“My heart is Democratic but my brain is kind of Republican.”
– Jamie Dimon (Multi-billionaire, Chief CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank)

By Mark Lesseraux

Many people in the US and around the globe are expressing surprise these days at what appears to be the beginning of a possible sea change moment in the lifespan of the human experiment called democracy. Millions of awestruck citizens around the world are wondering how and why regressive nationalists like Trump (US), Bolsonaro (Brazil), Salvini (Italy), Le Pen (France), Orban (Hungary), Kasidiaris (Greece), Erdoğan (Turkey), Modi (India), Ventura (Portugal), Johnson (UK), etc., have suddenly taken power or are on the rise to power in recent years.

Mainstream “left” US news media outlets like The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, NPR, Huffington Post, etc., present a fairly unified overview of events and opinions which all tend to sidestep, with very occasional exceptions, really looking at what might be causing this upswell of resentment accompanied by calls for regressive nationalistic solutions. As if suddenly a synchronized horde of evil comic book characters had popped up out of thin air, a spread out cabal of proto-Mussolinis with millions of duped far-right wing followers, bee-lining for halls of power all over the globe.

For the most part the mainstream “left-leaning” media’s position in the US has been to blame the current crisis entirely on the recent influx of anti-democratic forces that are external to what is, in their view, an otherwise exemplary, fully functional democracy. While it is certainly valid to point out that the proliferation of irrational currents of thought ranging from those expounded by fringe groups like QAnon to the regressive reactionary spewings of rightwing mainstream news personalities such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson have helped propel demagogues like Donald Trump to the heights of power, to stop there is to remain fixated on the effect of a dis-ease that is rooted in a deeper cause.

What is being suggested here is that the source of this seemingly out of the blue lurch toward the far-right is not new at all. In fact what we are witnessing is a late stage symptom, a trauma-induced reaction produced by nearly a half century of neoliberal deregulation: The Fall Of The Liberal Left, The Rise Of Neoliberalism And The Resulting Confusion That Has Ensued.

This landslide of deregulation which began in full force in the early 1980s has stripped away nearly a century’s worth of long fought for safeguards that were put in place to protect our democracy from being usurped by the interests of a few. As a result, a very small contingent of extremely wealthy people have essentially taken over and formalized what were previously, at least to a degree, real democratic institutions. With legislation ranging from the deregulation of everything from the media to the banking system to campaign finance laws to trade, the last four decades have been, for all intents and purposes, a corporate “coup d’etat”.

A clear manifestation of this shift can be seen by looking at the people who are now considered the prominent “moderate” voices of (and some of the largest donors to) the current Democratic Party. Multi-billionaires like Jamie Dimon, Jeff Bezos, Lloyd Blankfein and Michael Bloomberg now represent the current mainstream “moderate left” in the US. In fact Bloomberg and Bezos own two of the biggest “left” leaning mainstream news publications (Bloomberg News and The Washington Post) in the country. Six months ago both Blankfein and Dimon openly stated that they would vote for Donald Trump in the 2020 election if Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran as a New Deal style democrat, won the Democratic primary. All four of these “standard bearers” of twenty-first century Democratic centrism would have been considered right wing republicans three decades ago. In fact, two of them were republicans as little as seven years ago.

All of this goes largely uncommented on in the mainstream media’s supposedly “neutral” reporting of events. What is almost never alluded to is the fact that what is tacitly understood to be the objective “center” of the socio-political spectrum has been steadily moving to the right for over four decades now. So much so that when it comes to the core matters of military and economic policy, the basic ideologies and actions of the Republican and Democratic parties have become almost indistinguishable. The two parties have become more and more similar in their ideologies because the donor corporations that support their politicians’ candidacies have become less and less regulated and thus more unified, despite superficial quarrels among the few remaining super-wealthy factions, as an obscenely rich elite ruling class.

This concentration of wealth, power and media influence has produced a dearth of mainstream news and information that is not propagated by and in the service of huge private corporations and their profit margins. As a result, the majority of the US population and other populations around the globe have become confused and desperate to make heads or tails of events that seem to be continually spiraling out of control. This combination of desperation, confusion and the lack of credible mainstream sources of information has fueled new forms of irrationalism and calls for regressive, quasi- fascist solutions.

These are the current options that the last 40 plus years of deregulated neoliberal capitalism appear to have left us with. This is the now entrenched global pattern that obscene, unmitigated wealth and power concentration in the hands of the very few has spawned. What is now on offer is the choice between being governed by corrupt entrenched elites or regressive nationalist proto-fascists.

There is an old Spanish saying, “Para ser puesto entre la espada y la pared” (To be placed between the sword and the wall). For the moment the US appears to have chosen the wall with the election of Democratic moderate Joe Biden as president. History has shown us time and again though that when a population feels continually placed between a sword and a wall that they often eventually end up choosing the sword.