And now we must discuss the Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash

12696530_10207185431852206_791550899_oThis spring semester at CSU, I’m in a group project (based on this paper) studying how political risk arises from the internet to affect international relations. Our thesis is that the internet can develop a global, reasoned, normative consensus, giving rise to an epistemic community non-state actor capable of exerting power over the sovereignty of nation states.

Which brings us to the Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash.

When I joined BSDMS a few days before the Iowa caucus, there were 30,000 members. Two weeks later, it’s now closing in on 200,000. The constant churn of content, from images to comments to posted links, is best described as what the center of the sun might look like if you could see atoms crashing into each other at the speed of light. You see something appear in your feed, and almost immediately it’s gone, replaced by another meme. Most crucially for the formation of a non-state actor capable of challenging the sovereignty of nation states – BSDMS exhibits the mythical traits of the trickster.

Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell described the trickster thus.

“Almost all non-literate mythology has a trickster hero of some kind. American Indians had the great rabbit and coyote, the ravens, and blue jay. And there’s a very special property in the trickster: he always breaks in, just as the unconscious does, to trip up the rational situation. He’s both a fool and someone who’s beyond the system. And the trickster hero represents all those possibilities of life that your mind hasn’t decided it wants to deal with. The mind structures a lifestyle, and the fool or trickster represents another whole range of possibilities. He doesn’t respect the values that you’ve set up for yourself, and smashes them.”

Scholars would recognize BSDMS as the early embryonic days of Anonymous, formed in the stew of 4chan, featuring the trickster’s key attributes – irreverent, often purile & lewd, boundary breaking, limit testing, value smashing. The Arab Spring, the most studied internet event of the 21st century, featured online only protests in Iran during the Green Movement of 2009, “spheres of strife (protest) and hegemony (power), wherein claims to information, ideas, values, and identities are contested and ruptured…” Another trickster, which would again arise during Occupy Wall Street.

CantTellDankMemeStashBSDMS is a unique and brand new trickster in many ways. It resides on Facebook, a walled garden, rather than the wilds of the open web where 4chan boiled for years before spawning Anonymous. Members are generally not anonymous, posting with their own names and faces. BSDMS is also a contested online space, with rules that are regularly broken then enforced by moderators. Anti-Bernie posts get swarmed upon like white blood cells on a germ, and then get deleted. Technology allowing anyone to create graphic designs delivering powerful messages with one look, i.e. the meme, is creating new political power before our eyes. And it all happens in seconds, every hour, of every single day.

Thus, right now, within the movement giving rise to the US presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, the internet, with the flair and god like power of the trickster, is creating precisely the reasoned normative consensus that can arise as a non-state actor capable of threatening the sovereignty of nation states. Scholars would call this a transnational dialogue, Marxists might call it a dialectic, an ideational non-state actor whose power resides in each of us buying into new ideas which challenge the existing order. It’s boiling core might be the Dank Meme Stash, but the same dynamic exists everywhere online.

So what’s the consensus this non-state actor is developing? Vote, and vote for Bernie Sanders. Within that consensus, a reasoned (trickster dominated) debate is raging online about why. Once that consensus is formed, there is ample proof that it simply cannot, and will not, be stopped. Media, and Sanders’ opponents, have dismissed the online dominance of the Sanders campaign, even citing BSDMS, as “BernieBros”, young males behaving badly. This is utter folly.

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The worst BernieBro trolls are likely paid Hillary Clinton fakes, aka “ninjas”

It’s time to shed a little light on the Hillary Clinton narrative machine.

Here in Ohio, we tangled with the Clinton establishment’s bourgeois consultant industrial complex in 2015, soundly thrashing a $24 million constitutional attempt to monopolize marijuana – Issue 3. The Issue 3 campaign was staffed top to bottom with every single Ohio Clinton staffer in waiting, going back more than two decades.

A defining feature of Issue 3’s drug cartel attempt was heavy investment (perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars) in fake Twitter hives all over Ohio, staffed entirely by the landed Clinton gentry of Ohio politics, who were paid handsomely for over a year to create fake social media accounts in order to harrass opponents, personally target individuals for character assassination, and otherwise lay waste to the Ohio online political landscape in pursuit of their greed. They were self-proclaimed “ninjas”, as this video details with leaked documents and audio tapes.

