February 5, 2019

Imperial decline in US support for Venezuelan coup

Back in 2017 I, among many other open-eyed people, discussed Venezuela and Iran as possible next targets for the neo-con regime change faction.

That came after the Trump admin bombed Syria for the first time, revealing that the warmongers and interventionists were back in full control of foreign policy, against Trump's wishes and promises from the campaign trail. They had institutional power (the military-industrial complex) that he as a novice with zero political capital did not, so they won.

Mouth-breathers said it was a one-off cosmetic bombing, but as always the rationalizers of interventionism were dead wrong -- and now we've got thousands of Americans occupying northeastern Syria indefinitely.

The military and intel agencies floated a coup in Iran, trying to piggy-back on the mass protests against the government. But those protests were not looking to topple the regime entirely, only to make it respond to their grievances. The interventionists who Trump hand-picked to replace Tillerson and McMaster have been building up toward something bigger against Iran, but at the moment, they're putting it on the back-burner.

Instead, they're devoting their interventionism toward Venezuela.

As usual, it has nothing to do with how the government is running things, or material resources that could be captured -- it is only about nations whose leaders refuse to be incorporated within the US sphere of influence.

The military seeks to expand its territory and sphere of influence, not to loot places for their valuable stuff. It is never about oil -- we did not in fact "take the oil" in Iraq, as Trump complained. There's no oil or anything else that we're trying to loot out of Afghanistan now, or Vietnam before then, or North Korea before then. Likewise now in Venezuela, despite the large oil reserves there.

Rather, it is that oil wealth -- or some other windfall from material wealth -- allows nations to exist outside of the sphere of influence of the US, or other regional / global powers. It is this geopolitical independence that the US military wants to crush, and expand their pieces into another square on the great big global chessboard.

But in yet another sign of terminal imperial decline, they've chosen a completely hopeless project, much like in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Let's review the reasons why Venezuela will not enter the US sphere of influence:

It never has in the past, and that's a good predictor of never doing so in the future.

The US sphere of influence only included Central America and the Caribbean islands, not South America. Although we did support coups in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, these were endogenous processes that we merely provided help to -- we did not impose them from without. We have no ability to impose our will on South America.

Even within our historical sphere of influence, we have proven incapable of maintaining dominance. All those right-wing death squads that we did impose largely from without, in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua during the 1980s, failed to take over their societies. The Sandinistas and other economic nationalist peasant movements took over their governments. In the Caribbean islands, we lost the big one, Cuba, way back in the '50s and haven't come close to getting it back ever since. And we surrendered the Panama Canal -- an engineering marvel which we ourselves conceived, built, and maintained -- over 40 years ago.

Within our own regime cycle, we are in the disjunctive phase where the admin is largely ineffectual and sclerotic. We will probably not be undertaking a dramatic foreign adventure -- that belongs to the rising phase of the regime, like the proxy wars in Central America at the dawn of Reaganism, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during Bush Jr. Or, for that matter, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam before the end of the New Deal under Carter.

But just because Carter's was a do-nothing, end-of-an-era administration, does not mean that it did not get itself into several foreign policy disasters. The main one was intervening in Afghanistan after the Soviets invaded, although more striking in the public's memory was the Iran hostage crisis. Boomers remember that disaster almost as strongly as the defeat in Vietnam, and it was just hostages who got released in a little over one year.

The disjunctive Trump admin, at the end of the Reagan era, may not get us into another Iraq War (too soon to tell), but it could still get us into other catastrophes just like Carter did. Syria, Venezuela, Iran -- anywhere that the neo-cons are looking at, could deliver the final blow to the Reagan era, just as the Iranian hostage crisis and energy crisis of the late '70s delivered decisive blows against the New Deal regime. Both of those crises traced back to regime change efforts, i.e. the CIA's overthrow of economic nationalist Mosaddegh of Iran in the 1950s, and imposing the Shah as our puppet.

