Neoliberalism Explained: Why it must be dismantled

Neoliberalism is the dominant economic orthodoxy in the modern era. It is both a political and a financial ideology, with the following extremist beliefs:

  • Antigovernment sentiment — Their pitch is that all governments, including democratic ones, threaten individual liberty and must be stopped (or “drowned in the bathtub,” in the words of anti-tax zealots and movement conservatives).
  • Free markets should conquer governments — They claim, absurdly, that the toppling of self-governance would improve both economies and individual liberties.
  • The victory of markets is inevitable and there is nothing you can do about it — The fall of the Soviet Union was deemed the “end of history” by neoliberals, who believed that laissez-faire free market capitalism would inevitably triumph over all other forms of economic and political systems.
  • Economies work best when governments don’t intervene — Neoliberals want to prevent the powers of government from interfering with their ability to cut corners, dump industrial waste, pay fair wages, offer benefits, adhere to safety standards, engage in deceptive advertising, commit tax evasion, and so on — while continuing to supply them a steady stream of the public’s money via unpaid for tax cuts that balloon holes in the deficit. They fight against regulation tooth and nail, and try to claim that markets operate “naturally” as if under something akin to laws of physics — while failing to mention that there are no markets without regulation, without standards of fairness, without a justice system to enforce contracts and do its best to ensure a relatively equal business playing field.
  • The alchemy of neoliberalism will transmute greed into gold for everyone — The neoliberal promise is about spreading wealth, freedom, and democracy around the world — at the barrel of a gun, missile, or drone if necessary. Neoliberals consider greed to be the essence of human nature, and have modeled an entire societal system around this most base of human instincts. They claim, improbably — and surely many are True Believers — that narcissism and the aggressive pursuit of power and wealth will somehow magically create peace, happiness, and riches for everyone.

The insistence that governments and self-rule should be subordinated to the ultra-rich, to the oligarchs — that, to me, is the core essence of why this framework is evil. The staggeringly dissonant conviction about transforming sociopathy into global peace is a very close second.

Since the 1970s and accelerating with Reagan years, wealthy elites in the right wing have been spending gobs of their ill-earned wealth on creating a conservative movement echo chamber of think tanks, talk radio, literature, televangelists, YouTube streamers, and more — it is the vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary Clinton warned us about. It most certainly exists, and it most certainly is aggressively pursuing its political aims to disenfranchise the American people as fully as possible, so as to better walk away with an absurdly unjust share of the mutually created wealth by the wealth of intelligent and diligent labor here in the United States.

It appeals to the MAGA crowd because it allows them to vicariously tag along with the rich and powerful right-wing bigots who flaunt and dangle their wealth in front of the plebes by which to entice them to open up their wallets and send in a meagre donation for this or that white victimhood fund that does nothing but enrich the scam artists who run it as a hollow shell. It validates their hardcore white supremacy and casual racism alike, provides the sadistic satisfaction of attacking their enemies (symbolically and/or literally), gives them something to do and believe in, and keeps them entertained while their pockets are being fleeced in broad daylight.

Neoliberalism has succeeded in undermining some of the last shreds of democratic infrastructure and civic goodwill in society at this point in American political history. The defenses brilliantly architected by the Founders to ensure checks and balances would manage the power games in Washington to within workable levels have frayed even further under 4 years of Trump, and the vitriol of the January 6 coup attempt and insurrection that’s fueled further right-wing Big Lie entrenchment and domestic terrorist extremism.

Democracy is in crisis, and neoliberalism the culprit of this hostage story.

At least Joe Biden is correct in his analysis of the solution: we should tax the rich.

The Origins of Conservatism in the 1920s and 30s

(notes / draft) What are the true origins of conservatism?

1930s, in opposition to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal

3 main factions then:

  1. libertarians — Milton Friedman
  2. traditionalists — William F. Buckley, National Review (1955), Barry Goldwater
  3. anti-communistsJohn Birch Society, Robert Welch, McCarthyites

After the Allies won World War II, a number of the early Hitler sympathizers “hid out” in anti-communist circles, allowing them to cloak their underlying fascism inside of the American Cold War project and give it a semi-presentable face in conservatism.

In the 1970s, 2 more conservative groups emerged for a total of 5 main sects:

4. neoconservatives — Ronald Reagan

5. the religious right — the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell Sr. & Jr., Jimmy Swaggart, Jim & Tammy Fae Baker, Pat Robertson, Jesse Helms, Paul Weyrich, Paul Regnery, William Rusher, prosperity gospel

  • Evangelicals
  • fundamentalism
    • relationship between fundamentalist thinking and authoritarianism
    • rejection of science and empiricism
    • rejection of the liberal political order
    • limitations of received wisdom
  • Christian nationalism
    • Biblical law
    • End Times

Other topics

  • neoliberals & theocons — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, and others who led us into forever wars in the Middle East
  • MAGA
  • white supremacists & Lost Cause religion
  • right-wing anti-government violence
    • domestic violent extremism
  • conservative ideology
    • a form of totalism

American Fascists and the Global Right 😈

It feels like the 1930s all over again — and with good reason. The rise of right-wing extremism around the world has been a known trend for decades, and America’s past flirtations with fascism had been largely swept under the rug by the then fascists who tried to put a stop to FDR’s New Deal and prevent the U.S. from getting into World War II.

They fought against labor unions and labor organizers, often using private militia as henchmen to do their dirtywork with plausible deniability for themselves. The KKK was just one of many instruments put to use in service of plutocratic aims to quell any “communist awakening” amongst their workers, lest they get any uppity ideas for themselves. They fell for the popular conspiracy theories of their time, which included Hitler’s bogus assertion that Jewish bankers controlled the world and had to be stopped before they destroyed the white race.

Those fascists, butthurt over America’s overwhelmingly popular decision to enter the war and stop Hitler from exterminating the Jews, seethed with jealousy at the post-war “liberal consensus” that flourished alongside the booming US economy, propelled first by the war effort and later by the peacetime success of the New Deal’s long shadow and the burgeoning of the American middle class.

They turned into the John Birch Society, and the McCarthyites, and the Libertarians, and the Moral Majority, and the Gingrich Revolution, and the Tea Party, and the MAGA / QAnon stew sloshing around mass media. The kooks on the far right — the kind of ilk so cray cray that even William F. Buckley excommunicates you from the Republican Party — have taken over the hen house now. Outrage sells, as Facebook well knows — and as two-bit dictators around the world have bribed Mark Zuckerberg to brainwash the masses using the most inanely illogical propaganda prolefeed, the world tilts dangerously towards authoritarianism and the end of our democracy as we know it. And with it, all hope for truth and light into the future for some time to come — the equivalent of a political meteor hitting the Earth.

The fascists are still around, and now they have tools of propaganda that Goebbels could never have even wet dreamed of. They’re more powerful and more well-connected — to other sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and other pathological cult-leader types who might be f transactional service to each other from time to time. We’d be wise to keep an eye on these folks.