The money trail paying for the fake hives led directly to the Ohio Democratic Party’s highest levels. One of the top consultants for Issue 3’s cartel was Jeremy Bird himself. Their top lawyer is the ODP’s three decade attorney Don Mctigue. Their top fundraiser was Erik Greathouse, ODP’s former finance director. The Twitter hive itself was managed by Sandy Theis, the executive director of the ODP staff dumping ground of Progress Ohio. That’s barely the tip of the spear. If Hillary gets to Ohio’s primary on March 15, her entire Ohio staff will be these exact same people.

I agree with Bernie Sanders on the most caustic BernieBro nonsense, that “we don’t want that crap.” Which is why Hillary Clinton’s campaign is likely paying for it. Sure, the odd meanie on the tweet machine, feelin’ the Bern a bit too hot, sometimes is over the top. The Clinton campaign is, without doubt, spending the same hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent in Ohio last year to mine social media for the worst bits, parrot it, amplify it, spoon feed it to mainstream media in a sanctimonious flurry of high dudgeon, and doing so from behind an army of fake “ninjas.”

Maybe all these “progressives who like to get things done” have changed since, oh, last fall in Ohio; when their dripping greed at the mere thought of getting a cut of a marijuana monopoly sent them down the rabbit hole. Doubt it. Issue 3 was a dry run for Hillary’s Ohio campaign. They don’t learn lessons, they lather, rinse, repeat. It’s probably even the same morons just getting a paycheck with a different name on it.


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The deep systemic roots of CSU’s exploitation of free intern labor

EatingMoneyMouthCleveland State University’s administration just can’t quit you, capitalism.

At a meeting with concerned students at the end of fall semester, 2015, President Ronald Berkman announced in a proud flourish that after at least a year of discussion about charging tuition for unpaid internships, CSU would change internship credit to a “zero-hour” credit, which would appear on a transcript, but not require a tuition payment, as it would now be “zero hours”. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

Instead of following up with a written and announced policy, as was promised at the meeting, the administration is instead now claiming that because the internship credit would be “zero hours”, any program with an internship component would then require another class of the student, to make up for the lost credit hours.

Cha. Ching.

VP of Student Affairs Ernest Yarborough argues in an email, “If students currently receive 3 credits for an internship which they pay for, and under the new policy they receive 0 credits but do not have to pay, they still have to complete 120 credits.”

Political Science chair Charles Hersch explained in an email this is somehow tied to the change from quarters to semesters. “…after the 4-3 conversion, we increased the number of required courses to make the total number of credits required the same.”

In effect, CSU used unpaid internship work by students to bootstrap their way to keeping all programs at the same credit hour requirement. Woe unto the student who notices…you can’t really make this stuff up.

In my first go round at CSU, I interned through the political science program with Dennis Kucinich’s 1988 primary campaign. That internship was an elective, not a requirement, and the professor, then political science chair Jim Kweder, arranged the internships himself for every student. Today, CSU does the exact opposite – in the MAGI program, not one finger is lfted by any professor to help students find an internship, and that internship is required.

Meanwhile, as this policy gets “discussed” by the administration, students for at least 4 semesters have been forced to pay for the privelege of working for free all so CSU can keep bootstrapping credit hours off of their unpaid labor. Worse, CSU administrators and professors seem to think this is perfectly normal, to the point that the highest level decisions about credit hours in a university-wide transition from quarters to semesters explicitly relies on unpaid labor by students to clear the bar.

This is what 40 solid years of freeing markets gets you in public education. Such a grotesque, Dickensian exploitation is unworthy of a university the calibre of CSU. Viking students fight like hell to get where they are in life, overcoming obstacles not many other university students ever face in America. CSU should not exploit them, too. It is long past time for Dr. Berkman to solve this problem of the university’s own creation.

Enough is quite enough.