If we are incapable of imposing our will in Latin America, especially in South America, then we would have to rely on one of our allies to take over Venezuela on our behalf. Historically, which regions have included Venezuela under their own sphere of influence? Not any of the Central American empires, nor the Inca empire. That eliminates Mexico and Chile.

The short-lived post-Columbian Brazilian empire included another country -- but it was to the south, Uruguay, not to the north, because the center of gravity in Brazil lies in the southeast, with nothing to do in the northwest on the Venezuelan border. And at any rate, the current leader of Brazil is from the opposition party, and therefore in a weak position to take on a large militaristic project, notwithstanding the efforts by extremely-online left-wingers and right-wingers to meme him into a fearsome fascist.

Venezuela did used to belong to the same polity as Colombia way back when, and that is the natural place that the warmongers are turning to as proxies. Still, after Colombia and Venezuela parted ways back in the 1800s, neither country has controlled the other one -- they are peers rather than a patron and a client pair.

Unfortunately for the regime changers, Colombia has been mired in a bloody civil war for many decades -- with the government, right-wing paramilitaries, and left-wing guerrillas, all of various factions, vying for control. Only in 2016 did the government and the main guerrilla group sign a peace agreement. Their internal societal reconstruction is just taking its baby steps, making a large-scale foreign military adventure impossible.

Venezuela, on the other hand, has been subjected to no civil war. There is an opposition movement, even a violent one, but it has not descended into total anarchy for the better part of 50 years, as it has in Colombia. It is a far more cohesive polity, and cohesive nations withstand attacks from fractured nations.

Moreover, the current leader is from the dominant party which realigned the system in the late 1990s -- begun by Hugo Chavez, and now carried out by his former vice president, Maduro. Political regimes last longer than just 20 years (more like 30-50 years), so Chavismo is not about to be snuffed out any time soon. There could be an opposition leader elected democratically at some time in the near future, but it will be someone who has made their peace with Chavismo, and only seeks to put a little variation on it.

To draw a parallel to the US, Chavez was like FDR in founding a new populist regime, and Maduro is like Harry Truman, a not so popular successor to the founder, but still someone who the population and the main elite sectors -- such as the military -- are supporting, as a figurehead for the broad regime. The opposition leaders, whether Leopoldo Lopez or Juan Guaido, are akin to the Republicans who wanted to dismantle the New Deal during the 1940s -- doomed to failure. They must find someone like Eisenhower who is willing to accept the dominant paradigm, and put their own spin on it.

Even if domestic or foreign agents manage to remove Maduro, what will that do? Assassinating JFK did not terminate the New Deal, and neither will removing Maduro terminate Chavismo. Regimes owe their strength to broadly diffused connections among collective entities (such as the military), not single individuals. Only when those collective connections have weakened so much internally within the dominant party, can the opposition dethrone them and institute a whole new regime.

So, the Chavista regime will withstand any attempts to destroy it by the domestic opposition or Colombian proxies of the US military. But that does not necessarily mean that this would be conclusively proven overnight -- just like in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the morons in control of our failing empire will seek "maximum pressure" diplomatically, indefinite military occupation on a large scale (either from our own military, or Colombian proxies), and economic destruction over many years or decades.

As in all of our never-ending streak of imperial failures after our peak power during WWII, we would only be visiting pointless death and destruction on people who will never obey us, while racking up another $10 trillion in debt -- which will only get directed to the deep pockets of the senior defense contractors and MIC cartels.

That will bring us one step closer to defaulting on our massive sovereign debt, or to printing shitloads of dollars to pay it off -- and they say hyper-inflation is only a worry in socialist Venezuela. Hyper-inflation and debasing the currency, in reality, is more of a problem for failing empires that have taken out debt to finance their obscenely expensive doomed adventures, regardless of whether these impotent empires were capitalist, socialist, or miscellaneous.

That's not even to mention the tidal wave of Latin American immigrants that will be sent hurtling toward our non-existent border. Do any of these right-wing dipshits giving a pass to the coup in Venezuela ("because it's socialist" or "because they're brown lol") realize that its population is over 30 million? It's not a dinky little island like Puerto Rico.

