Meyssan: What Donald Trump Is Preparing

Authored by Thierry Meyssan via Voltairenet.org,

After having observed Donald Trump’s historical references (the constitutional compromise of 1789, the examples of Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon) and the way in which his partisans perceive his politics, Thierry Meyssan here analyses his anti-imperialist actions. The US President is not interested in taking a step back, but on the contrary, abandoning the interests of the transnational ruling class in order to develop the US national economy.

The problem

In 1916, during the First World War, Lenin analysed the reasons which led to the confrontation between the empires of his time. He wrote – Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. In this book, he clarified his analysis – « Imperialism is capitalism which has arrived at a stage of its development where domination by monopolies and financial capital has been confirmed, where the export of capital has acquired major importance, where the sharing of the world between international trusts has begun, and where the sharing of all the territories of the globe between the greatest capitalist countries has been achieved ».

The facts confirmed his logic of the concentration of capitalism that he described. In the space of one century, it substituted a new empire for the precedents – « America » (not to be confused with the American continent). By dint of fusions and acquisitions, a few multinational companies gave birth to a global ruling class which gathers every year to congratulate itself, as we watch, in Davos, Switzerland. These people do not serve the interests of the US population, and in fact are not necessarily United States citizens themselves, but use the means of the US Federal State to maximise their profits.

Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States on his promise to return to the earlier state of Capitalism, that of the « American dream, » by free market competition. We can of course claim a priori, as did Lenin, that such a reversal is impossible, but nonetheless, the new President has committed to this direction.

The heart of the imperial Capitalist system is expressed by the doctrine of the Pentagon, formulated by Admiral Arthur Cebrowski – the world is now split in two.

On one side, the developed, stable states…

and on the other, those states which are not yet integrated into the imperial globalist system and are therefore doomed to instability. The US armed forces are tasked with destroying the state and social structures of the non-integrated regions. Since 2001, they have been patiently destroying the « Greater Middle East », and are now preparing to do the same in the « Caribbean Basin .»

We are obliged to note that the way in which the Pentagon looks at the world is based on the same concepts used by anti-imperialist thinkers like Immanuel Wallerstein, Giovanni Arrighi or Samir Amin.

The attempted solution

Donald Trump’s objective thus consists both of reinvesting the transnational capital in the US economy, and turning the Pentagon and the CIA away from their current imperialist functions with National Defense.

In order to do so, he has to withdraw from international commercial treaties and dissolve the inter-governmental structures which consolidate the old order.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking to US President Donald Trump during the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Canada, June 2018.

Undoing the international commercial treaties

From the very first days of his mandate, President Trump removed his country from the trans-Pacific partnership agreement, which had not yet been signed. This commercial treaty had been conceived strategically as a means of isolating China.

Since he was unable to cancel the signature of his country on those treaties which were already in force, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), he began to unravel them by imposing various customs duties which were contrary to the spirit, but not the letter, of the agreement.

Re-framing or dissolving the inter-governmental structures

As we have often written here, the United Nations Organisation is no longer a forum for peace, but an instrument of US imperialism within which a few states continue to resist. This was already the case during the Soviet policy of the empty chair (Korean War) and, since July 2012, it is once again true.President Trump has directly attacked the two main imperialist tools within the UNO – the peace-keeping operations (which have taken the place of the observation missions which were originally planned by the Charter), and the Human Rights Council (whose sole function is to justify the humanitarian wars waged by NATO). He has deprived the former of their budget, and withdrawn his country from the latter. However, he has just lost the election for Director of the International Organisation for Migration, leaving the road open, for the moment, for the world traffic in human beings. Of course, he has absolutely no wish to destroy the UNO, but only to refocus its activities and bring it back to its original function.

He has just torpedoed the G7. This meeting, initially intended as a moment for the exchange of points of view, had become, as from 1994, a tool for imperial domination. In 2014, it transformed itself into an instrument for anti-Russian activity – thus conforming to what had become the new strategy of the Anglo-Saxon nations, aimed at « cutting our losses », in other words, avoiding a World War by limiting the empire to the borders of Russia and thereby isolating it. President Trump took great care during the meeting in Charleroix to show his confused allies that he was no longer their overlord, and that they would have to make it on their own.

Finally, after having tried to use France to dynamite the European Union, he turned to Italy, where he sent Steve Bannon to create an anti-system government with the help of US banks. Rome has already concluded an alliance with five other capitals against Brussels.

