“Never cross the streams… it would be bad”
The nexus of the threat streams of 1. Unchecked oligarchy, 2. the cancerous dominance of violent populism/ nationalism and 3. Yellow Journalism, 2.0
Happy “hump day” TAT readers,
Today is the short story version of a topic, that has long been on my mind as a TAT, deep dive. The Ghostbusters graphic and quote above, perfectly illustrates the threat from the combination of the three major global and US trends, infecting us in the populism/ nationalist cycle we are now in. For youngsters, the movie Ghostbusters was a cultural phenomenon in 1984 and the phrase, “don’t cross the streams” was its tagline.
These three trends are:
The cancerous dominance of violent populism/ nationalism
Yellow Journalism, 2.0
Today is only an introduction to orient readers with the concept. I take this approach in order to slowly introduce a very complex threat. Over the course of the coming months, I will do a deep dive on each of the three topics and finally, write a summary of the threat. Altogether, the combined threat is most comparable to what the world experienced in the 1930s, that led to World War II.
Were we only experiencing one or two of these destructive trends to liberty, they would of course be a bit more manageable. The problem though, is that these historical trends, tend to manifest themselves in some form or another, collectively.
These trends, whether in Rome, two thousand years ago or in our current era, are standard threats due mostly, to human nature. Power is intoxicating and profitable. Those who seek it, wish to keep it and expand it. The three points above have long been successful strategies for those who wish to dominate others for their own, selfish purposes. Just because we live in 2023 doesn’t mean that human nature still doesn’t have its pitfalls and dangers. When those with power combine the three, human rights are the victim. There are no exceptions.
Next, we take a brief look at the three numbered points above.
Part I: Unchecked Oligarchy
Oligarchy: A Glossary of Political Economy Terms - Dr. Paul M. Johnson (auburn.edu)
“Any system of government in which virtually all political power is held by a very small number of wealthy but otherwise unmeritorious people who shape public policy primarily to benefit themselves financially through direct subsidies to their agricultural estates or business firms, lucrative government contracts, and protectionist measures aimed at damaging their economic competitors — while displaying little or no concern for the broader interests of the rest of the citizenry. “Oligarchy” is also used as a collective term to denote all the individual members of the small corrupt ruling group in such a system. The term always has a negative or derogatory connotation in both contemporary and classical usage, in contrast to aristocracy (which sometimes has a derogatory connotation in modern usage, but never in classical).”
- Dr. Paul M. Johnson
In our modern era, it is Russian oligarchy that springs to mind at the mention of the word, but it has been present, pretty much since humans first tribalized. Those who profit from power, can and very often use oligarchy as a tool of power, and it quite rarely has any good outcome for the tribe as a whole. Today’s tribes are usually nation-states but organizations, political parties or global movements such as fascism in the 1930s and today are more easily understood comparisons.
From the birth of our nation on, oligarchy, though in different terminology was a threat to democracy, with our third POTUS and founder, John Adams making a particular point of it during our colonial period.
“Long before “the one percent” became a protest slogan, American founding father John Adams feared the power of a class he called simply “the few”—the wellborn, the beautiful, and especially the rich.”
-Luke Mayville on John Adams
Oligarchy was the target of “trust-busting” at the beginning of the 20th Century. POTUS Teddy Rosevelt Of course, then oligarchy was called a “trust” or a “monopoly.” The bottom line is that big business, like Standard Oil, aggressively forced competitors out of business or had to succumb to dominance of the parent company. They bought political favor in Congress and/ or simply ignored all forms of business ethics (still an oxymoron).
This existed in America through the 1930s in a variety of forms and with the oligarchy expanding their wealth and power, especially when heavy industrialization in support of the military, was preparing for and engaging in WW II. Labor and the working classes, post the Great Depression and post war, soon overcame some of the income disparity via legislation and unions that lasted through the early 1990s and the end, or rather pause of the Cold War.
