Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The intellectual roots of our current oligarchy go back half a century or more


We've spoken many times about how our present political structures are dominated by an oligarchy, which is trying to run the United States in its own interests and to the detriment of ours.  That includes having stolen the November 2020 elections through massive, systematic electoral fraud, which has rendered our Constitution effectively meaningless, and will require drastic action if it's to be restored as the foundation of our society.

Sadly, this was all foreshadowed by "experts" as far back as the 1960's and 1970's.  I'm going to cite just two examples this morning, but there are many more out there.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a counselor to President Johnson and National Security Adviser under President Carter, was also a member of the Trilateral Commission.  He wrote an influential study titled "Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era", which is also available for download.  In it, on page 97 of the downloaded version, he wrote the following.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Another threat, less overt but no less basic, confronts liberal democracy. More directly linked to the impact of technology, it involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled and directed society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know­how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under close surveillance and control. Under such circumstances, the scientific and technological momentum of the country would not be reversed but would actually feed on the situation it exploits.

The emergence of a large dominant party, alongside the more narrowly focused and more intensely doctrinaire groupings on the right and the left, could accelerate the trend toward such technological managerialism. Such a large dominant party would combine American society's quest for stability with its historical affinity for innovation. Relying on scientific growth to produce the means for dealing with social ills, it would tap the nation's intellectual talent for broad target planning and exploit the existence of doctrinaire groups by using them as social barometers and as sources of novel ideas. Persisting social crisis, the emergence of a charismatic personality, and the exploitation of mass media to obtain public confidence would be the steppingstones in the piecemeal transformation of the United States into a highly controlled society. In different ways, both the doctrinarian and the conservative might find the temptations inherent in the new techniques of social control too difficult to resist. The inclination of the doctrinaire left to legitimize means by ends could lead them to justify more social control on the ground that it serves progress. The conservatives, preoccupied with public order and fascinated by modern gadgetry, would be tempted to use the new techniques as a response to unrest, since they would fail to recognize that social control is not the only way to deal with rapid social change.

Such an outcome—were it to come to pass—would represent a profoundly pessimistic answer to the question whether American liberal democracy can assimilate and give philosophical meaning to the revolution it is undergoing. This matter not only has relevance for the United States; it has larger implications: American success or failure may provide a significant indication whether a modern democracy with highly educated citizens can successfully undergo an extensive social change without losing its essentially democratic character.

There's more at the link.

Taking that further, a 1975 report prepared for the Trilateral Commission titled "The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies" (also available as a free download) contained a section headed "Conclusions:  Towards a Democratic Balance".  It argued (p. 113ff) that untrammeled democracy was a bad thing.  Again, bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Some of the problems of governance in the United States today stem from an excess of democracy - an "excess of democracy" in much the same sense in which David Donald used the term to refer to the consequences of the Jacksonian revolution which helped to precipitate the Civil War.  Needed, instead, is a greater degree of moderation in democracy.

In practice, this moderation has two major areas of application.  First, democracy is only one way of constituting authority, and it is not necessarily a universally applicable one.  In many situations the claims of expertise, seniority, experience, and special talents may override the claims of democracy as a way of constituting authority ... The arenas where democratic procedures are appropriate are, in short, limited.

. . .

The Greek philosophers argued that the best practical state would combine several different principles of government in its constitution.  The Constitution of 1787 was drafted with this insight very much in mind.  Over the years, however, the American political system has emerged as a distinctive case of extraordinarily democratic institutions joined to an exclusively democratic value system.  Democracy is more of a threat to itself in the United States than it is in either Europe or Japan where there still exist residual inheritances of traditional and aristocratic values.  The absence of such values in the United States produces a lack of balance in society ... Political authority is never strong in the United States, and it is peculiarly weak during a creedal passion period of intense commitment to democratic and egalitarian ideals.  In the United States, the strength of democracy poses a problem for the governability of democracy in a way which is not the case elsewhere.

. . .

We have come to recognize that there are potentially desirable limits to economic growth.  There are also potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.  Democracy will have a longer life if it has a more balanced existence.

Again, more at the link.

I suggest that attitudes and opinions like those are what's led directly to the usurpation of democracy by our present-day oligarchs.  Both the left and the right wing of US politics are implicated:  both of them will probably be happy to use "government by experts" (namely themselves) to ignore democracy and rule by decree.  Witness the response to COVID-19 in various states, which tends to prove my point.