Tim Russo is a student in the Master of Arts in Global Interaction (MAGI) program at CSU. 

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From a Sanders movement to a Sanders campaign

BernieYouthVoteMemeThe Ohio primary on March 15 will matter again, as it did in 2008. Ohio’s presidential primary didn’t really used to matter. We would watch all the other states have all the fun, and then be expected to bring it home in November, as the swing state to end all swing states.

Bernie Sanders tied Hillary Clinton in Iowa, but he should have won by a landslide. Turnout was lower than 2008 (which was a record), especially among the key Sanders demographic of 17-29 year olds, who voted at a staggering 84% for Bernie. The only voting block that reliable in politics is the black vote voting Democratic. As is the constant lament about low African American turnout, only 18% of those young Iowans turned out.

It’s tempting to blame the lazy millenials for being lazy, but frankly, failing to up your turnout in a base that reliable is, first of all, an organizational problem. A campaign’s field operation should be able to turn out its base in a close election enough to win a tied race. Quite literally, one or two extra young voters in specific places in Iowa would have made the now infamous coin tosses unnecessary, won the state, and the world would look very different today. That’s what a field operation is for.

Second, like black voters, young voters have every reason to refuse participation in what they see as a rigged game. What’s the point? African American voters have been voting at the same clip for Democrats as millenials vote now for Sanders for many decades, and what has it gotten them? Taken for granted, that’s what. Thus, low turnout in the base is also a message problem. A reliable base has to be convinced their vote will matter, or they won’t vote.

I actually think a tie in Iowa helps the Sanders campaign on both problems. A tie tends to focus the mind, both in the campaign, and in the base vote that thinks voting doesn’t matter.  No one in the Sanders campaign, nor voters, expected Bernie to be in this position when Bernie announced 8 months ago, least of all Senator Sanders. Bernie’s staff gets a pass for now; all the pros have been tied up by Hillary Clinton for years, maybe two decades. And Bernie’s voters get a pass, too; this all seemed too ridiculous to contemplate.

Not anymore. The Democratic nomination for president of the United States is there for the taking for Bernie Sanders. The numbers from Iowa prove it. Relying on a social movement to win that nomination isn’t enough in a game so rigged as 21st century American politics. Voters, led by a relentless campaign, have to seize that rigged process, root and branch, and change it. By the time Ohio votes on March 15, we’ll know if those lessons have sunk in.

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Ohio elected Howard Metzenbaum, a liberal Jewish lion, over and over again

MetzenbaumAs Ohio’s March 15 primary grows in relevance every day, we will soon begin to hear (among much else) that America cannot elect a liberal Jew president. Whenever you hear that, tell them about Howard Metzenbaum.

I have a soft spot for Howard, everyone does. Howard’s eyesight was notoriously bad, so bad his speeches on the Senate floor had to be blown up in gigantic fonts (difficult back then) so he could actually read them. Just one of the many quirks that made Howard beloved by the state of Ohio his entire 18 years in the US Senate.

Howard was the quintessential grandson of Polish and Hungarian Jewish immigrants to Cleveland. (sound familiar?) Howard ran track. (gettin’ warmer!) And Howard was at least as liberal as Ted Kennedy, often moreso, maybe even more liberal than Bernie Sanders himself.

“He was the last of the ferocious New Deal liberals,” Dick Feagler wrote once.

Howard is the last US Senator to make antitrust a signature issue; if he were around today, Howard would be waving a crowbar in the air standing next to Bernie to break up the banks. Howard took on Robert Bork’s absurd nomination to the Supreme Court like a lion would, clearly enjoying tearing Bork to pieces from his perch on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Howard used the fillibuster relentlessly for the little guy, becoming known as “Senator No.” By the time Howard retired in 1994, the word “Metzenbaum” had become an Ohio liberal sledgehammer, its mere utterance casting fear into the hearts of any Republican.