Destabilizing their society, as we did to Central America in the 1980s and since, both economically and militarily, will send millions more into America, and we know how well the good ol' GOP will do to deport them. The Republican small business coalition will be salivating at all that dirt-cheap foreign labor, and none of the millions will ever be deported. They would remain here, driving down wages and driving up housing costs for the American working class.

Foreign policy is not a symbolic act of choosing which team you affiliate with and root for -- it's about the real-world consequences of favoring this side or that side, or intervention vs. isolation.

Intervening in Venezuela would devastate both the local population and our own, while only the warmongering elites would profit -- not "the elites" in general, only the defense contractors. The financial elites will get destroyed as their mostly dollar-denominated assets become worthless after we hyper-inflate our way out of the ensuing war debt (tacked on to the existing trillions of war debt).

It's a no-brainer for us to stay out, and unfortunately that means our foreign policy blob will probably plunge us right into it, pushing us to the brink of imperial extinction rather than allow for a graceful and face-saving controlled demolition of our crumbling, condemned edifice of empire.


  1. Collapsing Venezuela hardly seems comparable to Truman's US. No Republican declared himself the new head of state while the government was denied access to its funds by foreign banks. Zimbabwe is somewhat comparable, although Mugabe managed to hold on a very long time (I believe he was the longest lasting head of state) before eventually being removed in a coup. Maduro isn't Chavez, so he likely won't have the staying power of Mugabe, but could still potentially stay in office longer than Trump.

  2. You're retarded as usual in ignoring the key elements of an analogy, and quibbling about the irrelevant parts.

    The analogy to Truman in the US is where they are in the regime's lifespan -- after the founder, before the disjunctive end, and from the dominant rather than opposition coalition. That structural relation is what matters in how likely the opposition is to remove Maduro and make it count toward their larger goal of terminating Chavismo.

    What does not matter is what your sperg brain instantly seized on -- the absolute level of opposition strength, which in a zero-sum contest like national-level politics, doesn't matter. Only relative strength between the opposition and dominant coalitions matters.

    If you don't like the Truman analogy, go with JFK -- no coup there, only assassinated, such a major difference. And yet the New Deal coalition kept on humming.

    When LBJ was given the tap on the shoulder by big finance that he would not be running in '68 because his war was running the debt through the roof with no results to show, other than riling up the entire country, that was another quasi-coup. But did that affect the New Deal? Nope: Nixon was a New Deal Republican, drawing out that era for another 8 years until its disjunctive phase under Carter.

  3. In relation to that Eisenhower comparison, I’ve noticed a series of articles in Breitbart recently attempting to pwn the libs by talking up Guaidó’s credentials as a socialist, how his party is part of the Socialist International, how he has a big plan for new government programs to alleviate poverty and improve education, etc.

    That explains a lot to me about the size of the crowds the opposition is drawing at its demonstrations. They’re not out there protesting for “free markets” and “capitalism.” They just want a socialist who can actually keep bread on the shelves.

    Venezuela’s position under Chavismo has been precarious because Chávez declared political independence from the United States long before his country was ready for economic independence. To this day the US has still been Venezuela’s #1 trade partner by far, both in imports and in exports.

    Venezuela’s oil exports are tied to refineries in the US and in the Dutch-controlled Caribbean islands, and they depend on imports for food and just about all manufactured goods, meaning their economy can be shut down at our convenience (which it effectively has been, in conjunction with the old elite leaving and taking everything that wasn’t nailed down, and the Chavistas making some serious errors in management of their own).

    What Guaidó or a future opposition leader who genuinely runs on socialist principles (I’m not entirely convinced about him) could offer is to maintain the Bolivarian populist reforms but drop Venezuela’s activist anti-US foreign policy in return for the US relaxing its stranglehold on the Venezuelan economy. If Guaidó is just another bait-and-switch IMF stooge though, his popularity is going to hit 0% in no time.

