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The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It

The Prototype for Trump, Putin and Co. [1]

A great nation becomes disillusioned with the promises of free competition, free trade, economic liberalization, and greater integration into the world market, policies that seem to benefit only a few at the expense of the many. In an election that shocks the liberal and educated elements in the society, and international opinion, the people elect a strongman – an individual who is already famous, and who promises to return the country to greatness. Widely popular with working people, but linked to a more troubling group of militant supporters who his opponents might reasonably consider to be “deplorables”, he wins the election by promising public works to create employment. Yet, he also promises to business to safeguard its interests. Once in power, he quickly begins to violate recent norms of policy, standard governmental practice and traditional diplomacy.

Sound familiar? Around the world the 21stcentury has seen leaders fitting most of this description come into power in one democratic country after another: Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, Jakob Zuma in South Africa, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Victor Orbàn in Hungary, and of course Donald Trump in the United States. We might add to this list China’s President Xi Jinping, even if he was only elected by the governing body of China, not the people themselves.  And we might also, though with some caution, add Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to the list, as at least having gained a degree of personal authority while undermining the previously existing structures. As we will see, we can include these Latin American leaders only if we recognize some important differences. Then there are those who have come close but not yet won power, such as Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front. Looking over the worldwide panorama of power, we have to admit that a major form of government – one either based on, tending toward or favorable to one-person rule has spread around the world.

The countries involved, and cited above, are so different from each other in political culture, levels of wealth and economic development and historical trajectories, that in looking for answers to the question why such governments, leaders, and political parties are becoming so common, we must go beyond the specifics of each individual national case – even if the particularities of each country determine the specific forms of strongman-type leaders or nationalist parties. We must look for some systemic, and global, causes.

One place to look that would be fruitful is in the work of a thinker whose analysis of the case I described above in the introduction still stands as a model of brilliant and original theorizing about the causes of political outcomes.

The case that I described above was not one of the leaders of recent years, but the prototype for all such modern strongman-type leaders: Louis Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon. And the work of analysis that shed light on how this vulgar, scheming, authoritarian mediocrity was first elected President of France on December 10, 1848, and then in a coup d’etaton December 2, 1851 became Emperor of France, was a long pamphlet by none other than Karl Marx, entitled “The 18thBrumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” I will argue that Marx’s basic argument, that such individuals and the centralization of power in their hands is possible only under particular conditions is very useful for understanding what is happening today around the world. Further, I will show that by understanding the necessary and sufficient conditions for the rise of strongmen to power, we can derive important strategic understandings to help us prevent such authoritarian government, to reverse its rise and to create conditions that can make such leaders unlikely, or, where they do gain office, to control them through democratic and popular institutions and mobilizations. Finally, I consider the possibility of a coalition capable of making the changes needed to protect republican institutions in the future, and address the obstacles facing such a coalition from coming into being today.

Marx’s title itself parodied Louis Bonaparte, since the 18thBrumaire was the date on the Revolutionary calendar of the French Revolution when Napoleon carried out his own coup, leading to his eventual coronation as Emperor. The difference in historical grandeur and importance between the two coups, and the two Bonapartes, led to Marx’s famous opening line, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”[2]Marx, and Hegel, are right: surely we can recognize that the first time the world faced an authoritarian backlash at liberal overreach was horrible tragedy (and worse) – the rise of Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, and world war. Compared to Stalin or Hitler, even to Mussolini or Franco, the Vladimir Putin’s, Xi Jinping’s, Donald Trumps and Victor Orbàns do seem parodies of themselves and of the type. As farce in other words. As Marx pointed out throughout his work of course, this does not make them less dangerous to democracy or to freedom. If anything, it means we risk underestimating the threat due to the very lack of grandeur and gravitas compared with the world-shaking dictators of the mid-20thcentury, as Louis Bonaparte was easily underestimated by his opponents. I am in no way suggesting that any of today’s strongmen, be they in democratic polities like Trump, Berlusconi, or Orbàn, or in dictatorships like China, are comparable to the mass murders of the 20thcentury. I amsuggesting that they are comparable to Louis Bonaparte.

Bonaparte’s opponents often ridiculed him. And many of today’s leaders are easily enough parodied or ridiculed, despite their high office and great power. Xi Jinping, unchallenged leader of a vast and powerful organization with a monopoly of power over the world’s most populous country has to ban Winnie the Pooh and the letter N[3], which were used on social media to mock him. Banned also is the word “Emperor” – apparently things have changed since Louis Bonaparte’s time, when Emperor was a status one aspired to. Still, I wonder how school children in the world’s oldest continual civilization can do research for homework assignments on much of Chinese history without being allowed to look up the word Emperor on the internet. Berlusconi’s insulting behavior to women, his lack of personal dignity, even as he dresses impeccably in the latest styles from Rome’ elegant Via del Corso; Trump’s…well, do I even have to go into all that? Let’s just say that social media has not lacked for jokes, memes, and embarrassing posts, poking fun at his oversized sense of self-importance.  Oh, and let’s not forget  that even the powerful Putin has had to deal with Pussy Riot, or recently been ridiculed in a Randy Newman song.

The End of Kings

That the public has taken to making fun of many of these larger-than-life seeming heads of government is undoubtedly heartening to all of us who still hold to the classic definition of a republic. That definition is powerfully defended in William Everdell’s magnificent book, The End of Kings. Everdell relies on John Adams’ phrase in a letter to Roger Sherman in 1789, stating that a republic is “a government whose sovereignty is vested in more than one man.”[4] Public ridicule of those who aspire to one-person rule is a sure sign of the health of the polity, and of the people’s good sense.

Unfortunately, as Everdell demonstrated in The End of Kings, republics have always been more securely defended by institutional and structural arrangements than by what Machiavelli called republican virtue, that is, by civic spirit. Civic spirit eventually lags, and opens the door to the power-hungry, unless constitutional, institutional, and legal safeguards are in place. The problem is that even constitutional and institutional systems still need at least enough civic spirit and mobilization of social power to defend the constitutional system itself, and to insist on its being respected. We shall later examine the social bases of this willingness and capacity to mobilize on behalf of republican institutions. So, constitutional limits on power and civic spirit reinforce each other and need each other. But even this combination is inadequate if the broader social forces in society both fragment civic spirit and weaken the institutional restraints.  Civic spirit and institutional restraints on power are dependent on, and need to be used to foster and maintain, organized class forces that are intrinsically committed to defending democratic and republican order.  And this is where Marx’s analysis comes in.

What Classes Have to Do with It: Avoiding the Great Man Theory and Economic Determinism

Marx’s concern is twofold: first, the relationship between social forces. For Marx this means the class relations in society, the institutional system of the state and the subjective ways of seeing the world of society’s members; and second, how to avoid two wrongheaded viewpoints – one that sees all outcomes as the inevitable results of large-scale processes and systems, and another that instead vastly overstates the role of individuals in the making of history.

Many today argue that today’s political crises result from the crisis of elites and the rise of populists. Populists and elites however, are superficial categories, weakly defined, more descriptive of effects than causes. The causes, according to many mainstream explanations are globalization and technology.[5]The first is assumed to be an inevitable historical process, resistance to which is, as Star Trek’s Borg used to say, futile. The latter is taken to be an independent variable, a force in itself, one that human beings must adjust to and accept as a politically neutral and ultimately always progressive and even liberating power. But technology is the work of human brains and hands, and, as is in fact embodied in human knowledge and skills. This is not well understood in accounts of technological inevitability, otherwise we would realize that humans can affect human creations and abililities. In these accounts, elites are those best able, or even most worthy to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the advance of globalization and new technologies. Populists are said to represent the unworthy in the new pitiless meritocracy, those left behind along with their smokestack industries, mining towns, or forgotten farming communities and fishing villages.

The other approach is to see the rise of strongmen to governmental power as the result of their individual qualities, or lack thereof – cheating to get ahead, willingness to rely on fake news, alliance with disreputable and anti-democratic foreign powers such as the Russian government, willingness to lie, being all things to all people to win votes from all over the spectrum, lack of respect for the norms of democracy, constitutionality and even ordinary human decency. Much of this list does describe accurately many of the above-mentioned men. And so far they are all men. The rise of one-person authoritarian government is a highly gendered process. Murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya warned us all about Putin long ago and paid the highest price for it. We would be hard-pressed to decide whether Duterte, Erdogan or Putin would be the more dangerous opponent if any of them should decide that some group is a threat to their power and agenda. And nearly every one of this crop of leaders, even in democratic countries, has made clear that diplomatic niceties are at best a very low priority, if not one of the pillars of the old order that needs to be knocked down.

Both of these poles of analysis have some elements of truth to them. But each is flawed. To see the rise of Trump or Orbàn as the result of globalization or technology puts the cart before the horse – seeing the results of human policies and practices as the causes of outcomes. It also strains credibility – does globalization lead to Clintons, Blairs and Obamas, to Macrons and to the liberal-democratic end of history? Or to Le Pen, to the UK Independence Party winning its Brexit referendum, to Orbàn and to Trump? And why is Xi Jinping, arguably the leader of the greatest centralization of power in the greatest up and coming world power the new global spokesman for free trade and further global integration in the wake of President Trump’s new protectionist policies? Advocates of globalization can’t have it both ways. Either globalization is inevitable, and the pace of technological change irreversible, in which case the populist forces can be no threat anyway, or else globalization supports the rise of the so-called Third Wave of Democratization defined by Samuel Huntington, in which case these political outcomes can’t be happening. But they are. Nor can each individual case can be explained by the personal characteristics of the rising leaders themselves. As I wrote at the start of this article, the rise of similar political regimes worldwide despite all the cultural, economic and political differences in the relevant countries suggests that the individual national conditions, let alone individual politicians, cannot be the cause of their own rise. To accept this account would mean accepting the self-narratives of the Berlusconis, Trumps, Dutartes, etc., namely that they are self-made men.

