute for Truth in Accounting
  • Indiana: Indiana Policy Review Foundation, EdChoice
  • Iowa: Public Interest Institute
  • Kansas: Kansas Policy Institute
  • Kentucky: Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions
  • Louisiana: Pelican Institute for Public Policy
  • Maine: Maine Heritage Policy Center
  • Maryland: Calvert Institute for Policy Research, Maryland Public Policy Institute
  • Massachusetts: Pioneer Institute, Beacon Hill Institute
  • Michigan: Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Docs4Patient Care Foundation, Acton Institute
  • Minnesota: Center of the American Experiment, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, Intellectual Takeout, Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom
  • Mississippi: Empower Mississippi Foundation, Mississippi Center for Public Policy
  • Missouri: Show-Me Institute
  • Montana: Montana Policy Institute, Property & Environment Research Center
  • Nebraska: Platte Institute for Economic Research
  • Nevada: Nevada Policy Research Institute
  • New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, Granite Institute
  • New Mexico: Rio Grande Foundation
  • New York: Empire Center for Public Policy, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Moving Picture Institute, National Review Institute
  • North Carolina: John Locke Foundation, Civitas Institute, The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Jesse Helms Center
  • Ohio: Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, EFoundation, Liberty Foundation of America
  • Oregon: Cascade Policy Institute
  • Pennsylvania: Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, Free To Choose Network
  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity
  • South Carolina Palmetto Promise Institute, South Carolina Policy Council, Center for Independent Employees, Ceterus
  • South Dakota: Great Plains Public Policy Institute
  • Tennessee: Beacon Center of Tennessee, Spark Freedom
  • Texas: Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Utah: Libertas Institute, Sutherland Institute
  • Vermont: Ethan Allen Institute
  • Virginia: Thomas Jefferson Institute, Virginia Institute for Public Policy, Charles Koch Institute, Charles Koch Institute, Young America’s Foundation, Institute for Humane Studies, Institute for Justice, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Leadership Institute, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, DonorsTrust, National Legal and Policy Center, Center for Competitive Politics, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Association of American Educators Foundation, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council
  • Washington: Freedom Foundation, Washington Policy Center
  • West Virginia: Cardinal Institute, Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia
  • Wisconsin: MacIver Institute for Public Policy, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty
  • Wyoming: Wyoming Liberty Group
And yet despite all that activity, which along with political contributions has involved expenditures in the billions - sometime in the early-to-mid-1950's the term "Neoliberal" disappeared from normal political discourse, except in certain tight circles and among those who study political science instead of media celebrity politics that began with the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960.


Using one of my favorite phrases, around 1960 when nobody was looking the Industrial Age ran into the Digital Revolution which very rapidly shifted our economy into the Information Age. To use Wikipedia's words:

    The Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) is a period in human history characterized by the shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on information computerization. The onset of the Information Age is associated with the Digital Revolution, just as the Industrial Revolution marked the onset of the Industrial Age. The definition of what digital means (or what information means) continues to change over time as new technologies, user devices, methods of interaction with other humans and devices enter the domain of research, development and market launch.
    During the Information Age, the phenomenon is that the digital industry creates a knowledge-based society surrounded by a high-tech global economy that spans over its influence on how the manufacturing throughput and the service sector operate in an efficient and convenient way. In a commercialized society, the information industry is able to allow individuals to explore their personalized needs, therefore simplifying the procedure of making decisions for transactions and significantly lowering costs for both the producers and buyers. This is accepted overwhelmingly by participants throughout the entire economic activities for efficacy purposes, and new economic incentives would then be indigenously encouraged, such as the knowledge economy.
    The Information Age formed by capitalizing on computer microminiaturization advances. This evolution of technology in daily life and social organization has led to the fact that the modernization of information and communication processes has become the driving force of social evolution.

Humans today, unlike at the beginning of the Industrial Age, have their act together. Particularly in the United States, in the Information Age we have dealt with the kinds of disruptions experienced before such as significant unemployment and underemployment and wealth and income inequality. Yeah, right. The one thing that is unlikely to happen is that a new generation will think the experiences of their great-grandparents offers them any lessons.

Will humans as before ultimately experience a total collapse of the world's economy and a war that will kill 3%± of the world's population? Or will we just end it all with a nuclear holocaust or climate change? These are questions the ideologues are debating.

Everyone else ignores the ideologues and that's not a very good idea.

