Discussion Article: Is Newt Gingrich an “Invented” Imbecile?

Paulo Morel

The inane politics of Newt Gingrich and his ilk is a symptom of the degeneration of U.S. capitalism, which has created a danger to humanity — Editors

Answer: no, he is a real idiot. What to say of a man who, a few decades ago as leader of the Republicans, was able to shut down Washington, succeeding in paralyzing government agencies in a political dispute with the Democrats and the White House as a (rather delusional) show of political power? As a consequence, Mr. Gingrich, the “anti-government” ideologue, made everybody, that is, the public at large — contractors, veterans, retired people, businesses, school children, hospital workers and patients, etc. — keenly aware of how much the daily work of the government was vital for the everyday life of the whole nation. I don’t know of a worse piece of political “strategy” than that.

Now, in an interview for a pro-Israel political group, Mr. Gingrich calls the Palestinians an “invented” people. Not only is the man shameless in displaying his profound ignorance and bad faith in public, which is no surprise at all considering Mr. Gingrich himself and the party of the late Ronald Reagan and Bush, but he opens the way to the questioning of Israel itself as an “invented” state. Invented in fact in 1948!

One might begin to think that Mr. Gingrich is an “invented” candidate, invented by the Obama party to facilitate the reelection of a president whose politics of defending the interests of finance capital at all costs has alienated an important part of his support base.

Beyond the episodic nature of the opinions of an ignorant right wing politician (certainly a redundant phrase nowadays), the occurrence is a reminder of the pitiful state of the American political scene, where a man like Newt Gingrich, with his history of private and public scandals and demonstrated incompetence, is at this time a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

“When it rains, it pours”, as the saying goes. It appears that the current troubles of the U.S. are only in their initial stages: a general crisis of leadership is ever more patent. It is a crisis of the quality, intelligence and vision of those in positions of power, inside the state apparatuses, inside the party machines, etc, but also within the more restricted or “selective” power circles of the ruling class, right and “left,” conservative or liberal. And when compounded with the structural crisis, it is accelerating the debasement of the once “sole superpower.”

U.S. neoliberal capitalism has created its own Nomenklatura: Closed groups and closed circuits of economic, political and media power are alienated from society at large, from the daily troubles and struggles, from the hopes and needs of the working people. And it is more grave and dangerous that this Nomenklatura increasingly believes in its own fabrications and lies.

This is indeed a sign of a group of people that has exhausted its usefulness. The U.S. ruling circles show more and more signs that they are about to or have already exhausted their capacity to master the crises they are compelled to eternally produce and reproduce in order to sustain their power and the structures of power they depend upon. This is a ruling class clearly condemned – in the long run, if not sooner — to the “dustbin of history.” As the creator of instability for all and of insecurity and misery for the many, it wants to make sure by all means necessary that we all will go down with it.

Just as Mr. Gingrich once paralyzed a Democratic administration, they will act out their fantasies of omnipotence in the same “paranoid-schizophrenic” fashion as the present Republican candidate for the presidential nomination; that is, with acts of violence against a reality that stubbornly frustrates the final realization of their desires: the absolute and universal empire of the commodity form.

In fact, they have already deepened the economic crisis as a matter of policy or strategy: profit at all cost is both the means and the goal. Individuals, social groups and social classes, institutions, countries, and states must all serve the dictatorship of global capital or be disciplined and/or eliminated. Their unchecked power is more and more clearly a danger to us all. Their dream they are acting out is our collective nightmare.


— Paulo Morel is a Latin American writer


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  1. Richard Abernethy

    A reactionary, not an imbecile; a bourgeoisie, not a nomenklatura.

    Paulo Morel is rightly scornful of Newt Gingrich for calling the Palestinians an “invented people” so as to deny their right to self-determination. Even so, I think he is mistaken to call Gingrich an imbecile. For one thing, it is by no means unknown for intelligent politicians to make absurd statements, especially in the heat of an election campaign. When Winston Churchill said in 1945 that the Labour Party would set up “some form of Gestapo”, that was comparable to the wildest rhetoric of today’s Republican candidates.