    Bolsonaro’s threats to invade are a joke. Pure posturing to earn him tough guy credentials at home. Brazil’s armed forces are in no condition to fight a major war. The Brazilian Air Force has no modern fighter jets whatsoever, just F-5 Tigers, which were the poor man’s plane even when they were brand new in the 1970s.

    Chávez actually invested a great deal in his armed forces. Venezuela acquired the Buk, the S-300, and two dozen of the Su-30 Flanker. The Flanker against the Tiger is a mismatch in quality on par with that of the F-15 against the MiG-21, which got 80 Syrian fighters shot down for no Israeli losses, or the F-14 against the MiG-23 and the Mirage III, which let the Iranians rack up a 160:3 kill ratio against the Iraqis. The entire Brazilian Air Force could get slaughtered in an afternoon if it tried to invade Venezuelan airspace.

    Likewise on the ground Venezuela’s T-72B1 is superior to the antiquated Brazilian Leopard 1 and M60 Patton, and Venezuela’s infantry move around in heavily armed BMP-3 and BTR-80 carriers, Brazil’s are in M113 tin cans and four wheeled cars with .50 cals. Brazil is spending as much on its military as Italy but where it goes, I don’t know. Their troops also got a very bad reputation for unprofessional conduct when they were leading the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti.

    Even if they were in better shape, the Brazilian-Venezuelan border is narrow and remote, and covered in jungle and mountains. A major military campaign over that route is simply unfeasible.

    The US may hope to simply take control of the oil-producing regions on the coast, guard them with Special Forces and PMCs and Colombian mercenaries, and let the rest of the country go to Hell. I don’t see that working out at all in the long term.

    Killing off Maduro may in fact make everything much harder for the US. I suspect the Venezuelan people would fight back a lot harder without him than they ever would under him, much like the case with Saddam.

  4. Socialist International is neo-lib marketeer parties, primarily for those nations whose Midcentury egalitarian era was controlled by the Right, and so whose neo-lib era has been controlled by the Left (who are members of the SI). Mainly Mediterranean countries and their off-shoots in the New World:


    It's not so much for those whose Midcentury egalitarian era was by the Left, and whose neo-lib era is from the Right (Anglo/German), because that would create an image problem -- neo-liberalism promoted by the Right, for a supposedly Left group of parties. UK Labour was a member for awhile, but left, same for other countries like Germany whose SPD is the opposition in the neo-lib era.

    In Latin America, too, the SI represents the neo-lib marketeer parties like Voluntad Popular in Venezuela. Their main beef with Chavismo is redistributionist and economic nationalist policies -- no different from the Reaganite beef with the New Deal. It's cloaked as a gripe against authoritarianism, i.e. using the power of the state rather than letting markets do their thing.

    Guaido and the opposition wants to re-privatize the industries that were nationalized by Chavismo, especially oil. That's too fundamental of a change, so will not happen until the next realignment.

    I don't know exactly what a feasible opposition platform would look like now, but it would have to at least preserve the nationalized industries and free stuff programs. Their spin would stem from them representing the finance sector, whereas the military sector is the senior member of the dominant coalition.

    So, perhaps re-allocating funds away from military spending (not just buying foreign stuff, they also have their own domestic MIC), and toward finance or tech or other liberal yuppie make-work sector. Telecommunications, or some activity that could still flourish in a Third World population, and that naturally resists being taken over by foreign competitors.

  5. Pursuing the Eisenhower parallel, his platform was anti-militarism, so that's a natural choice for the Venezuelan opposition, since the dominant coalitions for both the New Deal and Chavismo include the military.

    Leave economic nationalism in place, like Eisenhower did with the New Deal, but dial down the focus on military spending. Ike won the '52 election on ending the Korean War, then slashed the Pentagon's funding by double-digit percentages.

    So the VZ opposition could say, OK we're not going to privatize any sector, but all this sabre-rattling against Uncle Sam is soaking up too much national wealth into the military's hands -- what about people of the lower and middle class who don't work in that sector? They need protection and provision as well.

    Ike built the highway system as a way to bend the New Deal populism toward his coalition's benefit. He represented manufacturing and agriculture, and highways made it a lot more profitable to ship food, raw industrial materials, and finished goods from producers to consumers.

