A spectre is haunting the Democratic Party — the spectre of democracy.

All the powers of the Democratic Party estabilishment have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Warren and Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden, elite white feminists and liberal media pundits.

Where is any working class political activist that has not been decried as a bro or a Russian troll by Wall Street, neoliberal Democrats? Where is the billionaire donor class that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against even the old isolationist right, as well as any proposal to revive the social democratic ideals of the New Deal?

Two things result from this fact:

1.) Seemingly struck down by the hand of neoliberal capitalism, the idea of democracy is acknowledged by Wall Street and its lackeys to be making a comeback.

2.) It is high time that we the believers in traditional American democracy  should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish our views, our aims, our tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of democracy with a manifesto of the ideals on which this country was founded.

To this end, you might want to read this. And maybe this. Oh yeah, this too.

22 comments

  1. Plato claimed democracy killed Socrates. I see you didn’t link to the US Constitution in your suggested reads, for good reason. The Constitution–the law of the land–does not describe a democracy. It’s proclaimed to be a representative government, but in actuality, it creates an economic slave state with all taxpayers presumed to be federal government property. The electoral college–only vaguely defined, as is every article in the Constitution–guarantees from the get-go that the US will remain in the hands of those with a will to power.

    Bernie may understand better than his rivals how the election process works, regarding super-delegates, for instance. And I admire his dedication to workers, but I don’t want the kind of invasive, paternalistic government he seems to envision, either. Knowing the health-care system from the inside out, as I do, I absolutely do not want to be netted in the net of “Medicare for All,” and even though I’m over 65 and eligible, I have opted not to participate, just as I did not participate in Medicare when I was working.

    The federal government thinks it owns individuals, just as the Constitution presumes, but I claim the freedom not to be coerced into a system that bleeds vitality like leeches suck blood.

    1. What happens when monopolistic corporations become more powerful than the federal government?

      (Think Obama’s declaring the banks to be above the law.)

      According to Franklin Roosevelt we get fascism.

      “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

      Franklin D. Roosevelt

      I think that if you ask the typical millionaire who oppresses him the most he’ll say “the federal government.”

      On the other hand if you ask the typical white collar, middle-class professional, and he’s honest, he’ll probably say “my boss.”

      In turn, if you ask the typical 15-25 year old black or Hispanic kid he’ll almost certainly say “the local police.”

      And with that I give you our favorite oligarch.

      1. I followed your link and suppose you were linking to the Bloomberg ad, but I also watched the next segment, “Don’t Talk to the Police,” which was most interesting. Interestingly, I have a defense attorney friend in Silver Spring, Maryland, who is a gun rights activist, who might appreciate that segment about not talking to police. Silver Spring is just outside Washington, D.C., and not too far from Virginia Beach where this law school segment was filmed.

        Anyway, Franklin Roosevelt was a major oligarch, from New York, whose first 100 days in office were dedicated to saving the banking system, so he declared a bank holiday the day he was inaugurated, and wouldn’t allow people to withdraw money. During the first hundred days, FDR vastly increased federal government power.

        A fascinating biography by Jean Edward Smith, FDR was of one of the most dangerous oligarchs in US history. We are still paying the debt FDR inflicted on this country, including the secret development of the atomic bomb, based on a suggestion from pacifist Albert Einstein, whose biography ( by by Walter Isaacson) I have also read.

        1. Anyway, Franklin Roosevelt was a major oligarch, from New York, whose first 100 days in office were dedicated to saving the banking system, so he declared a bank holiday the day he was inaugurated, and wouldn’t allow people to withdraw money. During the first hundred days, FDR vastly increased federal government power.

          I think it’s useful to compare Franklin Roosevelt to Obama. Yes, FDR spent his first 100 days saving the banking system. But he used those hundred days to pass Glass-Steagall, legislation that would make sure another catastrophic run on the banks would never happen again.

          And it worked. From 1932 to 2008 the federal government largely stayed out of the banking industry. But in the late 1990s, Bill Clinton signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall and less than a decade later, Bush and Obama bailed out the financial system to the tune of over a trillion dollars.

          What’s worse, Obama didn’t use the crisis to bring back Glass-Steagall or put safeguards in place that would prevent another crash. They simply funneled money to Wall Street, all the while declaring the banks to be above the law (“too big to fail”).

          From 1932 to their deaths in the late 1980s, my grandparents went from desperately poor, unemployed coal miners in Scranton, PA to solidly middle class, from stealing coal in the Winter to stay warm to owning a 5-bedroom house and having enough money to give sizeable inheritances to their four children.

