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An Introduction to the Political Economy of the USA Dr. John Levan Bernhart, Ph.D.

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1 An Introduction to the Political Economy of the USA Dr. John Levan Bernhart, Ph.D.

2 Coercion and Persuasion A nation state is a geographically limited, capitalist entity with a specific political economy, in which the population is divided into conflicting classes of rulers and the ruled. A nation state is a geographically limited, capitalist entity with a specific political economy, in which the population is divided into conflicting classes of rulers and the ruled. The rulers of the nation state maintain their power through coercion and persuasion. The rulers of the nation state maintain their power through coercion and persuasion. Coercion generally refers to the apparatus of the state: the military, the police, and the legal system. Coercion generally refers to the apparatus of the state: the military, the police, and the legal system. Persuasion generally refers to the institutions of civil society: the media, the school, and the church. Persuasion generally refers to the institutions of civil society: the media, the school, and the church.

3 Hegemony and Counterhegemony The specific mixture of coercion and persuasion practiced by a nation state is its hegemony. In other words, hegemony is how the ruling class maintains control. The specific mixture of coercion and persuasion practiced by a nation state is its hegemony. In other words, hegemony is how the ruling class maintains control. Counterhegemony is the resistance of the ruled to the rulers or challenges to the hegemony of the nation state. Counterhegemony is the resistance of the ruled to the rulers or challenges to the hegemony of the nation state. The hegemonies of all nation states in the world may be divided into four types: (1) rule by gender; (2) rule by region; (3) rule by caste; (4) rule by race. The hegemonies of all nation states in the world may be divided into four types: (1) rule by gender; (2) rule by region; (3) rule by caste; (4) rule by race.

4 Hegemony Hides Class Nation states are inherently unstable because of class conflict. Nation states are inherently unstable because of class conflict. Hegemony creates stability by hiding class. Hegemony creates stability by hiding class. The hegemony of the USA is rule by race. The hegemony of the USA is rule by race. Lower Class Middle Class Upper Class Rulers Ruled

5 Bourgeois Democracy Nation states in which the ruling class rules by race are bourgeois democracies. Nation states in which the ruling class rules by race are bourgeois democracies. Democracy is not a synonym for freedom; government intervention in civil society undermines freedom. Democracy is not a synonym for freedom; government intervention in civil society undermines freedom. Democracy means rule by law within a universal civil society. Democracy means rule by law within a universal civil society.

6 Rule by Race In a democracy, workers are citizens and have legal rights, but there also exists a permanent racial undercaste maintained by bureaucratic and cultural procedures. In a democracy, workers are citizens and have legal rights, but there also exists a permanent racial undercaste maintained by bureaucratic and cultural procedures. In a democracy, race is played against race in employment, in education, and in the media. In a democracy, race is played against race in employment, in education, and in the media. In a democracy, the white-oriented cultural system unites ruling class whites and the masses of poor white workers. In a democracy, the white-oriented cultural system unites ruling class whites and the masses of poor white workers.

7 Racism The purpose of racism in bourgeois democracy is not to punish blacks but to maintain the loyalty of poor whites. Blacks are encouraged to develop their own cultural. The purpose of racism in bourgeois democracy is not to punish blacks but to maintain the loyalty of poor whites. Blacks are encouraged to develop their own cultural. The racial undercaste serves as a negative identity for white workers. The racial undercaste serves as a negative identity for white workers. Racism within a bourgeois democracy is institutional and scientific. Racism is immutable, a real truth. Racism within a bourgeois democracy is institutional and scientific. Racism is immutable, a real truth.

8 Buffer Races A small number of individual members of the racial undercaste are invited to participate in the dominant culture. A small number of individual members of the racial undercaste are invited to participate in the dominant culture. Bourgeois democracy is characterized by internal colonialism. Bourgeois democracy is characterized by internal colonialism. The US ruling class complicates the white-black racial divide by using Hispanics and Orientals as buffer races. Native Americans are largely invisible within the USA. The US ruling class complicates the white-black racial divide by using Hispanics and Orientals as buffer races. Native Americans are largely invisible within the USA.