    Democrat elites did not benefit from the highway system because they were finance, military, and the media -- who don't produce physical stuff that can be transported along high-traffic civilian infrastructure. Sectors benefitted if they produced stuff that could be carried by cars or trucks.

    So the VZ opposition could promote big-gov populist spending on some non-military sector, say a telecomms network or whatever would benefit their elites and create a new group of beneficiaries at the popular level. If you're a blue-collar worker who installs the telecomms infrastructure, your patrons are the opposition, and you vote for them to keep your work stable. If you voted for the dominant party, they might spend the money on the military instead of you.

    And since the military would not be using a national, public telecomms system, they wouldn't get much out of it -- it would be a boon only to the opposition, while still staying within the economic nationalist framework, i.e. largely state-owned and state-funded rather than privatized.

  6. Neither FDR/Truman nor JFK/LBJ are relevant. The US is a country where democratic elections have gone on for a long time and it's normal for a leader of one party to be replaced by one from another. That would have already happened in Venezuela if they were governed by elections (Zimbabwe was similarly undemocratic in the face of hyperinflation). In terms of a leader dying, more relevant examples might be Franco, Lenin, Khomeini, Cromwell, Mao, Peron and a number of others, but none of the US presidents (perhaps if Washington had stayed in office longer).

  7. The highways were not built to benefit manufacturing. Railroads are far more cost effective than roads in the long run and they are what you would build to support manufacturing if that was your primary goal. This is why countries like Japan, China, and the 19th century U.S. placed so much emphasis on rail.

    The federal highway system and America's suburbs have their real origin in plans made deep within the military. The military believed that America's industries and population needed to be dispersed in order to make them less vulnerable to nuclear attack. One of the ways this was accomplished was through the dispersal of defense plants, because that was something the government had direct control over. Totally coincidentally, this also distributed military spending over as many Congressional districts as possible.


  8. History according to TGGP: one damned leader after another, no enduring regime or coalition with a shared set of goals. No such thing as the New Deal era, or any other era, binding all those leaders who served within it.

    How much more retarded do you want to get in this thread?

  9. You've been on a highway before -- you know they're used for trucks that carry agricultural and manufacturing products, and that they're not used to deliver financial services or media / entertainment content.

    Railways don't work for ag / mfg because they're far more limited in their geographic range and time schedules. If you want to be able to wend your way through multiple key destinations on a precise schedule -- you will not be using trains, but trucks.

    Even if you use trains for most of the way, you still need trucks to deliver goods from a distribution hub to the final points of sale.

    E.g. for transporting cars, you can ship them long distances on rail, but then need an auto trailer for the last 250 miles or less, to the dealership. That's the length or width of the entire state of Ohio, so you'll need more than country roads or Main Streets.

  10. All of that is begging the question. After the government has already chosen to invest in highways instead of rails, and after suburbanization and population dispersal have taken place, then of course it makes sense for businesses to rely on trucking. However, if we can compare today's America to an alternate history version where we had taken all of the money invested in highways and suburbs and instead invested it in railways and urban development, manufacturers would have much lower transportation costs in the latter. Steel wheels on steel rails are more energy efficient than rubber wheels on asphalt, trains are more aerodynamic than automobiles, and train tracks have much less surface area exposed to the elements requiring costly repairs. The only form of transportation more cost effective than the freight train is the large container ship. In addition, traffic congestion requires the construction of roads and parking lots, which spreads out buildings, requiring more people to drive a car in order to get anywhere, further increasing traffic congestion, creating a vicious cycle that uses up valuable real estate and increases the costs of all other infrastructure which has to keep covering wider and wider areas. The cost of maintaining our bloated system of roads is destroying municipal budgets all across the country, and mass transit offers many non-economic benefits as well. Mass transit is better for the environment, more accessible to the poor, reduces dependence on foreign oil, allows for nicer urban neighborhoods, reduces obesity, reduces traffic deaths, and many other things besides. The national highway system was built by collusion between military and business interests who were not rationally thinking about how best to support manufacturing or what kind of transportation system it would be best for us to have fifty years in the future. I'm writing all of this because I believe that investing in a better transportation infrastructure should be a top national priority, and that people who support a New New Deal should not squander such a valuable opportunity by mistakenly continuing the colossal mistakes of the past. Investing in infrastructure with the assumption that automobiles should be the primary means of transportation for both men and materials is just a recipe for traffic congestion and massive economic waste.

