• AKIRA - Le monde est à nous, pourquoi s’en priver ?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xJJf1ajlIE

    https://seenthis.net/messages/931163#message931188

    Qui est Akira ?
    Nous étions sur les ronds-points, aux marches de nuit féministes, dans la rue pendant la réforme des retraites, sur le parvis du Tribunal de Paris à l’appel du Comité Adama, sur les zones menacées par des projets industriels. Nous sommes aux côtés de celles qui ne bouclent pas leur fin de mois, ceux qui étouffent dans des logements insalubres ou dans des quartiers délaissés, des humiliées et des invisibles.

    Nous sommes aux côtés de toutes les âmes révoltées.
    Face à cette campagne qui penche toujours plus à droite, nous voulons unir celles et ceux qui n’y auront pas de voix, pour dire enfin qu’un autre monde est possible. Nous pensons qu’il est nécessaire de nous unir pour affronter cette séquence, pour ne plus laisser les forces réactionnaires imposer leurs discours et leurs thèmes dans le débat public. Il est urgent de construire une force à la hauteur de l’époque.

    Les chemins qui mènent à la révolution sont nombreux. Akira est l’un d’entre eux.

    https://akira2022.com

    la relève de Sandrine Rousseau est assurée

    #élections #présidentielle #pestilentielles #révolution

    • « À chaque élection, on veut connaître le résultat avant même que les Français aient voté. Cette année où l’on est allé jusqu’à imaginer convoquer les sondeurs pour désigner les candidats, on atteint des sommets », déplore François-Xavier Lefranc, rédacteur en chef de Ouest-France.

      Pourquoi consulter les citoyens alors qu’il est si simple d’attendre les sondages ? Pourquoi se casser la tête à bâtir un programme politique alors que pour quelques milliers d’euros, des sondages vous diront ce qu’attendent les gens ? Pourquoi s’enquiquiner à débattre avec les militants politiques pour désigner un candidat alors que les sondages peuvent s’en charger ?

      #élections #présidentielle #sondage

    • [L]e recours systématique aux sondages pour éviter de se pencher sérieusement sur les programmes des candidats (ou pour pallier l’absence de programme) nous paraissant dangereux pour la démocratie, Ouest-France ne réalisera aucun sondage sur le sujet avant l’élection.

  • Sandrine Josso, députée de Loire-Atlantique, endette sa collaboratrice Antton Rouget
    https://www.mediacites.fr/enquete/nantes/2021/10/11/sandrine-josso-deputee-de-loire-atlantique-endette-sa-collaboratrice

    Depuis maintenant trois ans, Leïla , 49 ans, n’a pas ménagé ses efforts pour essayer de retrouver son argent. Sans succès. « Elle m’a d’abord dit que l’argent allait arriver, peut-être en liquide, mais je ne l’ai pas reçu. Par contre, il faut que je rembourse tous les mois mon crédit », dénonce la quadragénaire, mère de famille. 

    En 2017, Sandrine Josso, nutritionniste de profession, avait été élue à la surprise générale profitant de la vague macroniste. Elle représentait une de ces fameuses « figures de la société civile », censée dépoussiérer la politique face au favori sur la circonscription, le candidat Les Républicains Franck Louvrier, ancien directeur de communication de Nicolas Sarkozy.


    Sandrine Josso à l’Assemblée Nationale, en mars 2018 / © Photo : CC 4.0 - Zembrocale975

    Leïla n’avait jusqu’ici jamais côtoyé le monde des élus ; titulaire d’un CAP, elle venait de se retrouver sans emploi après avoir enchaîné les boulots dans la coiffure et la restauration. Alors quand la nouvelle députée, une « bonne connaissance » à elle, lui propose un poste stable à l’Assemblée, elle n’hésite pas une seconde. Leïla devient collaboratrice parlementaire en circonscription pour gérer les affaires locales de la députée. « Je me suis occupée de tout pour elle », témoigne-t-elle auprès de Mediapart. Y compris de tâches bien éloignées du travail parlementaire : « Sa coiffure, ses enfants, son déménagement à Vannes, lui trouver un logement un Paris, etc. », énumère Leïla.

    Chèques en blanc
    En octobre 2018, la députée, qui est divorcée et avait peu de ressources avant d’entrer à l’Assemblée, lui explique qu’elle a des problèmes d’argent. « Elle avait des soucis pour payer le loyer de sa permanence parlementaire d’Herbignac et de son logement à Paris », a raconté sa collaboratrice aux policiers ayant recueilli sa plainte.

    Leïla accepte de l’aider en contractant, le 18 octobre, un crédit à la consommation de 9 000 euros. Elle donne en toute confiance deux chèques en blanc à sa députée pour que celle-ci puisse éponger ses dettes. Sandrine Josso les utilise les jours suivants pour régler l’agence immobilière chargée de la location de la permanence ainsi que le propriétaire de son logement parisien pour un montant total de 10 514,29 euros.

    Les semaines suivantes, la collaboratrice attend son remboursement, qui devait, selon elle, « intervenir en trois versements », mais n’arrivera jamais. Quelques jours plus tôt, Leïla avait vu son salaire de l’Assemblée augmenter, passant de 2 100 euros brut par mois à 2 365 euros brut. Sandrine Josso lui attribuera aussi deux primes – de 3 527 euros à chaque fois, fin octobre, puis en avril.

    Souhaitait-elle ainsi compenser, sur fonds publics, l’absence de remboursement d’un prêt privé ? Pas du tout, répond Sandrine Josso. « Elle avait besoin d’argent. La pauvre, elle se démenait pour m’aider tant qu’elle pouvait, c’était une amie, ce n’était pas du tout quelque chose de professionnel », indique la députée pour justifier le versement de ces primes.

    Mécontente de ne pas être remboursée en bonne et due forme, Leïla essaye de solliciter la déontologue de l’Assemblée pour une médiation, en vain. En mai 2019, elle est placée en arrêt maladie, ne « support[ant] plus cette situation, tant au niveau professionnel que personnel », comme elle l’a expliqué aux policiers.

    Loyer de la permanence parlementaire
    En août et septembre 2019, après de nouvelles relances, Sandrine Josso amorce un début de remboursement, en virant deux fois à sa collaboratrice la somme de 444,44 euros sur son compte personnel. Ce qui permet à l’élue d’expliquer à Mediapart, lors d’un premier échange sur le sujet en novembre 2019, qu’il n’y a aucun problème, juste un contretemps, mais qu’elle va bien rendre l’argent à Leïla.

    La parlementaire raconte ce jour-là qu’elle a mis en place un « échéancier de remboursement de 444,44 euros tous les mois ». « J’étais dans une situation difficile dans ma vie privée, s’épanche alors Sandrine Josso. Avant d’être députée, j’étais dans une profession libérale et j’avais eu des difficultés, j’ai dû avoir un plan d’apurement avec l’Urssaf. Dans cette situation-là, [Leïla] m’a dit : “Écoute, j’ai de l’argent, je te le file, tu me rembourseras quand tu le pourras.” C’est tout, moi j’ai dit, OK, c’est de l’ordre privé, moi je n’ai pas le temps d’aller à la banque, de refaire un prêt, etc. »

    « Leïla était ma collaboratrice mais c’était mon amie, ajoute la députée. Elle m’aidait moralement parce que je vivais des choses difficiles sur le plan personnel. » Y compris en lui faisant des couleurs le week-end ? « Quand je n’avais pas le choix, c’est elle qui me le proposait, moi je ne l’ai jamais forcée à ça. »

    Alors qu’une partie des fonds prêtés par sa collaboratrice a servi à payer des échéances de loyers de sa permanence parlementaire (6 614 euros sur les 10 514 euros), se pose une question : pourquoi Sandrine Josso n’a-t-elle pas tout simplement pioché dans son enveloppe avance sur frais de mandat (AFM), 5 373 euros par mois, prévue à cet effet ?
    . . . . .
    À l’issue du rendez-vous avec Mediapart de novembre 2019, Sandrine Josso est revenue sur sa promesse d’échéancier de remboursement, en cessant de verser de l’argent à Leïla. La députée ne lui donnera que 444,44 euros supplémentaires, le 19 novembre 2020, deux semaines avant une audience de conciliation devant les prud’hommes de Saint-Nazaire.

    À ce jour, la députée reste donc redevable de la somme de 9 181,41 euros. Le 30 juin 2021, le juge de l’exécution près le tribunal judiciaire de Saint-Nazaire a ainsi autorisé la collaboratrice à faire pratiquer sur le compte à la Banque postale de la députée une saisie conservatoire de 6 666,60 euros.
    . . . . .
    Déclarée inéligible pour un an à la suite des élections municipales
    D’une manière générale, plusieurs de ses anciens collaborateurs critiquent la « légèreté » de Sandrine Josso, une députée peu impliquée dans l’hémicycle. Avec à la clé quelques exemples surprenants. Leïla raconte, par exemple, qu’il lui est arrivé à plusieurs reprises de prendre le train pour Paris en utilisant, à sa demande, l’identité de sa députée pour bénéficier d’un tarif préférentiel de parlementaire.

    « Je voyageais sous son nom pour aller à Paris », précise-t-elle. Ce que raconte aussi une autre ancienne collaboratrice, également fâchée avec Sandrine Josso pour des motifs financiers, qui a utilisé le 8 juillet 2018 un billet au nom de la députée pour rentrer de La Baule à Paris, ainsi que Mediapart a pu le documenter. « Les billets en mon nom, c’est complètement illégal de faire ça ! », s’indigne la députée, expliquant être étrangère à cette pratique et ne pas savoir « comment [sa collaboratrice] a pu avoir un billet en [son] nom ».

    Cette seconde collaboratrice ajoute qu’elle a principalement travaillé, à l’été 2018, à la candidature à venir de Sandrine Josso aux élections municipales à La Baule – ce qui, là encore, ne fait pas partie des attributions des collaborateurs parlementaires. « Elle a travaillé pour ma com’, elle m’accompagnait dans des événements, pas sur les municipales, je n’étais pas encore déclarée [à la candidature] », conteste la députée.

    Sandrine Josso a finalement annoncé sa candidature officielle en août 2019, pour ne recueillir que 4,2 % des suffrages au premier tour des municipales de mars 2020.

    En février 2021, la députée, qui a rejoint le MoDem après avoir quitté LREM en 2019, a été condamnée par le tribunal administratif de Nantes à une peine d’inéligibilité d’un an pour avoir tardé à rendre ses comptes de campagne pour l’élection municipale. Elle n’a pas fait appel, histoire de laisser passer cette décision et de se donner la possibilité de se représenter aux législatives de 2022.
    . . . . .
    #Sandrine_Josso #AFM #députée #MoDem #LREM #France #assemblée_nationale #élections #fric

  • Bundestags-Wahlergebnis ist historische Zäsur – jetzt umsteuern !
    https://sozialistische-linke.de/2021/10/01/bundestags-wahlergebnis

    Le courant « gauche socialiste » au sein du parti de gauche publie son analyse des raisons du résultat catastrophique aux dernières élections en Allemagne. Voici quelques extraits

    1.10.2021 - Die faktische politische Ausrichtung der LINKEN auf die Jüngeren und höher Gebildeten, die sich vor allem in Universitätsstädten konzentrieren, ist wahlpolitisch gescheitert. Selbstverständlich sind neue (junge) Mitglieder willkommen und wir freuen uns sehr darüber, dass die LINKE für viele junge Leute attraktiver geworden ist. Wir wollen uns gerne zusammen mit ihnen für eine starke und eigenständige LINKE einsetzen. Aber: Wenn über 60 Prozent der Wahlberechtigten und wahrscheinlich fast zwei Drittel der Wählenden über 50 Jahre alt sind, muss diesen Gruppen eine zentrale Aufmerksamkeit gelten.

    Es kann auch keineswegs davon ausgegangen werden, dass wer in der Jugend mal links gewählt hat, dies später weiterhin tun wird. Die aktivistischen linken Milieus in den größeren Städten, in denen DIE LINKE sich stärker verankert hat, machen nur einen kleinen Teil der Bevölkerung aus und strahlen auch nur begrenzt aus. Zudem sind diese Gruppen wahlpolitisch höchst unzuverlässig, die höher Gebildeten und die Jüngeren haben weitaus stärker sonstige Parteien als DIE LINKE gewählt.
    ...
    „Rebellisches Regieren“ funktioniert nur, wenn es mehr Dynamik hierfür in der Gesellschaft gibt und wir offensiv öffentliche Unterstützung für unsere Positionen mobilisieren – auch in Abgrenzung von potenziellen Koalitionspartnern. Das fängt im Wahlkampf an, der eher handzahm geführt wurde und bei dem wir die Schnittmengen zwischen uns und SPD und GRÜNEN in den Vordergrund gestellt haben. Selbst da, wo es relativ leicht gewesen wäre zu punkten, hat DIE LINKE sich entweder nicht getraut oder keine guten Strategien angewandt
    ...
    Einige Genoss:innen äußerten in den letzten Tagen verwundert, dass wir wohl doch nicht so viele Stammwähler:innen hätten wie angenommen. Wir sagen: wir hatten mal mehr Stammwähler:innen, haben diese aber verloren. Die Zahlen sprechen für sich:

    DIE LINKE hat besonders stark bei weniger Gebildeten, bei Erwerbstätigen und bei Rentner:innen sowie in der Fläche (v.a. in Ostdeutschland) verloren. Bei der Kerngruppe der Erwerbstätigen hat sie ihren Stimmenanteil gegenüber 2017 halbiert, gegenüber 2009 nahezu gedrittelt, und liegt unter fünf Prozent. Unter Gewerkschaftsmitgliedern hat sie sich ebenfalls fast halbiert gegenüber 2017 und liegt hinter FDP und AFD bei gerade mal 6,6% Zuspruch.

    Für eine sozialistische Partei, die den Anspruch hat, die Interessen der arbeitenden Bevölkerung zu vertreten, ist das ein Armutszeugnis. Ebenso sieht es bei der zahlenstarken Gruppe der Rentner:innen aus. Noch krasser stellt sich der Absturz dar, wenn die Bevölkerung ohne Hochschulberechtigung betrachtet wird: Hier liegt DIE LINKE mit um die drei Prozent auf dem Niveau einer Splitterpartei.
    ...
    Die Interessen der Mehrheit in den Mittelpunkt stellen

    In den letzten Jahren haben sich problematische Entwicklungen verschärft fortgesetzt, die bereits das vergangene Jahrzehnt zunehmend geprägt haben. Zunehmend erscheint DIE LINKE vielen als eine politische Kraft, die vor allem Anliegen kleiner linker und Bewegungs-Milieus in größeren Städten und dabei einseitige und/oder überzogene Positionen vertritt. Eine Verankerung in den Lebenswelten der „einfachen Leute“, der Berufstätigen und Familien, der „Normalos“, die hauptsächlich andere Probleme und Aktivitäten haben als politische im engeren Sinne, gibt es immer weniger
    ...
    Für eine andere Parteikultur – Sektierertum bekämpfen

    Der Streit zwischen Partei- und Fraktionsführung in den vergangenen Jahren hat uns schwer geschadet. Neue oder potenzielle Mitglieder werden regelrecht abgeschreckt von der Härte und Vehemenz, mit der bis in Ortsverbände hinein gestritten wird über Fragen, die mit ihrer Lebensrealität oft wenig zu tun haben.
    ...
    Um mehr Erwerbstätige als Mitglieder zu gewinnen, muss außerdem die Beitragstabelle überarbeitet bzw. die Mitgliedsbeiträge für Gering- und Normalverdiener gesenkt werden.
    ...
    Kompetenzverllust eindämmen

    Warum hat DIE LINKE so schlecht abgeschnitten, obwohl soziale Gerechtigkeit und Sicherheit die Themen waren, die bei der Bundestagswahl 2021 am Ende für die meisten Wähler:innen ausschlaggebend waren? Wie Umfragen belegen, wird uns auf diesen zentralen Feldern immer weniger Kompetenz zugeschrieben. Dagegen erreichte DIE LINKE 2017 mit Sahra Wagenknecht an der Spitze hohe Kompetenzwerte.


    ...
    Allzu oft werden Stellen in unseren „Apparaten“ bei Partei, Stiftung und Fraktion nicht nach Leistung und Kompetenz, sondern nach Zugehörigkeit zu entsprechenden „Seilschaften“ besetzt. Eine Ausgrenzung von Anhänger:innen marxistisch orientierter Strömungen wie der Sozialistischen Linken oder auch der KPF und die weitere Vernachlässigung politischer Bildungsangebote für Menschen ohne Hochschulabschluss kann sich die Partei und darf sich die RLS nicht länger leisten.

    Wir brauchen mehr Wertschätzung auch für die ehrenamtliche Arbeit, die in Kreisverbänden, Parteigremien, aber auch Gewerkschaften, sozialen Bewegungen, Vereinen und Initiativen geleistet wird – all diese „Aktiven an der Basis“ müssen systematischer in die politische Willensbindung und demokratische Entscheidungsfindung der Partei einbezogen werden.
    ...
    vieles was für Menschen, die politisch in den 60er, 70er, 80er Jahren und auch später sozialisiert worden sind, außenpolitisches Grundwissen war, ist der Generation der unter 40 jährigen nicht mehr bekannt. Wir haben seit der Parteigründung 2007 versäumt, hier systematisch Wissen zu vermitteln.
    ...
    Fazit
    ...
    Ökologischer Umbau wird zu neuen sozialen Ausgrenzungen/Belastungen für die normalen Bürger:innen führen. Hier darf DIE LINKE die herrschende Politik nicht nur wegen ihrer ökologischen Unzulänglichkeit kritisieren (das auch), sondern muss vor allem die Anforderung der sozialen Gestaltung in den Vordergrund stellen – und ihre Eigenständigkeit betonen. Das bedeutet also: den Schutz oder angemessenen Ersatz für verloren gehende Arbeitsplätze und Ausgleich finanzieller Belastungen besonders für Menschen mit niedrigen Einkommen und mit unvermeidlichen Mehrausgaben in den Vordergrund stellen. Der Umbau darf nicht den Einzelnen aufgelastet oder dem Markt überlassen werden, sondern erfordert einen demokratisch gesteuerten Umbau von Produktion und Infrastrukturen. Dazu gehört auch die Stärkung der Gewerkschaften und der Tarifverträge.

    #Allemagne #gauche #gauche_socialiste #élections #2021

  • Warum hat DIE LINKE bei der Bundestagswahl relativ am stärksten verloren?

    Oskar Lafontaine auf Facebook (URL unbekannt):

    Um bei einer Wahl gut abzuschneiden, braucht eine Partei Führungspersonal, das bei den Wählerinnen und Wählern beliebt ist und Vertrauen genießt. Dazu gibt es Umfragen. In welchem Umfang das Spitzenpersonal der Parteien das Wahlergebnis beeinflusst, haben Armin Laschet und Annalena Baerbock mehr als deutlich gezeigt.

    Um bei einer Wahl gut abzuschneiden, muss die Politik der vergangenen Jahre überzeugen. Ob das der LINKEN gelungen ist, darüber gaben die Europawahl und die Landtagswahlen Aufschluss.

    Um bei einer Wahl gut abzuschneiden, braucht eine Partei auch ein gutes Programm. Überzogene Forderungen überzeugen die Wählerinnen und Wähler nicht. Und gut gemeinte Vorschläge zur Verbesserung des sozialen Lebens kommen nicht an, wenn dasselbe Programm Forderungen enthält, die die große Mehrheit der Wählerinnen und Wähler ablehnt.

    Wenig beeindruckend ist, wenn diejenigen, die für das Wahldesaster in erster Linie Verantwortung tragen, die Schuld bei anderen suchen. So hat uns beispielsweise Jörg Schindler in seiner Wahlkampfanalyse dankenswerterweise daran erinnert, dass er für die Aufgabe des Bundesgeschäftsführers und Wahlkampfleiters ungeeignet ist.
    https:// www.links-bewegt.de/de/article/407.todesstrafe-auf-bew%C3%A4hrung.html

    Ebenso wenig können die sich jetzt wiederholenden Appelle an die Geschlossenheit eine schonungslose Aufarbeitung der Wahlniederlage ersetzen.