For instance, as I've noted in this blog previously no one thought about the internet in ideological terms when it was being developed in the framework of the Department of Defense and cooperating universities. But in his August 2016 article The Internet Should Be a Public Good Ben Tarnoff, a San Francisco journalist who writes about technology and politics, decried the planned October 2016 action of the government that turned over ownership of the internet domain name system (DNS) to the private sector:

    ...The symbolic significance is huge. The October handover marks the last chapter in the privatization of the Internet. It concludes a process that began in the 1990s, when the US government privatized a network built at enormous public expense.
    In return, the government demanded nothing: no compensation, and no constraints or conditions over how the Internet would take shape.
    There was nothing inevitable about this outcome — it reflected an ideological choice, not a technical necessity. Instead of confronting critical issues of popular oversight and access, privatization precluded the possibility of putting the Internet on a more democratic path.

Tarnoff was, of course, 100% correct. No government, not even California's, within the Information Age has seriously attempted to quite operating as an Industrial Age institution. One of the simplest indications is that the legislative processes still require legislators to travel to capitols instead of working from their homes or offices in the districts they represent. We had a U.S. Senator in the context of opposing network neutrality talking about "a series of tubes."

In December 2016 Tarnoff was also 100% correct in Neoliberalism turned our world into a business. And there are two big winners:

    No industry has played a larger role in evangelizing the neoliberal faith than Silicon Valley. Its entrepreneurs are constantly coming up with new ways to make more of our lives into markets. A couple of decades ago, staying in touch with friends wasn’t a source of economic value – now it’s the basis for a $350bn company. Our photo albums, dating preferences, porn habits, and most random and banal thoughts have all become profitable data sets, mined for advertising revenue. We are encouraged to see ourselves as pieces of human capital that must ceaselessly enhance our value – optimizing our feeds and profiles, hustling for follows and likes and swipes.
    If Silicon Valley is turning our personal lives into a business, then Trump hopes to turn our government into one. Like all of Trump’s ideas, this isn’t especially original. For decades, neoliberal politicians of both parties have promoted the notion that government should not only serve business, but operate like one. They’ve argued that public services should be privatized, or at least model the “efficiency” of the private sector. They’ve claimed that business is the highest form of human endeavor, and that the role of the state is to empower and emulate it.

The problem with ideologies when the ideologues gain some power is they then must interface with the real world containing real people.

For instance, take the matter of government involvement in health care. Since 1950 the federal and state governments have subsidized a health care program - employer sponsored health insurance, which is deductible for the employer, and for the employee is an untaxed benefit. It has been frequently criticized as government health care for working white people. Medicaid was created in 1965 to help states take care of the poor not receiving employer sponsored insurance. Medicare was added in 1966 to cover the retired population.

This combination of programs meets the criteria for the Easterly side of the compass primarily because it is Tribal. You are associated with some employer - a part of a tribe. You are the poor. Or you are among the senior citizen tribe. Some people don't belong to such a tribe and have not insurance. And prior to ObamaCare many employers were dropping coverage and new employers were not offering coverage. But, it was a system.

This combination of programs does not meet the criteria of the Westerly side that there should be no third party in the economic transaction. The Westerly side sees health care as an arrangement between two individuals - you and your doctor (or hospital, etc.). A Cultural Individualist does not depend on third parties for anything.

In the real world, things are not that simple and the Neoliberals know that.  But they do believe that the "the road to serfdom" is just as likely through government intervention supporting "major interest groups, known as corporate groups, such as ... business [and] labour ... affiliations, on the basis of their common interests." At least government provided single payer health care would be egalitarian, but it is the choice of the socialist ideologue who cannot gain any position on the American Political Compass.

Healthcare policy is complicated, as Donald Trump explained in surprise. On the other hand, it was easy without a Democratic President for Congress to undo internet privacy rules which in the process has broader implications as explained in this comprehensive Business Insider article.

So far the Neoliberal ideology is winning in the Information Age, though the Neoliberals do not like Populists such as Trump because of what they can do to democratic societies - think Hitler taking over a democracy by legal democratic means which is what happened.

On September 19-23, 2016, the Mont Pelerin Society - founded in 1947 by Hayek, Mises, and others, and supported by Charles Koch - held a General Meeting in Miami. It's President, Economist Pedro Schwartz, gave the closing address which in part read as follows:

...I would also like to thank the generous sponsors of this meeting. You may see their names on the screen. They are very different from some of the people I will allude to when I speak of POPULISM.

The Spread of Populism in the World at the Start of the 21st Century

...Nearly seventy years have passed since Hayek gathered a small group of thirty eight thinkers around him in the small village of Mont Pelerin, overlooking Lac Leman in Switzerland. The contribution of those Pilgrims of Liberty to building a better world, and the work of the many of us who have followed in their footsteps, has been crucial - I affirm without false modesty. But we meet here in Miami because there is still so much to be done. We must always be ready to Battle for Freedom and to open new ways for the progress of our societies. We are still very much needed.