I interned on Howard’s 1988 campaign against George Voinovich, whose campaign accused Howard of being soft on kiddie porn in the most despicably desperate low blow I’ve ever seen in Ohio politics, which of course backfired. Had Howard been on the ballot in 1994 instead of his pointless son-in-law Joel Hyatt, who got destroyed by an even more pointless Mike DeWine, Howard certainly would have won his 4th term, and likely would have limited the Gingrich revolution in Ohio across the ballot. (The 1994 calamity began the current Ohio Democratic Party’s two decade run of total failure, but that’s another story.)

Incredibly, Howard looks a bit like Bernie Sanders, too, but remember; the similarities do not end there. Ohio voters are not as conservative as you’ve been told. Never have been. In that big cloak room in the sky, Howard Metzenbaum is probably smiling even more broadly than he did here on earth, and will certainly be tuning in March 15.

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Back to school, Davos bourgeoisie escape plans edition

Back before I got all radical, Davos was the goal for any self-respecting international man of mystery. Somehow, someway, you needed your career trajectory to end up at Davos. Now, I just laugh at it. Nothing is more out of touch with reality than the 1% filling the Swiss alps with their private jets to make the scene at Davos to declare theselves masters of the universe.

My favorite Davos coverage of all time is this Guardian story from last year’s gathering of gilded glitterati. Someone actually stood in front of a room full of people, including reporters, and declared…

At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway”

These criminals know what they’ve done. The whole of academia knows. And every year, it gets worse. Oxfam’s regular pre-Davos report on income inequality has become more grotesque by the minute.

Just 62 ultra-rich, mostly white men — a list that includes Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the Koch Brothers and the Walmart heirs — have as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity. Five years ago, it took 388 rich guys to achieve that status.

Going back to school has given me a broader academic understanding of what’s going on all around us. We’re watching the completely predictable black hole of unleashed capitalism suck every nickel out of us into a collapsing star so dense with cash, it’s a wonder it hasn’t exploded yet. But explode it certainly will. No one argues that. Matter of time. This is how capitalism works, a feature not a bug.

Hillary Clinton now stands in the crosshairs of a growing realization we’ve all been conned to believe one day all of us can be the next rich white dude. No zeal like that of the recently converted. No one likes to be taken advantage of their entire lives, with their own assent, becoming the tool of their own future’s destruction. When people finally figure it out, the hell to pay will be broad and deep. Hillary’s misfortune is to be running for president when the spell starts to break.

Over break, I dove into the Bernie Sanders campaign here in Ohio to get a worm’s eye view of what I watched from afar in Britain this summer – the movement among the left to say enough is bloody well enough. Like Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party, Bernie Sanders never wanted to run for president. We all watched Bernie publicly debate, with himself, in quite apparent agony, whether or not to do so. Bernie waited for Elizabeth Warren to shrink from this moment, going on TV in visible reluctance as the next to step up. When he called for a “political revolution” a year ago, not even Bernie probably thought it possible.

Well, that revolution has arrived. Like Corbyn, I don’t think Bernie Sanders is really quite prepared for it, certainly his campaign isn’t. None of us are. You know who is? The assholes at Davos buying private islands in order to flee the scene of their crimes.

Back to the books.




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A March 15 Ohio primary…about guns?…awaits Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders represents a movement at the moment, not a political campaign for president; a movement in western democracies rejecting the presumed holiness of the free market, dating back at least to the Occupy movement, manifesting most directly in political parties of the left in Western Europe over the last few years. Hillary Clinton is next in the crosshairs.

It’s not really about Bernie Sanders. As with Jeremy Corbyn in the British Labour Party this summer, it doesn’t matter how stereotypically disheveled and bearded the career backbencher, voters are desperate for anyone at all to carry the message that no one joins a party of the left to rig the game for capital, let alone start wars based on lies. Enough is quite enough.

Here in Ohio, the first presidential campaign office in 2016 opened on Saturday, in pivotal Cuyahoga County, for Bernie Sanders, driven entirely by volunteers. Nina Turner cut the ribbon in front of 150 people in a state whose presidential primary almost never matters.

Almost never. Ohio mattered in 2008, and it got ugly. Racial. Culture wars. Typical Clintonian slice and dice, hot button, divisive game rigging. Hillary won Ohio’s 2008 primary, based largely on a thinly veiled, dog whistle endorsement from then governor Ted Strickland and his Ohio Democratic Party machine, but lost the nomination.