    Zu den Ursachen der Wahlniederlage hat der WASG-Mitbegründer Ralf Krämer zusammen mit dem Sprecherrat der Sozialistischen Linken eine Analyse vorgelegt, die auf die entscheidenden Fehlentwicklungen der letzten Jahre hinweist:

    https://sozialistische-linke.de/2021/10/01/bundestags-wahlergebnis .

    Aufschlussreich ist die Grafik über die Zuweisung der sozialen Kompetenz an die Partei DIE LINKE bei den bisherigen Bundestagswahlen. Das Alleinstellungsmerkmal der LINKEN war:

    Sie hat als einzige Partei im Bundestag verlässlich gegen Krieg und Sozialabbau gestimmt. Je mehr man dieses Alleinstellungsmerkmal in Frage stellte, um potentiellen Koalitionspartnern zu gefallen, umso mehr wurde die Existenz der Partei DIE LINKE gefährdet.

    Dabei müsste gerade jetzt, in einer Zeit der zunehmenden Konfrontationspolitik der USA gegenüber Russland und China und der sich anbahnenden Agenda 2030, bei der wieder nicht die oberen Zehntausend zur Kasse gebeten werden, sondern die große Mehrheit der Bürgerinnen und Bürger, eine gestärkte LINKE im Deutschen Bundestag Widerstand gegen Krieg und Sozialabbau leisten.

    as Traurige ist: Angesichts des Zustands der anderen Parteien waren unsere Chancen, ein gutes zweistelliges Ergebnis zu erzielen, noch nie so groß wie bei dieser Bundestagswahl.

    #BTW2021 #dielinke #VerlässlichgegenKriegundSozialabbau #neinzuragenda2030 #Sozialabbau #oskar #lafontaine #oskarlafontaine

    #Allemagne #gauche #élections #2021

  • 8 Belges sur 10 trouvent qu’ils n’ont pas leur mot à dire sur ce que fait le monde politique
    https://www.rtbf.be/info/belgique/detail_8-belges-sur-10-trouvent-qu-ils-n-ont-pas-leur-mot-a-dire-sur-ce-que-fai

    . . . . . . .
    Une grande majorité des Belges ne se sentent pas écoutés, voire incompris par les décideurs politiques. Huit participants sur dix au sondage RTBF estiment qu’ils « n’ont pas leur mot à dire sur ce que fait le monde politique ».
    . . . . . . .

    #démocratie #politique #Belgique #démocratie_ #europe #capitalisme #élections #médias #multinationales #inégalités

  • KPÖ Graz | Aktuelles | Graz: KPÖ mit Elke Kahr auf Platz 1
    https://www.kpoe-graz.at/graz-kpoe-mit-elke-kahr-auf-platz-1.phtml

    29.92.2021 - Wir haben eine Koalition mit unseren Wählerinnen und Wählern“

    Bei der Gemeinderatswahl am Sonntag erzielte die KPÖ mit Elke Kahr einen großen Erfolg. Das vorläufige Ergebnis (ohne Wahlkarten): KPÖ 15 (10) Mandate, VP 13 (19), Grüne 9 (5), FP 5 (8) SPÖ 4(5), Neos 2 (1).

    Elke Kahr: „Dieses Ergebnis ist überwältigend. Wir können es noch gar nicht fassen. Jetzt wird schon viel über Koalitionen spekuliert, heute können wir aber eines sagen: unsere wichtigste Koalitionspartnerin ist die Grazer Bevölkerung. Ihr sind wir im Wort. Für sie sind wir da. Wir sind in diese Wahl gegangen, mit dem Versprechen, dass Soziales nicht untergeht. Dazu stehen wir. Wir werden uns nicht verbiegen lassen.
    Danken möchte ich allen, die zu diesem Ergebnis beigetragen haben – all meinen Kolleginnen und Kollegen und vor allen, die uns heute das Vertrauen geschenkt haben.“

    Der Erfolg der Grazer KPÖ bei den Gemeinderatswahlen hat auch die Bundes-KPÖ überrascht. „Wir haben mit einem guten Ergebnis gerechnet – aber in dieser Größenordnung und in dieser politischen Tragweite nicht“, so Sprecher Tobias Schweiger gegenüber der Kleinen Zeitung. „Für uns ist klar, dass das nicht nur ein Sieg in Graz war, sondern auch ein starkes Signal für eine starke Linke in ganz Österreich.“

    #Autriche #Graz #communistes #élections

  • The Communist Party Just Won the Elections in Austria’s Second-Biggest City
    https://jacobinmag.com/2021/09/communist-party-of-austria-kpo-graz-election-victory-red-fortress

    La gauche perd aux élections. Ce n’est pas vrai. Le Parti Communiste vient de remporter 29 pourcent des voix à Graz en Aurtriche. Voilà comment ils ont fait.

    In Sunday’s elections in Graz, Austria, the Communist Party romped to victory for the first time in history. Jacobin spoke to one of its winning candidates about how the party built a “red fortress” in the city.

    An interview with Robert Krotzer ; Interview by Adam Baltner

    If the social experiments of “Red Vienna” long associated Austria with the historic high points of social democracy, recent decades have instead seen this Alpine republic become a laboratory for right-wing populism. But in Graz — the country’s second-biggest city after Vienna — there is an alternative to the reactionary trend. In this Sunday’s elections, the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) secured an unprecedented victory, winning 29 percent of the vote. With the defeat of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), Communist Elke Kahr is now expected to become mayor.

    The KPÖ’s striking success in this city — at odds with its marginal presence in national politics — owes to years of community engagement rooted in a steadfast class politics. Its progress wouldn’t have been possible without dedicated activists like thirty-four-year-old Robert Krotzer, who was second on the KPÖ list in this election. In 2017, he became the youngest person ever to be elected to the Graz city senate, since then serving as head of the Department of Health and of Caregiving at the Department of Social Services.

    Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Krotzer spoke with Jacobin’s Adam Baltner about how the KPÖ built this unlikely “red fortress.”
    AB

    In Austria’s national elections, the KPÖ normally earns about 1 percent of the vote. In Graz, however — the capital of the state of Styria — the party does considerably better, earning around 20 percent since the early 2000s. Why is the KPÖ so successful in Graz in particular?
    RK

    This has to do with a political orientation going back to the early 1990s — a time of profound crisis for the Communist movement. Back then, one of the mottos of the KPÖ Styria was “A useful party for everyday life and for the grand objectives of the labor movement.” In line with this maxim, the party pursued a highly concrete politics, especially for tenants.

    In particular, [former KPÖ politician and Graz party chair] Ernest Kaltenegger did tremendous work here, establishing for himself a very positive reputation among the population. Kaltenegger was always there to help others and lend an ear to their problems. To this day, people still tell stories about him even fixing things in their apartments. But he also politicized the issue of housing.

    At the beginning of the 1990s, many developers tried to clear entire houses of tenants, sometimes with extremely draconian methods, such as removing windows from building entrances in January, allegedly because they were sending them away to be repaired. In 1991, an emergency tenants’ hotline was established as a first point of contact for people having trouble with their landlords. Legal counseling for “victims of speculators” — as they were then called — was also set up on Kaltenegger’s initiative. Out of this interplay of very concrete help and legal support, the KPÖ was able to make a name for itself.

    A major campaign against high rent prices in public housing followed several years later. At the time, even in public housing, it wasn’t unusual for people to pay up to 55 percent of their income on rent. So the KPÖ introduced a bill in the city council stipulating that no one living in public housing would have to pay more than a third of their income in rent. Like so many other bills from the KPÖ, it was rejected by all the other parties. Subsequently, the KPÖ gathered signatures, particularly in public housing and together with tenants. The party then presented the city council with a “Petition in Accordance with Styrian Popular Law” containing seventeen thousand signatures and reintroduced the bill. This time, it passed unanimously.

    The following election in 1998 marked the KPÖ’s first major breakthrough at the polls with 7.9 percent of the vote. Kaltenegger was given the Department of Housing by the ruling parties, who expected him to fail in this role. But things turned out differently. In fact, he was able to get a fair amount done, such as make sure that each public housing unit had its own toilet and bathroom. And then, in the 2003 election, the party achieved 20.8 percent.

    This all shows that left-wing politics requires endurance and grassroots work. It also shows that parliamentary functionaries can use extra-parliamentary pressure to push things forward that would otherwise not be possible under the given power relations.

    AB You just touched upon not only how the KPÖ has built support in Graz but also how it has influenced city politics from its role as an opposition party. What other examples are there of that?

    RK One of the most enduring achievements of the KPÖ came in 2004 when it blocked the privatization of Graz’s public-housing stock. At the time, the [conservative] ÖVP, the SPÖ [Social Democratic Party of Austria], and indeed all other parties on the city council agreed on privatization. Sadly, around the same time, a “red-red” government in Berlin [a coalition between the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the predecessor to Die Linke] privatized apartments owned by the city.

    Although we were still a small party at the time, we managed to gather more than ten thousand signatures for our petition against privatization, which according to Styrian law is the necessary number for an official referendum organized by the city. At the ballot box, about 96 percent voted against selling off the housing units. To this day, all parties have kept their hands off public housing — the issue of privatization has never resurfaced.

    Even though we’ve never been one of the ruling coalition parties, we’ve held offices in the city executive since 1998. This is because of the proportional representation system, which allocates city senate seats on the basis of the parties’ vote shares. Currently, our party chair, Elke Kahr, leads the Department of Roads and the Department of Transportation Planning, and I am responsible for Health and Caregiving. We’ve had successes in both these areas — in spite of the difficult conditions of the past four and a half years under the right-wing coalition government between the ÖVP and the FPÖ [Freedom Party of Austria, far-right].

    We’ve built new bicycle paths and improved public transportation by expanding the tram network and creating new bus lines. And we’ve introduced the so-called Graz Care Model, according to which care-dependent elders receive allowances from the city so that they can be cared for at home and don’t have to move into nursing homes.

    AB When you were named responsible for Health and Caregiving in 2017, no one was expecting the COVID-19 crisis to hit. How have you been able to use your office to address the crisis at the local level?

    RK The Graz Department of Health is a relatively small but nevertheless important department. In comparison to Vienna, which is both a city and its own state, Graz is only a city. For this reason, unlike our Viennese counterpart, we lack certain responsibilities, such as administering hospital associations. As I took over the department, people in Young People’s Party [youth organization of the conservative ÖVP] circles were saying, “Krotzer’s getting the Department of Health because he can’t do any damage there anyway.” This paints a picture of how seriously the ÖVP takes the issues of health and caregiving. In comparison, they’ve always been of crucial importance to us in the KPÖ.

    Urban health policy with regards to the COVID crisis means, above all, contact tracing, or following and breaking chains of infection. This is, of course, an enormous task for any public health agency. In February 2020, the Graz Office of Epidemiology consisted of exactly two and a half positions. By November 2020, two hundred people were working there.

    However, we haven’t simply fulfilled our administrative duties. Working with migrant and elderly organizations as well as with welfare institutions, we started a telephone chain in March 2020 in order to spread information and to find out what people knew and needed at the time. We then supported them in concrete ways, such as by connecting them with shopping services or providing them with grocery vouchers.

    The national and state governments made numerous promises that they would make rapid antigen tests available to the public, yet in the fall of 2020, we ended up paying for these out of our own pocket and sending them to nursing homes, home health providers, and welfare institutions. In order to bring the vaccine to the population, we also conducted special vaccination campaigns — such as for the sellers of the street newspaper Megafon and in the Graz mosque, in churches, in libraries, and in different parts of the city. All of this is in keeping with our aim to be a useful party for everyday life.

    AB The election coverage was dominated by speculation about which parties will join the governing coalition. In your opinion, what are the decisive issues?

    RK Only very rarely have voters raised the issue of potential coalitions to me. Rather, conversations at information stands tend to be about how people have received help from us in highly concrete ways. And that is absolutely a major bonus that we have as the KPÖ.

    Every year, thousands of people visit Elke [Kahr] and myself in our office hours. There, we see how we can best help them, whether by providing them with legal advice, helping them fill out applications, or giving them direct financial support — KPÖ representatives in the city senate and the Styrian Landtag [parliament] voluntarily donate two-thirds of their salaries to people in need.

    For us, this is definitely not charity. Rather, it is a form of politics oriented around a basic socialist-communist principle that goes back to the Paris Commune. I think it’s hard to speak genuinely empathically with someone who works full time for €1,200 a month, when you earn three, four, five times that much. After all, as Marx said: Being determines consciousness.

    In addition to the failure of [the right-wing governing coalition’s] social policy, I would name rapidly progressing urban sprawl as another one of the major issues. In Graz, construction plans are approved and green spaces given away extremely frivolously because the ÖVP mayor Siegfried Nagl [who resigned this Sunday] is quite friendly toward investors. Many people are massively disturbed by this. Not few have even said to me, because of the building frenzy of the last few years, “My whole life I’ve never voted for any party but the ÖVP, but enough is enough.”

    AB The program of the KPÖ Styria highlights the heritage of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Because of this open commitment to a radical politics, the conservative ÖVP has been red-baiting you for years — apparently without much success. How do you handle anti-communist smears?

    RK In spring of this year, we issued a press release commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the first manned space flight. Of course, the first person in space was the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The ÖVP attempted to trip us up by submitting an urgent motion to the city council demanding parties distance themselves from all totalitarian ideologies, including Soviet Communism. All other parties, including the SPÖ and the Greens, voted in favor of this motion. The ÖVP then expressed outrage over the fact that we refused.

    Our response was ultimately fairly measured. We’ve known the ÖVP long enough to understand what they want to achieve with something like this. Our city councilwoman Elke Heinrichs gave a speech extensively detailing that the KPÖ has always been the leading force of resistance against fascism in Austria and — in contrast to the other parties that have been around since the postwar period — has never had comrades with fascist pasts. In other words, when it comes to questions of distancing, the ÖVP should put its own house in order.

    Of course, there are many aspects of the history of actually existing socialism that we as communists and Marxists have to discuss. But we don’t have to do this at the behest of the ÖVP, and especially through the lens which they view history.

    This anti-communist gambit by the ÖVP was never a topic of discussion at any of our information stands. I think it probably went largely unnoticed by the general population, because quite a few people already have a very concrete connection to the KPÖ — either they know one of us, or they see us on the street, or they know that we’re the reason the tenants’ hotline exists. These things are far more important to people.

    AB So far, the KPÖ’s success in Graz has not been replicated in other cities in Austria. But do you think that a national or even international political movement can be built up through municipal politics?

    RK Naturally, we don’t preach socialism in one city or something like a municipal transition to socialism. But in general, I am convinced that left-wing politics needs to be developed from below. And that means establishing roots in at the level of the municipality, or even the shop floor, and being in constant contact with people. It’s important to engage in areas where you can show concretely that you’re a useful force. And workers’ parties can learn a lot from this kind of engagement.

    In recent decades, the Left may have neglected this insight somewhat. People have thought we have the sophisticated texts, we have the volumes of Marx and Engels and Lenin, and with these we will be able to deal with the world. But only through constant exchange with people can you find out where the real problems are. If you and your comrades want to work together to change and improve people’s conditions, this knowledge is central.

    There are various examples of successful left-wing politics on the municipal or shop-floor level — for example, in Alentejo in Portugal, where there are communities that have been administered by the Portuguese Communist Party since the 1974 Carnation Revolution, or the [Communist-affiliated trade union organization] PAME in Greece.

    An exciting new development is the success of the Workers’ Party of Belgium. On the basis of their long-standing roots in shop-floor organizing, this party managed to become a force in municipal politics before making the big leap onto the national stage in 2019. This achievement is really quite impressive. But it was also developed on a small scale. It certainly wouldn’t have been possible without local roots.

    #Autriche #Graz #communistes #élections

  • Ein grünes Wahlplakat.

    So soll es sein, oder?

    Hier noch eine Arbeit für Dussmann


    Wie schön.

    Für Uniqlo


    Der Kreis schließt sich. Alle sind glücklich, vor allen Dussmann und Uniqlo.

    Lifestyle-Politik. Gebrauchskunst. Das wollen wir für unser emotionales Gleichgewicht in diesen bedrohlichen Zeiten. Leider ändert das alles nicht an einem ewigen Problem:

    Wir werden alle sterben.

    #Berlin #Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg #politique #verrs #élections

  • Die Linke wählen für Klimagerechtigkeit (neues deutschland)
    https://www.nd-aktuell.de/artikel/1156912.klimastreik-die-linke-waehlen-fuer-klimagerechtigkeit.html


    Carola Rackete s’est faite connaĩtre quand elle a forcé l’entrée dans un port italien avec son bateau de sauvetage transportant plus de cent rescapés en piètre état de santé. La justice italienne disculpa la jeune capitaine. Dans ce texte elle explique qu’il faut en finir avec le système capitaliste si on veut rendre possible une politique efficace contre la catastrophe climatique. Pour elle c’est exclusivement le parti Die Linke qui propose des changements allant dans ce sens. Die Grünen par contre n’utilisent les positions écologistes que comme appât électoral et n’agissent pas vraiment pour les changements nécessaires. Elle appelle donc à voter ce dimanche pour le parti de gauche allemand.

    23.09.2021, von Carola Rackete - Als Teil der von Klimagerechtigkeitsbewegung ist Wählen für mich eher Nebensache. Viel wichtiger erscheint mir, was wir zwischen den Wahljahren als Zivilgesellschaft durch unser politisches Engagement erreichen. Es ist notwendig, dass wir ständig Druck auf die Parteipolitik ausüben, indem wir etwa einerseits die Einhaltung bereits lang beschlossener Verträge einfordern, als auch neue Themen in die Diskussion bringen, so wie letztes Jahr die Verkehrswende durch die Proteste im Dannenröder Wald. Trotzdem, Wählen ist für mich ein Privileg, das viele von deutscher Politik betroffene Menschen nicht wahrnehmen können und es kostet mich alle paar Jahre nur wenige Minuten Zeit. Für viele Menschen in Deutschland scheint klar, wer sich für Klima- und Umweltschutz interessiert, der müsse die Grünen wählen. Das ist für mich keine Option.

    Natürlich sind Umwelt- und Klimaschutz die klassischen Kernthemen der Grünen. Allerdings sind die ökologischen Krisen – das schließt das Artensterben ein – das Resultat ungleicher sozialer Machtverhältnisse. Ökologische Schäden können überhaupt nur entstehen, weil die Betroffenen, etwa Menschen in Bangladesch oder am Garzweiler, gar nicht oder nicht mit dem gleichen Einfluss mitentscheiden können wie etwa Kohlekonzerne. Ohne die Entscheidungsprozesse zu verändern und soziale Gerechtigkeit als Kern von Umweltschutz anzustreben, gehen wir nur Symptome an, nicht aber die Ursachen. Bei Klimaschutz geht es nicht primär um Erfindungsgeist und grüne Technologien, sondern darum, Macht gerechter zu teilen.

    Klima- und Umweltschutz müssen zudem nicht einmal Themen politisch linker oder progressiver Parteien sein. In Finnland oder Frankreich etwa gibt es auch rechte Parteien, die das Thema Klimakrise ernst nehmen, doch die Lösungen, die sie vorschlagen, sind rassistisch und spalten unsere Gesellschaften noch weiter. Für gerechtere Lösungen müssen wir Inklusion von marginalisierten Gruppen stärken und dafür sorgen, dass alle Menschen in Deutschland so gleichberechtigt wie möglich bei allen politischen Themen mitreden und mit entscheiden dürfen. Die Linke etwa fordert die weitreichendsten Wahlrechte für Menschen, die ohne deutschen Pass in Deutschland leben. Andererseits haben einzelne Politiker*innen der Linken marginalisierte Gruppen, wie etwa geflüchtete Menschen, wiederholt durch ihre Aussagen aus der Gesellschaft ausgeschlossen. Das führt etwa dazu, dass migrantische Kandidaten in NRW nicht für die Linke kandidieren wollen, sondern bei den Grünen eingetreten sind. Ich kann das gut nachvollziehen.