  11. You're trying to derive reality from your policy preferences. You don't like highways, so they could not have been a rational investment when they were built. Clueless.

    The argument is that the highway system was fully championed by Eisenhower b/c his coalition would benefit from it far more than the other coalition would have. True: he represented ag and mfg, while the Dems represented finance, the military, and the media.

    The military faction of the Dems would have gotten something out of it, but that was secondary to the primary function of moving commercial goods around. Finance and media / entertainment had no such goods to move around.

    Look at the proposed expansion of the highway system -- it is to accommodate NAFTA, which involves ag and mfg goods, not finance / tech / media. NAFTA was drawn up by HW Bush and passed by the GOP in Congress (Dems voted against it). It reflects the priorities of the manufacturing elites, who are still in the GOP. It doesn't benefit the Dems, to this day, since they've lost the military during the Reagan era.

    The argument is not how optimal trucking is vs. rail or shipping. That's a spergy engineering question, and even there you're ignoring the fact that ships and trains can only get you so far, and the remaining distance for auto transport may be as long as 250 miles -- requiring an interstate. Plus the timeliness, ability to change plans, adapt, etc. -- much easier with trucks than trains.

    The question is: which coalition benefited from the highway system, and why? Material sectors like ag and mfg, who controlled the GOP back in those days (and still do), and not informational sectors like finance, who controlled the Dems (and still do).

    That's the analogy to replicate in Venezuela, getting back to the main point. The Chavez / Maduro coalition is primarily the oil and military sectors, and the opposition has finance and some others that I am unaware of. Whatever those oppo sectors are, figure out some public works project that would benefit them, not benefit the dominant coalition sectors, and use that as a distinctive appeal for the opposition.

    Only they could champion it -- it benefits them, whereas the dominant coalition would not pursue it, because it does not benefit them. That gives the common people a clear choice, if they want steady work outside of the oil or military sectors. It enhances the existing constituency for such a project, or creates one if the sector does not already exist (kind of like info-tech developing during the 1990s in the US, bringing a new electoral base to the Democrats, anyone who worked in IT).

  12. What do you make of people on the "Right" (sometimes blurred with bitter old school Leftists who've been evicted by the Dems) getting hung up on, over and over again, idiotic ID politics (where everything is put down to it's "source" of ethnic, national, and gender ID).?

    It's remarkable how few people seem to be interested in making the case for an under class uprising against a corrupt elite. We need to grasp patron theory of politics, where elite titans of culture and industry colonize one party or the other, and then proceed to push politics and society in various directions, with these elites "doing the math" as to how far they should push their agenda and how much it will alienate or attract fellow elites and/or commoners.

    Perhaps it disappoints people, in a highly corrupt era, that old school Leftists were right all along: without the proper social and legal pressures, elites will try and "capture" political and cultural power to benefit themselves while "socializing" the costs. Most lower class people understand this intuitively, yet many of them are loath to be called "communists" or "class warriors", so they refuse to band together (often on the grounds of lacking solidarity with racially and culturally dissimilar elements in their own country).

    Back to patron theory; in a falling corruption era (such as the 1930's-1960's), elite titans will only "push back" so hard against popular sentiment about what's just and fair. So we mostly didn't get mass incarceration (to benefit corrections and police), bloody and unceasing occupations of foreign lands (to benefit the military), or high immigration levels (to benefit business owners). Of course, the retarded Reaganites still claim that we've been in a "Leftist" era for the last 25 years, as they allow terror over Boomer cultural liberalism to obscure massive levels of inequality and injustice. But, in the Boomer paradigm of the last 45 years, "losers" get what they deserve and the winners are entitled to boast and wallow in the trappings of high status.