If Bernie Sanders wins one or more of the early states, Ohio will get ugly again. But this time, the blinders are off. Democrats aren’t fooled by cultural issues anymore. We know that’s a bait and switch, meant merely to put more game riggers for capital in power over our futures. That dog just don’t hunt anymore.

In 2016, the Clinton culture war game looks to be guns. How very ironic. Clinton forgets that her two most prominent Ohio endorsers, Ted Strickland & Tim Ryan, have been endorsed by the NRA their entire political careers. In fact, the NRA’s most fertile ground of the last 20 years has not been the GOP, but precisely the type of Democrat who Clinton represents; the Blue Dogs across the country who like Strickland and Ryan ran to the NRA out of sheer panic after the assault weapons ban allegedly cost a couple House members their seats in 1994. Reliance on the NRA for power is a key cog in the Democratic Party’s Third Way Clintonian bend over for capital, especially in Ohio.

No one has ever proven that the assault weapons ban cost anyone a Congressional seat. What has been proven is that Democrats, like Hillary, very quietly let the assault weapons ban lapse, without so much as a peep, as the NRA demanded.  Adam Lanza’s mother proceeded to purchase precisely the previously banned assault weapon Lanza used to kill 20 1st graders at Sandy Hook. If that doesn’t haunt Ted Strickland, Tim Ryan, and their Blue Dog ilk, I don’t know what could.

In 2016, Hillary won’t be able to rely on a dog whistle from Ted Strickland to win the Ohio primary. Maybe Ted can ask the NRA for help. Run that by Hillz, Ted.

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We could be heroes

When your sexuality is complicated, you end up constantly analyzing its tyranny over your life, as I did when Lou Reed died last year. Growing up in a closet as David Bowie towered over the MTV landscape of the mid-80’s, those gender benders were terrifying. Too honest. Someone might find out.

Let’s Dance, though, made it safe. Just let it loose, kid. No one cares. Nothing as bizarre as David Bowie could ever make it through the blandness filter of 21st century end stage capitalism, but in Cleveland, where David Bowie first broke through on those legendary CLE FM radio stations, Bowie was by the 80’s, and remains, part of the wallpaper. Next to Bruce Springsteen, Bowie is Cleveland’s adopted Zeus of rock and roll.

All the cool kids hated Let’s Dance. Not weird enough. Too funky. Too “straight”. Too accessible. For me, it was like oxygen. Some of us like to dance, you know. The purists, moping deeply in operatic self indulgence, drove me away from Bowie for a while, until I found Heroes, whose lyrics were the plaintive wail of my imprisoned soul, screaming out like Bing Crosby on acid at the untouchable beautiful people I hoped could hear.

Which is probably why Heroes never really got onto radio. Too dangerous. Hell no, we can’t all be heroes, who the fuck do you think you are. Who am I? I could be king. And you, you will be queen. And the shame is on the other side of that wall you built around yourself, finally.

Bowie surely knew what he meant to the kids who, like him, were growing up wondering who the hell they were, wondering who would ever love them in all their glorious freakishness. Bowie just was. I didn’t realize why I was so drawn to the Michael Stipes, Lou Reeds, Fred Schneiders, Robert Smiths, Morisseys, for a long time. I do now.

Rest in peace, David Jones. Not just for one day; you’ll always be a hero.

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Movement politics from Occupy to Bernie Sanders – the fear of power

BernieSandersMonopolyGuyI’ve been avoiding putting OWS and Bernie Sanders in the same sentence for a while, until I read this thorough analysis of the weaknesses inherent in the Occupy movement, from one of its insider “leaders”. That entire sentence would be seen as total heresy in 2011 – mentioning a politician (evil), mentioning “leaders” or “insiders” (infidel), alluding to electoral power (sinister). Thus, my reluctance.

“Political revolution” as Bernie describes it is not much different than the OWS concept of revolution. A revolution at its core seizes the organs of power. Bernie’s idea is to do so through voting and increasing voter turnout, which is where Bernie’s “revolution” diverges from Occupy. A deep cynicism about voting in a rigged game dominated Occupy. Which is how we get to the fear of power.