With the Soviet’s implosion and before China was a serious threat, and as Eisenhower predicted, the “military industrial complex” along with big oil and a variety of other oligarchical industries financed the legislation that decimated unions, who were often corrupt. Greed within the 1% and in union halls were two of the primary factors that left US households at the whims of greedy individuals and corporations financing, mostly via the GOP, of the exponential rise of income disparity today. This societal and undemocratic trend, developed in and around the early 1950s. Today, they don’t even try to hide it.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
-President Dwight D. Eisenhower
-January 17th, 1961
We are now at the point in US History, that the second quote has become an imperative… if American Democracy is to survive. To be clear, I am a full-throated advocate of Capitalism, but with ethical legal restraints imposed by a functioning Congress. Clearly, post Newt Gingrich’s destruction of bipartisanship in the late 80s and the outright contempt by the current, MAGA dominated GOP now, we do NOT have a functioning Congress. This doesn’t mean that all of the deviation from bipartisanship is on one side. At the moment though, it’s the toxic greed of the GOP and their personal oligarchs, American, Russian, Gulf State, Indian, etc., that are openly assaulting ethical Capitalism to the point, that it risks the very democracy our nation was founded on.
Part II: The cancerous dominance of violent populism/ nationalism
Let’s be absolutely clear about something that seems to confuse Americans:
Nationalism = bad, Democracy, with proper restraints and constraints = good
The following graphics from a 1937 pamphlet, do a very fine job of explaining nationalism as a threat to morality and democracy. In these brief excerpts, you will see nothing different from the immutable trends we experience today.
The work is from the following publication:
In part II of this pamphlet, there are deep discussions on three key points. I will post the beginning of each of those three points in the three following screenshots:
As that Populism also is a threat, we must understand the meaning of such words. To give everyone a succinct background, I use this webpage from the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania. A couple excerpts from this page will save readers a few minutes of reading but please do, visit embedded link for a better grasp of this dangerous threat.
As a quick tangential note, I used this Catholic source to clearly demonstrate that the 6 SCOTUS, super majority and their imposition of their unconstitutional religious values on American law, are behaving as Christian Nationalists. Even this Catholic organization document I’m citing, says so and quite clearly.
Shortly after the fall of the old Soviet Union, the globe has experienced a demonstrable and significant upturn in Populism and Nationalism. An ever-growing global cabal of political, oligarch-funded nationalism and populism has put the so-called, RBIO or Rules-Based, International Order at serious risk, and which is still a very dangerous threat to the liberty and well-being of democracies. As shown above, humanity is the victim of populist and nationalist fervor. Human Rights, Civil Rights and equitability, fade precipitously under the strain of both populism and nationalism.
Ultimately, the charismatic narrators of toxic, populist or nationalist ideologies become power brokers without humanity and they perpetuate the dominance of the so-called, 1 % over the 99%. The objective of this dominance is essentially to create an entire society of workers who must embody extremist ideology in service to the elite wealth owners. In past times, if you replaced the word company in the phrase, “company man,” with the world, fascist, populist or nationalist, you can see what it means in the following Cambridge Dictionary definition:
Part III: Yellow Journalism, 2.0
I have written on Yellow Journalism in the past and will provide an embedded link to one of those articles. Before summarizing today, I’ll just touch on a couple of the primary points on this topic.
First and foremost, American Yellow Journalism was a short but ragged period in American history. A battle for advertising dollars and subscribers by two American Oligarchs of the publishing industry, set America onto its last morass of mis and disinformation or “fake news.”
One of my favorite quotes from the era:
A succinct a summary as possible:
To put a fine point on today’s TAT, I will only say that these three points discussed today are a most acute threat to US and global democracies. Any of the three are a threat but all together, only a well-informed stand by citizens can put an end to this nonsense. The line of defense is not Democratic nor Republican, but is manned by conscientious Americans, regardless of political beliefs that stand for what Superman always reminds us of; “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”
Until we dive deeper into each of these three of many crisis points, I hope that today’s TAT, helped to lay the groundwork for understanding. Perhaps you already get it and that makes me happier than any contribution I could make. The more that understand truth and have the moral courage to act on it, the less threatened American Democracy will be.
The bottom line is that so long as toxic, populist/ nationalist ideology is bought and paid for by American oligarchs and that they continue funding dishonesty instead of truth in media, our courageous and brilliant founders will be rolling in their graves. Only truly patriotic Americans, that put party over country, can fix this and only then, if they continue to show up at polls and stand up for our founding principles… not the fake, patriotic ideology of movements like MAGA.
My best to all,
See ya’ Friday,