    Der Kernunterschied zwischen den Linken und den Grünen bezüglich Umweltschutz liegt in der Notwendigkeit, die Parteien einer tiefgehenden Transformation unserer Gesellschaft und Wirtschaftsweise zuschreiben. Die Grünen setzen auf grünes Wirtschaftswachstum, welches allerdings ein Märchen ist. Das Europäische Umweltbüro (EEB) und das Umweltprogramm der Vereinten Nationen (UNEP) stellen fest, dass das BIP nicht vom Ressourcenverbrauch abgekoppelt werden kann. Aufgrund des »Rebound effects« führte die Erfindung der Kettensäge nicht dazu, dass Holzfäller kürzere Arbeitsstunden bekamen, sondern es wurde mehr gefällt, mehr Marketing betrieben und es wurden mehr Holzprodukte verkauft. Der UN-Weltbiodiversitätsrat fordert daher ebenso eine Abkehr vom Paradigma des Wirtschaftswachstums. Natürlich müssen wir sofort auf grüne Technologien umstellen, doch um unsere Lebensgrundlagen zu schützen, müssen wir ein Wirtschaftssystem schaffen, das vom Wachstum unabhängig ist und stattdessen gerecht verteilt, was wir haben. Wenn die Linke eine Abkehr von Wirtschaftswachstum fordert, dann steht sie auf dem Boden der wissenschaftlichen Tatsachen, denn wir können Wachstum und Kapitalismus nicht begrünen.

    Ich möchte Menschen ermutigen, die noch zweifeln, ob sie überhaupt zur Wahl gehen sollen, ihr Wahlrecht im Sinne der Menschen auszuüben, die nicht wählen dürfen, aber von den Entscheidungen der Bundesregierung betroffen sind. Vielmehr aber noch müssen wir alle – zu jedem Zeitpunkt – Teil von gesellschaftlichem Wandel außerhalb von Parteipolitik sein.

    #Allemagne #politique #élections #catastrophe_climatique

  • #Canada : « On n’a même pas voté encore, c’est décourageant ! » Radio Canada - Yannick Donahue
    https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1825790/bureaux-vote-files-attente-scrutin

    L’engouement pour les élections fédérales a occasionné de longues files d’attente dans certains bureaux de scrutin, notamment à Montréal, si bien que certains électeurs n’ont pas pu exercer leur droit de vote.

    Au Québec, les bureaux de vote avaient comme directive de fermer à 21 h 30 (HAE).

    Arrivé à son bureau de vote au Centre communautaire du Plateau, sur le Plateau-Mont-Royal à Montréal, un homme rencontré par Radio-Canada a raconté avoir rebroussé chemin en raison de la trop longue attente.


    L’attente était longue pour aller voter au Centre communautaire du Plateau à Montréal. Photo : Radio-Canada

    Arrivé à 21 h 15, il a attendu 35 minutes avant de quitter les lieux. Il reconnaît que la COVID-19 a compliqué les opérations et qu’il y a un manque de personnel, mais il estime qu’on aurait dû davantage promouvoir les autres manières d’exercer son droit de vote.

    “Où Élections Canada a manqué, à mon point de vue, c’est qu’il aurait dû insister et pousser les électeurs à aller voter par anticipation – moi, je serais allé par anticipation si j’avais su ça – ou par courrier. Si j’avais su ça, c’est sûr que je l’aurais fait.”

    Sa conjointe s’est découragée devant l’attente interminable et n’est pas venue exercer son droit de vote. “On est septuagénaires. C’est la première fois de notre vie qu’on ne vote pas. C’est sérieux”, a-t-il affirmé.

    La couleur du gouvernement avant même d’avoir voté
    À 22 h 24, lorsque Radio-Canada a annoncé que le prochain gouvernement fédéral sera libéral, des électeurs encore présents ont poussé des soupirs de découragement dans la file. “On n’a même pas voté encore, c’est décourageant !”, a lancé une personne.

    Radio-Canada a parlé avec un électeur qui est sorti du Centre communautaire du Plateau vers 22 h après avoir voté, alors qu’il était arrivé sur place à 20 h.

    Un autre électeur, Sylvain Lacasse, nous a fait parvenir ce message : “Aujourd’hui, j’ai dû renoncer à mon droit de vote dans Laurier–Sainte-Marie. Il y avait au moins deux heures d’attente aux deux moments où je suis passé à mon bureau de votre au Centre du Plateau sur le boulevard Saint-Joseph. Ridicule. J’ai rebroussé chemin.”

    Denis Rouleau, un électeur, a aussi éprouvé des difficultés à voter au Centre communautaire du Plateau.

    “Il y a des centaines de personnes en ligne. Incapable de voter. J’ai 37 ans. J’ai toujours voté depuis mes 18 ans. Je n’ai jamais eu plus de quatre personnes en ligne devant moi ! J’habite à côté. Je m’y suis rendu à six reprises aujourd’hui pour tenter d’aller voter, dont une fois dès 9 h 30. Toujours des centaines de personnes en ligne et ça n’avance pas. Deux de mes voisins m’ont dit qu’ils ne voteront pas pour ces raisons ! Moi, je vais y retourner une dernière fois après 21 h. C’est aberrant”, a-t-il déploré.

    Il n’y a pas qu’au Centre communautaire du Plateau où l’attente était longue. À l’école Laurier, aussi située sur le Plateau-Mont-Royal, les files s’étiraient.

    “Je souhaitais voter, mais suis tombé sur une file de plusieurs centaines de mètres au 505, rue Laurier Est, à Montréal [l’école Laurier]. Le délai d’attente est d’au moins deux ou trois heures. Ne pouvant attendre, je considère que je me fais voler mon vote”, a affirmé François Chevalier, un électeur.

    En Ontario, la situation était similaire à certains endroits, dont dans la circonscription de Toronto-Centre, où les électeurs ont notamment attendu plus d’une heure pour voter.

     #élections #politique #manipulation #démocratie #vote

    • Il y a pour ces élections de 52 % à 84 % moins de bureaux de vote dans des circonscriptions du Grand Toronto en comparaison aux élections précédentes, ce qui explique en partie les longues files d’attente qui se sont dessinées devant les bureaux de vote à Toronto.
      . . . . . .
      Plusieurs heures de retard
      Louis-Éric Mongrain, résident dans la circonscription de Davenport, s’est présenté à son bureau de scrutin désigné sur la rue Queen Ouest, en début de journée, vers 9 h 40. Il s’est toutefois buté à des portes closes. “Au moment d’arriver, on a vu qu’il n’y avait personne, les lumières étaient éteintes et le local était verrouillé”, explique-t-il.

      Il a contacté Élections Canada, qui a admis qu’il y avait un peu de retard et qui lui a mentionné que le local ouvrirait “vers 10 h 30 ou 11 h”.

      En se présentant à nouveau vers 11 h, le bureau était toujours fermé.
      . . . . .


      Une trentaine de personnes faisaient déjà la file une demie heure avant l’ouverture de ce bureau de vote dans la circonscription Spadina–Fort York lundi matin. Photo : Radio-Canada / Myriam Eddahia

      Source : Toujours Radio Canada https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1825566/vote-elections-federales-scrutin-toronto-ontario

    • Rien sur ces élections canadiennes où l’on n’a pas pu voter dans les #merdias.

      A oui, c’est vrai, ils se consacrent aux élections russes et à navalny.
      Pour information, en Russie, les communistes du KPRF arrivent en seconde position avec 19,20% des voix, première force d’opposition là bas.

  • Le groupuscule d’abrutis néonazis « Dritter Weg » n’en est pas à sa première provocation avec ses pancartes appelant à accrocher ses affiches vertes (sous-entendu : pendre les verts) à Zwickau.

    Ainsi ces affiches proclamant : « Rudi Dutschke serait aujourd’hui l’un des nôtres ! » auraient été placardées à Munich, Dachau, Bamberg, Würzburg et Augsburg en 2019. Selon le III. Weg,

    elles étaient principalement placées près des bureaux des partis SPD, DIE LINKE et Bündnis90/Die Grünen, ainsi que dans les clubs de jeunesse de gauche, les institutions culturelles et les universités.

    https://www.bige.bayern.de/infos_zu_extremismus/aktuelle_meldungen/rudi-dutschke-ware-heute-einer-von-uns-der-dritte-weg-provoziert-mit-pla

    #Allemagne #élections_fédérales_2021 #propagande #extrémisme #_völkisch_ #néonazis #Dritter_Weg #Rudi_Dutschke

  • Candidatures pour 2022 : 50 nuances de bourgeoisie
    https://www.frustrationmagazine.fr/bourgeoisie-2022

    Il n’y a plus d’actualité politique en France, il y a l’actualité des déclarations de candidatures pour 2022. Anne Hidalgo annoncera la sienne entre 9h48 et 11h36 le dimanche 12 septembre s’il fait moins de 25 degrés. Aux primaires écologistes, Jadot a été mis en PLS par Piolle qui tente de juguler la hype Rousseau. Arnaud Montebourg y va, même s’il avait dit en juin qu’il n’y allait pas, faute de fric. Entre temps sa levée de fond auprès de ses potes patrons a du marcher. Il nous propose d’ailleurs d’élire le premier président « entrepreneur » (mot bourgeois pour « patron »). On a déjà essayé le président haut fonctionnaire, le président apparatchik et le président banquier. Pourquoi ne pas essayer un président « entrepreneur » au point où on en est ?

    Les présidentielles en France, c’est 50 nuances de bourgeoisie. Quand on est un cadre friqué vivant à Paris, le cru 2022 doit être carrément excitant : c’est comme si l’on vous proposait de choisir entre 10 facettes de votre propre personnalité. Car oui, chez le petit et grand bourgeois moyen coexistent des tas de caractères et d’idéologies différentes, ayant toutefois pour point commun le respect de l’ordre capitaliste établi :

    • Le bourgeois écolo des petits gestes du quotidien, qui achète en vrac (pardon, dont la femme achète en vrac), roule en velib et ruine tous ses « efforts » en un seul décollage d’Airbus à destination de Mykonos. C’est le bourgeois « éco-anxieux », qui s’insurge que les pauvres s’achètent encore des télés, lui qui n’en a pas – vous entendez, PAS – même s’il a un Ipad pour le salon et un autre pour la chambre, 5 enceintes connectées dans la salle de bain (Léa Salamé en stéréo bébé) et deux smartphones pour séparer vie pro/vie perso. Cette personnalité bourgeoise a un faible pour Hidalgo ou Jadot.

    • Mais le bourgeois se sent aussi cool, « de gauche », il a déjà voulu être Che Guevara la veille de son entrée à HEC et penche la tête de temps en temps en pensant aux pauvres. Lui veut voter socialiste, s’occuper des petites gens mais avec « pragmatisme » et sans creuser le déficit. Ce caractère bourgeois bien ancré votera Montebourg.

    • Le bourgeois libéral, qui pense quand même que dans la vie quand on veut on peut merde, moi je me suis bougé le cul, j’ai pas attendu que ça me tombe tout cuit dans la bouche moi, mes arrière-arrière-grands parents étaient métayers dans la Somme je crois, je suis un transfuge de classe et pourtant j’ai tracé ma route, donc à-un-moment-donné faut arrêter de se plaindre et chercher une croissance inclusive en prospectant pour sa propre réussite et voter Macron merde.

    • Mais parce que les choses ne sont pas tout noir ou tout blanc, le bourgeois pense aussi qu’on ne peut pas accueillir toute la misère du monde, comme disait Rocard qu’il estimait beaucoup. Il faut arrêter avec l’angélisme et les sujets tabous. La montée du « wokisme » lui fait peur, on ne peut plus rien dire, on n’ose plus être avec une femme dans l’ascenseur, des hommes ont eu leur vie brisée par les accusations de harcèlement, regardez PPDA… ah non. Juan Branco… ah non. Enfin y’en a, ça arrive, et puis sinon Mélenchon est un danger pour la République, les Gilets jaunes ça suffit faut rentrer chez vous maintenant il n’y a pas d’argent magique, s’il faut choisir entre le chaos ou Marine, ben ça sera Marine, et d’ailleurs Zemmour ne dit pas que des conneries, moi j’aime la France monsieur !

    Les journalistes, qui ne sont jamais les plus riches de leur riche famille et s’estiment donc sous-prolos précaires participent pleinement à ce jeu des 7 familles bourgeoises, tout excités que 2022 arrive. « On va enfin pouvoir ne pas parler des sujets de fond ! ». Soulagement dans les rédactions de France, les commentaires de candidatures politiques nécessitant un minimum de travail pour un maximum de clics. Dans la sphère journalistico-intellectuelle, on s’adonne déjà aux joutes verbales préférées des terrasses parisiennes : la spéculation électorale. « Si Jadot passe, alors Macron baisse, Le Pen monte, mais l’arrivée de Zemmour va rebattre les cartes ». « Si Rousseau gagne, Mélenchon baisse, Macron monte, mon érection aussi ». « Oui mais l’abstention », « L’absten-quoi ? ».

    En cette rentrée, comptez sur Frustration : dernier sur l’actu des présidentielles !

  • #abstention : le rejet d’une #Démocratie devenue formelle ? – par #Eric_Juillot
    https://www.les-crises.fr/abstention-le-rejet-dune-democratie-devenue-formelle%e2%80%89-par-eric-ju

    Et si l’abstention aux dernières élections régionales et départementales exprimait quelque chose de bien plus profond que l’indifférence de l’électorat ? L’abstention qui a marqué les dernières #élections_départementales et régionales a pulvérisé le plafond d’un scrutin pourtant associé au long cours à une faible participation [1] : seul un tiers des inscrits a estimé nécessaire […]

    #elections_régionales #Souveraineté #Union_européenne #Démocratie,_abstention,_élections_départementales,_elections_régionales,_Eric_Juillot,_Souveraineté,_Union_européenne

  • Take Me to Your Leader : The Rot of the American Ruling Class
    https://jacobinmag.com/2021/04/take-me-to-your-leader-the-rot-of-the-american-ruling-class

    Voici une analyse des rapports de classe aux États Unis depuis le New Deal jusqu’aujourd’hui. On y apprend les noms ets prises de positions des organismes et personnages qui représentent les groupes de capitalistes les plus importants. On comprend également comment la droite à réussie à placer Donald Trum dans la Maison Blanche.

    27.4.2021 by Doug Henwood - For more than three centuries, something has been going horribly wrong at the top of our society, and we’re all suffering for it.

    Back in the George W. Bush years, I began thinking the US ruling class had entered a serious phase of rot. After a round of tax cuts skewed toward the very rich, Bush and his cronies launched a horribly destructive and expensive war on Iraq that greatly damaged the reputation and finances of the United States on its own imperial terms.

    The president and his cronies seemed reckless, vain, and out of control. Bush adviser Karl Rove dismissed the critiques of “the reality-based community,” with its conclusions drawn from “the judicious study of discernible reality.” Instead, Rove asserted, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.” One waited in vain for the grown-ups to appear on the scene and right the imperial ship, but, if they existed at all, they were too busy celebrating their tax cuts and pumping up the housing bubble to bother.

    After that bubble burst, creating the financial crisis and the Great Recession, the smooth and cerebral Barack Obama seemed like a stabilizing force. That’s not what many of his more fervent supporters expected of his presidency; they were hoping for a more peaceful and egalitarian world, but they got neither. Facing the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, one like that depression driven in large part by Wall Street, Obama was not about to do anything on the scale of the New Deal. There was the early and underpowered stimulus package, but beyond that, there would be no major reregulation of finance and no programs of public investment, income security, or redistribution. Unlike the Franklin Roosevelt administration, or even John F. Kennedy’s, for that matter, there was little political ferment around the White House, even though the Democratic policy elites came out of the same Ivy League circles as their ancestors.

    The disappointments of the Obama years prepared the way for Donald Trump. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, many people (including sometimes me) thought the establishment would somehow keep Trump from winning. Hillary Clinton, the product of Wellesley College and Yale Law School, would stop the vulgarian who cheated his way into Wharton from entering the Oval Office. But her brand of status-quo politics failed to inspire.

    Trump was not the bourgeoisie’s favorite candidate. He had support from provincial plutocrats but not from the executive suite at Goldman Sachs. When he took office and immediately began ransacking, one wondered if the deep state would rein him in. Maybe the CIA would even arrange a malfunction in Air Force One’s fuel line. But it was not to be. Tax cuts and deregulation made capital forget all their reservations about Trump, and the stock market made 128 fresh daily highs — on average, one every six days — between inauguration and the onset of the coronavirus crisis. It took his encouragement of an attack on the US Capitol for the big bourgeoisie to complain openly — 99 percent of the way through his time in office.

    Fish rots from the head, they say, and it’s tempting to think the same about US society. We’ve always had a brutal ruling class — more brutal at certain times (the years of slavery and Jim Crow) than others (the New Deal). But despite the brutality, there was usually a great economic and cultural dynamism. That now seems long past, and I’m not just talking about the era of Trump and the coronavirus. Something has gone badly wrong at the top of this society, and all of us are suffering for it.

    One doesn’t want to idealize the ruling classes of the past. For all of history, their wealth and status have depended on exploiting those below them — and they’ve never shied away from extreme measures if they feel that those things are threatened. But the present configuration of the American ruling class is having a hard time performing the tasks it’s supposed to in order to keep the capitalist machine running. It’s not investing, and it’s allowing the basic institutions of society — notably the state but also instruments of cultural reproduction like universities — to decay.

    Capitalists have long been driven by shortsightedness and greed. But it feels like we’ve entered what Christian Parenti calls the necrotic phase of American capitalism.

    Lest anyone misunderstand, this isn’t an argument for a better elite or a “true” meritocracy; it’s ultimately an argument for a different society, one not dependent on the rule of plutocrats and their hired hands.

    A core concept of Marxism is class struggle, but the tradition exhibits a strange dearth of investigation of the ruling class. When I first started getting interested in elite studies, I asked the Marxist political scientist Bertell Ollman whose writing he liked on the issue. He thought a moment and said, “Marxists don’t write about the ruling class.” When I asked why not, he said, “They think it’s obvious.”

    You could say the ruling class is the capitalist class, of course, but what does that mean? CEOs of Fortune 500 companies? Their shareholders, to whom they allegedly answer? What about the owner of a chain of franchised auto parts stores in the Midwest? The owner may be able to get his congressperson on the phone — a senator might be harder — to get a tax break slipped unobtrusively into a larger bill, but what influence does he have over larger state policy? Are car dealers part of the ruling class? If so, what about new versus used? And what about someone like Henry Kissinger, a man who started as a clever functionary and ended up shaping US foreign policy in much of the 1970s, and who still has an influence over how diplomats and politicians think? How about less grand politicians and high government officials? Are they employees of the ruling class or its partners — or shapers, even? It’s not at all obvious.

    Before proceeding, I should say I’m not taking seriously the idea that there is no ruling class — that there are voters in a democracy who may be divided into interest groups but none are dominant. Yes, the constrained democracy we live under is a lot better than a dictatorship would be; elections do act as a limit on elite power. But that’s a long way from the popular self-government socialists dream of. Nor am I taking seriously conceptions of a ruling class that center on PC-obsessed, organic-food-eating urban elites. That set has some influence, especially among the liberal wing of the consciousness industry, but it doesn’t shape the political economy.

    I’d say the ruling class consists of a politically engaged capitalist class, operating through lobbying groups, financial support for politicians, think tanks, and publicity, that meshes with a senior political class that directs the machinery of the state. (You could say something similar about regional, state, and local capitalists and the relevant machinery.) But we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the political branch of the ruling class in shaping the thinking of the capitalists, who are too busy making money to think much on their own or even organize in their collective interest.