Marx took each of these arguments apart in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” And not for abstract reasons. The arguments made by his contemporaries parallel those we find today to explain Donald Trump’s presidency, or Victor Orbàn’s authoritarian politics. And the arguments Marx contested were made by two of the most famous writers and most respected social critics of his time: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Victor Hugo. Proudhon, who had risen to becoming one of the best-known writers in the European left during the Revolution of 1848, saw the anti-politics style of Louis Bonaparte’s electoral victory: “France has named Louis Bonaparte President of the Republic because it is tired of parties, because all the parties are dead, because with parties power itself is dead.”[6] Proudhon, who would pay with years in prison for his troubles, saw the economic revolution of the 19thcentury – free enterprise, market reforms, privatizations, the industrial revolution and free trade – as decisive in determining the trajectory of Louis Bonaparte’s government and his hold on power. As Lois Spear writes, according to Proudhon,

Bonaparte would doom himself to failure once a free economy emerged. Free men would cast off rulers and their legions and Bonaparte would find himself’ out of power. The ultimate need was to institute the economic revolution. In the supreme act of his political life, Proudhon called upon Bonaparte to forget all the vituperations hurled at him, the entire philosophy of nongovernment, and take charge of the revolutionary wagon, directing it into the path of the new order. It is small wonder that he puzzled and shocked his contemporaries?[7]

As Spears points out, “Proudhon’s faith in the reasoning power of the masses, enslaved and brutalized by poverty, as he termed it, had never been strong. But he was stunned by their speedy acceptance of the inevitable, noting that it was only the bourgeoisie who protested.”[8] The assumption that economic globalization, in both the 19thand 21stcentury varieties, is inevitable, that the industrial revolution, in both 19thand 21stcentury versions, will determine the destiny of human societies, easily marries such a view of the common people as ignorant and uninformed, and so easily manipulated into voting against their own interests. Marx had already seen the type of today’s Thomas Friedmans, or of the post-mortems by the brain trust of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and he had rejected it as unable to account for the whys and whens of events. Proudhon would successively predict that the tendency of the economic revolution of the times would force Louis Bonaparte to move toward a leftist version of liberalization, and then predicted instead that it would lead to dictatorship and betrayal of popular and liberal values.

Karl Marx is often stereotyped as an economic determinist. His argument in “The Eighteenth Brumaire” refutes that charge. But Marx also rejected any inflation of the role of individuals in history. Not because people did not matter in the political, social and economic outcomes, but because they did not matter as much in all situations. Conditions are never entirely under the control even of those in power, and therefore all actions have unintended consequences. This is not due to the Fall of Man or human imperfection, but because we inherent given conditions from history, and our current actions are always met by those of others acting in opposite directions. And so situations are not reducible to inevitable economic or technological trends, nor completely under our control.

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please in circumstances they choose for themselves; rather they make it In present circumstances, given and inherited.[9]” Marx argues that only under very specific conditions can a single individual, even if backed by a movement or popular support, gain power to rule in an authoritarian fashion, with a high degree of independence from existing institutions, from the main social classes and interest groups in society, and from the norms of behavior. What, then, are those conditions?

Marx’s answer gives the lie to whole “Great Man” approach to history, an approach that is central to the autobiographical narratives of so many of today’s leaders and candidates for leadership. The answer is that these kinds of leaders and governments are possible only when the struggle between the leading classes of society leads to a stalemate, in which none of the main contending classes are in a position to offer leadership through their own direct representatives, or their own organizations. When that happens, it becomes possible for shrewd leaders with access to organization and resources, and well-versed in public manipulation, to play the game of being all things to all people, of telling each class in turn that he (or someday she) represents their concerns and interests, and so to gain the relative autonomy to consolidate personal power and rule through plebiscite, spectacle, and a close-knit circle of clients and sycophants.

This enables Marx to explain what is wrong with today’s political center, left and center-left who are so easily drawn into the trap of personalizing the struggle with their opponent in power. The Italian left fought Berlusconi for years and have never yet really neutralized the threat of his return to power; but they never analyzed seriously the conditions that led to Berlusconism in the first place. The US left demonized George W. Bush’s erosion of Constitutional limits, without understanding his victories beyond plausible accusations of stolen elections, blaming Ralph Nader, and appeal to the ignorance of the masses in “Red State” or “fly-over” America. And the obsession with Trump himself during the election campaign of 2016, with his tweets, with the Mueller investigation into the Russian connection with the Trump campaign  (whether the latter had a real impact on the results or not), all show that the lesson has not been learned.  In the 1869 Preface to the Second Edition of “The Eighteenth Brumaire”, Marx showed again that he knew this type of opposition and criticism of authoritarian leadership, and again he rejected it, this time in the work on Louis Bonaparte’s coup by Victor Hugo:

Victor Hugo confines himself to bitter and witty invective against the responsible producer of the coup d’etat. The event itself appears in his work like a bolt from the blue. He sees in it only the violent act of a single individual. [10]

So, the first problem with this kind of criticism of such leaders, even if, as we saw above, a healthy sense of public humor about those in power is a necessary element to maintaining republic spirit and civic virtue, is that the focus on the person in power as an individual also confines the opposition to bitter and witty invective – the late night comedians, the Hollywood actors’ tweets, and the rest. But while such invective may keep the nation on its toes, it can never bring down a regime in power. And it certainly cannot change the circumstances that enabled it to come to power in the first place. In fact, it cannot even analyze and understand those circumstances, because it sees the event itself as the act of a single individual, or at most of him and a small circle around him of co-conspirators. James Madison’s model of checks and balances based itself, as Madison made clear in Federalist Papers numbers 10 and 51, on the idea that ambitious individuals, like factions that would seek privilege and power, were inevitable facts of political life that could never be wished away. A good constitutional design would find ways to use such ambitions. It would not just check one government branch with another, but, as Federalist 51 argues, also use the ambition of power-hungry individuals in power to block each other, as individual office-seeker and government agency became one. It would further check the ambitions of any faction in the country through the activity of other factions. In other words, any analysis that blames a power-hungry and ruthless or unprincipled individual or faction gaining power on that individual or faction being power-hungry, ambitious or unprincipled is completely useless, both intellectually and in practical politics. Madison assumes that these are the very kind of people that will seek power, at least often. He hoped for an at least widespread sense of republican virtue by policy makers, but he knew enough not to count on it. While Marx’s concern is not checks and balances, he is at pains to show that blaming the power-hungry for their ambitions is not only pointless, but dangerous. In his Preface to the Second Edition, he continues in his critique of Hugo’s work on Louis Bonaparte’s coup, “He does not notice that he makes this individual great instead of little by ascribing to him a personal power of initiative unparalleled in world history.” [11]

And this is why it is dangerous for opponents of Trump, Berlusconi, Orbàn, or even of those on the right who oppose a Madura or Chavez in Venezuela, or for that matter a Fidel Castro in Cuba, to continually focus on, even to obsess over, the individual in power himself and his failings, missteps, violations of norms of behavior, personal characteristics. While seeking to criticize, such opposition merely suggests that everything would be alright if only this individual were not in power or had not engaged in the actions they had to gain and use power. It renders them godlike. Beyond and above history and its processes, above and beyond the forces in the society itself. The logic is clear: when we say “everything would be fine if it were not for X being in power” we are denying that any conditions existed that legitimately provided an opportunity or resources for that person to gain power. This is a way of avoiding collective responsibility for the polity. We are also claiming that there are not legitimate grievances on the part of those who voted for or support the leader in question. Yes, there are those, many probably who voted for Trump out of racist motives or sexist motives, but even racists and sexists can have legitimate grievances over other issues. And no, millions of people who voted twice for Barack Obama did not suddenly become racist, nor are the vast majority of non-college educated white women that voted for Trump a whole population of Stepford Wives.[12] And if the example of Berlusconi’s decades at the center of Italian politics or of Victor Orbàn’s three electoral victories, or even Hugo Chavez’s four electoral victories and Daniel Ortega’s long period in power in Nicaragua are all too obscure as examples, just ask yourself how effective it was for the Cuban community in Florida to hurl its curses at Fidel Castro in order to drive him out of power. Want a losing strategy? Here it is. Obsess about your opponent and personalize and demonize authoritarian leaders in power. If the West continues with its own vitriolic attacks on Russian President Putin as an individual in power, without analyzing why he is and stays in power and what makes that possible, I expect him to last as long as Castro. If Democrats make every election a referendum on Trump’s personality, put your money on his re-election.