Reinvesting in productive economy

Via diverse fiscal and customs measures, rarely voted by Congress and usually adopted by decree, President Trump encouraged the major companies of his country to repatriate their factories back to the USA. There immediately followed an economic recovery, which is about the only thing for which the Press will recognise him.

However, we are a long way from noting a financial decline. World finance is probably continuing to prosper outside of the USA, or in other words, continuing to suck up the wealth of the rest of the world.

Reorienting the Pentagon and the CIA

This is obviously the most difficult operation. During his election, President Trump could count on the the votes from his troops, but not those of the superior officers and generals

Donald Trump entered into politics on 11 September 2001. He immediately contested the official version of the events. Thereafter, he expressed his astonishment about the contradictions of the mainstream story – while Presidents Bush Jr. and Obama declared that they wanted to eliminate the jihadist movements, we observed on the contrary a drastic multiplication and globalisation of jihadism during their mandates which went as far as the creation of an independent state in Iraq and Syria.

This is why, as soon as he took office, President Trump surrounded himself with officers who enjoyed a recognised authority in the army. It was, for him, the only option, both to guard against a military coup d’etat and to ensure that he would be obeyed in the reforms that he wanted to implement. Then he gave carte blanche to all the military for everything concerning tactics on the ground. Finally, he never lost an opportunity to confirm his support for the armed forces and the Intelligence services.

After having confiscated their permanent chair at the National Security Council from the president of the chiefs of staff and the director of the CIA, he gave the order to cease support for the jihadists. Progressively, we saw Al-Qaeda and Daesh lose ground. This policy continues today with the withdrawal of US support for the jihadists in Southern Syria. From now on, they no longer form private armies, but only scattered groups which are used for occasional terrorist actions.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and US President Donald Trump take a seat during a working dinner meeting at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) headquarters in Brussels on May 25, 2017 during a NATO summit.

Similarly, he first of all pretended to give up dissolving NATO if it would agree to add an anti-terrorist function to its anti-Russian function. He is now beginning to show NATO that it does not enjoy eternal privileges, as we we saw with his refusal to deliver a special visa for an ex-General Secretary. Above all, he has begun to diminish its anti-Russian function. So he is now negotiating with Moscow the cancellation of Alliance manoeuvres in Eastern Europe. Besides this, he is now taking administrative actions which attest to the refusal of the allies to contribute to collective defence as far as they are able. In this way, he is preparing to dismantle NATO as soon as he sees fit.

This moment will only come when the destructuration of international relations occurs simultaneously at maturity in Asia (North Korea), the Greater Middle East (Palestine and Iran) and in Europe (UE).

Keep in mind 

  • President Trump is absolutely not the « unpredictable » character so often described. Quite the contrary, he acts in a clearly thoughtful and logical manner.

  • Donald Trump is preparing a reorganisation of international relations. This change will operate through a complete and sudden upheaval directed against the interests of the transnational ruling class.

Graduating “With Honors” Becomes Meaningless As Colleges Hand Them Out Like Candy

Over half of students who graduated from Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities this year did so with cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude honors or their equivalents, reports the Wall Street Journal

Just under that many students earned the once-meaningful designations at the University of Southern California, Lehigh, and Princeton. At Middlebury College, anyone with a GPA of at least 3.4 can add Latin honors to their brand new résumé, which was over half of students as of this spring. 

I’d say that it’s time to reconsider our eligibility criteria,” said Middlebury Interim Provost Jeff Cason.

According to a Wall Street Journal review of graduating seniors who earned designations at schools in the top 50 institutions ranked by the WSJ, honors designations “have become close to the norm at many top

The share increased to 44% from 32% in the past decade at USC, which requires a GPA of at least 3.5 for the lowest honor, cum laude, and to 44% from 39% at Lehigh, where students need at least a 3.4. –WSJ

A 4.0 does signal something significant, that that student is good,” said Stuart Rojstaczer, a former professor at Duke University who studies grade inflation. “A 3.7, however, doesn’t. That’s just a run-of-the-mill student at any of these schools.”

What’s to blame? Academic researchers say grade inflation, not smarter students, according to the Journal. A University of Georgia researcher found that 47% of high-school students graduated with an A average in 2016, vs. 39% in 1998. Those students have been maintaining good grades in college. 

