"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." (from a Winston Churchill House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947)
I was asked by one of our SST readers why I thought the Borg (the foreign policy establishment) was not identical with the US political system. I quote below from my response.
"Many people yearn for a simple explanation lodged in a massive world wide conspiracy that seeks to control all aspects of life, something like S.P.E.C.T.R.E. or the Protocols of…, or maybe the Illuminati. Well, it is not that simple. There is NOT one giant conspiracy and the foreign policy establishment has many parts none of which is altogether dominant. It is really a giant consensus among those who can punish or reward in terms of media exposure, degree awards, fellowships, jobs in the government, ridicule or praise, hostility or friendliness, etc. American politics contains some of the same people that are in the Borg (i.e., the foreign policy establishment) but although the two circles overlap they are not the same. The US government was created on the basis of the idea that power should be limited and divided to prevent easy domination of the system by individuals and factions. It was never intended that the system should be efficient. It was built to be inefficient. Today there has emerged a political consultant class that exists to subvert the built in limitations of the US governmental system. They make a fine living by renting themselves to people who want to beat the system and achieve more power than was ever intended by the founders and framers in their constitutional experiment. To do this the consultants describe the political system as merely another form of "marketing" as in the business world where; market share, PR and "branding" are all and content is a very secondary matter. If you listen carefully you will hear unending talk on TV of political and individual "brands" and "media markets.". The "juice" to make this system work is massive contributor money donations, especially from the rich. Contributor money buys access and favors. This totally corrupts the system in favor of the selfish and fanatical. Trump and Sanders do not play by the present rule. they have or raise their own money and appeal directly to the citizenry who believe correctly that the political class abandoned them in the search for personal advancement. Because of that they threaten the existence of the present electoral "industry," and for that they are seen correctly as a threat to political life as an occupation." pl
And the so-called think tanks, like for example the American Enterprise Institute, facilitate a linkage of big donors, media, and government consulting into a powerful triad. One could call it the Cerberus effect.
Political consulting, not government consulting. There are many government consultants who provide useful technical services for the government. pl
Well said and, in a way, obvious. The complexity of large bureaucracy. It’s a moving mass not easily changed but it’s not some conspiracy though many seem to prefer the notion. It seems we want the simplicity of having clear “bad guys.” Not that it doesn’t happen but Reality is not a cartoon character construct. It’s just the result of human beings with all their natural foibles stuck in a self re-enforcing, positive feedback, belief system.
I was a long time listener to Radio Moscow. I also thought communism was perhaps the dumbest economic idea imaginable but highly appealing in the abstract. Truly an example of “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” I recall listening to Radio Moscow. Posner’s “Mailbag” was a classic. Normally, Radio Moscow had the usual socialist drivel laden with stuff designed to appeal to us Americans (Twain was a biggie), but I noticed a change in the 80’s. They started alluding to the defects of socialist, top down, economic planning with rather subtle digs at the inefficiencies involved. They grew increasingly un-subtle. A sort of “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work, ain’t communism great.”
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I started listening closer. Conventional wisdom at the time was, of course, that the USSR was some sort of unchangeable state full of true Marxist believers (like some of our universities). As time went on and the radio personalities became gradually bolder I knew it wasn’t just an anomaly but the signs of a breakdown and that it was occurring amongst the Soviet elites. I remember telling everyone I ran across that the USSR was rotting from the top. Otherwise Posner would have vanished much like Chinese announcers that did vanish in a brief, similar period in Beijing a decade later.
Then watching Russia go through a period of trying, not workable Western business ideas but their understanding of Western business ideas was amusing. But that’s another story.
But then I’m just an engineer. An outside observer.
Colonel, et al,
Just ran across this article which documents a whole new level of sinister behavior regarding the private server security breach issue on SOS Clinton’s watch. Since you mentioned the class of too-clever-by-half “fixers” and their aim to circumvent obstacles thrown up by the normal operations of government procedures and protocols standing between them and their desired outcomes, this seems to me to not be off thread. To the link:
There is no “genuine” conspiracy to rule the world. So what?