As for the approach of Proudhon, his descendants today see all opposition to globalization, free trade, or what is irritatingly called “Europe” (as in headlines like “New Italian Government latest threat to Europe”), as if Europe were an austerity and debt-collection program and not a continent, as utterly irrational and inexplicable. Marx has words for them as well:

Proudhon, for his part, seeks to represent the coup d’etat as the result of an antecedent historical development. Inadvertently, however, his historical construction of the coup d’etatbecomes a historical apologia for its hero. Thus he falls into the error of our so-called objective historians. [13]

Any analysis that argues that historical processes, be they economic or technological, or political, are inevitable, ends up legitimizing the particular leaders, regimes, parties, ideologies in power. This is a necessary effect of such discourses. This was the meaning of saying that world Communism was inevitable on the part of the old Soviet Union and Stalinism – it allowed for legitimizing what they called “real socialism” – the one they governed. And it is the effect of saying that globalization is inevitable, since it of course legitimizes the Clintons, Blairs, Obamas and Macrons, and now even Xi Jinping. Likewise saying that the current austerity programs of the EU are unavoidable merely legitimizes the policies of the EU Commission, the Central Bank, the IMF and the Merkel government in Germany.

Hegel, Polanyi and the Law of Unintended Consequences

But this much is obvious. EH Carr told us long ago that universal ideologies are merely expressions of the real interests that are most powerful internationally. Those who are less powerful cannot afford to be universalist or cosmopolitan.[14] But Marx is going further: all the arguments against so-called populism have been based on the idea that since globalization and technological advance – this globalization and this technology – are inevitable, the losers – those lacking the skills and education to take advantage of these changes, will inevitably become disgruntled, and react. While this reaction was in no way predicted by those now stating the obvious, the argument nevertheless amounts to the following: 1) globalization and technological change are inevitable, 2) inevitably they will benefit some more than others, 3) those who don’t benefit won’t like it, but 4) due to 1) there is nothing that can be done.

Since nothing can be done, the disgruntlement won’t go away, and so these leaders and governments are equally inevitable as are supposedly globalization and technological innovation themselves. Therefore, while this analysis is intended to show the irrationality of the so-called populist movements and governments, it ends up in a Hegelian teleology, proving the inevitability of populist authoritarian leaders. There is truth in all of this, though not in the way intended by pro-globalization critics of authoritarian “populism”. The truth is that, as Karl Polanyi demonstrated convincingly in his The Great Transformation, there is always a double movement at work when society moves to becoming a market society, to subordinating itself to market relations: on the one hand the hyper-liberalization of the economy, and on the other the reaction of society to protect itself by any means necessary, left or right – Tsipras in Greece and Chavez in Venezuela, Corbyn or Bernie Sanders, or on the other hand, Orbàn, Putin, Le Pen, the new coalition government in Italy, and Trump.

But for Marx, this is not a satisfactory conclusion. If liberalization goes too far there will be some reaction begs the question, what kind of reaction, and under what conditions does liberalization gain the upper hand so radically in the first place, and under what conditions does a counter-reaction, by left or right become possible? And finally, under what conditions can a single individual – appealing to the right, or the left, or to all at once – gain and centralize power in his or her own hands, seemingly independently of government structures, constitutional limits, and the social and class forces in society?

Why James Madison Was Wrong

We can now turn to Marx’s explanation, which we need to update for our own circumstances and needs today.  To understand Marx’s insights, we need first to return to Madison’s arguments about how best to design a republic.

James Madison argues in Federalist Paper number 51 that in a large republic, there will be so many different factions that it will be impossible for any one of them to become dominant. The preference for scale is meant to preserve the republican principle of avoiding power ending up in the hands of one person, or, extending this principle as I think Madison intends to, into the hands of any one group in society. This parallels the argument in Federalist Paper number 10 in which he argues for checks and balances among the branches of government, such that the self-interest of each branch blocks that of the other preventing institutional concentration of power, and so that the individual ambitions of exactly the types of politicians we are seeing today come to power around the world are also channeled into blocking those of the various other branches, resulting in a mutually reinforcing deadlock. While we can argue about how well the preservation of the balance of power between branches of government has worked over the years, one thing is clear. The other part of Madison’s model, that based on preventing a monopoly of power in the wider society by having many social factions check each other, does not work.

We know that first of all because we know from political scientists that in a pluralist condition, a well-organized minority has the best conditions for gaining greater power and influence.[15]Second, because we know how corporations are governed – the more shareholders the better so that a small minority of large owners of stock can wield power over the company’s governance. Marx demonstrates in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” that not only does Madison’s system in the larger society not work, but it is the ideal condition for power to become concentrated in the hands of one person. He does so by taking us on a tour of the state of the various contending classes in France in the mid-19thCentury.

First, Marx demonstrates that the working class has been defeated in the June 1848 uprising, in which workers sought to establish a socialist republic. Its organizations are crushed, its attempt at political power thwarted for the foreseeable future. This is the foundation on which all the other events of the period that Marx writes about are based. An organized working class would mean a viable alternative to the existing power structure before Louis Bonaparte’s coup, and a major obstacle to that seizure of power, and to his election in the first place.

Before we move on to the conditions of the other classes, and how an overall stalemate resulted in Bonaparte’s rise to power, and then to see how well this model applies to today’s political shocks, it is worth emphasizing this last point. The shattering of working class organization takes out of the picture the best organized non-privileged force for democracy in the society. It is a necessary, though not sufficient condition, for one-person rule or for the concentration of power. Every dictator worth their salt, from Mussolini and Hitler, to Pinochet and Saddam Hussein has broken unions, banned cooperative organizations and working class political parties, or jailed union activists. Or worse.

We will return to this issue when we discuss today’s authoritarians and strongmen.

Marx goes on to examine the conditions of the other major classes in French society. The general tendency was that after the workers had been defeated in June 1848, one class after another – the peasants, small businesspeople, artisans and shopkeepers, the professional middle class, one after another made demands for change that would have benefitted them and arguably improved society. Do we not recognize Marx’s description of the response each sector of society met when it presented its grievances to those in power in the Second Republic, and to the class in power, what Marx calls the Financial Aristocracy?

Every demand for the most simple bourgeois financial reform, for the most ordinary liberalism, for the most commonplace republicanism, for the flattest democracy, is forthwith punished as an “assault upon society,“ and is branded as “Socialism.“ [16]

Hasn’t this been the response to every call for protection against exposure to the forces of globalization? To every demand for public policy to redress the growing inequalities of income? To every call for regulation of financial systems and banks? To even hints at a return to Keynesian economic policies? To every protest at the effects of austerity in the European Union?

The refusal to address legitimate grievances is not just bad policy. It undermines democracy itself and weakens republics because the social classes making demands, by not having them even addressed seriously, are either then disorganized and demobilized or else driven to seek redress in other camps. Either way, the path to the Louis Bonaparte’s is further paved.

The capitalists, the “bourgeoisie” to use Marx’s term, are divided between republicans and monarchists, and then again, among monarchists, are torn between those favoring the Bourbons, the Orleans, and the Bonapartes. The small traders are scattered, the institutions where their representatives had some influence are dissolved by the Constitution of 1848, which favors large business interests. The professional middle class had allied with the republicans among the bourgeoisie, but once they had won the republic in the 1848 revolution, they had turned on their allies the workers, and now had no solid base of support in society.  None of these classes were any longer in a position to lead the country, to impose both their will (dominance) and their vision of society (hegemony) on the national life as a whole. Those that had ruled remained powerful and privileged, but no one would any longer follow their lead or support their project. The various classes supporting a more democratic and egalitarian outcome were demobilized or crushed.

“And yet”  Marx writes, “ the French Government does not float in the air. Bonaparte represents an economic class, and that the most numerous in the commonweal of France.”

Namely, the farmers. In the 1790s, the peasants of France, like the small farmers in America, had provided the backbone of the Revolution. But in France in 1850, after the revolutionary land reform that privatized their holdings, they are not able to lead the country, despite their numbers. But they are numerous enough to delegate power to another. It is precisely their lack of organized force that makes them the appropriate vehicle for a leader seeking to centralize authority. Marx explains the political sociology involved:

The allotment farmers are an immense mass, whose individual members live in identical conditions, without, however, entering into manifold relations with one another. Their method of production isolates them from one another, instead of drawing them into mutual intercourse. This isolation is promoted by the poor means of communication in France, together with the poverty of the farmers themselves… We have the allotted patch of land, the farmer and his family; alongside of that another allotted patch of land, another farmer and another family. A bunch of these makes up a village; a bunch of villages makes up a Department. Thus the large mass of the French nation is constituted by the simple addition of equal magnitudes—much as a bag with potatoes constitutes a potato-bag. [17]

Americans will recognize this as the way urban coast dwellers might characterize the culture of “fly-over country”. But we need to keep in mind that rural America was once the bedrock of Jeffersonian Democracy, of Jacksonian Democracy, of Turner’s Frontier Thesis, and later of the realPopulists, namely the 10 million strong Farmers Alliance cooperative that gave birth to the People’s Party. Rural France had experienced the French Revolution, the smashing of the remnants of feudal power. The sociological reality of the countryside had changed because its material conditions had changed.  This meant that the conditions for a class being a class as an active force have been splintered; it remains numerically important, but its progressive character is eroded by its inability to democratically mobilize itself for social and political change. This makes all the difference:

In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of the other classes, and that place them in an attitude hostile toward the latter, they constitute a class;

So writes Marx. Similarly the historian of the English working class E.P. Thompson  famously wrote,

Class happens when some men, as a result of common experiences…feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs. [18]

Neither Marx nor Thompson assume that class is an inevitability, nor are classes predetermined. And so Marx continues in analyzing the composition of French farmers,

in so far as there exists only a local connection among these farmers, a connection which the individuality and exclusiveness of their interests prevent from generating among them any unity of interest, national connections, and political organization, they do not constitute a class. Consequently, they are unable to assert their class interests in their own name, be it by a parliament or by convention. They can not represent one another, they must themselves be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, as an unlimited governmental power, that protects them from above, bestows rain and sunshine upon them. Accordingly, the political influence of the allotment farmer finds its ultimate expression in an Executive power that subjugates the commonweal to its own autocratic will.[19]

And so here we have it. When the social classes contending for influence in society have been too successful in blocking each other’s initiatives, and each of their projects has been rejected by the most powerful classes with a previously existing monopoly on policy-making, the result is that a class that reflects that reality of fragmentation of the whole society as a large microcosm of the whole becomes the most representative. In turn, its inability to lead society, to assert its own interests in its own name, reflecting the larger condition of no class being in such a position, leads it to pass off its potential sovereign power to an individual who represents its outlook but not necessarily its interests.