9 Consensus The American national character is an ideology of social consensus that hides conflict; consensus is the dominant ideology of the USA. The American national character is an ideology of social consensus that hides conflict; consensus is the dominant ideology of the USA. Americans do not question individualism, consumerism, and presentism. Americans do not question individualism, consumerism, and presentism.

10 Chosenness Americans believe that they are a “Chosen People” on an “Errand in the Wilderness.” The origin of American chosenness or election is the ancient Near East. The Covenant or Compact with God dates to Moses leading Israel out of the bondage of Egypt (the corruption of Europe) and into the promised land of Canaan (North America) via the difficult passage of the Sinai (the Atlantic Ocean). The Sinai strengthened the resolve of ancient Israel until they arrived in a land of freedom. Americans believe that they are a “Chosen People” on an “Errand in the Wilderness.” The origin of American chosenness or election is the ancient Near East. The Covenant or Compact with God dates to Moses leading Israel out of the bondage of Egypt (the corruption of Europe) and into the promised land of Canaan (North America) via the difficult passage of the Sinai (the Atlantic Ocean). The Sinai strengthened the resolve of ancient Israel until they arrived in a land of freedom.

11 Just as Israel smote the Canaanites, the American colonists smote the Native Americans. Being a “Chosen People” frees Americans from responsibility for genocide, land confiscation, slavery, police repression, and militarism, as Americans are carrying out God’s will. Chosenness justifies separation and removes limitations. The Puritanism of America allows only three responses to non-chosen people: (1) isolation, (2) conversion, or (3) extermination. Only God limits the authority and power of the USA. The racial undercaste is not chosen; consequently, their treatment may be pitiful but not reprehensible. Just as Israel smote the Canaanites, the American colonists smote the Native Americans. Being a “Chosen People” frees Americans from responsibility for genocide, land confiscation, slavery, police repression, and militarism, as Americans are carrying out God’s will. Chosenness justifies separation and removes limitations. The Puritanism of America allows only three responses to non-chosen people: (1) isolation, (2) conversion, or (3) extermination. Only God limits the authority and power of the USA. The racial undercaste is not chosen; consequently, their treatment may be pitiful but not reprehensible.

12 The “Chosen People” ideology is universal, being demonstrated in the modern and scientific (non- religious) expressions of white supremacy, American exceptionalism, and the specialness of the West. The “Chosen People” ideology is universal, being demonstrated in the modern and scientific (non- religious) expressions of white supremacy, American exceptionalism, and the specialness of the West. Symbols of chosenness include the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, the Peace Corps, and the Pax Americana. Symbols of chosenness include the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, the Peace Corps, and the Pax Americana. Chosenness explains why Americans think they are free when they are not. Chosen People are individually responsible to God, so they must make free choices. Therefore, the USA must be a free society. Chosenness explains why Americans think they are free when they are not. Chosen People are individually responsible to God, so they must make free choices. Therefore, the USA must be a free society.

13 Americans believe that helping the poor would take away their freedom, so Americans should not and will not help the poor. In fact, many American poor do not want help because they believe they should earn their own way. Americans believe that helping the poor would take away their freedom, so Americans should not and will not help the poor. In fact, many American poor do not want help because they believe they should earn their own way. In bourgeois democracy, science is unquestioned. Science becomes dogma (religion). Science in the USA is regulated by the state. In bourgeois democracy, science is unquestioned. Science becomes dogma (religion). Science in the USA is regulated by the state.

14 Heritage Americans have little interest in history, but history is a required subject. Many history books are published in the USA, but the most common usage of the word “history” is to describe something dead, gone, or no longer important. Perhaps this is because of discomfort or guilt about the genocide, racism, and militarism in US history. Americans have little interest in history, but history is a required subject. Many history books are published in the USA, but the most common usage of the word “history” is to describe something dead, gone, or no longer important. Perhaps this is because of discomfort or guilt about the genocide, racism, and militarism in US history. Americans are interested in heritage or nostalgia, studying the Bible, ancient Greece, and the Italian Renaissance. Americans are interested in heritage or nostalgia, studying the Bible, ancient Greece, and the Italian Renaissance.

