Does Fox News even have maps?
Fox News conservative political commentator Ainsley Earhardt on Friday offered “Fox and Friends” viewers a definition lesson on the word “oligarch,” wondering if her fellow co-hosts “have ever used the word before the last few months.”
Earhardt claimed the media’s interest in the Russia investigation is misplaced because “most people don’t even know where Russia is on the map.”
My wife says I’m not supposed to call people “stoopid.” I say call’em like you see ’em. It’s is an embarrassment a woman who should be an expert simply because she gets paid to speak about politics every day on the news… that IS her job… and Russia has been on the front page for what, 2 years now. Ahem.
Ainsley might as well eat crayons on national TV.
If you are wondering, Russia is about twice the size of the US. It ain’t that hard to find on a map, right there next to big ole China. Ahem. China and Russia are the two countries vying with the US for world supremacy. Hegemony. We get it if you don’t know where Jackassistan is. Do your homework, kids. The US has enough stupid without us adding to the crisis.
Forget Russian oligarchs for now. The relevant question is why does the United States qualify as an oligarchy? Don’t ask Ainsley. She won’t understand what we mean. Let’s ask Aristotle. As far as I know, he’s the first to use this word, so he gets to decide what it means:
We have next to consider how many forms of government there are, and what they are; and in the first place what are the true forms, for when they are determined the perversions of them will at once be apparent.
The words constitution and government have the same meaning, and the government, which is the supreme authority in states, must be in the hands of one, or of a few, or of the many. The true forms of government, therefore, are those in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the common interest; but governments which rule with a view to the private interest, whether of the one or of the few, or of the many, are perversions. For the members of a state, if they are truly citizens, ought to participate in its advantages.
Of forms of government in which one rules, we call that which regards the common interests, kingship or royalty; that in which more than one, but not many, rule, aristocracy; and it is so called, either because the rulers are the best men, or because they have at heart the best interests of the state and of the citizens. But when the citizens at large administer the state for the common interest, the government is called by the generic name: a constitution. And there is a reason for this use of language. One man or a few may excel in virtue; but as the number increases, it becomes more difficult for them to attain perfection in every kind of virtue, though they may in military virtue, for this is found in the masses. Hence, in a constitutional government, the fighting-men have the supreme power, and those who possess arms are the citizens.
Of the above-mentioned forms, the perversions are as follows: of royalty, tyranny; of aristocracy, oligarchy; of constitutional government, democracy. 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.
But there are difficulties about these forms of government, and it will therefore be necessary to state a little more at length the nature of each of them. For he who would make a philosophical study of the various sciences, and does not regard practice only, ought not to overlook or omit anything, but to set forth the truth in every particular. 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. And here arises the first of our difficulties, and it relates to the distinction drawn. For democracy is said to be the government of the many. But what if the many are men of property and have the power in their hands? In like manner oligarchy is said to be the government of the few; but what if the poor are fewer than the rich, and have the power in their hands because they are stronger? In these cases the distinction which we have drawn between these different forms of government would no longer hold good.
Suppose, once more, that we add wealth to the few and poverty to the many, and name the governments accordingly- an oligarchy is said to be that in which the few and the wealthy,and a democracy that in which the many and the poor are the rulers- there will still be a difficulty. For, if the only forms of government are the ones already mentioned, how shall we describe those other governments also just mentioned by us, in which the rich are the more numerous and the poor are the fewer, and both govern in their respective states?
The argument seems to show that, whether in oligarchies or in democracies, the number of the governing body, whether the greater number, as in a democracy, or the smaller number, as in an oligarchy, is an accident due to the fact that the rich everywhere are few, and the poor numerous. But if so, there is a misapprehension of the causes of the difference between them. For the real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth.
Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a democracy. But as a fact the rich are few and the poor many; for few are well-to-do, whereas freedom is enjoyed by an, and wealth and freedom are the grounds on which the oligarchical and democratical parties respectively claim power in the state.
Aristotle: Politics Book 3, Parts VI & VII
Therefore, oligarchy literally means rule by a small number of people. However, Aristotle says the key is poverty and wealth. Therefore, both definition may be applied here. Note: sometimes people use the term “plutocracy” to talk about rule by the wealthy. Because the Greek god of Hades called “Pluto,” this sounds as if it is rule by the underworld. The dead. Confusing. So I use oligarchy.
Oligarchy: to rule or to command on a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious or military control. Such states are often controlled by families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.
Throughout history, oligarchies have often been tyrannical, relying on public obedience or oppression to exist. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which another term commonly used today is plutocracy.
How does such an oligarchy happen? Where does this situation come from, where the few are wealthy and the many suffer? How do we fix this problem? Can we get back on the path of democracy?
The Greeks came up with the majority of these terms for forms of government. For example, Athens was one of the few places to have a real democracy. So I think they’ll know:
While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.
They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods. It is hard not to think about how the fragmentation of our media platforms is a modern instantiation of dividing the public sphere, or how employees and workers are sometimes chilled from speaking out.
The most interesting discussion is how ancient oligarchs used information to preserve their regime. They combined secrecy in governance with selective messaging to targeted audiences, not unlike our modern spinmasters and communications consultants. They projected power through rituals and processions.
One of the primary threats to oligarchy was that the oligarchs would become divided, and that one from their number would defect, take leadership of the people, and overthrow the oligarchy.