    One way to approach the question of a ruling class is through Italian elite theory, namely the work of Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, and Robert Michels. In his four-volume warhorse The Mind and Society, Pareto laid out a clear vision of society:

    Ignoring exceptions, which are few in number and of short duration, one finds everywhere a governing class of relatively few individuals that keeps itself in power partly by force and partly by the consent of the subject class, which is much more populous.

    To preserve its power, that governing class must be “adept in the shrewd use of chicanery, fraud, corruption.”

    Individual governing elites do not last: “History is a graveyard of aristocracies,” Pareto declared. Contributing to their passing is a loss in vigor, an effect of the decadence of the well-established and the failure to invigorate the stock by recruiting from below. For Pareto, a healthy governing class is able to absorb the leaders of the “governed” and thereby neutralize them. “Left without leadership, without talent, disorganized, the subject class is almost always powerless to set up any lasting régime.” (Karl Marx said something similar: “The more a ruling class is able to assimilate the foremost minds of a ruled class, the more stable and dangerous becomes its rule.”) But if the governing class is overcome by “humanitarian sentiments” and is unable to absorb the natural leaders of the oppressed, it could be overthrown, especially if “the subject class contains a number of individuals disposed to use force.”

    Mosca wrote at some length about strata below the ruling elite. The one just below it, which plays the officer corps to the enlisted personnel of the masses, is crucial to the health of the system and functions as the backbone of political stability. Should it erode, morally or intellectually, then society will unravel. It can tolerate foolishness at the top if the stratum just one level below is in good order — one thinks of Trump and the grown-up problem.

    Mosca saw clearly the profound relation of the family to political and economic power, something modern conservatives understand (and people who wonder about the coexistence of “family values” and neoliberal politics don’t). Upper-class parents do their best to prepare their children for rule, and there’s always a heavy dose of inheritance in social power. In an exuberant moment, Mosca wrote:

    In order to abolish privileges of birth entirely, it would be necessary to go one step farther, to abolish the family, recognize a vagrant Venus and drop humanity to the level of the lowest animalism. In the Republic Plato proposed abolishing the family as an almost necessary consequence of the abolition of private property.

    Further down, Mosca lamented the state of the European middle classes in the 1930s. He warned, “If the economic decline of [the middle] class should continue for a whole generation, an intellectual decline in all our countries would inevitably follow.” They are “great repositories of independent opinion and disinterested public spirit,” without which:

    we would have either a plutocratic dictatorship, or else a bureaucratico-
    military dictatorship, or else a demagogic dictatorship by a few experts in mob leadership, who would know the arts of wheedling the masses and of satisfying their envies and their predatory instincts in every possible way, to the certain damage of the general interest.

    He didn’t define the “general interest,” a concept often confused with what’s good for the upper orders, but the erosion of the US middle ranks over the last few decades has had a trajectory not unlike what Mosca worried about.

    Of the Italian trio, Michels is the most interesting, not least because so much of his attention is paid to the Left formations to which he once belonged. His most famous contribution is known as the “iron law of oligarchy,” a belief that organizations will always evolve into hierarchies, even parties ostensibly trying to overthrow the hierarchies of bourgeois society. Marx was right about class struggle as the motor of history, Michels conceded, but every new class coming to power will itself evolve a new hierarchy. Even syndicalists, argued Michels, who criticize the oligarchic tendencies in socialist parties and favor instead direct strike action by organized workers, need leaders. “Syndicalism is even more than socialism a fighting party. It loves the great battlefield. Can we be surprised that the syndicalists need leaders yet more than do the socialists?”

    Within socialist parties and organization, Michels pointed to the prominence of traitors to the bourgeoisie. Most of the prominent nineteenth-century socialist writers, Marx and Engels most famously, were bourgeois intellectuals; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a rare exception. So, too, the revolutionary leaders of the twentieth century: Vladimir Lenin came out of a middle-class family and was educated as a lawyer; Leon Trotsky was born to a rich farming family and educated in cosmopolitan Odessa; Che Guevara was another child of the middle class who was surrounded by books and political conversation as he grew up. No doubt the descendants of the old syndicalists would argue that these relatively elite origins contributed to the ossification of the Russian and Cuban revolutions — but one could cite Michels’s retort about the necessity of leaders to the syndicalists in response to that critique. Growing up bourgeois confers some advantages — time to study, as well as exposure to the nature of power — often denied to people further down the social hierarchy. Instead of lambasting their “privilege,” it might be better to welcome these class traitors.

    This doesn’t mean one should be complacent about them, or about the concept of leadership in general. Many on the Left have resisted applying Michels’s iron law to our parties and occasionally our governments, but it would be better to acknowledge the power of the tendency and figure out the best way to keep those leaders accountable through what Michels called “a serene and frank examination of the oligarchical dangers of democracy.” It’s better to be open about the reality of hierarchies than to pretend they don’t exist; even professedly leaderless organizations are subject to domination by the charismatic.

    The Italians focus primarily on politics and the state as the sites of rule, without much interest in their relations with capitalists. For an American, that seems like a serious deficit. But in some senses, the focus on politics is clarifying. That’s where class conflicts are often crystallized, sharpened to a point — more so than in the workplace, which can appear to be the site of interaction among individuals rather than classes. As the Marxist political theorist Nicos Poulantzas put it, through relations with the state, the complex and diffuse relation between classes “assumes the relatively simple form of relations between the dominant and the dominated, governors and governed.”

    We once had a coherent ruling class, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), who more or less owned and ran the United States from its founding through the 1970s. Based largely in the Northeast, with offshoots in the Upper Midwest, WASPs went to the same elite schools and colleges, belonged to the same clubs, married out of the same pool, and vacationed in the same favorite rural retreats. There were Southern WASPs, descendants of the slave-owning gentry, but they never had the social weight of their northern relatives — though they did rule their region and enjoy an outsize role in Congress for decades.

    At the rank-and-file level, men worked in genteel law firms and brokerages or as executives in old-line manufacturing firms, and women did volunteer work for museums and charities and maintained the social relations that kept the group functioning together as a class. At the high end, WASPs played a role in government far out of proportion to their numbers, most notably in foreign policy. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), target of innumerable conspiracy theories generated from left and right for its prominent role in shaping imperial policy, traces its origins to the end of World War I, when a delegation of British and American diplomats and scholars decided to preserve the transatlantic comity of the war years and form a council whose purpose was, in the words of Peter Gosse’s official history, “to convene dinner meetings, to make contact with distinguished foreign visitors under conditions congenial to future commerce.” The CFR didn’t begin to influence policy until the 1930s, when its fellows and members helped plot the takeover of the British Empire, a concern of the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

    That special identification with England has been foundational to WASP identity from the first. But it took waves of fresh immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, people with strange customs and sometimes dangerous politics, for the formation to come to energized self-consciousness as a class, beginning in the 1880s. That decade brought the obsession with finding one’s old-stock roots, the first country clubs, the founding of the Social Register, and, quite importantly, the opening of the Groton School by Endicott Peabody, which shaped generations of the wellborn as well as the children of arrivistes who wanted to learn the ways of the wellborn. Peabody’s vision was one of “Muscular Christianity,” popular among elites of the time, who were worried about a loss of manliness in an increasingly urban society — austere, disciplined, athletic. FDR said that the influence of Peabody and his wife meant more to him than “any other people next to my father and mother.”

    Coming out of World War II, elite WASPs like Averell Harriman (son of a robber baron) and Dean Acheson (son of the Episcopal bishop of Connecticut, who learned how to row crew from Harriman at Groton), supplemented by recruits like George Kennan (son of a Milwaukee lawyer) and John McCloy (a poor kid from Philly who learned the ways of the elite at an early age and got certified with a Harvard Law degree), shaped what would become the US empire. Their skill can’t be denied; that empire has had a long and successful run, though it now looks to be coming unglued. (The competitive pressures of having the USSR as rival, and having socialism as a plausible alternative to capitalism in the twentieth century, did bring out some of the talent in the upper crust.)

    McCloy, despite being a recruit, earned the title of “chairman of the American establishment” for having run postwar Germany and becoming a name partner of the law firm that represented the Rockefellers, Chase, and Big Oil (from which he took a break to run the young World Bank, which he kept safe for Wall Street). At one point, he was simultaneously chair of Chase, the Ford Foundation, and the Council on Foreign Relations and partner at the elite law firm Milbank, Tweed, where he basically ran US Middle Eastern policy.

    Cast into political exile in the Eisenhower years, the WASPs returned with the status-anxious John F. Kennedy, desperate for the approval of a stratum suspicious of Irish Catholics. Kennedy, who was denounced by WASP columnist Lucius Beebe as “a rich mick from the Boston lace curtain district,” went to Choate and Harvard to learn the manner of the upper orders. As president, he brought back the older patrician crew and added the notorious McGeorge Bundy, another Groton product, who would be one of the most enthusiastic promoters of the Vietnam War, a disaster that pretty much ended that caste’s dominance of foreign policy.

    Fresh from helping wreck Southeast Asia, Bundy went on to run the Ford Foundation, where, among other things, he applied counterinsurgency techniques developed in Vietnam to the urban crisis of the 1970s. Bundy’s strategy, as Karen Ferguson recounts in Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism, was to split off the “natural” leadership of the black community and incorporate it into the ruling class, then encourage the separate development of black schools and cultural institutions on an apartheid model, because the broad population just wasn’t advanced enough to join white society. The Italian elite theorists would have been proud of him.

    As the twentieth century rolled on, WASP predominance eroded in spheres other than foreign policy. The 1970s saw a mini genre of “decline of the WASP” books and articles crop up, as Jews, Eastern and Southern European ethnics, and even blacks and Latinos began to permeate cultural, political, and business elites. At the same time, the old-line manufacturing companies, headquartered not only in New York but also in outposts of the WASP archipelago like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, fell to Japanese competition and squeezed profits. Inflation and multiple generations of inheritance ate away at old WASP fortunes. And the deregulation of Wall Street that began in the mid-1970s turned the genteel world of white-shoe investment banking (and associated law firms) into a ruthlessly competitive one. Gone were the days when a well-bred young man could pop out of Yale and into a quiet job as a bond salesman.

    To use the language of finance theory, the transaction replaced the relationship. All those old WASP ties of blood and club were replaced by principles of pure profit maximization. Firms that had dealt with the same investment bank for decades shopped around to find out who could give them the best deal. The stable world of the immediate postwar decades, in which the same companies dominated the Fortune 500 and trading on the New York Stock Exchange, was transformed by a massive wave of takeovers and business failures.

    This new competitive structure destroyed the WASP dominance at the same time that it created fresh fortunes: oil and natural resources in the South and the West, and takeover artists like Henry Kravis and Carl Icahn. At the center of the turbulence was the investment banking firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert, which, though it bore a pedigreed name — the firm’s founder, Anthony Drexel, was a partner of J. P. Morgan and a member of Philadelphia’s aristocracy — had turned into a machine for borrowing lots of money and powering a fresh generation of arrivistes. But with the aristocracy in decline, the new arrivals had little to be assimilated into, unlike in Peabody’s days. Instead, the 1980s brought us stylized remnants of the old order like The Official Preppy Handbook, a guide to dressing and acting like the aristocracy, and Anglophilic clothing designed by Ralph Lauren (born in the Bronx as Ralph Lifshitz).

    Though always a major part of American life, money was about to take a starring role. It’s hard to believe now, but when Forbes compiled its first list of the 400 richest Americans in 1982, there were just over a dozen billionaires among them, and the minimum price of entry was $100 million, or $270 million in 2020 dollars. Oil and real estate tycoons were prominent among them. Now, tech and finance dominate the list, and the fortunes are far larger — the minimum price of entry in 2020 was $2.1 billion. The five richest 2020 members were worth $520 billion; in 1982, the top five were worth $11 billion, or $26 billion in current dollars. A 2015 study of the Forbes list over the years found a decreasing prominence of inherited wealth and a rise in self-made fortunes — though the new arrivals were more likely to depart the list than the pedigreed.

    The economic and financial forces that helped destroy the WASPs and create a new capitalist class deserve close attention. Much of it revolved around the stock market, as the 1970s became the 1980s. The entire model of how to run large corporations was transformed.

    Stock markets are peculiar institutions. They’re touted in the media as economic thermometers, to a public that has little idea what they do. Few people have deep ownership interest in the markets; only about half of American households have retirement accounts, with an average holding of $65,000. The richest 1 percent own 55 percent of stocks; the next 9 percent own 39 percent, leaving all of 6 percent for the bottom 90 percent. The market’s behavior can seem bizarre to outsiders and connoisseurs alike, swinging from extremes of joy to despair. Its reaction to news can be perplexing, but it’s a realm where people are all trying “to beat the gun,” an American phrase that John Maynard Keynes adopted in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money to describe the logic of speculative markets.

    As frivolous as the market can seem, there’s a serious business going on under all the froth. Much of the productive apparatus of the United States is owned by public corporations — that is, ones whose stock is widely held and traded on exchanges. Those shares represent ownership interests in those corporations. As detached as the stock market may appear from reality, it’s actually an institution central to class formation — the way an owning elite stakes its ownership claims on an economy’s means of production as a whole. That’s in contrast to the nineteenth century, when industrial firms were owned by individual capitalists or small partnerships. As those firms grew, they became too big to be run and funded by a small circle; their organizational form gave way to the professionally managed corporation owned by outside shareholders. That became the dominant form of economic activity in the early twentieth century.

    But the owners — the shareholders — don’t know the first thing about how to run corporations, so they have to hire specialists to do the work for them. This presents what’s known in the trade as an agency problem: the owners are dependent on hired hands to run their companies for them, but how do they know the executives are running the firms in the shareholders’ interests and not their own? Yes, shareholders elect the board of directors, and boards hire and fire top management, but in practice, it’s not easy for disperse shareholders to supervise a board, and crafty CEOs can turn boards into rubber stamps. If the market were working in accordance with official theology, it would be disciplining actors into the proper profit-maximizing behavior, but clearly that’s not enough.

    A classic work on the topic is Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means’s The Modern Corporation and Private Property, published at the depths of the Depression in 1932, when capitalism was in deep disrepute. Berle and Means, both advisers to FDR, saw the large, publicly owned corporation — ever since nicknamed the Berle-Means corporation, marked by what they call the “dissolution of the atom of property” — as a profound innovation. It was about to become, if it wasn’t already, “the dominant institution of the modern world.”

    There were many perils in this new arrangement. As Berle and Means noted, “out of professional pride,” managers could choose to “maintain labor standards above those required by competitive conditions and business foresight or . . . improve quality above the point which, over a period, is likely to yield optimum returns to the stockholders.” This would benefit other stakeholders, as we call them today, namely workers and customers, but it would be in “opposition to the interests of ownership.”

    But that was not without political promise. As good New Dealers, they thought this new capitalism could be managed responsibly after the reckless high jinks of the 1920s. Gone were the rabid profit maximizers of the robber baron era; why push to maximize profits when they’ll only be passed along to shareholders? With the profit maximizing incentive gone, under a regime of proper state regulation and enlightened management, the system was evolving into a “collective capitalism,” as Berle called it in the preface to the revised 1967 edition. Or, as the authors put it in the original text, the modern corporation is “approach[ing] toward communist modalities.” It would be more accurate to say that this view aimed to make socialism obsolete and irrelevant now that the days of Jay Gould and J. P. Morgan had given way to the man in the gray flannel suit.

    As the legal historian Mark Roe argues, the Berle-Means corporation emerged out of a nineteenth-century populist distrust of concentrated financial power. Better dispersed ownership, the thinking went, than bank ownership. These trends were reinforced by the New Deal, which broke up banks, took them largely out of the stock ownership game, and made it harder for financial operators to interfere in corporate management.

    There was a clear political intent here. As Roe notes, the New Deal leashing of finance moved issues of ownership and class division off the political agenda, issues that were hot in the 1930s. FDR was explicit about the need to break up “private socialism” — concentrated corporate and financial power — in order to prevent “government socialism.” For New Dealers — many of them renegade WASPs rebelling against their kind’s Republicanism — the point of regulation wasn’t to stifle capital, it was to legitimate it by making financial power seem transparent and disinterested.

    For the first few postwar decades, the New Deal model was standard liberal doctrine. In The New Industrial State, John Kenneth Galbraith argued that rapacious profit maximization had been replaced by a secure mediocrity, and greedy capitalists by a “technostructure.” Top managers, who were well paid but on nothing like today’s scale, saw little point in risk-taking; they wanted sales growth and prestige, not the paychecks that would later populate the Forbes 400. Today’s paychecks are driven by stock prices; in the 1950s, top executives were paid mostly straight salaries. Shareholders had become vestigial; if they didn’t like the performance of firms they held stock in, they’d just sell the shares. No one ever troubled management.

    That comfortable world began falling apart in the 1970s, as profits stumbled, financial markets performed miserably, and inflation rose inexorably. As we’ll see later, the corporate class organized to address this politically, but there was also a fierce fight within the capitalist class as shareholders began demanding more.

    Enabling that demand for more was the major shift in the ownership of stocks. In the early 1950s, households (mostly rich ones, of course) owned over 90 percent of stock; now it’s under 40 percent. Large institutional holders like pension funds and mutual funds owned about 2 percent of all stock in the 1950s; now it’s around 30 percent. While the household owners of the mid-twentieth century had common interests in rising share prices and stable, generous dividends, they had no means of organizing to influence the corporations they owned. Today’s institutional owners have plenty of means. The diffuse, passive shareholders of the past have given way to the professional money managers of recent decades.

    Deteriorating economic and financial performance, combined with the change in ownership, provided rich material for the shareholder revolution. Beginning in the 1970s, financial theorists, notably Harvard’s Michael Jensen, began to query the Berle-Means corporation. In a 1976 paper, Jensen and coauthor William Meckling noted the oddity of the public corporate form: “How does it happen that millions of individuals are willing to turn over a significant fraction of their wealth to organizations run by managers who have so little interest in their welfare?” Having raised the question, they let the arrangement off the hook, essentially saying that it’s worked well so far. Jensen turned more aggressive in the 1980s, denouncing corporate managers as inefficient wastrels sorely in need of outside discipline. He particularly liked debt as a form of discipline; if a company had big debts to pay, it would concentrate managerial minds on maximizing profitability by cutting costs and closing or selling weaker divisions.

    Theorists revived interest in a 1965 paper by law professor Henry Manne, who argued that efficiency — by which he meant profitability — would best be served by having corporations constantly up for auction to the highest bidder. What came to be known as the “liquid market for corporate control” would discipline managers, forcing them to concentrate on profits and stock prices at the expense of all those old New Deal considerations.

    As theorists like Jensen did their work, financiers developed the practice: a debt-driven restructuring of corporate America. A wave of takeovers undertaken by investment boutiques like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and individual takeover artists like Icahn was launched at “underperforming” firms. While details vary, the model involved borrowing lots of money, taking over target firms against management’s wishes, and forcing a sale to the operator or some third party. Corporate indebtedness rose massively and fed the broad attack on labor that was underway in the 1980s; the quickest way to cut costs and raise your stock price was to do mass layoffs. The larger point of all these exercises was to center the stock price in managerial consciousness. That would solve the agency problem: make managers think like shareholders, relentlessly cutting costs and raising profits.

    The takeover wave of the 1980s completely disrupted the corporate landscape, bringing down a lot of old names and, with them, an old corporate culture. The renegades were initially seen as disreputable and greedy, conducting an assault on old values — the “barbarians at the gate,” as Bryan Burrough and John Helyar called their book on the battle for RJR Nabisco. Texas oilman turned financial operator T. Boone Pickens framed his 1983 takeover attempt on Gulf as an attack on a pampered corporate elite. Pickens never took over Gulf; it ended up being bought by SOCAL (Standard Oil of California), but he made over $700 million by selling the stock he’d accumulated in the attempt. Another casualty of the deal was to diminish the old WASPy Pittsburgh corporate elite, of which Gulf was a pillar. And, as Fortune noted in an admiring 2019 obituary for Pickens, raids like his changed the way managers did business; the constant fear of a hostile takeover was “revolutionary, forever changing the way companies interacted with their shareholders.”