The December 10th Society and today’s “Deplorables”

Dictators, however, in the end, must safeguard their position beyond the popular support that is likely a temporary basis for rule in any case, stemming as it does from such a weak foundation, namely a class that is not well-organized.  Otherwise this class would itself govern through its own institutions, rather than rely on an authoritarian strongman who represents it at best symbolically. Nor can the authoritarian leader really represent fully the interests of such a numerous but politically inert class. The competition for power and influence between national states forces any government to ensure that economic development enhances the country’s potential military power.[20] Since the resources needed for state power remain largely in the hands of capitalist classes, despite their rhetorical opposition to capitalist interests and the physical replacement of that class or its representatives from governance, authoritarian leaders are constrained by reality to carry out policies that for the most part further capitalist interests.  The result is likely eventual repression against organized efforts by the common people, and in turn a possible break with the class whose votes have brought them to power. Further, authoritarian leaders need access to resources not only for their own enrichment and for that of the particular interests and allies they bring into government, crony capitalism as it has been called, but also for one other insurance policy to maintain power – the real “deplorables”. For Louis Bonaparte, this was the December 10thSociety.  Marx describes them as such:

This society dated from the year 1849. Under the pretext of founding a benevolent association, the slum-proletariat of Paris was organized into secret sections, each section led by Bonapartist agents, with a Bonapartist General at the head of all…along with the foul and adventures-seeking dregs of the bourgeoisie, there were vagabonds, dismissed soldiers, discharged convicts, runaway galley slaves, sharpers, jugglers, lazzaroni, pickpockets, sleight- hand performers, gamblers, procurers, keepers of disorderly houses, porters, literati, organ grinders, rag pickers, scissors grinders, tinkers, beggars—in short, that whole undefined, dissolute, kicked-about mass that the Frenchmen style “la Boheme“ With this kindred element, Bonaparte formed the stock of the “Society of December 10,“…the only class upon which he can depend unconditionally. [21]

Such a body of supporters, whose own aspirations for advancement and whose own desperation mirror the ambition of the leader himself, is essential for any dictatorship. He needs to enrich his immediate aides and allies – cronies – and himself,  and to maintain the support of this “dangerous class” as embodied in the December 10thSociety. Meanwhile they held  him repress the people and deny the elite classes direct access to power; only a thoroughly loyal, and well-armed and organized body of followers can guarantee tenure in office. The architype is captain Ahab, who while beguiling the common crew, intimidating the middle class officers and ignoring the demands of the capitalist owners, smuggled Malaysian pirates aboard the Pequod to help ensure he remained in command.[22]

The Road to Serfdom is Paved with Neoliberal Intentions

Bonaparte represented the French farmers, but ruled over them, and over the other classes without actually representing their true interests, something that he could not do even if he were good-willed about it, since a class that cannot mobilize itself on a big enough scale cannot influence policy-making. Today’s leaders represent classes whose ability to self-organize to lead society and assert their own vision of society has been pulverized, in analogous contexts, in which the leading classes of society have come to a stalemate.

The globalization project has lost all popular support except among some professionals. The neoliberal economic policies in favor since the elections of Thatcher and Reagan are rejected wholesale by huge swaths of every society. Every effort to replace these is rejected. Small business people have either been eaten alive (as usual) by the large companies, or, paradoxically, seen their numbers technically swell only due to the forcing of ordinary workers into freelance conditions (Uber for example, but the examples and methods are many), but even more subordinated to big business then ever. Real small businesses face fierce market competition, even international market competition, not in a competitive free market as neoclassical economists’ myths would have it, but in markets for selling as suppliers to large businesses such as Walmart, Amazon, the large UK supermarket chains, Uber, and so forth. Their independence is now a relic of a bygone age. Farmers are a small part of industrialized workforces now. In Thailand, they were the majority in the Red Shirts movement allied with the politician Thaksin. At first they played a role similar to that played by French farmers in Marx’s account, but then did assert their own class interests only to be slaughtered in the squares of Bangkok.

This leaves the professional class or professional managerial class. And it is this class whose growing influence in society is paradoxically responsible for the overall stalemate in society as a whole. But first, let’s make clear the analogy to France’s farmers of the 1850s – today’s more traditional working class.

As we saw in the Trump election, working class votes, traditionally left wing, have also gone across much of Europe to right wing parties and so-called populist leaders. Thomas Picketty has shown recently that today’s strongman authoritarian leaders rely to a remarkable, even shocking and depressing degree on working class votes.[23]The factory closing, and the degradation of the traditional working class neighborhood with its sense of community, is the equivalent today of the isolated farmhouse without sufficient social connections to form itself into a class.

The analogy is not perfect: workers still have unions to some degree and where they work at large enterprises their mode of work, unlike that of farmers, brings them into social contact with each other and forces cooperation on them. This reality was always the ace in the deck of Marxist analysis and hopes for social change. But under today’s conditions, this high degree of social cooperation, at least in the wealthiest countries, is an exception rather than a rule. Today it is mainly workers in the public sector that are well-organized with strong unions and an ability to strike. Unions in the private sector in the US are rare and are becoming rarer every year even in Europe. Social media, ironically, have a similar impact to that of the poor means of communication that Marx attributes to France, leading to isolation, rather than stronger social relationships. Immigration, whatever its positive aspects, makes strong community bonds more complicated to form and maintain.

And so, sometimes a class, if well-organized, coherent, and with its own strong cultural sense of self and a vision of the kind of country it wants can be and has been the most progressive and democratic force in history. But that same class, if  defeated and disorganized, it becomes the soil for the rise of authoritarian leaders. This is not necessary and is not an inevitable outcome. In our times, it is the result, just as Marx argued of Louis Bonaparte’s rise, of class struggle. The defeat of the working class movement, through hostile policies, from the Reagan-Thatcher era through the long austerity policies and neoliberal reforms of the European Union in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty and the 2008 economic crisis, have left the traditional working class in the Western countries a numerical majority, but a ghost of their former selves as a social force. As Thomas Picketty demonstrates[24], right wing and nationalist parties have been increasingly able to count on working class voters (excluding most members of national minorities and/or immigrant communities) as center-left parties have represented the more  highly educated professional classes and monopolized the votes of national minorities and immigrants.[25] This split in working class votes along ethnic lines explains both the electoral rise and return of the right. The inability of either of these two coalitions or factions to provide a coherent vision of government, national leadership and purpose, or proposals for concrete policies that a large majority could rally behind speaks for itself.

Checking and Balancing the Majority Leads to Individual Rule

But the pro-business policies of authoritarian leaders mean that the working class support, based largely on the prospect of a return to a large manufacturing base and not on ideological commitments or long-term party loyalty, could evaporate. The need for a dangerous class, for a group of genuine deplorables to maintain power, is apparent. That we see the presence, and at times association of such types- neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other White Supremacists, for example – with or near aides to presidents, prime ministers, or candidates for high office in democratic countries is alarming for this reason. That none of these has been constituted yet as the real praetorian guard of an authoritarian government in a democratic Western country is – reassuring is too strong a word – an important reality check to not go too far rhetorically in identifying nationalist or authoritarian-style leaders in the democratic West as fascists or dictators just yet. But the December 10thtypes are on the margins everywhere, increasingly visible and vocal, and worryingly and even shockingly willing to speak in their own names with their own voices for the first time since 1945.

In places like the Philippines and Russia, instead, we already find such forces in existence, and the survival of democracy seriously threatened, if not already fatally damaged. The Davao city vigilante groups (death squads) in the rise to power and hold on power of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines is the closest parallel to the December 10thprototype, and indeed, arguably more violent by a good measure than the original version. Here we are close to the transformation of a group of authoritarian deplorables into actual fascist bands, comparable to Hitler’s SA, though the ideological vision is far less fully developed.[26]

As for Vladimir Putin’s Russia, journalist Anna Politkovskaya had already, in her dispatches from the Chechen War, called what she was seeing “fascism”.[27] The recent declaration of Cossacks that they would use force to repress any non-heterosexual kissing at the World Cup[28] is only the latest example of unofficial violence in Russia towards those not accepted by, or opposed to, the current political order.

