For Your Eyes Only. Monbiot

Since we’re in need of a new thread, how about a thought to ponder:

"To accumulate power, a government with authoritarian tendencies must first destroy power. "
For Your Eyes Only

Posted: 04 Sep 2020 03:45 AM PDT

The opaque and secretive networks on which Boris Johnson builds his power.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 2nd September 2020

https: //www _ monbiot _ com/2020/09/04/for-your-eyes-only/

To accumulate power, a government with authoritarian tendencies must first destroy power. It must reduce rival centres of power – the judiciary, the civil service, academia, broadcasters, local government, civil society – to satellites of its own authority, controlled from the centre, deprived of independent action. But it must do this while claiming to act in the people’s name.

So it needs an apparatus of justification: arguments that can be fed through a sympathetic press and manufactured into outrage against its rivals. This is where the intellectual work of such a government is focused. Dominic Cummings is not the sole architect of this project: much of the intellectual landscaping has been outsourced.

Since the 1950s, an infrastructure of persuasion has been built in the UK, whose purpose is to supplant civic power with the power of money. The model was developed by two fanatical disciples of Friedrich Hayek, the father of neoliberalism: Anthony Fisher and Oliver Smedley. They knew it was essential to disguise their intentions. While founding the first of the thinktanks whose purpose was to spread Hayek’s gospel, the Institute of Economic Affairs, Smedley reminded Fisher it was “imperative that we should give no indication in our literature that we are working to educate the Public along certain lines … That is why the first draft [of our aims] is written in rather cagey terms.”

The institute, and the other lobby groups Fisher founded, honed the arguments that would be used to strip down the state, curtail public welfare and public protection, and restrict and discipline other forms of social strength, releasing the ultra-rich from the constraints of democracy. Unsurprisingly, some of the richest people on Earth poured cash into his project. His groups translated Hayek’s ideas, that were seen by many as repulsive, into a new political common sense, producing the reframings and justifications on which Thatcher and Reagan built their revolutions.

Others began to copy this model. …

. . .


So it goes, not just US and Canada, England and plenty of others. Another incisive essay by the master.

Besides making me think about lost opportunities, I’m wondering what’s the bright side of Monbiot’s article?

The word “destroy” isn’t applicable in this case. It is possible to destroy power in order to steal power, but as America is proving as we speak, power can be stolen too.

The Khmer Rouge destroyed power. The Republicans are sneakily undermining the existing power and lying to people so they give theirs up. Saying they’re destroying anything (other than the morality of the nation) is giving them far too much credit.

It’s like saying boxer ‘destroyed’ his opponent, when all he did was win due to disqualification by faking getting hit by a low blow. Yes he won, but ‘destroy’ is not the way to describe it.

It’s like saying boxer ‘destroyed’ his opponent.

Hmmm, be careful with your analogies:

Knockout: In Boxing, Brain Damage Is the Goal

— Why do we applaud a sport dedicated to hurting people?
by W. Robert Graham, MD November 14, 2019