America Intoxicated With Ambient Mobilization: Hunter And Tbilisi On Cause And Effect

Our initial post on WikiLeaks generated thoughtful responses from many readers. We highlight two here. (Elsewhere it’s called ‘Diary Rescue’). The goal is two part. First, to help current and future readers search for and find this conversation. Second, Hunter, Tbilisi and the others offer considered, structural observations about America today, and how we got here.

Each comment follows separately below. Other comments in the link supra helped develop these two as well. We recommend, for example, AnxiousModernMan’s initial synthesis and summary.

Systemic conversations about the American predicament seem increasingly rare in our 140 character world. The blog certainly can do better. These two comments were offered as comments rather than considered essays. One can embrace all, part or even none of them. Perhaps, however, they’ll prompt reflection and elicit a structured response, rebuttal or aside. Either here or elsewhere.

We firmly believe ultimate progress addressing our social-political cul de sac requires a foundation in, and self-aware recognition of, an organized, analytical and developed philosophical framework. Rather than merely chasing transient symptoms du jour for click throughs or re-tweets. Your framework may be altogether different from or in alignment with these comments. We hope, however, that you agree discussion based on structured, coherent philosophy is our best path forward. (Some slight editing was made for format – the original texts remain at the above post).

Tbilisi and Thoughts On Western Modernity

“. . . [Perhaps] Western Modernity can be seen basically to have three manifestations: (a) liberalism; (b) utopianism; (c) and corporatism. All of those manifestations offer their own seductions. History suggests only one, liberalism, is capable of sustaining an Enlightenment-based social and political order. For example, FDR’s New Deal and European social democracy are exemplary of [one form of modern -ed.] liberalism. Both Hitler and Lenin offered utopianism. Mussolini and Stalin embodied corporatist forms.

Seen in this light, WWII thus was a defeat for utopianism. Liberalism and corporatism emerged victorious. In the post-war era, previously existing left wing movements and institutions entered eclipse. This was followed by inevitable atrophy of liberal, specifically leftist language and philosophy in the United States. All as a direct consequence from defeating utopianism in WWII.

In post-1945 America, corporatism – knocked down by the New Deal but victorious in WWII – found a foothold in a marginalized Republican party and a newly well-off American public. Corporatism used this foothold and legitimation first to defeat directly American domestic utopianism (seen in various guises such as its Southern racist, industrial leftist, and other manifestations). Corporatism then subsumed liberals by adopting anti-liberal corporatist beliefs (e.g. about the supremacy of the meritocracy).

Modern American corporatism, after defeating both its utopian and leftist politcal-philosphical opponents nonetheless remained vulnerable. Coporatism (which unlike utopianism and liberalism has no core philosophy and is fundamentally nihilist) needed a philosophy to continue to survive. Thus we see since 1945 corporatist entities embrace various half-baked radicalized belief systems (neoliberalism, neoconism, globalism, market fundamentalism, and a host of smaller issue-specific isms). All are often contradictory. All still serve the same objective: of empowering [Hunter’s elite 30,000] its oligarchical ruling elite.

Seen in this light, maybe, despite Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, anti-War, et al., the 60’s decade (+/- 5 or so years) was in fact the decisive battle ground. Modern American ‘liberalism’ and radical corporatism struggled for control of the American narrative. The latter emerged victorious. The story of American politics since then [regardless of political party – ed.] is largely corporatist consolidation and routing of scant liberal remnants. ”

Hunter’s Analysis of Assange’s Critique of U.S. Power

“It seems to me that there’s rather a lot of point-missing going on here (at STSOZ). Assange is not concerned with the State Department’s conduct of Foreign Policy, he is concerned with the institutions of power generally. It matters not a whit that all of the info in this dump is known; his purpose is not to reveal shocking new secrets in order to provoke reform, and everyone who analyzes his actions in those terms will continue to be confused by him.

He views the US Government itself as the institutional arm of a mostly illegitimate, decentralized conspiracy of power-brokers. The way I think of power in the US is something like this: there are 300m citizens, of whom 3m have potential access to power (I’m here), of whom 30k exercise power on a daily basis (elected reps, board members of the Fortune 500, state Governors, media elite, pick your favorites). The 30k ostensibly work on behalf of the 300m, but actually on behalf of the 3m. Furthermore, the 3m and the 30k are a factionalized and mostly incompetent oligarchy. Assange seems to think that the 30k are a competent conspiracy.

But then again, not really. He has an odd definition of conspiracy that embraces any system that depends upon secrecy in part to function. He further (and obviously problematically) conflates secrecy with injustice. Be that as it may, this very site has extensively documented the absurdities of the PNSS, the counter-intelligence state, etc., e.g. in a comment of the Doktor in a post a while back that related an amusing anecdote about the FBI trying to coerce Agency-connected US Academics into helping them. Why is one part of our Government reduced to coercing aid from their internal allies? This becomes intelligible in the framework that Assange operates under. The understanding gained thereby may or may not actually be useful or have any relation to the truth, but the appeal of the framework should be apparent.