The Curious Case of the Latin American Populists and the Thai Red Shirts

We now must address the somewhat different cases of the recent charismatic populist leaders of the recent Latin American left – Venezuela’s Chavez, Maduro his successor, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega. Their cases require us to make our model a little more flexible. In the Bolivian case, we do have a well-organized social movement representing class interests – typified by the 1999-2000 struggle against water privatization in Cochabamba, so Morales at least did not come to power under conditions of representing a disorganized but instead an organized class.

As for the other leftist leaders in the region, the principle of substitution of leader for class does seem to apply, and the same may be said for Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand as well. But the Red Shirts movement there, and the rise of organized movements in Venezuela, Honduras before and after the coup that toppled the leftist president, and Ecuador suggest that a different process may be at work, and indeed an ancient one. In ancient Greek cities, populist dictators often preceded actual organized struggles to win and maintain democracy. Something of the sort may have unfolded in Latin American countries in the dialectic between leader and followers, though so far with the result of dividing the organized social class interests and the charismatic leader and populist government. At times an authoritarian or at least extra-constitutionalist streak has shown itself in repression of the very social movements one might have expected to become a base of support of the president and government. This, at least, has happened in Ecuador and in Bolivia. An organized popular class movement that puts a leader into power has less tolerance for an authoritarian power grab by that leader than a disorganized class that needs to see itself reflected in the head of state [29].

An under-appreciated defense of constitutional, republican and democratic principles is a well-organized popular or working class, even one that comes to constitute “a majority faction” as James Madison called it in Federalist Paper number 10. Clearly, the movements in Bolivia and later in Thailand, as well as those that twice brought Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti would qualify as clear examples of what Madison sought to avoid with his constitutional machinery.[30] If instead, a well-organized majority faction not only is a key to making democratic machinery work for reform and social justice, but itself a crucial defense against abuse by its own leaders and the powers of a government it has brought into power, then Madison, and indeed much of the liberal-constitutionalist approach to, and limitations of democracy are to be rethought. Certainly, the latter have not prevented a Trump, an Orbàn or a Putin from gaining power, nor from governing in ways that stretch, if not break the frames of the constitutions in question.

When the People Defend Their Leaders, When the People Control Their Leaders

In Venezuela, Thailand, Haiti and Honduras, instead, we have a different phenomenon: mass movements that arise precisely to defend their elected governments and the populist leaders that lead them. In Venezuela up to a million people surrounded the Presidential Palace to stop and reverse the 2002 coup d’etatthat had overthrown Hugo Chavez and declared the elected parliament and the courts nullified. This reversed the sense of terror as well that had weighed on the entire continent ever since the Pinochet coup of September 11, 1973 against the elected Allende government in Chile, and the horrors that followed. Chavez had the army with him, something Allende did not have, but it was the popular uprising in his defense that made the difference. In Thailand the Red Shirts were massacred in the streets demanding that the government and leader they elected twice be re-instated. And in Honduras a government that became progressive once in office was overthrown and a popular uprising sought to defend it, only for activists to be brutally repressed and murdered by those still holding power. In each case, we have a situation where a populist leader representing a disorganized or dispersed mass started a process whereby his supporters became a class, organized, ready to fight to defend what they had gained. This suggests that the relationship between democracy and leaders, even authoritarian leaders, is more complex than at first appears, but in each case the crucial variable is the coming-into-being of an organized class movement or interest, whether that happens before or after the election or rise to power of the leader. Put differently, if a consequence of the government of a populist or authoritarian-style leader is the self-organization of the working class, peasantry or farmers, or other popular forces, it is possible that a self-regulating principle of democracy and of republican government takes over: the organized class will fight to defend democracy from those class forces and potential agencies that would deny it to them as an instrument for reforming society. Further, they themselves become a major force preventing inroads against republican or constitutional principles as a means to maintain their own control over their leader, preventing his or her power and influence from reducing them anew to a dispersed and disorganized mass, unable to represent themselves and needing representation. None of this is reflected in the standard liberal or conservative literature on democracy or republicanism or constitutional defense of civil liberties.

In part, this is due to what I think of as the “New York Times Interpretation of History”. In this version, a strong middle class is the basis of democratization, because having become wealthy thanks to market economies or access to globalization or free trade, this middle class of small scale and medium sized business owners, independent farmers, self-employed, professionals, and the well-educated staffs of large organizations wants a greater say in things, and also wants constitutional protections for civil liberties to safeguard their property and social status. The problem with this vision of the world is not only that this very class – small business owners, shopkeepers, artisans, propertied farmers, government bureaucrats, and university-educated professionals – was also the backbone of the support for Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, as well as Pinochet’s military coup, even if each later required the support of big business to actually govern. To be sure, as we have seen, small farmers, artisans, and shopkeepers were also central to democratic movements, such as the American and French Revolutions and the US Populists – the real Populists, the farmers’ movement of the late 19thand  early 20thcentury. These were all progressive and democratic movements, with deep regard for republican principles. So, for the same class to later become a fascist stronghold requires explanation. The rise of corporate capitalism from above, organized labor from below, and the Great Depression of the 1930s led them to desperation and in some countries willingness to throw overboard their values. But the problem for the New York Times version of history is deeper. Democracy historically has mainly, though not solely been the work of working people, not middle classes defending their property.[31]

All of our previous analysis leads us therefore first to the realization that the legitimate fears of authoritarian leaders and governments and of “populism” miss the mark. The soil in which such governments can grow is one where the majority of people, especially of working people, is geographically and socially dispersed (by private holdings, factory closings or mass unemployment to name a few mechanisms).  Italian historian Sergio Bologna has demonstrated that, regarding the working class in Germany at the moment of Hitler’s rise to power, “Thus when we speak of the working class of the final period of Weimar, we are talking of a working class that was already extremely atomised, which inhabited a factory environment that was fragmented and pulverised – as if they had been subjected to a decentralization of production…” [32]

The best defense against threats to democracy and constitutional government instead is a well-organized working class acting in its own interests, even if that working class brings to power populist leaders. Because in order to defend and maintain its own control of its leaders and ensure that popular and even radical government acts in the people’s and not its own interests, a well-organized class will resort to its own power and organization – strikes, protests, mass mobilization – to limit the threat to popular control of government, thereby defending as well constitutionality, civil liberties, and republican principles for all. What may not be defended are the property, wealth, power and privilege of elite and upper middle classes of course. And if that is what is most important to these classes, then their opposition to populism is less a matter of principle than of masquerading interest as principle. A genuinely democratic government rooted in organized labor would face their opposition as well. And these principles are as much in danger when liberal elitist governments reign as when vulgar populists do.

Making Democracy Safe For Free Trade

Indeed, as Jennifer Delton has demonstrated in the pages of the Washington Post of June 7, 2018, liberal Democrats dedicated to free trade undermined the very democratic and constitutional limits to presidential power over trade that now permits President Trump to impose tariffs unilaterally. [33] Similarly, it was liberal internationalists who have supported shifting decision-making and budget controls to organizations such as the EU Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. Nor have liberals in any major country addressed the troubling shift of economic policy making to central banks, which remain independent of democratic control in most countries today.[34] Indeed, the willingness to shift power and policy to unaccountable technocratic institutions and processes – including ratings agencies[35], and investors (whom Thomas Friedman celebrated as “the electronic herd”)[36] means that liberals and cosmopolitans expose themselves to charges of hypocrisy when they (rightly) criticize the undemocratic and anti-republican practices and rhetoric of the authoritarian strongmen rising to power.

For they themselves have run roughshod over democracy as expressed most (un)eloquently in 2011,  when German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said “Elections change nothing. There are rules” in answer to appeals to popular sovereignty by the then new Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his then Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.  And when then EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker added “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties. One cannot exit the euro without leaving the EU”, a “rule” that appears in no EU treaty, nor that has been agreed to by any member state upon entering the Eurozone.[37] Further, by supporting free trade agreements, such as Bill Clinton’s support of NAFTA and his advocacy of China’s entry into the WTO without any labor or human rights strings attached, and the European center-left’s willingness to impose austerity programs, liberals have been as much a cause of the dispersion of the working class as the anti-union policies of conservatives. Indeed, the latter have had a much easier time breaking unions because of the shift in the balance of power away from labor and toward mobile capital resulting from globalization. Following the siren song of economists who assure that free trade will result in the same net number of jobs eventually, center-left parties and leaders have neglected to note that it is not just employment but the concentration of workers in unionized industries and their long-term employment stability that allows for a social fabric to develop in the workplace and communities leading to a well-organized independent class that is the key to preventing authoritarian government, as we have seen.  All of this means that cosmopolitan liberals are in bad faith when articulating republican and democratic principles against the new governments and leaders arising worldwide. Not that these do not need defending. But the material basis of this bad faith must be found in the one large and important social class we have not discussed yet, and which is ultimately the decisive actor in the political drama of our times: the professional-managerial class, or middle class professionals.

Caught in the Middle?