    As often happens, the debt mania came to a bad end when too much money was borrowed to buy bad assets at excessive prices. The model collapsed in a wave of bankruptcies and a long recession in the early 1990s. But later in that decade, shareholders came up with a new ploy to press their interests: pension-fund activism, perversely led by public funds like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). (Curiously, KKR, one of the pioneers of the 1980s takeover movement, which had initially been seen as reckless and maybe scandalous, was legitimated on Wall Street when it won an investment from the Oregon state pension fund; the second K, Henry Kravis, still publicly thanks the fund for helping launch them. Everywhere you look, you can see that states shape markets.) CalPERS would draw up lists of underperforming companies and lobby management to tighten the ship — meaning cut costs and boost the stock price. When I interviewed the chief counsel of CalPERS in the mid-1990s, I asked him about the propriety of using funds held in workers’ names to pursue an anti-worker agenda; he said they just cared about maximizing returns.

    The result of all this was to turn the stock market into an ever-updating grade on corporate performance. To induce managers to think like shareholders, their compensation was increasingly linked to the stock price. The intra-capitalist family fight looked to have been resolved in favor of shareholders. Predictable mediocrity, the lodestar of the 1950s and 1960s, had given way to the cult of the profit-seeking CEO with a 25 percent return on equity.

    The shareholder revolution of the 1980s was supposed to make the passive investor a thing of the past. No longer would management run companies as private fiefdoms with little outside supervision: they’d be disciplined by activist investors and real-time report cards provided by stock prices.

    That was the case for quite a while, but the intraclass peace treaty after the shareholder revolution has brought back several aspects of that old world. Two are especially important: the growth of index funds and the explosion in stock buybacks, through which corporations have shoveled trillions of dollars into their shareholders’ pockets.

    Financial theory from the 1960s onward argued convincingly that it’s nearly impossible to beat the market. Sure, there are star investors like George Soros and Warren Buffett, but most people aren’t them. Instead of trying to beat the market, many investors decided to settle for matching it. Big money managers like Vanguard began offering mutual funds that replicated prominent stock market indexes, notably the S&P 500, by investing in the component stocks in proportion to their weights in the index. Because the management of an index fund is almost automatic, fees are very low compared to actively managed funds, which require the attention of highly paid specialists (who rarely deserve their compensation given how many of them lag the averages they’re supposed to beat).

    Over the last decade, law professors Lucian Bebchuk and Scott Hirst report, 95 percent of all inflows into investment funds have gone to passively managed funds, like mutual funds. The lion’s share has gone into funds managed by the Big Three (BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street), and that proportion has been rising. In 1998, those three firms held about 5 percent of the total capitalization of the S&P 500, an index made up of the stocks of the largest blue chip corporations. That share is now 21 percent, and it’s almost certain to keep growing. Managers of index funds rarely challenge management — and why would CEOs listen to them if they couldn’t, by definition, sell their stock? And while managers of passive funds swear that they care deeply about their corporate governance responsibilities — high-mindedly called “stewardship” in the literature — they have little economic incentive to do much. Any improvement caused by an indexer’s stewardship would accrue to other indexers as well, which would violate all norms of capitalist rationality. And with fees as low as they are, there’s not much money around to pay the stewards. Those entrusted with that task have about half a day for every company they cover. Index fund managers sometimes say they engage in behind-the-scenes lobbying of corporate managers, but the Big Three had no engagement at all with more than 90 percent of the firms in their portfolios.

    Of course, the kinds of supervision that authors like Bebchuk and Hirst long for, like dismantling defenses against hostile takeovers, aren’t good for the working class. But this does represent a significant departure from the early hopes of the shareholder revolutionaries. There are still activist hedge funds that take positions in companies they see as underperforming to provoke management changes or takeovers, but they’ve become a lot rarer than they were in the 1980s, when CEOs routinely felt like they were under siege.

    If you can’t buy and sell stocks based on corporate performance, there’s less discipline coming from the stock price. A financial world in which index funds dominate is one where the stock market plays almost no role in how corporations are run. That prompts the question: Who needs outside stockholders?

    In 2016, Inigo Fraser Jenkins, an analyst with the investment house Bernstein, declared indexing “worse than Marxism.” Central planning is bad enough, he argued, but a system in which capital allocation was purely formulaic looks backward rather than shaping the future, which will damage innovation. Soon after writing that, Fraser Jenkins was diagnosed with lymphoma, and when he returned from his brush with death, he wrote a near-four-thousand-word essay musing on whether what he does for a living is worth it. Both those positions are worth taking seriously. With stockholders tending in the direction of autopilot, are they irrelevant?

    This new unity of purpose between managers and shareholders has produced some perverse results, notably an eagerness to shower the shareholders with corporate cash. In both academic and popular theory, the stock market is supposed to be a way to fund corporate investment; shareholders are providing capital to firms in need of it. In fact, the stock market does very little of that. According to statistics collected by finance professor Jay Ritter, US corporations raised just over $755 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs) — first sales of stock to the public by previously private corporations — between 1998 and 2020. That pales in comparison to the $8.5 trillion firms spent buying back their own stock over the same period, which is still only half their profits. Such stock buybacks — which were mostly illegal before 1982 — are intended to boost prices and make shareholders happy. But since CEOs and other top executives are now paid mainly in stock, buybacks make them happy, too. (Research by the Washington Post and the Securities and Exchange Commission has found that corporate executives often sell into a buyback program, profiting off the lift all the corporate purchases give to prices.) The Berle-Means corporation has been transformed into a machine for stuffing vast sums into the wallets of shareholders and CEOs.

    A study by Germán Gutiérrez and Thomas Philippon shows that buybacks have depressed investment, and that firms with high share ownership by index funds and other broad mutual funds that hold stocks rather than trading them aggressively (which, it should be said, makes excellent financial sense) do more buybacks and stint more on investment. Another reason to ask why we need outside shareholders.

    The capitalist class is showing faint signs of rethinking the shareholder-first orthodoxy. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable, big capital’s trade association, issued a statement signed by 181 CEOs declaring the business had social goals other than profit-making — responsibilities to “all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.” Commenting on the statement, JPMorgan Chase chair Jamie Dimon vowed “to push for an economy that serves all Americans,” a wish that is hard to square with his role in life. A subset of Wall Street money managers has been pushing for corporations to take environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into account when investing. That sounds nice, but a primer on ESG filters published by CNBC reports that such exemplars as Microsoft, Lyft, and Honeywell (which, among other things, makes parts for military aircraft) pass the worthiness test.

    Just after Joe Biden’s inauguration, BlackRock boss Larry Fink announced that because “climate risk is investment risk,” he would be voting shares under that firm’s management against boards and CEOs that failed to show “significant progress on the management and reporting of climate-related risk, including their transition plans to a net zero economy.” In that statement, Fink also expressed concern for those capitalism has forgotten to treat well, though he was sparing in detail on how he’d change things. After that high-minded display, however, Fink is finding some of Biden’s early climate moves a bit extreme. There’s the bottom line to consider.

    While much of this is risible, considering the sources and their material interests, the rhetorical shift is noteworthy. The corporate class is feeling unloved in ways it hasn’t since the 1970s.

    At the same time the stock market was acquiring a larger role in our economic life, so was a countermovement toward privatization. The number of public corporations has fallen dramatically — though their share of the economy has, if anything, grown — through mergers as well as the growth of private equity (PE), a form of business that hearkens back to the nineteenth century, before the emergence of the Berle-Means corporation.

    Curiously, modern PE traces its roots to some of the prime agents of the shareholder revolution, buyout boutiques like KKR. Of course, the 1980s buyout firms weren’t the first to prowl the financial landscape, armed mostly with other people’s money and looking to do deals — you could see J. P. Morgan himself as such an operator — but they were obscure players in the early postwar decades. The 1982 buyout of Gibson Greetings, led by former Treasury secretary (and avid right-wing propagandist) William E. Simon, made him and his partners millions of dollars when the company went public sixteen months later. It’s often credited as the deal that got the 1980s buyout movement going, but it was KKR, founded in 1976 by three alumni of the late investment bank Bear Stearns (which blew up in the 2008 financial crisis), that really made the headlines. Among KKR’s triumphs of the 1980s were the buyouts of Safeway — which led to mass layoffs, union-busting, and worker suicides — and RJR Nabisco, the deal that inspired the 1989 best-seller Barbarians at the Gate.

    With the end of the “roaring ’80s,” the markets and the economy entered a period of doldrums that they didn’t emerge from until the middle of the next decade. Buyout activity slowed markedly, as corporate America tried to digest all the debt contracted during the period of extreme exuberance. There was a surge with the dot-com mania of the late 1990s, a retreat when it collapsed, another surge in the mid-2000s, a bigger retreat when the whole world nearly fell apart in 2008 (a year when a private equity titan, Bain’s Mitt Romney, ran for president), and yet another surge over the last decade.

    The core structure of private equity is fairly simple. A small management team raises a pool of money from rich individuals and institutions, then cruises for deals. The outside investors don’t have much say in how things are run; they have to trust that the management team knows what it’s doing. The typical target is an established firm that has seen better days. The PE shop buys the firm and works it over, cutting costs — most notoriously through layoffs but also by selling or closing the weaker operations. The purchase usually involves a major amount of borrowed money — money contributed by the outside investors is just a foundation, on top of which sits copious amounts of debt — which means a good deal of the target’s cash flow has to be devoted to paying off interest and principal. On top of that, the new PE owners often issue debt in the target’s name and pay themselves rich dividends with the proceeds. Returns for the PE firm’s principals can be very generous; outside investors, however, don’t necessarily do so well after the principals take their cut. The goal is usually to sell the firm to someone else several years down the line, either to another PE firm or to the public with a stock offering.

    Private equity has become a major employer — not directly, since their staffs are relatively small, but through the companies they own. The Carlyle Group, KKR, and Blackstone together employ close to 2 million people. It’s odd to think about PE this way. As Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett put it a few years ago, because of “their ruthless focus on efficiency and profit,” these companies are “better known for cutting jobs” than creating them.

    Private equity’s apologists say the model contributes to growth and employment, but lately, PE has been in the news for carnage in retail — chains like Toys “R” Us were killed in part by the enormous debt imposed by their PE owners — and for jacking up the price of health care, where the buyout artists have recently been working their magic. PE went from being little involved in health care twenty years ago to having a massive presence today. Hospitals, medical and dental practices, and ambulance operators were taken over and often “rolled up,” as they say in the business, into large, heavily indebted regional or national behemoths. With the unexpected costs of the COVID-19 crisis, the PE model “amplified . . . salary cuts, layoffs, and bankruptcies across the health care industry,” in the words of an article in, of all places, the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Faced with unexpected costs and little financial cushion, “the short-term focus of the PE model led to hard cost cutting rather than more in-depth planning for the future.” Salaries and staff were slashed amid a profound health emergency.

    But what’s most striking about PE is how it’s reconfigured the capitalist class — away, to some degree, from the dispersed ownership of the public company and back to a narrower ownership group. Curiously, many of the PE firms have themselves gone public, including KKR and Blackstone. Blackstone’s IPO in 2007 was exquisitely timed, arriving as the first symptoms of the great financial crisis were revealing themselves; you’d suspect that the firm’s two leading figures, Stephen Schwarzman and Hamilton “Tony” James (a member of Henry and William’s family), surmised that things were about to go south and it’d be a good time to cash in on the exuberance of the investing public. Blackstone’s principals kept all the voting shares and the right to set their own pay. Other PE firms have engaged in similar maneuvers to maintain tight management control. Even going public hasn’t changed the industry’s predilection for calling the shots with little external supervision.

    A less malignant subset of PE is venture capital (VC), which provides money to start-ups, many of them in tech. It’s not picking over “incumbent” old companies for unexploited values; it’s trying to create new value, some of it fanciful.

    In a world made flush with free Federal Reserve money — trillions of it after the 2008 financial crisis, and a few more trillions amid the COVID-19 crisis — VCs have had cash to burn. The characteristic creature of the time has been the “unicorn,” if it achieved a billion-dollar valuation, and a “decacorn” if it managed ten times that. The exuberant funding of unprofitable firms was reminiscent of the late-1990s dot-com era, but unlike that time, the public didn’t participate through the stock market — it was funded by VCs using money from institutional investors and billionaires.

    In the historiography of Wall Street, VCs and other “insiders” were the smart money who began selling off their investments to the masses through IPOs when it looked like time to get out. That was the spirit of the late 1990s, captured by star analyst Henry Blodget’s characterization of a now-forgotten stock called 24/7 Media as a “piece of shit” even while his employer, Merrill Lynch, was urging clients to “accumulate.” Blodget, who was fined $4 million and banned for life from the securities business, went on to be a financial journalist.

    This time, though, the VCs held back, waiting years to go public. Word was that they and their beneficiaries didn’t want all the scrutiny that came with an IPO — pesky shareholders wanting their say and their share. And when some of the big names finally made their debut, many initially fell on their faces. That didn’t stop the IPOs, however; from 2018 onward, we’ve seen some of the most vigorous activity in initial offerings, though nothing like the late 1990s. The public company is far from dead, but it’s not as alluring as it once was.

    Recent decades have seen another throwback to nineteenth-century models: an increasing prominence for the owners of very profitable private firms. A study of US tax records, “Capitalists in the Twenty-
    First Century,” by economist Matthew Smith and colleagues, finds that a large portion of the upper ranks — just over half of the proverbial 1 percent — is populated by the owners of closely held firms, rather than the public company CEOs who get so much of the press. Under American tax law, these are structured as pass-through entities, meaning their profits are untaxed at the firm level and distributed directly to their owners, either a single individual or a small partnership.

    The form has grown sharply over the decades. Its share of total business income rose from 10 percent in the mid-1980s to 35 percent in recent years. Contributing to that growth are both a rise in value added per worker and an increasing share of that value taken by the owners.

    Who are these owners? Most of them (85 percent) are “self-made,” at least in the sense that their parents were not in the 1 percent — though the remaining 15 percent whose parents were is fifteen times their share of the population. They’re unlikely to operate in capital-intensive industries, like manufacturing, which are more appropriate to conventional corporate forms. As the authors say:

    Typical firms owned by the top 1–0.1% are single-establishment firms in professional services (e.g., consultants, lawyers, specialty tradespeople) or health services (e.g., physicians, dentists). A typical firm owned by the top 0.1% is a regional business with $20M in sales and 100 employees, such as an auto dealer, beverage distributor, or a large law firm.

    These enterprises yield a nice living for their owners, especially at the highest end. Firms owned by the top 0.1 percent (those with annual incomes of $1.6 million or more) have an average of seventy-four employees who yield a profit of $14,000 each for the boss — more than $10 million in total. Few of these owners have more than one business, which makes for some precarity, and few businesses survive their owners. Even at the high end, this is not “Big Capital,” though it’s fat personal income. But they make up much of the top 0.1 percent — 84 percent of it in all. That’s thirteen times the number who make their big incomes as officers of public corporations; in the aggregate, privateers make eight times as much as their corporate comrades.

    An interesting take on regional elites — those who live outside metropolitan centers and own businesses that might be small by globalists’ standards but are big in local terms — comes from the historian Patrick Wyman. Wyman wrote about what he called the “local gentry” in his hometown of Yakima, a city of 94,000 in Washington’s fruit and wine country, a long 140 miles from cosmopolitan Seattle. They own the region’s orchards and vineyards, and the businesses that serve those industries. Many are quite rich — not private equity rich, but enough to fund, in Wyman’s words, “hilltop mansions, a few high-end restaurants, and a staggering array of expensive vacation homes in Hawaii, Palm Springs, and the San Juan Islands.” You can say the same of hundreds of small cities around the country — Jeep dealers, McDonald’s franchisees, construction companies.

    This formation looks a lot like a major base for the Republican Party: fervent enemies of taxes and regulations who may be too dispersed to cohere independently as a class but who can be nurtured by conservative politicians, donor networks, and think tanks. As of late October 2020, Yakima’s contributions to Donald Trump exceeded those to Biden by two or three times — a sharp contrast with Seattle, where, in some zip codes, Biden was ahead by as much as a 72:1 margin (and with five times as many dollars as Yakima). Upper-class Yakima is part of a formation that has been around for a long time; they were the financial base of right-wing politics back when Richard Hofstadter was writing about the paranoid style, but they’ve gotten a lot richer.

    It’s not just geographical, it’s also a sectoral angle to the class base for right-wing politics. The MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, was the most charmingly visible of Trump’s marginal business supporters, but there are also characters like Marty Davis, whom the Washington Post described as a “quartz-countertop mogul” based in suburban Minneapolis, at whose lakefront house Trump held an indoor fundraiser just before his COVID diagnosis. Minneapolis is far from a backwater, but Davis operates in an industry that would never qualify for inclusion in the commanding heights of capitalism. Still, the Davis family, which diversified into countertops after a successful run in the dairy business, was rich enough to have made a brief appearance on Forbes’s 2015 list of America’s richest families, with $1.7 billion in net worth.

    All these developments do have some things in common: the share-price-motivated and buyback-driven public corporation, the extractive private-equity model, and the more exploitative closely held firm that dies with its founder all aim to take out as much money as possible, without much consideration for the future.

    The two-party system has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past several decades. Once the party of New Dealers and Southern segregationists, the Democrats have evolved into a coalition of the softer side of the metropolitan establishment and a progressive wing the party leadership hates. And the GOP, once the party of the northeastern WASP elite, has evolved into a coalition of plutocrats and an enraged provincial petite bourgeoisie (often mistaken for the “white working class”).

    Both transformations can be read as driven partly by circumstances and partly by conscious effort applied to parties themselves. For example, the decline of manufacturing weakened the Democrats’ labor base as well as the economic base of the old WASPs in the Republican Party. Democrat support for civil rights drove Dixiecrats out, and Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy welcomed them into a Republican Party that had once been fairly progressive on civil rights.

    But there were also vigorous internal restructuring programs that transformed the ideological coloration of the parties. In the 1980s, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), led by the likes of Bill Clinton, aimed to reinvent the Democratic Party for the neoliberal era by purging it of progressive forces left over from the 1960s and 1970s. The goal was to make it friendly to Wall Street and the Pentagon while dropping the civil rights and tree-hugger talk, and it was largely successful, as the party found popular support among professionals in the nicer suburbs.

    Without downplaying the importance of the transformation of the Democrats — always a party of capital that had to pretend not to be one for electoral purposes — it must be said that the change in the GOP and the growth of the Right are a far more interesting story, because that’s where the organized energy among the bourgeoisie has been for decades.

    In The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Richard Hofstadter quoted a woman who greeted Dwight Eisenhower’s victory over Ohio senator Robert Taft at the 1952 Republican convention by saying, “This means eight more years of socialism.” That seemed daft at the time, but now, many Republicans view Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as communists of some sort.

    Back in the 1950s, the Right was basically a movement of intellectuals funded by provincial petit bourgeois industrialists — the owners of machine tool makers in Milwaukee and the like. They saw Walter Reuther’s United Auto Workers (UAW) as socialism on the march, and Eisenhower as too accommodating of it. (Contempt for Eisenhower drove a lot of right-wing organizing in the 1950s.) The big bourgeoisie had made an unhappy peace with the New Deal. The corporate and Wall Street establishment, based in the Northeast, featuring marquee names like Rockefeller, du Pont, Pew, Mellon, and Whitney, and supplemented by small-town worthies from the Midwest, found political expression in Eisenhower’s party, a formation that survived into the early 1960s. They were temperamentally conservative in the sense of being cautious, but not ideologically driven.