One of Occupy’s many internal problems was the inability to take winning for an answer, to declare victory. Bernie Sanders is one of those victories, the reluctance to embrace that victory pure OWS. Bernie’s entire message is the basic, most rudimentary vocabulary of Occupy, words and messages written by the sweat, tears, and often blood of the public spaces of occupation through the magic of mass direct action. I think it unlikely that Bernie Sanders could have run for president without this message being created for him. There would be no talk of the 1% in the 2016 presdiential campaign if not for those two months in 2011 piercing and replacing the media narrative. Such victory cannot be measured easily, thus, it doesn’t really exist to many Occupados.

The author (a Zuccotti veteran who writes under a nom de plume) describes how the “politics of powerlessness” sucks movements into an endless vortex of purity demands, defensive mechanisms, leading to self-sabotage.

The real problem underneath it all was a deep ambivalence about power. In fact, all of the things that made Occupy Wall Street brilliant had this paradox built into them, this politic of powerlessness woven deep inside, like a bad gene or a self-destruct mechanism.

Message is power. Power is required to make change. To understand the power of message, ask yourself how many times you use the term “1%” to capture more than just the words themselves, how using that word frames a conversation immediately, the way saying “Charlie Brown” brings to mind a universe of ideas. We, the Occupados, created the universe of ideas behind the Sanders campaign’s message. Bernie wouldn’t say the words if they didn’t work to conjure those ideas.

Within the “politics of powerlessness”, such a victory would easily be dismissed as co-optation. Once more, OWS loses by winning, because some other power, worse, an electoral politician, has taken our words and is using them to their own advantage, to increase their own power. You sense this tension in the reluctance of the Bernie folks to claim Occupy lineage, and vice versa. But the connection is there, and within that connection lies power.

I’m noticing similarities on the ground between the Sanders movement (and make no mistake, Bernie has a movement behind him, not a presidential campaign…yet) and Occupy Wall Street. People are self-selecting into organizing roles they create themselves, for example, a Cleveland, Ohio office opening without any help from Bernie’s campaign itself. We’re just kinda doing it. Occupying it.

Many of the same people who were essential to Occupy Cleveland orbit around Bernie’s burgeoning Ohio movement, obviously reluctant to, I guess, get “co-opted”. Meanwhile, the Berners carry on regardless, growing the movement more and more by the day. Power is afoot, and the old timer Occupados shy away, in the way the author notes

Occupy Wall Street created a new discourse, brought thousands of people into the movement, shifted the landscape of the left, and even facilitated concrete victories for working people. But at the same time, a substantial chunk of its leadership was allergic to power. And we made a politic of that. We fetishized it, wrote articles and books about it, scorned the public with it. Worst of all, we used it as a cudgel with which to bludgeon each other.

Largely because the OWS brand is so dirtied up, Bernie Sanders would probably reject the notion that his campaign is a logical next step of the Occupy Wall Street movement. But that is the truth; we, the Occupy Movement nationally, laid the groundwork for what is going on in the Democratic Party right now, in Iowa, in New Hampshire, and even in Ohio, whose primary isn’t until March 15. Just as the Occupy Movement in the UK made Jeremy Corbyn possible for the Labour Party.

Presidential politics and OWS aren’t supposed to mix. But mixing they are, right now, in order to seize the organs of power. Revolutions shouldn’t be so allergic to that power. Jump on it. Such things are quite rare indeed.

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Did Bernie Sanders arrive in the nick of time, or too late? A Soviet perspective

Observing the post Cold War Soviet collapse first hand turns out to be very useful for understanding America in the 2010’s, as our post Cold War obsession with creating free market purist capitalism now leads our country to end stage capitalism, featuring shrinking incomes, a disappearing middle class, and public budgets nothing more than ATM’s for oligarchy, whose power and wealth grows exponentially, without end.

Two factors have leapt out.