The class of professionals, or of highly educated, highly trained personnel has been a kind of sphinx for sociologists, political scientists and socialist activists, among others, for a long time. Their first theorist was of course Thorstein Veblen, who saw engineers and technicians as the great new motor of production processes, and opponents of the absentee owner class whose interest was not in efficient production nor a rationally organized economy and society, but merely money and profit.[38] The great sociologist C. Wright Mills had already studied white collar workers as a mass phenomenon of complexity and an ambivalent social force back in the 1950s.[39] Barbara and John Ehrenreich theorized this class in a seminal article in the 1970s.[40] This class was newly dubbed the “knowledge worker” in the 1990s [41]. According to the Ehrenriechs in a 2013 re-examination of the issue, it has recently suffered a dual fate: one the one hand, the professional managerial class has suffered its decline and fall for two reasons: ideologically its rationalist values have only been fully tried in the less than inspiring socialist countries of the Soviet era, and to a lesser extent in some of the Keynesian technocratic management of the economy; on the other hand, new technologies and corporate strategies since 2000 have eliminated many of their professional opportunities, with journalism in particular hemorrhaging jobs, but with many other professions such as programmers suffering from outsourcing to less expensive labor zones. [42]

But John McDermott, whose analysis of the role of the professional-managerial sector is a surer guide, bases his analysis on a different starting point: the corporation. The corporation is a form of collective property (not private property in any meaningful sense), and a form of organization of economic activity involving three classes: top management, the middle strata we are discussing and the working class. He sees the middle sector in similar terms to the Ehrenreich’s, as a class whose role is hostile to workers, inasmuch as “the middle element has one job and only one job – to manage workers.”[43] But expanding on the insight that society itself is now a product of corporations, which are no longer aberrations in an otherwise liberal society [44], McDermott further deepened his analysis. He came to see the Corporate Middle Class, what he later terms the Professional life trajectory[45] as the human embodiment of technology – as technology itself, which without direct reference to this class is a reified anthropomorphism. Further, this class he argued in the late 1990s had become “a mass constituency for globalization”.[46]  As such, as the bearers of contemporary technology and as the constituent class for globalization, the professionals are not likely for the most part to see technologies as their main problem, as the Ehrenreich’s argue, though some specific categories like adjunct professors and journalists have certainly seen better days.

The technology of the professionals – their knowledge and inventions, are typically in a mutually reinforcing relationship with the “corporate form” (including government agencies and non-profits, universities and hospitals as well as the military) which is the only institutional setting in which they can obtain the resources and funding they need, have access to the instruments of their work, and carry out their life professions. [47] This reality means first that many of the definitions of knowledge workers or professionals, based on the assumption that they are merely a contemporary version of the old skilled workers or professionals with their autonomy in a liberal society and so will rebel against corporate inroads on that autonomy, are based on incorrect premises. Second, it explains, as McDermott points out, why the working class has had a more difficult time asserting its independent political initiatives in the corporate era compared with the late 19thand early 20thcentury. It has had to contend with not one but two well-organized and resource-rich opponents.

The reality that the middle class professionals are both the bearers of technology and the constituent class for globalization explains the now much-noted phenomenon of parties of the center-left having come to represent the highly educated and relatively better paid as well as national ethnic minorities.[48] The Ehrenreichs claim that the PMC (their abbreviation) has seen its day come and go now, and will be increasingly proletarianized by the same corporate strategies that have decimated workers for decades now. But I would argue instead that the evidence is far stronger that the professionals have gone from being a high status group with many sectors to becoming a class in Marx’s and British historian EP Thompson’s sense in recent years. They have a viewpoint – that of expertise and education based on research and knowledge; they have a central role in production and economic life in general; they are the principle mass constituency for globalization and reject the nationalism of many of the new authoritarians, and also that of some of the left and right radical governments around the world as a default setting. Their life experience is cosmopolitan. They carry knowledge and science with them as both badges and identities, as well as the source of their social power. They are increasingly noted as a central part of society in popular culture – from Big Bang Theory to Dr. House, from the children’s cartoon the Croods to the Tony Stark character in the Avengers movies, to the films Moneyball, Transcendence and Limitless. These various representations in the culture all show the professional working in a corporate setting, and in teams, even when the main characters are strongly individualistic in their outlook on life. And finally, the professionals have a political party – indeed one in nearly every industrial country – the main center-left parties, which no longer can be said in any serious sense to represent the working class, as Thomas Frank and Thomas Picketty have shown.

The professionals, the Ehrenreichs notwithstanding, have put themselves forward as a potential leadership class able to provide an alternative to the authoritarian strongmen. But there are serious problems with the professionals’ claim to social and political leadership. The basis for such a leadership claim is not, as the Ehrenreichs argue, or as Veblen argued back in the 1920s, the rationalization of production, though this was certainly the case of the engineers and technicians of that era. Instead the claim today is based, as Frank makes clear, on expertise, and on education. The highly elitist basis of this claim means that despite their relative cultural coherence, which to some degree does transcend the ethnic, racial and gender divisions in their class, though these are far from fully overcome as the crisis of sexism in the high tech sector this past year has demonstrated, the professionals are not only likely to find it difficult to convince workers to come to their side, but in fact are openly despised by working class communities, and in turn hold the latter in contempt. Nor do they consider the small local shopkeeper or small scale entrepreneur or artisan in higher regard, considering them to be equally ignorant and parochial as are the workers. And as McDermott points out, their structural role – as teachers over working class students, as lawyers or doctors treating the needs of but also exploiting working class clients and patients, as university administrators making absurdly high salaries while raising tuition beyond the means of working class opportunity structures and thereby exacerbating the inequality already on the increase between the two classes – makes it difficult to imagine a common project to unite the two largest classes in modern society.

Capitalist Hegemony Over the Professionals, or Take the Beam Out of Your Own Eye

But the biggest problem is one that the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci would have recognized, and the term he used to explain it was “hegemony”. Gramsci’s concept of hegemony has been widely used in international relations [49], cultural studies and by any number of Marxists political theorists. Too often it is used in either of two ways: as a substitute term for domination, or as a substitute term for ideology, or ideological social control. But Gramsci instead intended hegemony as the capacity, at least plausibly based in reality, of the most powerful class in society to lead other classes on the basis of a common project that represents a believable common good.[50] As Gramsci writes,

the supremacy of a social group manifests itself in two ways, as “domination” and as “intellectual and moral leadership”. A social group dominates antagonistic groups, which it tends to “liquidate”, or to subjugate perhaps even by armed force; it leads kindred or allied groups. A social group can, and indeed must, already exercise “leadership” before winning governmental power (this indeed is one of the principal conditions for winning such power); it subsequently becomes dominant when it exercises power, but even if it holds it firmly in its grasp, it must continue to “lead” as well. [51]

As this quote makes clear, a dominant class does not exercise hegemony over dominated classes who are somehow tricked by its manipulation of cultural symbols or language to gain ideological consent. This is how the concept has too often been understood by cultural theorists. Nor is it reducible to domination by superior physical force, military power, economic supremacy or other forms of “hard power”, as realist in IR would have it. It is instead closer to the more superficial idea of “soft power”[52], but involves very specific kinds of relationships with very specific groups. In particular, hegemony operates in relationships with other allied or kindred classes (or nations in the case of international politics) who have a reason to participate in a larger project organized by the dominant class, group or state, because it corresponds to their own interests and to their own vision of a common good.

The professionals do have their own idea of the common good, but more than any other class in modern society with the possible exception of small businesspeople  they are subject to the hegemony of the dominant investor capitalist class. Professionals  can only do their work in a certain corporate-style context, even when they work for government, universities, hospitals or non-profits. They need the resources that only a large organization with access to capital can provide. Second, they are the mass constituency for globalization as John McDermott has argued, and indeed, pro-globalization, pro-immigration, pro-openness as  cultural values are written into their DNA. Like the global capitalists, but with greater cultural coherence than the latter, they are a true international class. Third, they are at least vulnerable to the argument that government interference in the development of the new technologies is unwanted and likely to be counterproductive, though this can take the form of anti-militarism, of anti-fundamentalism, or simply a bias against bureaucracy. It is not clear that they have a fully developed analogous critique of corporate structures, though many are critical of too much power in the hands of corporations. This, as expected by Veblen and the Ehrenreichs, more often takes the form of distaste for the dominance of money over intelligent use of available or possible technologies that could improve the human condition.

But their support of the capitalist program of globalization, their dependence on corporate form, and their dislike of the parochialism of both the working class and the small business class, make them likely allies and supporters of global capital. This is exactly the kind of hegemony that Gramsci meant, and it is not the working class but the professionals who are “hegemonized”. There is a grain of truth in the idea that workers through patriotism at least in the US, and through the idea of the “American Dream” are at times followers of the leadership of dominant class forces. But they are no fans of market economics, hate globalization as much as professionals love it, and are often suspicious of military adventures (working class districts and their Congressional representatives in the House of Representatives voted strongly against NAFTA in 1994, and against the first Gulf War authorization resolution in 1991). Workers see new forms of work organization, such as the  downsizing in the 1990s and the Uber-Gig economy model as means of avoiding paying them decent wages and appropriate benefits. Professionals are much more likely to approve of the Gig economy and rave about Uber’s services, though as the Ehrenreichs might point out, journalists and adjunct professors are exceptions to this rule, while programmers don’t love being exposed to competition through outsourcing. Small businesspeople certainly support a libertarian, low tax and low regulation, union-free economic policy, and to that degree are a partner of a  hegemonic class of larger capitalists. But opposition to the TARP bailout in the US in 2008, the Tea Party, the new Five-Star Movement-Northern League government in Italy (a small business class government if ever there was one), and their response to the appeal of both authoritarian leaders and racist political parties in various countries[53]are indications that the small propertied classes are increasingly hostile to the leadership of large corporations, of globalization, and of a financial sector that has hung them out to dry when they most needed credit (this is particularly true in Italy since 2008). So, if hegemony has an ally, it is the professionals.