    More importantly, calling Gingrich an idiot implies that all the people who would vote for him are equally stupid, if not more so. We must recognise that his anti-taxation, anti-welfare, anti-union ideology appeals to millions of Americans who think it offers some sort of solution to the crisis. People adopt a weird ideology not because they are stupid but because it expresses their hopes and fears. To oppose Gingrich and his kind effectively, we need to criticise that ideology (rather than dismissing it as beneath criticism), and above all present a better alternative. Attacking an individual for alleged stupidity is a distraction.

    In my view, the whole idea of a “nomenklatura” in the USA is misleading and should be avoided. The well established Marxist terms, “bourgeoisie”, “capitalist class” and “political elite” are far preferable, not for the sake of orthodoxy, but because they describe this society more accurately.

    Oxford Dictionaries give the following definitions of “nomenklatura”:
    (in the former Soviet Union) the system whereby influential posts in government and industries were filled by Party appointees.
    The people appointed to posts in government or industry under the nomenklatura system.

    The boards of Fortune 500 companies are not filled with people appointed by the Democratic or Republican parties, or by the government. Nor (although this is slightly more plausible) is government directly controlled by the corporations. Although “closed groups and closed circuits” do play a part in modern capitalism, on the whole this is less important than the domination of capital over labour, which is right there in open view, but so taken for granted that it goes unremarked most of the time.

    Of course, there is much more to understanding the class composition of society than applying even the best available terminology, and there is plenty of scope for investigation and discussion of this important question.

    The idea that the U.S. is ruled by a nomenklatura figures in the ideology of the new right. This is at least a reason for being very careful about the use of this term, if not for rejecting it. When I searched for “American nomenklatura” on Google, I came across a website called “American Thinker”, which kindly informs us that ‘soon after the Democratic Party won the White House and both chambers of the U.S. Congress, the United States changed from being a country belonging to “We the People” into one managed by a kind of Marxist nomenklatura with unchecked power’.

    According to another article on the same site, “Only one political figure has spoken out against the nomenklatura and its corrupt actions, and too many stood silent while the nomenklatura nailed her to the wall”. The name of this brave dissident was Sarah Palin.

  2. Paulo Morel

    “We must recognize that his [Gingrich’s] anti-taxation, anti-welfare, anti-union ideology appeals to millions of Americans who think it offers some sort of solution to the crisis.” writes Richard Abernethy, and here is the point: people who believe so, for whatever sentimental or other reasons that Richard is certainly able to explain, are wrong, logically, historically, sociologically, economically wrong according to the critical analysis of capitalism, or until the critical analysis of capitalism in the socialist tradition that includes Marx, and other analysts of capitalist economy, social structures, culture, etc, is proven logically, sociologically, historically, etc wrong. It is a matter of knowledge. So much so, that right wing ideologues want to impose their “ignorance” on all of us (and that, sorry to say, makes me mad). Whether they truly don’t know about capitalist exploitation, class warfare, oppression, etc, or they simply conveniently deny what they indeed “know”, is not the matter. “Segui il tuo corso e lascia dir le genti [Go on your way, and let the people talk – paraphrased from Dante],” wrote Marx in the preface of Capital. I used the image of the “Nomenklatura” to stress the point of alienation of the structures of domination and of those who rule from those who are ruled. The image of the Nomenklatura stresses a closed circuit of power and opportunity. Is the term “political elite” more conceptually precise? Not sure. As much as I believe that conceptual clarity is fundamental in political writing, I am afraid that Richard may have committed a “category” mistake in relation to my piece. The state is the managerial committee of the bourgeoisie, wrote Marx in the Manifesto. Should we take this statement to the letter? And indeed, figuratively speaking Marx ‘s formulation is precise and opens the conceptual understanding of the political structures of capitalism. Now, that the right wing uses “leftist” rhetoric, or “pseudo-leftist” rhetoric is certainly nothing new: to confuse is to rule! But we have the obligation to distinguish between different rhetorical strategies and instruments and their political and epistemological functions.
    I thank Richard for taking his time to discuss my very brief and circumscribed text.