    For most of the twentieth century, there was a great deal of ideological diversity within the two major parties. Though more conservative than the Democrats on economic issues, the Republican Party had a liberal wing, just as the Dems had a conservative one. Though it’s hard to believe today, when the Republican Party routinely race-baits to win the votes of white bigots, the GOP of the 1950s and 1960s often had a stronger civil rights record than the Democrats, because they didn’t have a large Southern component. Into the 1960s, the Republicans were frequently stronger than Democrats on civil liberties, too. There had long been far-right tendencies in the Republican Party — most notoriously Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy, who ended up disgraced after a wild run in the 1950s but whose obsessions, like hatred of upper-class Harvard-educated liberals, prefigured his modern descendants. But the party was dominated by northeastern WASPs. As Taft, a leader of the party’s conservative Midwestern wing, put it in 1952 after losing the presidential nomination to Eisenhower, “Every Republican candidate for President since 1936 has been nominated by the Chase National Bank.” Chase was a Rockefeller family enterprise, and it was certainly not socialist. But Eisenhower was not a reactionary. As he wrote to his brother:

    Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things . . . [but] their number is negligible and they are stupid.

    The business branch of that “splinter group” had a material problem with the Eisenhower-era settlement: General Motors may have preferred life without the UAW, but it could afford to pay union rates, especially in exchange for labor peace. Smaller fries couldn’t. They were caught in the petite bourgeoisie’s classic position, squeezed by big labor and big capital. Their freedom was under siege, and they reacted by funding a right-wing insurgency. The John Birch Society was founded in 1958 by the retired CEO of a Massachusetts-based candy company, Robert Welch, who’d made a fortune off lollipops and Junior Mints. Welch was rich, but he was no Rockefeller or Mellon.

    Three years earlier, William F. Buckley, a few years out of Yale, founded National Review, with the mission of “stand[ing] athwart history, yelling Stop,” as he wrote in the magazine’s first issue in November 1955. As incredible as this may sound now, Buckley had trouble raising money for the magazine and needed help from his father, a small-time oil baron. As Buckley later put it, the capitalists didn’t seem all that interested in the project of saving capitalism.

    Eisenhower’s tepidity and compromises energized the Right, whose insurgency was almost Bolshevist in its ideological and organizational discipline. The Bolshevik tendencies were no accident. There were not only intellectuals like James Burnham, a Trotskyist turned cofounder of National Review, but important organizers like Clif White and the ex-Communist Marvin Liebman, who consciously emulated Red tactics in organizing their insurgency, from organizational and ideological discipline to how to dominate a meeting. That rigor and energy dismayed and disoriented the moderates, who preferred politeness and compromise above all things.

    The Birchite and Buckleyite tendencies would eventually split, sort of — but before they did, they united in their affection for Arizona senator Barry Goldwater as their political avatar. Continuing the provincial petit bourgeois theme, Goldwater was the grandson of the founder of a five-outlet department store chain based in Phoenix — a flyspeck next to the likes of Macy’s. Goldwater — or, more accurately, Goldwater’s supporters — launched a bid for the 1960 Republican nomination that failed badly and had victor Richard Nixon betray the Right in several ways, but most visibly with his choice of the Massachusetts aristocrat Henry Cabot Lodge Jr as his vice presidential candidate.

    Goldwater tried again in 1964, and though he would eventually be crushed in the general election by Lyndon Johnson, the convention that nominated the Arizonan was an important rite of passage for the conservatives. As journalist Murray Kempton put it, “This convention is historic because it is the emancipation of the serfs . . . The serfs have seized the estate of their masters.” New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, a leader of the moderate Republican faction whose name embodied the old elite’s domination of the party, was shockingly heckled, a sign of the WASPs’ impending decline. The party’s transition on race was made crudely clear by insults directed against black attendees — one of whom saw his jacket deliberately burned with a cigarette. Jackie Robinson, who was a delegate, said that the performance made him feel like “a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.”

    Movement conservatives were undeterred by Goldwater’s massive loss and continued with their plot to take over the Republican Party. A year later, Buckley ran for mayor of New York on the Conservative Party ticket, with the conscious aim of drawing enough votes away from the liberal Republican John Lindsay to elect the Democratic candidate, Abraham Beame, and thereby weaken the GOP’s left flank. (The contrast with left liberals, who condemn any third-party challenge that might lead their party to a loss, is a vivid symptom of their lack of conviction.) Buckley initially thought he’d harvest votes from the city’s WASP elite, but they were put off by his social conservatism. Instead, he tapped into the growing backlash of white ethnics — the people at the end of the subway lines, as future Nixon adviser Kevin Phillips, lead architect of his anti–civil rights Southern strategy, put it. Buckley ended up with 13 percent of the vote — not huge, but a nontrivial amount for a third-party candidate, and a sign of things to come.

    Though much of that backlash was driven by race, there was also a class angle that most center-left analysts overlook. Lindsay was a social liberal and very attentive to the concerns of black New Yorkers, but on economic policy, he worked largely on behalf of the city’s powerful real estate industry, reflecting his patrician base. At the time, city policy was several years into accelerating the eviction of manufacturing and working-class housing from Manhattan and replacing it with offices and upscale residences. This was good for financiers, developers, and lawyers, but not for working-class whites — who expressed their resentment by lashing out at blacks and liberals rather than the less visible moneybags.

    Nixon, elected in 1968, would work similar resentments on a national scale, developing a mass base for conservative politics. But he mostly governed to the left of his rhetoric. His time in office brought us food stamps, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a proposal for a guaranteed annual income. Those compromises with liberalism energized the Right the same way Eisenhower’s had two decades earlier. (In the brief period when I was a young conservative, I cast my first presidential vote against Nixon because he was too liberal.) But Nixon provided longer-term assistance to the cause of the Republican right with his Southern strategy — appealing to the resentments of white Southerners (and their fellow thinkers in the urban North) over the social gains of black Americans.

    During Nixon’s final years as president, the Right began mobilizing in the extraparliamentary realm as well. Sidney Blumenthal’s 1986 book The Rise of the Counter-Establishment traces the ascent of the insurgent right’s policy infrastructure. The book is a reminder that while capitalists have a gut sense of their class interests, they can’t really think in detail about policy. For that, they fund think tanks.

    Blumenthal highlights a shift within the capitalist class that led to a change in the political complexion of its hired intellectuals. For decades, the corporate establishment funded the likes of the Council on Foreign Relations (which has, among others, a David Rockefeller room); the Brookings Institution, a hotbed of Democratic centrism; and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is conservative but, as Rockefeller once said, not “far out.” According to Irving Shapiro, CEO of DuPont in the 1970s and one of the era’s business statesmen, AEI shaped capitalist thought in that decade.

    A new cadre of rising Sun Belt entrepreneurs rejected this establishmentarian order, lusting for something more muscular. As Blumenthal points out, many of the nouveaux riches ran their own firms, unlike the old elite, who were the heads of public corporations. To the new class, that traditional order was stagnant. In 1973, beer mogul Joseph Coors founded the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, which took some time to get going but eventually became a powerhouse as the Reagan revolution set in.

    This new subclass brought a fresh worldview. As Blumenthal puts it, “The Sunbelt entrepreneurs possess neither authority endowed by inheritance nor authority stemming from bureaucratic function. For almost all Sunbelt entrepreneurs, social status is derived entirely from crisp new money.” Heritage, the intellectual avatar of this consciousness, spun forth multiple-volume briefings for the Reagan administration, much of which found its way into policy.

    But the big capitalists weren’t screaming for Ronald Reagan. In Blumenthal’s telling, they had to be pulled in his direction, and the think tanks played an important role in that process. Walter Wriston, the influential chair of Citibank from 1967 to 1984, said that his East Coast business set underestimated Reagan’s skills. His crowd initially preferred a more orthodox candidate, like former Texas governor John Connally or George H. W. Bush, for the presidency in 1980. But they came around. David Rockefeller provided the ultimate blessing: “My enthusiasm has grown. I didn’t adequately recognize the strength of his leadership.” Rockefeller’s conversion came about despite the early conservative movement’s ire toward his family and institutions like the CFR that it endowed.

    Blumenthal’s arrivistes held a mix of envy and contempt for the old establishment, resenting its prestige while lamenting its decadence. It’s curious how that view still pervades the American right, even though that old establishment is considerably reduced. Equally curious is how its institutions, the Ivy League universities, have become the boutique workshops for producing today’s meritocracy. While it’s tempting to point only at the Democratic side of that formation — the Clintons, Barack Obama — some of our leading right-populists have a similar institutional pedigree, a formation distinguished by its denunciation of elites. Josh Hawley went to Stanford and Yale Law; Mike Pompeo, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Ron DeSantis all went to Harvard Law. The former New Right, once the joint project of a rising subclass and movement conservatism, has aged into a game played by cynics.

    Blumenthal’s account centers on movement conservatism, which the corporate establishment didn’t participate in. But it began mobilizing on its own, developing new institutions and reviving older ones to fight the inflation-prone, worker-friendly(ish) Keynesian order and impose what we would later call the neoliberal agenda.

    As Benjamin Waterhouse emphasizes in Lobbying America, many of the businesspeople who pushed that neoliberal agenda in the 1970s were neither movement conservatives nor self-made entrepreneurs but career managers. They were often socially liberal. But they objected to the host of new demands coming from women and racial minorities, as well as to the explosive growth in regulation. This strained the accommodation with the New Deal and the Keynesian state beginning in the late 1960s, a discontent that intensified in the 1970s when inflation and fiscal recklessness seemed not like transient problems but the foundations of a new disorder. Deepening the hurt feelings of capitalists was perceived hostility to business in public opinion, popular culture, and, increasingly, among their employees.

    The major old-line business lobbies, the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce, had lost credibility and power in Washington because of their relentless anti-labor and anti–New Deal stances in the postwar decades, ceding ground to more accommodationist organizations.

    It took some time for capital to mount its counterrevolution. Modern business political action committees (PACs) got their start in the early 1960s, but their ranks were thin and their legal status murky until the Federal Election Commission legalized them in 1975. The number of corporate PACs subsequently exploded.

    You can’t tell the story of the new political consciousness of the 1970s business class without mentioning the Powell Memorandum, named after Lewis F. Powell, then a corporate lawyer and later a Supreme Court justice. Writing to the Chamber of Commerce in 1971, Powell worried about “the Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system,” but he worried even more about the spread of antibusiness attitudes in previously respectable realms like academia, the media, and churches, and among intellectuals, artists, and even politicians. He lamented the passivity of business in the face of these existential threats and urged a massive ideological mobilization by capital to make a fundamental case for its legitimacy.

    While the influence of the Powell memo is sometimes exaggerated, it did embody the business wisdom of the time and help inspire a quadrupling of the Chamber’s membership during the 1970s. Shedding its musty reputation but not its conservative politics, it reinvented itself as a slick, modern organization — but one railing against occupational safety inspectors and environmental regulations. It argued that business had no social responsibility, a position once associated with marginal figures like Milton Friedman, who was himself on the verge of becoming not at all marginal. The renascent Chamber became an important part of the Right’s institutional structure.

    But capital was organizing on other fronts as well. The Business Roundtable, made up of the CEOs of 150 large corporations, was founded at a private club in Manhattan in 1973 to fight the antibusiness drift of American politics. But the founding wasn’t on the executives’ initiative — they needed political actors to organize them, as they often do. When visiting Washington in 1971, John Harper, CEO of Alcoa, was urged by Treasury secretary John Connally and Federal Reserve chair Arthur Burns to form a “nonpartisan” lobbying group for big business as a whole — something that had never existed before. There were specific trade associations but nothing to represent the whole crew. Harper and several colleagues founded the Roundtable in 1973, an early sign that capital was becoming a class “for itself,” one capable of consciously organizing to pursue its own power and interests. It was, unlike the Heritage Foundation crowd, bipartisan, pragmatic, and (by its own imagining) nonideological.

    The Roundtable came into being just as the Right was founding its flagship think tanks: Heritage was born in the same year, 1973, and the Cato Institute four years later. For that relatively brief moment — the late 1970s into the early 1980s — productive parallel agitation by the mainstream business lobby and the newly mobilized right would result in moments of political triumph like the appointment of Paul Volcker to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve and the election of Ronald Reagan as president. Together, Volcker and Reagan would end the “inflationary spiral” of the 1960s and 1970s and break the economic and political power of organized labor.

    That triumph, however, would lead to a dissolution of capital’s broad political unity. As Lee Drutman shows in The Business of America Is Lobbying, his history of the industry, after creating an infrastructure for politicking, the focus of business narrowed dramatically, to sectoral and even firm-specific issues. Its fragmentation was so complete that it was unable or unwilling to mobilize when a posse of hopped-up reactionary GOP backbenchers shut down the government and threatened default on Treasury bonds. In an interview, Drutman explained this silence as a symptom of capital’s narrowing field of vision:

    It’s a business-wide issue, and they’re all looking out for their own narrow interests . . . Business rarely lobbies as a whole . . .Success has fractured them. When there was a lot at stake, it was easy to unify. They felt like they were up against Big Government and Big Labor. But once you don’t have a common enemy, the efforts become more diffuse . . . There’s not a sense of business organized as a responsible class.

    Most of the organizational energy ever since has been on the Right. The most prominent figure in that agitation for decades has been Charles Koch, a rare case of a serious capitalist organizing independently on his class’s behalf. Along with his late brother David, Charles has led a small but very rich network of plutocrats who have pushed American politics to the right at every level of government over the last few years. The family’s money comes from control of a private company, Koch Enterprises, with $115 billion in annual revenues. Were it a public corporation, it would rank around seventeenth in the Fortune 500.

    The Koch network organizes regular conferences for the like-minded, where they raise money and plot strategy, and their tentacles have spread into every state in the country. The circle — now with hundreds of major donors, distributing hundreds of millions of dollars every year — is thick with hedge fund managers and fossil fuel magnates, supplemented by a rank and file drawn from the pass-throughs in the top 0.1 percent. At the summit, financiers like Steven Cohen, Paul Singer, and Stephen Schwarzman — who mostly run their own investment funds rather than working for established banks — were drawn to the enterprise in the early Obama years, fearing he was a reincarnation of FDR about to crack down on their business models. (As it turned out, he never did much more than call them “fat cats” once, a remark many on Wall Street never forgave him for.) They were joined by carbon moguls who were afraid Obama was serious when he said, upon clinching the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” A big portion of the Koch network consists of financiers who own their own firms and not public corporations. They don’t like anyone telling them what to do — neither government nor outside shareholders.

    Unlike many on the Left, Charles Koch has never seen a contradiction between electoral work and other organizing. His network showers cash on right-wing candidates up and down the ballot, but it also supports professors, think tanks, publications, and advocacy organizations — all as part of a coherent, long-term, and ideologically rigorous strategy. There’s nothing remotely like them in US politics.

    That’s not to say there isn’t some big money on the liberal left — just not as much, and not as ideologically coherent. The closest liberals come is the Democracy Alliance (DA), which was founded in 2005 and gets money from George Soros and other, less famous monied liberals. But it distributed only about $500 million in the first decade of its existence — less than the Koch network spends on one election cycle. And unlike the Koch network, whose spending is tightly controlled by the leadership, DA members decide where to spend their money.

    For Koch, following the model laid down by Friedrich Hayek and his comrades, political ideas have a production chain. The Mont Pelerin Society, the organization of neoliberal economists convened in a village by that name in Switzerland in 1947 on Hayek’s invitation, had a clear conception of how to spread its influence. Peak intellectuals, like Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and other luminaries of the movement, would develop ideas, which would spread down to think tanks, then to politicians and journalists, and finally to the public. (Friedman spanned several levels of the hierarchy at once, writing books and papers that were influential in the economics profession at the same time he lobbied politicians and wrote a column for Newsweek.) As Burton Yale Pines of the Heritage Foundation put it back in the 1980s, “Our targets are the policy-makers and the opinion-making elite. Not the public. The public gets it from them.”

    One of the principal actors in the Koch family’s intellectual production and distribution network has been Richard Fink. Fink, then an NYU grad student in economics, dropped in on Charles one day in the late 1970s and asked for money to found a libertarian institute. Koch wrote him a check, which he used to set up the Center for the Study of Market Processes at Rutgers. He soon relocated it to George Mason University (GMU), where it became the Mercatus Center. In 1985, the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies moved from California to join Mercatus at GMU. This sequence of events transformed a formerly obscure state university in the DC suburbs into the Vatican of libertarian intellectual life. They’ve reproduced the model at universities around the country, financing institutes and endowing chairs with considerable influence over the direction of research. Unlike many leftists, Koch and co. take academia seriously.

    In a 1996 article, Fink outlined his master strategy: an intellectual economy of producer goods and consumer goods, as in the real economy, reminiscent of the Mont Pelerin structure. The intellectuals, often university-based, are the makers of the producer goods (ideas), which are then transformed into intermediate goods by think tanks, and ultimately into products for mass application by activists. Or, as Koch himself put it, “libertarians need an integrated strategy, vertically and horizontally integrated, to bring about social change, from idea creation to policy development to education to grassroots organizations to lobbying to litigation to political action.” He’s done a lot to make it happen.

    Think tanks are the middlemen in the production and dissemination of ideas. One of the most important has been the Cato Institute, founded in 1977 with Koch money. The name came from Murray Rothbard, the libertarian economist, who emphasized there was nothing “conservative” about the institute’s mission: he dismissed conservatism as “a dying remnant of the ancien régime . . . ineluctably moribund, Fundamentalist, rural, small-town, white Anglo-Saxon America.” For Rothbard — like Koch and Cato — libertarianism is a revolutionary doctrine. Koch money also funded the Reason Foundation, best known for its eponymous magazine. Reason was founded by a Boston University student in 1968 and published out of his dorm room in its early days. A decade later, Charles Koch agreed to finance it if it remained “uncompromisingly radical.”

    All these Koch-fueled entities — GMU, Cato, Reason — busily schooled Republican politicians and operatives throughout the 1980s and 1990s on the wisdom of privatization and austerity.

    There are other right-wing mega-donors, though none with the broad scope and vision of Koch. Hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who was originally part of the Koch network and then went off on his own, was a major funder of the Trump campaign and the Breitbart News operation. Another striking pair of characters is Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein. Richard inherited a bunch of Schlitz beer money and then built a second fortune in the Uline packaging business. They support media, like the Federalist, and candidates that some on the Right find a little hot to handle, like Roy Moore, the Alabama judge with a taste for teenage girls. They’re also major supporters of the Club for Growth and Scott Walker, former governor of their home state, Wisconsin.

    Right-wing funders, led by the Koch network, have created scores of policy outlets around the country. The State Policy Network (SPN) has sixty-six affiliates and over eighty associates populating every state but North Dakota. Founded in 1992 by the industrialist Thomas A. Roe, who had set up the first of these think tanks in South Carolina six years earlier on a suggestion from Ronald Reagan (politicians in the lead again!), the SPN flock develops policies, disseminates propaganda, and trains personnel to promote “economic liberty, rule of law, property rights, and limited government,” which, in practice, means gutting regulations, cutting taxes and services, privatizing public schools and pension systems, and destroying unions.

    Closely associated with the SPN is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which shares funders and priorities but operates at the political ground level, writing bills and lobbying legislators. Since state and local governments often function in obscurity, with part-time legislators and thin staffs, having prewritten bills and trained politicians is a vital lubricant for the right-wing agenda. Aside from the usual right-wing funding sources, ALEC also draws from a wide variety of business interests, often by offering their assistance on a specific policy issue and then bringing the firms more permanently into the fold.

    It’s an impressive network, running from the Oval Office all the way down to places like Schoharie County, New York, where a Mercer-funded think tank has been agitating. It’s been crucial to Republican control of statehouses across the country, influencing the shape of Congress because of their jurisdiction over districting and electoral law.

    Despite this power, the Right has never achieved political hegemony, nor have its business patrons achieved economic hegemony. The Koch network is rich, but its wealth pales next to the Fortune 500’s cash flow. One way to make this point is to poke about their think tanks, where money is made into policy. There’s a decided lack of big names.

    The board of the Cato Institute, despite its ties to the Koch world, is heavy with second-tier and third-tier capitalists — the chair of something called TAMKO Building Products, a Missouri-
    based firm; a managing director with Susquehanna International Group, a money management firm based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania; and the former owner of the Tennessee-based Young Radiator Company. Koch aside, it’s light on seriously elite connections.