          The millennials who graduated from college in 2008 will probably never be able to buy a house, get married, or raise children as part of the middle-class. They’re a lost generation. Not only Obama, but we Boomers and Gen Xers screwed them for good.

          Obama *also* increased the power of the federal government. He expanded Bush’s torture/surveillance state. He prosecuted whistle blowers under Wilson’s espionage act. He imposed tax penalties on working class people who don’t buy expensive private health insurance, preemptively bailing out the for-profit mafia that stands between you and your doctor.

          So basically what I’m trying to say is that neither capitalism nor the federal government is good or bad in and of itself. FDR saved capitalism and increased the power of the federal government. He also vastly increased the standard of living for the working class. Bush, Obama and now Trump are also expanding the power of the federal government but they’re doing it in order to consolidate the wealth Obama shifted upwards from the working class and middle-class to the elites and to make dissent impossible.

          What’s more, Jim Crow, the most repressive, totalitarian form of government the United States has ever seen, was instituted by state and local governments in opposition to the federal government. It wasn’t Washington telling black people who they could marry, what bathrooms they could use or whether they could vote or not. It wasn’t the federal government that lynched Emmett Till. It was the Klan in alliance with the local police.

          I also think that most of the destructive institutionalization of militarism and “big intelligence” came out of the Wall Street coup in 1944 inside the Democratic Party that replaced Henry Wallace as FDR’s VP with a undistinguished little Missouri machine Democrat named Henry Truman. I don’t know if FDR would have let the oligarchs inside Sullivan and Cromwell institutionalize the CIA the way Truman did. Of course he did make J. Edgar Hoover a major figure in Washington so who knows. But I still think Henry Wallace instead of Truman would have meant a significantly better relationship with the Soviet Union and a significantly less repressive Cold War state.

          1. Thanks for that thoughtful and thought-provoking response. I don’t know much about Henry Wallace, but you are the second person I know of who has praised him.

            I read somewhere that every president has expanded executive power. It seems they all like to add federal agencies. Trump has now added a “Space Force,” for instance.

            Maybe Wallace would have resisted dropping those atomic bombs on Japan.

            1. I don’t know if Wallace could have resisted the program to bomb Japan. He would have been blamed for costing American lives.

              Interestingly enough in the 1970s the American ruling class was afraid of this

              “the impulse of democracy … to make government less powerful and more active, to increase its functions, and to decrease its authority”

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crisis_of_Democracy

              And I’m like “sounds pretty good to me.”

              We never got to see President Martin Luther King after 2 years of Robert Kennedy. As a victim of the FBI I’m almost certain King would have drawn back the ability of government to spy on us.

              1. It seems we as a society have a problem with defining terms. Aren’t “democracies” and “government” contradictions in terms? Doesn’t “democracy” imply the right of self-determination without coercion by a “government” over (rather than by) the people? The “ruling class” would of course resent any infringement on its self-determined “right” to control the masses.

              2. Here is Aristotle’s definition:

                “For tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has in view the interest of the monarch only; oligarchy has in view the interest of the wealthy; democracy, of the needy: none of them the common good of all. Tyranny, as I was saying, is monarchy exercising the rule of a master over the political society; oligarchy is when men of property have the government in their hands; democracy, the opposite, when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.”

                https://www.thoughtco.com/aristotle-on-democracy-111992

                So in 1896 you could say William Jennings Bryan and free silver was “democratic” because it gave debt relief to the working class and farmers and McKinley’s defense of the gold standard was “aristocratic” because it protected the property of the ruling class.

                In 2020 in the Democratic Party the split is really between “liberals” (who want Bloomberg or Biden to protect the “meritocracy” an the “best and brightest”) and “democrats.” Bernie is pretty clear he wants to soak the rich for the benefit of the poor as compensation for the 2008 Wall Street bailout.

                In the debate between Warren and Bernie though over how you’d fund Medicare for All, Warren is the one saying “soak the rich” and Bernie is arguing for funding the program across class lines to ensure that everybody feels like they have a stake in the program.

                So actually Warren meets Aristotle’s definition of the negative side of “democracy” more than Bernie does.

                Of course I don’t think Warren has any intention of doing what she says she wants and I think Bernie does. She was just reassuring her upper-middle-class professional base they wouldn’t be affected.

              3. Aristotle was Plato’s student, and Plato was Socrates’ student. Aristotle was also the teacher, before that, of Alexander the Great. So Aristotle would not have been a fan of democracy. He was supported by Alexander the Great, (until the latter died at 32 or 33 from alcoholism), so had lots of free time to do all his investigations and pontifications. This from “The Story of Philosophy,” by Will Durant, another valuable resource in my library.