NameTypeLocationKnown for
Roman AbramovichForeign agentRussian oligarch close to both Putin and Trump
ACU Strategic PartnersForeign agentA company seeking to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East in partnership with a sanctioned Russia company; Mike Flynn was working for them without having disclosed it to the US government as required.
Sheldon AdelsonBusinesspersonLas Vegas, NVCEO billionaire of the Sands Corp casino empire (died, 2021)
AggregateIQCorporation
Todd AkinPoliticianMissouriPolitician who lost his Senate race to Clairse McCaskill in 2012 when he made the comment on TV about women having a way to "shut the whole thing down" to avoid becoming pregnant if raped.
American Energy AllianceNon-profitA tax-exempt nonprofit that advocated for corporate-friendly energy policies. Koch's Freedom Partners donated $1.5 million in 2012.
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)Non-profitCorporate-funded nonprofit that writes legislation for Republican legislatures, including spearheading the efforts to wrest partisan control over election results in 49 states.
Americans for ProsperityPACThe Koch Brothers' Libertarian political advocacy arm
Philip AnschutzColoradoCO oil and entertainment billionaire and founder of Qwest Communications
Lee Atwater
Michele Bachman
Steve BannonMedia personality
William Barr
Andy BiggsPoliticianAZHouse Republican
Black LegionExtremistMichiganSecret society of black-hooded terrorists working in MI against labor unions and labor organizers in the 1930s. Legionnaires talked of staging a coup to oust FDR and imposing a fascist regime in the United States
David BogatinOligarchNYCA top figure in the Russian mafia who bought 5 luxury condos in Trump Tower to launder money, he admitted in 1987.
Jacob BogatinOligarchDavid Bogatin's brother, and a partner of notorious Russian mob moss Semion Mogilevich
Harry and Lynde BradleyKochtopusMidwesterners who built their wealth on defense contracts
Andrew BreitbartMedia personalityFounded both Brietbart and the Huffington Post
Ruby Bridges
Mo BrooksPolitician
Brother's CircleCriminalOrganized crime gang pursued by then-FBI head Robert Mueller circa 2011
Michael BrownFerguson, MOUnarmed black man killed by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking a series of riots in the city.
Pat Buchanan
William F. Buckley JrMedia personality
Doug BurleyFounding and leading both The Family and the National Prayer Breakfast of right-wing power brokers
Cambridge Analytica
Tucker CarlsonMedia personality
Doug CaseyAyn Rand devotee and "anarcho-capitalist" who specializes in how to profit from turmoil
Michael CatanzaroLobbyistPartner at the CGCN Group lobbying firm who headed "energy independence" for the Trump transition team.
Madison Cawthorn
Center to Protect Patient RightsDark money group funded by the Kochs to attack the ACA with fearmongering and vitriol
Mike CernovichMedia personality
CGCN GroupLobbyistLobbyist for the Koch brothers
James ChaneyActivistNeshoba County, MSOne of 3 civil rights activists murdered by local white supremacists when engaging in non-violent civil disobedience, along with Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman
Chris ChristiePoliticianGovernor of NJ
Michael CohenBusinesspersonDonald Trump's personal lawyer, sentenced to 3 years in federal prison for felony crimes, including campaign finance crimes
Steven A. CohenFinance (SAC Capital Advisors)
Roy Cohn
Competitive Enterprise InstituteThink TankA Washington think tank that had been bankrolled by fossil fuel industries, particularly the Kochs.
Continental ResourcesCorporationOklahomaOK-based shale oil company with a large and profitable fracking operation
Coors brewing familyKoch InvestorColorado
Ted CruzPoliticianTexas
Kim DavisPublic SectorKentucky
Devos familyKoch InvestorFounders of the Amway marketing empire; Betsy DuVos is the Secretary of Education under Trump
Amadou DialloNew Yorka West African immigrant mowed down by 41 shots from police when leaving his apartment on February 4, 1999.
James DobsonMedia personalityconservative talk-show host
Chester DolesFormer KKK leader who runs the white supremacist American Patriots USA. Nearly beat a Black man to death in 1993. Marched in 2017 in Charlottesville.
Dinesh D'SouzaConservative gadly who alleged that Obama was "African" in outlook rather than American, absorbing his "radical" views from his Kenyan father
Doug Ducey
David DukeWhite Supremacist
John EastmanRan against Kamala Harris in 2010 for California AG, then showed back up in 2020 to write an outrageous op-ed that Newsweek for some reason actually published, that claimed that she was "secretly" not a US resident and therefore not eligible to be the VP! Now the Kamala Harris birther
Myron EbellOutspoken climate change skeptic, who headed the Trump transition team for the EPA
Election Integrity Project CaliforniaExtremistElection fraud group working with Leonard Leo
Cassandra Fairbanks
Jerry Falwell, JrTelevangelist
The FamilyLobbyistShadowy DC group with tremendous sway in Congress and around the world, following a distorted "strongman Jesus" version of Christianity.
The Federalist SocietyExtremist
Scott FitzgeraldPoliticianWIHouse Republican
Michael FlynnLobbyist
For AmericaPAC
Fox NewsCorporation
Freedom PartnersKochtopusThe Koch Brothers' secretive donor club.
FreedomWorksExtremist
Kevin GentryVP of Special Projects and VP of the Koch Foundation
Greg GianfortePoliticianbody-slamming Guardian reported Ben Jacobs while running for a GOP House seat in Montana
Newt GingrichMedia personality
Tim "Baked Alaska" GionetWhite Supremacist
Rudy GiulianiPoliticianNYC
GiveSendGo"Christian" donation platform
Barry GoldwaterPoliticianAZ
Chuck GrassleyPoliticianSenator
The Great Awakening
Marjorie Taylor GreeneQAnonGA
Eric Greitens
Harold HammKochtopusBillionaire founder of Continental Resources, an OK-based shale company with large fracking business & one of the charter members of the Kochs' donor circle.
Orrin HatchPoliticianSen. Orrin Hatch raised concerns about funding certain entitlement programs. “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything,” he said.
Josh Hawley
Jesse Helms
Leona Helmsley
Diane HendricksThe wealthiest woman in Wisconsin at $3.6 billion
Heritage FoundationThink TankWashington, DC
Honest Elections ProjectExtremistA conservative legal organization connected to Leonard Leo that files legal briefs to SCOTUS opposing mail-in ballots and other voting reforms that help more people to vote,
Andrew JacksonPoliticianUS President
John Birch SocietyExtremist
Andrew JohnsonPoliticianUS President
Chuck JohnsonMedia personalityAlt-right super troll
Alex JonesMedia personalityHost of InfoWars, the 9/11 conspiracy show that put the genre on the map
Jim JordanPoliticianOHA long-time Tea Party hyena, the Congressman known as Gym once helped his buddy cover up decades of sexual abuse of young wrestlers in their care.
Judicial Education ProjectExtremistA legal group tied to Leonard Leo, working to advance conservative takeover of the judiciary.
Islam KarimovOligarchUzbekistanFormer Communist official who became the first president of Uzbekistan in 1991, and remained the country's dictator until his death in 2016.
Brett KavanaughJudge
Dr. D. James Kennedycreating a Dominionist "conversion" playbook
John F. KennedyPolitician
Robert F. KennedyPolitician
Martin Luther KingActivistCivil Rights leader in the 1960s, and enemy of Southern politicians
Charlie KirkMedia personality
KKKWhite Supremacist
Bill KochBusinessperson
Charles KochKochtopusKansasindustries: pipelines, oil refineries, lumber and paper, coal, chemicals, commodity futures, etc.
David KochKochtopusKansasindustries: pipelines, oil refineries, lumber and paper, coal, chemicals, commodity futures, etc. (now deceased)
Fred KochKochtopusKansasFather of Charles and David, Fred Koch was an early and fervent acolyte in the ultra-conservative John Birch Society
Frederick KochBusinesspersonNew York
Ku Klux Klan (see KKK)White Supremacist
Ken LangoneBusinesspersonFounder of Home Depot
Lyndon LaRoucheCult Leader
Robert LeFevreKochtopusCharles Koch's mentor, a quasi-anarchist, who said, "government is a disease masquerading as its own cure"
Leonard LeoExtremistChairman of the Federalist Society, a legal organization working to pack the courts with conservative judges.
Liberty CounselChristian special rights group
William S. Lind
Kelly LoefflerPoliticianGeorgiaInsider trading immediately upon arriving at her unelected Senate seat when her husband, President of the NYSE, found a way to have some money arrive at Brian Kemp, the Governor, who appointed her.
Dana LoeschMedia personalityNRA spokeswoman
Paul ManafortLobbyist
John McAfeeBusinessperson
Michael McKennaKochtopusLobbyist and President of MWR Strategies lobbying firm, who have the Koch brothers as clients
Rebekah MercerOligarchDaughter of NY hedge fund manager Robert Mercer; she helped guide the Trump transition team following the 2016 election
Robert MercerOligarch
MicroChipPro-Trump bot-king
Michael Milken
Semion MogilevichCriminalNotorious Russian mob boss
Stefan MolyneuxMedia personalityAlt-right troll
Sun Myung MoonCult LeaderLeader of the Moonie cult and self-proclaimed deity, Mr Moon served time in federal prison for tax fraud, among other charges.
Roy MoorePoliticianTrump-backed politician and pedophile who narrowly lost the Alabama Senate race to Doug Jones in 2018.
MWR StrategiesKochtopusLobbying firm for the Koch brothers
neo-NazisExtremist
Ralph NormanPoliticianHouse Republican who skirted the metal detectors to enter the House floor after the January 6 insurrection
NRAExtremistNational Rifle Association
NYPDPublic SectorNew York Police Department
Barack ObamaPoliticianChicago, DC, Los AngelesThe 44th President of the United States, and the first black person to hold the job. He was widely loathed by the Right despite his positive record.
John M. OlinKochtopusChemical and munitions company titan
Norman Vincent PealeBusinesspersonChristianity as a business man's religion
Mike PenceMedia personality
Rick PerryPolitician
Scott PerryHouse Republican who skirted the metal detectors to enter the House floor after the January 6 insurrection
Jordan B PetersonAcademic
Mike PompeoPublic SectorSec of State after the firing of Rex Tillerson; former CIA Director; former Republican congressman from KS and largest recipient of Koch campaign funds in all of Congress
Jack PosobiecMedia personality
Lewis Powell
Sydney PowellAlso Associates with UFO believers and anti-vaxxers
Proud Boys
Thomas Pylepresident of the American Energy Alliance, funded by Exxon and the Kochs
QAnon
Nancy Reagan
Ronald ReaganPolitician
Pat RobertsonTelevangelist
George Romney
Mitt RomneyPolitician
Richard Mellon ScaifeKoch InvestorHeir to the Mellon banking and Gulf Oil fortunes, and Koch donor
David Schnare"Free-market environmentalist" who accused the EPA of having blood on its hands, who joined climate change denier Myron Ebell on the Trump transition team for the EPA
Stephen SchwarzmanFinance
Rick Scott
Jeff Sessions
Marc ShortRan the Koch Brothers' secretive donor club, Freedom Partners, before becoming Mike Pence's senior advisor during the 2016 presidential transition
Sinclair Broadcasting GroupCorporation
Paul SingerKoch InvestorFinance (Elliott Management hedge fund). Supported Rudy Giuliani.
SNCCNon-profit
Richard SpencerMedia personality
State Policy NetworkFunded in part by the Kochs
Roger StoneLobbyist
Richard StrongStrong Capital Management Mutual Fund
Tea PartyIntensely antitax group
Peter ThielBusinessperson
Three Percenters
Turning Point USA
Unification Church
Unite the RightActivist
University of Texas at Austin
Ricky Vaughn
George WallacePoliticianAlabama
Joe Walsh
Kelli WardPoliticianAZGOP Chair
Ron WatkinsIdentified as the most likely suspect to be Q
WeevWhite SupremacistAndrew "Weev" Auernheimer
Paul WeyrichWhite Supremacist
Darren WilsonPolice officer who brutally killed a Black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO in 2014.
WikiLeaksForeign agent
Milo Yiannopoulos
TYPE (raw)Typepivot
BusinesspersonAcademic
BusinesspersonActivistTYPE (raw)
BusinesspersonBusinessperson
BusinesspersonCorporationBusinessperson
BusinesspersonCriminalCorporation
BusinesspersonCult LeaderKoch Investor
BusinesspersonExtremistLobbyist
BusinesspersonForeign agentMedia personality
BusinesspersonJudgenon-profit
CorporationKochtopusPolitician
CorporationLobbyistPublic Sector
CorporationMedia personalityThink Tank
Koch InvestorNon-profitType
Koch InvestorOligarchGrand Total
Koch InvestorPAC
Koch InvestorPolitician
Koch InvestorPublic Sector
Koch InvestorQAnon
Koch InvestorTelevangelist
Koch InvestorThink Tank
Koch InvestorWhite Supremacist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
non-profit
Non-profit
Non-profit
Non-profit
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Public Sector
Public Sector
Think Tank
Think Tank
Type

