GM: The US has just elected Donald Trump as president. During his campaign, Mr. Trump openly supported authoritarian sentiments like capital punishment, ethnocentricity, military action, and even nuclear weapons — many of the same things you were concerned by in the ’50s. Do you think we are seeing a resurgence in authoritarianism in the West, or is there another aspect to the overall picture?
Ray Peat: I think much of the outrage concerning Trump’s election is driven by his clear opposition to war with Russia, and his protectionist opposition to “globalization.” Those issues are essential for the ruling class, so everything will be done to interfere with any attempt Trump makes to change the empire’s course.
No US president has ever opposed capital punishment or nuclear weapons, and any verbal opposition to militarism has been hypocritical. Eisenhower’s belated 1961 warning about the military-industrial complex followed 8 years of trying to make “preventive” nuclear destruction of the Soviet Union possible, and the destruction of democratic or independent governments in Iran, Guatemala, Thailand, Laos, the Congo, Turkey, and the preparation of an invasion of Cuba; Kennedy’s campaign called for a more aggressive militarism. I think any resurgence of authoritarianism in the US could be dated from the 1944 Democratic Party convention, that imposed Harry Truman as vice president. There was a slight respite under Carter, during which, with Brzezinski’s guidance, the US created the mujahideen (precursor to Al-Qaeda) to depose Afghanistan’s secular government, and its policy of equal rights for women.
Presidents, including Clinton and Obama, have been saying that the US is a post-racist society, and that no remedial federal activity is needed. Now the Democrats have the partisan stimulus to start advocating concrete measures to improve the situation for blacks and other minorities, things that they opposed when they had opportunities.
The huge amount of money the CIA had from the Marshall Plan allowed them, starting around 1950, to shape the culture and political movements in the US, providing carrots to complement the FBI’s sticks. Their biggest achievement has probably been to obliterate coherent thinking about the meaning of “left” and “right” in politics. People with policies very much like Mussolini’s call themselves liberals, and promote war. The culture has been shaped to exclude the idea of class from political thinking. Several years ago, when John Edwards’ spoke of social class issues during his campaign for the presidency, the media immediately stopped treating him as a viable candidate. Trump’s focus on class issues helped to enfuriate his opposition, but didn’t stop people from voting. If class becomes a continuing part of political discussion, it might lead toward a restoration of democracy.
“Identity politics” has been a powerful way to distract people from their economic interests. As soon as M.L. King made the issue class, rather than race, he was killed. Many prominent “leftists” have been agents of the FBI or CIA, in the promotion of that cultural confusion.
The advertising industry powerfully shapes the culture, and this effect would be weakened without the broadcast monopolies. Assigning some broadcast channels for political campaigns would greatly reduce the cost of political campaigns, and the associated influence of money on policy.
GM: Are there any other remarks you’d like to make in closing?
Ray Peat: I’m hoping that the recent electoral shock will stimulate some new kinds of critical philosophical thinking. Understanding the culture as a control system, programmed to maintain the class system, is a first step toward discovering what we, as organisms in a half-destroyed ecosystem, really need, and what we can want and intend.
This is as big a bunch of gobbledy-gook from *anyone* as I've read in a long time. Really disappointing from someone as discerning as Peat can be.
There was NO ELECTORAL SHOCK. Almost 100% of Hilary's "popular vote" came from the huge population centers on the coast, that are geographically in the huge minority. Trump won something like over 2000 counties nationwide...Hilary won like 481. Is that a "minority" of the country? I think not.
The electoral college was designed to prevent large population centers that are geographically compact from tyrannizing and forcing their views on the rest of the country. Large population centers being particularly tone deaf when it comes to the needs and concerns of those who actually produce the things that are parasitized by the city dwellers. Also, large population centers are particularly vulnerable to the machinations of demogogues. Take a look at the history of ancient Rome for examples.
Bottom line: electoral college worked *perfectly*. It's a check and a balance against tyranny.
And just cuz you don't like the outcome this time, be very, very wary of changing it. It may work in your favor some day. Electoral college as a construct is an objective balance, not a tool for any given ideology.
Someone as ostensibly smart as Peat should know that.
But I guess that's his Marxist leanings showing. I mostly overlook them because of his other valuable contributions, but dumb remarks and thinking like this should not be given a pass without commenting on them.