Our aims

To get ready for more battles, our members have approved important changes in the Mont Pelerin Society.... We want to make our organisation more dynamic and relevant to the questions of the day.... We want to join in the battle of ideas because the central values of civilisation continue to be in danger.... That most precious possession of Western Man, freedom of thought and expression, is threatened by the spread of creeds whose object is to suppress and obliterate all views but their own. We are unfairly presented as extremists to dismantle our defence of private property and the competitive market. Economic nationalism is rearing its ugly head again in the programs of those who would resist change and progress. Let me read in full the last paragraph of that Statement:

The group does not aspire to conduct propaganda. It seeks to establish no meticulous and hampering orthodoxy. It aligns itself with no particular party. Its object is solely, by facilitating the exchange of views among minds inspired by certain ideals and broad conceptions held in common, to contribute to the preservation and improvement of the free society.


...The latest danger for freedom is the spread of Populism in our democracies, be it of the democratic kind or of those who use our liberties to try to destroy our freedom. We Pilgrims of Liberty have much to contribute to the fight against this new plague, because much of it originates in the realm of ideas.

Aristotle denounced demagogy many centuries ago as being a degeneration of democracy. This is true but is not all. Populism is a flood to which four currents contribute: the beguiled voters; the power-hungry intellectuals; the short-sighted politicians; and the appeasing elites.

It is usual but unfair to put all the blame on the people. In fact demagogues have it so easy because the people have been fed with unfeasible promises of welfare: They have promised good free education, quality free healthcare, ample free pensions, no attention paid to cost or incentives. They have even been promised the end of the business cycle and unemployment. When voters discover they have been tricked, they grow angry and turn to even more irresponsible dreamers.

The anger is there all right. During the American election campaign, we are hearing angry demands of total protection from competition or of money poured into pharaonic infrastructures. Many Britons voted for Brexit from a disillusionment with a fancied European Union imposed by politicians in London and Brussels....

As regards the people, not all is gloom and doom, however.... So, if a gullible people are not wholly to blame for the dangerous flirting with utopia that we are witnessing in so many lands, who is?

A group deserving blame are the professors, philosophers, sociologists, economists, journalists who have committed la trahison des clercs, as Benda called it, or the treason of the clerisy, to use the name given them by Deirdre McCloskey. For more than a century mainstream intellectuals have done nothing but extol the virtues of socialism, harp on the defects of the market, lament the alleged exploitation of the poor, ...denounce the immorality of capitalism...inspire or condone the fattening of Leviathan and the servitude of the individual. Intellectuals, undeterred by the failure of socialism, now speak of fairness, social equality, and wicked bankers. I call this 'Picketing' holes in capitalism. They are always silent on the magnificent results of the capitalist economy and the free market, especially for the poor.

We see with dismay that the Universities of Europe and America have been transformed into places where the philosophy of Freedom has no place and is even forcible expelled. At this meeting we have heard from many long suffering Faculty, especially from Alan Kors, what it means to be a believer in economic Freedom in the Liberal Arts Faculties of the US or the Social Science programmes in Europe. Those unfaithful teachers and students shamelessly follow the recommendation of Gramsci that the way to make the socialist revolution is to monopolise the field of culture. The paradox is that we the classical liberals and libertarians do have in our midst the outstanding thinkers that can help us push back the tide of politically correct intellectual dishonesty ... but they are not heard in society as they deserve. The battle of ideas is as important as it was at the birth of our society. It is a battle that especially concerns us here.

The treason of the clerisy deeply influences politicians. ...Politicians maximise just like any other human beings. They maximise votes but they could try to maximise votes also by helping maintain the institutions of freedom. ...As Jose Pinera told us, it is crucial that we change the atmosphere in the media and the social networks. Why do the traitorous clerisy have such a wide hearing and the demagogues such a large following?

To put it bluntly, it is because 'the rich' have a bad conscience. For the socialists 'the rich' is the likes of us here in the professions, in business, in gainful employment, and also the captains of industry and finance. Not us in the Mont Pelerin Society, of course, but many in the more affluent part of the society are prepared to compromise, to take the middle road, to curry favour, especially in Europe and Latin America. The well-to-do seem to be always ready for compromise with the enemies of liberty. I sum their position with the symbol of an umbrella - the umbrella Neville Chamberlain carried to his meeting with Hitler in Munich. He thought he could face the monster with sweet reason, by showing his willingness to compromise - at the cost of Czechoslovakia!

Is there no hope? Of course there is. We have the best ideas to win the battle against the traitorous clerisy. The battle of ideas is as crucial as it was in 1947, when Hayek founded the Mont Pelerin Society. Not only in the media and the social networks, but also in the Universities, the learned journals, the films, the novels, the theatre. We Montpelerinians have our work cut out. Never forget: truth will prevail if the seekers for truth do not Falter.

They may have their work cut out for them, but in the United States they do have a major advantage with the organizations listed above and the money available to them. Certainly no other ideology nor any political party can match their resources. That should be of concern to someone....

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