Essential thinkers on authoritarian personalities

Many people around the world were shocked in the aftermath of World War II. How could “polite” society break down so utterly, so swiftly, and so zealously? Why did authoritarian personalities come to dominate human affairs, seemingly out of nowhere? How thin is this veneer of civilization, really?

A braintrust of scholars, public servants, authors, psychologists, and others have been analyzing these questions ever since. Some of the most prominent thinkers on the subject of authoritarianism were either themselves affected by the Nazi regime, or lived through the war in some capacity. Other more recent contributions have built on those original foundations, refining and extending them as more new history continues to unfold with right-wing behavior to observe.

Top research on authoritarian personalities

  • Theodor Adorno — Forced into exile by the Nazi regime, the German philosopher was a member of the Frankfurt School who tried to make sense of the evils of Hitler’s rule. He developed the F-scale in 1947, a personality test designed to identify authoritarian personalities through a set of signature traits like conventionalism, aggression, superstition, cynicism, stereotypy, projectivity, and preoccupation with sex. His studies on antisemitism and propaganda would lay the groundwork for sociological studies at the Institute for Social Research at Columbia University, the Frankfurt School’s intellectual and literal home in New York City during WWII.
  • Bob Altemeyer — Canadian psychology professor who built upon Adorno’s work to create the Right-wing Authoritarianism Scale in 1981, the now standard diagnostic tool for identifying authoritarian personalities. Altemeyer’s research on authoritarian followers added new dimensions to the field of study, often focused previously on the psychology and behavior of authoritarian leaders of the day such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. His most recent book, The Authoritarians, compiles the essential insights from his forty years of research on authoritarianism and is available for free at the link above.
  • Erich Fromm — A German Jewish psychologist and sociologist, Erich Fromm fled the Nazis and worked with the Frankfurt School of exiles on issues of social change, socioeconomics, and a broad range of interdisciplinary studies across the social, political, and economic sciences. His first book, Escape From Freedom (1941), is considered one of the founding tomes of political psychology. In 1964 he coined the term malignant narcissism to describe the depths of ultimate evil he lived through during Hitler’s rise to power, a phrase clinically synonymous with psychopathy — the quintessential cold-blooded killers who show no remorse for their murderous zeal. His concept of group narcissism (1973) extended Freud’s theory of collective narcissism to describe the phenomenon where members of an ingroup hold inflated views of their group that require external validation from others to continuously reaffirm their supremacy.
  • Hannah Arendt — Born Jewish in Germany in 1906, Hannah Arendt got her doctorate in philosophy in 1929 but was unable to find footing in her academic career due to the sharp rise of hostility towards the Jews. Arendt fled the country in 1933 after Hitler came to power and she was arrested for her “illegal” research into antisemitism. Forced to flee again from her exile in France in 1940, she escaped to New York and became an American citizen in 1950. Her first book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), is considered one of the seminal works on the subject. Among her many other titles, The Human Condition (1958) may be the most influential — it establishes her core philosophy of “natality,” the idea of human affairs naturally renewing itself through the literal process of birth, with new individuals arriving continuously to reinterpret both the present and the past as well as re-imagine the future.
  • Karen Stenner — An Australian political scientist, Stenner is known for her cross-cultural research findings that show about a third (approximately 33%) of whites in a given population will tend to have authoritarian predispositions. Her work also shows the difference between authoritarian personalities, who have a great distaste for difference and diversity, and conservative mentalities, who have a significant aversion to change. Stenner posits authoritarianism as the result of a low tolerance for ambiguity, complexity, and — as a consequence — sociocultural diversity: “freedom feeds fear which undermines freedom, and democracy is its own undoing” (from her 2005 work The Authoritarian Dynamic).