And yet the professionals do exhibit growing confidence in their view of the world, and in their ability due to their meritocratic credentials, to lead society, using the technology that they embody to bring about a better world. And some sectors like journalists and adjunct professors clearly have no reason to support current corporate strategies, while others, like school teachers in the Republican-governed states of the US, have engaged in a wave of mass strikes in West Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. Such behavior may overcome some of the understandable hesitation that workers would have in joining the professionals in a common project. Other recent events, such as the creation of a new organization by former employees of Google, Apple and Facebook to challenge the dominance of manipulative social media corporations over the internet and the use of their technologies to disaggregate the social fabric, and the protest by Google employees that forced the company to end its collaboration with the Pentagon, may be harbingers of a growing autonomy of action by the professional class.  After all its key value, that technology, that is, they themselves and their work, be used in the interests of humankind, are violated by corporate capital, finance, governments and the military.[54] All of these examples are to the good, as the independence of professionals from corporate management and finance is a necessary, if not sufficient precondition for any alliance that could both challenge the neoliberal global project that has so expanded inequality everywhere and prevent and replace authoritarian governments and the siren song of racist, sexist and homophobic governments and parties.

But for such an alliance to happen, professionals would have to challenge one of their own other most cherished principles: meritocracy. For as Thomas Frank points out, one reason for the Democratic Party in the US, and by analogy center-left parties everywhere, to kneel before the altar of finance is that financial managers seem to be merely the most accomplished version of the class of professionals in the first place, an extension of themselves: highly educated, trained in the disciplined use of statistical methodologies, smarter than everyone else, hard-working. For a true gap to emerge between finance and professionals a lot would have to happen, though some of it has and more may soon. The crash of 2008 did delegitimize finance in the eyes of much of the population. Smart or not, it becomes hard to believe in the merits of, and to follow a class that nearly capsized the whole world economy, which was saved only by government action, and which did capsize many of the organizations they run, while continuing to vote themselves disproportionate incomes in the forms of bonuses, stock options, and share buybacks.  This last item have grown to the point that American businesses are arguably not sustainable over any long period now due to buybacks and dividends surmounting not only investment in capital goods, research and product development, all of which are close to the heart of professionals, but also surmounting revenues from sales! [55]

Reconstruction

We have seen that the necessary condition for avoiding the rise of authoritarian leaders is a well-organized working class, since it is from a disaggregated and dispersed majority class that such leaders draw support. We have also seen that a necessary condition for an alternative to both the neoliberal project that got us into this mess and to authoritarian governments is for the rising professional class to gain an autonomy from the corporate-finance-investor class that holds hegemony over it based on real, material and not merely ideological bases. A necessary and sufficient condition for an alternative therefore, would be an alliance between the two largest classes in modern society, workers and professionals. An alliance that went so far as to protect the interests of small businesspeople as well would be formidable indeed, restoring democracy, fortifying republics.

But such an alliance is difficult to construct. The two classes of workers and professionals can no longer be plausibly considered the same class merely because in Marxist terms they are both wage earners or produce surplus value and profits for capitalists. They have organizationally, culturally, politically made clear their differences in outlook, values, identity and political party preferences. They would need at least two necessary conditions to be able to unite. The first ingredient is intermediary organizations – be they unions, cooperatives, professional associations, new forms of business – that can negotiate some of the terms between them, provide an institutional setting for cooperation on common causes, and provide continuity for ongoing solidarity with each other. Such mediating organizations also are needed to overcome the fragmentation of society itself, its breaking up into either isolated individuals drawn to socializing only digitally and at a distance [56], or self-referential identity groups on a slide greased by social media’s marketing methods. [57]

The second ingredient is a common project that can provide an alternative hegemonic vision to that of neoliberal corporate global capital. Such a project would have to include certain key elements: employment guarantees for ordinary workers, but beyond mere jobs, forms of work that aggregate workers facilitating their self-organization. This means some restoration of manufacturing, be it of traditional industries, or of new ones such as high-speed trains and solar power panels, etc. It also means massive investment and permanent maintenance of infrastructure. It means a renewed capital goods industry, since this where the know-how for further developments in productivity and job creation come from. For workers to again be seen as sources of important economic and social knowledge would create a bridge to professionals with their concern for expertise. This would mean reversing definitively the process known as Taylorism or Scientific Management, which shifted control over work to management in workplaces around the world.

Such an alliance also requires a national ideology, or vision that can create a common focus providing meaning to daily life and work, as a sense of unity. The New Deal for the American People, The People’s Home of the 1930s and 40s Swedish Social Democrats, A Nation Fit for Heroes – the Labour Party’s wartime election slogan, are examples of what is needed. There would need to be a change in policies to once again enable unions to organize and represent workers’ interest. But it would also require some of the elements of globalization that professionals like, such as free movement to work abroad, or to study abroad like the Erasmus program in the European Union. It would need to be based on the full utilization of the new technological possibilities without letting financial issues or profit motive determine which technologies get tried, utilized, or diffused. And yet decisions over the use of technologies at work must involve ordinary workers so that the professionals are no longer an instrument for replacing workers and undermining their organized power, a practice we now see is self-defeating for professionals, as it favors the rise of the Trumps and Orbàns, even if it benefits capitalists and top management.

Technology must be negotiated over between the two classes, as must immigration. No country can realistically close its border entirely, nor open them entirely. This means that there should be room for a rational discussion over how much immigration, on what basis – family, skills needed in the economy, or cultural diversity and so on.  Openness is a fine value. But the setting one class in society into constant competition with each other on the basis of ethnicity and locally-born residents vs. newcomers, while another is able to rely on its expertise and scarcity of its skills to face little or no competition is exactly what workers are rebelling against. It is not yet clear how to resolve this issue in an equitable, non-racist, and practical way.

Most of all an alternative that can unite the non-capitalist classes means three other major transformations: first, converting finance into a public good, into a public utility, like water and electricity and roads, a form of infrastructure.[58] Publicly provided, and democratically governed money and credit could provide capital for municipal enterprises, worker and professional-managed cooperatives, and a national infrastructure program including sustainability and ecological repair as well as for a restoration of manufacturing. Second, the transformation of large corporations, industrial and commercial (such as Walmart and Amazon) into stakeholder republics through a Charter [59] providing for representation of workers, professional consultants, and small business suppliers as well as community members on corporate boards. This would allow for converting the commerce giants into consortia managed in the interests of employees and suppliers, so they can no longer drive prices down forcing small business to impose a race to the bottom for working conditions and wages. Finally, we need an international order (a people’s Bretton Woods) to enable these changes. A “People’s Bretton Woods” could provide the vision, institutional arrangements (democratized workplaces and companies, publicly provided finance, unions and professional associations), and material base (a production not finance based real economy) [60] to unite professionals, workers and many small businesses into a vast coalition.  Such a coalition could shift the destiny of our societies from an endless neoliberal globalization with finance in a dominant role. Such projects have been hinted at by Jeremy Corbin’s idea of a “Green Industrial Revolution”, by Yanis Varoufakis’ proposals in his recent works, and by some of Bernie Sanders’ proposals in his 2016 presidential campaign.

They have been more fully worked out by a few writers such as Jon Rynn[61]and Jonathan Feldman[62], who, even before it became a legislative program for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the left wing of the Democratic Party (to their credit), have long proposed a Green New Deal that would provide work for all, improve infrastructure, and favor cooperatives as democratically run workplaces. Naomi Klein has argued that many local initiatives based on ecological sustainability also provide alternative forms of economic development.[63]and from Cleveland, Ohio to Austin, Texas to Jackson, Mississippi, local cooperative-based economic community development projects inspire hope for new ways to organize the relationship between jobs, technology, enterprises, and the community. Rynn and Feldman use the term “Reconstruction” for their proposals, in part to both poke fun at and to counter the obsession of academic leftists with deconstruction. The postmodernists fail to see that deconstructing the existing values, institutions, identities of democratic societies and of the bases of wider unity exacerbates the rending of the social fabric by neoliberalism, thus improving the likelihood of authoritarian government. Reconstruction will do as a slogan, as we have much to reconstruct.

None of these proposals are panaceas in themselves, and the real differences that exist between working class and professional class people around the world will not be overcome overnight. But we must prevent the end of history as neoliberal globalization being replaced by a New Dark Ages marked by the rise of strongmen and authoritarian government. We must prevent the oligarchy of the neoliberals being replaced by the monarchies of the new authoritarians. To do so means instead restoring the organized power and self-representation of working class power,  and enabling the independence of professionals and small businesses through a use of technology and money in the public interest for the common good. Otherwise, we risk seeing many more 18thBrumaires in the near future.