He is correct, however, that a system which depends on a certain particular level of secrecy (perhaps privacy would be a better term) for its essential functions is vulnerable to just the attack he is making. A failure to respond lowers the level of secrecy to the point that the essential functions of the organization are compromised, and over-reaction increases the rigidity of the organization to the point that its collapse is imminent. Again, his purpose is not to reveal shocking new secrets in order to provoke reform. His purpose is to provoke the systems he hates into dangerous (to themselves) over-reaction in terms of increasing secrecy to an untenable point.

This is, obviously, an untested theory. It may well be that the US Government can function just fine with a much higher level of default internal information security, but that remains to be seen. In any case, the logic of Assange’s actions can be understood on the grounds of his statements there. They are not aimed at provoking ‘reform’.”

Readers’ overall commentary elevated matters from our initial snark dismissing Assange. Thanks to all.

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  1. Dr Leo Strauss says


    In an earlier era, when Stimson dismantled our Black Chamber and said ‘Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail’, oddly the U.S. government of that era would still meet Assange’s definition of criminal conspiracy.

  2. Comment says

    Is Greenwald really surprised that HRC “ordered” spying at the UN. Or is he being faux-naive? Pretending to be shocked at gambling in the casino? That really is one of the non stories of wikileaks and it’s seems odd to hear people talking about it so much.

  3. Comment says

    We sort of recall when Lind made his original split with the conserv movement sometime around 1996 – He was somewhat ahead of the curve with his warning that conservatives were really looking for new enemies domestically now that the cold war was over. He was scoffed at by some conservative mags as an opportunist (not a crime) and as someone taken in by the liberal elite ethos. But we think he is right and the real right wing venom showed in impeachment first and the pure hatred toward Iraq war skeptics. This ran parallel to equally mean spirited by less effective war against social liberalism,

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    re Lanny Davis, as many here may recall, we’ve spent time working with him on some intensive, *non-Clinton* private sector projects and in general have great affection for him. This had nothing to do with his politics or ours. Haven’t kept up with him lately.

    This story is what it is. We’d like to hear what he has to say in a little more depth. Glad to see him at least refer to Ireland as the template rather than Mitchell du jour and the rousing success with the settlements.

  5. Dr Leo Strauss says

    re Clapper, he got sand bagged by poor staff work/internal dynamics. Regardless of the how the DNI position has devolved to where it is today, he shouldn’t have been put in that situation. However one views the Community, he’s a pro and earned his respect. When the DHS bureaucratic cl*ster f**k was set up, WH and Hill people *begged* him to take the thankless job of helping stand up its intelligence capability. Naturally, he demurred.

    Optics are awful. Let’s see what he does with Gates over the budgetary authority transfer out of OSD.

  6. Dr Leo Strauss says

    This thread will be kept open and evolve in the weeks ahead. There’s much we all likely will have to say about this dynamic and the WikiLeaks issue as just one example.

  7. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Lind on WikiLeaks and the cavalier digital hipsters is well done. Substantively, we think he makes the legal and moral case against Greenwald/WikiLeaks with his usual succinct, economic prose.

    Greenwald for good or for ill is a polemicist, and a good one — he generates wanted opinion, heat and not a little light, too. More than we ever could on all three scores. Lind, however, is a trained policy analyst of many decades and understands applied political science. He offers perspective and respect for *this* moment in the broader historical context and experience. We side with Lind.

    We’re sympathetic to both viewpoints having helped set up, fund and promote institutions and relationships from the digital libertarian pov before the general population had -or heard of – TCP/IP access, email, or even what a browser was. We’ve also worked in the legal/constitutional area, engaged in senior policy discourse across government and bring a maybe a smidgeon of historical perspective as well.

    Those curious about why we side with Lind on this, please see the original WiklLeaks threads and our evolving considerations in the comments here:

  8. Tbilisi says

    Much to think about when put together. Until later, Happy Festivus to all in the Stiftung, and here’s to a good new year!

  9. Comment says

    Lind issues pretty good anti Assanger ™ piece. Lord knows we are not legal experts, but common sense tells us that Assange has broken laws. Maybe every foreign intelligence agency should just set up websites and claim journalistic status. That being said – we like to read leaks as much as anyone. Contra Greenwald , Obama (and Bush) have been consistent – they like all leaks that make them look better and their enemies worse and they oppose all leaks that do not serve that purpose. That’s pretty human.
    The brutal consistency that people like Glen agitate for is unhuman – Yes, the media elites and phony hypocrites, but so is JA. So is everyone, at some level –
    We’ll see how JA handles himself if he publishes something Putin really doesn’t like.

  10. Comment says

    Tweety is hilariously vacuous – He gets very annoyed that Clapper was not up on a newstory that broke on cable a few hours earlier. We are somewhat impressed that Clapper does not watch TV during the day – The 1 or 2 news stories he may miss can be learned later, but 99 percent of all cable TV is just froth devoid of content solely for advertisers benefit. When we have kids we would rather see them play high quality video games than watching dumb cable tv ‘news’ shows.

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