More foundational thinkers

  • Czeslaw Milosz — Author of The Captive Mind (1953), the Lithuanian-born poet, writer, and activist grew up in Poland and lived through the German invasion and Soviet occupation there during and after World War II. In the book, he describes the psychological and social effects of living under Communism, with emphasis on the surprising complicity of many members of the Polish intellectual and creative class.
  • Vaclav Havel — A Czech playwright who became more politically active as a dissident after the Soviet invasion of Warsaw in 1968, Havel wrote The Power of the Powerless (1978) about his experiences living in the lies of a communist regime. He was a political prisoner under the anti-intellectualism of Soviet rule multiple times, once for as long as 4 years.
  • Viktor Frankl — Holocaust survivor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and philosopher who chronicled his experiences in Nazi concentration camps, his observations about his fellow prisoners, the guards, and the psychology of Hitler’s murderous antisemitic regime more broadly. After being liberated from Auschwitz, having lost the rest of his family to the camps, he returned to Vienna to head a hospital neurological department and wrote Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) over the course of only 9 days. He went on to develop logotherapy, a branch of psychotherapy that places the search for life’s meaning at the center of human motivation, and laid the groundwork for the development of positive psychology.
  • Herbert Marcuse — Another refugee intellectual with the Franklin School, Marcuse worked with the pre-CIA OSS to research and counteract Nazi propaganda.
  • George Orwell — The British author most synonymous with portraying the evils of totalitarianism through his two classic fiction works Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949). To this day we use the term Orwellian to describe the creeping dread of a dystopian, all-powerful government pumping out lies and thought control.
  • Robert O. Paxton — Seminal work on the nature of fascism
  • Timothy Snyder — Yale professor and scholar of autocratic regimes
  • Masha Gessen — Russian-American journalist, author, and queer activist whose definitive biography of Vladimir Putin, The Man Without a Face (2013), is one of several must reads on the rise of Russia’s revanchism with the West.
  • George Lakoff — Linguist who analyzes political messaging and writes about the strict father vs. nurturing parent Manichaean struggle between conservative/authoritarian and liberal value systems. Lakoff stresses the counterintuitive finding that approximately 98% of our thinking is done unconsciously, and that we are driven by these unconscious thoughts and beliefs to a much larger extent than we are generally aware of.
  • Alice Miller — Swiss psychologist whose career uncovered that the consequences of child corporal punishment tend to be authoritarian personalities later in life. Her work shows that child abuse perpetuates emotional blindness later in life and a number of vicious cycles in society from generation to generation, from aggression and paranoia to corruption, crime, and violence.
  • Jerrold Post — One of the foremost researchers on political paranoia and a founder of the field of political psychology, the professor spent 2 decades as a CIA agent prior to teaching and writing about the political behavior of malignant personality types. His last book, Dangerous Charisma: The Political Psychology of Donald Trump and His Followers (2019), was published one year before the 2020 election.
  • Richard Hofstadter — studies the “paranoid style” in American politics
  • Jonathan Haidt — Author of The Righteous Mind
          

Right-wing populism around the world

It’s not just here at home that fascism seems to have taken root in the population. There are many burgeoning nationalist movements resurrecting right-wing populism around the world, and as per many experts’ warnings, authoritarianism is on the rise around the globe.

Many of the right-wing populist thatches that have sprung up are at least in part, seeds planted by Vladimir Putin in his quest for Russian revanchism against the West following the end (or so we thought…) of the Cold War. Rumoured to be the richest man in the world by far, the former KGB agent was working in East Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, and has been pursuing his Lost Cause grievance ever since.

Given how seemingly easy it is for Charles Koch to buy American elections as the 15th richest person in the world, imagine what someone far wealthier could accomplish. Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France took campaign cash directly from The Kremlin, Viktor Orban’s Hungary is Putin’s strongest ally in the EU, and the UK’s Brexit campaign acted as the canary in the coalmine for later disgraceful invasions of other nations’ sovereignty — perhaps most notably, election interference in the 2016, 2018, and 2020 US elections.

As such, it would be foolish not to see what’s happening here in America as part of a broader wave of right-wing populism and authoritarian fever that is very dangerous. We need to find out a lot more information about how all these puzzle pieces fit together, and get to the bottom of the real conspiracy clearly going on — if we can find it through all these smokescreen conspiracy theories clogging the propaganda waves.

CountryFlagPartyAbbreviation
Austria🇦🇹Freedom PartyFPO
Belgium🇧🇪Flemish BlockVB
Britain🇬🇧UK Independence PartyUKIP
Britain First
National Front
Czech RepublicFreedom and Direct DemocracySPD
Denmark🇩🇰Danish People's PartyDPP
Finland🇫🇮True Finns
France🇫🇷National FrontFN
Germany🇩🇪Alternative for GermanyAfD
Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the WestPegida
Greece🇬🇷Syriza
Hungary🇭🇺Movement for a Better HungaryJobbik
Fidesz
Italy🇮🇹Northern League
National Alliance
Japan🇯🇵Nippon Kaigi
The Netherlands🇳🇱Party for FreedomPPV
Liveable Netherlands
Pim Fortuyn's ListLPF
Norway🇳🇴Progress Party
The Philippines🇵🇭
Poland🇵🇱Law and Justice party
Portugal🇵🇹Popular Party
SerbiaSerbian Radical PartySRS
Spain🇪🇸(Catalonian secession)
Sweden🇸🇪Sweden Democrats
Switzerland🇨🇭Swiss People's PartySVP
United States🇺🇸Republican PartyGOP

DADA vs. MAGA: How to deal with bullies

Defense Against the Dark Arts was like the women’s self-defense class of Hogwarts — it taught you how to prepare yourself for the evil that was out there lurking and waiting for you out there. This course of DADA will follow suit, aiming to offer ways to detect, defend, and defeat the cultism rising in America and beyond.

It will be a work in progress over time, so please bear with me as I assemble learnings from a number of sources.

Red Flags: Traits to watch out for

  • evasiveness
    • vagueness
    • slipperiness
    • can’t be pinned down
    • won’t answer straightforward questions
  • denialism
  • cognitive dissonance
    • doublespeak
    • paleologic

Proteanism vs. cultism: The battle between open and closed societies

  • proteanism is Robert Jay Lifton’s idea of a model for the self that could serve as an aspirational escape hatch from the clutches of cultism, which is otherwise always happening
  • cultism (i.e. “losing reality“) is what happens “by default” if effort is not made to form and maintain healthy cultures
  • cultism is what most individuals devolve to or maintain throughout their lives, if they lack proteanism
  • I believe professor Lifton is onto something real in this particular interpretation of our Manichaean struggle — in which the political left and the right have self-sorted into separate clusters with wildly disparate interpretations of reality
  • the cultists are dying (quite literally) for the words of a delusional sociopath who swept them out of power with his spew of thinly veiled white supremacy and gold veneer charm
    • they want the apocalypse to come
    • The oil preachers have brainwashed the masses into believing climate change is The Rapture — they want climate change. They think it’s God’s plan.

Cultism as a kind of collective personality disorder

  • we all get stuck in our own mental loops sometimes. Some people are exclusively stuck in their own mental loops — most are disregarded, but some achieve wide notoriety, wealth, and sometimes political power.
  • Some nefarious mental predators thrive on getting other people stuck in *their* loops — everyone from garden variety abusers to cult leaders take this general approach to convincing others to abandon their own ways of thinking and spend all their time consumed with thoughts of The Authority’s Philosophy. Some individuals with an authoritarian worldview willingly submit to a strongman and abdicate decision-making to untrustworthy others.
  • Charismatic leaders have ruled over human groups since the dawn of humanity itself, but only in the past century with the invention of mass media technologies and techniques have demagogues been able to achieve a kind of totalist saturation of the common space and common understanding — giving them an ability to spin the entire agenda in their favor, and in turn, effectively “own reality”
  • When a leader with a personality disorder achieves power, he draws the other antisocial sleeper cells out of hiding for the coming feast.
  • The leader installs his cronies into positions of power and corrupts the institutions that are meant to safeguard democracy. Instead of acting as a bulwark against nefarious intent, these agencies begin to look the other way against crimes committed by the leader and his buddies — and later, will directly participate and optimize their contributions.