50 million blow flies need not to “conspire” when they fly
in formation, they just follow the smell. 50 thousand
“consultants” need not to conspire, they just follow the
smell of money. What’s the difference?
Chief beneficiary of political campaigns extensive funding the MSM. The largely corporate MSM in turn funds the FP establishment and its think tanks. Exempt Organizations [meaning tax exempt organizations] drive this largely self-regulated melange IMO. Admittedly defining what is a “religion” e.g. a extremely complex task.
Since I lived inside the political system and paid attention, I can report back that what you describe about it is accurate. There is more detail that could be described, for example, about the feedback loop between the Established Party structures and the “received” consultant class – “If you want our Big Money and Official Nod, you have to use these guys for polling, media advice and ad buys so that we can go work there as experts when we leave the Established Party.”
Look at the glorious amounts of money Jeb(!) Bush’s donors spent buying him the best advice, staffer accommodations, polls, ads, etc. all with a pitiable outcome; or the vast amounts of money sent through the DNC and its organs while the Democrats suffered massive losses in 2010 and 2014. But then, it’s no longer about the first order votes at the polls. It’s about the second order dollars going through the system and whose fingers they cling to.
From the first lines, as I was starting to read the very neat expose of Colonel Lang, the term consensus was imposing itself in my brain. And it did in a magistral lucid way.
It says everything about conformity, courtisan behaviour and lost of free thinking. Must be very difficult given the opportunity not to succomb to this golden path
It needs brain and guts, as so many here are also showing,it needs also to put self-respect as an uncompromissing vertue build on untangible principles.
Exclusion, and worst is the price to pay for those who dare opting out one way or the other.
so “lonely are the brave”.
None. That was my point. pl
Thanks. Will post this story. pl
Robert Redford’s THE CANDIDATE worth a review.
So the Chines and Russians had everything?
Correct. You left out arms manufacturers. You could say that Trump just doesn’t know the meaning of money.
Yes, quite right. Political consulting. A big difference. In fact on occasion I have provided engineering consulting to the government myself. Totally non-political.
JJ, this puzzled me about matters from the very start. And strictly I followed Adam’s advise and read the suggested books about the right-womg campaigns against the Clintons. Politics no doubt is a field were it can get very, very dirty.
“‘What did she not want put on a government system, where security people might see it? I sure wish I’d asked about it back in 2009.’”
to the extend I paid attention at all, I wondered why would she do this? She’s a lawyer after all. Are there loops in the laws, since no one ever expected someone to do this?
If i may, add the Finch’ movie “Network” and everything done by the George Carlin
“The US government was created on the basis of the idea that power should be limited and divided to prevent easy domination of the system by individuals and factions.”
IMO, our founders understood the law of “entropy” or whatever you want to call the inexorable direction of growth in size and consequent capture of government. What we have seen over the past decades is that both the left and right want big and bigger government to further their interests. As the scale and scope of government increases to gargantuan proportions the oligarchic interests capture it. Its manifested in our system in the revolving door. Cartels are legislated preventing competition. Tax laws written with sheer complexity and obfuscation and hidden loopholes to enable these same interests. We get to a point where the rule of law is eviscerated where guys like Clapper and Alexander skate while an ordinary citizen is thrown the book for the most minor infraction. Then as the working and middle classes keep falling behind, theories of free lunches are propounded with only pleasurable benefits and no downside as it is claimed infinite government spending is the holy grail. Never for a moment does anyone question which axe is being ground as the boondoggles emanate from such spending. While the rhetoric of free markets and capitalism are bandied about central planning that even a Soviet commissar would wet his pants is growing with interference in all aspects of our lives.
The mythology of our revolution and Declaration of Independence and the Constitution abounds in our media and political discourse. Unfortunately we are so far away from it’s spirit and central tenets to make it a tragic farce. There is no constituency for limited government and a capitalistic economy in our country today. Everyone wants a free lunch until the piper no longer blows his horn.