15 Regulation and Repression The US ruling class did not buy off the working class, requiring greater regulation and repression. The US ruling class did not buy off the working class, requiring greater regulation and repression. Both whites and blacks resist the hegemony. Whites are not racist enough. Blacks want to integrate. And immigrants are only partly Americanized. Both whites and blacks resist the hegemony. Whites are not racist enough. Blacks want to integrate. And immigrants are only partly Americanized. The American rich never feel secure and fear conflict will get out of control. The American rich never feel secure and fear conflict will get out of control.

16 Creativity Americans like to award themselves prizes (such as the Nobel Prize) as this demonstrates the greatness of bourgeois democracy. Awarding prizes functionally reinforces individualism. Americans like to award themselves prizes (such as the Nobel Prize) as this demonstrates the greatness of bourgeois democracy. Awarding prizes functionally reinforces individualism. Americans believe creativity correlates with freedom. Since America is the “freest” society, it is also the most creative. Americans celebrate individual achievement and great men (nearly all white). Americans believe creativity correlates with freedom. Since America is the “freest” society, it is also the most creative. Americans celebrate individual achievement and great men (nearly all white).

17 Common Sense Americans are anti-intellectual, distrusting intellectuals in favor of practical thinking. Americans are anti-intellectual, distrusting intellectuals in favor of practical thinking. American culture embraces Puritanism, Pragmatism, Fundamentalism, Libertarian Liberalism, Science, and Art and Social Sciences (regulated by the state as patron and employer). American culture embraces Puritanism, Pragmatism, Fundamentalism, Libertarian Liberalism, Science, and Art and Social Sciences (regulated by the state as patron and employer).

18 Multiculturalism The rise of multiculturalism in the USA is a regulatory activity of the state, creating buffer races, diminishing black power, allowing whites to overcome their guilt without changing the socioeconomic structure, and re-legitimating white antagonism to blacks. The rise of multiculturalism in the USA is a regulatory activity of the state, creating buffer races, diminishing black power, allowing whites to overcome their guilt without changing the socioeconomic structure, and re-legitimating white antagonism to blacks.

19 Fear of Foreigners Americans believe foreigners are jealous of what Americans have, so, despite the frustrations they experience in the USA, they feel grateful to be American. Americans believe foreigners are jealous of what Americans have, so, despite the frustrations they experience in the USA, they feel grateful to be American. Americans feel threatened by foreigners, despite the USA being the world’s most powerful nation state. Therefore, Americans feel the need to “make the world safe for democracy.” Americans feel threatened by foreigners, despite the USA being the world’s most powerful nation state. Therefore, Americans feel the need to “make the world safe for democracy.” The outcomes of American fear include: The outcomes of American fear include:

20 Americans have little understanding of foreign nations. Americans have little understanding of foreign nations. Americans do not speak foreign languages. Americans do not speak foreign languages. Americans believe foreign countries need to be restricted or to be destroyed. Americans believe foreign countries need to be restricted or to be destroyed. Americans believe foreigners want to learn from the USA. Americans believe foreigners want to learn from the USA. The USA sends religious missionaries to foreign nations. The USA sends religious missionaries to foreign nations. The USA provides aid to foreign nations. The USA provides aid to foreign nations. The USA intervenes politically in foreign nations. The USA intervenes politically in foreign nations.

21 Solidarity with Other Democracies The USA maintains close ties with other bourgeois democracies: the UK, Israel, South Africa, Canada, Australia, France and Germany. An attack on one democracy is considered an attack on all democracies; consequently, democracies tend to start world wars. Because nations practicing bourgeois democracy tend to act as a group, they project strength and power. Examples of solidarity with other democracies include the Marshall Plan, NATO, aid to Israel, and sympathy for white South Africa. The USA maintains close ties with other bourgeois democracies: the UK, Israel, South Africa, Canada, Australia, France and Germany. An attack on one democracy is considered an attack on all democracies; consequently, democracies tend to start world wars. Because nations practicing bourgeois democracy tend to act as a group, they project strength and power. Examples of solidarity with other democracies include the Marshall Plan, NATO, aid to Israel, and sympathy for white South Africa.