              4. Aristotle was against democracy but he thought it was better than tyranny or oligarchy. He would have considered Alexander a legitimate monarch ruling in the interests of the whole country, not a tyrant. I think it’s pretty clear that the “liberal” establishment in the Democratic Party is pro-oligarchy and Aristotle would have considered Bernie the lesser of the two evils. I doubt he would have supported Bloomberg.

        2. Speaking of the bank run in 1932, this is one of the greatest 4 minutes in all of American cinema. It shows exactly how a destructive mob can come out of nowhere to do real damage to society. I don’t think Frank Capra ever did anything quite as good again.

          1. Well, that’s why FDR declared a bank holiday. His first order of business was to save the financial system, which was then operating under the Federal Reserve Act. FDR had his own wealth to protect.

            This clip reminds me of the game “telephone,” and shows how information gets perverted as it’s passed from mouth to mouth. Gossip has the same tendency to distort information.

            1. Same thing happened in 1894 before the Federal Reserve. JP Morgan bailed the Cleveland Administration out after the recession started draining gold reserves.

              https://www.jpmorgan.com/country/US/en/jpmorgan/about/history/month/feb

              But unlike FDR Cleveland didn’t bother setting up any safeguards that would have prevented the same thing from happening again.

              Interestingly American Madness is about a bank founded by working class Italians, one that later became Bank of America. Capra believed in a kind of compassionate conservatism and capitalism moderated by Catholic Social Justice. Early Bank of American was his ideal.

              1. Interesting. How do you know so much?

                JP Morgan was instrumental, along with RI Senator Nelson Aldrich, in crafting the Federal Reserve Act, which was tied to the new federal revenue source we know as the personal income tax in 1913. This insured a perpetual stream of income to the federal government to cover interest payments on the federal debt. This has allowed the federal government to go crazy with its spending, The private Federal Reserve can thus create money out of thin air and lend to the federal government at interest. Great scam for the bankers, who now rule the world with fake money. This is explained well in “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve” by G. Edward Griffin.

                Another interesting (to me) data point is that Nelson Aldrich’s daughter Abby married John D. Rockefeller’s son, John, Jr., which cemented the American dynasty, the US “ruling class” of bankers, that rules through a fraudulent financial (I call it “GoverCorp.”) system. (This little tidbit from “Titan,” by Ron Chernow, about John D. Rockefeller, Sr.)

              2. Interesting. How do you know so much?

                Pretty good documentary. My impression watching it was “Jesus how little has changed.”

                https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/gilded-age/

                I think the issue after Morgan bailed out the Cleveland administration was that the ruling class favored the Gold Standard because they owned the debt and they owned property and wanted to keep the dollar strong. The farmers supported William Jennings Bryan and backing the dollar with silver because it would weaken the dollar and lesson their debt.

                Same thing happened in the 1970s. The inflation was actually good for the working class and bad for the ruling class. So Paul Volcker slammed the breaks down on credit and created a recession.

              3. I would contend that inflation is good for debtors and bad for those who have money (or savings). Inflation is not good for those who have to work for their money, because prices usually go up faster than wages do. Also, if you make more money, that can shift you into a higher tax bracket.

              4. Inflation in 1896 was in the interests of the farmer and against the interests of the industrialists and bankers. In the end, Bryan lost to McKinley because the urban working class cast their lot with the industrialists.

  2. John Thurloe · · Reply

    The whole point of the Democratic Party is to be a machine for large scale partisan looting. To serve, provide and feed that fat layer of apparatchiks – think tankers, advisors, consultants, bureaucrats, community workers, academics and on and on. The “Our Gang” racketeers. When our boyos are in power the levers are pulled, the right people are appointed and money flows as it should. For the apparatchiks their careers, future, profit and security are at stake. Under pressure, they will swear the moon is made of green cheese.

    The unexpected Coming of Trump frightened and infuriated the Demoapparatus dominated as it is by the Clintonista faction. Trump the loose cannon threatens to lay waste to the good-ole-boys (and girls) power base and money supply. So, big time smear and wrecking, Russia hysteria, thermonuclear howling all supercharged by the fake news media.

    It all hasn’t worked. Trump just refuses to die and the Big Lie campaigns have turned into nothingburgers. The masses are disaffected.This situation seems contrary to the laws of nature. It’s not working. Appallingly, it seems possible that Hitler-Trump might be re-elected. Eight years with no loot is longer than any hack can endure.