At Wellesley College, 41% of this year’s graduating class completed their degrees with Latin honors, which means a GPA of at least 3.6 at the Massachusetts school. That share has risen in the past two years, after being roughly one-third for much of the past decade. A spokeswoman said the school hasn’t pinpointed the cause of the increase. –WSJ

Nearly 59% of spring graudates from Johns Hopkins did so with “general honors,” by achieving a GPA of at least 3.5. Ten years ago, that was around 46%. 

One Johns Hopkins graduate, Rushabh Doshi, learned that he’d made his way onto a list of honor students – only to notice that the list was four pages long

Mr. Doshi, who majored in public health and is heading to Oxford University to study medical anthropology in the fall, said he was proud of his academic accomplishment. But, he said, “It’s not something that holds too much weight.” –WSJ

Most top tier schools cap the percentage of the graduating class that can receive honors – however that number varies widely; from 25% at Columbia University to 60% at Harvard. After Harvard’s number hit 91% in 2001, they revised their selection process. 

Northwestern University bumped its percentage of eligible seniors from 16% to 25% in 2010 – citing concerns over students losing out on graduate-school admissions because they were competing with peers from colleges with more lax honors requirements. 

And now they’re meaningless…

The dean of Stanford University’s Knight-Hennesey Scholars graduate program, Derrick Bolton, says that application readers “may glance” at honors designations, but don’t give them much weight. Bolton says that the program – which received 3,601 applications for just 50 spots – “looks for more candidates who challenge themselves academically,” even if that means they earned a dreaded “B” along the way. 

“The Latin honors are sending you a signal, but there’s noise,” said Bolton. 

Moving the whole bar upward creates a problem where people learn they can do very little and get a grade-point average that looks very respectable,” said Richard Arum, dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Education.  –WSJ

And at Georgetown University, honors are now distributed by relative performance of all the students, rather than a fixed 3.5 GPA. Now, roughly 25% of graduates is handed one of the three Latin honors as opposed to over half the students receiving designations. 

Georgetown made the change “in order to ensure that Latin honors represent a mark of distinction.”

Amazon’s Fusion With The State Shows Neoliberalism’s Drift To Neo-Fascism

Authored by Elliott Gabriel via MintPressNews.com,

In Part 1 of our investigative series on Surveillance Capitalism, MPN spoke to author Yasha Levine and Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster about the rise of the Amazon.com empire and its fusion with the U.S. state apparatus.

In our next installments, we will continue exploring the rise of Surveillance Capitalism and the implications of Amazon-fueled spying technology, both in the workplace and in U.S. city streets.

“Capitalism is a system that seeks to transgress all boundaries in its production and sale of commodities, commodifying everything in existence, which today, in the age of monopoly-finance capital and surveillance capitalism, means intruding into every aspect of existence,” John Bellamy Foster told MPN.

This year may go down in history as a turning-point when the world finally woke up to the dark side of the ubiquitous presence of popular Silicon Valley companies in our daily lives. One can only hope so, at least.

From Amazon to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and PayPal – among others – revelations poured out confirming the ongoing abuse of user data by monopolistic corporations, as well as their growing role as vendors of surveillance technology to the U.S. police state, military, and migrant detention agencies.

In March, the lid was blown off of the violation of user data on Facebook, with Cambridge Analytica mining user information for the purpose of providing millions of detailed “psychological profiles” to the Trump campaign, among others. Scarcely two weeks later, the Google campus was in an uproar over the development of its “Project Maven,” which was building an AI-fueled platform to vastly upgrade the automatic targeting abilities of the U.S. military’s global drone fleet. Faced with public outrage and internal dissent, the company pulled out of bidding to renew its Pentagon contract, which ends next year.

Now, employees and shareholders of Amazon.com – the world’s largest online marketer and cloud-computing provider – are demanding that chief executive Jeff Bezos halt the sale of its facial recognition or Amazon Web Services (AWS) Rekognition service to law enforcement agencies across the U.S., including to the Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS-ICE).

“As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used,” the letter said. “We learn from history, and we understand how IBM’s systems were employed in the 1940s to help Hitler.

“IBM did not take responsibility then, and by the time their role was understood, it was too late,” it continued, referring to collusion with the operation of Nazi extermination camps during the Second World War. “We will not let that happen again. The time to act is now.”