First, one of the defining features of Soviet collapse was the police, specifically the traffic cops. By the time I got to Armenia in 1997, traffic cops were nothing more than a racket, arrogantly standing on the roadside leaning against their cop car, waving drivers over to the curb with their little wand, not even bothered to put up a chase. You would pull over, not having broken any law whatsoever, and the cop would be happy with a couple dollars (always dollars) to put in his pocket, because public funding of police was bankrupt.

The only substantive difference between Armenian traffic cops and American police today is one of degree. American police do treat motorists as an ATM; for their own budgets, for court budgets, for the transactional attorneys, both prosecutors and defense counsel, who feed off defendants like parasites. American police have not yet become so brazen as to take bribes on the roadside, but as the Black Lives Matter movement proves daily, they do still live in an inaccountable bubble of their own enforcement, shooting to kill as if that’s their job, rarely facing a single consequence. The arrogance that results would be familiar to an Armenian.

Second, a study last month found that middle aged white American males have been dying at an alarming rate, due to various addictions, depression, anxiety, mental health and other diseases leading to early deaths, suicide, the works. This is what happened after the Soviet collapse in 1990, with middle aged males across the former soviet republics succumbing to the stereotypical vodka bottle. The security of Soviet guarantees was gone, just as the security of the middle class has gone since America went into free market hyperdrive. No one should be surprised that men whose future is now a big fat zero are starting to die off, after investing their entire youth into an ideology that promised them not just security, but riches, then pulled a bait and switch.

Ideologies die slowly, leaving a thorough trail of destruction behind them. Soviet ideology took decades to die. The ideology dying in America today is what scholars refer to as the “Washington Consensus”, AKA free market neoliberalism, the belief that markets are a governing model, and will produce optimal public results if left alone and liberated to do the will of capital. The Soviet collapse was acknowledged by anyone in power with eyes to see it, and the debris followed.

We are collapsing in reverse to the Soviets. Our public infrastructure is crumbling, just as in the Soviet Union. The generational security of the American Dream is gone. We are not yet living with no electricity or running water, as was and still is the case in post soviet republics, but that eventuality seems inevitable. Public budgets shrink in favor of subsidizing profit constantly, we are incapable of raising taxes on the richest Americans, the resulting regressive tax structure gets worse every day. Even Boris Yeltsin in his drunkest stupor would recognize the trajectory.

And yet, the Washington Consensus collapse is acknowledged by no one in power in America, despite the exact same debris as the Soviet collapse beginning to litter America right before our eyes. In fact, the establishment 1% has circled the wagons around Washington Consensus neoliberalism, sort of how a star condenses upon itself becoming more dense, more toxic. See Trump. The bait and switch now relies explicitly on nativism of a 1930’s vintage; the game isn’t rigged, oh no, it’s the brown people’s fault that white middle aged males are dying of broken hearts.

The crowning irony? It is a universally accepted given that capitalism produces regular financial crises, the more free capital becomes. No scholar argues this. In fact, capitalism’s financial collapse tendency is even applauded by Washington Consensus free market purists as “creative destruction”, somehow leading to a Darwinian evolution of businesses and corporations better equipped to sail ever more efficient schooners across the seas of capital.

More “creative destruction” is a feature, not a bug, of the Wasington Consensus neoliberal free market dogma. Every single scholar, pundit, or landed gentry apologist for the neoliberal Washington Consenus will agree that another financial collapse is inevitable. They may even be persuaded that the next collapse will be The Big One, dwarfing 2008, as capital has been freed even more since 2008, banks have grown ever larger, consolidated ever more, as if no collapse actually happened 8 years ago.

My only question is; did Bernie Sanders arrive in time? Hillary Clinton is nothing if not a neoliberal Washington Consensus creation. Her election as president will only accelerate and aggravate the coming financial collapse, if a collapse doesn’t happen before it. Even if Bernie Sanders is elected president a year from now, he may not be able to head off the reckoning. It may happen while he’s running, just as 2008’s collapse happened while Barack Obama was running.

The real scandal here is that every single scholar sees the same thing coming, if they have eyes to see it, yet somehow, we hurtle toward that collapse like lemmings to a cliff.

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