Archive for the ‘Political power’ Category
The Politics of Misinformation is a critical examination of how and why the public has confidence in political progress and innovation even though most change is superficial. Concentrations of social and economic power produce illusions that create the impression of beneficial social change while erasing the possibility of such change. Language, bureaucratic authority, law, political parties, science, and other social institutions help to produce images that mislead both non-elite and elite, creating the appearance of rational democracy while at the same time obscuring structural inequality, discouraging critical evaluation of political policy, and thwarting involvement in democratic politics.
Our common assumption is that the acts of Homo sapiens are basically rational and that mistakes in reaching conclusions are the exception. On the contrary, mistakes are so common that rationality is probably the exception. The Marxist concept of false consciousness, meaning an erroneous assumption about the sources of one’s own thought, applies to the elite as much as to the masses. Political actions influence our well-being continuously and deeply and because they harm us in many instances, perhaps more often than they help us. Comforting illusions that protect us against despair and protect the status quo against effective protests are readily created and disseminated. The illusions are normally believed because it would be hard to live without them. Recent history reaffirms the illusions. They are partly a legacy of the nineteenth century, with its dramatic industrial revolution and its high-minded revolutions in France and in America acclaiming individual liberty and political independence. But the twentieth century, with its world wars, genocides, and other horrors, has been marked by regression rather than progress. The illusions are a fundamental instance of symbolic politics; they build an impression of beneficial social change even while typically erasing the possibility of change.
This is a transformative book. It’s the best book on American politics that I’ve read since Before the Storm. Not all of it is original (the authors seek to synthesize others’ work as well as present their own, but provide due credit where credit is due). Not all of its arguments are fully supported (the authors provide a strong circumstantial case to support their argument, but don’t have smoking gun evidence on many of the relevant causal relations). But it should transform the ways in which we think about and debate the political economy of the US.
The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political – the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public.
Read also: Here’s What’s the Matter With Kansas
The media’s inscrutable brush-off of the Government Accounting Office’s recently released audit of the Federal Reserve has raised many questions about the Fed’s goings-on since the financial crisis began in 2008.
The audit of the Fed’s emergency lending programs was scarcely reported by mainstream media – albeit the results are undoubtedly newsworthy. It is the first audit of the Fed in United States history since its beginnings in 1913. The findings verify that over $16 trillion was allocated to corporations and banks internationally, purportedly for “financial assistance” during and after the 2008 fiscal crisis.
Hay que buscar las razones de la degeneración intelectual de parte de la clase política. Es un deber de la sociedad descubrir las razones ocultas de las privatizaciones. ¿Cómo recuperaremos lo que hemos perdido? El verdadero sustento de la sociedad, de la vida colectiva tan importante como la vida de la naturaleza, es la educación, la cultura, la ética. Ellas son las verdaderas generadoras de riqueza ideal, moral y material.
Desde hace años, de nuevo en estos días, como manifestación del menosprecio por la enseñanza pública y por sus profesores, se habla de la libertad de los padres para elegir el centro en el que educar a sus hijos. Esa defensa libertaria no tiene que ver con el deseo de que se practique en la educación una verdadera libertad: la libertad de entender, de pensar, de interpretar, de desfanatizar, de sentir. Libertad que, por encima de todas las sectas, debería fomentar la combatida Educación para la Ciudadanía y la identidad democrática. Una libertad que enseñase algo más que la obsesión por el dinero y por el solapado cultivo de la avaricia. A lo mejor, esa educación les obligaba a dimitir a algunos personajes de la vida pública, por vergüenza del engaño que arrastran y contaminan. Mejor dicho: haría imposible que se dieran semejantes individuos.
Ese sermoneo se funda sobre todo en el fomento de la privatización de la enseñanza que alimenta el dinero y la desigualdad. ¿Pueden gozar de esa libertad todos los padres? ¿También los de los barrios más modestos de las grandes ciudades? ¿Pueden ser libres para mandar a sus hijos a esos colegios privados? En el fondo, toda esa propaganda libertaria es fruto de planteamientos políticos, de dominio ideológico, de sustanciosos prejuicios clasistas, que con doble o triple moral predican libertad, cuando lo que realmente les importa, aunque quieran engañarse y engañarnos, es el dinero.
The media likes to talk about markets as if they were just a force of nature. In fact, markets and their outcomes are largely shaped by political power. In a capitalist system like ours, that power is largely used to advance the interests of those who own and run our dominant corporations.
The Fed secretly provided selected banks, brokerage houses, and even non-financial firms with at least $1.2 trillion in loans, often with minimal collateral required and at below market interest rates. These loans are also a key reason that our post-Great Recession economy remains largely unchanged in structure. In other words, it was the exercise of political power, rather than so-called market dynamics or efficiencies, that explains the financial industry’s continuing profitability and economic dominance.
Now imagine if we had a state that engaged in transparent planning and was committed to using our significant public resources to reshape our economy in the public interest. As we have seen, state planning and intervention in economic activity already goes on. Unfortunately, it happens behind closed doors and for the benefit of a small minority. It doesn’t have to be that way.