22 US Imperialism The relationship between the USA and non- democracies is characterized by violence and exploitation. The USA encourages immigration from non-democracies to possess a supply of cheap labor and to build buffer races. The relationship between the USA and non- democracies is characterized by violence and exploitation. The USA encourages immigration from non-democracies to possess a supply of cheap labor and to build buffer races. The USA has created an empire (the Pax Americana), but Americans dislike imperialism. Therefore, US imperialism is disguised as interventionism. The USA has created an empire (the Pax Americana), but Americans dislike imperialism. Therefore, US imperialism is disguised as interventionism.

23 Superpowerism The USA is a military superpower extending its reach globally because the US working class makes no formal political demands, providing the US ruling class opportunities to expand overseas and to exploit foreign nations. The USA is a military superpower extending its reach globally because the US working class makes no formal political demands, providing the US ruling class opportunities to expand overseas and to exploit foreign nations.

24 A Regulatory State In addition to being a bourgeois democracy, the USA is a regulatory state (bureaucracy). By acting as an arbiter, the state rationalizes conflicting interests, encourages conflicting interests, and deals with class conflict. In addition to being a bourgeois democracy, the USA is a regulatory state (bureaucracy). By acting as an arbiter, the state rationalizes conflicting interests, encourages conflicting interests, and deals with class conflict. The US state regulates two wings of capitalism: the international capitalism of the East Coast and West Coast and the national capitalism of the South and Midwest. The US state regulates two wings of capitalism: the international capitalism of the East Coast and West Coast and the national capitalism of the South and Midwest.

25 The Compromise of 1877 Throughout US history, the hegemony has relied on regionalism (different socioeconomic entities) as a prop for racism. Throughout US history, the hegemony has relied on regionalism (different socioeconomic entities) as a prop for racism. Modern US history begins in 1877 when a political solution to regionalism was achieved; before 1877, regionalism limited national development. The Compromise of 1877 preserved the North and the South and preserved the state as regulator. Modern US history begins in 1877 when a political solution to regionalism was achieved; before 1877, regionalism limited national development. The Compromise of 1877 preserved the North and the South and preserved the state as regulator.

26 Modern US History 1877 to 1932: a period of one-class rule, classical liberalism, finance capitalism, resistance by the Populists and by the Wobblies, the rise of third parties, regional and local movements, and extralegal organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan to 1932: a period of one-class rule, classical liberalism, finance capitalism, resistance by the Populists and by the Wobblies, the rise of third parties, regional and local movements, and extralegal organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan to 1970: a period of cross-class rule, corporatism, industrial capitalism, patriotism, and legal struggles by the civil rights movement and by trade unionism to 1970: a period of cross-class rule, corporatism, industrial capitalism, patriotism, and legal struggles by the civil rights movement and by trade unionism.

27 1970 to Present: a period of return to nineteenth- century liberalism, finance capitalism, and local or regional challenges to Present: a period of return to nineteenth- century liberalism, finance capitalism, and local or regional challenges. During the first two periods of modern US history (1877 to 1970), there was repression and economic growth; since 1970, manufacturing moved abroad, finance capitalism dominated, and the Christian Right and libertarian liberalism rose to prominence. During the first two periods of modern US history (1877 to 1970), there was repression and economic growth; since 1970, manufacturing moved abroad, finance capitalism dominated, and the Christian Right and libertarian liberalism rose to prominence.

28 Counterhegemony Counterhegemony in the USA consists of free trade unionism, regional populism—that can be rightist if allied with capital, but is usually leftist, and the civil rights movement. Counterhegemony in the USA consists of free trade unionism, regional populism—that can be rightist if allied with capital, but is usually leftist, and the civil rights movement.


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