The enemy at the gates is us

  • Cultism can be induced very simply, by stressing a population. That’s it — that’s all it takes, for people to turn inward, become suspicious, and react with excessive fear in the face of gnawing uncertainty.
  • It takes strong character to resist the siren songs of disinformation and spoon-fed flattery
  • Building strong character is hard work. Much much harder than most people are interested in putting in — or even capable of
  • Consequently, many people of weak character are easily taken in by con men, grifters, and slick talkers of all stripes.
  • However, these con artists are very good at one thing: convincing people of weak character that specific enemies are to blame for all their troubles, and getting them to give money or take action against these Satanic Democratic pedophiles who want to ruin the world with their Leftist Apocalypse, instead of ruining the world with the proper Rightist Apocalypse and Rapturing all the evil elites away!
  • These pawns, peons, and proles will dutifully go looking over hill and dale, under Pelosi’s chair for the violent Antifa socialists who want to take over the government
  • They want to build a physical border wall to keep out poor, bedraggled refugees while allowing foreign bidders to pay pennies on the dollar to buy political influence through Facebook, Google, and other unregulated new media platforms
  • It’s McCarthyism turned on its head — but since we’ve already cried wolf once, no one will really believe that Russians pulled off the greatest psyops campaign of all time
proteanismcultism
seeks expansion of event horizonradical reduction of the "size of the universe" and human potential
open systemclosed system
personal growthstagnation; stasis
Bayesian logicmotivated reasoning
collects dataselective exposure
positive disintegrationimmaturity
questions authorityfollows orders
new ideasold dogma
improvisationalritual
iterativerecursive
expansivelimited
motivated by lovemotivated by fear
generativedestructive

Integrative complexity

Integrative complexity is a statistical measure of how much a person’s thinking and reasoning involves the incorporation of multiple perspectives and potential outcomes, along with the related precursors to acquiring them. Its score reflects the structure of an individual’s thoughts, and the richness of their problem-solving and decision making abilities.

The integrative complexity measurement has two components:

  1. Evaluative differentiation — Ability to acknowledge that reasonable people may have different beliefs, and that making decisions collectively will involve balancing competing interests.
  2. Conceptual integration — Skill at giving context to others’ points of view, and/or coming up with ideas for compromise that two (or more) opposing sides might come to the table on.

Relation to:

The Goldilocks Zone vs. Unbounded growth

The concept of the Goldilocks Zone reminds us that most typically, there is a range of possibilities above and below which would not be viable. This is in contrast to the idea of unbounded growth, in which one or more key performance indicators is expected to continue to grow forever, without bounds. Think: up and to the right.

Commonly used as a metaphor, the Goldilocks Zone has its origins in planetary science. It defines a planet that is within the habitable zone of its star system, meaning not too hot and not too cold — with the ability to sustain liquid water. Without it, life on the only living planet we know — ours — would cease to exist. Therefore, one good place to look for potential life on other planets is the Goldilocks Zone, which has also come to be used as a reference meaning “the perfect conditions” for some ideal state or goal.

“Going viral” isn’t always desirable

We crave it in our social media feeds, but avoid it like the plague when it is the plague — viral contagion can both giveth and taketh away. In America we’ve recently been having both as of this writing.

Whereas the Goldilocks Zone presupposes limits at both ends, unbounded growth expects no limits to ever be encountered from the start. In a finite world inside a finite universe, it is simply unlikely to be true with much regularity.

You could say that Goldilocks Zones know a lot about establishing boundaries, while the infinite growth areas tend to extremism. Beyond the pandemic, cancer is another infamous candidate for illustrating the dangers of growth without bounds. Arguably, hypercapitalism belongs.

The Goldilocks Zone is a moderate

Goldilocks Zones are akin to the center of the Bell curve; the boundaries of the margin of error; the middle path. James Madison would have been a fan of the Goldilocks Zone — it would have smelled to him like his own concept of the moderating force of many factions preventing too much extremism from taking root in governance, and reminded him of the insights of the Marquis de Condorcet.

“Moderation in all things” was made famous by first the Greeks and later the Romans. It is a kind of ancient wisdom that turns out to have very old roots indeed — back even to the early days of the universe.

Values of the Left and the Right: Liberal vs. Authoritarian Worldviews

The following list must be prefaced with some caveats about painting with broad strokes, and acknowledging everything is a distribution and Not All Republicans espouse all of these things to the same degree or even at all. Nevertheless, both the extremism and the polarization in our political system is the highest in recent memory — certainly in the totality of my Generation X memory, and by all accounts the highest since the 1930s. Extremism is high on both the Left and the Right, but research shows it’s been growing much more extreme on the Right.

And in many ways it feels like we are living through something akin to the 1930s, again. The rise in authoritarian regimes and totalist thought and linguistic patterns is troubling and dangerous. The United States never had an armed insurrection take over the Capitol building prior to January 6, 2021. America has had many periods of brutality in its past and present, but historically speaking nothing like the recent decades of escalating mass shooter events.

What can explain the religious devotion to a failed businessman and failed President on the Right? Loathe him through we might on the Left, Trump is revered on the Right for espousing the “virtues” of a traditional hierarchical society, and for giving coded approval to America’s most shadowy extremist groups that he would be finding excuses to look the other way if they chose to strike. They both held up their ends of the bargain, with would-be assassins in tactical gear assaulting the nation’s lawmakers as they certified the 2020 election results as mandated by the Constitution, and paid puppets in the Senate letting them all off the hook… technically speaking, that is.

Trump looked the other way, but only for another 14 days — until Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. With a new sheriff Merrick Garland in town, all bets are off regarding leniency for the nation’s most vile and seditious lot who stormed the Capitol and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in US history — a sad day for the country and its venerable history of managing to keep the republic.

This will be a work in progress, as usual. And a tool for discussion — we’re going to need it for the coming years.

Liberal ValuesAuthoritarian Values
EqualityHierarchy
JusticeForce
LibertyControl
Popular sovereigntyUnpopular rule
Common goodPrivatization
LogicMagical Thinking
ReasonPower
TruthPropaganda
HistoryMyth
RealityFantasy
ResponsibilityEscapism
RationalityIrrationality
IntegrityHypocrisy
CharacterCharacter disorder
WisdomIgnorance
GenerosityGreed
HonestyDeception
EarnestnessCynicism
SkepticismLoyalty
CuriosityBoredom
CompassionContempt
EmpathySadism
Driven by careDriven by fear
MoralityNihilism
TransparencySecrecy
ConsiderationCallousness
PatienceImpatience
MaturityImmaturity
Emotional intelligenceEmotional manipulation
WholeheartednessCognitive dissonance
VulnerabilityDefensiveness
AuthenticityMimicry
DeliberationAct without thinking
De-escalationAggression
ConsciousUnconscious
Self-awareSelf-deception
EducationBrainwashing
DiversityConformity
CreativityDestruction
ArtisticFundamentalist
SolutionsGrievance
CommunityRugged individualism
TrustDistrust
GratitudeEnvy
RespectDisrespect
SustainabilityExtraction
Self-regardCathexis
SpiritualityReligiosity
Self-actualizationFollow the leader
Problem solvers"Tear it down"-ers

empathy

Empathy is the capacity, ability, and willingness to understand or share the feelings of someone else. It is to harmonize with that person (or animal, or even fictional character…) and synchronize with their mood — to walk a mile in their shoes.

The word empathy comes from a Greek word meaning “suffering,” which describes the ethos of the term in its encapsulation of feeling what another being feels.

Compassion is a behavior made possible by empathy, and is revered throughout culture and the world’s religions. It is considered one of the hallmarks of advanced emotional development, representing selflessness, altruism, and Good Samaritanism. It is to make less distinct, the separation between self and other.

Blessed are the meek

Empaths are some of society’s greatest healers, caregivers, teachers, artists, performers, and leaders. They find unique and often enduring ways to add value in places often left behind by the brutalism of American hypercapitalism.

People with empathy help uplift humanity, and inspire us to do our utmost to care for each other as best we can. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something, said a wise man some decades past.

Conversely, individuals who are lacking in empathy can commit some of the most heinous crimes and greatest atrocities in history. People without empathy lack a conscience, which makes them more willing than most to go too far, take things to extremes, and play impulse high-stakes gambling without a net. Hannah Arendt, Erich Fromm, and others chronicled the psychology of the Nazis during its regime and World War II, as well as in its aftermath — they classified the behavior as pathological, from malignant narcissism to even deeper evils within the Cluster B family of personality disorders.