    The usual strategy is to field an ever smiling middle of the road toady positioned to suck up votes from the hoi-polloi, the always contemptible unwashed and dummiedom who otherwise buy hydrogenated corn oil and GMO everything. But Lo! It’s not working. The designated parties are failing and flailing. Worse, the spectre of that annoying party dissident – that of the Sandernistas is surging.

    Well, the establishment knows how to put him and his in their place. Smear, wreck, bribe and bully. But the familiar levers are not yielding the desired results. OK, we’ll fix him at the Convention. Except that the Bernie crowd will blow up and defect thus clearing the path for another round of Trumperie.

    Hoisted on their own retard, the apparatchiks begin to dissolve. Or worse, defect to Sanders. These people have mortgages, families and need a lot of stuff. Four more years of enemy rule will see them cut off, funding dried up, forced out, careers stalled. They can’t take that. so, they fade back, power down, get small and do not give support to their old Regime. Let Bernie have his run, I’ll say a few nice things but no more yelling on Twitter or at rallies that Trump and his kind are fascists.

    The best thing about Trump is to lead to the destruction of the Democratic Apparatus. After which the ranks of the really oppressed can be better formed up without the presence of the Democratic traitors in their rear. It might actually happen.

    1. My guess is that if Bernie gets the nomination or comes close a lot of these hacks are going to jump to Trump. Chris Hedges pretty much nails it.

      Donald Trump, if he faces Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Michael Bloomberg, will continue to be an amalgamation of Adolf Hitler, Al Capone and the Antichrist. But should Bernie Sanders manage to evade the snares, traps and minefields laid for him by the Democratic Party elites, should he miraculously become the party’s nominee, the game of least worst will radically change. All the terrifying demons that inhabit Trump will be instantly exorcised. But unlike in the biblical story of Jesus driving the demons into a herd of swine, they will be driven into the senator from Vermont. Trump will become the establishment’s reluctant least worse option. Sanders will become a leper. The Democratic and Republican party elites, joining forces as they did in the 1972 presidential election, will do to Sanders what they did to George McGovern, who lost in 49 of the 50 states.

      https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-new-rules-of-the-game/

      If Bernie wins my guess is he becomes Phil Murphy (the governor of New Jersey) on a national level, a progressive Democratic who’s repeatedly thwarted by the right wing Democratic establishment. Murphy had some good ideas like a public media but none of it’s gotten very far.

  3. John Thurloe · · Reply

    I agree that the ‘higher’ level of professional Democratic apparatchiks will come to terms with a second Trump regime because – in the last analysis – they can serve, accommodate any Regime. If this layer aligns with Sanders they risk being cast out into the wilderness.

    However, the middle ranking political Democratic establishments types – those with mortgages, regular jobs, hopes for advancement – these cannot defect elsewise they will be cast out of their culture, their communities. And that is more than they can risk especially as it is unlikely that defection will secure them any tenure. At the same time this same layer are putting themselves in jeopardy by being exposed as Bernie cheerleaders. Because the Big Axe is coming their way. The revenge of the Republicans, Trumpsters. The impending purge, the cutting off of funding, the termination of programmes, loss of advancement.

    As Trump now seems, belatedly, moving to purge the State Department, Defense and Intelligence communities. He’s got four more clear years and thee folks know damned well their heads are on the block. The same impulse is heading to a university, a department, a region, county near you. And the enemy will be looking to inflict serious pain. This is the same movement as in the 1950s when McCarthyism was riding high. (I’m watching 1984 on the TV as I write this).

    The lower, more grassroots Democratic radicals don’t give a shit about any purge. They already live too close to the dirt. They will just say ‘piss off’ and carry on fighting.

    But all this might hopefully split apart the Demoncratic sub-party.

    1. What we really need is a second coming of the Church Committee Hearings, only this time with teeth. We really need to purge the CIA, the FBI and private contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton. In a just world, these people would be taken to Central Park. I’d settle for putting them all on the unemployment line.

      Speaking of Central Park, Chris Matthews is comparing Bernie’s early lead in Nevada to Hitler’s Blitzkrieg in France. Of course the first Jewish Prime Minister of France was a democratic socialist pretty much like Bernie.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A9on_Blum

      The Catholic far right in France used to have a saying: “Better Hitler than Leon Blum.” My guess is a lot of the big media and the “intelligence community” will soon be saying “Better Trump than Bernie Sanders.”

      As far as lower level operatives goes, I’ve already noticed that a lot of younger political journalists and political activists have already left Washington and relocated to Maine or Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Those DC rents are almost as bad as New York’s.

  4. […] saw him as something much more threatening. For the liberal wing of the American ruling class, Bernie Sanders represented the specter of democracy, the possibility that a multi-racial, multi-ethnic working-class would unite around a social […]

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