The challenge in seeing how oligarchy works is we don’t normally think about the realms of politics and economics as fused together. At its core, oligarchy involves concentrating economic power and using it for political purposes. Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.
Notice the divide and conquer method on both sides of the equation? Oligarchs divide the people purposely. This is the purpose identity politics serves in the US. Get the back folks arguing with the white folks and we’ll never unify long enough to challenge the oligarchy. This tactic has been utilized since the BC days, folks.
A solution is to divide the oligarchs. Get them fighting amongst themselves and taking sides. Just as they do to us.
This is exactly what we see when we take an objective peek at ourselves. Democrats focus on identity politics. Political equality for all, regardless of race, sex, etc. The Democrats of today are paid by the oligarchs. There is little to no attention paid to fairness in wealth by the Democratic Party. It will take a n American redirection towards socialism and democracy to speak for the many. Frankly, neither Democrats nor Republicans care about the people. Not at all, except during the short period where they are counting votes. Let’s not kid ourselves.
How can this be? Isn’t the United States a republic? It is on paper. In reality, no way José. The notion the US is a republic or a democracy is a propaganda fueled fantasy.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm illustrates this fantasy.
Animal Farm is an allegory of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution. Starts out with an oppressive farmer. The animals get rid of him. They rule themselves. They paint their rules on the side of the barn. One rule is “All Animals Are Equal.” This is egalitarianism.
However, later on, one of the pigs changes the rule to “All Animals Are Equal, but some are more equal than others.” This is oligarchy.
From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy.
The preferences of rich people have a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.
Majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.
Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
That’s a big claim. In the United States, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.
This is what the data show: when the economic élites support a given policy change, it has about a one-in-two chance of being enacted. When these élites oppose a given measure, its chances of becoming law are less than one in five. In the divided American system of government, getting anything at all passed is tricky.
The study shows on many issues, the rich exercise an effective veto. If they are against something, it is unlikely to happen.
Is America an Oligarchy?
President Jimmy Carter says the United States is now an “oligarchy,” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.”
HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court now has said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. … Your thoughts on that?
CARTER: It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members.
So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.
Make no mistake, these oligarchs own the media. Therefore, they have their chosen propaganda spread by so-called journalists and the talking heads on TV newscasts.
Here is a classic example from one of the oldest and most respected newspapers in America. The New York Times. In this case, the oligarch’s propaganda stooge is called “David Brooks.”
“There’s no evidence to suggest that campaign spending has the outsize role that the candidates, the consultants, and the political press often imagine.”
There can be no doubt David Brooks is lying ^ here ^. Any so-called “journalist” can figure this out. I did in the less than the 5 minutes it took to Google and read this article from the Institute for New Economic Thinking:
Begin with a simple question: What are the facts about total campaign spending and election outcomes? We can pool all spending by and on behalf of candidates and then examine whether relative, not absolute, differences in total outlays are related to the differences in votes received by the major political parties.
There is strong, direct link between what the major political parties spend and the percentage of votes they win; far stronger than all the airy dismissals of the role of money in elections would ever lead you to think, and certainly stronger than anything you read in your poli-sci class.
The strength of this relationship is shown through a simple graph. The line going out to the right in the graph shows the Democratic percentage of the total money flowing into the race for the major parties and runs from 0 to 100 percent. The vertical line shows the percentage of the major party vote that the Democrats won. Dots represent individual House races in 2012.
At the bottom left Democrats spend almost no money and get virtually no votes; at the top right, they spend nearly all the money and garner virtually all the ballots, calculated as proportions of totals for the major parties.
I dunno diddly about economics.
The slope of that line though…
How do we know people like David Brooks are knowingly jiving us? Ummm… the Democratic Party was formed by Andrew Jackson. Money has ruled the country at least since his day, if not earlier:
“I had a nice talk with J.P. Morgan the other day. The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson. The country is going through a repetition of Jackson’s fight with the Bank of the United States — only on a far bigger and broader basis.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt in a 1933 letter to Edward M. House.
We see our so-called “representatives” represent the interests of the corporate oligarchy, and call it democracy. The oligarchs use their money to by the politicians and the media. Then these function to make laws the oligarchs favor (in effect, legalizing theft, bribery, murder, and graft), while the media dishes out ice cream bowls full of propaganda and marketing, which tell us we like this relationship.
These oligarchs care about private interests. Their own. They care nothing for us. Feeding us is the same as overhead is to a business. A loss of capital. So they don’t. They steer us towards global warming and towards nuclear apocalypse. Why? To make money off fossil fuels and the production of military arms, Sunshine. Make it while you can. As much as you can. Let someone else clean up the mess later. This is the thought process.
The American people are not stupid, they are being propagandized, and the people who are propagandizing us have names and addresses.
The American people are victims. The bootstrap mentality which dominates so much of US culture preconditions an instinctive revulsion at that word, but it’s true. Vast amounts of money and resources have been funneled into the research and development of the science of propaganda and psyops for over a century, and this advanced arsenal of psychological weaponry has been pointed squarely at manipulating and controlling the way Americans think and vote for generations. We are the victims of this psychological abuse, and the oligarchs using it to rule us are the victimizers.
The end result is the inmates are running the asylum.
Jack Nicholson & Danny DeVito, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
(header image: Cassius Marcellus Coolidge – A Friend in Need)