Empathy in biology

Human beings aren’t the only species with the capacity for empathy. In fact many if not most mammalian species exhibit empathic nurturing behavior, from rodents to primates and cetaceans. Cognitively, the brain system for empathy includes spindle cells, the amygdala, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and brain stem.

Prosocial behaviors thus appear to be an advanced adaptation, to be willing to risk potential sacrifice for other people, including strangers. Perhaps the dividend in profits from the returns of this kind of routine yet extraordinary behavior are the true wealth of the nation.

Cultism and Disinformation Dictionary

The cat is well and truly out of the bag in terms of understanding how easily wide swaths of people can be misled into believing total falsehoods and even insane conspiracy theories that have no basis whatsoever in reality. In their passion for this self-righteous series of untruths, they can lose families, jobs, loved ones, respect, and may even be radicalized to commit violence on behalf of an authority figure. It starts with the dissemination of disinformation.

Disinformation is meant to confuse, throw off, distract, polarize, and otherwise create conflict within and between target populations. The spreading of falsehoods is a very old strategy — perhaps as old as humankind itself — but its mass dissemination through the media was pioneered in the 20th century by the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union, the Nazis in Germany, Mussolini’s Fascists in Italy, and other authoritarian regimes of the early 1900s through the 1940s.

After World War II and the Allies’ defeat of Hitler, the role of disinformation lived on during the Cold War. The Soviet KGB were infamous for their spycraft and covert infiltration of information flows, while the United States experienced waves of anti-Communist paranoia and hysteria fueled by the spread of conspiracist thinking.

Cultism is an old tradition in the U.S.

But cultism has a long history here in the United States. One could argue the Confederacy was a kind of cult, and the KKK after it. America gave rise to Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Sun Myung Moon, among many many others who led cults big and small.

Christianity itself was considered a cult by some during its humble beginnings after the turn of the millennia and then some. It’s no accident that religious revivalism and many types of faith fervor colored the nation for decades and centuries.

Some might call the patriarchal nuclear family the Original Cult. Many if not most Evangelical sects revere it, among numerous others who believe in God the Father quite literally. Others still seek to exploit that zeal, by offering up a series of “flawed saviors” who dangled the prospect of a more theocratic state governed by Law and Order. Their money buys them much more than just the puppets who rule, and the citizens struggle to pierce the veils of illusion.

TermDefinitionNotes
ambiguity
active measuresRussian information warfare aimed at undermining the West
America First Unity Rally
AntifaAnti-fascists
assert the opposite of reality
the Big Lie
black and white thinkingA pattern of thought characterized by polar extremes, sometimes flip-flopping very rapidly from one extreme view to its opposite. Also referred to as dichotomous thinking; polarized thinking; all-or-nothing thinking; or splitting.
blackmail
blaming the victim
book burning
Borderline Personality Disorder
bot
botnets
bullying
cathexis
@citizentrolling
#clevelandsteal
closure
cognitive distortion
con artistSomeone who swindles others with fake promises
conspiracy theory
DARVO
deception
deep fakesFabricated video footage appearing to show an individual speaking
deep state
demoshizaShort for ‘democratic schizophrenics’ -- a Russian slander against citizens of democracies. The ‘demoshiza’ tag also serves a useful purpose in conflating ‘democracy’ with ‘mental illness’. The word ‘democratic’ has an unhappy status in Russia: it is mainly used as an uncomplimentary synonym for ‘cheap’ and ‘low-grade’: McDonald’s has ‘democratic’ prices, the door policy at a particularly scuzzy club can be described as ‘democratic’ – i.e. they let anybody in
denialism
denial of death
denying plain facts
dezinformatsiyaRussian information warfare
"dirty tricks"
disappearing
diversion
doxxing
"drinking the Kool-Aid"
duty to warn
emotional abuse
emotional blackmail
emotional manipulation
empty promises
extortion
fake news
false flagcovert operations designed to deceive by appearing as though they are carried out by other entities, groups, or nations than those who actually executed them
fifth world warNon-linear war; the war of all against all -- a term coined by Putin's vizier Vladislav Surkov.
flying monkeys
fraud
GamerGate
gaslighting
"global cabal"euphemism in far-right Russian discourse to refer to a perceived "Jewish conspiracy" behind the international order of institutions like NATO and the EU
globalization
grooming
Guccifer 2.0
hate speech
honey pot
horseshoe theory
hybrid warfare
hypnosis
influence techniques
information terroristsMedia personalities and professionals working against the interests of democracy in the United States. Many amplify their messages through automation and human networks, creating a Greek Chorus-like cacaphony of fake support for unpopular positions.
information warfare
InfoWars
Intermittent reinforcement
jumping to conclusions bias
kleptocracyform of government in which the leaders harbor organized crime rings and often participate in or lead them; the police, military, civil government, and other governmental agencies may routinely participate in illicit activities and enterprises.
Mafia stateA systematic corruption of government by organized crime syndicates. A term coined by former KGB/FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko. See also: kleptocracy
malignant envy
malignant narcissism
maskirovkawar of deception and concealment
men's rights
mind control
minimizing
money laundering
motivated reasoning
moving the goalpostsChanging the rules after the game is played, when one side doesn't like the outcome.
"myth of tech misogyny"A form of denialism made popular by alt-right commentator and troll Milo Yiannopoulos, used to discredit feminist discussions about the tech and gaming industry's notorious levels of misogyny.
naive realism
narcissistic rage
narcissistic supply
The National Enquirer
neurolinguistic programming (NLP)
nihilism
non-linear warfare
novichokmilitary-grade nerve agent developed by Russia and used in the poisoning of former FSB agent turned Putin critic Andrei Skripal and his daughter in Lonson in March, 2018
one-way streetExpect loyalty from you while offering none in return
opposhort form of opposition research
paranoiaNurturing and maintaining enemies
passive aggressive
PizzaGate
plausible deniability
playing the victim
post-truth
projection
Project LakhtaInternal name for the operation that Prigozhin's IRA was running to interfere in elections across the Western world, according to the Mueller indictments.
propaganda
psychopathy
PUAPick-up Artist
QAnon
#releasethememo
retcon
running out the clock
sadism
selective exposure
shame
shit-posting
silovikiRussian term for those who have backgrounds and employment in the Russian power ministries -- security services, the military, and police; and more specifically a reference to Putin's security cabal.
Snow RevolutionPopular protests beginning in Moscow in 2011, demanding the reinstatement of free elections & the ability to form opposition parties. Hundreds if not thousands of protestors were detained on the first day of action (Dec 5), continuing over the next 2 years as punishments grew increasingly harsh and more activists were sent to penal colonies.
social hierarchies
sockpuppet accountsFake social media accounts used by trolls for deceptive and covert actions, avoiding culpability for abuse, aggression, death threats, doxxing, and other criminal acts against targets.
"sovereign democracy"system in which democratic procedures are retained, but without any actual democratic freedoms; brainchild of Vladislav Surkov
Special Mission
splittingSee the world as with them or against them; an extension of black and white thinking.
stonewalling
Tarasoff rule
thought-stopping
torture
trolling
undue influence
white male identity politics
white nationalism

Political contributions by industry, 2019-2020

These numbers come from the FEC by way of opensecrets.org, and indicate the industry each donor reports they work for (or Retired, if they report not working any longer). The overall political contributions have skyrocketed within our system since the Citizens United ruling gave corporations wide latitude to give money to political campaigns, without necessarily any disclosure or transparency requirements attached. The era of dark money in politics has not been a healthy one in terms of preserving our democracy.