Unveiled in November 2016 as a part of the AWS cloud suite, Rekognition analyzes images and video footage to recognize objects while providing analytics to users. It also lets clients “identify people of interest against a collection of millions of faces in near real-time, enabling use cases such as timely and accurate crime prevention,” according to promotional material. Law enforcement agencies like the Washington County Sheriff’s Department pay as little as $6 to $12 a month for access to the platform, giving deputies the ability to scan its mugshot database against real-time footage.

Amazon employees cited a report from the ACLU that notes that AWS Rekognition “raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns” owing to its “capacity for abuse.” Its uses could include monitoring protest activity, as well as the possibility that ICE could employ the technology to continuously track immigrants and advance its “zero tolerance” policy of detaining migrant families and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the letter distributed on email list “we-won’t-build-it,”  Amazon employees lay out their opposition to their employer’s collusion with the police and the DHS-ICE migrant-capture and mass-incarceration regime:

We don’t have to wait to find out how these technologies will be used. We already know that in the midst of historic militarization of police, renewed targeting of Black activists, and the growth of a federal deportation force currently engaged in human rights abuses — this will be another powerful tool for the surveillance state, and ultimately serve to harm the most marginalized.”

The furor surrounding AWS Rekognition is hardly a revelation to journalist Yasha Levine. Instead, as is the case with Google and other flagship firms’ work for Washington, it’s just another chapter in Silicon Valley’s long-time integration into the repressive state apparatus.

“This isn’t so much a big step to some ‘Surveillance Apocalypse,’ it’s just an indication of where we’ve been for a long time,” Levine told MintPress News.

Yet the Amazon workers’ outrage was likely provoked by recent headlines highlighting the Trump administration’s separation of Central American migrant families at the concentration camps along the Southern border – along with the key role Amazon plays for ICE’s data “ecosystem,” crucial to the operation of ICE’s immigrant enforcement, mass incarceration, and removal regime.

In their letter, Amazon’s employees decried the role the company plays in the platform Palantir provides for ICE:

We also know that Palantir runs on AWS. And we know that ICE relies on Palantir to power its detention and deportation programs. Along with much of the world we watched in horror recently as U.S. authorities tore children away from their parents. Since April 19, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers…

In the face of this immoral U.S. policy, and the U.S.’s increasingly inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants beyond this specific policy, we are deeply concerned that Amazon is implicated, providing infrastructure and services that enable ICE and DHS.“

In 2014, ICE gave Palantir a $41 million contract for the Investigative Case Management (ICM) system, which expanded its capacity for data-sharing between the bureau and other agency databases including those of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among others. The contract allowed ICE to significantly boost its ability to capture and incarcerate unauthorized migrants based on the disparate data Palantir collated and hosted on Amazon Web Services’ servers.

Watch | Palantir 101

“What Amazon has simply done is allow everyone to lease that [Rekognition] capability the way that you would lease its web space, or have a pay-as-you-go plan with Amazon,” Levine commented.

In his new book, Surveillance Valley: The Hidden History of the Internet, Levine details the romance enjoyed between Big Data and the U.S. repressive state. In the introduction to his book, he notes :

From Amazon to eBay to Facebook — most of the Internet companies we use every day have also grown into powerful corporations that track and profile their users while pursuing partnerships and business relationships with major U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Some parts of these companies are so thoroughly intertwined with America’s security services that it is hard to tell where they end and the U.S. government begins.”

Having conquered retail and the internet, Amazon looks to the state and says “Forward”

President Barack Obama shakes hands with workers after speaking at the Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tenn., July 30, 2013. Susan Walsh | AP

Conceived by founder Jeff Bezos as an “everything store” selling products from books to DVDs and music, Amazon has long been a scourge to the traditional brick-and-mortar marketplace, spending the late 1990s and the 2000s sweeping big and small booksellers alike into the ash-heap of retail history.

Amazon has now become the de facto store for everything in America –  it’s shocking to think about how much we buy from it and how much money we give away to it,” Levine said, adding that the company’s power as a business “is kind of depressing.”

The company has also become the world’s premier internet hosting firm through its Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. From 2006 on, AWS played a similar role to Amazon.com’s retail platform in regard to small-fry-displacing traditional corporate data centers and information technology (IT) professionals, providing a previously unimaginable level of centralization in terms of data storage and IT functionality at a low cost. For some time even Dropbox found shelter under the AWS cloud.