    As is the Heritage Foundation. Its president, Kay C. James, was previously a dean at Regent University, the school founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. Another link to the educational right is board member Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, a deeply conservative institution that takes no federal cash so Washington can’t tell it what to do. Other trustees include a corporate headhunter with two degrees from Baptist colleges; a real estate developer and chair of a food service company, both of which almost no one has heard of; the chair of a small maker of wearable biosensors; the head of a small private equity firm; another PE guy who advertises himself as “a life member of MENSA and the NRA”; and “one of America’s leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness.” Its major funders contain few recognizable names outside standard right-wing circles (Bradley, Coors, Scaife, Walton). Its lower order of funders includes some big names — ExxonMobil, GE, Google, Visa — but they’re greatly outnumbered by much smaller ones.

    Contrast this with the centrist Brookings Institution, whose board includes ambassadors from Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, TD Bank, Duke Energy, and Young & Rubicam. Its top funders include the Gates Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Comcast, Google, JPMorgan Chase, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Time Warner, Toyota, AIG, and the governments of Japan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — and even the libertarian would-be secessionist Peter Thiel, who, like any big investor, knows the importance of diversification. Or take the Clintonite Dems’ favorite think tank, the Center for American Progress, which has a “Business Alliance” — price of admission: $100,000 — that includes Comcast, Walmart, GM, GE, and Boeing.

    But their relatively inferior class status still hasn’t stopped the Right from winning lots of fights. As Blumenthal pointed out, the businessmen around Reagan were not heavyweights; they brought us Duracell batteries, the Diners Club credit card, and Lassie — two second-tier brands and a defunct fictional dog. Despite that light footprint, their intense organization and commitment have allowed the Right to punch way above its weight. These intrepid capitalists served as an avant-garde for their larger, more cautious comrades. It’s a messy business, cutting taxes and regulations.

    Another dimension of the Right’s influence is what it does to the respectable left. As Thatcher adviser Sir Alan Walters told me at a conference twenty years ago, the Iron Lady’s most lasting achievement was her transformation of the Labour Party, which had ceased to stand for much. Something analogous happened with the post-Reagan Democratic Party, which has played an enormous supporting role in the organizational and ideological collapse of New Deal/Great Society liberalism. The party turned its attention away from the urban working class (which was savaged by deindustrialization) and toward professionals in the suburbs. But you would never characterize this formation as brimming over with political or intellectual passion of any sort.

    Trump is thankfully a fading memory, but his relation to the right-wing counter-establishment is worth a closer look. Most weren’t all that interested in him; he certainly served part of their agenda, but the economic nationalism bothered these apostles of the free movement of goods, capital, and labor. An exception was Robert Mercer, the hedge fund billionaire famous for Cambridge Analytica (which turned out not to be some AI Svengali but rather a bit of a fraud), who threw Trump some money and brought Steve Bannon and David Bossie — the head of Citizens United, who mounted the famous legal case that opened politics to vast and secretive funding — into his orbit. Bannon and Bossie gave Trump, never much on political philosophy, some right-wing ideology (notably “America First nationalism”) and connections. The Koch set at first kept their distance from the new administration. But they did have an in through Marc Short, Mike Pence’s chief of staff, who headed a Koch front group called Freedom Partners from 2011 to 2015. Trump — or, given his ignorance of policy, more likely Pence — soon turned to the Koch network for advice on staffing his new administration.

    A well-organized force is ideally suited to fill a vacuum. The Koch touch was most visible in energy and environmental policy, but they had personnel placements elsewhere as well. Former CIA director and secretary of state Mike Pompeo was once known as “the congressman from Koch” when he represented the Wichita area in Congress from 2011 to 2016. Earlier, he had a business career in that city that was partly funded by Koch Industries.

    The network’s influence extended to informal advisers as well. Trump took advice on energy from pals like fracking magnate Harold Hamm, whom Jane Mayer described as a “charter member of the Kochs’ donor circle.”

    The Kochs won some victories in the Trump era: a generous loosening of energy and environmental regulation, friendly court appointments, and fat tax cuts. But they never did repeal Obamacare, and the tariffs and immigration restrictions were major losses. Trump’s rhetoric about immigration and Muslims were among the reasons Charles Koch refused to endorse him. Much of corporate America wasn’t happy with that part of Trump’s agenda either, but they were too happy with their tax cuts to do much about it until the Capitol riot.

    But a new class fraction did find expression in, or at least had affinities with, the Trump administration. As I argued above, the business coalition that came together in the 1970s to lobby for deregulation and tax cuts largely dissolved as a united force when it got what it wanted. Rather than a broad agenda, the business lobby narrowed to focus on sectoral and individual corporate interests. The Chamber of Commerce, though purporting to speak for business in general, came to rent itself out to specific clients, often unsavory ones. Big capital is socially liberal — or it pretends to be. It has no interest in the Christian right’s moral agenda, nor is it nativist. Almost every Wall Street and Fortune 500 company has a diversity department, handling everything from anti-racist training sessions to the corporate float for the annual LGBT pride parade. Their worldview is little different from Hillary Clinton’s — but they’re not passionately engaged in politics. They write checks, but profits are high, and the tax rate they paid on those profits over the last few years was the lowest it’s been since the early 1930s.

    They’re layabouts compared to the class fraction I’m describing, a gang made up of the owners of private companies as opposed to public ones, disproportionately in dirty industries. The financier wing comes largely out of “alternative investments,” hedge funds and private equity, not big Wall Street banks or Silicon Valley VC firms. Most alternative investment operations are run as partnerships with a small staff, often under the direction of a single figure. Collectively, they look like freebooters more than corporate personalities, and asset-strippers more than builders, be it natural assets in the case of the carbon moguls or corporate assets in the case of the PE titans. Trump himself ran a real estate firm with a small staff and no outside shareholders. Like a private equity guy, Trump loaded up his casinos with debt and pocketed much of the proceeds.

    The prominence of private ownership is striking, and it’s politically reactionary. Lately, institutional investors have been lobbying for some action on climate — not profit-threatening action, of course, but something. Central bankers are starting to make similar noises; they’re increasingly worried that a financial system reliant on carbon assets (which could easily collapse in value when they’re recognized for the climate-killers they are) might run into serious trouble. Since they have no outside shareholders, the Kochs and Hamms of the world are spared having to listen to this chatter.

    This alliance between the private corporate form and political reaction is a reminder of Marx’s observations on the topic. He described the emergence of the corporation, with its separation of ownership and management, as “the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself, and hence a self-abolishing contradiction.” Workers could hire managers as easily as shareholders, or maybe perform the task themselves. The stockholder-owned public corporation was a stepping-stone to a truly public entity. Short of that ambition, public firms are more transparent and subject to outside pressure than those controlled by a small, secretive circle of owners.

    But, as we’ve seen, such owners have proven highly capable of organizing as a political force. Corporate America isn’t averse to working with Koch organizations. Exxon and Microsoft worked with the Koch-heavy Citizens for a Sound Economy to push very specific agendas. But these are usually temporary, targeted crusades; none have the durability and ubiquity that the Koch agenda itself has. And that agenda has a substantial toehold on state power.

    Returning to the theories of Nicos Poulantzas, while there are often divisions within the capitalist class, its predominant bloc organizes a “general interest.” The contradictions remain, but the hegemonic fraction creates sufficient consensus to rule by universalizing its worldview as part of its dominance (or, as Marx put it in a classic formulation, “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas”). That kind of consensus seems to be missing in US politics in recent decades, a point that became very clear during the Trump era. The corporate and financial establishment, initially suspicious of rule by such a volatile incompetent, never tried to rein him in. He was never interested in a universalizing rhetoric, as Poulantzas’s hegemonic fraction is supposed to be. Instead, he stoked division almost every time he tweeted.

    Within the GOP, the petit bourgeois mass base — the car dealers and accountants — is in conflict with its big business wing, and neither can gain political or ideological hegemony over the whole society. (That intraclass conflict became sharp and visible during Trump’s second impeachment hearing.) The Democrats, for that matter, look divided between the old centrist DLC faction — tied to parts of Wall Street and big capital, represented by Biden — and a younger, more leftish, and more energetic activist wing. It’s much easier to imagine (to take some names from the fuzzy past) Everett Dirksen and Lyndon Johnson coexisting in the same universe than to picture Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ro Khanna as colleagues in governance. Until the 1990s, the federal government never shut down for any length of time because of the inability to pass a proper budget; since 1995, the US government has shut down to a significant degree five times, for a cumulative total of eighty days, and political leaders openly suggested that a default on Treasury securities might be a salutary measure. There’s something fractured in a state that engages in periodic shutdowns.

    Bourgeois pundits often lament “divided government” and the inability to compromise, which they attribute to partisanship or bad temperaments. A more fundamental reason may be that no fraction of capital, neither the older centrist kind nor the upstart right-leaning kind, is able to achieve hegemony. The Right has considerable strength at elite levels, but in the popular realm, it’s only the Electoral College, voter suppression, and aggressive gerrymandering that keeps it electorally competitive. Its position is greatly aided, however, by the deep weakness of more centrist forces, who lack serious intellectual or political energy. As the Right discredits itself with ludicrous attacks on the Capitol and farcical QAnon conspiracies, the center-left is feeble. The geriatric nature of the mainstream Democrat leadership is a sign of exhaustion. We’re a long way from when DLC-style politics, as terrible as they were, had at least the superficial appeal of novelty. Now we’ve got the No Malarkey Express parked in the Oval Office.

    Elite division looks to be in stark contrast with the coherence and breadth of the WASPs, a relatively narrow, homogenous owning class bound by inherited wealth that married out of the same mating pool; went to the same schools; belonged to the same clubs; owned a lot of capital; ran the major industrial companies, law firms, and banks; ran major educational institutions like prep schools and universities; ran major cultural institutions like universities and museums, as well as the philanthropies that shaped social thought and cultural life; and defined the limits of liberal politics. WASPs also populated government, like C. Douglas Dillon in the Treasury or Dean Acheson at the State Department or Nelson Rockefeller as the governor of New York. We shouldn’t be nostalgic for them; they were often deeply racist and driven by notions of the “white man’s burden.” But they had a unity and authority that our current rabble of grifters and parvenus lacks.

    That stratum’s leading analyst, the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell (himself a product of Philadelphia’s Main Line) thought a society like ours needed an authoritative elite of the sort his brethren once were. As he put it:

    [U]nfortunately success is not synonymous with leadership, and affluence without authority breeds alienation . . . the inevitable alienation of the elite in a materialistic world where privilege is divorced from duty, authority is destroyed, and comfort becomes the only prize . . .

    The essential problem of social order, in turn, depends not on the elimination but the legitimation of social power. For power which is not legitimized tends to be either coercive or manipulative. Freedom, on the other hand, depends not in doing what one wants but on wanting to do what one ought because of one’s faith in long-established authority.

    For those of us who believe in democracy, this is an unacceptably hierarchical view of society. But in a society like ours, one deliberately structured to magnify elite authority and limit the power of the horde — if you don’t believe me, check out Federalist No. 10, in which James Madison makes it quite explicit his constitution was designed to do just that — the quality of governance depends profoundly on the nature of that elite. Our contemporary pack of plutocrats and scammers looks incapable of legitimation or coherent rule — and it appears to be nowhere near up to the challenge of climate change. Maybe Biden’s top economic adviser, Brian Deese, who came to the White House after handling ESG issues for BlackRock, will organize his class buddies into a significant force on addressing climate, but Larry Fink’s objections to Biden’s early executive orders suggest he’ll have quite a task on his hands. And that’s before the Koch network and the Freedom Caucus have gone to work.

    Alas, it must be conceded that, until the bonds of that constitution are broken and something approaching a real democracy is instituted, Baltzell has a point about how the loss of ruling-class authority — a legitimation crisis — might lead to social tensions and disorder. With the center so weak, it does present an opportunity for the organized right to make gains — but it presents an opening for the Left, too.

    Making revolution against the ruling class, however, is a hell of lot harder than making a revolution within it.

    #USA #capitalisme #lutte_des_classes #oligarchie #politique #affaires #commerce #élections #histoire

  • Luc Rouban : « La #démocratie n’est plus un totem » | Alternatives Economiques
    https://www.alternatives-economiques.fr/luc-rouban-democratie-nest-plus-un-totem/00099742

    L’#abstention massive aux #élections de juin a mis en valeur la désaffection des citoyens pour la classe politique. Mais la crise pourrait être bien plus profonde et menaçante, d’après une note du Cevipof publiée peu avant le scrutin : 37 % des personnes interrogées acceptent l’idée selon laquelle « il vaut mieux un #système_politique moins démocratique mais offrant de nombreuses opportunités de s’enrichir et de réussir rapidement », et 58 % sont d’accord pour dire « qu’il vaut mieux un système politique moins démocratique mais qui assure plus d’égalité et de justice sociale ».

    Le consensus autour des valeurs démocratiques tel que nous le connaissons depuis au moins l’après-guerre qui associe la démocratie la #démocratie_ représentative et un haut de protection sociale est compromis. Explications avec Luc Rouban, politiste, directeur de recherche au CNRS, membre du Cevipof (Sciences Po Paris).

  • Demande d’annulation pure et simple des scrutins des élections régionales et départementales 2021 du 1er tour
    https://ricochets.cc/Demande-d-annulation-pure-et-simple-des-scrutins-des-elections-regionales-

    Monsieur le Préfet

    Hôtel de la Préfecture

    3 Boulevard Vauban

    26000 Valence Le 20/06/2021 Monsieur le Préfet, J’ai le regret de porter à votre connaissance qu’il m’a été impossible de remplir mon devoir électoral au cours de ces élections régionales et départementales 2021. En effet, je n’ai reçu aucun document qui présente les candidats des différents partis à ces élections, m’empêchant alors de prendre une décision pour mon vote. Dans ces conditions, j’ai l’honneur de vous demander l’annulation, pure et (...) #Les_Articles

    / #Drôme, #Elections_locales

  • Dis-moi où tu habites et je te dirai pour qui tu votes
    https://metropolitiques.eu/Dis-moi-ou-tu-habites-et-je-te-dirai-pour-qui-tu-votes.html

    Les votes, intimement liés aux positions sociales, reflètent le peuplement des territoires. Sébastien Michon met en évidence la géographie électorale particulièrement nette de #Strasbourg et souligne ainsi les enjeux sociaux et spatiaux de la participation. Lors des #élections municipales de 2020, les analystes ont insisté tour à tour sur un émiettement de l’offre politique, la victoire de candidats écologistes dans plusieurs grandes villes, ou encore la valse des étiquettes avec entre autres d’anciens #Terrains

    / élections, #vote, Strasbourg, #classes_sociales, #ségrégation

    https://metropolitiques.eu/IMG/pdf/met_michon.pdf

  • Abstention : l’explication par Adrexo
    https://www.arretsurimages.net/chroniques/le-matinaute/abstention-lexplication-par-adrexo

    La faute aux sondeurs ? La faute aux éditocrates ? La faute aux politiques ? La faute à tout le monde ? La flagellation collective de la petite bande médiatico-politique est une incontournable consolation des soirées télé électorales avec forte abstention. En vedette dimanche soir, alors que les deux tiers des électeurs se sont abstenus lors des élections régionales et départementales, Laurent Delahousse, qui a successivement incriminé ses invités incapables de se laisser parler, et les rédactions ""qui ne sont plus dirigées par des journalistes"". Très bien. Excellente analyse, que je ne vais pas contredire ici.

    Mais si je peux me permettre, il faudrait aussi examiner une autre explication. Un nombre encore indéterminé d’électeurs n’ont tout simplement pas reçu les professions de foi des candidats. Indéterminé, mais tout indique qu’il est élevé (confidence : j’en suis). La raison : pour la première fois, la distribution des professions de foi avait été « externalisée » par le gouvernement, dans sept régions sur quinze, à une société privée, Adrexo. Cette société de 25 000 salariés, basée à Aix-en-Provence, est spécialisée dans la distribution de brochures publicitaires. Sans adresses, donc. Ces derniers jours, plusieurs élus et candidats ont alerté sur les retards dans la distribution des professions de foi, avec à l’appui des photos parlantes. Dans la presse nationale, seul le « Huffington Post » y a consacré un article d’ensemble (et pourtant, même la presse de droite, me semble-t-il, devrait être sensible aux questions de distribution du courrier).

    Le problème n’est-il apparu que ces tout derniers jours ? Pas du tout. Une rapide recherche « Adrexo » sur mon moteur préféré fait apparaître un intéressant incident, remontant au mois dernier : le 25 mai dernier, des employés de la petite ville d’Hérimoncourt (Doubs) découvrent à la lisière d’une forêt des enveloppes, dont certaines détruites ou incendiées. Elles contiennent les professions de foi du sénateur Cédric Perrin (LR) pour les élections départementales. Selon « L’Est Républicain », un intérimaire de 21 ans, employé par Adrexo, arrêté le lendemain, a avoué s’être débarrassé des enveloppes, faute de temps suffisant pour la distribution.

    Interpellé par le sénateur Jean-Louis Masson (tête de liste RN aux départementales en Moselle), le ministère de l’Intérieur de Gérald Darmanin a fait la réponse suivante : ""Il semblerait totalement anachronique d’empêcher l’État d’externaliser la distribution de la propagande jusqu’aux boîtes aux lettres des électeurs, secteur qui est aujourd’hui ouvert à la concurrence, alors même que l’État s’efforce d’optimiser ses ressources dans le cadre d’une politique générale de meilleure gestion des deniers publics.""

    Sur les conditions de travail au sein d’Adrexo, une autre affaire jette un éclairage intéressant. Après sept ans de procédure, un couple de l’Orne a obtenu d’Adrexo un rattrapage de salaires de 139 469 euros. Ils avaient décidé de rompre leur contrat à temps partiel, contrat qui ne comportait aucun horaire, et leur imposait de se tenir à la disposition de la société. Récit de l’un d’eux : ""On attendait qu’on nous contacte pour pouvoir nous organiser, classer les publicités, parfois jusqu’à six, et les distribuer. On utilisait notre voiture personnelle. Quand nous étions prévenus à la dernière minute, nous devions faire vite. On pouvait commencer à 4 heures du matin et on ne savait pas quand on terminait.""

    ""En janvier", rappelle Public Sénat, « la section CGT de La Poste s’était interrogée sur les capacités de l’opérateur privé à remplir sa mission, avec seulement 17 000 distributeurs, contre quatre fois plus de facteurs pour La Poste »".

    Dans le Titanic électoral de dimanche, Adrexo n’est pas seulement un prestataire défaillant. C’est aussi le symptôme d’un État obsédé « d’externalisations », laissant crever ses propres services publics, jusqu’à se révéler incapable d’organiser des élections. Dans un univers politique normal, Gérald Darmanin aurait présenté sa démission hier soir. Dans un univers médiatique normal, Adrexo devrait être le sujet principal de la campagne du second tour. Jusqu’ici, combien d’émissions de Pascal Praud ont été consacrées à ce saccage de la démocratie ? Et combien d’enquêtes au « 20 Heures » de Laurent Delahousse ?

    #privatisation #abstention #externalisation #élections

    • https://www.leparisien.fr/politique/regionales-la-distribution-des-documents-electoraux-connait-de-graves-dys

      Gauche et droite dénoncent à l’unisson des dysfonctionnements, à la veille du premier tour des élections régionales et départementales. Les partis politiques sont loin d’être les seuls : régions, départements et communes ont déploré samedi que dans « de nombreuses communes » les documents officiels de propagande électorale (professions de foi des candidats et bulletins de vote) n’aient « pas été distribués aux électeurs » qui voteront ce dimanche.

      « Malgré les nombreuses alertes » remontées au ministère de l’Intérieur, « la défaillance du service public national des élections est inacceptable et ne peut qu’alimenter l’abstention », préviennent dans un communiqué commun les collectivités (l’Association des maires de France, l’Assemblée des départements de France et Régions de France).