Our oligarchs have worked towards this end for a long time.  It's going to take us a long time to force them to let go of their death-grip on our democracy, and restore "government of the people, by the people and for the people" to the people from whom they've stolen it.



The Freeholder said...

I don't care for the current oligarchy, but democracy does have its limits, especially as practiced in the US. Receiving the franchise on one's 18th birthday, regardless of mental ability or of one's actual, measurable contribution to society, is one of the key developments that got us here. And to think I supported 18 as the age of majority back in the day. Proof that at 18 I was an idiot (or at least a bigger one than I may be now).

I've fiddled with various ways that someone would be required to have "skin in the game", and I've come down to two. Number one is 4 years of national service. Military or some sort of American service similar to the old WPA or CCC. Number two is attaining the age of 25 and the ownership of some minimum (but not minimal) amount of real property. If you can't manage either, no vote. We still treat you as an American, but when elections come around, you get to stay home.

I understand that there is no way to get such a thing in place, but it's still interesting to ponder an America where those rules apply.

Old NFO said...

Sadly, I can't disagree with the basis of the post. The only rules right now, IMHO, are for me and not for thee...

edlfrey said...

"He wrote an influential study titled "Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era", which is also available for download."

Maybe it is me but I could not get that archives.org link to open for Between Two Ages.

edlfrey said...

For anyone that may have had the same problem as I, try this link:


Fredrick said...

"American society's quest for stability with its historical affinity for innovation"

Another immigrant member of the elite whose fundamental understanding of American was just plain wrong. Liberty, freedom? Those words don't appear in his authoritarian piece.

"Brzezinski advised Carter in 1978 to engage the People's Republic of China and traveled to Beijing to lay the groundwork for the normalization of relations between the two countries." (wiki)
Thus setting the stage for the gutting of American industrial capability and economic 'equality'. But a technocratic elite, i.e. his class, will set everthing right once they are in charge.

Tschifty Mccoy said...

Well, it is true that democracy as such pretty much sucks, equating as it does in greek to mob rule. Thankfully the Founders didn't give us a democracy. They gave us a republic (with the famous quip by Franklin, if you can keep it). Even Brzgayski admits that much. Where he misses it is the fact that all government power comes from the consent of the people. How to keep govt accountable? We lost that in the 20th century with the rise of Big Brother Federal power. If we could make one reform it would be to somehow mandate all power and decisions to the most local level possible in as many things as possible. Nothing in DC, everything in Main Street. At least as a goal. How we get there? Short of a military intervention, no idea. Maybe Texas and Florida standing up for rights is a good step in that direction.

Peter B said...

His daughter Mika is a prominent propagandist for the oligarchy.

The Lab Manager said...

I'd say at least a 120 years. Here is an interesting book. What happened to the wealth of these old American families? I would wager some of these generations are wealthier than Gates, Buffet, and others we here about. Those guys are public face foot soldiers along with political families like the Bush and Clintons.


Read the first two chapters where he list some of the wealth of Rockefellers and others. $500,000,000 is equivalent to trillions today. How is that wealth distributed and who controls it? What happened to the sons and daughters of those prominent families? Are they part of it?

dogsledder said...

When our late country was formed, only landowners (male) who were at least 21 years old could vote. Now, any illiterate, illegal alien scumbag or ill-educated college student or any homeless bum of any age can vote. Not once, but many times. And any candidate for office can pay the right people and be assured of winning the election, regardless of popularity or unpopularity with the voters. No legislative body or court, not even the supreme* court, will lift a finger even if the truth is discovered and widely known.
Until this situation is corrected, we do not have a country, we have nothing. A new country will have to be built. And those who destroyed the old one must be dealt with most severely. It is coming, regrettably. We should have dealt with the communist infiltrators many years ago.

froginblender said...

@The Lab Manager. I'm not sure that you can extrapolate from a family's historic wealth and estimate their present fortune.

That would mean that the Medicis are now, what, quadrillionaires? But are they?

Peter B said...

What about today's Medici descendants?

"The first and the last Grand Dukes of Tuscany are NOT descendants of Lorenzo de Medici line. They descend from a ‘cadet’ branch. However that cadet branch has ALL the grand dukes of Tuscany and Marie de Medici, mother of Louis XIII etc. and grandmother to half of the royals of Europe —- all from the ‘cadet’ branch."


"The real Medici died out because the consorts of the last three left them and at least the last male Medici was too interested in alternative sex..I have a book dealing with them..The final Medici was his sister who had no living issue...."