Of note:

  • Retired folks tend to lean Republican in their political contributions (i.e. older skews GOP)
  • Finance and Real Estate are more seemingly even or slightly Democratic than I would have predicted
  • Manufacturing and Oil & Gas are the 2 largest Republican leaning industries — both dwindling and diminishing over the long term horizon.
  • The Entertainment industry is one of the most left-leaning of the bunch, giving more than about 90% overall to Democratic candidates or causes. No wonder it’s a favorite target of the Sedition Caucus!
  • Any way you slice it, Democrats appear to be vastly outpacing Republicans in terms of fundraising efforts — yet they are the ones calling for campaign finance reform, because the system of peddling influence is so out of hand.
  • Business is definitely outspending labor, however.
IndustryOverall TotalTo Democrats & Liberal GroupsTo Republicans & Conservative GroupsLean
Retired$1688335247$558769474$956076774Leans Republican/Conservative
Securities/Invest$799576406$195353417$119774048Leans Democrat/Liberal
Democratic/Liberal$774146476$317188055$154316Solidly Democrat/Liberal
Misc Finance$485711802$74077242$57181223On the fence
Real Estate$413020609$140563098$176894028On the fence
Education$348509465$288454435$31460036Solidly Democrat/Liberal
Repub/Conservative$339055614$69348$157252042Solidly Republican/Conservative
Lawyers/Law Firms$335929913$257159915$57685804Leans Democrat/Liberal
Health Professionals$269975444$140853584$78014653Leans Democrat/Liberal
Electronics Mfg/Eqp$208004155$94608885$32603257Leans Democrat/Liberal
Non-Profits$202452440$69589426$19720845Leans Democrat/Liberal
Candidate Cmtes$188819128$136105830$51564268Leans Democrat/Liberal
Misc Mfg/Distrib$157276344$29647438$48516563Leans Republican/Conservative
Business Services$156224706$103637971$33237078Leans Democrat/Liberal
Civil Servants$152396172$108270008$32933733Leans Democrat/Liberal
Health Services$151572671$30508636$20672661Leans Democrat/Liberal
TV/Movies/Music$148578590$94319349$11506121Solidly Democrat/Liberal
Oil & Gas$138613800$12208486$62767803Leans Republican/Conservative
Casinos/Gambling$135900829$11447516$12059744On the fence
Insurance$124556637$47865829$53786498On the fence

Billionaires 2021: The Richest People in the World

The vast majority of billionaires in the world got richer during the year of the pandemic — fantastically richer. And they still demand more!