    ID politics zealots have to get it in their heads that the Reaganite GOP would rather be electorally annihilated, and relegated to small bands of weirdo gun nuts, Evangelicals, and farmers/material business owners, than actually becoming the party of pro-labor rabble rousers who would restrict immigration, end stupid wars, and so on (it looks as if the main cause of lowered immigration and lowered war will be the US collapsing under the weight of greed and idiotic economic policies that Carter and the Me Generation started in the mid 70's, whereas quality Boomer leaders would've voluntarily admitted their sins and sought atonement, just as our leaders once did in the 1930's.

  13. WRT elite corruption, one could argue that concerns about economic sovereignty (and not alienating labor) prevented off-shoring in the 1940's and 50's, even as labor continued to score one victory after another. But the 1960's environmental movement, culminating with Nixon creating the EPA, really did scare the bejesus out of business owners, who responded with the initial wave of off-shoring in the 60's and 70's, though this was fairly limited (remember, elites could only go so far back then). Silents and Boomers, beginning in the 70's, commenced an attack on "stupid" government regulators, labor unions, etc. But this was mostly an upper class thing; not until the mid-80's did middle-middle class people start to beat the Reagan drum. And beat it they did, with only those gosh darn nice Minnesotans voting against Reagan in 1984 (then, Minnesota was Mondale's home....).

    The Me Generation was myopic enough to think that unions and regulators "unfairly" harassed wonderful business owners, not understanding that corrupt elites prize the small stature of Central Americans and Asians, and the submissive cultural climate in these regions which make it possible for business owners to mistreat workers and pollute the environment.

    It's interesting that it is precisely the good behavior of our elites in the 30's-60's that got us into trouble in the first place. Why is this so? Because Silents and Boomers became conditioned to the idea that everything works just fine when left to it's own devices. It therefore is unfair and unnecessary for regulators and unions to wield too much power, as that would spoil the party. Decades of serious corruption later, we've now got younger generations who abhor the de-regulated climate that older generations swore was necessary to maintain happiness and growth.

    Peter Turchin says that it is precisely the goodness of a 30-40 year period of good elite behavior which causes the subsequent era to be so terrible; people who were born during the "good" period have no solid understanding of the character of the people and culture which built the period. Thus, these spoiled generations "get everything wrong", and wreck everything. The GSS, if memory serves, says that Silents are the least supportive of government efforts to reduce inequality. Boomers are nearly as hostile. GIs and X-ers are more receptive, and Millennials are the most enthusiastic.

  14. Related from The Nation: "Maduro might not possess widespread legitimacy, but his government retains control of much of the state apparatus and remains far more entrenched than many opposition members and their supporters would like to believe. In many ways, chavismo remains dominant and has reshaped Venezuelan society. Whether they like it or not, the opposition will not be able to entirely overturn the legacy of the Bolivarian Revolution or erase the fondness that many citizens still have for the late Hugo Chávez and the policies he implemented as president. Some members of the opposition seem to realize this...

    "There is no political future in Venezuela without chavista participation, and, one way or another, the opposition and chavismo will eventually need to work together toward a new future."


  15. A political coalition can last a long time, even if it doesn't always hold power. And, in a democracy like the US, most incoming administrations will be constrained in what changes they can make. But analogies between them and Venezuela, which is undemocratic, aren't helpful. The North Korean regime has lasted a long time (more than your 50 years) without replacing its political coalition/dynasty and it doesn't experience "cycles" in the same way. Alternatively, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia held power for a much shorter length of time before a foreign intervention kicked them out, although perhaps you'd say that because they were both communists that constitutes continuity. Afghan communists seized power in 1978, were executed & replaced by the Soviets, and the resulting regime lasted until 1992, which is less than 30 years.

