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TomDispatch: American Kleptocracy: How Fears of Socialism and Facism Hide Naked Theft
From TomDispatch: Today's offering, a new word to describe how our country works -- kleptocracy -- and an original analysis to go with it -- William J. Astore, "American Kleptocracy, How Fears of Socialism and Fascism Hide Naked Theft."
Close your purse or keep your hand on that back pocket where your wallet's lodged while you read the latest post at TomDispatch.com, or you could find yourself without a cent. Americans, right and left, express fears about the coming of "socialism" or "fascism," writes historian and TomDispatch regular William J. Astore, but "what if instead of looking at where our government might be headed, we took a closer look at where we are -- at the power-brokers who run or influence our government, at those who are profiting and prospering from it? "
"If we were to take an honest look at America’s blasted landscape of 'losers' and the far shinier, spiffier world of “winners,” he adds, "we’d have to admit that it wasn’t signs of onrushing socialism or fascism that stood out, but of staggeringly self-aggrandizing greed and theft right in the here and now. We’d notice our public coffers being emptied to benefit major corporations and financial institutions working in close alliance with, and passing on remarkable sums of money to, the representatives of 'the people.' We’d see, in a word, kleptocracy on a scale to dazzle."
"Kleptocracy" is, of course, a word normally associated with corrupt and exploitative governments that steal ruthlessly and relentlessly from the people. It’s a word, in fact, that’s usually applied to flawed or failed governments in Africa, Latin America, or the nether regions of Asia, not the mature republic of the United States. Well, says Astore, think again -- and he makes a compact, brilliant argument for just why kleptocracy is now the word for us.
He concludes: "Is it any surprise then that, in seeking to export our form of government to Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve produced not two model democracies, but two emerging kleptocracies, fueled respectively by oil and opium?... Why do we bother to feign shock when Iraqi and Afghan elites, a tiny minority, seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the majority? Shouldn’t we be flattered? Imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of flattery. Isn’t it?" This is an original. Don't miss it. Read it now.