Watch | Amazon.com and Jeff Bezos In 1999

The company’s success as the world’s biggest retailer and cloud computing service was closely related to Amazon’s surveillance efforts directed not only toward consumers, but against its huge and heavily-exploited employee workforce. As Levine detailed in his book:

[Amazon] recorded people’s shopping habits, their movie preferences, the books they were interested in, how fast they read books on their Kindles, and the highlights and margin notes they made. It also monitored its warehouse workers, tracking their movements and timing their performance.

Amazon requires incredible processing power to run such a massive data business, a need that spawned a lucrative side business of renting out space on its massive servers to other companies.”

In the 2012 U.S. presidential election, AWS software provided nearly all aspects of then-incumbent President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign software and big-data analysis, ranging from web management to mailing-list management, data modeling, volunteer dispatching, voter-information database maintenance and “massive transaction processing” for donations.

Watch | Obama for America on AWS

By early 2013, a secretive deal awarded Amazon a 10-year, $600-million contract to provide cloud services to the Central Intelligence Agency and the 17 agencies comprising the intelligence community.

Langley’s contract with such a commercially-oriented company as Amazon, rather than rival bidder IBM, sent shockwaves through the tech industry, but the company boasted that it reflected the “superior technology platform” it could provide to the CIA along with its ability to deliver “the confidence and security assurance needed for mission-critical systems.”

Amazon’s platform will soon be the venue for a major intelligence project by the CIA dubbed “Mesa Verde,” which will see the agency’s AWS-built C2S cloud software deployed in multiple experiments meant to parse thousands of terabytes of data, including public web data, using natural language processing tools, sentiment analysis, and data visualization.

According to a Bloomberg Government report in May, AWS is the only private cloud platform granted clearance to store agency information marked “Secret.”

Amazon’s CIA partnership: Surveillance Capitalism in action

Rev. Paul Benz, center, and Shankar Narayan, legislative director of the ACLU of Washington, right, stand with others as they wait to deliver petitions at Amazon headquarters, June 18, 2018, in Seattle. Representatives of community-based organizations urged Amazon at a news conference to stop selling its face surveillance system, Rekognition, to the government. They later delivered the petitions to Amazon. Elaine Thompson | AP

Amazon’s partnership with Langley is just another case of surveillance capitalism in action, according to sociology professor and author John Bellamy Foster, the editor of the venerable independent socialist journal Monthly Review.

Speaking to MintPress News, Foster explained:

Amazon now seems to be landing one contract after another with the military and intelligence sectors in the United States…

[The CIA cloud] is built on the premises of a private corporation, a kind of ‘walled castle’ for intelligence [spy] agency communication separate from the rest of the Internet, but principally operated by a for-profit corporation. Amazon also has a $1 billion contract with the Security and Exchange Commission, works with NASA, the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies.”

In a 2014 essay for Monthly Review, Foster and Robert W. McChesney introduced the term surveillance capitalism in reference to the process of finance capital monetizing data extracted through surveillance operations performed in collusion with the state apparatus. The two trace the political-economic roots of the the data-driven Information Age from the early stages of the military-industrial complex to the 1950s fusion of consumer capitalism – corporations, ad agencies, and media – with the permanent warfare state, eventually leading to the birth of satellite technology, the internet, and the domination of a handful of monopolist tech firms during the present era of neoliberal globalization.

From the tech sector’s role in police-state operations to the expansion of “Smart” technology like Amazon’s Alexa into our homes, the use of drones and AI for keeping tabs on the entire population, and the manipulation of Facebook user data by the Trump campaign’s partnership with Cambridge Analytica, Foster is unequivocal in his judgment of surveillance capitalism’s metastasizing growth and its omniscient role in our daily lives:

The implications for the future are staggering.”

Not everyone shares Foster’s pessimistic perspective. To former CIA cybersecurity researcher John Pirc, the agency contract with Amazon represented the removal of a “clouded judgment”-based stigma over cloud computing security. Speaking to The Atlantic, Pirc commented:

You hear so many people on the fence about cloud, and then to see the CIA gobble it up and do something so highly disruptive, it’s kind of cool.”

Holy Disruption and the “Gale Force of Creative Destruction”

Creation, epiphany, genesis, prophecy, rapture, sacrifice, wrath; such sacred words pepper the Old and New Testaments and still carry divine significance for the faithful. Beloved by clergy and revered by the flock, such consecrated terms hardly apply to Apple’s bitten-fruit logo or Alexa’s profanely secular robotic voice.