  16. In the context of regime cycles, "dictator," "leader," "ruler," "president," etc. are all synonymous -- likewise, "dictatorship," "democracy," etc. They don't distinguish among the phases of the cycle, and only refer to absolute levels of public input -- which is orthogonal to the question of whether the regime is in its foundational, peak, or weakened phase.

    You don't have any clue about how to analyze whether a governing coalition is in a trailblazing, resting-on-its-laurels, or weakening / fracturing phase. You're just skimming Wikipedia for some period that lasted less than 30 years, and ignoring whether it was a self-contained cycle of founding, peaking, and weakening phases.

    Even then, a brief stage is more of an interregnum, not a proper regime or governing coalition.

  17. NK has undergone realignment during Kim Jong Un -- or haven't you been paying attention? Compare to his father's reign, who was disjunctive. Familial dynasty is not the same as the regime cycle. Regimes have a common purpose, set of goals, ideology, etc.

    That was about the same time that SK underwent realignment with Kim Dae Jung. But in your genius view, SK could never have shifted regimes because it was a dictatorship before the 1990s. Dictatorships have their founders as well -- Park Chung Hee, whose coup overthrew the Second RoK and inaugurated the Third.

    Saudi Arabia underwent a realignment under King Fahd in 1982, even though the familial dynasty was the same -- sons of the founder of KSA. But Fahd represented a distinct sub-group, the Sudairi Seven, who came from the same wife of the Kingdom's founder. They continue to rule to this day, although clearly entering a weakened / disjunctive phase under King Salman and the de facto ruler Crown Prince MBS.

    Afghanistan did not have a self-contained regime cycle -- with founding, peaking, and weakening phases -- when ruled by Communists.

    The current regime is the Islamist coalition, who go back at least to 1992, when they won the civil war against the socialists. The last regime before that was the secularists from the clan of Mohammed Nadir Shah, who ruled from 1929 until '78 (father, son, and cousin).

    The socialists who took over in '78 were clearly within the secularist, modernizing, internationalist regime. And they were sponsored by one of that regime's primary patrons, the Soviets. No break with the past there. But they represented a weakening phase of the regime -- trying to do something bold and new (socialism, not simply secular democracy / constitutional monarchy), but getting nothing done, and plunging the society into such a deep crisis that it ended the regime for good.

    The Islamists were already well on the rise during the Soviet occupation, and decisively so after they left. It's only a nitpicking matter of where you want to draw the line between the end of secular regime and beginning of the Islamist regime. During the first stages of a civil war, it may not be clear who's really in control of the society. But it obviously was not the socialists or their Soviet sponsors.

    So either the socialists were the disjunctive phase of the dominant secularist regime which ended in '92, or they were an impotent opposition faction desperately trying to revive the previously dominant regime, during a dominant Islamist regime which was founded circa 1980. Finer-grained analysis may resolve which of the two it is, but in neither case was socialist rule a self-contained regime cycle.

  18. I favor placing the start of the Islamist coalition in Afghanistan around 1980 rather than '92, based on continuity with other large nations in the region, most importantly Iran.

    Iran had its secular, modernizing, non-aligned regime during most of the Midcentury, which was overthrown in the late '70s, and ushered in a new Islamist regime. Similarly in Sunni Saudi Arabia -- Islamists were limited in power from the regime that began with the founding through the '70s, and only gave fundamentalists more control under the regime of the Sudairi Seven.

    Osama bin Laden is a common link between that and Islamist rule in Afghanistan. And there were many other wealthy private individuals like in in Saudi Arabia.

    So the socialist "rule" of Afghanistan during the '80s, along with their Soviet sponsors, was trying to thwart an Islamist revolution that was clearly and solidly under way.

    It's akin to the pre-New Deal Republicans trying to tie up the New Deal in the courts during the 1930s, before the "switch in time that saved nine" on the Supreme Court. That doesn't mean the first two terms of FDR were not a new regime -- they were, only that at the founding of a new regime, there's still enough (waning) power and influence from the previous dominant coalition that they can fuck things up for a little while longer.

    Only when the cycle progresses into the peak or resting-on-its-laurels stage, is there virtually unchallenged rule by the new regime.


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