      Jugeant ces documents « d’autant plus indispensables » que la crise sanitaire du Covid-19 « a fortement réduit la capacité à faire campagne », elles appellent le ministre de l’Intérieur, Gérald Darmanin, à « mobiliser des moyens exceptionnels » pour remédier à ces manquements, notamment pour le second tour le 27 juin. « Ce service public, qui reposait naguère sur les préfectures et La Poste, a été en grande partie privatisé mais les prestataires ne semblent pas avoir d’obligation de résultat », ajoutent-elles.
      Une distribution « délirante »

      Gérald Darmanin avait accusé jeudi devant le Sénat la société Adrexo d’avoir « particulièrement mal distribué une partie de la propagande électorale », et présenté les « excuses » du gouvernement qui lui a délégué cette distribution.
      À lire aussi
      Yvelines : les facteurs dénoncent les conditions de distribution des plis électoraux

      Le Premier secrétaire du PS, Olivier Faure, a dénoncé samedi une « distribution délirante par Adrexo ». « Il ne suffit pas d’excuses ou de condamnations, il faut assurer la distribution de second tour dans des conditions parfaites comme dans toute démocratie digne de ce nom ! », a-t-il tweeté.

      Le président de LR, Christian Jacob, a mis en garde contre des « graves dysfonctionnements (qui) menacent la bonne organisation démocratique » et reproché au gouvernement, « alerté depuis plusieurs semaines », de n’avoir pas réagi.

      La France insoumise avait fustigé dans une conférence vidéo mardi des « graves défaillances dans la distribution de la propagande électorale ». Le député Adrien Quatennens a notamment évoqué des plis électoraux mis à la poubelle, ou regroupés dans une seule boîte aux lettres, ou encore des plis sans enveloppes, etc. Selon lui, ces dysfonctionnements concernent des dizaines de milliers d’électeurs.

    • Distribution de la propagande électorale : Gérald Darmanin sera entendu mercredi au Sénat par la commission des Lois
      https://www.publicsenat.fr/article/parlementaire/distribution-de-la-propagande-electorale-gerald-darmanin-sera-entendu-me

      Tracts non-arrivés à destination, retrouvés brûlés dans les bois… Après ce qui s’apparente au fiasco dans certaines zones de la distribution de la propagande électorale, la commission des Lois du Sénat a décidé d’entendre Gérald Darmanin, sur les dysfonctionnements qu’ont fait remonter nombre d’élus de terrain.

      L’audition, retransmise en direct sur Public Sénat, se déroulera mercredi 23 mai à 8 heures, et devrait durer 45 minutes. Le ministre de l’Intérieur sera notamment interrogé sur les difficultés rencontrées par la société Adrexo, qui au terme d’un appel d’offres avait remporté la distribution de la propagande pour quatre ans dans sept régions.

      Pour François-Noël Buffet, sénateur LR du Rhône et président de la commission des Lois, « le ministère de l’Intérieur était informé depuis plusieurs jours des problèmes d’acheminement des documents de propagande électorale, il est urgent de remédier à ce dysfonctionnement pour le second tour ! ».

      Les représentants de La Poste et d’Adrexo ont d’ailleurs déjà été entendus ce matin au ministère de l’Intérieur. Interrogé sur ces dysfonctionnements lors de la séance de question au gouvernement du 16 juin, Gérald Darmanin avait fait savoir qu’il souhaitait remettre en cause le marché public confié à Adrexo.

    • https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/210621/avant-les-rates-de-la-campagne-adrexo-etait-deja-denonce-par-ses-salaries

      Avant les ratés de la campagne, Adrexo était déjà dénoncé par ses salariés

      Le spécialiste de la distribution de prospectus est entré dans la lumière en raison de sa gestion désastreuse du matériel de « propagande électorale ». Les conditions de travail y sont dénoncées depuis longtemps et les condamnations s’enchaînent.
      ....

      Depuis plusieurs jours, Adrexo est au cœur de multiples accusations d’avoir mal fait le travail pour lequel il avait été désigné : d’innombrables citoyens n’ont pas reçu l’enveloppe électorale qui leur était destinée, des courriers ont été retrouvés entassés sur des boîtes aux lettres, dispersés dans des poubelles ou dans la nature, voire… brûlés en lisière de forêt.

      Les ratés ont été récurrents. Une lecture de la presse régionale permet d’en trouver la trace en Haute-Loire, en Maine-et-Loire, dans le Pas-de-Calais, dans le Cantal ou en Indre-et-Loire, dans le Cher ou les Ardennes.

      « La défaillance du service public national des élections est inacceptable et ne peut qu’alimenter l’abstention », avaient prévenu le 19 juin l’Association des maires de France, l’Assemblée des départements de France et régions de France, suivies par presque tous les responsables politiques nationaux. Un exemple éclatant des conséquences délétères que peut revêtir l’externalisation des actions de service public, récemment dénoncées par le collectif de hauts fonctionnaires Nos Services publics.

      Appartenant au groupe Hopps, qui détient aussi Colis privé, et revendiquant 18 000 salariés, Adrexo a été la première entreprise privée à remporter des marchés de distribution de matériel électoral officiel, en mars. En théorie, cette possibilité avait été ouverte en 2005, mais La Poste en avait conservé le monopole jusque-là.
      Lire aussi


      Désormais, Adrexo, qui se présente comme « le leader privé de la distribution d’imprimés publicitaires, de courriers adressés et de petits colis en France », a le droit de faire parvenir les professions de foi des candidats aux électeurs de sept régions (Hauts-de-France, Grand Est, Normandie, Centre-Val de Loire, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Pays de la Loire et Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), comptant 51 départements. Et ce en théorie pour les quatre ans à venir, donc également pour l’élection présidentielle du printemps prochain.

      Ce lundi 21 juin, le ministre de l’intérieur Gérald Darmanin a convoqué l’entreprise, ainsi que La Poste, qui continue a travailler pour les cinq régions restantes, pour la sermonner. « Il leur a rappelé l’obligation de résultats qui les liait. Il leur a demandé expressément de garantir que de tels dysfonctionnements ne se reproduisent pas pour le second tour », indique le ministère dans un communiqué. Le ministre a aussi averti que « tous les enseignements des erreurs commises seront tirés au lendemain du second tour de ces élections ».

      Pour cette semaine, les préfets superviseront la mise sous pli et la distribution de la propagande électorale et « une cellule opérationnelle de suivi de la distribution » sera mise en place, avec un point sur la situation « réalisé deux fois par jour […] pour traiter dans les plus brefs délais les incidents signalés ».

      Voilà qui fait désordre pour une entreprise qui se vantait en mars d’avoir obtenu l’appel d’offres grâce à « son maillage territorial et son expertise avérée sur le marché de la distribution de courriers », mais aussi grâce à « la qualité et l’engagement des équipes commerciales et opérationnelles ». Une promesse qui avait aussi séduit Sophia, recrutée par le biais de l’agence d’intérim en ligne GoJob, comme des milliers d’autres salariés ponctuels (des centaines d’annonces ont été passées dans la Marne ou en Bourgogne).

      « Moi qui pensais faire un petit boulot utile car au service de notre système démocratique, je m’attendais à ce que ce soit sérieux, lance la jeune femme. Comme on nous l’a répété plusieurs fois chez Adrexo, ce sont des enveloppes du ministère de l’intérieur que nous distribuons, et c’est une responsabilité ! En cas de manquement, nous pouvons être lourdement sanctionnés… Mais, apparemment, ce sérieux et cette responsabilité ne nous sont pas destinés, à nous les petites mains. »

      La rancœur de Sophia est très largement partagée, bien au-delà du monde politique qui vient de découvrir à ses dépens les problèmes de fiabilité de l’entreprise – l’entreprise vient d’assurer sans ciller que les « perturbations » sont dues à une « cyberattaque » dont elle aurait été « victime » en mai.
      « Épuisement et surmenage »

      Car, outre les problèmes de distribution des enveloppes destinées aux électeurs, Adrexo est loin d’être une entreprise inconnue pour qui s’intéresse aux conditions de travail des salariés les plus précaires.

      Depuis une dizaine d’années, on croise son nom dans de nombreux témoignages, et dans de multiples contentieux judiciaires. Fin 2019, John* (son prénom a été modifié) avait déjà témoigné auprès de Mediapart de pratiques proches de celles que raconte Sophia.

      John racontait avoir constaté que parmi la « cinquantaine de distributeurs » de prospectus et de courriers qu’il avait côtoyés dans le centre d’Île-de-France où il avait brièvement travaillé, « aucun ne travaillait avec une badgeuse, ni en préparation, ni en distribution », et qu’il n’en avait même pas vu « qui traînait sur un bureau ou ailleurs, comme [il a] pu en voir chez un concurrent ».

      « En pratique, le responsable de centre vous dit que la badgeuse est donnée seulement après la période d’essai. Ou encore vous fait clairement comprendre que, quoi qu’il arrive, il a la main sur nos temps de travail déclarés… », déclarait John.

      Il indiquait n’avoir tenu que trois semaines à son poste de distributeur, avant d’être placé en arrêt-maladie « pour cause d’épuisement et de surmenage », alors qu’il n’avait pas 40 ans et disposait de « toutes [ses] capacités physiques ». Contacté, Adrexo n’a pas répondu à nos questions.

      Les conditions de travail déplorables des distributeurs de prospectus d’Adrexo ont été racontées dès 2011.

      Sophia et John ne sont pas les seuls, loin de là, à critiquer leur employeur éphémère. Les conditions de travail déplorables des distributeurs de prospectus d’Adrexo ont été racontées dès 2011 par L’Humanité, mais aussi sur le site Basta ! par le journaliste Julien Brygo, qui a repris cette enquête pour son livre Boulots de merde publié en 2016 avec Olivier Cyran (regarder notre entretien sur le livre).

      À l’époque, le journaliste estimait que « chez Adrexo, le salaire moyen est de 400 euros pour une bonne soixantaine d’heures de travail mensuelles ». Et le travail y est physique, puisqu’il demande de conditionner et de transporter des dizaines et des dizaines de kilos de papier. Il faut par ailleurs travailler chez soi, et faire sa tournée avec sa propre voiture…

      Logiquement, seuls les plus précaires s’y risquent : retraités en recherche de complément de revenu, étudiants, personnes ayant besoin d’un boulot coûte que coûte, comme des femmes enceintes accumulant les heures pour avoir droit à un congé maternité.

      En 2015, la documentariste Nina Faure consacrait à ce sujet un documentaire efficace, disponible gratuitement sur le site de la société de production C-P Productions. Le film reprend notamment des extraits d’une enquête d’« Envoyé spécial », qui avait suivi en 2012 le travail d’Adrien, 81 ans, peinant à distribuer les prospectus aussi vite qu’il le devait et passant ses week-ends à préparer avec sa femme, gratuitement, les paquets de documents à distribuer dans la semaine…

      En août 2011, un autre retraité, Raymond D., 75 ans, est mort, 19 jours après avoir repris le travail chez Adrexo, comme Mediapart l’avait raconté. Incapable de subsister avec sa retraite de 740 euros, il avait accepté ce travail ardu, payé 238 euros par mois, pour 26 heures mensuelles, alors qu’il était bien incapable de l’accomplir : il devait soulever plusieurs centaines kilos de papier par jour, mais il était cardiaque, diabétique, marchait péniblement et avait déjà été victime d’un infarctus.

      Adrexo a été condamné en 2015 à payer à sa famille 5 000 euros de dommages et intérêts, pour défaut de visite médicale et manquement à l’obligation de santé et de sécurité au travail.

      En août 2020, Mediapart a aussi relaté le cas de Fisayo, un Nigérian sans papiers et distributeur de prospectus au « noir » pour un sous-traitant d’Adrexo.

      Face à ces témoignages, une citation tirée d’une enquête du magazine Marianne en octobre 2009 refait régulièrement surface. Frédéric Pons, dirigeant de l’époque d’Adrexo, et à nouveau aux commandes actuellement, vantait le modèle de son entreprise : « Honnêtement, j’estime qu’Adrexo rend service à ces gens : grâce à ce boulot, ils se maintiennent en forme et économisent un abonnement au gymnase club. Rémunérés pour faire du sport : il n’y a pas de quoi crier au servage. »

      Sans grande surprise, les déboires judiciaires de l’entreprise sont très nombreux. Dès 2009, les prud’hommes de Nantes la condamnaient à verser la somme faramineuse de 953 639 euros à 23 salariés, officiellement employés à temps partiel alors qu’ils travaillaient à temps plein.

      Ce motif de condamnation poursuit l’entreprise depuis lors, et les sommes à débourser sont régulièrement vertigineuses : 30 000 euros d’amende en appel face à la cour d’appel de Pau et 480 000 euros pour 13 salariés face à celle de Grenoble en 2012, 600 000 euros pour 17 salariés à Saint-Nazaire en 2018, près de 140 000 euros en appel pour un couple de l’Orne en 2020…

      Au cœur de ces contentieux, on trouve la notion de « préquantification » du temps de travail : pendant très longtemps, Adrexo, tout comme son principal concurrent, Mediapost, filiale de La Poste, fixait arbitrairement (et rémunérait) un certain nombre d’heures de travail, sans prendre en compte le temps de travail réellement effectué.

      Devant la multiplication des réclamations, le ministère du travail avait publié en 2007 un décret autorisant cette pratique, prévue par la convention collective du secteur. Le Conseil d’État avait annulé ce décret deux ans plus tard. Le ministère l’avait donc réécrit en 2010, pour le voir à nouveau annulé en 2012. Depuis, la justice condamne régulièrement l’entreprise s’il s’avère qu’elle était informée que ses salariés dépassaient les heures prévues par la préquantification.
      Adrexo sauvé par le gouvernement en 2019

      Jusqu’à 2016, Adrexo appartenait à Spir Communication, une filiale du groupe Sipa Ouest-France. Mais il a été repris début 2017 par Hopps, groupe copiloté par Frédéric Pons. Cependant, en septembre 2019, le groupe tout entier a été à deux doigts de faire faillite. Il a fallu que le ministère de l’économie s’en mêle pour obtenir le gel de ses dettes à l’Urssaf, puis obtienne 1,5 million d’euros d’aide de la métropole Aix-Marseille (son siège social est à Aix-en-Provence).

      Les motifs d’inquiétude sur cette entreprise auraient donc pu être sérieux pour le gouvernement, bien avant le premier tour des élections régionales. Pourtant, le 13 mai dernier, Gérald Darmanin, alerté par un sénateur, balayait encore les critiques, en déclarant qu’il « semblerait totalement anachronique d’empêcher l’État d’externaliser la distribution de la propagande jusqu’aux boîtes aux lettres des électeurs, secteur qui est aujourd’hui ouvert à la concurrence, alors même que l’État s’efforce d’optimiser ses ressources dans le cadre d’une politique générale de meilleure gestion des deniers publics ».

      Aujourd’hui, le principal syndicat de l’entreprise, la CAT, relaye la « honte » des salariés « devant le traitement médiatique qui entoure leur entreprise », dont les actionnaires ont, assure le syndicat, « très souvent un comportement incompatible avec des relations sociales normales ».

      La CAT estime qu’« Adrexo s’est précipité sur ce marché pour des raisons financières en n’ignorant pas ses lacunes chroniques » et tire une fois encore le signal d’alarme : pour le second tour, l’entreprise n’aura que quatre jours pour distribuer les professions de foi et doit embaucher des milliers de personnes. Dans quelles conditions ? « Le plus “facile” est passé, estime le syndicat. Reste maintenant ce que tout le monde dans l’entreprise craint depuis le début, le second tour. »

      #darmanin #travail

    • Le groupe Hopps échappe in extremis au redressement judiciaire
      https://www.lesechos.fr/pme-regions/actualite-pme/le-groupe-hopps-echappe-in-extremis-au-redressement-judiciaire-1173665

      Le leader de la distribution de prospectus né de la reprise des activités de Spir, a trouvé 31,5 millions d’euros pour faire face à ses difficultés conjoncturelles. Il prévoit un retour à l’équilibre dès 2021.

      Publié le 21 févr. 2020 à 10:14

      Il s’en est fallu de peu. La veille de son probable placement en redressement judiciaire jeudi dernier, le groupe Hopps né de la reprise en 2017 des activités prospectus déficitaires de Spir, a bouclé in extremis un plan de financement de 31,5 millions d’euros déterminant pour la poursuite de ses activités.

      L’an passé, à cause de la crise des gilets jaunes, son marché avait enregistré un recul de près de 10 % représentant un manque à gagner de plus de 25 millions d’euros contrariant son plan de développement. L’été dernier, la trésorerie avait été en si piteux état que la paye de juin avait été réglée en deux fois, provoquant la panique parmi les 18.000 salariés d’Adrexo, le navire amiral de ce groupe de 22.000 personnes. L’entreprise affichait alors 42 millions d’euros de perte. La nouvelle équipe les a réduites de moitié en 2018 et prévoyait un retour à l’équilibre l’année suivante. Au lieu de ça, Adrexo a subi une perte de 29 millions l’an passé.

      Encouragés par le Comité interministériel de restructuration industriel , les trois opérateurs bancaires qui avaient participé à un premier tour de financement de 30 millions d’euros en juillet dernier (Cepac, Crédit Agricole Alpes Provence, GDP Vendôme) ont débloqué un nouvel emprunt de 6 millions chacun. Thémis Banque rejoint le trio pour un montant équivalent. La Région Sud et Aix-Marseille Métropole ont avancé 1,5 million. Enfin l’Etat a consenti à geler les dettes fiscales et sociales du groupe à hauteur de 6 millions. Le total de la dette d’Hopps s’élève désormais à 61 millions d’euros. Débarrassé de cette pression conjoncturelle, le groupe estime pouvoir à présent dérouler le programme industriel qu’il a conçu autour de plusieurs leviers.
      Plusieurs leviers de croissance

      Le premier reste le prospectus. « C’est une valeur sûre de la promotion marketing des enseignes de la grande distribution, un support résilient efficace et peu intrusif pour véhiculer un message promotionnel », est persuadé Frédéric Pons, coprésident et actionnaire du groupe avec Eric Paumier. Ses distributeurs dont beaucoup sont désormais équipés d’assistants personnels pour garantir la traçabilité de leurs prospectus, en ont encore distribué 9 milliards l’an passé. Les tarifs ont augmenté en conséquence de 10 % pour les 25.000 clients du groupe.

      Les autres leviers proviennent de la distribution de courrier, notamment de petits paquets qui se glissent dans la boîte aux lettres, de colis, et de la valorisation de données. Le groupe prévoit encore une perte de 10 millions d’euros cette année (-35 en 2019) avec 600 millions de chiffre d’affaires (540 en 2019), et un retour aux bénéfices dès 2021.

      #corruption

    • Pour les élections départementales et régionales, dans notre foyer de 3 électeurs inscrits, Adrexo nous a déposé une enveloppe au lieu des six attendues.

  • La Métropole du #Grand_Paris, enjeu caché des élections municipales de 2020
    https://metropolitiques.eu/La-Metropole-du-Grand-Paris-enjeu-cache-des-elections-municipales-de

    La #métropole du Grand Paris survivra-t-elle à la #région #Île-de-France et à l’égoïsme des territoires riches ? À la veille des élections des 20 et 27 juin 2021, Philippe Subra et Wilfried Serisier mettent en lumière l’histoire d’une institution métropolitaine faible et méconnue du grand public. En Île-de-France, un des enjeux des #élections_municipales de 2020 fut la désignation des élus siégeant, à l’échelle de la zone dense de l’agglomération, au Conseil métropolitain et à l’exécutif de la Métropole du Grand #Terrains

    / Grand Paris, métropole, Île-de-France, région, élections municipales, #gouvernance

    https://metropolitiques.eu/IMG/pdf/met-subra-serisier2.pdf

  • France, élections présidentielles : premier tour, Giscard, 1981
    https://visionscarto.net/france-elections-giscard-1981

    Titre : France, élections présidentielles : premier tour, Giscard, 1981 Mots-clés : #archives #france #élections #sémiologie #1986 #politique Contexte : Exercice - Recherche cartographique, licence université de Paris I Sources : - Autrice : Florence Troin Date : 1986 #Musée_et_archives