But in today’s cult of high technology and the internet — where entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have been elevated to the level of prophets or pharaohs, and start-ups are evangelized at TED Talks as the panacea to problems ranging from physical fitness to refugee crises — a new ecclesiastical lexicon is used. Central to this pseudo-religion of Big Data is the phrase disruption, an oft-invoked term signifying the replacement of old markets and business models by new technological innovations.

As Silicon Valley pioneer, computer scientist, and critic Jaron Lanier noted in his 2013 book Who Owns the Future?:

The terminology of ‘disruption’ has been granted an almost sacred status in tech business circles

To disrupt is the most celebrated achievement. In Silicon Valley, one is always hearing that this or that industry is ripe for disruption. We kid ourselves, pretending that disruption requires creativity. It doesn’t. It’s always the same story.”

For Lanier – a fervent defender of capitalism —  the D-word is misused to convey the liberating potential of new technology, when in fact the reign of big tech firms has led to a shrunken market dominated by “a small number of spying operations in omniscient positions.” Thus the digital landscape has become the fiefdom of monopoly firms who exercise an iron grip on competitors and Big Data’s primary commodities – internet users and their data.

To Foster, this process is little more than neoliberalism – the prevailing capitalist ideology dictating the unimpeded control over all aspects of public life by finance capital and the market. Foster notes that neoliberal orthodoxy is rooted in the concept of creative destruction, the concept from which the “disruption” buzzword is derived.

Creative destruction was introduced in 1942 by Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter to describe a process of constant change under capitalism, whereby emerging entrepreneurs act as “innovation powerhouses” through a “perennial gale of creative destruction” that disorganizes and displaces competition, reshapes global markets, and paves the way to an emergence of new monopolies such as, for example, Silicon Valley’s leading firms.

Watch | Greenspan on Schumpeter’s “Creative Destruction”

“One of the key components of neoliberal ideology has been the opening up of the system to the unrestricted growth of monopolistic corporations and monopoly power,” Foster said to MintPress News, adding:

The neoliberal age has thus seen one of the greatest periods of growth of monopoly power, particularly in the cyber or digital realm, in all of history. If you take Google, Amazon, and Facebook, none of them even existed 25 years ago, and Facebook didn’t exist 15 years ago. Amazon had a 51 percent increase in market capitalization between 2016 and 2017 alone. These are giant monopolistic enterprises.”

Continuing, Foster explained:

In general, capitalism is a system that seeks to transgress all boundaries in its production and sale of commodities, commodifying everything in existence — which today, in the age of monopoly-finance capital and surveillance capitalism, means intruding into every aspect of existence as a means of manipulating not only the physical world, but also the minds and lives of everyone within it. It is this that constitutes the heart of surveillance capitalism.

But this same system of monopoly-finance capital has as its counterpart a growing centralization of power and wealth, increasing monopoly control, expanding militarism and imperialism, and an expansion of police power. It is what the political theorist Sheldon Wolin called ‘inverted totalitarianism,’ the growth of totalizing control of the population, and the destruction of human freedom under the mask of an ideology of individualism.”

As Amazon now approaches its 25-year anniversary, Foster notes, it’s become “a vast cultural (or anti-cultural) commodity empire” – and its ownership of The Washington Post has made clear the monopoly firm’s fusion with the state apparatus of U.S. imperialism.

Amazon clutches the “Newspaper of Record,” or “Democracy Dies in Darkness”

The front page of the Washington Post is displayed outside the Newseum in Washington, , 2013, a day after it was announced that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Evan Vucci | AP

Since Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, the leading newspaper of the U.S. capital has stood at the ramparts of Fortress Amazon. Beyond any elite squadron of lobbyists or contracts with the Homeland Security or National Security State, the newspaper’s influential role shaping public and policymaker opinion gives Jeff Bezos and his fellow Amazon executives unparalleled access to the halls of imperial power.

“Of course it’s a problem when a powerful, monopolistic business like this with a very controlling owner is in the media business as well,” Yasha Levine commented, adding:

Let’s be honest, Amazon is a major CIA contractor now, and now this major contractor owns one of the most important newspapers in the country – which also happens to report on the CIA and national security issues.”