[1] I want to thank, for their invaluable comments and criticisms on an earlier draft, Ferruccio Gambino, Fabrizio Tonello, Jon Rynn, John McDermott, Jonathan Feldman, and William Everdell .

[2] Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” in Marx: Later Political Writings, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p.31.

[3] New York Times, “China Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter N after Xi’s Power Grab” February 28, 2018.

[4] William Everdell, The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans, The Free Press, New York, 1983, p.6.

[5] Paul Krugman had already demonstrated that this is not the case in 2006 in New York Times, “Oligarchs Versus Graduates” February 27, 2006.

[6] “Proudhon and 1848” found at: http://francestanford.stanford.edu/sites/francestanford.stanford.edu/files/Beecher_GimonConference.pdf, p. 40. My translation from the French.

[7] Lois Spear, Pierre Joseph Proudhon and the Revolution of 1848, Loyola University Chicago, 1971, p.261.

[8] Spear, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, p.252.

[9] Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire, p.32.

[10] Karl Marx, Preface to the Second Edition, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, found at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/preface.htm

[11] Karl Marx, Preface. Marxists.org.

[12] See the analysis by Jonathan Feldman on this point, at https://portside.org/2016-11-23/why-trump-really-won-its-not-just-race-gender-and-class

[13] Karl Marx, Preface, marxists.org.

[14] EH Carr, The Twenty Years Crisis.

[15] Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom, Politics, Economics, and Welfare: Planning and Politico-Economic Systems Resolved Into Basic Social Processes  Harper & Row, New York, 1953, pp.359-360.

[16] Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Dodo Press, New York, 1897, pp.10-11.

[17] Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire, Dodo Press, New York, 1897, pp.97-98.

[18] E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class  Vintage New York, 1966, p.9.

[19] Karl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire, Dodo Press, p.98.

[20] Max Weber, General Economic History, Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ 1981 p.337 which argues that the modern era is characterized by the fact that “The separate states had to compete for mobile capital, which dictated to them the conditions under which it would assist them to power.” See also, William McNeil, The Pursuit of Power University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1982; Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century  Verso London 1994; Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers  Random House  New York, 1987.

[21] Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire, Dodo Press, pp.54-55.

[22] See the classic analysis of Moby Dick, C.L.R. James, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways   London:Allison and Busby  1985, pp.60-64.

[23] Thomas Picketty, Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict (Evidence from France, Britain and the US, 1948-2017)World Inequality Lab  EHESS and Paris School of Economics, March 2018.

[24] Thomas Picketty, Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right March 2018.

[25] Picketty, ibid., see Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal, or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?  Metropolitan Books  New York 2016.

[26] See the analysis by Danilo Andres Reyes, “The Spectacle of Violence in Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’” in Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 35, 2, pp.111-137, 2016, especially pp.128-130 regarding the utility of these bands for remaining in political office.

[27] Anna Politskovskaya, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya  University of Chicago Press, 2003, p.111.

[28] Daily Mail June 6, 2018  “More than 300 Cossack horseman will be deployed ‘to monitor LGBT kissing’ in World Cup host city”.

[29] The rise of Stalin to power rested on the necessary but not sufficient condition of the almost complete elimination of the working class that had created the elected Soviets in 1917. This class was disproportionately represented in the Red Army that had to fight the Civil War after the Revolution to defend the government they had brought to power. The subsequent destruction of the Bolshevik Party leadership itself, and so of the political representation of the working class, through the purges and show trials in the 1930s, was another necessary precondition.

[30]See also the discussion of constituent power in Toni Negri, Il potere costituente, translated into and published in English as Toni Negri, Insurgencies  Univ. of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis 1999.

[31] See, among others, Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000  Oxford University Press Oxford and New York 2002; Sean Wilentz, American Democracy  Norton  New York, 2005; and Charles Berqquist, Labor in Latin America. See also the discussion in my own article Steven Colatrella, “Collective Housekeeping and the Revenge of the Oikos: Against Hannah Arendt on Democracy, Work and the Welfare State” International Critical ThoughtVol. 3, no. 4 December 2013.

[32] Sergio Bologna “Nazism and the Working Class 1933-1993”(translated by Ed Emery)-Paper presented at the Milan Camera del Lavoro, 3 June 1993. Found at: https://theshadesmag.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/nazism-and-the-working-class-sergio-bologna/.

[33] Jennifer Delton, Liberal Democrats sidestepped Congress to bring free trade to the U.S. Now, Trump is able to do the same to destroy it.” Washington Post, June 7, 2018.

[34] See the discussion of this issue in the transition to democracy in South Africa in Naomi Klein, The Shock DoctrineRandom House  New York, 2007; see also Yanis Varoufakis’ analysis of the class interests served and represented by central bank independence, and his critique of the myth of technocratic neutrality in his book Yanis Varoufakis, And the Weak Suffer What They Must London Penguin 2016, as well as in Yanis Varoufakis, Talking With My Daughter About the Economy London Penguin 2017. The classic discussion of the undemocratic and pro-finance  character of the Federal Reserve in the United States remains William Greider, Secrets of the TempleNew York, Touchstone 1987.

[35] See Timothy Sinclair, The New Masters of Capitalism  Cornell University Press Ithaca, NY 2005 for a demystifying analysis of the role of ratings agencies in political life; see also Steven Colatrella, “Meet the Global Ruling Class” Counterpunch.org, Nov. 24, 2011.

[36] Thomas Friedman, The Lexis and the Olive Tree Picador 1999, pp.101-145.

[37] Gavin Hewitt, “Greece: The Dangerous Game” BBC News February 1, 2015, found here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31082656.

[38] Thorstein Veblen, Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise in Recent Times   New York Viking Press, 1923.

[39] C. Wright Mills, White CollarNew York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1951.

[40] Ehrenreich, John; Barbara Ehrenreich) in Pat Walker, ed. Between Labor and Capital (1st ed.). Boston: South End Press, 1979.

[41] John W. Cortada, The Rise of the Knowledge WorkerButterworth-Heinemann Boston 1998.

[42] John and Barbara Ehrenreich, The Real Story Behind the Crash and Burn of America’s Managerial Class  Alternet, Feb. 19, 2013  https://www.alternet.org/economy/barbara-and-john-ehrenreich-real-story-behind-crash-and-burn-americas-managerial-class?page=0%2C0 .

[43] John McDermott, The Crisis in the Working Class  South End Press 1980  Boston p.111.

[44] John McDermott, Corporate Society: Class, Property, and Contemporary Capitalism Westview Press  Boulder, 1991 p.7 and passim.

[45] See John McDermott, Restoring Democracy in America  Pennsylvania State University Press University Park 2010.

[46] John McDermott, “A Mass Constituency for Globalization” Rethinking Marxism  Vol. 20 2008

[47] John McDermott, Corporate Society

[48] Thomas Picketty, “Brahmin Left versus Merchant Right:  Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict (Evidence from France, Britain and the US, 1948-2017) Thomas Piketty EHESS and Paris School of Economics January 2018 (updated March 2018). http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Piketty2018PoliticalConflict.pdf.; Thomas Frank, Listen Liberal !

[49] In works as different as John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, and Robert Cox, Approaches to World Order.

[50] See the discussion in Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century  Verso 1994.

[51] Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Prison Notebooks International Publishers New York 1971, pp.57-58.

[52] Joseph Nye, Soft Power  Foreign Affairs  1990; Joseph Nye, Soft Power: the Means to Success in the World 2004.

[53] See Sweden, where a poll in June 2018 showed the Nazi-inspired party now over 20%, second only to the Social Democrats and only two points behind.

[54] New York Times, “Workers of Silicon Valley, It’s Time to Organize !”, April 25, 2018; New York Times, April 4, 2018, “Google Employees Protest Work for Pentagon”.

[55] See the Reuters report on buybacks, “The Cannibalized Company” Dec. 23, 2015. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/section/the-cannibalized-company/.

[56] See the discussion of lack of sociality at college campuses described by Bard College President Leon Botstein in “Stop the Generational Moralizing About Free Speech” in Chronicle of Higher Education, December 4, 2017, Available here: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Stop-the-Generational/241969.

[57] I am grateful to my wife, Silvia Bedulli for this insight. She has lectured on this topic at a number of venues, including Boston College in Parma, Italy on “Le associazioni di categoria” on May 3, 2016.

[58] I am grateful to Dan Karan who has educated me on the need for public finance. See also, Ellen Brown, The Public Bank Solution Third Millennium Press 2013; L. Randall Wray, Modern Money Theory  Palgrave Macmillan 2012; and Yanis Varoufakis, Talking with My Daughter About the Economy.

[59] See the fuller description in John McDermott’s Restoring Democracy to America, andEmployers’ Economics versus Employees’ Economy.

[60] See, on the latter, and on the failures and illegitimacy of the reigning discipline of economics, John McDermott, Employers’ Economics versus Employees Economy Palgrave Macmillan 2017.

[61] In Jon Rynn, Manufacturing Green Prosperity Praeger  2010.

[62] Such as in Jonathan Feldman, “Why Trump Really Won: It’s Not Just Race, Gender and Class” in Portside  November 23, 2016, available here: https://portside.org/2016-11-23/why-trump-really-won-its-not-just-race-gender-and-class.

[63] Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything   New York  Simon and Schuster, 2014.

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