NameNet WorthWealth SourceIndustry
Jeff Bezos$177 BAmazonTechnology
Elon Musk$151 BTesla, SpaceXTechnology
Bernard Arnault & family$150 BLVMHFashion & Retail
Bill Gates$124 BMicrosoftTechnology
Mark Zuckerberg$97 BFacebookTechnology
Warren Buffett$96 BBerkshire HathawayFinance & Investments
Larry Ellison$93 BsoftwareTechnology
Larry Page$91.5 BGoogleTechnology
Sergey Brin$89 BGoogleTechnology
Mukesh Ambani$84.5 BdiversifiedDiversified
Amancio Ortega$77 BZaraFashion & Retail
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers & family$73.6 BL'OréalFashion & Retail
Zhong Shanshan$68.9 Bbeverages, pharmaceuticalsFood & Beverage
Steve Ballmer$68.7 BMicrosoftTechnology
Ma Huateng$65.8 Binternet mediaTechnology
Carlos Slim Helu & family$62.8 BtelecomTelecom
Alice Walton$61.8 BWalmartFashion & Retail
Jim Walton$60.2 BWalmartFashion & Retail
Rob Walton$59.5 BWalmartFashion & Retail
Michael Bloomberg$59 BBloomberg LPMedia & Entertainment
Colin Zheng Huang$55.3 Be-commerceTechnology
MacKenzie Scott$53 BAmazonTechnology
Daniel Gilbert$51.9 BQuicken LoansFinance & Investments
Gautam Adani & family$50.5 Binfrastructure, commoditiesDiversified
Phil Knight & family$49.9 BNikeFashion & Retail
Jack Ma$48.4 Be-commerceTechnology
Charles Koch$46.4 BKoch IndustriesOil & Gas
Julia Koch & family$46.4 BKoch IndustriesOil & Gas
Masayoshi Son$45.4 Binternet, telecomTechnology
Michael Dell$45.1 BDell computersTechnology
Tadashi Yanai & family$44.1 Bfashion retailFashion & Retail
François Pinault & family$42.3 Bluxury goodsFashion & Retail
David Thomson & family$41.8 BmediaMedia & Entertainment
Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr.$39.2 BsupermarketsFashion & Retail
Wang Wei$39 Bpackage deliveryService
Miriam Adelson$38.2 BcasinosGambling & Casinos
He Xiangjian$37.7 Bhome appliancesManufacturing
Dieter Schwarz$36.9 BretailFashion & Retail
Zhang Yiming$35.6 BTikTokTechnology
Giovanni Ferrero$35.1 BNutella, chocolatesFood & Beverage
Alain Wertheimer$34.5 BChanelFashion & Retail
Gerard Wertheimer$34.5 BChanelFashion & Retail
Li Ka-shing$33.7 BdiversifiedDiversified
Qin Yinglin & family$33.5 Bpig breedingFood & Beverage
William Lei Ding$33 Bonline gamesTechnology
Len Blavatnik$32 Bmusic, chemicalsDiversified
Lee Shau Kee$31.7 Breal estateReal Estate
Jacqueline Mars$31.3 Bcandy, pet foodFood & Beverage
John Mars$31.3 Bcandy, pet foodFood & Beverage
Yang Huiyan & family$29.6 Breal estateReal Estate
Alexey Mordashov & family$29.1 Bsteel, investmentsMetals & Mining
Robin Zeng$28.4 BbatteriesEnergy
Hui Ka Yan$27.7 Breal estateReal Estate
Susanne Klatten$27.7 BBMW, pharmaceuticalsAutomotive
Vladimir Potanin$27 BmetalsMetals & Mining
Dietrich Mateschitz$26.9 BRed BullFood & Beverage
Pang Kang$26.4 Bsoy sauceFood & Beverage
Klaus-Michael Kuehne$26.3 BshippingLogistics
Vladimir Lisin$26.2 Bsteel, transportMetals & Mining
Wang Xing$26.1 Be-commerceTechnology
German Larrea Mota Velasco & family$25.9 BminingMetals & Mining
Leonardo Del Vecchio & family$25.8 BeyeglassesFashion & Retail
Takemitsu Takizaki$25.8 BsensorsManufacturing
Leonard Lauder$25.5 BEstee LauderFashion & Retail
Thomas Peterffy$25 Bdiscount brokerageFinance & Investments
Vagit Alekperov$24.9 BoilEnergy
Leonid Mikhelson$24.9 Bgas, chemicalsEnergy
Jim Simons$24.6 Bhedge fundsFinance & Investments
Jiang Rensheng & family$24.4 BvaccinesHealthcare
Gina Rinehart$23.6 BminingMetals & Mining
Rupert Murdoch & family$23.5 Bnewspapers, TV networkMedia & Entertainment
Shiv Nadar$23.5 Bsoftware servicesTechnology
Zhang Zhidong$23.4 Binternet mediaTechnology
Iris Fontbona & family$23.3 BminingMetals & Mining
Lei Jun$23 BsmartphonesTechnology
Zhang Yong$23 BrestaurantsFood & Beverage
Richard Qiangdong Liu$22.4 Be-commerceTechnology
Gennady Timchenko$22 Boil, gasEnergy
Stephen Schwarzman$21.9 BinvestmentsFinance & Investments
Goh Cheng Liang$21.7 BpaintsManufacturing
Stefan Quandt$21.6 BBMWAutomotive
Li Xiting$21.5 Bmedical devicesHealthcare
Pierre Omidyar$21.4 BeBay, PayPalTechnology
Stefan Persson$21.3 BH&MFashion & Retail
Abigail Johnson$20.9 Bmoney managementFinance & Investments
R. Budi Hartono$20.5 Bbanking, tobaccoFinance & Investments
Andrew Forrest$20.4 BminingMetals & Mining
Ray Dalio$20.3 Bhedge fundsFinance & Investments
Michael Hartono$19.7 Bbanking, tobaccoManufacturing
Li Shufu$19.7 BautomobilesAutomotive
Zhong Huijuan$19.7 BpharmaceuticalsHealthcare
Xu Hang$19.5 Bmedical devicesHealthcare
Lui Che Woo & family$19.4 Bcasinos/hotelsGambling & Casinos
Emmanuel Besnier$19.1 BcheeseFood & Beverage
Laurene Powell Jobs & family$19 BApple, DisneyTechnology
Eric Schmidt$18.9 BGoogleTechnology
Sun Piaoyang$18.9 BpharmaceuticalsHealthcare
Theo Albrecht, Jr. & family$18.8 BAldi, Trader Joe'sFashion & Retail
Alisher Usmanov$18.4 Bsteel, telecom, investmentsMetals & Mining
Robert Pera$18.3 Bwireless networking gearTechnology
Wu Yajun$18.3 Breal estateReal Estate
Fan Hongwei & family$18.2 BpetrochemicalsEnergy
Dhanin Chearavanont$18.1 BdiversifiedDiversified
Peter Woo$18 Breal estateReal Estate
Chen Bang$17.9 BhospitalsHealthcare
Andrey Melnichenko$17.9 Bcoal, fertilizersEnergy
Dustin Moskovitz$17.8 BFacebookTechnology
Su Hua$17.8 Bvideo streamingMedia & Entertainment
Donald Newhouse$17.6 BmediaMedia & Entertainment
Petr Kellner$17.5 Bfinance, telecommunicationsFinance & Investments
Lee Man Tat$17.4 BfoodFood & Beverage
Pavel Durov$17.2 Bmessaging appTechnology
James Ratcliffe$17 BchemicalsManufacturing
Jorge Paulo Lemann & family$16.9 BbeerFood & Beverage
Reinhold Wuerth & family$16.8 BfastenersManufacturing
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken & family$16.7 BHeinekenFood & Beverage
Radhakishan Damani$16.5 Bretail, investmentsFashion & Retail
Wang Chuanfu$16.3 Bbatteries, automobilesAutomotive
Steve Cohen$16 Bhedge fundsFinance & Investments
Ken Griffin$16 Bhedge fundsFinance & Investments
Chen Zhiping$15.9 Be-cigarettesManufacturing
Ernest Garcia, II.$15.9 Bused carsAutomotive
Uday Kotak$15.9 BbankingFinance & Investments
Carl Icahn$15.8 BinvestmentsFinance & Investments
Suleiman Kerimov & family$15.8 BinvestmentsFinance & Investments
Thomas Frist, Jr. & family$15.7 BhospitalsHealthcare
Lukas Walton$15.6 BWalmartFashion & Retail
Mikhail Fridman$15.5 Boil, banking, telecomEnergy
Wei Jianjun & family$15.5 BautomobilesAutomotive
Zuo Hui$15.5 Breal estate servicesReal Estate
Zhou Qunfei & family$15.4 Bsmartphone screensTechnology
Donald Bren$15.3 Breal estateReal Estate
Hinduja brothers$14.9 BdiversifiedDiversified
Lakshmi Mittal$14.9 BsteelMetals & Mining
Georg Schaeffler$14.9 Bauto partsAutomotive
Eric Yuan & family$14.9 Bvideo conferencingTechnology
Wang Jianlin$14.8 Breal estateReal Estate
Kwong Siu-hing$14.7 Breal estateReal Estate
Robin Li$14.7 Binternet searchTechnology
Pallonji Mistry$14.6 BconstructionConstruction & Engineering
Eduardo Saverin$14.6 BFacebookTechnology
Roman Abramovich$14.5 Bsteel, investmentsDiversified
David Tepper$14.5 Bhedge fundsFinance & Investments
Gong Hongjia & family$14.4 Bvideo surveillanceFinance & Investments
Mike Cannon-Brookes$14.2 BsoftwareTechnology
John Menard, Jr.$14.2 Bhome improvement storesFashion & Retail
Seo Jung-jin$14.2 BbiotechHealthcare
Cheng Yixiao$14.1 Bvideo streaming appMedia & Entertainment
Liang Wengen$14.1 Bconstruction equipmentManufacturing
Scott Farquhar$14 BsoftwareTechnology
Finn Rausing$13.9 BpackagingFood & Beverage
Jorn Rausing$13.9 BpackagingFood & Beverage
Kirsten Rausing$13.9 BpackagingFood & Beverage
Brian Chesky$13.7 BAirbnbTechnology
Joseph Lau$13.6 Breal estateReal Estate
David Duffield$13.5 Bbusiness softwareTechnology
Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi$13.5 Balcohol, real estateFood & Beverage
Kim Jung-ju$13.3 Bonline gamesTechnology
Robert & Philip Ng$13.3 Breal estateReal Estate
Zhang Bangxin$13.3 BeducationService
Anders Holch Povlsen$13.2 Bfashion retailFashion & Retail
Wang Wenyin$13.2 Bmining, copper productsMetals & Mining
Wang Liping & family$13.1 Bhydraulic machineryManufacturing
Tatyana Bakalchuk$13 BecommerceFashion & Retail
Michael Platt$13 Bhedge fundsFinance & Investments
Huang Shilin$12.9 BbatteriesEnergy
Ricardo Salinas Pliego & family$12.9 Bretail, mediaFashion & Retail
Kumar Birla$12.8 BcommoditiesDiversified
Dang Yanbao$12.7 BcoalMetals & Mining
Cyrus Poonawalla$12.7 BvaccinesHealthcare
Robert Kuok$12.6 Bpalm oil, shipping, propertyDiversified
Hank & Doug Meijer$12.6 BsupermarketsFashion & Retail
Jack Dorsey$12.5 BTwitter, SquareTechnology
Lu Zhongfang$12.5 BeducationAutomotive
Ma Jianrong & family$12.5 Btextiles, apparelFashion & Retail
Zhang Tao$12.5 Be-commerceFashion & Retail
Nathan Blecharczyk$12.4 BAirbnbTechnology
John Doerr$12.4 Bventure capitalTechnology
Joe Gebbia$12.4 BAirbnbTechnology
Forrest Li$12.4 BgamingMedia & Entertainment
Yu Renrong$12.3 BsemiconductorsManufacturing
Liu Yonghao & family$12.1 BagribusinessService
Gordon Moore$12.1 BIntelTechnology
Jeff Yass$12 Btrading, investmentsFinance & Investments
Bobby Murphy$11.9 BSnapchatTechnology
Patrick Drahi$11.8 BtelecomTelecom
Jensen Huang$11.8 BsemiconductorsTechnology
Alexander Otto$11.8 Breal estateReal Estate
Cen Junda$11.6 BpharmaceuticalsHealthcare
Joseph Tsai$11.6 Be-commerceTechnology
Aliko Dangote$11.5 Bcement, sugarManufacturing
Marcel Herrmann Telles$11.5 BbeerFood & Beverage
Mikhail Prokhorov$11.4 BinvestmentsFinance & Investments
Jorge Moll Filho & family$11.3 BhospitalsHealthcare
Viktor Rashnikov$11.2 BsteelManufacturing
Harry Triguboff$11.2 Breal estateReal Estate
Leonid Fedun & family$11.1 BoilEnergy
Eyal Ofer$11.1 Breal estate, shippingDiversified
Evan Spiegel$11.1 BSnapchatTechnology
Luis Carlos Sarmiento$11 BbankingFinance & Investments

Skin in the Game

When someone has skin in the game, they have some stake in the outcome of their opinion or decision. They are incentivized to act in their own best interest, naturally aligning them with the best outcome. It mitigates effects like moral hazard, which misaligns incentives of the parties in an interaction based on an asymmetry of knowledge, power, and/or other factors.

The metaphor of skin in the game also relates to a number of core concepts in moral philosophy:

  • moral hazard
  • fairness
  • justice
  • transparency
  • authenticity
  • integrity
  • responsibility
  • good faith
  • honor
  • honesty
  • truthworthiness
  • forthrightness
  • earnestness
  • steadfastness
  • being true to one’s word

Skin in the game quotes

The price of greatness is responsibility.

Winston Churchill