Since President Donald Trump came to power last January, “Amazon Washington Post” has been the target of the former reality-TV star’s ire as a top example of “fake news media.” While many of Trump’s attacks on the Post have been his standard Twitter outbursts against legitimate journalistic scrutiny, the newspaper once celebrated for publishing the groundbreaking 1971 Pentagon Papers is now both a bully pulpit for the president’s detractors in the Beltway liberal “resistance” and a mouthpiece of an aggressively neoliberal wing of the U.S. establishment.

“The Washington Post was always a liberal-capitalist paper, an arbiter of capitalist ideology and a defender of U.S. empire, [but] it has now become, as part of the Bezos empire, something worse,” Foster observed.

Scarcely a day passes without the Post publishing a torrent of stories seeking to expose “Russian interference” favoring Trump through social media or “fake news.” Citing the “experts” in “nonpartisan” media criticism group PropOrNot, the Post has smeared MintPress News and publications like Black Agenda Report, CounterPunchand Truthout as propaganda platforms tied to the Kremlin without citing so much as a shred of evidence. Through its de facto blacklist, the group has also attempted to tie disparate independent media organizations to hard-right and white-supremacist outlets like Alex Jones’ Infowars and neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

Watch | WaPo refuses to add disclosure about $600M CIA contract

The Washington Post has generally waged what amounts to an ideological war on basic progressive causes, Foster explained:

It recently ran an article describing the ‘far left’ as those who believed in single-payer health insurance or protecting national parks, as if even these traditional left-liberal causes were now far outside the range of acceptable political discourse — a stance clearly designed to ratchet the political discourse further to the right. Bezos and Amazon are simply symbols of this social retrogression, as is the current autocrat in the White House.

To Levine, the trend – like the ownership of muckraking news website The Intercept by billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur and eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar — goes beyond the Post alone. Levine commented:

It’s a larger issue of Silicon Valley coming into its own, and businesses built on top of the internet dominating business; and if you dominate business, you dominate society and news media coverage – that’s just the way things work.

Foster agrees, and minces no words depicting the danger Amazon’s growing power in U.S. society represents:

Democracy can be judged in various ways, but no definition of democracy – no matter how specious – is consistent with a society in which such vast class and monopoly power exist, and where the infrastructure of genuine democracy (education, communications, science, culture, public discourse, means of public protest) is demolished.

For this and other reasons, U.S. society and much of the capitalist world is shifting from neo-liberalism to something better described as neo-fascism.”

In our next installments, we will continue exploring the rise of Surveillance Capitalism and the implications of Amazon-fueled spying technology, both in the workplace and in U.S. city streets.

Conservatives Mock “Resistance” With “Second Civil War Letters” After Portland Antifa Goes Down Hard

Last weekend’s violence in Portland between Antifa and Trump supporters produced a viral video of a “resistance” member being knocked out cold. 

The man, wearing a black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirt, which has become the now-famous uniform of the Proud Boys, forced his attacker to the ground with one punch. After being knocked out, the Antifa supporter had to be carried away by a group of his fellow protesters.

Big League Politics reached out to Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys, whose only comment was F#&k around and find out, stating that Antifa “found out.”Big League Politics

The skirmish in Portland has many talking about the prospect of a second Civil War in the United States. As we reported last week, a shocking 31% of voters say it’s likely that the United States will experience a second civil war over the next five years, according to a new Rasmussen poll.

As such, conservatives have taken to twitter to mock the violent left with a new hashtag which has quickly gone viral: #SecondCivilWarLetters – which envisions the “soy-boys” on the left writing letters during a second Civil War. 

That said, it’s all fun and games until it’s not… 

Given the spate of violence directed towards Trump supporters which began during the 2016 election which has most recently manifested itself in the form of stalking, public shaming and threatening Trump officials, it’s easy to see how nearly 1/3 of voters think civil war is on the horizon. There are also scores of leftist hate groups roaming around looking for a fight, as well documented by Far Left Watch.

Remember these charming incidents? (there are hundreds)

Cheesecake Factory Employees Attack Black Man For Wearing MAGA Hat

Capitol Police Arrested Male Dem Operative For Assaulting Female Trump Admin Official

Trump supporter ‘brutally attacked’ in D.C. restaurant

NY: Danish tourist mugged at knifepoint over MAGA hat

Black Trump Supporter Spit On For Being a Black Man Wearing ‘MAGA’ Hat

MN: Conservative Students Say They Have Been ‘Violently Threatened’ at St. Olaf College

Chicago teens kidnap and torture a Trump supporter while they live stream from Facebook