Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Cruelty Is The American Way


Counterpunch |  With the Senate and House all but assured to pass the $4.5 trillion in tax cuts for businesses, investors, and the wealthiest 1% households by the end of this week, phases two and three of the Trump-Republican fiscal strategy have begun quickly to take shape.

Phase two is to maneuver the inept Democrats in Congress into passing a temporary budget deficit-debt extension in order to allow the tax cuts to be implemented quickly. That’s already a ‘done deal’.

Phase three is the drumbeat growing to attack social security, medicare, food stamps, medicaid, and other ‘safety net’ laws, in order to pay for the deficit created by cutting taxes on the rich. A whole new set of lies are resurrected and being peddled by the media and pro-business pundits and politicians.

Counterpunch |  Pay no attention to the ongoing palace intrigue. Mueller’s investigation will at most act as a speed bump of sorts. Don’t mistake symptoms for the disease. Should the President or one of his minions be dismissed they will almost certainly be replaced by another donor class proxy. There’s no shortage of political mercenaries (in either party) willing to ply us with carefully crafted distortion.

Despite internecine squabbles the majority of lawmakers in congress can all agree on more military spending, more surveillance, more money for corporate executives… and less for everyone else. And so a parade of talking heads trot out the usual pleasant fiction about trickle-down economics. And it is fiction. Corporate leaders have openly conceded they have no intention of creating jobs or raising wages with money attained through tax cuts. They’re simply going to take it and pass it on to their shareholders.

This is what happens when business interests call the shots. Society ends up in a place where three oligarchs own as much as the bottom half of society and allegations of Russian “interference” somehow overshadow the reality of a billion dollar presidential race which is funded heavily by concentrated sources of private power.

Counterpunch |  By associating success (e.g. physical, emotional, financial, etc.) with evolutionary value, this ideology ignores historical structures of power and inequality and distorts the public’s understanding of their true conditions.

When people come to believe individuals’ conditions are determined solely by their genetics, or by how hard they fight to survive, impoverished people are seen as lacking the abilities or motivation to reach a privileged place in society, while privileged people are seen as having the abilities which brought them their success.

The origin and history of this phrase, which understandably misleads people, explains why there is this deep-seeded psychological inclination to equate “fittest” to the best.

The phrase is often and incorrectly attributed to the father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, and though Darwin did use this language later in his life, the phrase was actually coined by Herbert Spencer — an English philosopher, sociologist, and social Darwinism’s most enthusiastic proponent.
Spencer believed that Darwin’s biologic theory of evolution could be applied to society, arguing that social transformation was a progressive process leading to more perfect human beings and social formations. He claimed that if people should struggle or die because of their conditions, it was because they were not biologically fit enough to achieve a better position in life.

“The whole effort of nature is to get rid of such, to clear the world of them, and make room for better … If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die” [10]. He used this system of thought to theorize about the evolutionary benefits of warfare and to justify a laissez faire approach to the economy as well.

Prominent American philosophers, theologians, scientists, and politicians espoused and popularized Spencer’s ideas. Andrew Carnegie, who at the time was the richest man in America, and Edward Youmans, the founder of the magazine Popular Science, were among his American admirers. “Successful business entrepreneurs apparently accepted almost by instinct the Darwinian terminology which seemed to portray the conditions of their existence.” [6]

Countless instances of social Darwinist messaging can still be observed in our media. Publications like The Economist (where Spencer was once an editor), The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, provide examples of this.